Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The heat was extreme. The mercury that day had shot to 44.2 degree Celsius, six notches above normal. And the weather forecast had more bad news in store. For couple more days, the heat was there to stay. It would be a long while before rain came, pounding to cool the melting pot. Looking out of the small balcony, stream of sweat running down my face, I stared at the sky through the narrow spaces between the branches and leaves of the tree, standing tall next to the balcony. Not even a speck of cloud. No sign of rain. The air was as still as dead. So was the tree. I reminisced how the tree would swing in the tempest during monsoon, flapping its green leaves, spraying rain water on the balcony. The wind would bring along stray polythene bags, twigs, leaves and debris like the sea waves washing ashore flotsam and jetsam of waste. Those days I would keep the door shut, to keep away the noise of the whistling wind and the rain. Now, how I craved for it. Stubbing out the cigarette that had been adding to the heat, I returned to my room. The fan hardly made any difference. All it did was stir the warm air over and again. A clatter of unwashed, murky dishes lay in the sink, fungus germinating on it. Newspapers and magazines were strewn all over the floor. On the study table, there was a letter, addressed to my name, next to the novel Kafka on the shore by Murakami. A worn out calendar ticked and crossed, probably for countless times, hung on the wall. My old laptop connected to a pair of hoofers played Pink Floyd’s Goodbye blue sky. I poured a cup of water from the 20-liter plastic can. It was warm, and as it went down my throat, I could feel the warm sensation reach my stomach, before it got absorbed by my body. I poured another one, cursing this time. Pink Floyd stopped, and the fan too gradually came to a halt. Power cut. I wished I had taken back my word. It was normal though. Three or four times a day, electricity would go off. And every one would come out in their balconies for some sort of respite from the smoldering heat within. Staring at each other and exchanging blank glances. A common experience bound all of us together-the power cut and the sweltering heat. This time it took a little less than an hour for the light to come. Contradictory to the experience when the lights would go off, this was always a pleasant moment. I heard little shrieks and exclamations of delight, as everybody rushed inside, some into the comforts of their AC rooms and others into a room with a small, dirty fan. I gave up the idea of taking a shower as I had already done it thrice since morning. And the water would be warm in the afternoon and the bathroom, a sauna almost. So I leaned on the chair, pulled the letter, and read it again. It was the umpteenth time that I had read the letter. At times in disbelief that I had received the letter, handwritten, stamped, and addressed to my name. Other times, I read the letter in sheer amusement that somebody I had known for just a few weeks would ever remember me and care to write a good three page letter. And of course, I read the letter for what was written on it. It was Seven months ago. I met her in a small gathering at a friend’s place. She was quite tall with huge eyes, and thick, sumptuous lips. She was well dressed and decked up for the night. My first impression-she was little on the flamboyant side. But no arguing, she was attractive. And attract she did, every male’s attention in the party. Nothing had happened apart from courteous, shy introduction, until alcohol took complete control over me. She was drunk too. As the music rolled, and lights dimmed, we danced to the rhythm of the music, our bodies aroused to the sensation of its proximity. While jealous eyes gorged at us, I triumphantly managed to pull her toward me, away from the rest of the ogling crowd. Later that night, we made love. We saw each other for a couple of weeks. We went out for dinners, drank together at my place or hers and made love. When I came here, we had promised we will stay in touch but after a few weeks, it was all gone for a toss. I was in my own world and she, in her own. I had plenty to keep myself busy about and perhaps, she had enough reason not to think about me. I put the letter back, reminding myself that I would certainly write back the next day. A good three page reply. I took Kafka on the shore, and continued reading from where I had left. Nakata talking to the cats…But no sooner I realized than I was drifting between sleep and wakefulness. The warm air was soporific enough. The book slipped from my hand and fell on the floor. And I dozed off. In a dreamy state, yet not completely, I was reading the letter and mulling over the facts and fictions in it. How can it be possible? She must be trying to play a joke on me or if it is serious, there is no way, it could be ever true. Either she does not know who the father is or she just wants to make me a scapegoat. It is a conspiracy. (I tried to figure out the first time we had sex, and the second time and the third. I tried back-calculating it. But my memory was too vague.) But she does not know one truth about me. I smiled, malignantly. The truth I have kept only to myself, a well guarded secret. I had tested positive, to my chagrin and despair. That was also a reason why my last girl friend, who had always wanted a big family, left me. I would never be able to father a child.


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