There was no sign of him.
Later, they found an empty bottle of his preferred choice of alcohol on the beach. They surmised he had drowned himself, tired of trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol.
Saved them the trouble of organising his funeral.
Who would've bothered coming? .
When he was little, he looked upon the parched lands, cracked and broken, that his father had left him. Unfamiliar with farming and what it took, he ceaselessly toiled, day after day, year after year.
And now, admiring the lush greenery as far as the eye can see, he walks with a spring in his step.
Despite his soles being cracked and broken..
It was a rickety old cycle, worn with age and use. But he stared on, with a hunger in his eyes, as if it were an unwrapped Christmas present.
No one was watching. He grabbed it, and quickly pedalled away, as fast his little legs would allow.
Alas, to a poor kid's mind, what was the difference between right and wrong?.
The winter had been particularly harsh this year. The crops had perished, leaving them with barely anything to subsist on. She had heard of tales of winters long gone, when their livestock was all that had kept the family alive.
Lakshmi had been one of her oldest friends. While her brothers had loved playing with the dogs and learned to ride horses, she had always preferred the company of the docile beast.
And now, chewing the tender meat, she wondered if it was just the excess spice that brought tears to her eyes.
Mona stared at the mug, that last remnant of them. She wondered why she'd kept it all along on her table, even though it looked so horribly out of place. Her way of holding on to the past.
Well, not anymore. Oops, she muttered, as she carelessly let it drop, watching it shatter into a hundred shards.
Later, when picking up the pieces, she admitted to herself, some things were best left broken..
â€œBhaiya, one teaâ€, Vishal ordered. And after a momentâ€™s thought, he added, â€œA pack of Kingsâ€™.
The storekeeper looked at him and asked, with incredulity, â€œBut I thought you had quit? What happened?â€
Vishal answered with a wan smile, even as he lit up a cigarette, the first of many more to come.
â€œTake care. You shouldnâ€™t hurt your lungs too muchâ€, the storekeeper said with concern.
"My lungs will suffer, and heal in time. But what of broken hearts? Do they ever?", Vishal wondered, taking a deep drag.
Late-night conversations. Meetups at cafes. Trysts at seedy hotel rooms.
It had been a quick and tumultuous affair. And now he was gone, without a trace, leaving behind only memories, painful yet pleasurable.
And one other thing, she thought, stroking her abdomen. One other thing he had left behind..
Walking out the hospital, Ash lit up a cigarette. Although the years had deadened the sensation, he could still feel the mild, momentary rush of nicotine coursing through his veins, calming his nerves.
Not much time left, they had said. He couldnâ€™t disagree. After all, wasnâ€™t smoking the best way to kill time?
Eleven minutes a cigarette.