Volatile spurts

The blog that never was … almost

Premonition

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“I can see it coming.”

He did not tell me what he saw coming. Maybe he did not know it himself. I doubt he was thinking clearly. He definitely was not speaking clearly. These were the only clear words in a stream of incoherent babbles.

This was not his normal self. Drunk, hair disheveled, he looked like a wreck. I realised he must have been drinking all night and I wondered if I should have come down when he had called me. I could have put a stop to the drinking at the very least.

He looked up with blood shot eyes. Was it my imagination? Could there be so many contrasting emotions tearing through a person’s soul at the same instant? I could see pain, self righteous anger and desperation.

The man in front of me was not the one I knew. Right up there among the top of the class, opening batsman of the state team, star elocutionist. It did not stop with college. Brand manager within a year of joining and hand picked to kick start operations in Africa. In fact there is nothing in common between us. A case of opposites come together. I had just been an average student and was not exactly setting corporate India on fire either. Yet our friendship had continued and only gotten stronger. It was but natural that he had looked to me when he wanted to be with someone.

I was trying hard to make sense of what he was saying. Finally through his babbling and swearing I managed to piece together the story that had been racking his conscience  for so many years now. Of the summer afternoon when the two families had gone out leaving behind little Lakshmi with him. They had known him as a responsible kid, and he was too. But something had gotten into him that day. It had started as a game, but had gone horribly wrong. She had been laughing when he had locked her up in the cupboard. Laughter soon turned into cries of fear that ended abruptly. It had all been over in a matter of minutes. But the nightmares that kept visiting him were always in excruciating slow motion. He would hear her cries and instinctively go for the door. But try as he could, his hands would refuse to move. And the cries would go on and on until he would wake up in a cold sweat.

“Just a kid”, he said. “Hardly five years old.”

A pregnant silence followed. I suppose I should have said something consoling. Told him how it was a mistake and that he should not blame himself for what happened. But I said nothing.  I was stunned, myself.

Am not a habitual drinker but I badly needed a drink now. I got up slowly to get a glass.

I could feel the raw alcohol burn my throat as I took my first sip. But it had its intended effect and I felt calmer. I tried to collect my thoughts and make sense of it all.

“Six.”

I don’t think he heard me consciously. He was too preoccupied putting down the drink that I had fixed for him. But something registered somewhere and he looked up at me. His eyes seemed blank, but I could imagine his alcohol numbed brain working hard to figure out what instinct already told him.

“She was six,” I said.

I had always wondered about it. Even at that young age I realised that something was amiss. It was not just what they told me but the way they did it. I was obvious that they were lying when they said that she had died of a heart problem.

They must have done that to protect him. They were decent people that way. Time heals and they moved on. But I guess I never did. Its been more than a decade now and I still miss her. My favourite cousin.  I had loved her like my own sister and she had adored me.

The kaleidoscope of emotions was on display again.  He looked confused for a few seconds. Slow comprehension finally set in and he gave me a piteous pleading look. Getting no response, he shrugged his shoulders in a resigned manner and reached out for his drink.

Maybe it was the odd taste that he now sensed. Or was it simply an instinct for survival that told him something was wrong? He abruptly spat out the liquid and looked up at me fearfully.

I nodded this time.

Death is no punishment if you don’t see it coming.

Written by El Presidente

December 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Fiction

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