This is the fourteenth part of the short story that I am writing in collaboration with nine other bloggers on Blogadda. Our team is 'Tete-a-ten'. You can read the previous parts here:one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen.
Mumbai Central Station
Why me? What had I done to deserve this? I couldn’t stand up for myself, couldn’t save my self; how will I ever be able to stand for what I want! My life is a waste and now I will be the reason if Fanny becomes the victim also.
A storm of thousand thoughts raged in Cyrus’ mind while he sat in a quaint corner of the station, oblivious to the rest of the moving crowd of the Mayanagri. His face - shadowed by a lull that puzzled a lot of his co travelers from Delhi to Mumbai; his heart - bleeding for what had changed his life in no time; his anger - over the people who no longer deserved the species name – homo sapiens and more than anything his anger about the biggest loser he had turned out to be in this small life of his.
Were it not for the missed calls and a constantly buzzing phone, his lamenting trance wouldn’t have broken. Cyrus wiped the solitary tear off his face and unlocked the mobile phone. Messages and missed calls from the only person in the world who understood him, perhaps even better than his mother.
Dr. Sneha Phadnis was not just a friend and meant a lot to him. She had taught him to be strong and brave. He had let her down and now the fear of showing a defeated face was what bothered him, every time he saw her picture flash on the phone. But it was the thirty two missed calls by Fanus that broke his deliberate ignorance and compelled him to get a hold of himself.
In the hustling bustling city of Mumbai, no one had the time to stop and stare at a lost soul, let alone notice a new comer to the forever busy realms of India. Cyrus walked out of the station and silently stood at the side of the station road, hailing the uninterested autos. After about seven failed attempts he did manage to get an auto but when asked about the destination, he was as clueless as ever – another failure trait! He finally decided to go to Juhu Beach, the area most non Mumbaikars know about Mumbai. The Autowalla (as people of Mumbai lovingly call the auto drivers) sensing the newbie vibes decided to test his own fortune and took a long route, a route via a place called Vile Parle.
Cyrus was drowning in his own thoughts, while clinging to the nonchalant treatment the city gave to the people who are not really a part of it. People were busy in their bivouac of life; traffic, overfilled busses, cacophony of honks, the familiar smoke and dust – it was just another city like Delhi for Cyrus but the difference being, he didn’t know anyone here and no one knew him. Cyrus was totally lost in his thoughts when he suddenly noticed a young girl lying on the ground, wailing. ‘Lying on the ground’, ‘Wailing’; images of his own misery flooded his mind and numbed him for a moment. Incoherently, he asked the auto guy to halt and ran towards the kid, his actions happening on their own; he was in some kind of trance yet again.
“What happened dear? Did someone hurt you? Who did what to you? Why are you crying? Who was the bastard?” Cyrus asked with urgency.
“Bastard!” Roohi Dutta looked at Cyrus like he had done some Capital Crime. She stopped crying all of a sudden and said, “Uncle, did no one ever tell you that is a bad word? You should not speak bad words ever! Mama says so”
A small, feeble, but a genuine smile spread across Cyrus’ face. “Sorry dear. I will never say that again. But why were you crying?”
And like she remembered something evil suddenly, her eyes brimmed with tears yet again. “I tripped. I fell and hurt my knees! And Papa also didn’t come. He broke his promise again.” And her sobs resumed.
“Stop crying! And tell me where is Papa and what promise did he break? And why…” rest of Cyrus’ words was drowned by the honking of the auto.
“You have an auto! Where are you going? Wait I will do what Papa forgot. I am a big girl now!” Roohi said this and ran towards the auto. An elated Roohi commanded the driver to take the auto to Juhu Beach. Cyrus asked the auto driver to do so, and was bewildered by the spirit of the little girl he had just met. Innocence in its pure form; innocence that someone will always try to ruin; innocence that he had lost and would never regain.
“So whats your name”she asked.
“Uh huh, Cyrus and yours?”
Roohi went back to admiring the meandering roads of her city, while Cyrus was lost in his thoughts again
But maybe, just maybe – he thought – it wasn’t all lost. If this small girl can be happy, if he can make her smile by fulfilling her wish, he could do that for someone. New city, new beginning! He had heard and seen this happen in movies, but maybe he could make this happen, he could change someone else’s life, be strong this time, do good and help people now; maybe this was his second chance. He didn’t know where his thought train was heading but before he could reach a conclusion, they reached their destination.
Juhu was just like any part of Mumbai, overcrowded and noisy but the only voices that mattered to Cyrus was the calming symphony of breaking waves and the vibrant laughter of Roohi Dutta. He was happy due to this stranger and knew nothing about this stranger. He giggle at the situation and his giggle with the visage of the jubilant kid was framed by yet another stranger.
Ramada Hotel, Juhu.
Tired after her day long work, but still satisfied with doing what she loved, Jennifer was lost in her thoughts - her wonderland filled with the moment she had managed to capture of the city of Mumbai. She callously browsed through the hundreds of pictures in her camera reliving every moment, till she saw one of the pictures that had a man and a kid; a man looking exhausted, lost and clearly concealing something with a feeble smile and kid satisfied and happy with what she had. She had a weird feeling about the click, but didn’t waste much thought over it and went to sleep, a quick nap to dream about her next photo destination.
After 2 Hours
I have seen this girl somewhere very recently! – Jennifer thought, starring as the missing girl’s photo that was on the top of her news feed on Facebook. She knews that face! It was the weird photo. She fanatically checked her clicks of the day. And when she fond it finally she cross checked the smiling face and the missing face. That’s her! She knew it. But she still couldn’t believe the girl she photographed some hours back was actually missing.
She dialed the number, given with the photo, with urgency but the number was switched off. She messaged Tara on Facebook, Tara who had originally posted the missing photo, but even after half an hour there was no reply. Why was she not able to get through to the Dutta! She paced in her room fanatically.
READ PART 15 HERE!