The eyes remained closed. Calm. Serene. There was no way anyone could tell, what lies deep inside those closed eyes. Back and forth- as the chair rocked, the clock ticked away, unable to stop itself. The phone. She glided towards the mobile. “Hello”. Silence. “Hmm”. Silence. She looked up, at the clock- 8:06 pm. “Fine”. She kept the mobile down. Her eyes fell over a photograph on the table. A girl, standing beside her father. The girl, innocent, unsure, afraid- and barely living.
“… you see, she doesn’t have a mother. She died, you know. And I’m a single father. How do you suppose that I can manage a girl all by myself? I mean, look at her. She’s always crying and eating. You are very beautiful and smart..”
He was smart too, her father. She could never forget him. He kept bringing home new mothers, all the time. Some were kind, some- didn’t care. And one, kept beating her, all the time. But one day, everything changed. That was the day, when she swore to herself that she’d never let people, use her. And that made, all the difference.
“.. you can’t beat me anymore”, she said, firmly. The woman only smiled. “And who’ll stop me? Your drunken, good-for-nothing father”? “No. I Will”, she said. The woman started laughing. “Oh yeah”? And she advanced towards the timid, little girl. The smile in her eyes turned into fear. Bloodshot eyes. She was gasping for breath as she slumped. And the little girl, stood there, with the blood stained knife in hand. Her eyes spoke a new language. A language of power- life!
The phone. She set aside the photograph and picked up her mobile. 8:25pm. “Hello”. Silence. “By 10? No. Finish it up by 9”. Silence. “Yes, I have it”. Silence. Silence. “Alright.. 9:30”. She looked up, again. 8:27pm. She turned back to the photograph. She took it out of the frame. Turned the photograph. A poetry. The heart, that understood her- Jennifer.
“.. I know, child. It might be very difficult for you, with your father in jail for murder. Was it your mother”? “No”, she replied, “step- mother”. “Ah! You poor child. Don’t worry. You are born to live. You are God’s special child. He’s sent all his angels to be your friends. And you’ll find them all, here. I promise”.
But she found only one. Jennifer. There was something in Jenny, that made her get close to her. They became inseparable. At times, she felt as though, Jenny knew her more than anyone else.
“.. Is that you and your father, in that photo”? Jenny asked. “Yes”. “Do you miss him”? She wasn’t sure whether she missed him or not. So, she said, “Sometimes’. “Will you miss me, if we ever part”? Jenny asked. “Yes. A lot”. Jenny smiled. “Let me give you something that will remind you, about me”. She looked at Jenny, curiously. Jenny was looking at the sky, thinking and smiling. “Let me write a poem about you”. “About me”? she asked, amused. “Yes”. Jenny got the photo from her, and began to write the poetry..
8:42 pm. She dialed a number. “Do you have the cash that my husband wanted you to get from the bank”? Silence. “Good. Leave it in my husband’s car”. Silence. “That’ll be fine. Thank you”. 8:45 pm. Another number. “It’s in his car”. Silence. “Good”. She moved back to her chair. Now, she’d wait. And as she waited- she sailed, back again, through her memory- her life.
“… I know. This promotion means so much to you. But you are still new around here. You understand me? The boss is so sorry. He thinks you are very good, no doubt. But still.. you get me”? “Yes Mr. Trivedi, I understand”, she replied. “That’s better”. Mr. Trivedi smiled. He knew, she’d be no trouble at all. This young female- she was beautiful and intelligent. But only, woman. He turned to leave, when she spoke suddenly. “Congrats, anyway, Mr. Trivedi”. “Congrats? Why”? “Well, obviously, if this promotion is not mine, it’s yours, isn’t it”? Trivedi was not sure how to react. He managed a smile, however. “Well.. well.. You sure know everything that’s going around, don’t you”? She smiled. A kind of sheepish, yet, a pleased, you-flatter-me kind of smile. “Ah.. not everything. Just a few things. Like, there’s a loss of .. how much is that.. 4 Crore ? about which many people here, have no idea.. and a few others.. you know- the 5 bedroom flat, a beach house and 3 days- 3 nights holiday package to
She was promoted, the next day.
9:05 pm. The phone. “Hello”. It was her husband. He had a nice telephone voice. “.. guess what. Everything is planned. I’ve got the tickets. I’ll reach home by 10. Packed your things”? “Yes”, she replied, and smiled. “Great. We are going to have a great time, I promise you”. “I’m sure, we will”, she replied. “Bye. See you soon”. “Bye”. 9:07pm.
She moved her fingers across “Love, Jenny..” written below the poetry, on the photo..
“.. my husband’s going to leave me. Tomorrow, we’ll be divorced. And the day after, you’ll both be married. This is what you’d always wanted, right”? Jenny was shaking with rage. “Jenny, you know very well that I never wanted it that way. Everything, just happened. I couldn’t do anything..” “Oh you could! YOU and only YOU, could’ve done something about it. YOU- can do anything. And YOU know, YOU CAN”. Jenny’s fists were clenched. She was trying hard to control herself. “Calm down, Jenny. You are very disturbed. Sit down..” “Shut up.. you..” Jenny was breathing. In and out. In and out. She waited. She’d let Jenny speak. And Jenny spoke. Her voice, calm, tired- dead, “You know why we were friends? Because it was I and only I, who’d understood you, completely. I, knew you. And yet- I believed that I can be friends with you. You know why? I was foolish. I thought, I could change you. Help you get better. Thought you were a girl who’d been hardened by the miseries of life. And I was wrong. Only later, I realized that the reason people fear Evil is because, just when you are beginning to understand it’s course, it changes it’s course. Evil is evil, because it is unpredictable, for the good. You are Evil. And you’ll Live. Always. Goodbye”.
Jenny died, the next day- depressed.
9:35 pm. The chair was rocking. Clock ticking. She was holding the phone. She was tensed, for the first time ever, in her life. She dialed a number. No reply. She dialed again. No reply. The chair was rocking faster. But the clock, at the same pace, as ever, ticking rhythmically.
9:46 pm. No reply, yet again. Her heart beat started rising up its pace and she could feel the beat. She quickly rose up and decided to make the phone call. The last phone call. She dialed a number. She waited. She waited. She waited. A cold voice spoke from the other end, “You husband’s dead. I have the cash”. She felt relieved. As though she was plunging into deep, cold water- celebrating her freedom from the scorching summer heat. “Good. I should never hear again, from you”. “You’ll never”. 9:57 pm
A week later-
The eyes remained closed. Calm. Serene. There was no way anyone could tell, what lies deep inside those closed eyes. Back and forth- as the chair rocked, the clocked ticked away, unable to stop itself. On one hand, she had a letter from the Board of directors, requesting her, to join the board. On the other hand, she held a photograph- with a poetry on it’s back, that read-
VEILSoft muslin, light and tender
The breeze playing with it
Hides the rosy lips and dimple chin
And the emotions that lie within.
Days roll on, years pass by-
There's no muslin and no breeze;
Yet, it's those rosy lips and dimple chin
That hide emotions, deep within!
She remembered Jenny. She remembered Jenny’s words. And she knew, she was Evil, who’d Live with her Veil, on, always.