I walk through the narrow alleyways. The dimly lit evening light. The bustle of the market place. Hawkers shouting. Small boys, running between your legs. In the cramped spot. The beat of the music throbbing through my being. I see red.
Awestruck stares. People hurry away as I approach them. There is red everywhere. Where was I? I think I just stopped thinking for a while. I don’t remember how the hours since this morning slipped away. I’ve been loosing time.
Sweat. Sticky hands. Grime. I turn a corner, see the startled expression of a woman in a ghunghat, who withdraws immediately. I find a filthy public toilet, smelling strongly of urine and paan. Open tap. Cool water. Ah! Feels like heaven. I splash some cold water on my face. Suddenly I look up and catch sight of my reflection on a broken, rusted piece of mirror hanging on the spit and paan stained walls of the public washroom. Blood. Where did they come from? I look at, what used to be, my pearly, off-white shirt. Bloody. Ughh!! What’s been happening??!!
I get out into the crowded streets of Mumbai. The sky, a bloody orange, washes the place with an eerie glow. Dazed. Flag an auto. Startled expression. Auto driver about to drive away, after giving me a once over. I jump into the auto. “Bhaiya, mujhe ________ le chalo.”
“Oye! Mujhe koi police case mein phasne ka nahin. Abhi gaadi se utharo agar aage kuch panga hoga toh….!”
“Bhai saab! Kuch nahin hoga! Le chalo mujhe ________.”
The auto driver is clearly displeased.
I reach home in 20 minutes. Guard stares at my blood stained clothes. Little Mimi, the neighbour stares saucer-eyed as I enter the elevator. Mimi aunty (a.k.a. Mimi’s Mother) drags Mimi out of the elevator as fast as she can.
Stand outside my house door. Unlock the front door. Door opens. Room glows with the dim orange light of the sky outside. I stand taking in the scene of the city, through the wall of glass covering one entire wall of the apartment. Walk in, closing the door shut, behind me. Black splotches swimming before my eyes as the beat of music courses through my veins. My head. Stumble towards the sofa. It swims before me. I crash into it.
Oblivion. Black oblivion. I don’t remember when I wake up next.
* * *