“Kajal, listen. Don’t come back here. Go. Run. Use the fire staircase and the service exit in the first floor. Throw away this life. Get on a train to somewhere and go. Beg, steal, do something. Make your choices.”
“Wh-what b-bout y- you?”
“I will take care of myself. You don’t have time. Leave.”
Whimpers, tears. Footsteps, the whoosh of the bedspread on the floor. A click, a twist and warmness. A happy noise, a lonely silence, darkness. And Lalitha found, in front of her, infinite certainty. She never gave a second thought to the empty black bag.
A gentle tap on the window glass startled Prasad. It was too early. He pushed the door open and the tiny frame of Kajal’s slipped in beside him. He hit the pedal and the car began to move.
“Did anybody see you?”
She shook her head.
“Good. And I take it, its over?”
She nodded slowly.
“My, my! Malikji was right! I never believed you could-”
“Just shut up and drive.”
Prasad came to a dark, empty side lane and pulled his car into it, parking it under a shady banyan tree, invisible from the main road. “Now, do you have it?”
Kajal slipped out of the bloodied bedspread she had wrapped herself in. Fastened by two thick belts on her naked bosom and waist were four heavy packets of the freshest crystals.
“Aha! My meth!” Prasad chuckled. “And a splendid rack for your age.”
Kajal merely grunted as she unstrapped the packets and stashed it into the vehicle’s dashboard. “Take your spoils and scurry away,” she said.
“Of course, of course. Here, your change of clothes.”
“What will happen to Lalitha akka?”
“Who, the eunuch? So you liked her eh?” Raised eyebrows. A wink behind his face-mask.
“I only want to know I am safe.”
“Have no worries. No one saw you enter, no one saw you leave. A surveillance blind spot, 421 was carefully chosen. So was Lalitha. She cares for you- She is stupid that way,” Prasad said, grinning. Kajal wanted to snap his jaws in two.
Lalitha will be lucky if she went to jail alive.
Everyone got what they wanted. Prasad wanted his meth, Malikji wanted a war and Kajal wanted redemption. The wheels turned, the roads moved, and a journey consumed her past. Kajal slid back in her seat and rested her head on the window glass. The mild rumbling f the engine soothed her. She closed her eyes and saw her towering form.
“A man’s lust is like a bubble- a heavy noise that fills his senses, makes him blind. Inside the bubble, he is an animal you can tame. We live inside the bubble. Whatever you do, don’t let him wake up, because the world outside, is harsh and cold.”