“Socha nahin toh socho abhi!”
(If you haven’t started thinking yet, do it now!)
Metal guitar notes accompanying the soulful lyrics of the song from ‘Rock On!‘ soothed my mind as wind matted my face through the open side-window. I’d deliberately switched the air conditioner off, despite the 15+ (with A/C) mileage of our Indigo CS, just to savor the wind. The engine whirred at a precarious 90 kmph through State Highway One. (‘Precarious’ because it’s good ‘old’, SH1!!) Dad, Mom and I were returning after an Onam-trip to our native place. Turns out that my Grandma’s culinary skills won me the driver’s seat! Dad & Mom were too sleepy to take the wheel, thanks to the sumptuous ‘sadya’, and I wasn’t tired at all. Initially, I was sceptical of Dad’s (reluctant) offer, for, driving sessions with dad are always thinly-veiled verbal-expletive lessons! Luckily, my parents had drifted to sweet slumber half-way through the seventy kilometer journey, avoiding all the back-seat-driving crap. Whew! I could even play whatever music I liked!
As we neared Trivandrum, I was quickly reminded of the Microprocessors assignment up for submission on the day of college-reopening. I didn’t have a text, and friends who owned dilapidated copies were too reluctant to share. It was so late that even book-hunting through libraries was virtually impossible. My only go was to buy a good ‘Mu-P’ (Read: Mew Pee) book. Dad groggily nodded away my suggestion on traversing book stores in search of the book. As we neared the city, the drive progressively became arduous. My speedometer rarely crossed the 20 mark! After a nerve-wrecking twenty minutes of finding a parking slot at Pulimood Junction, at the heart of the city, (it’s the peek of Onam, mind you!), I literally sliced our car in between an Indica and a Santro. After a futile attempt to wake my parents (they were sleeping as if they’d taken pills!), I slipped a five hundred rupee note from Dad’s purse, locked the door and sauntered off in search of my Mu-P books.
Six shops and one sharjah (occasional guilty pleasures at dad’s expense!) later, I found my book. It was a Tata McGraw Hill publication, complete with stylish blue cover and glossy pages. Four hundred bucks well spent, for a book-cum-makeshift-pillow. Making mental calculations about the angular velocity of paper planes I’d make with pages from this book once I’d complete my B.Tech, and wondering whether the glossy pages would match wind-velocity and topple the paper plane, I dreamily walked to my destination: our car. As I neared our car, I took a quick glance at the interiors of the Santro which lay adjacent to our Indigo. Watching car interiors is a hobby, especially at such jobless occasions. It was well-furnished. Velvet seat cover, sassy stereo too. The OLED display of the Pioneer stereo rocked! The sheer beauty of the on-screen OLED visualizations, coded in true-blue C Language, enthralled me; I stood there, gazing at the beauty of the visualization, which seemed like a cross between ripples in water and a dancing girl. Curiously,despite the working music player, not a sound emerged from the car’s speakers. But I was too preoccupied with the visualization to detect that. I didn’t even notice that the timer, adjacent to the visualization was in reverse; gradually ticking to one and then to zero.
For a split second, (or was it a couple of split seconds?), I thought the visualization came alive. Yes it did. This time, the color was lilac-red instead of the OLED-ish bluish-green. It filled my vision, literally, and I found myself, pushed by some mystic force into the realms of nothingness…
The world around me had changed within the bat of an eyelid. Pulimood junction, as I could see it now, was abound with flames which oddly resembled the lilac colored ‘visualization’ I’d witnessed momentarily. The Santro, which now lay a few metres ahead, was a burning heap of metal-pulp. Its door, through the windows of which I’d peered into it, had pinned me down. Blood, bodies, blood-curdling screams of pain all around. Sirens with increasing pitch drew in from all directions. I tried to shove the door away with my left hand, but I couldn’t. Through the layers of blood induced by the shattered side-view mirror of the Santro on my forehead, I could see a bulk of deformed flesh that peculiarly resembled my left hand!
Another nightmare! For the past week, I’ve been having nightmares. I’d always keep pondering over those scary nightmares, amid all the cold sweat and incessant panting.
But this time, I knew.
I walked to my drawing room and switched on the T.V. The death toll of Delhi blasts had reached 20. Over 100 were injured and five live bombs, defused. I could see a pattern emerge, Bombay-Ahmedabad-Delhi; BAD. Bah, poetic justice, even in death!
I could feel the tears in my eyes. And I didn’t bother wiping them away. I knew how the victims felt. For, it almost happened to me too!
Food for thought:
Why don’t we have a good Counter Intelligence Agency? If news is to believed even ISI is way better than our puny RAW & IB. All terrorist-bashing we see in desi ‘patriotic’ movies is bullshit. If it isn’t so, it’s for you secret agents to prove me wrong! Forgive me if I’m being too laidback and complacent. But it’s in-your-face truth. Period.