“Please drive slowly will you? Can’t you see our child is crying!“
Sheila’s plea went unheard as Rocky stepped on the accelerator.
“You are the one who told me we’d have a holiday at that god forbidden house. Why do you want to spoil it? Why are you doing this to me?” she cried.
“Because I love to see you cry.” And he followed this with a menacing laugh.
Sheila had married Rocky amidst protests from her parents. But she persisted and had her own way. She left the home which had raised and supported all her whims for a man who promised her the moon. She had been a stubborn woman. But Rocky was no less when it came to having his way.
Within the very first week after marriage she ended up being beaten black and blue just because she would not wear the pearl necklace he had given her.
“If you don’t want to dress the way I wish you to, you deserve to get dumped you *****” and he had thrown the necklace back at her crying face and walked off.
That night Sheila repented her marriage and she repented it to this day two years since. Rocky was tough at anything. To him she was nothing more than a doll which had to play the way he wanted. Even the birth of their son didn’t smother his attitude.
The child was her only company in times of grief and pain. She had known her life was doomed without him as he was the only one who could hear her wails with a cute little smile.
She detested the very thoughts of going back to her parents for fear, or rather, the hurt of being thrown out by them. She knew that day wasn’t far away, considering the way in which Rocky was conducting himself.
The child had a strange illness within the first two months (during which time Rocky had gone out on some trip). She called her husband only to hear a monster at the other end “So what?Let that stupid thing die. I am sure we can have more such or did you think I am incapable of doing it again!” His words hurt her more than anything else. That night she cried for what she had done to her life and the little one’s too.
She almost lost her child that time had it not been for the tantrik who visited their town from a nearby village. He managed to cure the child; a miracle it was to her. But curiously the child developed a limp in the left hand.
When she asked the tantrik regarding this he gave her a stern reply, more of a warning, “You have the child back? What more do you want? But be warned! The cure is not just a miracle but more of a half life. You have to visit the Kwaneshwar temple in Urshad Gaon with this boy within the next one year; else you’ll end up loosing everything precious to you! Do not come under the curse of the great lord!” he had told her so before leaving the child with her.
It had shaken her a lot. She tried to convince Rocky when he came back. He hadn’t changed one bit and her story only ignited his fury even further. He told her never to mention the temple again in her life and his resolve increased with every passing day.
She was not highly superstitious but the fear of the warning had set on her the day she saw her almost dead son alive. Her only hope was to bring her husband back to normalcy by showering all the love she HAD for him. But she sensed fear by the sixth month; and by the tenth she knew she was loosing even this battle.
She felt incensed about them going on a trip to some abandoned house on a lonely hill top right during the last few days when that one year was coming to an end. She even threatened to end her life; but soon, the fear or concern or whatever motherly nature it is took over her and she settled for this.
A visit after the one year period might please the gods to some extent; ‘they will have to do with it‘ she decided. ‘Probably he will change after this vacation at least’ she hoped.
There she was in her red sari with a child on her lap and with all the eagerness and excitement of being away with her family; earnestly hoping for a change in her life; sitting in the front of the car driven by an ‘almost mad’ man. Now they were climbing the hill on their Toyota at top speed causing unwanted concern for both her and the child.
“Please Rocky I beg of you!” her eyes had become tired and red crying all the way.
But he seemed to grow happy with each passing minute and even took time to make faces at her and laugh at the kid in his face every time the wails increased. She grew angry beyond the limits of human comprehension of the word ‘Anger’.
“Stop the car this moment, else we’ll jump out. Stop it you moron! Stop!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.
For a moment Rocky was taken aback. He hadn’t expected HER to raise her voice.
“Bailing out are you? Here lemme open the door for madam” saying so he lunged forward and opened the door still driving. “Jump?I said jump now.” Now it was his turn to scream at the top of his lungs – and he did it with perfection.
“Mama’s too scared” he spoke to the now wailing little kid. “Scared mammmmmmmmma…” he laughed, and all of a sudden turned the laugh into a scorn and looked at her with all the hatred and anger pouring out of his face.
She looked helpless as she had felt so many times before; fear beginning to instill on her face and she started to hug her child very tightly. She kept him so, for quite some time not knowing that she was slowly smothering the kid.
“Mamma’s scared?Mamma’s scared…” Rocky continued like a cracked recorder.
“Close the door…” he ordered and just as she managed to do so another Toyota zoomed past them shattering the open door. She was totally taken aback; but what scared her to death was what the stupid man sitting behind the wheel of
their car would do to her. Fortunately for her, Rocky decided to concentrate his anger on the other driver.
His face was convulsed with rage; such a fury she had never seen on his face before and she trembled thinking of what would happen once he caught up the other driver. She clutched her kid more tightly and realized something was amiss. The crying had ceased!
“Rocky?Rockkkyy…” her voice dragged. “Rocky stop the car. Our kid is not breathing. Stop the car.“
Rocky had one look at the kid and then turned to face her, his stony eyes failing as before to convey any form of sympathy, before he continued with a scornful voice “Not now?lemme catch up with that f***** in front of us. I’ll show him who the real man is. I am a bloody racer?You know that, you know I was a racer in my college days don’t you?!“
She looked at him in his face, his stupid idiotic face. “Rockkkkyy” her voice steadied “Stop the car at once; I want you to stop NOW” she screamed.
“Go to hell with him will you!” he promptly replied back, this time not even caring to look at them.
She realized he was a mad man; probably something which she should have done a long time before. She had a sudden urge to kill him?and herself. Yeah she knew what she had to do.
“Wait till you see me rip apart that idiot’s throat” he said pointing to the car in front of them.
“So? Mamma’s killed her own child has she?” he mocked after a brief hiatus.
The last sentence seemed to have done it.
The chase was still going on at high speed and just when Rocky was about to look at the face of the other driver by coming up to the side, she caught hold of the steering and turned it the other way round towards the steep fall.
Rocky veered it back just in time. “You going mad woman, I knew you are mad” he said between mild laughs while continuing to chase the other car relentlessly. “But not mad enough to kill us both!“
“Thwack!” he struck her across the face. He knew that usually kept her quiet for a while. But when he looked at her face in the mirror he couldn’t recognize her anymore. She was staring at him (or was it a laugh) with those bright red eyes of hers still hugging her child (their dead child).
“Don’t you dare stare at me like that. I hate your face” he smirked. But that didn’t seem to work either. He started sensing a strong wave of hatred almost as if it was ready to burn him alive.
They were in a long stretch of a road and he decided to concentrate on the vehicle in front of him. Soon he was at the hind side of the other car. He went ahead and decided to give it a bump from behind. He went forward but he didn’t hear any sound.
“What the heck! I should have hit that moron by now!“
He turned back to catch another look at her. She had now turned towards him with her back side to the open door. It was as if the moment was frozen.
She was staring at him (was it pity in her eyes) with their dead child on her lap and with all the crankiness and despair as one could imagine in a face; her untied hair blowing in the wind; her red lips parched open as if it had just finished uttering a curse.
“Goodbye Rocky” and with that (and a drop of tear trickling down her cheek) she fell back and in a moment the despair, the faded excitement, the burned out hope and all that pain dissolved away in front of him along with the depths of the valley.
He looked stunned for a minute, as if shaken out of reverie; his voice drained out. ‘Stop the car‘ he told himself. But the moment he saw the car in front of him, his mind started working at its demonic best deciding on what to do with the other driver and his legs stretched themselves out on the accelerator unmindful of the turn coming ahead.
Tires screeched as he turned at a mad pace; dust flied everywhere and the car started to careen. Just when he was on the side of the other car he realized he had seen the driver somewhere and before he could react he had crossed the barrier. The car flew out with nothing to stop it before plunging down the valley. He jumped out just in time; out of pure reflex.
He fell on a rock around fifteen feet below and lay there unable to move his limbs. Slowly he could sense blood all over; he knew he wasn’t going to make it. He heard the other car screech to a halt and its engine roar back to life, coming back towards where he had fallen. He heard doors slamming before a face emerged from the top of the now badly broken wall.
He tried focusing on the face but could hardly make anything out, when he noticed the limp in the left hand. Things started becoming clear. He could see a reflection so similar to his own, except for the striking calm on the face which was so unfamiliar to him.
And then there came a lady, behind that man, draped in red walking ever so slowly with her angelic face and untied hair blowing away in a ghost like fashion.
He knew it was getting over. He knew he was coming out of his shell; out of the miseries of physical existence; he could feel it.
“I am coming Sheila…” he moaned, falling behind as the lady seemed to stretch her hands out to him.