While Vipin had been invited to a house party for New Year’s Eve, Ranjit spent it with relatives. He tried protesting, but his mother was too persuasive, and his father too domineering. Playing Antakshari with family until the clock struck 12 wasn’t his idea of spending the last day of the year. But his sister tried lifting his spirits, and his uncle pitched in with a few pitchers of local ale, inserting spirits into him. In time, Ranjit forgot his sullen mood and most everything else.
It was the last auspicious day of the wedding season, and the first day Ranjit wore his new suit. One of his friends was getting married, which gave him the opportunity he was waiting for. The garment was of a hue of grey more suited for old people, but his innocent face and clueless eyes conquered that minor obstacle. He had approved of what the mirror reflected, and so had Vipin, his roommate. But the moment he entered the traffic-laden areas of outer-Delhi, his mood soured.
The alarm clock jolted Ranjit out of sleep. He smacked the ringer and grunted, fuming at his failure to switch it off for Sunday morning. After turning in his bed for a few minutes, he gave up. He picked his pack of cigarettes and walked to the balcony, muttering curses at the alarm clock all the while.
A person breaks his neck and dies in the most ridiculous manner. He chooses to recount the tale to a small audience in return for getting a chance of avenging his death. But what awaits him is more than laughter.
The window was open just enough to let in the cool air. The attic was empty save for its two occupants.
“How long will you continue sitting there brooding to yourself?”
“What else is there to do, Tony?”
“I don’t know, get a life maybe!”
I turned to look at Tony. He lowered his head and put his hand on his forehead. The ridiculousness of his suggestion embarrassed him more than it surprised and humoured me.
“You know that’s not possible,” I said. I moved my hand from under my chin and let my head drop. It was difficult to look at Tony from the position my head was in, but displaying my broken neck helped me make my point.