t was almost 00:15 am. The disco balls still rotating on their hinges and pausingly lighting up the 60*60 ft room. The crowd has comparatively thinned down since a few hours back and the dozens of head sized heart shaped balloons, as they were a few hours back, resembled nothing now but piles of overcooked scrambled eggs. Punctured as they were, they were not alone. The floor was also now home to large number of confetti’s. They lay there now abandoned, used. End of a perfect Valentine’s Day.
“Oookkayy…! Up for another round? Hic…! I am!”
“I know man…I know, man.”
Two guys sitting at the bar counter babbled on. They, by the way, didn’t notice themselves being so high that they couldn’t say that the other was drunk.
One asked the bartender,”Hey…didn’t you have a date…or sumthin’?”
The female bartender smiled, for the umpteenth time this day, and asked, “Would you gentlemen carry on for long? Would you need anything else, sirs?”
The blond haired guy, of the two, looked at her, then asked,” By any chance…are…are you talking to us?!”
The bartender rolled her eyes, likely to say, not again. And then said, “Sir if you would please look around you will see everyone but ourselves are gone.”
The blond smile an unearthly smile & looked back to find the bartender correct. He then lopsided and said to his black haired partner, “Yo! Check this out…man. Every-****-body…is gone. Gone…whoosh…”
The other one smiled stupidly and said, “No, ****…We gotta go…”
The blond paid the bill by credit card and tried to stand straight, but had to hold on to his partner’s shoulder, to prevent falling, who in turn held the counter.
“Need help!” Smiled the lady bartender, who was getting ready to leave.
The blond and his companion said in unison, “No…nope…!”
“Ookkaay!” said the bartender and maybe thought, ‘Heck like I’d have helped ‘nyway. ‘
As the two friends swayed but made steady progress towards the exit, they picked up conversation again.
“I could’ve …could’ve had a couple…one or two… peg more.”
“What…what day is it again?”
“Hey…what day is it?”
“…think its 13, 14, 15, 16…um…15th?!”
“Ya man…valentine’s day…next!”
They were at the exit. The bouncer’s weren’t there to open the doors for them. Probably retired for the day. Like every year, this was one of the busiest days of the year.
As they stepped outside, the dingy backstreet of Ecstasy Bar greeted them, and the door shut behind them the now dimmed out Bar.
“So,” the blond started dispatching from his friend,” same time tomorrow?”
The other gut looked at him and looked kinda lost. Then said, “Umm…ya…dunno man…I mean, I’ll call you…if I…I…”
The blond looked a little concerned and said with furry eyebrows, “You alright!? Right?”
“Ya…ya! I’m okay…I’m …” his expression was lost again and then he turned the opposite direction and started walking.
“…Okay. See you…tomorrow…15th…Oh, today night…G’night.” He turned back looking concerned and walked away.
The black haired guy muttered under his breath,” Yeah…c ya … 15th…14th…14th”
It was 2:30 am. Morning, or rather dawn, was still a couple of hours yet to be covered. And the blackness of the night still yet to recede. So the buzz of the light was yet to peek out.
It was almost 6 degrees above normal. Humidity: just above everybody-sweating-like-a-pig level. Summer came early. Too early.
The buildings on the Eden Street, in the heart of Kolkata city, were standing still. Not a single building was alive. Not even a lid lit. And why should they be? It was 2:30 am.
The front garden of a building bore a cemented structure bearing a plate bearing it’s name. ‘Blessing’. The Iron Gate showed signs of stains. The inmates have been complaining for about half a year now, but the one who’s responsible for maintenance is just not himself for quite some time.
The lowest levels of the building were occupied by the aged persons like Mr. & Mrs. Roy. As the altitude of the building rose, the age of the occupants decreased.
Two of the three flats one the 5th floor were occupied. One’s door bore the names, on a relatively newer tag, Mr. Somesh Dhar & Mrs. Sunita Dhar. Just married for about 6 months.
The flat in the middle was unoccupied. And the last one, at the far end, bore a single name. Mr. Rohan Das. Unmarried.
Behind the fine wooden finish door, the rooms showed no signs of active life form. The room definitely lacked a Woman’s Touch. Books- half open, open & torn along with pens, papers, fax papers, print outs and undergarments lay all over the room. In a perfectly imperfect way.
Some trapped certificated hung over the wok table. Certificates showing the owner’s credibility in managing accounts. But the frames were covered in web and dust. Uncared.
Beside the work table, the black haired guy rolled over uneasily. Clearly the heat makes it uneasy to sleep. Though wearing hardly anything but a ‘sando’ and shorts, still sleep was a distant dream for this guy it seemed.
Rohan’s eye snapped open to the creaking ceiling fan. His forehead was a too watery for the sweat beads and they rolled off. His face bore no expression, if any, it was of despair. He sat up and cleared the sweat from his head. Then he sat on the edge and covered his face with his palms and let out a long sigh. He sat there for a long 5 minutes.
Then Rohan got up and went for the balcony door. It was already open, to reduce the dinginess and stuffiness inside the room. He came out, stood by the railing and looked at his watch. Wearing the watch always, this was one bad habit he didn’t have but acquired a few months back.
His watch hands showed 2:35 am. Faster than News time by 2-3 minutes. As he looked back at his front, the sky was still dark. The night guards having their lazy mid night break. The female dog, which declared Blessing as her home, was sleeping at the entrance of the building. In fact Rohan could see her sleeping just below. Sleeping soundly with her four offspring. Rohan’s face was still expressionless.
But then his expression started to change. As he went for the chair at the corner of the verandah his face looked like he was trying to block out something. He bit his lips and placed the chair right before the railing. Rohan’s face contorted. It seemed he was having multiple thoughts, trying to decide which stream he was to swim with. But then he made up his mind and stood up on the chair.
Rohan took a step on the railing and looked forward. The halogen posts were still lighted. He hooked his hand on the solid cement above and took the second leg on the railing. He leaned forwards. His face again contorted as he closed his eyes and took a leg on thin air.
Then he opened his eyes and spoke softly,” I’m sorry.” And then took his legs back on the chair.
Of the four of the puppies, one got relief for a second as two droplets fell on his moist nose. In his sleep he licked the drops.
The night guard were active again on their duty, whistling their whistles and yelling audibly,” Jaagte Raaaho”