This morning, in the park, I saw a little girl playing with her mother. She is four years old. A while later, her sister came around, who is eight. I have been seeing these girls since the little one was born. London, my dream city. I shifted here five years back. Since then I’ve been living alone. I’m not as old as one must think, not as young as one might get confused. I have been living on this planet for the past 26 years.
I have no idea why I write this story but, I don’t even want to know. I just want to write it.
Seven years ago, Mumbai blasts, 26/11 2008, many people lost their lives but according to a meagre number of twenty people, they were serving justice to their religion, culture and their identity. The question is, do they even know what identity is?
That evening, I decided to take my sister out for dinner. Both of us lived in the city, all by ourselves, ever since mom and dad had taken a divorce. She was eleven. I told her not to move from the place until I get the wallet from the car, that I had accidentally forgotten. The car was parked across the lane and so I walked up there when I did not realise how, but I felt a jerk and fell across the other side of the car. My attention shifted towards the scars and blood on my arms. I was so engrossed, I forgot about the wallet, more than that, I forgot about her. The screams and the running of the people brought me back to my senses. I looked here and there and was totally confused to what was happening when I managed to get up from the ground, and looked towards the hotel, the taj palace hotel.
All that was visible to me was fire and smoke.
I went numb, I could see everything but I understood nothing.
Gradually, as I walked towards the place, I entered it, there were voices calling me to tell me not to go inside. I heard everything, understood nothing. I walked up the stairs to the second floor. Unaware of all the sounds or everything that I saw, I just walked. A few seconds later, though, I fell to the ground. No bullet or weapons had hit me but I tripped by someone. As I tried to get up again, my foot slipped by a pink skirt, with white stripes on it and a letter on its corner, ‘C’.
‘C’, that signified Chaahat.
I looked at the shirt, white, it was plain white when I had given it to her an hour ago to get dressed, now, abstract art by red covered it up. I did not have the courage to look at her face so I looked at her shoes, one of them had lost it’s beautiful silver buckle, on the black Swede, that she was so particularly fond of.
After a few moments of terror, I looked at her face for inviting in more of terror. Her face, well, it still seemed as beautiful and innocent to me as it always had.
I don’t remember a chunk of things that had happened after that except all the hassle that had started in the town. It went on for weeks, a part of it, for months.
A week ago, I saw the advertisement of a new movie that depicted a revenge idea for the time, and said through its tagline, ‘a story you wish were real’.
I don’t know if I wish so or not, but I just know one thing that if ever, something of that sort happens, I will make sure that I’ll be a part of it to let her have her treat for the result she was going to be awarded that evening with her favourite cupcake.
Today, after seven years, I went to the place again, to have the black forest cupcake with a candle in my hand, I lightened it up and blew it as well, singing, ‘happy birthday to you’. I cut out half of it, had that and gave the remaining half to a little begging girl outside the hotel. The smile on her face reminded me of Chaahat’s.
I walked back home smiling too.