Saturday, 29 May 2021

Pratima Karanth, Prose 500 2021 Longlist

Absolution

In a smoky, musty smelling room, with a couple of guitars by his side stood a young man taking his time, getting his mask off. He needed some peace and quiet after the release of all those emotions on stage.  He liked it. He liked being there behind that mask. There he could finally be himself. He felt a strange sense of freedom behind its hard contours. 

He seemed to be in no hurry. So what if the great entrepreneur Samit Sarkar was waiting to see him. Samit Sarkar! A name he loathed since he was 15. He cursed his agent. This meeting was all his doing! 
His mask off, he looked at a picture of his parents and him that he always carried wherever he went. He ran his fingers on the picture, on his aai’s face in the picture and felt a rush of sadness but he caught himself before the feeling had a chance to crush him. Now was not the moment , he thought.  Samit Sarkar! Bring him on! He called for a bottle of whiskey. He took a couple of swings straight up.

Samit entered with slow measured steps.. He made quite an impression as he entered. With salt and pepper hair and dressed in a white shirt and a black waistcoat , he seemed to have a quiet confidence about him. They exchanged pleasantries and the young man offered Samit some whiskey (par politesse). They bantered on about the concert that had been a huge success, the music scene in general. 

Fifteen minutes into it the young man started to get a little fidgety, a little agitated, which he made no effort to hide. Samit went up to the mirror and picked up the picture and he couldn’t help but smile. ‘I’m on my way my love’ seemed to say, his eyes,  as he slowly ran his fingers on her face in the picture and  then Samit brought her up- taking the young man to a place he didn’t want to go to and bringing Samit to the very place he had come this far to be in.

Words were exchanged even hurled at times, especially from the young man’s quarter. There were smokes of anger , whiskey stained sighs, painful silences and bitter tears. And of the encounter, all that remained, was.. on the table a will, a testimonial to love, gratitude and hope of redemption and in the dustbin, a handkerchief stained with coughed up blood, a promise of release.

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