The Red Sky

Posted on September 16, 2010 in Short Stories & Poems

By Amar Tejaswi:

“Achhooo!”

In an instant, bright gold stars glued to gleaming red sky draped around Bankim’s running nose. His mucous on her pallu resembled tainted clouds in the evening sky. He scowled at the clouds and the sky and the stars.

“My father gave you this sari. He is such a great man, but I, his son, am nothing.”

He wrenched the pallu out of her hands and hid his bright round face in the red sky. She felt a sudden urge to console him, but didn’t know why he was crying. She wrested her pallu back to reveal his wet swollen face. Now the red sky had more clouds. She looked at him anticipating his grief to ooze out like the tears and the mucous. And it did…

“I am worthless. I am a disgrace to my family. Father was right.”

“Right about what?”

“I am of no use, I have brought shame to my father’s name.”

“No. You didn’t. You have done all that a son can do for his father.”

“Shut up. You have been turning me against my father, I know it, he told me. After everything my father did for your family, this is how you show your gratitude? You have no honour. Step away from me.”

Diamonds of water rolled down her cheek and fell on the shining blue carpet spread beneath her feet.

She looked at the diamonds at her feet. Despite their tiny size, she could see the them clearly. Each diamond exposed a different face, faces withered to different degrees by the sorrows that plagued her life.

Parineeta possessed the gifts of assiduity and diligence (which her husband didn’t) which she put to use to love her husband from the first day of her unexpected marriage. And she loved him, but he never reciprocated. With each passing day, he ebbed away from her like the receding tides of the seas to the east of Bengal. And she expected him to come back to her, like the same tides did each time they receded. Three years she has been waiting for the tides.

Presently, her faces faded away as the carpet soaked up the diamonds. She gathered herself and looked up. He was scurrying away towards the staircase which led to his father’s room. When at the bottom stair, his wife called for him to wait.

“What do you want now?”

“Where are you going?”

“I am going to my father, can’t you see that?”

“And what of your wife?”

“What of her?”

She watched him with earnest eyes, hoping in vain that he would turn and come back to her. The diamonds in her eyes formed again but didn’t fall down. He started climbing the stairs. Her tenacity didn’t let her stand there. She rushed towards him with the hurry of a squirrel. He didn’t bother.

She was equal on footing with him when they were still half way up.

“Aaaaaah!”

Her startling cry released him from the spiral of thought that was forming in his head. He turned around to find his wife with a dagger in the side of her abdomen. She was in intense pain. He looked down from the railing to find a dark masked man standing diagonally opposite to him. In a moment of fury, Bankim pulled the dagger from its socket in his wife’s abdomen with all the force he could muster and released it. The dagger found its aim.

Bankim rushed to the injured man afraid if he was dead. The floor where the killer lay still was red with his blood and the dagger firmly holding its position in his liver.

“Who sent you to kill my father? Tell me at once! Who sent you?”

Bankim’s bellow astounded the dying man. He stared back at Bankim’s bright round face.

“Your father sent me to kill you.”

On the staircase, there were more diamonds. The red sky grew darker and the stars vanished, but the tainted clouds remained.

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