Sunday, April 03
Cynthia had a dreamless refreshing sleep, woke up at 6 am. She was still wearing last day’s clothes. It was apparent that her father took off her shoes and covered her with the blanket. She opened the curtains, sat on the bed cross-legged with a pillow in her lap. In just two days life that was a long burden has become a blissful. She thought about the events of the past day, very long walk with Rishi, probably ten miles or more. Landscape was nothing special but ordinary but she was learning to accept the joys that creation was offering. Many times she felt Rishi loves her and her alone but then he loved everybody, he loved the creation. The most moving thing in her life was that he moved the little puppies. At that time she was confused, she was thinking that she is a billionaire’s daughter, a doctor. Why bother with a street dog, too many in a country like India. But when a puppy slipped out from Rishi’s arms and fell down, she lifted it up in her arms. She felt its heartbeat, felt the fear in its tiny sparkling moist eyes. She brought the puppy to her bosom so it could hear her heartbeat and feel safe. After all puppies joined their mother who was again making a new home, she was elated with joy and wanted to sing and dance. At that time she felt the lightness in her heart like a burden of many years has suddenly evaporated, it was here but was gone, is gone. She asked her if she loves Rishi, of-course she loves him. What kind of love, man-woman or the other kind. This thought seemed unholy to her and she brushed it off from her mind.
She took a quick bath and sat cross-legged on the carpet and tried to meditate. She focused upon her breathing till her thoughts vanished from her mind. After half hour she rose, her mind was thoughtless, nothing unusual but she felt no bliss in her heart that was present before she sat for meditation. She felt she only stopped fueling her thoughts and they died for the time being as it always happened but she lost the bliss too. She was already missing the joyful moment when she woke up.
Her father was still sleeping in his room; probably he went to sleep very late. There was a note on the table.
He wrote with a pen: Call me at noon and always carry your cell phone.
It was Sunday; she again wanted to spend some time with Rishi. She picked up her cell-phone and punched Rishi’s number but then she changed her mind. Just in case he minds her too much interference in his life, she may become burden upon him. She added his name to her phonebook then sat on the sofa thinking about what to do next. She turned on her laptop and there were two emails from Ryan. She smiled.
Only two months ago she fell in love with Ryan. They met in the hospital cafeteria and he smiled and asked her if she does not mind his sitting with her and it was a love at first site. She only failed to cherish his boundless love because she herself was not in the proper mental state to give or accept love. Then she thought about Rishi. If she has to choose one between Rishi or Ryan, whom she will choose. Instant voice in her heart said: Ryan. She smiled again. Is Rishi manipulating the whole situation so he can marry a billionaire’s daughter?
She shook her head.
There was no need to move those puppies. Had they passed those dead puppy all was forgotten in few seconds. At that time Rishi knew that she was not really happy about what she was doing it. She closed her eyes and tried to feel the bliss that occurred after that…..
Her cell-phone vibrated on the glass topped table. It was Rishi, she felt the surge of happiness in her heart.
“How are you Rishi?”
“I am well. How are you Cynthia?”
She laughed, “I am fine Rishi.”
“How is your old man, Cynthia?”
She again laughed.
“He too is OK Rishi. And how is your old man Rishi?”
“He has okeyed ten years ago, Cynthia.”
She understood it that Rishi meant his father has passed away ten years ago but still she had a fit of laughter.
“Have a nice day Cynthia. Bye Cynthia.”
She was shocked, she stopped laughing and tears fell down from her eyes.
She murmured in a sad voice, “Bye Rishi. You too have a good day.”
“Won’t you share my good day with me CYNTHIA.”
“But you said BYE CYNTHIA,” she said.
“I am with my two friends Tinky and Minky, I have to take them to train station. That bye was for getting off from the phone”
“Ha ha ha.” She laughed and continued, “Strange names these Tinky and Minky.”
“We have another Dinky but he refused to leave us.”
She was still laughing.
“Have a nice day Cynthia. Bye Cynthia,” then he added, “See you in one hour.”
Kulcha, Fulca and Kulfa had set up the bait and a rat cage and caught only Tinky and Minky, probably Dinky was visiting his friends in the neighborhood. Anytime they caught a rat they took the cage near a suburban railway station and released it there. Most of the rats made it back to their apartment in some days; some times they brought their new friends too.
Rishi disconnected the phone. He intently said: Have a nice day Cynthia. Bye Cynthia. Just to check her state of mind but he was really upset when he heard her sad voice and decided to bring her along.
“Hey guys,” he said aloud, “This girl, my Boss’s Boss’s Boss’s Boss’s Bossssss’s daughter, she wants to visit us this morning.”
Kulfa’s eyes started staring Rishi with his ever flickering eyes. He just shaved and his face was shining too.
Kulcha said, “We must clean the home and make a divan.”
They were in frenzy. All loose stuff was picked up and thrown in the Kulcha’s room, which was the most disorderly, that room was shut down and locked. Luckily kitchen was cleaned last night.
Fulca said, “Hope Dinky stays there.”
They gathered all suitcases and made a divan and upon it they placed Rishi’s mattress and spread a clean bed sheet over it.
Kulfa had a small Suzuki car; Rishi took the rat-cage and left with him to release the rats at the train station. After they released the rats, they cleaned up the car and then went to the hotel to pick up Cynthia. Kulfa stayed at driver’s seat and Rishi went to lobby, Cynthia was waiting for him. She followed him to the car.
“Meet my friend and my housemate, Atul Mirchandani,” Rishi said, “We call him Kulfa with love.”
Rishi forgot to tell his housemates that Cynthia was white-Caucasian, his eyes again started flickering.
“Is something fallen in your eyes?”
“No his eyes fallen on something.”
Rishi and Cynthia sat in the back seat of the car; they arrived at their apartment in half hour. Kulcha and Kulfa were looking at them from the balcony, wearing their best outfits. Cynthia followed Rishi to the living room of the apartment. In their absence Kulcha and Fulca arranged more suitcases and made a table in front of the divan. A big pile of the shoes by the entrance was moved in the Kulcha’s room. Floor too was mopped clean.
Cynthia saw the strangest house in her life. Empty room, only one divan and a table, both were of awkward shape, completely covered with flowery bed sheets. After the surprise and introductions were over, Rishi sat on the divan first, she followed him. Kulcha, Fulca and Kulfa were standing.
“Come come man, you sit too, on this specially made divan.”
Cynthia was too confused; she was having a hard time to suppress her laughter. Rishi started laughing. Fulca came and sat on the edge of the divan.
Then suddenly whole divan collapsed. One suitcase slipped away due to the weight of three people and they found them sitting on the floor and mattress over their head. Rishi stay lay on the floor and was laughing. Kulcha, Fulca and Kulfa now stood together and were too embarrassed to do anything further.
Rishi opened his door, asked them all to come there. They all entered in the room and sat on the mattress on the floor. Rishi kept his room neat, he had minimum belongings.
Rishi said, “This is my room, we redecorated the living room especially for you but …”
They started laughing again.
Then a rat entered in the room but when it saw many people in the room it turned and ran back to Kulcha’s room. They all saw it. Cynthia was about to scream in fear. Fulca screamed, “This was Dinky.”
Rishi nodded. Our old Dinky. He didn’t join his friends to the station.”
Cynthia looked at Rishi and then burst in laughter. She laughed so much already that her ribs were paining.
“He is our pet; two days ago he was trying to wear my shoe.” Rishi said.
It again unleashed a new shoulder quake of giggles.
Cynthia said, “Stop it Rishi, my heart will fail.”
There was sudden silence in the room. Rishi slid a pillow to Cynthia; she lied down on the mattress, pulled out a tissue paper and wiped her eyes. They sat around her on the carpet.
Kulcha and Fulka left the room to make tea.
Fulca was staring at Rishi and Cynthia and blinking very fast now.
He said, “Coach, can I ask a medical question to Dr. Cindy.”
Cynthia again had a fit of laugh.
Rishi said, “Of course you can ask your question to Dr. Candy.”
“Dr. Candy, do you think I blink my eyes too much?”
Sobbed Cynthia through tears of laughter, “Yes, I think so.”
“Can you tell me some medicine for this?”
“Well, Kulfa. I am a nephrologist, the kidney doctor.”
Kulfa was blinking in disappointment, to ease him she said, “I will ask your case to one of my good friend of mine, an ophthalmologist and then get back to your.”
Kulfa’s eyes were not sparkling, he stopped blinking.
Fulka announced, “We have no milk, you must wait for the tea.”
Rishi opened his closet and gave him a small bundle of lemongrass.
He said, “Make the black tea and add this grass in each cup. Add some black salt also if we have.”
“Wow a new experiment.” He left with the bundle.
Tea turned out very good; again Cynthia never had such a tasty tea.
They all left the home and walked to a restaurant for breakfast.
Kulcha whispered in Rishi’s ears, “Coach, when are you going to that girl you promised.”
Rishi said, “Well Kulcha it looks like we must postpone it for some another day.”
Kulcha was angry he exploded, “You got yours and I made tea for you for so long. What about mine.”
They all looked at Kulcha’s face.
Cynthia said to Rishi, “I am sorry that I am taking your whole day, I must leave please fetch me a taxi.”
Rishi announced, “Let’s all go to Indira Nagar and fix a problem for our Kulfa.”
Kulfa was embarrassed.
Cynthia said, “Coach, I better leave now. You already gave me lots of your precious time.”
They all laughed upon her addressing Coach to Rishi.
Kulfa waved his car keys and ordered, “Let’s all go.”
They were five; they made Cynthia sit in the front passenger seat and Rishi, Kulcha and Fulka, in the backseat of the small car, Kulfa on the driving seat. Once in Indira Nagar, Kulcha started giving directions and asked Fulka to stop his car in the market.
“This is the place.” Kulcha pointed to an upscale garment store.
“Where I can find THIS girl you want to love?”
They all laughed.
Kulcha blushed, he replied, “Let’ go to the store, I will point her to you.”
They begun to walk to the store and Fulka drove off the car to find a parking space. They were near the glass front of the door, Kulcha whispered in the Rishi’s ears, “That girl wearing the blue skirt.”
There was only one girl in the store, wearing blue skirt, she was dark colored but pretty.
Rishi said, “I tell you what, now you all get off the sight. Let me figure out how to do this job?”
They left Rishi alone and entered in the next door restaurant.
Rishi entered in the store and looked around, he went to the girl. She was packing a shirt.
She asked, “May I help you.”
“Yep, what is your phone number?”
“May I tell you my name?”
“Go away before I start screaming.”
Rishi walked out of the store and looked around, he saw them in the next door restaurant.
“You returned so soon.” Fulka said.
Kulcha asked, “Did you do the job?”
Rishi shook his head.
Kulcha said tearfully, “You didn’t even try. I made tea for you for three weeks.”
“I will pay you back, I will make you tea for four weeks,” said Rishi.
“Point is that you didn’t even try.”
Everybody else walked away from them to laugh in the privacy.
Rishi called her; she turned her head with a forced smile.
“You saw that blue skirt girl; go ask her, her phone number.”
“But how can I I I I….”
Rishi took her hand started pulling her to the garment store.
“Okey Okey, I will try.”
They waited for her in the next door restaurant.
Cynthia entered in store and approached that girl in blue skirt and started a chat. Girl was happy to practice her English with a white girl. Then Cynthia asked her if she can use her cell phone to check if her cell phone is functioning. Girl gladly handed her cell phone to her. Cynthia dialed her own number and as her phone came to life she disconnected the call and handed back the phone. One customer asked for the Girl’s attention so she was now busy; Cynthia waved her bye and left the store.
Beaming smile on Cynthia’s face told them the success of the venture and they already started clapping before she said a word.
“Her name is Kalpana.”
They all had lunch in a restaurant and then Kulfa dropped Rishi and Cynthia in Gandhi Bazaar, near Bull Temple. They walked in the bazaar around flower stalls and handicraft shops and the shops selling the items used in religious rituals. Cynthia was overwhelmed by the colors of the market. She looked at her watch it was 3pm.
“Oh my God, I was to call my father at noon.”
She called Russet, he picked up the phone at the very first ring.
“Hey honey, where you are?”
“Today we are in Bangalore, I and Rishi.”
“Listen, I want to meet Rishi, bring him at the hotel at 6pm sharp, we will have dinner together.”
“Daddy, that would be great,” she replied, “Thanks, I will bring him along.”
“I will see you in a party hall, I forget its name, ask the reception.”
“Bye sweetie, I got to go.” He disconnected the phone and broke the news to Rishi.
Rishi took her to a small shop selling ice-cream over the sweetened rose condiment. It was very sweet then Rishi took her to a self service restaurant that was full of people, Rishi struggled among the people, bought tokens, presented them at the coffee counter and struggled to make his way out. It was the best coffee she ever had. They walked around till it was 4pm, then Rishi took her to the park by the Bull Temple because Fulka had joined some laughing club.
“Have you ever been to some laughing club?”
She laughed. “No, I didn’t’ know if such club exists.”
“Well it exists here, some international club. Fulka is supposed to be here soon,” Rishi laughed.
“Why Fulka has joined this club.”
“Fulka’s parents arranged his marriage, about six months ago. He tried to call her several times but she refused to answer but anyway Fulka started loving and worshiping that girl’s picture, at the wedding day bride ran away with her lover so wedding party returned empty handed. From that day Fulka stopped laughing.”
Cynthia burst into laugher.
“We tried to cheer him up, tried to make him laugh.” Rishi continued, “Now he has joined this laughing club.”
“Rishi I also need such a club in San Francisco, I am lacking laughing.”
“Yours groom too ran away at the big day.” Cynthia again laughed.
In a portion of the park, they saw several people were laughing. Cynthia stayed at the distance, it was a funny scene, Rishi walked to them and started laughing violently, and slapping his thighs and his whole body was shaking. Everybody else stopped laughing; they all were now staring at Rishi.
One man who was fat, short and bald, came forward, he said, “Are you a member.”
“No,” replied Rishi and resumed his shoulder quake to giggles.
“Then you can’t laugh here.” Fat, short and bald man and rest of the club remained unamused.
Cynthia was watching them, and laughing from a distance, it was pretty hilarious.
Rishi was still laughing. A tall bald man came forward; he began to fold his sleeves, a gesture to fight.
He looked Rishi in the eyes, said, “You don’t know we are a club, there is a membership fee to join.”
Rishi was still laughing, his shoulder heaving and watery eyes.
Tall bald man started shoving Rishi. “Understand me? We are a club. You have never known, you don’t know now, and tomorrow you won’t know even better. Go away.”
Rishi walked back to Cynthia who was laughing too.
In the park, by the path, rocks were arranged as benches where they still could see the laughing club meeting; they sat there and laughed for long time.
A boy came with a thermos-flask and plastic cups, he was selling tea. Rishi bought two cups of tea. After they finished the tea, Rishi told her to look at the tree tops, they were full of giant bats, flying and screeching. She never saw a bat in her life before; she watched them for long time.
Laughing club had resumed their laughing. They could see from the distance that now Fulka also there.
Rishi said to Cynthia, “Once I saw an advertisement in the news paper that at following Sunday, there will be a conference of bald people, in a hotel. It was an open invitation for all bald people. Their motto was: Love your baldness and be yourself. Also a stern note was printed below the advertisement: Vendors selling hair-growing products and medicine are not welcome.”
Cynthia started laughing again.
Rishi continued, “Since this baldy conference was near my home, naturally I went there.”
Cynthia wiped her eyes with her last tissue paper, and sobbed, “Rishi you are not bald now, you were not bald then.”
“I went there, at the conference venue, paid my share of the fee at the entrance, in the beginning they didn’t not let me enter inside but I persisted and they called upon their Chief. A stout fellow, his bald head was shining like moon arrived accompanied by two associates, all bald. Suited and booted, Men in Black. They looked at my head, one even associate tried to pull my hairs to check if they are real and …..”
Cynthia cried, her voice full of request, “Stop it Rishi, I am having pain in my ribs. Stop - stop - stop.”
Rishi stopped saying his tale, closed his lips, but then he himself started laughing. Cynthia sat cross-legged on the rock and tried to focus her mind and senses upon her own breathing. When laughing stopped both sat in silence.
Rishi said, “Phew! Over and done with.”
“No. All must be told; it is not over till it is over.” To prevent herself from laughing she was again focusing upon her breathing.
“So where waaaaassss I … in that bald-men-conference.”
“You were saying that a Man in black tried to pull your hairs.”
“Yep! He tried to pull my hairs and informed to the chief that there are the real hairs,” Rishi said, “Not a toupee.”
Rishi paused. Cynthia was fighting with her laugh.
“Then what happened?” She asked with a huge smile on her face.
“I told to the Men-in-Black, that once upon a time I was bald too, but hairs grew out, doing of the nature or probably one recipe worked. BUT.”
Rishi stopped again; he started looking at the bats. Sunlight was gone now and it was orange evening. Birds were chirping on the trees. Behind then was a small park on the flat rocks, mother brought their children to play around, and they were playing with noise.
“BUT -- What!” She asked
“Well I told them that I love bald people and unfortunately I got my hairs grown, they must let me join and they agreed. Once inside I was the only man with hairs and now others crowed me. I repeated the same story that a medicine worked and I grew back my hairs. They all started asking me: What medicine! Which Medicine! I told them learn to live with their baldness. I told them: Love yourself as you are.”
“Then what happened.”
“Two groups formed there, one supported the idea that no medicine ever works, ever worked. Just be yourself. Love thy baldness. Other group crowed me that was larger. They all were asking me about the recipe that grew my hairs back. Actually that group was growing in size.”
“Then what happened.”
“Two groups were about to clash, a riot was about to happen, one group wanted me to leave, they started pushing me to the door other group wanted me to stay and to disclose my recipe, they started pulling me. In that push and pull my shirt tore. Many of them were inspecting my hairs; some even pulled them for souvenirs.”
Cynthia started laughing again. “Then what happened,”
“Some how I ran away from them, many bald people were running behind me. I came on the street and jumped on a running bus.”
They started laughing.
Then she remembered her mother, her laugher stopped and tears fell from her eyes.
Rishi ordered, “Now weep.” So she wept. She did not bother that other people were looking at her. Rishi remembered a boy was selling handkerchiefs at the gate of the park; Rishi went to him and bough a handkerchief and handed it to her. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose..
“Now I am going to tell you another story when I went to a Cross-eyed people’s conference. It was the same motto there: Be yourself.”
Her laugher returned.
“You think I am lying.” He was laughing too.
Rishi pointed towards the Laughing club gathering, all members were looking at them with anger, and they all assuming that Rishi and Cynthia were laughing at them. Kulfa was also staring at them.
To avoid their hostile stares, Rishi took her hand and they started walking to the rock steps leading to the Bull Temple.
After so many laughs and weeping Cynthia was feeling a strange peace and lightness in her heart. She wanted to stay silence to preserve that peace. They reached at temple at the top of the hill; even from the outside a huge monolithic granite bull, Nandi, ride of the God Shiva, was visible.
Rishi rarely visited the temples but she went straight to the temple, holding Rishi’s hand. They left their shoes outside and entered in the temple. Atmosphere was full of aroma of incense sticks, flowers and burning butter. They rang the bells, made a circle of he bull, bowed and placed their head on the altar and came out. Rishi looked at his watch, it was 5PM. He felt Cynthia wanted to stay silence. A platform was built around a sacred tree; idols of the gods were installed under the tree, stairs led to the platform. Rishi pulled her hand to the platform and they sat there cross-legged in the silence.
A young lady came to the sacred tree to pay her respects; she lit an incense stick and planted it in the soil under the tree. Air was filled with a perfume. As Rishi felt the perfume he was dazed, it was so pleasing. Time to time a gust of air scattered the aroma. He closed his eyes and his body relaxed.
Cynthia was making an effort to preserve the light feeling in her bosom.
“Cristina, relax and feel the fragrance in the air.”
She took a deep breath. She felt she was tense with all the effort she was doing to preserve the feeling. “Oh yes! It is wonderful,” she said and inhaled deeper, “how come I missed the perfume in the air?”
“Don’t say anything, just be with this fragrance.”
She closed her eyes aroma was so pleasing, she became one with it, and also she felt the movement of the cool air on her face, neck and on her bare arms, heard rustling of the leaves, felt the warmth of the rocky floor over which she was sitting. She heard the ringing of the bells, singing of the birds, noise of the children and of the traffic at the road below the hill, she heard her own breathing, heard her own heart beat. Somebody cracked a coconut on a rock to split it, her whole body felt the sound. Her eyes opened, everything was shining and sparkling, she saw the pebbles on the ground, saw the streaks of red and black in the granite rocks. Saw the people, their faces told of sorrow, joy or happiness. Everything was colorful. For some time she became one with the creation.
And then her thoughts returned. What she felt had never happened before; she was missing the joy of timelessness and being one with the atmosphere. Was it the experience that Buddha had, or lived with it? Or may be Rishi has or may be all enlightened people taste it once or just live with it? She tried to recreate her feeling in her mind but she failed, was it happened or was it a dream. No it was not a dream, can not be.
She wanted to ask Rishi about it but she stayed silence. Her little experience was overwhelming and again she wanted to preserve it in her heart. Rishi too did not say a word; he was sitting and was attentive to everything that was happening around them or may be he was always attentive but she only noticed it at then.
“Now laugh,” Rishi spoke and interrupted her thought.
She began to laugh. Laugher came naturally, a genuine laugh, a laugh without a cause. A dog was barking at another dog, she felt it was funny, she looked at Rishi’s shoes, both laces were of different color, all surrounding colors were mismatched but still pretty, she laughed at the times when she took trouble to find matching things when nature is unmatched but pretty or rather perfectly matched. She laughed at her self, at her miseries and sorrow, if she was to arrive at this point, today, now, road that brought her here, was the right road. Rishi looked at his watch.
“Let’s go to see your Pa.”
She laughed at Rishi using Pa word for her father. They rose and took the rock steps. At the bottom, there was another temple, in front of it; a coconut vendor was selling green coconuts, they stopped there and had coconut milk. At the road they caught an auto-rickshaw.
On the way Rishi said, “Out of all creatures, only humans can laugh. Laugher is sacred. Never miss a chance to laugh.”
Russet Frazier booked a large party hall of the hotel, for his rendezvous with Rishi.. He wanted to intimidate Rishi with the show of his wealth and power. At noon he turned on Cynthia’s laptop, she was still logged in her email and messenger, for the three days she only communicated with Rishi. Ryan left her messages but she did not reply him. He never spied upon his daughter before but this time it was very urgent. Russet’s thought drifted to Ryan, a splendid and charming man, a perfect gentleman. Cynthia brought him home twice and it was apparent, that they were serious about each other. In just three days, Cynthia, his innocent and vulnerable daughter was lured by this guru-fakery, a staged sting by very cunning people. All of a sudden this Rishi had become a threat to his life style, took away his peace. A con-artist is set upon to steal the princess and then the whole empire.
My Empire. I build it with my blood and sweat. My whole life.
Everything indicated that Cynthia was in love with Rishi, and there was no sense in talking to her, to steer her off from Rishi. It was inviting a full scale tsunami in his home and life.
He was aware that his daughter Cynthia was depressed for long time after the demise of his wife, but poor hardworking child kept herself busy in her medical studies. He appreciated and respected his daughter for making something out of her. He never had much time to attend her or talk with her and she too was always busy, first in the medical school and then residency and fellowship.
He was to leave India in two days and upon his departure Learjet Head Quarters will be receiving the bad news of the cancellation of the orders. All promoters of Learjet will be ruined. It was not a new game and he never had a hard feeling. Arvind and Jatin to biggest promoters of the LaserGear, deserve to ruined.
He had ordered a special brand of tequila for this occasion, only half the quantity was enough to knock down an occasional drinker.
Hope this Rishi drinks and loosens his tongue and spills his bean.
Russet Frazier looked at his watch, it was quarter to six, rose to leave his room and took the elevator to the lobby and walked to the party hall. It was ready for him; all furniture was removed except for a table and three rocking chairs. He took the middle chair, ordered tequila in orange juice. He spilled half of the drink on the carpet to pretend that he was already drinking.
Rishi and Cynthia entered in the room. Rishi was amazed to find a lavishly decorated giant room with high ceiling. A huge white crystal chandelier was hanging in the middle, surrounded by smaller but still enormous in size chandeliers in a circle. In one corner a bar with bartender standing and in other a water fountain. What struck him most was the absence of all furniture except a big round glass table and three rocking chairs around it. On one chair famous Russet Frazier was sitting.
Cynthia walked to her father and kissed his cheek.
“How was your day, honey?”
“My day was very good. Here is my friend Rishi.”
Russet Frazier looked Rishi in the eyes for good three seconds, Rishi instantly felt the hate in his eyes.
Rishi said, “It is an honor to meet you sir.”
Russet raised his hand slowly for the handshake, they shook the hands.
“Sit down Cynthia and,” -- he pointed to Rishi, “…. what is your name, sit down.”
Cynthia broke in, “Rishi.”
They sat down and waiter came.
Russet emptied his glass, he said, “Mr. Rishi, have you ever tried tequila.”
Russet called waiter and ordered two tequilas and red wine for Cynthia. Waiter returned with drinks.
Rishi asked waiter, “What is your name?”
“My name is Raghav Ponnusamy.”
“Raghav is a nice name.”
“Thank you Sir.” He left.
Cynthia raised the glass, she said, “Cheers!”
Rishi and Russet both said, “Cheers!”
Rishi sipped his drink.
Russet started the conversation, “So MISTER Rishi, I heard that holy people do not drink in India.”
”I too heard the same. SIR Russet Frazier,” Rishi replied and rested his back on the chair and started rocking it.
Cynthia laughed and Russet Frazier smiled.
“You can call me Russet,” Russet emptied half of his glass and continued, “I thought you are some sort of holy man?”
“Some sort of a holy man; we all are.”
Rishi too emptied his half glass, drink appeared light but he was already felling its effect.
“This is good liquor, this tequila, it works,” Rishi said.
“It is the most expansive brand. Do you know how much a bottle costs?”
Rishi shook his head, he said, “No idea, probably very expansive.”
“It is more than three thousand US Dollars, Made in Mexico, arrived today from London on special order, I ordered it.”
Cynthia was embarrassed at her father, but she sipped her wine in silence.
Russet gulped up rest of his drink and placed his glass back on the table. He raised two fingers to catch the waiter’s attention.
Waiter came with another two drinks. Rishi was not done with his first one, so waiter placed another drink in front of him.
Rishi slid that drink in the middle of the table, said with a smile, “Hey Russet, I won’t be able to repay your hospitality in your style; a glass of water will be fine for me.”
Waiter begun to turn, overheard Rishi, he went to the bar and brought a glass of water for Rishi.
Russet Frazier was red with anger; he emptied his glass in a single shot and stared at Rishi. He was to say something but then he saw tears falling off from Cynthia’s eyes. He was shocked; situation was even graver than he anticipated.
I need to be more tactful. My little poor stupid girl.
She wiped her eyes with a napkin and sobbed, “Rishi, tell me, can I ever repay you for your hospitality? I can not.”
Rishi said, “O it was just walk and talk.”
Russet Frazier tried to rescue the tension, he said, “Rishi I was only going to tell you few things about tequila, in general, or about this particular brand of tequila.” He slid the glass back to Rishi.
They sat in silence; Rishi finished up his first drink and started the second. Waiter started arranging snacks, grilled chicken, vegetable nuggets and salad.
Rishi said, “We have lots of Agave growing in India, mostly in the wilderness, even the blue one that is probably similar variety that is used to make tequila in Mexico, and I doubt if anybody in India ever thought about making liquor.”
Russet and Cynthia laughed, she said, “Poor people of India don’t know how to make free liquor from this poor godforsaken desert plant Agave.”
Russet said, “It is not that easy to make tequila, a large installation is required and about half ton of plant is required to make just one bottle of this specific tequila that we are drinking. Of-course most of the plant goes waste, only core is used.”
“I saw village people using this plant to treat scurvy and swollen gums; they use the juice of the core.”
Cynthia looked at Rishi with admiration, she said, “Is this so. I wonder if the liquor itself can also be used for the same purposes.”
“I don’t think so, because liquor is made by distilling; only condensate is kept and rest of the matter is discarded. If wine is made of tequila, probably it should work. In Ayurveda, wines are made from the herbs, a way to preserve and also increase the potency of the medicine.”
Russet Frazier was nodding he wanted to change the subject again. Meeting was straying away from his objectives.
He came to the point, “How fast you two have become friends, it is amazing. How has this happened?”
Cynthia said, “We met and it was the friendship at the first site.”
“I think it all begun, that Rishi you are enlightened or at that’s what Mr. Arvind mentioned.”
Rishi did not reply, he finished his drink, he was feeling drunk. Russet called waiter and ordered another two drinks but Rishi interrupted, he asked his drink with water instead with orange juice.
”So Rishi, are you enlightened.”
Rishi asked Cynthia, “Some people I know think I am enlightened. What about you Cynthia. Am I enlightened?”
Cynthia laughed, she said, “Some time I think you are enlightened.”
Rishi took a sip from his glass, he replied, “Some times I may be enlightened, like anybody else.”
“Come come Rishi, you must have some thing that makes you special.” Russet probed.
Rishi was relaxing and rocking on his chair and also he was fighting with the feeling of intoxication. He sensed that Russet did not approve his acquaintance with Cynthia. Rishi never considered, he was somebody special or enlightened. He knew how the human mind works but he saw no point in explaining it to Russet Frazier. Singing is wrong in the presence of wrong people. Rishi also knew Russet wanted him to get drunk and then provoke him to say thing, those can be used against him or just to make him fool in front of Cynthia.
There was the sound of breaking of the glass; a tumbler fell down from the hands of the bartender. Russet and Cynthia looked in that direction, Rishi spilled most of his drink on the carpet, under his chair. That was the reason he asked for his drink in water instead of with orange juice, to avoid the stains. When Russet again looked at him for the answer, Rishi took the glass to his lips and emptied it.
Rishi answered, “When my friends are distressed, they come to me and I tell them all generic things that all religions say, body is dirt and ashes and all that.”
Cynthia was smiling but Russet laughed. Waiter brought two drinks, one with orange juice and other with water and took away empty glasses. Cynthia was still playing with the same first drink.
“So you impressed my little daughter with: body is dirt and ashes and all that, talk.”
While nibbling salad, Cynthia interrupted her father, “No daddy, we talked and walked, Rishi taught me to find joy in the nature and small things. He made me aware of the little things that we ignore in our life.”
Talk was leading nowhere and Rishi was not showing any signs of being drunk. Russet changed the subject and asked Rishi about his job, education and future etc. Rishi successfully distracted Russet and spilled another of his drink but this time Cynthia saw him, she smiled with a wink. Russet gulped his own drink and in no time ordered another two. They talked for another ten minutes. Cynthia was keeping an eye on Rishi to catch him spilling that drink too; it has become her little amusing game.
Rishi said in low voice, “See that waiter is talking with himself.”
Waiter was indeed talking with some invisible ghost, shaking his head. It was very funny. Rishi again spilled his drink, this time Cynthia missed to catch him, because when she looked at him, he was drinking last of the drops, and placed the glass with a noise on the table. She placed her hand on her mouth to hide her laugh.
Russet was drunk but he wasted no time to order the drinks. Cynthia was not aware that her father was almost drunk, she knew he can drink like a fish and stay sober, she never saw him drunk. It was 8pm, they were not hungry because Russet ate all the chicken, Cynthia ate all the salad and Rishi ate all the vegetable nuggets.
Russet called waiter and ordered more snacks, when he was talking he felt he was having drunkards slur, now he was worried. Rishi and Cynthia were talking. He finished his drink and stood up and went to bathroom and made an enormous effort to walk straight.
Rishi said to Cynthia, “Your Pa is drunk.”
Cynthia smiled. Russet was marching to the restrooms like a soldier, all stiff and straight. It was strange but she did not believe that her father was drunk. It was simply impossible.
“He is not drunk and by the way you are cheating him.”
“I am giving him company, if I stop drinking he may feel it awkward to drink alone.”
“Ha ha ha ha. This tequila,” she said sarcastically, “Made in Mexico, arrived today from London and ending up on the carpet.”
“You forget to say,” Rishi said, “It is more than three thousand US Dollars.”
In the bathroom Russet Frazier saw his face in the bathroom, he felt normal. He repeatedly washed his face with cold water. To check his voice he tried to sing a song, no slur there.
When he returned, Rishi and Cynthia were giggling. He smiled.
“What was so funny that I missed or you were laughing at me?”
“No daddy we were not laughing at you. Rishi was telling a donkey joke.”
Russet said in confusion, “Is everything alright guys?”
“We are fine daddy. Now stop drinking before you get drunk.”
Russet did not like his daughter saying this in front of Rishi.
“Before I get drunk -- are you kidding?”
He raised his hand and waiter came, just to check or prove his voice and confidence, he said, “Two more drinks, same, mine with orange juice and other with water,” when waiter turned to walk he added, “And a glass of red wine for my lovely daughter.”
Rishi dragged his chair near Cynthia’s, he whispered in her ear, “Your Pa is drunk, do something.”
“No he is not drunk, I know him very well.”
“Look he is making an enormous effort to pretend that he is not drunk He is in some kind of competition with me.”
“Rishi then you stop drinking, he will stop too.” She laughed and took a sip from her new drink.
“It won’t work Cynthia. He had a habit of winning; he is drinking it as a challenge.”
Not to turn the conversation into argument, Rishi dragged back his chair to its previous spot. He raised his drink and declared, “Russet Frazier, it is my last drink, or I will collapse.”
Russet slurred loudly, “Rishi Rishi Rishi, it is not my last drink and I will not collapse.”
Rishi and Cynthia sipped their drinks and Russet Frazier drank half the glass and after a pause he drank the rest of it.
“Daddy please stop if, you are drinking too fast.”
Russet Frazier shouted, “Waiter bring two more drinks.”
Rishi tried to protest but Russet raised his hand and shouted, “Rishi you are my guest here, first drink like me and then think about standing in my shoes. Understand.” He looked at Rishi’s face and repeated, “Do You Understand.”
Russet wanted to shout at Rishi, wanted to expose his cunning plans to marry Cynthia and then take over his wealth but he controlled himself and tried to talk in riddles. Now Cynthia was alarmed, she was confused also.
Rishi knew it from the beginning, he replied, “Yes Russet I understand.”
“So you do understand.”
Waiter placed two drinks on the table. Russet took his glass and drank the half of it.
“Hey englightttttened, ttell me, what is dee holiesth ting in this world.”
“Calm down daddy.”
He roared, “Let him answer.”
Russet Frazier was looking at Rishi’s face; he was only concerned with Rishi’s answer and was fully prepared to contradict him. He even failed to notice that Rishi had spilled his drink. Cynthia sat on her chair and covered her face; Rishi knew she was weeping in silence.
“I am still waiding for your ansssssr.”
“Water is the holiest thing in this word, that is what I feel, Russet.”
Russet tried to comprehend about what Rishi said. He rose, took the water glass that was still lying on the table.
“Water you said, dis water.” He spat in the glass and then spilled it on the carpet; it formed a bubbling puddle that carpet was trying to absorb. Then he stood very erect.
“Wader is the holiest; my foot.” He rubbed the sole of his shoe in the puddle of water.
“Do you know,” Russet stammered, standing like a statue, “I will be pockeding, LaserGear, what you can do about it?”
He begun after a pause, “I--I can sguash you and and your company and you’re your friends,” – another pause – “Like a bug.”
“Wader is holiesth,” After another pause he shouted, “My shoe.”
Rishi abruptly stood up and approached Russet but he was a moment late, Russet fell down straight, his nose crashed in the puddle of the same water on the carpet.
Cynthia was watching this, she was numb with shock. Russet Frazier was unconscious.
Waiter and bartender rushed to him.
Rishi said, “He is only drunk, all is well.”
“I will call for help,” he turned and walked to the telephone in the bar.
“Wait.” Rishi called him, “Raghav.”
“Don’t worry, his daughter is a doctor, she will take care of it.”
“Very well sir.”
“You have any wheel chair here?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Raghav please bring that luggage trolley, the thing with brass bars.”
Waiter went to fetch a trolley.
Bartender was still standing there.
Rishi asked him, “Please give us some table clothes.”
Bartender too left.
Cynthia was still sitting on the chair. Now she was looking at the chandeliers.
Rishi said to her, “Check your Pa if she is all right.”
She rose, checked Russet’s pulse, touched his forehead, opened his eye and watched the pupil reacting to the light and checked his reflexes.”
“He is fine, just drunk. He will sleep it off in some hours.”
Bartender arrived first with tablecloths followed by waiter pulling a long luggage cart. They all helped to put Russet on the cart, his body behaved like a rubber dole. They lay him straight and folded his legs to fit on the cart. Then Rishi hung table clothes on the brass frame. Waiter and bartender both brought the cart to the lobby and waited for the elevator to arrive, Rishi and Cynthia stood in front of cart to give it cover. Lobby was full of activity but nobody gave them any attention. In the room they lay Russet on his bed. While Cynthia was removing her father’s shoes Rishi handed a tip of five hundred rupee each to both waiter and bartender. That’s all he had in his purse beside some smaller bills.
“Is it enough,” Rishi asked. They both smiled and nodded.
Rishi asked bartender, “What is your name.”
“Raghav and Bansilal, any of you ever got drunk.”
Both said at the same time, “Yes.”
“Now when a gentleman gets drunk, he does not wish, that his in-laws should know about it.”
Bansilal, the bartender brayed, “He he ha ha he he ha ha …….”
There Raghav came to know that Bansilal was missing at least four molars that he always carefully hid behind his stiff lips. This was more amusing than what Rishi has said, he too laughed, “Heeeeeeeeeee. Heeeeeeeee he he he he he,”
They laughed except Cynthia because they were talking in Hindi.
Rishi shook hands with Raghav and Bansilal and bid them bye.
They came out of Russet’s room, Cynthia sat on the sofa, Rishi stayed standing. It was 10.30pm.
“Are you OK?” Rishi asked touching her shoulder.
She smiled and nodded.
“Then it is time for me to leave.”
She understood that her relation with Rishi is sacred; in those three days, he could have done anything to her, with her but she wanted to surrender. Complete and total. Anything he wanted, anything he wished.
“You can stay,” She said, looking in his eyes, “if you wish.”
Tears began felling from her eyes.
She wanted to shout, “If you do not love me, then why are you exploiting me? Why – why – why?”
Rishi knew what she wanted to say but he turned, walked to the door and left the suite of that five star hotel.
Raghav and Bansilal were back to the party-hall to clean it up and bring back the furniture that was stacked in the storage. They were wondering that American rich man Russell Frazier booked the whole party hall for just three persons, and ordered all furniture to be removed except one round glass-top-table without any sheet over it and three rocking chairs.
Raghav asked Bansilal, “Guru, Is there any leftover, that special tequila.”
Two tequila bottles were arranged by Russet Frazier, hotel provided bartender along with the party hall.
“Yep two pegs I guess,” said Bansilal, licking his lick.
“I will fix the pegs,” Raghav went to bar to take a look, in case Bansilal was lying as always, but this time he was not, there was one empty bottle and about one quarter in other one. He divided the liquor in two large glasses and added orange juice.
They sat on the rocking chairs, started sipping and rocking.
“This guy Rishi, remember how he caught the white man from hitting this table,” Bansi slurped.
“Yep man. I don’t know how he got the signal that he was about to fell,” Raghav said, he rocked the table too fast and drink fell on his neck. He cupped his hand and wiped it up and licked his hand, he said, “Guru, this stuff is expansive.”
“Yep yep yep. For the cost of these two bottles, you can buy a new Honda car. ”
“And then this whole party hall, you can buy another Honda car.” Raghav sighed.
“What a shame, that boy, the friend of the girl, Rishi he deliberately spilled most of the pegs. That was a shame, such precious liquor.”
“Really,” Bansilal said with widening eyes, “he spilled most of the drinks.”
“I saw it with my eyes, white man crashed on his nose and he did not, didn’t you figure, there must be some secret.”
Now Bansilal spilled his drink on shirt. He started sucking his shirt.
“Guru this thing works fast.”
“Brother Bansi, remember my cousin Pyarelal.”
“Remember, my sister’s wedding, he was the one who was with a woman with two pony tails.”
“Oh yeah – oh yeah! Was he Pyarelal?”
“Yep, the same. He is 45, missing four molars and now he is after another woman, this time a bob-cut. I wonder, after losing four molars how can one find woman after woman.”
“I heard when a molar is gone, that empty spot becomes a pressure point,” Bansilal said, scratching his chin, “when one eats food, those pressure points stimulate sex drive. You should read some book on acupressure.”
Raghav had no answer; they had work to do so they finished up their drink.
“Guru It is time to work.”
But Bansilal lay down on the carpet, and his head was spinning.
Raghav went to bar to find another drink; he found a half empty bottle of cheap rum, unscrewed the cap and started drinking and singing. Bansilal was snoring by that time.
Rishi was drunk too; he came out of the hotel, walked some distance and then sat on the curb and struggled unsuccessfully to fight off with the spinning feeling. He inserted finger in his throat to induce vomiting but it did not work. He broke a soft branch from the nearby tree and tried to insert in his throat but that too failed. He thought about taking an auto-rickshaw to his apartment but what to do about that unpleasing spinning feeling caused by strong liquor and fried vegetable nuggets. He rose and walked on the street, at a Muslim tea stall he asked for a strong tea. Proprietor, a very fat, middle-aged, white beared man, looked at him with hateful eyes but gave him tea. Then Rishi had another cup and then another cup.
“Uncle, I want to make myself vomit.” He asked the Muslim proprietor in a pleading voice.
After thinking for few seconds, fat man produced a packet of snuff from his pocket, poured some of it in a cup and added little milk.
“Drink it, it may work or may not.”
Rishi drank it up. Nothing happened and then suddenly his head started spinning even faster, he had the nastiest feeling he ever had, his face was full of sweat, he felt he will collapse. He made it to the drain opposite the tea-stall and with forceful spasms, he vomited everything he had in his stomach, tea, tequila and nuggets and all. He wiped his face with his hands and sat by the drain, gradually spinning feeling was gone and he felt almost normal. Tea shop owner helped him to wash his face and hands and gave him a long lecture against drinking.
Rishi paid him.
“Allah-Hafiz, security is in the hands of Allah.”
“Come to your poor uncle’s shop, anytime. Allah-Hafiz.”
Rishi waved him, tuned, started walking, in each minute he felt better; he covered four miles in one and a half hour and arrived at his apartment at midnight. His housemates were sleeping.
He turned on his laptop and checked the emails, no message needed immediate attention. He changed his clothes and fell to sleep.
Cynthia closed her eyes and thought about her day. A very sacred thing had happened at bull temple and also she loved Rishi. First time in her life two drinks of wine. She was feeling drunk too.
She started her laptop, checked her emails, another email from Ryan was there, she read it and smiled. She begun writing a long email to Rishi, she poured her heart. She thanked him for everything.
When time came to click the send button she paused and changed her mind. She was almost drunk at that time and decided to wait till morning. It was not wise to do serious thing in that condition. Email was automatically stored in the draft folder.
At early April noon, San Francisco weather was windy, chilly and cloudy. Dr. Ryan woke up late. He was having dizzy feeling and found his hands trembling, it happened first time in his life. He never considered himself a cocaine addict, decided to quit for a day. He made an effort to leave the bed and added water in the pot and turned on the coffee machine. In the bathroom mirror he saw his changed face; his eyes were sunk in the dark pits and cheek bones were raised as he had some accident.
No good – no good -- no good – no good -- no good – no good …..
Then he caught himself chanting ‘no good’, stopped and slapped on his face. He decided to take cocaine to fix himself. He had to report at his job at 4pm, 4pm to 12pm, emergency room duty. Cynthia will be returning in 2 days AND too much to do and too little time. He could marry Cynthia or just any girl easily but, as long as Russet Frazier was alive, he was not going to hand his money to his son-in-law. Coffee was ready but he tore a aluminum foil and heated cocaine and when it started popping he inhaled it all. It was pure cocaine; he spent all thousand dollars that he borrowed from Bill Murphy, on the cocaine. His source supplied him pure cocaine, for the trade off with controlled drug prescriptions – amphetamine, retalin, morphine or atropine etcetera.
Etcetera -- etcetera -- etcetera-- etcetera-- etcetera—etcetera …
He caught himself singing ‘Etcetera’, stopped and again slapped on his face.
Drug started working and his confidence returned. He took bath, and looked at his face in the mirror, now he looked better, same grand smile. He shaved and trimmed his eyebrows and nose hairs. Again he was a changed man. It was 1pm.
Let’s take care of THE JOB.
He swallowed a caplet of antibiotic with water. He wore his jacket and not to take chance, to get sick, he wore his cap too.
Can’t afford to get sick.
Dr. Ryan again looked at his face in the mirror, smiled and walked out of his apartment to the parking lot.
Traffic was light; he crossed the bridge to Oakland and called Nancy to make sure she was at home. Nancy was another pretty woman, mad in love with him, dreaming to marry him. Nancy worked in the same hospital, in their line of work they met often in the operation theater, he as anesthesiologist and she a surgical nurse. Nancy too used cocaine, but only occasionally, never said no whenever offered. She was addicted to the prescription narcotics, used in operation theaters, which she stole from hospital.
Nancy replied, she was at home and was happy to hear that he was coming. He smiled with joy but when he saw a huge billboard about HIV and AIDS, his joy turned into sadness and tears.
He parked his car and walked to Nancy’s home. They he remembered that he forgot the condoms. He returned to his car, last night he bought condoms; packet was in the globs-compartment.
Nancy opened the door and kissed and hugged him. She had prepared a huge lunch for him, he was hungry and they ate first and then cocaine and then bedroom.
Now they were on the sofa, in the living room. He was sitting and she was lying, her head in his lap both had cigarettes in their fingers.
He looked at his watch, not much time to fool around, he came to point.
“Nancy, I love you, I want to move this relation beyond boyfriend-girlfriend thing.”
“What did you say,” she said looking in his eyes, she sat up in excitement and neither noticed that a spark from her cigarette landed on Ryan’s shirt and made a hole.
“Yes Nancy, I figured out that I love you.”
“I love you too, the day I saw you I fell in love with you, and I love you and only you.”
She exhaled a cloud of smoke, held his hands and kissed him on the lips and begun crying with happiness.
“I will marry you but I have a small problem that you can help me out or rather help us out.” He said avoiding her eyes, “Now it is not I or you, but we.”
He sucked his cigarette and plunged, smoke coming out of his nostrils and mouth, “We have a small problem,”
She kissed him on the cheek, took a long puff from her cigarette and kissed him again and then exhaled the smoke and held her hands.
“My baby, tell me my baby, tell me how I can help you. How can we help us?”
“Can you keep a secret, Nancy? We do have a problem but we can turn this problem into the fortune. Our fortune.”
“Honey, we are keeping many secrets, our secrets. Now tell me all.”
“You know Dr. Cynthia? Of-course you know her.”
“Yes, that sad rich girl, nephrologists, We know each other. What about her?”
“Now this sad girl is madly in love with me, she is HIV positive, she is keeping it secret, only she and her filthy rich father know it. I happened to know because the doctor at the anonymous testing facility happens to be my buddy, he passed me the information. Now we, I am you know it.”
Now Nancy sat very erect, she tightly held Dr. Ryan’s arm, her nails and the pressure of her grip begun hurting him.
“Really she is HIV positive,” she whispered, blew out the smoke and crushed the stub in the ashtray. She said with compassion, “I don’t blame her to be sad.”
“Nancy you are hurting me with your nails.”
She released her hand.
“Now listen, she wants to marry me, Dr Ryan said, “Her father is threatening me with the dire consequences if I do not marry his HIV positive daughter.”
Dr. Ryan lit his and her cigarette.
Nancy coughed, “These filth rich bastards, they think they are entitled to everything.”
“Point is that she is not telling me that she is HIV positive and wants to infect me too. But I have a scheme.”
Nancy again tightly held Dr. Ryan’s arm. “What scheme?”
“That I will marry her then I will threaten both father and his sad daughter with the lawsuit for criminal conspiracy to pass the incurable disease to me.”
“Then you will be HIV positive too.”
“No I won’t, I won’t even touch her even after the wedding because I love only you.” He said, “Then with some excuse I will march her to hospital for blood tests. I will specifically instruct them to test her for HIV.”
She said, “And then you will threaten to sue them and all hell will break loose.”
“Yes my love. To keep the matter confidential and avoid going to courts and jail, father-and-sad-daughter will have no choice but to hand me millions and get rid of me.”
Nancy said, “That would be our money, we will be rich?”
“Yes we will be rich, but I need your cooperation.”
“I am with you. We are together. Tell me the rest baby, my part.”
“Since this matter will never go to courts, you will be the witness that Cynthia told you that she is HIV positive. She told you long before she married to me.”
“When did she saw you last time?”
“Three weeks ago we chatted in the cafeteria. Wait a minute, I remember; I was invited to the Christmas party in her palatial home.”
“Oh really I did not know here then, I was not invited there,” he said, “Let’s say she told you at Christmas party that she was HIV positive.”
“And you write a daily journal. Do you still write it?”
“Yes I still write it.”
“Put this in your diary that Dr. Cynthia confided you that she was HIV positive; also add some emotional lines too, say today what joys life brings, tomorrow it takes it away etc blah-blah-blah.”
‘Would that work?”
“Why not and also I know Cynthia’s email password. Today I will log into her email, you will receive the email that she is in India, again blue and again telling you about her disease. Or we will do it here, now.”
Nancy said with suspicion, “How you know about her email password.”
“Her father invited me, there when she was checking her email address; I saw her typing her password. It was so simple that I remembered it. It is Buddha24, twenty-four is her date of birth.” He laughed and in reply she too laughed.
Nancy rose and turned on the computer, as it was booting she first made coffee. After they had coffee, Dr. Ryan successfully logged into Cynthia’s email.
Dr. Ryan said, “Now it is the time to write a very emotional email from a sad girl.”
“Let’s get high first.” She said, walked to kitchen and returned with a piece of aluminum foil, a tea spoon and a lighter. Dr Ryan took out a medicine vial from his pocket, with the tea spoon he placed some cocaine on the foil and heated it then they took turn to inhale the vapors and white powder.
“First let’s write the email on the MS Word.”
They both wrote and rewrote an email from Dr. Cynthia, the sad girl:
That she was in India with her father, and very sad, in her blue writing a sad email to her friend, surgical nurse Nancy, she wrote that life was unfair. She wrote as she told her at Christmas that she was HIV positive; surviving, taking antiviral medicines to maintain her CD4-T count at the acceptable level, please keep it secret. Wrote that she is madly in love with Dr. Ryan, he must not know about her HIV, else he will not marry her, and nobody will marry her if this truth is known. At the end: Your friend Cynthia.
Nancy asked, “Now what should be in the Subject line?”
“Hello from India”
Nancy said in approval, “So be it.”
They both liked the draft, he copied it from the MS Word and pasted in the email, addressed it to Nancy’s email address, on the subject line he typed: Hello from India and clicked send button. Webpage changed, the message appeared that email was sent and also an option to put recipient’s email address and name in the address-book, of-course they are friends, both should have each other in address-book. Dr. Ryan added Nancy’s email address and email in Cynthia’s address book. At the end he opened Cynthia’s sent folder and deleted the sent email and deleted from the trash folder too.
“All done,” he said and logged out from Cynthia’s email address and logged into her own email, message from Cynthia had arrived. She opened it and they reread it. Dr. Ryan smiled.
He was getting late,
“I must leave now, must be at the surgery at four.”
Nancy knew his schedule. She said, “See you tomorrow.”
She came with him to the door, she stood there leaned to the door, he kissed her.
“Bye honey.” He began to turn.
“Are not you forgetting something?” she said briskly.
He faced her and said in confusion. “What?”
“That there is not I and You, it is we, us and our.”
“Yes?” he said with a fake smile.
She pressed shut her one nostril and sucked air with a noise.
“Oh, I get it Sorry honey,” he said maintaining his fake smile and suppressing the wave of anger.
He handed her the medicine-vial containing cocaine. “Half is yours.”
She laughed and took the vial, went to kitchen and poured more than half on a bone-china plate and returned the vial to him. He put it back in his pocked, kissed her again and turned and walked to his car.
He caught himself chanting again in his mind and gave himself a slap. He sat in the car and slammed the door in anger and drove away.
He dreams of money again clouded his mind. He turned on the radio and started singing aloud, along the songs.
On the bridge back to San Francisco, he noticed a burned hole on his shirt, right at the stomach area, of his two hundred dollar shirt. His happiness evaporated, in anger he stomped his both feet on the car floor and unleashed abuses at Nancy. At this time his car was on the bridge where island begun, in the construction zone, he was so absorbed in the abuses, his car ran out of the road, hit a construction boulder, before his head could hit the steering, airbag hit his face and car stalled.
He wrestled with airbag and door that did not open. Construction crew surrounded him; they broke the window and windshield, and pulled him out. He was fine except little pain in his neck; construction crew went back to their work. Luckily his car was far away from the lanes. Front of his beautiful BMW was a mangled metal wreckage, even two front wheels were bust and rims smashed up. All kind of fluids were leaking below it.
He heard the police siren, a squad car was coming from the San Francisco side, this reminded him of the cocaine he had in his pocket. On the shoulder, he rushed to the point where bridge begun and tossed that cocaine vial into the water and pretended, that he was looking at the water, he turned and walked to his car. Squad car made a U-turn in the grass maiden and stopped in front of his wrecked car. A single police officer stepped out.
Police officer said, circling the wreckage, “Pretty good wreckage, are you OK.”
He replied looking at his watch, “Thanks for asking, Yes I am fine officer. I am a doctor – anesthesiologist, suppose to be in the hospital to attend a liver transplant.”
“Get in the car, I will give you ride to the hospital,” Cop said while poking his hands in his front pocket. He pulled out a business card and handed it to him. “Call me tomorrow at 12 noon, exact.”
They sat in the car and it ran to his hospital, all lights flashing and siren screaming.
He did not ask the officer if he will be getting a ticket or what are they going to do with his wrecked car. He was sure that it was totaled. He was shaking with panic, he badly needed that cocaine, and he was regretting throwing it in the water.
Thousand bucks gone to drain, bitch claimed half and water claimed the rest.
After Dr. Ryan left, Nancy logged in the Dr. Cynthia’s email using the password Buddha24. She checked her all emails, her inbox and sent folders. For the several days, Dr. Ryan was emailing Dr. Cynthia at least once a day, all emails showing his love to her, all emails sang the same song: My only love. Occasionally Cynthia was replying him. She read all his emails and understood that it was not Cynthia but Ryan who was playing his charms to trap her to marry her.
She logged off from Cynthia’s email.
Then she remembered that Ryan used condom first time ever with her. He never used condoms before and once he mentioned that he did not like them. A clear picture was forming in her head; Dr. Ryan was HIV infected and wanted to pass it to Cynthia and marry her and then will use Nancy and or may be other women too to prove that Cynthia carried the disease for the long time and hid the facts from him and passed the disease to him. And then he will create mayhem in her life.
She asked to herself: Do I want to marry this junkie bastard.
Her head shook side to side in negation.
She felt heavy in her chest and wept. Suddenly future was knocking at her door and in no-time it blew upon her face.
For the time being she decided to play along with Dr. Ryan. She too loved money. She will take her revenge later on.
She took a bath to get rid of Dr. Ryan’s sweet and saliva from her body.
After bath she again logged into Dr. Cynthia’s email. There was an email in the draft folder, she read it. Who is this Rishi? It appears that Dr. Ryan has a competitor now. She copied that draft and saved it on MS Document. She was more interested in Rishi now and found three more emails, those she ignored before as unimportant, in one email she found his phone number too, she noted it. Who knows, what comes handy when?