Home > Cigarettes, Love will find a way, To Good Times - Prologue > To Good Times – Prologue

To Good Times – Prologue

«««««««««««««The Cigarette Ghost«««««««««««««

He was standing and digging in his shirt pocket for a cigarette that he could not find. It later came to him that he was not wearing the same shirt from office. He was waiting for a ride, hoping, someone could drop him somewhere and save him from the smoggy cold on the highway. Office shirt had a pocket which had a butt which contained enough bosom in it to make him high for the night.

He remembered the truck ride. The driver had agreed to take him all the way to Jodhpur.

The driver was a minding-his-own business-kind-of fellow who was busy humming an English tune which was copied into an Indian song, so it was difficult to know his music preferences and his exposure to world music or to take a guess about how many languages he knew.

As soon as the driver saw him breathe in through the butt from his shirt pocket, his butt was kicked out to puff the highway dust.  

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The Dream Began.  

He faintly remembered coming back from office in that shirt that she had only ironed in the morning.

She had wanted to get high with him. It had been long. They hardly got any time for themselves with the children taking up their priorities…

…the bigger one always smiled when he saw mother and father kissing secretly, unlike the tell tale grandmother of a daughter who parroted to the whole neighborhood what happened in their house…

“Our children might have this idea that we conceived them with kissing!”, he had complained once.

“Do not say what you thought as a child, honey, bunny, cutie pie! Mmmmpchh…chh..chhaa…”, she had trailed off in glee, kissing him, mockingly now.

“They are much smarter than their cute smiles. Your daughter maintains an e-diary through which she gives daily updates to her friends about our kisses and misses…”

He had smiled and opened his mouth, “That’s a breach of privacy…even by…the kidsssssss….we’re parentsssss'”, he began but she thought better and sealed the air carrying his words with a barrage of kisses.

That evening with the children out for the weekend with their grandparents, she was dressed in her wedding lehenga. 

Looking prettier than she did 10 years ago, she waited for her magical husband to return. He had worn his black pin striped wedding reception suit to the office and was longing for the night out from their past to begin.

It was their 10th anniversary. Only their 3rd celebration without the kids…

§

He tried to remember a highway song he had heard so many times.

It seemed like another life.
All the good songs had been forgotten now.

All the bonhomie, he could understand – but it was not for him.

And the sad songs, like the one playing in the truck, seemed so unreal.

How could someone sing when one could hardly speak?

It was now two years since that fateful night.

Two years since he last saw his wife smiling.

Two years since everything made sense.

Two headlights were approaching him. He had that sudden rush to be saved. He wanted a different life.  

“If ever…”, she had breathed in, “…anything happens to me, promise me that you won’t go on the self destructing guilt…trip… of yours…”, she had prophesied before they got married and pecked on his cheek.

Now it seemed like a premonition.

“If anything happens to you, this man that you are marrying”, he had pointed towards the mirror,” won’t be alive to do anything to me!”

Yet there he was, that man all alive on the highway. Faint reflection of what he once saw in the mirror but alive with all the hope that the two headlights approaching could bring. This was similar to what he had felt when he saw the two headlights of that truck and like then he did not know that it was a truck till it stopped a little ahead of him.

§

In the TATA Safari, a female by the window was about to scream; only she did not know it yet.

He, on the highway was rising to the hope and wanted to wave his hands to be saved.

As the Safari came closer and it dawned on him that

it… was… a Safari…the Safari…that he was driving…and in whose accident the children…the children…

Then it happened.

His raised hands caught the branch of a tree by the highway, the tattered shirt felt his dehydrated and desiccated body sliding out of it as he fell face forward and as the Safari moved across the scene, what was seen was a ghostly shirt hanging by the branch which equaled to a seemingly close resemblance of a body less and invisible ghost, just lingering by long enough than the trees rushing by to scare the shit out of the pack of six doodlers.

§⊙¤«»ω

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