Friday, February 04, 2005

Fears justified...

Kaya knew she should’ve felt relieved at that, but somehow she didn’t. She was uneasy even as they were led into a dormitory. A few cots were aligned against the walls, which were filled up soon, and most of the crowd stood huddled in the centre of the hall. Kaya walked to one of the windows and looked out into the night, trying to gather her thoughts. The initial shock and panic was wearing off, and Kaya thought about her next move.
“I should get in touch with Kailash Pradhan”, she thought, “I should’ve done that, instead of drifting with the crowd and coming here”
She left the room in search of a telephone, silently thanking him for making her memorize his office and residence numbers. Outside the room, the corridor was deserted. The diyas that were perhaps lit for Diwali celebrations had extinguished and a faint smell of burnt oil lingered in the passage. The sound of an occasional firecracker could be heard in the distance. Kaya reached the end of the passage, where a large sign was hung on a wooden door. It said Balwant Pradhan. The door was shut, and Kaya turned back. Her tired feet seemed to walk on their own to the dormitory, where mattresses had been brought in and strewn about the floor. Kaya fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow, but she slept fitfully. Her sleep was punctuated by strange dreams and visions, and finally she did wake up. She was surprised to learn that it was early morning; she had tossed and turned nearly the whole night. Many people had left the dormitory, and Kaya guessed they had gone to check on the fire.

She decided to call Kailash Pradhan and then go back to the site of the tragedy to get news of Kajri. She went down the same passage that she had seen the previous night. This time, the door was slightly ajar and Kaya peered inside. The room was dark, and looked like a small office. Kaya was about to leave when she caught sight of a small ray of light. It appeared to be coming from under the opposite wall. S could make out the shape of a large door, and the light was creeping out from beneath it.
“ This must be the outer office, probably the secretary’s. If someone is there in the inner office, I can probably get to use a phone.”
She moved towards the door, and as she approached it, the voice from inside the room became audible. Kaya paused, and lifted her hand to knock when the she heard her own name. Her hand stopped in mid-air and she strained to catch the words of the conversation.
“This is good news Bhaiya, the fire chief practically confirmed her death. She is now out of our path”
Kaya froze as she heard the words. Who was the she that was being referred to?
“Do not be hasty. How can the fire chief confirm Kaya’s death?”, said a cold voice. A voice that Kaya recognized immediately. A voice that Kaya had been hearing for the last two days. It belonged to Kailash Pradhan.