A man clothed in a form fitting suit walked up to the black BMW parked on the rear side of a swanky metallic building. With broad shoulders, and salt n’ pepper hair, he looked like George Clooney’s identical twin He walked and looked like he owned the place. There was a certain swag and arrogance to his demeanor. Of course, he owned the place. The swanky building was the R&D center of the food company he owned. He eased the vehicle out from the parking and sped off, climbing on to the highway. He glanced at the watch – a beautiful black metal Rado gifted by Rini. That watch was a constant reminder of his failure, of his loss. He wanted it to experience that pain. It felt like being stabbed with a sharp knife and twisted many times over. He could have easily junked the watch along with all her other belongings when she died, but he didn’t have the heart to. It was her gift for their first wedding anniversary. She had saved up money from the wedding expenses and had planned buying this watch for him. Afterall, for her, it was worth buying this unique piece of beauty than buying a trousseau worth a couple of lakhs. She loved wearing it as well. He loved it when she paired it with a black Jean, that precious Jimmy Cho boots and the hot pink shirt. He sighed and drove on, remembering tiny details about her. That small mole on her lower jaw, her flowery yet mild perfumer, that apple-mint smell of her after she washed it with her favorite shampoo. He clenched his teeth and tightened his grip on the wheel as he pulled into a brightly lit parking lot of a wedding hall. Memories of his own wedding flooded him, making his mouth twitch slightly. He stopped the car and shut his eyes before going on to park the car perfectly. She had taught him to Parallel Park perfectly. He hated weddings more since her death, but he didn’t have much of a choice today as it was his business partner and friend, Ravi’s son’s wedding.
He managed to escape finally around mid-night. He felt hot and humid after all that dancing and food. He removed his coat and swung it casually, walking towards his car. He missed her badly today. His mind seemed to be on a rewind mode, playing back to back memories of each and every millisecond he spent with her. He wished they parted on a better note. She had wanted a divorce, just hours before she died. Two weeks into argument about the baby and she wanted to throw away an 8 year old relationship. They had agreed not to have kids. One night she had come back from a party, wanted to have baby. “There was an undying want to have the child” to be precise. That’s the phrase she used. The phrase seemed odd and he couldn’t put his finger on what was wrong with it. Back then, when they fought, it didn’t occur to him that there was something strange about it. Thinking of it today and again and again, there was definitely something absurd with that statement. Rini was a very straight forward person. She spoke her mind and had no qualms doning it. It was uncharacteristic of her to want something this badly in a short time and argue fiercely without a logical backing. Then she went mad, wanted a divorce. Ultimately, they had a big showdown. She furiously left the house, driving away in her Mini and crashed. She died on the spot due to shock and a trauma to the brain. The accident, the argument, the divorce – all felt very fishy. Something was majorly off shot. The Mini couldn’t have crashed. Or at least that’s what he felt. He shook his head again out of habit. He did that when he was confused or tensed. Aging was inducing paranoia, he reasoned.
He reversed the car patiently and bang! Another black car had sped towards his car and hit from behind!
“Oh ssssshit! Whatttttt have I done. What aan idiot!” swore Anusha as she swung her long legs out of the driver seat. Her speech slurred enough to make one realised that she was drunk to boot. She stumbled out of the car and wobbled towards the bumper to check the damage. A man with killer looks stood there glaring at her. He looked important. He looked like Rishi. The love of her life. She corrected herself mentally. He wasn’t the love of her life anymore. Heck, he wasn’t even alive any more. He had to go get himself killed all out of anger after a rather silly argument. She noticed his watch. It looked an expensive Rado – Like the same one Rishi wore. She tried focusing on the details of his looks only to have her head explode with pain. She felt like being pricked at once by a thousand pine needles. She rubbed her head vigorously. Bitter memories of that final argument flooded her head. He wanted to have kids. After 9 years of being married and having decided not to have kids, his sudden want for “that child” was strange. As long as she could remember he hated kids. Thinking of it now, the very phrase he used seemed really strange. “Child”? Weren’t they called babies or kids at this stage. He was a writer, a successful one at that too. His choice of words were always perfect, but when he had repeated that phrase of “wanting to have that child” seemed so uncharacteristic of him. His father had chucked him out of their ancestral house and his business for marrying her. For marrying a woman who was an orphan. An orphan who didn’t want kids and was a painter. Rishi had stood by her like a rock, but that day, when he drove away in anger after the argument, it didn’t feel like he was the same man who stood with her thick and thin. He seemed possessed. She wasn’t convinced of his death as well. Apparently, he had died out of the shock of the crash, rather than by the impact.
The man from the car had stepped down and was inspecting the damage.
“Don’t you have eyes?! Can’t you see that I’m reversing the car?” he shouted at her.
“Lookkkkk misster. I am sorry. I just lost controllll. Send me the bill, I will paayyyy it” she replied, wagging a finger at him.
“Just what I need! Drunk to the brim are we. Look mam, I need this to report this to the cops. Drinking and driving is a serious offence. You just caused and accident. What if this had happened on the road.” he said as he pulled out his phone to call the cops.
“Okay, yes I am drunk. I know it’s an offence to drive at this state, but quit lecturing me okay. What’s your problem when I’m ready to foot your mechanic bill.” she replied this time a bit steadily. The word “cop” had evidently had an effect on her.
“Being arrogant are we. Have it your way. If you step on to the car and drive again for the night, be assured that you would be counting bars within minutes. No. this is not a threat.” he replied.
“Oh then, who is going to drop me home? The car can’t drive itself you know?!” she replied, shivering slightly.
“Ha. You must have thought of this before you drank away that last bottle you know” he replied in a mocking tone.
“Enough. Take my phone, store your contact, give yourself a call from it, call me tomorrow to settle your bill. Thanks grandpa, for your free advice!” she replied coolly before wobbling back to the car.
He pulled her hand before she took one step. “Grandpa my foot! You aren’t driving! Get into my car, I will drop” he said, taking a step closer to her while twisting her arm slightly. She frowned slightly and gave into to his threat. It didn’t hurt to have a driver drive her home. Her head was killing her.
She went locked her car and got into the front seat of his car and buckled herself. He sighed and followed suit. He moved the car and drove on to the highway.
Anusha sat thinking. She felt exhausted, both mentally and physically. It wasn’t like her to get drunk. She tried to mentally slap herself awake, but Vodka won over logical reasoning. She was with a complete stranger, whose car she had just damaged who was driving like a racer on the deserted highway. She hadn’t even bothered to ask his name. The sober Anusha would have probably slapped him for driving like a maniac. If only she had been sober, it wouldn’t have come to this. He braked suddenly, pulling her out of the million thoughts that was zig -zagging inside her head.
“Why the hell did you stop the car now?” she shouted. Her slurring had reduced considerably. The shock of the sudden break must have reduced the numbing effect of the alcohol.
“Open your eyes! Can’t you see a child sitting here in the middle of the road? You are too drunk to even see your own hand. Just don’t get down, I’ll go take a look and be back” he shouted back, removing his seat belt.
A small child, wearing a pink frock was lying smack in the middle of the road on her side. Her face was turned away from the car. The road was pitch black barring the light from the headlight of the car. He walked slowly with caution and touched her hand. Her hands felt Ice cold and he jerked his hand back.
Fear gripped him as he realized the child might be dead. Just as he was about to turn her to see her face, she sat up with a start and turned to face him. Her hair shone against the yellow head light and she had a perfect bob cut. Her face was round and chubby with dimples on both cheeks. She had blue eyes and rosy lips. Though her skin looked very pale, she reminded him of the girl from the nursery rhyme.
“Hi, who are you and what are you doing here?” he asked. He found it rather odd that her dress wasn’t soiled in spite of her lying down on the road. Anusha had walked down out of curiosity and crouched next to him.
The child smiled at both of them.
“I’m Rita. I used to live in an orphanage until I was adopted. I lost my way when my new dad and mom took me to the amusement park” she replied in a small voice and looked very mournful.
“Okay, but why are you lying down here on this road? Do you know where your parents live? I can take you there.” he replied. He had this insane urge to hug the child and take her home. He never liked kids, but this girl seemed so sweet. He felt Anusha shaking his arm vigorously. He swatted her off without looking at her. Nothing felt important than looking at the sweet child in front of him. He wanted to carry her home. She looked way too beautiful and sweet.
“I don’t know” said the child and began crying.
“Okay, Okay, relax, I will take you to my home” he replied. He felt Anusha now slapping him harder and harder on his arm.
He looked up from the child’s face to see his wife standing in front of him along with another man, the man who died colliding with his wife’s car. Then he looked down again at the child’s face. His nostrils felt hot and he collapsed.
The newspaper headlines the next day read, “Business man killed in a car crash, unidentified body of a woman also found”