The Girl at the grave
I believe, the skies don’t get cloudy, the air doesn’t feel light and the time never stops but as if your heart calms itself and you start to daydream her smile every moment.
‘Aai, I don’t want to go,’ She clenched my wrist, those dried-wizened fingers wrapped bruising my skinny bones. Sandals pushed against the earth, dredging the trail resisting this unconquerable force.
‘Why do you make this so hard… every… single… day, Aiyush?’ Those regretful eyes, looks down and I know she just wishes to see me, as she would quote ‘A mortal unlike your Father.’
Mohan Raj Sharma, the best mechanic in town evidently not the greatest father yet. His alcoholic night shows. Ah! what can I say about them? Aai and I love the imprints of his stick on our body. His success meant nothing, yet the failures as a parent did make me realize an innumerous quote that’s true in this fucking world.
Amlan’s fat ass rested on the same spot of the rocking chair; in these five years the few things changed was the shape of the chair that adjusted to his butt print, his boobs bigger enough to put a woman to shame and the red lungi which barely represents its original colour now.
‘Morons I need you all to get this inside your head. I need at least 3 kilograms today.’ Adjusting his love… the radio wavelength on his lap, he slowly closed his eyes.
Someday I might and I definitely will trash that piece of his heart.
Siting inside a thermocol box barely floating, that smelled liked as if this had shit from someone in the morning. God, I hated everything about the job but the money.I desperately needed that. Although those thermocol didn’t do much of any protection, five of my neighborhood kids did die fishing metals, coins or plastics in the Brahmaputra, mostly the thermocol breaks open.
Skies swept clear, birds sang their songs, steady cool breeze highlighted blazing orange evening. ‘Aiyush let’s go back it will get dark,’ Bishal screamed as he rowed back to the banks.
‘Let’s try smoking today,’ Vaibhav was a player. I always wanted to try his stupid ideas.
‘Nah. We’re good,’ When Bishal would say ‘we’ he always included me; I could never understand, Why the hell?
The best thing about village roads in our country are those washed up muddy streets during monsoon with trailing tyre designs, deadly muddy pits one of us could swim around. Plunging into a lump, splashing it all over Bishal; His eyebrows would frown squeezing the forehead, teeth grinding against each other, screaming my name on the top of his lungs as he would jump towards me like an angry chicken, pushing me into the mud. We wrestle, until we are smelt like the shitty road.
‘Bishal. Bishal,’ My feet stalled, eyes stared the flames fuming out from the death bed. Those heavy soot burned my eyes. ‘What? Everyone dies every day, Aiyush. If not in a graveyard, then just by living the sad dark life every single day.’
Wrenched frock, turned black from the ashes. Flames probably burnt her charcoaled face yet she stared without a blink. It was sad.
‘In these land of sorrows, Aiyush. Not a day passes by without the burnt fleshes reaching out to the sky.’ Bishal’s tearful eyes spoke as he pulled me towards our home.
I was scared. Anguished. I have seen a thousand death, yet that day my heart shivered in pain.
‘It’s 9:00 p.m. I am going for a walk,’ Father screamed, from our, what people with money could call a ‘Front Door.’
‘Aiyush go to sleep,’
Mumbled howls filled the air. I woke up, anyone would with those fucking screams of Mohan.
‘Don’t create a nuisance, Mohan. It’s dark everyone’s asleep’
‘Rukmini, I fucking dare you. Let’s go to the graveyard. I will prove it to you I saw a girl.’
My eyes jolted awake. Putting on my sandals, I calmly marched as they paced to the place. She is still there. Why? Is she a ghost? Fuck did I see a ghost? What is she doing? My barely awake mind strived hard to know. What if she was real? I should help.
Dark, pitch blackness. Horrifying. Feet trembled in fear with each careful step. Fainted fire in distant, flashed the eyes. Arguing Aai and father rushed to the light.
She was there. Mohan ran back. ‘Everyone wake up.’ Aai screamed at the top of her lungs. Darkness did help a lot in making me invisible to those feared souls. It was odd, just to how my legs moved stepping closer to her, heart as if I wanted to know the pain she was in.
I was there. In front of her, her eyes still stared the red ashes, sparsed saturated flames ate the left overs.
‘Hey,’ trembling voice reached her. Her dead eyes gazed my petrified soul.
‘Who are you?’
‘You shouldn’t be here alone,’ My eyes rolled all over the place ‘It’s dark,’
‘Well it makes me happy here,’
Her frock witnessed the wrath of fire, it’s few burnt edges and the ashes imprinted clothes gave vivid landscape of her feelings. Those dried charcoaled knees curled into the chest, arms held them tight despite the painful heat; Chin shoved between those knees as her eyes that cried a thousand rivers glared the fainted flames.
Despite the constant urge to help, the mind as if wished to respect her tranquility. I walked back in utter silence.
Numb mind, petrified soul felt her excruciating agony.
‘Is it a ghost?’ The security’s eyes glazed in a hope for my NO, whilst his feet trembled in fear. Say it is. He would probably shit his pants. What a pussy night guard! At least delay the answer.
‘No uncle. Please give her some food and clothes if you could.’
‘Sure son’ He took a long breath of relief. His soul as if revived with the reply.
The last rays of the sun
‘Son, she won’t dress. She ate thou.’
‘Thanks Uncle. Good morning.’
He was in a better shape since the last time I saw. His funny face, as his soul tried to leave the body and almost shit with his pants on. O God, I wished to laugh so loud.
‘She is inside my room.’
‘Hi, I am Aiyush.’
Her lifeless eyes turned to me as she lied onto the floor helplessly, hardly lifting her head. I proposed for a handshake. Of course she ignored. Slowly backed my gesture with resentment. I wouldn’t lie, it was hurtful to the very core.
‘Please do eat something nice. Uncle will provide. He is a nice person,’
‘If you feel comfortable, you can change your dress. I brought my Aai’s saree for you.’ Kept it close enough to her face to smell it. Oh every breath tainted in fear while sneaking out mother’s saree.
‘I will meet you after school bye. Anyway May I know your name?’
She lifted her head, stared me long for it to be horrifying. I smiled. Shit why did I smile? Way to make it more awkward Aiyush.
‘Kabya.’ She said. Straight-faced.
‘Bye. Take care,’ I murmured, but the silence persisted.
‘Losing someone is excruciating. That’s what makes up the life don’t you think? The endless pain of rejection, debt, losses. Just try to live it out.’ With that I turned back to leave.
‘My Aai died yesterday.’ She spoke in her muffled voice. I turned back again facing her. ‘She was the only best thing left in my life.’ Tears rolled down her eyes, she wailed, broke upon the ground again.
My heart could not bear the sadness. I looked up, rubbed my wet eyes. Uncle marched in held her in his arms. I ran out, ran as fast as I could to the ghat.
The last rays of the sun blazed over the river horizon, slowly inked the sky in velvety darkness. I sat there the whole day, as the water rushed downstream. How can living be so sad and hard? Pondered, staring into the hazy colours of the evening sky. It was worthless.
I recognized her voice. I stood up. She didn’t change, her frock still highlighted those burnt edges. ‘Why were you trying to help me?’ She lazied herself on the embankment, ‘Come.’ She smiled. It really wore great on her face.
‘Are you okay?’
‘I asked first,’
‘I don’t know maybe I somehow felt this infinite sadness when looked at you that day in the evening,’
‘Oh. I am quiet okay now. Thanks to you, trying to believe what you said in the morning,’
I looked at her, she gazed into nothingness.
‘You know Aiyush, Life is sad as you said. I was your school mate until I left in sixth standard. I thought you recognized me, despite you rarely showing up in class,’
‘Sorry,’ I looked at her.
‘It’s ok,’ she smiled again. ‘My father left us when I was born. Just for being a girl. That worthless pussy. Oh! I hated him so much.’
‘Aai would clean every house in the town carrying me on her chest. She made enough.’ Paused. Wiped her tears. ‘Yesterday, she was crossing the road. I ran waited for her at the other end. I loved crossing busy streets.’
‘Aai come fast, I shouted jumping in glee winning the race.’ ‘In a blink, a truck rolled its tyre all over her body. I stopped hearing Aiyush.’ She looked at me. Grabbed my shirt as she screamed, cried on my shoulder. I left numb as if I lost all my senses, gazing into the darkness.
‘I ran to Aai, it was nothing but a corpse split open on blood in the middle of the street.’ ‘She didn’t have a face for me to look. I just stared at the organs… until I fainted. I woke up only to see her burn.’
Amlan opened his shop shutter, the uneasy noise filled the silent ghat. He switched on his coloured lights and the ghat as if brightened for a party.
‘I’m sorry for the loss. Kabya.’ What more could I say?
Living in not just sad. It’s dreadful to be present, just to wait for a worst end.
She looked up to me, the coloured lighted painted her face so beautiful. ‘Sometimes it is just not worth to live through.’ She said.
‘What the hell are you two doing? Run off to your home, you fucking scrams.’ Amlan screamed with his ugly voice.
‘Let’s Go,’ I looked into her eyes, they were still dead inside.
‘Can you bring me some water?’
I ran for a glass, as much as I hated Amlan. He was the only one, who would help me now. He did give me a glass water, after lecturing me for five complete minutes Why I should not stay in the dark.
I came back only to not find her again.