Going to the fair reminded Ranjit of his childhood. Memories of running about with friends and trying his hand at the different games gushed out of their mental cabinet. He also recalled what made eyes shine more than the scintillating lights was seeing couples having a jolly time at the fair. As he wrapped his hand around Bhavna’s and looked at kids, he wondered if they felt the same.
One person who most definitely didn’t was Bhavna.
Even the evening with its perfect weather, the festive atmosphere, the glittering surroundings, the pleasant view, and the company of a hopeless romantic couldn’t animate her face. She walked with heavy legs and sullen eyes.
“I thought you’d like going out in such beautiful weather.”
“I do. It’s just that I’ve never been to a fair before.”
“Well, that means you can enjoy it way more than me. It’s all new to you!”
Bhavna rolled her eyes at him. “I’m past that age now.”
“Oh come on. There’s something for everyone at a fair, provided you have good company,” he said, producing a smile he thought was charming but whose reflection would have made him wince as well. Bhavna sighed. “Just take a look around. There’s a ferris whee—“
“Seats too small for two and a half asses.”
“There are food stalls offering diff—“
“Can you ever not think of food?”
“There’s a scary house –“
“Ooh, there’s the Shakespeare experience tent that lets you live—“
“Everyone dies with Shakespeare.”
“There might a tunnel of love kind of—“
“You watch too many western cartoons and movies. Nothing of that sort here.”
“Hey, no using your tongue as your sniper rifle!” Ranjit wrinkled his face. The cool breeze that was caressing him earlier now gave him the chills. But it paled in comparison with Bhavna’s gaze. “What? You keep shooting down everything I suggest! I thought you only shot people for money.”
“I shoot people for money. Shooting ideas is a hobby.” As his face lost colour, Bhavna’s lit up with a smile.
“You should go to one of the shooting stalls and get the bullets out of your system!”
Bhavna couldn’t resist laughing and pulling his cheeks as she watched him pout.
“No, baby-face. I don’t want to flaunt my skills in a sorry place like this.”
“More like you can’t do shit without your expensive rifle. The air rifles here are devices that require a knack and knowhow of firing.” Hook.
Bhavna stopped walking. “A knowhow of firing,” she repeated.
“Not the knowhow of a contract killer, but someone who’s been to fairs and used such rifles. Something you don’t have,” he said, flicking her nose and walking away. Line.
Even amid the noise, he could hear her stomping feet as she joined him. “You can’t get to me that easy. Besides, there’s nothing in it for me.”
“No man wants to hire a sniper who can’t even shoot down a row of toys.”
Bhavna stopped walking again and pouted. She grabbed his arm and pulled him away. And Sinker.
“Ten shots for fifty! Oh, good day young sir. Fancy a chance at winning your lady a nice gift?”
Bhavna handed the stallkeeper the money and took the rifle off him. The stallkeeper was surprised to see her wielding the gun instead of Ranjit, but it only widened his lips further.
After the first three shots, Ranjit’s smile was almost as wide as his. It was a new experience – watching Bhavna get all worked up and fuming – and he was having fun. Two shots later, Bhavna got the knack. But rather than the toys, she eyed the frames of the shelves they rested on and chalked out the trajectory in her mind. She looked at Ranjit and smiled. Everything turned ominous.
After five misses, there was a hit. No toy moved on the shelf, but Ranjit felt something really sting his forehead. The stallkeeper and Bhavna chuckled as he rubbed out the pain.
Three seconds later, he was rubbing his cheek, neck, and chest. The accumulated stings morphed into pain now, but he also noticed how the hits were going lower and lower. His eyes met Bhavna’s, and Ranjit saw the most sinister smile ever.
It was bittersweet to be hit in the belly. The bellybutton his swelling stomach had stretched years ago had been stitched. Ranjit doubled over with pain, while Bhavna did so with laughter.
First posted on Agyani’s Stories