KB stared at the guards. They looked like oversized idiots. He had asked one of them to order a cup of coffee for him, but he stood still, not budging from outside his room, where they kept a watch in turns. The heavy rains had caused a landslide in their location, and the unit members were working to check if the place was risky. But, unfortunately, the downpour had caused the network to crash, and he couldn’t talk to anyone… especially Kajal.
Ever since they had reached here late last night, he wanted to speak with her. She would be worried too if he had got safely or not. He smiled as he lay on the double bed in his given room in this resort. It was a beautiful one on the ground floor overlooking the swimming pool and a little outside, he could see the beautiful valley spread before him.
He wanted to call Mr. Mehta regarding the dimwitted guards. It didn’t appear that they were guarding him but more like he was under house arrest. They had refused to let him out unless for shooting and called it ‘dangerous’. He was now restless… mainly because he couldn’t speak to Kajal. The woman calmed him down with her sheer presence. And after they had just gotten back their camaraderie, he wanted to hear her…
He took some of the chivda in a paper plate. Kajal had prepared it yesterday for him using minimal oil, considering his diet. He wasn’t hungry but munched on it because it gave him a sense of being close to her. Despite Hetal doing his bidding effortlessly, it made no dent in Kajal’s trust. What was he thinking? Kajal was naïve at some matters she was a wise woman. It thrilled him no end that she trusted him.
He wanted to open up to her… tell her about his past. Tell her about the injuries on his body,.. about his strange hobby. He almost did last night but held back. What if she resented him?
He opened his phone gallery and saw their picture clicked on the day of his engagement. Kajal looked radiant and happy. He held the phone close to him, and as he remembered the kiss form two nights ago, he hardened…Freak if someone saw him now, they would think he was a horny asshole. But all he wanted was Kajal. He never wanted anyone more than her…
How was he going to spend a week here without Kajal? He had been on so many outdoor shoots but never had missed anyone with a vengeance.
Glazing out of the cold glass gleams
The fog and mist bursting at their seams
He wanted her with an ardor unmatched
He could no longer remain detached…
He didn’t know when he had slept off, given that he barely slept the last few nights. Then, he was jarred awake by the banging on his door. He rubbed his face and answered it.
“Hello sir, I am the Assistant Director for today. We are ready. The area is now safe to shoot and the rainfall is also contained. There is no sign that it will pour heavily now to get a couple of scenes done. Those are your single shots, and tomorrow onwards the heroine will join us…” the man panted, dancing the rim of glasses on his slippery nose. It reminded of the occasionally worn glasses by Kajal which kept slipping down her nose. He chuckled even as the AD stared at him.
“Fine, I will be ready in ten minutes.” He walked inside to get dressed.
The shooting location was on a hilltop and within walking distance from the resort. The area had been cordoned off to prevent locals enthusiastic about the ongoing shoot. There were some tourists too who waited outside the resort gates and hooted as KB walked out. He smiled and waved to them as he moved, the four bodyguards surrounding him. Like the four walls but instead of feeling protected, he felt claustrophobic.
He reached the cliff where they had built up a tent for him, and he sat on the chair as they arranged the shot process. He had to walk up to the railing and cry for his lost love, who had fallen from the cliff years ago… he gave two shots but was asked to reshoot since the director felt he couldn’t bring out the emotion.
He sat in his tent and one of the guards got him a fruit punch. He had it but felt the taste a bit weird… these people should hire a good chef, he thought. He again gave a few retakes, and finally after hours the shot got finalized not before he felt hoarse from screaming over the whistling of the breeze and the dizziness that made his waver with the directionless wind.
He almost fell flat on his face, the ground being slippery. Still, suddenly he felt very light-headed as if he was floating in air… occasionally the vision blurring… was it because of the rain that the valley appeared in pairs before his eyes?
The crew was dismissed and he was escorted back to the resort… it was early evening but it appeared like it was dusk already and the temperature had started to fall briskly.
He was served snacks in his room and a glass of sweet lime juice. Where was his coffee… these bunch of morons didn’t seem to do their jobs? The resort guys weren’t allowed close to him and the guards seemed to be clueless… Nonetheless, he was now getting drowsy, probably the effect of sleepless nights still lingering.
He had the snack and juice, and before he knew he was fast asleep… for the second time in six hours.
‘KB you need to be awake’
‘your Kajal is going to jump off the cliff’
‘She is going to end her life.’
‘You need to save her.’
He jolted awake, sweating profusely. But the world swam before his eyes… he sat up even as the voices continued.
“Help her KB…. She is at the cliff.’
‘You will regret if she falls off… only you can save her.’
His eyes fell on the clock… it was 2 AM. What was Kajal doing here?
‘She has come for you but is fed up…’
‘She is going to end her life’
‘You need to hurry, KB’
He wasn’t hallucinating, was he? Oh, God… Kajal. NO… he couldn’t lose her. He had to stop her else he wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt. He stumbled towards the door, and surprisingly it was open.
He tried to put his feet one before the other as the ground played pranks with him. The roads were swaying so were the dark shrubbery. But he was a man with a mission. He would save Kajal….he would save her.
Kajal rechecked the watch as they climbed the slope towards the resort she was told KB was. The real guards were close on her heels, and in no time they would be there. It was 2.15 AM and it had taken them fast driving to reach from Mumbai.
Oh Bappa, protect KB, please. Let him be safe… she prayed with sincere fervor. She pulled her stole closer to her body, trying to battle the chill.
The car stopped, and she, along with the driver, rushed towards the resort reception. They were directed towards KB’s room, but there was no one, and the door was open. Panic set in as she frantically screamed.
“KB?…KRISH…. where are you?” She ran across the corridor with the driver in tow, and by now, the guards had also reached. The entire perimeter of the resort was now brightly lit as the staff all pooled out.
She saw a burly man come forward towards her.
“Hello ma’am, I am from KB sir’s security. He was drunk and he left the resort some time ago. The other two guards are with him so you don’t have to worry.”
Kajal walked upto him. “Who the hell are you? You weren’t the security for KB… these men are. So who on earth are you, and where is KB?” She pointed towards the guards running around the premises.
“Ma’am, KB sir just walked out he was heavily sloshed… he must have drunk a lot…” the guard stuttered as the real guards closed in on him.
“Shut the hell up… KB DOESN’T DRINK…. Tell me the truth. WHERE IS HE….?”
Just then, a vehicle came in, and Kajal immediately knew it was the police despite them being in plain clothes. She saw the fake guard grimace, fear evident on his face.
The policemen walked towards her.
“Hello, Miss Kajal… I am Sub Inspector Khairnar. Ganpat Bhau had sent the message which reached us late because of the network crash. What is it?”
“Sir, ask him where KB is.. they have taken him somewhere…”
The policeman named Khairnar held the fake guard collar and raised his hand to hit him when the man blurted out. “Wait… please… don’t… KB walked towards the cliff… the shooting location…he was drunk…”
“KB NEVER DRINKS… LET ME WARN YOU FOR ONE LAST TIME… IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO HIM, I WILL KILL YOU ALL….” Kajal screamed and rushed towards the exit with the driver and the guards while Khairnar used his walkie-talkie to alert patrol to move towards the cliff. They bundled the fake guard into the jeep.
It began to rain slightly, and Kajal ran her feet, sinking in slush, slowing her down. But she didn’t care… All she wanted was to see KB safe. She was drenched, but though she had a low cold tolerance today, she felt nothing… the occasional streaks of lightning breaking through the shrubbery on the way leading to the cliff lighted up the pathway and soon she approached the cliff. The driver was close on heels, and the guards had spread out across the area to see for alternate paths.
The rains began to lash, and she screamed.
“KRISH ARE YOU THERE? DON’T WORRY… WE ARE HERE TO GET YOU…JUST HANG IN THERE.”
There was no response, and she wailed roughly, brushing aside her tears blending with the rainwater. Finally, the driver saw another tiny pathway and took it up while she decided to go straight ahead… something her gut feeling told her. She still had a meter more to cover and her legs gave away as she sank into the dark mud. Frustration and desperation crept up her spine as she wondered if KB was OK.
Suddenly she heard a faint sound… in the lashing downpour. She strained her ears.
“Kajal… don’t leave me, please…”
It was KB. Adrenaline pumping, she pulled herself up and rushed further ahead and reached the top of the cliff and what she saw pulled the ground beneath her feet.
KB stood precariously close to the edge flailing his hands in the air.
“Kajal, don’t do this… Please come back to me… I need you in my life… please don’t go… I am sorry for everything… please…”
What was KB saying and why? Then, before she could fathom or move, she saw a shadow emerge from the side shrubbery and move towards KB as if he would push him.
She rushed as far as her legs could take her and saw a tree branch lying in the mud. She picked it up and moved towards the man stealthily approaching KB.
“Stop right there…” She screamed, and the man stood still. KB, however, continued his tirade. She immediately knew something was wrong. She raised her stick and heard footsteps behind her. Scared, she turned and saw the driver and one of the guards rush towards her.
The perp immediately got back into the shadows and disappeared while the guard ran after him. She rushed towards KB and pulled him behind.
“Wait… my Kajal is dying… I have to save her…” he yelled into the fog and rain.
“KB…Krish…I am fine… I am right here” she frantically pulled him, the driver also joining her pulling KB holding his other hand. They dragged him behind, and he fell into the mud, crying like a baby.
“My Kajal is gone….She left me…”
Kajal helped him sit and held his face in her palms. “Krish, look at me…” KB finally stopped flailing his limbs and focused on her. She immediately knew something was amiss. The police reached there, and she asked them to arrange for a doctor.
SI Khairnar shone the torch on them, and it was then KB started at her, finally registering it was her. He was panting and muttering something about losing her.
“Krish it’s me…Kajal… right here, right next to you. Do you hear me?” Kajal spoke with the effort her voice now hoarse.
KB’s facial expressions changed, and he pulled her close as he hugged her. “Thank God you didn’t jump Kajal…Thank God… I love you so much… don’t leave me Kajal… please…”
Happy tears streamed down her cheeks, the rain washing it away, and as she held him close, she didn’t bother who all were watching them…she had a feeling she had arrived home. Finally…
The lightning forks of pain no longer exist
Togetherness brought the balm they couldn’t resist.