Killing the Red God

A serialization of my novel, "Killing the Red God". | Copyright: Hari Kumar | website: | If this is your first visit, please start from the bottom (start of Chapter 1)

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Location: Singapore, Singapore

Monday, July 25, 2005

Chapter 1 -- Part 9

My Pooja is now ten. I imagine her wearing the pink chiffon dress with its lettuce-edge ruffle and huge magnolia print — that I had bought from Robinson’s only last month and sent by FedEx. She will have a matching pink satin ribbon in her hair. Pink suited her. It matched the colour of her cheeks. She would be waiting, I knew, at the single telephone in her boarding house, with large expectant eyes and two of her closest friends, Deepa and Malavika, by her side. I knew all about them as I knew all about my Pooja.
I was happy when my mother-in-law died two years back. That, I had assumed, would certainly mean the return of Pooja.
But Nisha had other ideas. “No, no. She has to stay in India… It’s too much of responsibility, too much of adjusting… with our schedules. What if she gets sick or something?”
“But we can have a maid, Nisha.”
“Having a maid for her wouldn’t help. It’ll make matters worse. Haven’t you read of maids jumping from high-rise flats with the employer’s kid in their arms? And then there are so many cases of employers accused of molest cases and unwanted pregnancies… I will not have a maid in my house and that’s final… She has to be in India. With her kind. With our kind, especially during the formative years. I grew up in a boarding school when my Dad was slaving in Dubai… I hear, there is an excellent boarding school near Kochi of international standard.”
So much for my hopes.

(To be continued...)

Chapter 1 -- Part 8

Nisha wakes up at around eleven. She takes one look at the bedside clock and says, “Shit!” before jumping out of bed. In twenty minutes, she is ready looking fresh and wearing executive clothes, towing a suitcase.
“Drop me at the airport, will you?” she talks fast, glancing at her watch.
“The car is at your bosses place. Remember, we took a cab back last night; too drunk to drive.”
“Shit! You mean, you didn’t get it back till now… What are you waiting for, man? My written orders?” she glares at me, shakes her head.
I start to say something, she cuts me off and starts for the door, “Never mind, I’ll take a cab… I’ll be gone for a week. Hong Kong. Anything urgent, you reach me at my mobile.”
“Wait!” I say, “It’s the day we call Pooja. She will be waiting.”
“You call… I don’t have time…” she doesn’t even break her step.
I jump up. “It’s been more than a month since you talked to her! It’s always some reason or the other. You are talking to her now!” the viciousness in my tone surprises me. I grab her hand.
“How dare you!” she slaps me with her other hand.
I release my grip, momentarily stunned. She walks out.
I sit in my sofa, my face in my hands for how long I am not sure.
I reach for the phone and dial a long distance number.

(To be continued...)

Chapter 1 -- Part 7

Sunday morning…
I ring up Sahay. My mind is in turmoil.
“Dilip,” I say, recognising Sahay’s measured voice, “I am so sorry, Sahay.”
“For what?” he sounded genuinely puzzled.
I suddenly didn’t know what to say. “For…for… what Nisha did to you?”
“What did she do to me?”
“You… lost your job…”
I heard him laughing. “And you think Nish stabbed me in the back.”
“My dear Dilip, how naïve can you be? I am getting old… I’ve been thinking for a while now… And Varsha needs me here more than ever.”
“You mean… you’re not upset?”
“Of course!”
I somehow did not believe him completely.
“Don’t bother Nish… She is a good kid… Ambitious, yes… but that’s a good thing… you should have a bit of it… instead of spouting poetry at your age.”
“Are you all right, Sahay?” I ask, quietly.
“Me? Of course! I couldn’t be better…And, Oh, don’t forget, we’re having our next session this coming Wednesday… Did you read my mail that I sent a fortnight back?”
“I don’t recall seeing it. Why?”
“Well, this time, I’ve asked all to present at least a poem of their own. So, be prepared.”
“Hmm, that’s a good idea…By the way, can I bring a new member?” I ask.
“Of course!” he seems to enjoy saying those words.
“I mean, I am not sure the person would come. Just a chance…”

(To be continued...)