by Bhaswati Ghosh
“Quit it.” Her words stiffened his limbs every evening, as he lumbered his way back home. They got married just four months back. He could sense her yearning for security.
The day job helped little more than pay for the bills and groceries. He couldn’t afford quitting the evening MBA classes. But…
The dark stretch. And the portentous pole.
There were already two cases of electrocution since they joined the neighborhood a month ago. It was a weird road, he thought. No matter how many times the municipality fixed the street light, it stopped functioning.
It’s always midnight here.
But it was the only route to walk back home. Thus her warning, laced with premonition.
“Silly girl, always thinking the worst. I am not the only one who walks on that road.”
Faking reassurance. Easy. Plodding through that dark track every evening. Creepy. The pole alone didn’t bother him; in the back of his mind, snapshots lurked—of pickpockets ruffling his trousers’ back pocket…
A .410 handgun did it in the end. It was Diwali eve, and he bought her favorite sweets. As he wound his way through the dark road, humming a song, three gun shots twisted his gait into a red rivulet. Unarmed civilians were the best targets to drive home the demand for a separate state.
His cellphone, lying unclaimed with his corpse, beeped twice. There was just one eyewitness—a live, mute electric pole.
It was midnight when the police contacted her to identify the body.