Tuesday 23 September 2014

Missing (Chapter-9)

This is the ninth part of the short story that I am writing in collaboration with nine other bloggers on Blogadda. Our team is 'Tete-a-ten'. You can read the previous parts here: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Two voices speak.
I hear just one.
The right says "Stop."
Left tells me to run.

But standing in
The sun so bright.
I fall aground
And lose my light.

Will I ever stand up?
Will I be free
Of voices - shrill,
To discover me?

*  *  *

Tilak Nagar, New Delhi

She eats her spicy golgappas, tears streaming down her cheeks, and asks the road-side vendor for some napkins. The golgappa-seller wipes his hands on his filthy, torn vest and hands his customer a torn piece of newspaper. She rubs her soiled fingers on the paper and tosses it without looking. It falls on a lanky young man walking by.

"Hey! I'm not a dustbin!" he retorts angrily. "Watch where you..." he stares dumbstruck at the paper in his hands. It bears the mugshot of a handsome man under a bold black title "MISSING". With his heart in his mouth, he reads the details -
Name: Cyrus Daruwala
Age: 21 years
Complexion: Fair
Height: 6'3"
Built: Big boned with strong shoulders

Anybody who can bring back Cyrus or provide information that leads to his discovery will be suitably rewarded.

He does not bother to read the contact details for he knows the address by heart. Cyrus is his best friend. Fanus Mistry carefully folds the torn piece of paper and stows it in his breast-pocket. He wipes a tear off his cheek and heads to Cyrus' parents' house.

*  *  *


Cyrus sat stooped on the revolving chair in Dr. Sneha Phadnis's cabin and absentmindedly toyed with the egg-shaped paperweight on the table. Dr. Phadnis was on the phone on a seemingly important conversation. Her clinic was large, but the cabin very small. She only used this room to chat with her patients and their kin. She did all the thorough checkups in the adjacent wider cabin where she usually had an assistant to operate the equipment.

The tall Cyrus always slouched a little to not stick out like a sore thumb in crowded places. But his poor posture stayed with him even when he was alone or in the company of just a few people. Cyrus often blamed his fate for having to visit the doctor every Wednesday night while his friends would go out for a drink. He was a very attractive young man - his skin was as fair as the snow-covered winter-roads in Ladakh. His parents often told him so. Cyrus had light brown eyes that looked like artificially coloured crystals. Unfortunately, his beautiful eyes stayed veiled by his elephantine square-framed specs. But that never failed to charm scores of pretty girls in his college!

Cyrus had finally managed to make it to Delhi's top law school after spending an entire year preparing for CLAT. But as fate would have it, his magical mind started working against him after he joined his undergrad school. He fancied strange and contradictory things all day when he was awake, and dreamt of scenes that pulled his mind into two opposite directions. He suspected that the intense debates and counter-questioning in his practical classes had started splitting his mind. Nevertheless, he ultimately decided to see a doctor on his parents' insistence.

Bored to death in the white cabin that had nothing on the walls but for a painting of twelve horses galloping freely in the meadows, Cyrus smoothed the unruly beard on his chin as he continued to spin the glass paperweight.

"Duodenal Atresia?" Dr. Sneha's throaty voice brought Cyrus out of his reverie. "It's very rare. I'm afraid, I haven't learnt of any cases in Delhi."

Cyrus looked up, his curly hair bouncing with the jerk. Dr. Sneha smiled at her patient and signaled with her fingers the call would be short. "You have found one in Mumbai?" she nodded, her face betraying concern. "A nine year old is too young, don't you think?" she tucked her hair behind her ear. "I wouldn't if I were you! Be careful. It can be very dangerous if Roohi's parents find out." She replaced the receiver and looked at Cyrus with her composure regained. "How are the pills working for you? Any side-effects?"

"Umm... Doctor, I have to go back and prepare for the moot-court session tomorrow. Can we please do this next week?" He was sweating and had a genuine look of urgency on his face.

Dr. Phadnis frowned, "OK... Why don't you ask my assistant to block an hour for you on my calendar?"

"Thanks a lot! I'll do that." He started to leave.

"Cyrus?" she stopped him. "Please take care. I'm worried for you."

"I will. Don't worry. I'm taking the pills." He made a swift exit.

*  *  *

Daruwala's Residence
Greater Kailash, New Delhi

Boman Daruwala, a hefty man with wild, curly chest-hair waits for his son to join them for dinner. "Cyrus? Cyrus! Your favourite, dhansak, is getting cold" he hollers. His full-blooded wife, Sherry, arranges the table and places the water jug at the centre. Receiving no reply, Boman speaks again, "You learn about criminal law and corporate law, but you are yet to learn the laws of this house! Come out, baccha. It's bad manners to let your parents eat on their own."

"The busy boy must be preparing for his moot-court tomorrow." Sherry tries to placate her husband. "That's it! I'm fed up of this boy", Boman storms out of the dining room and raps on Cyrus' door. Still no answer. He twists the door-knob and the door opens into a peach-coloured room with not a single paper astray. The wall on the east is lined with a bookshelf. Tomes of law exam guides and several Manorama editions are neatly stacked inside the teakwood shelf. The bed is neatly made and the Irani carpet in Cyrus' room is speckless. Everything looks perfect. Except one thing - there is no one in the room.

"Sherry!" Boman squeals at the top of his lungs, his fury now infused with anxiety and his heart drumming like a maniac. "Cyrus is not in the house!" His wife drops the serviette she was about to place and rushes to him. "Where is my son? He was right here ten minutes back when I told him to be ready for dinner." Sherry asks without expecting a reply and dials his number.

"It's switched off", she looks helplessly at Boman. Boman digs out the phone-directory and starts calling all of Cyrus' classmates one after another. Sherry, meanwhile, scans her son's room. "Boman, look here!" Sherry's voice trembles as she gingerly hands him a slip of paper.

Dear Ma and Pa,

I don't think I can take it anymore. All I wanted was to study, be successful and live peacefully without people prying on me all the time. I studied so hard and made it to my dream law-school. But it felt nothing like a dream. They are all the same, Ma! I hate this world. I don't think I can live here anymore.

I am leaving. I'm leaving forever. This is probably the only way to keep myself happy now.

Sherry faints on the bed and leaves Boman to do all the hard work. Soon, a series of phone calls to the neighbours and Cyrus' college follows. He finally lodges a lost-complaint with the Police and calls up his friend at the press and  requests him to run Cyrus' missing-ad on one of the leading dailies in Delhi.

*  *  *

Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station
New Delhi

"Chai... chai..." the hawkers were busy even in the dead of the night. Cyrus bought a cup of piping hot tea and took his wallet out to pay. He fingered a handwritten note, behind his banknotes, that bore his handwriting - Mission Roohi : Do it today!

He was nervous but he knew this had to be done. The night had been gruelling this far - rushing out of his shrink's clinic, escaping home right after speaking to his mother, and frantically scanning for trains to Mumbai. He could luckily manage the last train that would reach Mumbai in the afternoon of the day after the next. Something is better than nothing, he thought to himself. His tired eyes could take it no more. He dozed off in his side-upper berth.

*  *  *

Read Chapter-10 here.

My team and I are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us!

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