Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Gift of Magi Today

(illustration source net)

Jim looked out of his office window wistfully. He felt like an angry eagle perched on the highest branch of a nameless tree. From the fifteenth floor he observed the city below. It is just five in the evening and the sun has already gone down. In fact today the sun had not come out at all.

The lights have come alive in the streets and in front of the bars and the clubs across the street he could see youthful people in their evening best waiting for the gates to open. Like ants they moved under the lights and the clouds of dust and fog which were just hovering right in front of his eyes, a few inches away from him.

The sudden urge to jump down from the heights was curbed by the steam that has just formed on the thick glass wall before him and he could see his smudged reflection on the wall and beyond it the reflection of the bays with computers and sparsely people cabins lay stretched as if it was a magical land of codes, weariness, hollow laughter, fragrance of cosmetics, packed food, fountain drinks and a few hollow commands. Out there the reflection stood supported by nothing in the air, above the clogged streets, people, and anxious young crowd that waited for a long night of revelry.

“Hey Jim, come over and we have something urgent to finish,” the booming voice of the boss came through his mobile phone right at that moment when he was on Della frantically making love as if there was no tomorrow. “Each time you did it, I felt a war was raging there and you thought we would be bombed at any moment,” Della would say after each of those intense sessions of flesh enquiring the seat of soul and never finding it. “No, we are in a flight and the pilot has just said that we are going to crash, that’s how I feel,” Jim would joke while covering her with his muscled arms. She would giggle.

Today morning it was different. The boss disrupted their soul searching. By the time Jim put the phone down, what left was just sex and he continued to finish it, leaving Della wondering about what had transpired between him and the caller, while feeling the anger in the movement of his hips. The rhythm was lost and they finished the rest of the sex as if two kids at the breakfast table finishing the worst items possible under the angry watch of their mother.

“What was the call about?” running her long fingers along the channel between his shoulder muscles, Della asked. “The Regional Chief is visiting today and I need to be there at the office,” Jim said desperately. “Today is Christmas Jim...” Della felt like crying. They had planned a few things together; a drive to one of their friend’s farm house at the outskirts of the city for lunch and then to perform the secret pact they had entered in a few weeks back. After the lunch at the farm house they would go separate in their ways and only to join back at their home around nine in the night with some special surprises for each other. They had agreed upon one thing that they would never give a hint about the impending surprise.

“So, are we calling it off?” Della asked. “What are you talking about?” Irritated Jim asked. Della felt like crying. She had never seen him in such desperation. She took a deep breath and decided not to spoil the day by getting into a verbal argument with Jim, which they did quite often after a session of love making.  She used to think about it as an odd behaviour; a fight after love making. Her friend, an up class beauty who does nothing for a living but is always busy going from one shop to other checking out things and dropping into her husband’s private office to see whether everything is alright, had once told her that it is quite okay to have fights before love making because it is some sort of an appetiser. But when it came with the lovers, it is always a rule than exception that each bout of sex ended up in fights. That was a sort of revelation for Della. And she had felt a secret pride swelling up inside her as she thought of her fights with Jim after their love making. It was a sign that they were still in love.

Della however did not want to fight on that day. “I am talking about our pact, our Christmas night pact. Are we going to go for surprises?” She explained. Jim gave her a long look and did not say a word. As usual he got into the bathroom with a book in hand and she went to the balcony with a cup full of her favourite green tea. Jim got ready by nine and he went out and before leaving the drawing room, he drew Della closer to him and gave a peck at her cheek. A sense of satisfaction, love and pride came rushing into her heart and her cheeks went red. “Yes honey, we are going for our secret pact even if I have called and cancelled our dinner date with Franck in his farm house. You may take the car and leave around six and come back by nine with the surprise. I will be back sharp here by nine sharp. And remember the other part of the pact, no phone calls till we meet next.”

Jim looked at his mobile phone, a smart phone it is. It has all the features in it, except a water heater and shaver, Jim thought and he smiled. The Regional Head had left the office a few minutes back and it was already flashing seven thirty on the screen. He just clicked on the weather app and saw it was fourteen degree Celsius. Inside the heated office room, he suddenly felt a chill. Then he kept on looking at his phone and did he expect Della’s call? He felt some kind of uneasiness. The packet carrying the famous logo was sitting pretty on his table top. He looked it and smiled. “She would be shocked to see that finally she has it,” thought Jim. He looked at the phone impatiently again. Why the boss is not letting me go? The Boss had asked him to wait till an important message from the Headquarters in New York.  “Man, I do not want to take it alone. Please be with me,” wiping sweat beads from his forehead with his scented napkin, the Boss had told him a few minutes before. “We will be off for the day in a while.”

Jim put the packed in his leather bag and tidied the table top a bit. Took his spectacles and cleaned it and put it back over his eyes. The world now looked so clear. Jim smiled again looking at the bulge of the bag. He cheeks went red as he thought of the content. She is mad, he thought. Why does she want it? Some fantasies? Della is strange or all women are like this? They want things like that? Jim again smiled. He looked at the traffic app and found a long red line and he really felt irritated then. Jim checked for text messages or whatsapp messages from Della. Nothing. The girl is playing to the T, thought Jim. But still he felt uneasy.

The road was overcrowded. Revellers were already there on the road. Some of the guys in the heavy wheeled open jeeps waved at him so did the girls accompanying them. Jim signed them off with a V with fingers. Peace. The traffic was not moving. Behind the wheel he felt frozen and dead. He kept looking at the phone. It was already 8.55. And according to the GPS prompter, the sexy voice of an American unknown, he would take another twenty minutes to get back home. That means according to the country’s standards, another forty minutes.

The phone did not ring. At the apartment, Jim found no lights outside. He felt a sort of edginess. Was she trying to surprise me with something really shocking? Inside, he threw the switches on and nobody was there. Frantically he ran into the bedroom and the bathroom. Things were there as in the morning except Della. She was missing. Jim did not know what to do. He ran out, got into the lift and reached the parking lot and all the time he was trying to call her but her phone remained out of reach. After sometime, it went to the switch off mode. Jim ran back to the apartment and sunk into the sofa and he did not know what to do. He looked at the bulge in the bag and he just felt like throwing it away.

A familiar ring in the phone shook him up. He did not know for how long he was sitting there like that. Before attending the call he had glanced at the wall clock and it was already eleven thirty.
“Jim, don’t panic. We are all looking for her,” said Noddy from the other end. “She will be alright.”
Jim felt tears rolling down from his cheeks. He felt Della’s presence everywhere in the house. Jim started shivering. After some time, moaning he lay on the floor and dozed off.

A beep in the phone once again woke him up. He took a few seconds to adjust with the glare of the screen.

“Sorry Jim. Della found. Now at X-Hospital. Please rush.”

Jim did not know what he did next. He found himself at the casualty of the Hospital half an hour later. Policemen were there with his close friends- Franck, Noddy, Tara, Shiv, Ruby, Prachi and many more. Jim was led inside. He saw Della.

He also saw a clump of hair inside her left fist. And she was not breathing anymore.

(Change all the names into Indian names once you finish reading it)

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