There’s a ‘corpse’ lying at the hospital morgue and the blame for ‘murder’ lies on Maddy. But Maddy is sipping tea, with his friends, at the Peerzu restaurant (he had stopped going to his favorite Hollywood restaurant after the owner had made it a No-Smoking Zone) imagining the possible outcome of the whole episode. It has been raining incessantly since early morning, eerily evoking the painful memories of the last year’s deluge.
Maddy is a man of few words. He weighs every word before airing it. But it has been a while since he has spoken anything about the matter at hand. The thought of going underground did cross his mind but then he realised the futility of it all. The cops will track me down and nab me, he had thought to himself. Worse: The girl’s incensed family will find me and hack me to death, he had thought again.
However, Maddy is more concerned about the infamy the whole episode will bring on him and his family. His acne-speckled face will be displayed across all the newspapers with the exaggerated account of his culpability. The reporters will hound his parents and pile on the agony by asking the ‘million dollar question’: Aap ko kaisa lag raha hai?
The Hurriyat conference will give a Chalo call to Lalchowk and demand a stricter punishment for the accused while blaming the Indian TV serials and Bollywood for the spread of waywardness and immorality in the society. At the condolence and solidarity gathering, flags of South Sudan will be waved leaving the Indian news channel hosts outraged at the missed opportunity of feeling outraged at the outrageous display of Pakistani flags.
Civil society and students will hold a sit-in at the Press enclave and burn Maddy’s effigy and do a ragda dance on what’ll be left of the dummy.
In the morning Maddy was quite glad to have finally broken up with his ‘disrespectful’ girlfriend but after the news of her death was relayed to him, he lost his senses.
Now at the restaurant his friends argued over the quantum of punishment the judge will pronounce for him.
“He should be hung by his b**** at Ghanta Ghar to send a loud and clear message to those who dump their lovers over trivial issues,” thundered one of his friends (Let’s call him The Brick) referring to his friend Maddy whom he called the “genius asshole”. “Maddy’s life should be snuffed out to satisfy the collective conscience of the love-stricken,” he added.
The Brick was a certified d******d himself who had a silent crush on Maddy’s girlfriend. Over the past few months Maddy had noticed that his friend had developed a sudden liking for his girlfriend. But he couldn’t convince himself that there was something serious cooking.
“Death will be a gift for him,” another friend Newton had opined. “He should be made to suffer like that innocent girl he just murdered. He should be…,” Newton left the sentence incomplete and broke into loud laughter.
Maddy, who was lost in his reverie till now looked up from his tea cup and trained a suspicious eye at his friend.
But before he could voice his doubts, another friend Bhat announced that he had received a message from Maddy’s dying girlfriend in the morning requesting him to pass the same to Maddy:
“Hahaha, I am alive and kicking.”
It was a strange and ambiguous message unbecoming of a person who is apparently on her death bed.
When his friends insisted on him to decode the message, the wily old Maddy replied in his usually sharp wit, “Lagta hai yay raaz b usi k saath chala gaya.”
The day before, his girlfriend’s younger sister had called Maddy.
“If anything happens to my sister the entire blame would be on you, Mr Maddy,” she had said.
Maddy’s girlfriend’s sister had mockingly referred to him as “Mr” making him believe she regularly read The New York Times.
“I am ready to face the gallows,” the defiant Maddy had replied. But he soon realized the inconsistency between his words and thoughts and fell silent while his would-have-been sister-in-law continued her outburst. “I feel pity for my sister who chose a worthless person like you as her life-partner,” she had said. Maddy would have told her everything that led the things to such a pass but his mind had already drifted to the hangman’s noose and he felt strangulated around his throat to utter anything.
Needless to say, Maddy didn’t want to die this early. Not before completing all the wishes on his “Bucket List”. He wanted to travel the world (on his dad’s money); own a villa in Palm Jumeirah; buy a fleet of luxury and sports cars like Mercedez Benz, BMW, Bentley and Tata Nano (to ward off the evil eye); sky-dive from Burj Khalifa, scuba-dive in the Mariana Trench, and travel to the outer space. He wouldn’t settle for anything less.
He would least like to die before reading all those unfinished books at his home. Currently he was reading Orhan Pamuk’s “thrilling murder mystery” My Name is Red and he had stopped at the chapter titled I Will Be Called a Murderer, unable to proceed further.
Maddy had pleaded his innocence all the while but everyone thought he had instigated his girlfriend to commit suicide and he was guilty until proven otherwise. He was called a murderer.
It was rumoured that his girlfriend had popped the entire strip of painkiller drug Dolo-650 tablets after Maddy had ignored her hundreds of phone calls and WhatsApp messages. Some said she had gulped down a bottle of Harpic toilet cleaner making Maddy wonder with disgust, “Amis cha ye eas kinne commode.” (Is it her mouth or commode?) The veracity of this news could not be ascertained but he had full faith in the idiocy of his girlfriend. It could have been a drama after all. Perhaps not! Despite everything, Maddy entertained hopes that his girlfriend was faking it all to win over his sympathy and love but he also knew the possibility of it was remote.
It had all started rather innocuously a week ago: Maddy and his girl embarked on a Dargah University bound bus- near Amira Kadal – to enjoy a day-out at the (in) famous Taqdeer Park on the banks of Dal Lake.
The girl boarded the bus followed by Maddy. There were only two seats vacant in the bus and the girl took the window seat. The air inside the bus was stifling. Maddy had politely requested the girl to exchange the seat as he feels nausea in the overcrowded bus. But she had callously rejected the proposal and asked him to travel by Sumo instead. Everyone in the back seat giggled leaving the boy red-faced. Maddy took it as an affront not because of the choice of words but the tone of it which was too audible for even a deaf to hear. He had immediately changed his WhatsApp status thus: “The trip to Taqdeer Park is already turning out to be an eye-opener (and fate-changer); I wasn’t blind though.” The world-war-of-words was imminent now. There would be a counter status update now or an unintelligible wisdom quote copied from Google.
But nothing of that sort happened. Maddy endured the insult and eat-up all the ‘nice’ words he had reserved for the girl.
When the couple alighted near Dargah shrine, Maddy had immediately boarded another bus back to Lal Chowk leaving his beloved at the mercy of fate. From that day onwards the girl had tried every medium to reach out to Maddy and tell him how sorry she was for her objectionable behavior. But to no avail. The episode pissed off Maddy so much that he immediately dropped the idea of marrying the girl.
It wasn’t an easy decision though. He had nurtured the dream of growing old with the girl; of staying with her through the thick and thin of life. But that dream was to remain unfulfilled, forever, leaving a festering wound in his heart. Both of them couldn’t believe what had transpired in their relationship. The elation of never-leaving-each-other had quickly given way to the despondency of never-seeing-each-other again.
One week later Maddy frantically surfed all the local websites to find any news of attempted suicide. But he found none. At night when he logged onto his Facebook account he saw the following status update on his girlfriend’s ‘wall’: “Love sucks but my genius-asshole boyfriend sucks more.”
Maddy heaved a sigh of relief, raised his middle-finger to nobody in particular and muttered under his breath, “I love you, Guddy.”