Himanshu stepped out of the cab, paid the driver and went inside the bar. It took him a little while to adjust to the darker room along with the psychedelic lights darting in every direction. After his eyes settled, he looked around the bar for his brother, Anshuman. To his left, Anshuman sat on a stool in front of the bar; a pint of beer in his hands. He spotted Himangshu and waved. Waving back, Himanshu walked across the bar to him.
“How are you, big brother?” asked Angshuman in a cheery voice. The bartender came forward to take the order. Himanshu ordered a beer and turned to his younger brother.
“I’m fine. What about you?”
“Enjoying my independence on independence day,” said Anshuman, raising his glass of beer. Himanshu smirked. His brother always did love drinking. The bartender came back with his beer. Himanshu sat down on a stool beside his brother and took a sip.
“So, why did you want to meet? Everything alright?” asked Anshuman, half-turning toward him.
“Why do things need to be in chaos for me to meet my younger brother?” said Himanshu, a smile hanging from his lips.
“I didn’t mean that.”
“I know. Anyway, let’s chat. When was the last time we met; last month?”
“Precisely. I went for Samya’s birthday. How’s he and Tania?”
“They’re good. Do you remember the independence day when we were on the tenth standard?”
“Yeah, how can I forget? I had my first kiss. What was the girl’s name; Naina?”
“That’s right. I met Tania on independence day as well.”
“This day has special significance for us then, doesn’t it?” said Angshuman. “Wait a minute. I need to go pee.”
He came back after five minutes. Taking another sip of the beer, he resumed talking. “When did you have your first kiss with Tania?”
“Let’s not talk about that,” said Himanshu. His ears turned red at the mention of something so personal.
“Oh, come on! You never say these things. It’s Independence day; give yourself freedom from this shyness.”
“Okay; when we were in college, about a couple of months into our relationship.” Himanshu paused, took a deep breath, and spoke up again. “You know, Samya had his first kiss a couple of months ago.”
“He’s eight!” said Anshuman, laughing out loud. He laughed so hard it brought tears in his eyes. “With whom, by the way; someone in his class?”
Himanshu averted his gaze and looked distantly in front of him. “With you.”
The smile vanished from Anshuman’s face. It held an expression as though he has been electrocuted. “What are you talking about?”
“Samya told us everything, Anshu. How you kissed him, how you tortured him, and how you intimidated him so that he wouldn’t speak up,” said Himanshu in a calm voice. Anshuman’s hand started trembling.
“He’s lying, I did no such thing,” he said. Suddenly he was having difficulty in breathing.
“It’s getting hard to breathe, isn’t it?”
“How do you know?” asked Anshuman. By then, he had trouble speaking as well.
“I poisoned your drink when you went to the loo.”
“What? I’m your brother, Himanshu.”
“And he’s my son. You gave him his first kiss. I gave you one as well – the kiss of death. You were right, Anshu, the independence day has a special significance in our lives. On this day, I grant you freedom from your miserable life. Goodbye, dear brother.”
Himanshu stood up and walked towards the exit. When he was coming out he heard the bartender yelling on the top of his voice.
“Hey, I need help. This man is choking over here.”
A smile came into his lips as he came outside. A pleasant breeze swept his face. Before him, the city was bustling on the street. On that moment, he felt alive.
“Papa,” he heard a voice coming from his right. He turned his head to the source and saw a boy running toward him. He had a red balloon in his hands.
“Hey, Samya!” He took him up on his lap. “Where’s your mother?” As he finished the word, he saw Tania walking toward them, wearing a white top and dark blue jeans.
“Happy independence day!” said Himanshu to Tania and walked off down the road.