“Mrs. D’Souza, Mishra Ji is not Mishra Ji,” I said in sudden haste.
“Are you drunk?”
“No, not a bit.”
“Gyan, I had told you not to drink when you are on duty.”
“I am not drunk!”
“Ok, then how Mr. Mishra is not Mr. Mishra.”
“He didn’t have blue eyes, now he has blue eyes.”
“Mishra Ji has blue eyes,”
“No, he hasn’t.”
“I saw his eyes yesterday I particularly remember the color of ‘em.”
“But how could….”
“You must’ve misjudged.”
She hung up. I know that was Mr. Mishra’s car and I know the color of his eyes but with no one to support me – except Moti – I stood right there gazing at the fire for several minutes. The fire was roaring loud as its flames burned to reach the sky. They were dancing like daffodils in winter and creating figures and numbers. The more I looked, the more I saw and in between, I saw the flames took the shape of a blanket, coming at me held by some hands as they marched towards me. I saw a figure forming in it, slowly the face began to form. The face had nothing in it except the blood, only blood in circular-shaped face dripping off in the flames. Fear seized me at that moment as I stood continuously staring at the fire, as it consumed me all like it is accustomed to.
Someone honked from behind which broke my inseparable stare. It was that same car again. I opened the gate. Although I wanted to stop it, I didn’t dare to do so. I didn’t want to lose my only piece of bread from myself and so I silenced my inner voice and watched that man till he reached his daily destination.
“Happy new year, Moti,” I said as I looked at my watch and then I looked at him. He hugged me and I knew he wished me the same. For the first time, I really knew what Moti meant but one thing that I never understood was the emotion of people who texted me, ‘Happy New Year’. Were they really happy to wish me or they do a formality? How would’ve they said those three words if they would’ve been in front of me? Would they hug me like Moti or would they send me their warmth from fare distance like this fire? What if they meant it in a cold manner like winter or what if they said it sarcastically? I did not know and I never dared to; some things are beautiful in box so I let them stay in my inbox.
Something happened to Moti when I caressed him. He ran to Mr. Mishra’s house and started barking. I got up and called Mr. Shukla, no one picked up. Then I called Munna. He picked up and told me not to engage till he arrives. I went to the house and tried to look inside the house but all of the windows were closed and the curtains were drawn. I walked around the house but still couldn’t find any way to sneak in. Moti was still barking and I saw Mrs. D’Souza lights going up. I took another round around the home and this time I found a way to look inside. Mr. Mishra had a large window in his drawing room and it takes two curtains to cover it. Luckily I found some space between these two curtains to look inside. I saw Damini sitting in front of the fire with her back on facing me. She put camphor in fire and it raged above. I noticed a pandit sitting beside the fire murmuring some mantras with closed eyes. I saw that deeply contended short yet stout figure man, wearing round glasses with all his hair dyed black, wearing kurta-pajama. He poured ghee and other stuff over and over again in the fire. Moti was still barking but both of them looked unmoved by the attempts of Moti. It felt like they couldn’t hear him while the light of half of the neighborhood had gone up.
The room was dark only lit by havan’s fire. The pandit still murmured more and more mantras as he put ghee in the fire. The fire roared in all direction, lighting the room much brighter than before. At that time something widened the gap between the curtains and I saw Golu sitting in the chair opposite to the Pandit. His hands and legs were bound by the rope at the back of the chair; his clothes were torn off as he sat unconsciously on that chair with red marks on his chest as if something warm like iron had touched his skin before. His face lowered down revealing a strange black mark on the side of his neck; a dark black circle inside a light black circle. I stood right there unable to move, looking at the circle, not knowing what to do. It was like my body had left me fragile, weak, and unconscious with my eyes open.