Rohan sat in the middle of a cell. Surrounded by petty criminals, he was the only odd one there. The blood stain on his maroon kurta mocked at him. The memories of last night tried to crawl back. But his mind was rumbled in reality. Before he could do anything rational. Rohan started to have withdrawals. The muscles began to cramp and his breathing became shallow.
The reality always sucks!!! Rohan realized.
“I need to go out. I want to go,” he muttered under his breath. Pacing the small area restlessly, he muttered the same line, over and over again.
“Sir, sir, I want to go out. I have to,” he called the attendant. His voice rose gradually as his withdrawal kicked.
“Shut up!” The constable banged on the iron bars with a steel rod. “Bloody nutcase. You look like a decent boy. We also have your office badge. Are you really a software developer?” the man passed on this information to his colleague.
“The city is filled with such rodents. All these computer people are druggies,” his colleague spat. Looking at Rohan, he made a disgusted face.
At that moment, Rohan reeled back. He realized how serious the situation was. “He is dead it means,” Rohan muttered again. “Good! Now, he won’t be able to harass Prity. My Prity. My darling is safe now,” he spoke under his breath. The beautiful face of reality smiled at him.
Rohan badly needed something to soothe his agitated nerves. He wanted something to make him forget everything. He wanted to travel to a different world.
Rohan wanted to get HIGH!
“I want to get out!!!” unable to control his urge, Rohan shook the gates. Shiv banged against the iron bars once again. Unmoved by the threat, Rohan jolted the gate. Shiv hit him on the head with the bottom of the rod. Scared, Rohan swerved back hastily. His need had weakened him. He was not able to hold himself together. Losing his balance, he collided with one of the inmates. The collision sent him toward the wall. Hitting himself on the head, he fell on the floor.
In a state of slumber and unconsciousness, he saw the babyface of Prity appear. Memories of their first meeting flashed in front of his eyes as his eyelids became heavy. Everyone in the room receded to darkness.
His mind woke up at the dawn of Mahalaya. Rohan rode on his Royal Enfield. He loved to feel the cool breeze lap against his face. Nature creates a different high. He passed by the famous Clock Tower in Laketown. The road ahead appeared clear. He was heading towards the airport for no apparent reasons.
Time and again, he was embraced by the sound of radio Mahalaya. Memories of childhood flooded back. There was a time when he used to wait for 4 a.m. The entire family used to sit glued to the radio. Listening to soul-stirring chants. There are many who still continue the ritual. These chants are like curtain-raiser.
Mahalaya actually boosts the festive spirit.
As he neared the gate no.1 of the airport, his eyes fell on a lone figure of a girl. Standing near the shutdown tea stall, she was trying very hard to adjust her radio. Rohan wanted to ride on but he was stopped by her. The girl waved at him, shaking her hands vehemently, she called him.
Her dusky complexion glistened in the dim light. “I have been trying to get Mahalaya on the radio but this idiot box is just useless,” the girl shared her problem without any formal chitchat.
Fresh tears danced in her almond-shaped eyes. “You don’t have a smartphone?” he asked her.
“My battery died,” she sobbed.
That was it. The reality kicked in. Rohan hastily pulled out his smartphone and logged in to the station.
Dang! Rohan opened his eyes with great difficulty. He had passed out due to pain. “Get up! Sir wants to speak with you?” ordered Shiv.
Mukul Chatterjee was the officer-in-charge. He sat across Rohan and looked at him with keen eyes.
“Explain this to me,” pushing a notepad at him, he asked. Rohan realized his diary. He noted down everything there. Taking it from him, he started to read.
The moment, holy chants reverberated her kindred spirit, a smile danced across her face. The rays of orange sun made her skin appear golden brown. She was dressed in a simple chicken kurta and a pair of faded jeans. Unlike Bollywood heroines, there was no jhumka that kissed her cheeks everytime she shook her head. Or silver bangles that created melodies whenever she waved her hands. Prity is just an average looking girl. But there is something magnetic about her. I felt pulled towards her.
She continued to speak with me and I loved the sound of her voice. It soothed my anguished self. Prity was my new drug and I felt hooked to her. I did not let her go that day. Both of us could feel the spark. The next few days were like a whirlwind. I shopped for like crazy.
Her Puja shopping was on me. I kept buying loads and loads of dresses for her. She was to be by my side throughout the Puja.
The first day of Durga Puja, Panchami was a slow affair. We strolled through different pandals. Throughout the day, I kept looking at the clock in desperation. My days are always a bit hazy. Blame it on the ecstatic pills.
Prity has loads to take care of during the day. Plus, she also develops rashes due to sunlight. I had to wait for the evening. I have to wait a long long day for the evening. So that I can meet her.
Last night was horrible. I will kill that man. How dare he annoy Prity. My Prity! God, I can’t forget the look on her face. She looked so horrified. That bastard!!!
Rohan looked up at Mukul. “So, you killed him?”
“Yes, I did!” there was no sign of remorse or fear.
“But why?” the officer asked.
“Haven’t you read my diary?” Rohan counterattacked.
“Don’t give me that shit. Anybody can write gibberish nonsense as a motive. I need to know the real motive,” slowly, the officer lost his cool.
“I have done it once and I will do it again. Anyone who dares touch Prity, I will rip that bastard apart,” Rohan gritted his teeth.
Shiv moved forward angrily, Mukul stopped him. “Stay there,” he said.
“This diary was written five days ago. Why did you have to wait so long? You could have killed him on Saptami only. Why did you wait til Dasami?” the officer asked.
“I did not wait, it was Prity. She held me back. Every evening she came looking pale and disturbed. This scum always disturbed her. He always chased us. On the last day of Puja, he crossed all limits. Prity and I have been sitting a few ghats away from the immersion zone.
That audacious bastard dared to pull her hand. I had only gone to get some refreshments for us. The sight of him holding Prity’s hand made me lose all control. I smashed his head with the giant rock. It also smeared Prity’s dress with his dirty blood. I kept banging his head with the rock even after it had turned into a pulp.”
Truth Revealed or Rumbled?!!
Lifting his hand, Mukul ordered him to stop, “Yes, the tea vendor is the eyewitness. You don’t have to elaborate. But the question remains, why did you kill him?”
“Why do you ask me the same stupid question over and over again. Of course, for Prity but it is me who is to be blamed and not her. She did all she could to stop me,” Rohan said in her defense.
“There was no one except you at the crime scene!!” the officer said angrily.
Rohan took a double take, “That’s impossible! Prity was right there,” Rohan said confused.
“There has been no one with you. We also checked your flat. It has loads of ladies clothes packed in shoppers. You have been doing a lot of shopping, but for whom?” he asked.
“You killed an innocent beggar, for whom? You have been living in a makebelieve world Rohan and playing with us and messing your head. For whom?” this time he screamed.
The image of Prity rolled in front of his eyes like a moving picture. He saw the two of them from the day of Mahalaya till Dasami. Why had she come to his life? What did she want from him? Who is the demon here? He was raided by all sort of questions. He pushed his skull with his hands as he had no answers to all these questions.
“For whom?” Rohan shrieked noiselessly inside his head.