Mr.R is upto his usual work. Cleaning the desk- the first thing he does when he steps into his cabin. ‘A tiresome week!’ says something in his head. ‘Atleast all the bills are cleared…Or is it?’
‘Let’s check… the electricity, grocery bills, family insurance, mediclaim, credit/debit card clearance, car EMI, housemaid’s salary, typist’s salary, driver’s salary, D’s tuition fee…Phew! I’ll be damned if I leave out something, if at all anything. Huh! What am I thinking?? I’m going nuts.’
‘I can explain-’
‘Get to work!’ he bellowed at the timid thing, I mean, the typist cum attendant.
Mr.R set right the photo stand on his desk. He saw his wife’s eyes staring blankly at him, with a trace of a smile on her lips though. ‘How expressionless they are!’ he wondered. ‘Always the same. One can never trust those eyes - those two black, boring eyes’. And there were D’s eyes smirking at him. He doesn’t see him smile that way nowadays, not even with his friends. He hopes the boy does himself some good. Never good at studies, anyway. Doesn’t have the least chance of making it big in his business. Cinematography? Movies? No, that won’t do. That absolutely won’t do.
Next to him, R saw himself. He must have made some effort to smile which was visible by the way his facial muscles had twitched themselves. He thought he looked much better now, except that his hairline seemed to recede every passing day. Realizing he had spent the past five minutes admiring his own appearance, he gave himself a shrug.
‘Tell Mr.H that I can’t meet him today. If he asks the reason tell him that I have to leave early.’
‘Yes sir. Shall I call him right now?’
‘Well, you convey it personally. He’s one mad guy. Hand over this file to him. Tell him that I had gone through it - no corrections are to be made. Take my car. Is the driver there?’
‘Yes sir. Shall I leave now?’
‘You better do.’
A thud. Then silence. Mr. R felt unusually gloomy. He wanted to get away from the boring place. He badly wanted to take the day off but his wife’s loud chattering made home unbearable. He laid down his head and rested his over-worked eyes. And hours passed…
“Where am I? Where am I?”
“Who is this? Please say, what is this place? Why am I not able to see?”
“I’m not supposed to say,” said a voice so alien, so strange, so inhumane.
. His spine froze. Never had he heard such a cold-blooded voice. “Save me! Save me! Save me!” he started to yell.
Something was stuffed into his mouth.
R felt his hands and feet tied yet he couldn’t feel the hardness of a rope. In its place, he felt something slithering in a haphazard manner. He felt it move- around his toes, his ankle, his wrist, his elbows. He felt the urge to scream but the thing stuffed in his mouth wouldn’t ease off him just yet.
The air was acrid. Was he going to be killed? Fear gripped R. But he didn’t feel his heart pounding nor did he feel his breath heavy. But his whole body kept on trembling with every passing second.
“Is he here?” Another mortifying voice rather like a hiss, made R jump.
“Yes, mon victor”
“Let the shrouded clouds reveal themselves from the mist!”
The darkness disappeared partly. R tried to make out where he was. The colour that surrounded him seemed rather unfamiliar. He wasn’t on the ground now. He was hovering on air...mid air.
“I can’t see his face clearly. Why is the place so dim?”
“The mist, mon eternal master”
“Very well… The lightening of lamps won’t make the sea bright!” The voice bellowed.
Suddenly the whole place illuminated. R’s fear increased double-fold when he saw the man - the master. It was grossly covered with red hair all over its body and its tongue was on flames. It turned towards R and stared with its fiendish eyes.
“What? Who is this?” The red thing yelled at his slave.
“I have brought you that R you wanted, oh mighty lord!”
R saw the meek thing tremble before his fiery master.
“I didn’t ask for this R. I wanted the other R, the other R, the other R!!!”
R heard a deafening noise more virile than a thunder. He felt as if he was being pulled down. He felt the whole place being hit by a quake. He was disarmed and he dropped on to the ground beneath with the force of being hit by a running mammoth.
”Where am I?”
R opened his eyes. He found his wife’s black, boring eyes staring right back at him, except that it wasn’t expressionless but teary. “Ahhhhhh!” she screamed. “He’s alive!!!”
R saw that his bed was crowded by everyone he knew.
“What happened? How did I reach my home?”
But no one would explain to him right then. They were all astounded at the sight of him, breathing.
At once, they pounced upon him and asked how it happened.
“But you were dead… You were dead…Your heart had stopped!” they exclaimed.
R couldn’t understand anything. His trembling hadn’t yet ceased.
At the moment, the servant came running. “The driver is dead,” he announced, looking at R. But few seemed to take notice.
R felt his heart pounding now. “What was his name again?”
“Whose?” his wife asked.
“His name is the same as yours. Why is that important now? Oh, Am I so happy! God is so merciful!!”