Pink shirt collapsed on the carpeted floor without a thud. He fell slowly, and bled slower still. ‘Dark blood spilling from his skull like a secret’
A few hours before, Miss Sena Roy had sat staring at a kid across the street through her broken window. Lost in her thoughts, she hadn’t heard the phone ring the first time. When it rang the second time she heard it too late. She rushed to the vibrating table only to gasp a croaky “Hell-o?” as the phone became still in her hands. She checked the number- it was her agent. It had been months since he last called. Ages ago. She could hardly remember his voice by now.
The third time she didn’t wait on ceremony-“Hell-ooo! How are you Prem?”
“Hi…” Pleasant and silky. Strange, but.
Prem could have been a bit on the female side- she had seen those pedicure pamphlets-but he was never female, per se. Her memory wasn’t that horrible, or was it?
“… Uhm, Mr. Prem isn’t working here anymore Miss Roy…” That explained it. Silky was a replacement for old Pretty toes. Heavens! How long had she been unemployed?
“…but I am calling to let you know ma’am, that there has been a call up for experienced hands in the role of-”
“YES. YES. I’ll take it!”
“… uh, yeah? It will be under the banner of-“
“I don’t care. Give me the date and venue’
“It’ll be at the……” Unpleasant but still silky.
“Fine. Just send someone over to give me the script det-”
“WE DON’T do that anymore. You’ll have to come down and get it yourself. Have a good day”. Unpleasant and sulky.
She sighed as she heard the line go dead, and put down her phone. She glanced at the photos on the wall. Old but glowing in sparkling clean frames, these were just the best ones. There were so many others gathering dust at her home- her former home- she corrected her thoughts. Her parents’ house. Photos and the certificates. School, College, University, State. Hundreds. She ruled the stage once, owned it rather. Miss Sena Roy always felt more at home being someone else than Miss Sena Roy-in fact anyone else but Miss Sena Roy. No one saw a Miss Sena Roy anyway- there was only an annoying, rude, demanding, selfish girl who was pleasant on the eye and scintillating in her dialogue delivery. They looked at her through eyes, narrowed by reluctant acceptance- “She’d go places” they used to say- grinding their teeth.
Like a charm the wagging tongues worked- she got offers straight out of college. Far too many. She signed them all. Feelings of bravado and vanity perhaps? She did not want to recall. There was no role that she couldn’t do and she gave her all, everywhere. Money was aplenty. She did a record eleven films in her debut year. You read about one-hit wonders in the world of entertainment, those sparks that you think you’d seen; a blink of an eyelid- and you missed them. A strip tease of talent, and then they were Fate’s jokes. Nothings. A big zero- very like the number of successful films Miss Sena had in her debut year- none.
Miss Sena Roy was a ‘no-hit wonder’. Her career was remarkable in its un-remarkability. Films crashed and sank like rudderless ships. Her roles hardly grabbed any attention- that was worse than bad reviews. She wasn’t at fault in most cases, except that probably she shouldn’t have rushed and taken so many projects on. The money trickled off, followed swiftly by confidence and self-esteem. The fool that she was, she paid no attention to her mistakes and went about digging her proverbial grave. She took anything and everything that came her way- as if rushing her life on to save it. But the more she tried to quicken things, the more she sank. Sleazy movies, pointless roles- more and more rudderless boats. Another wave, another crash. It was all a blur now.
She sighed and woke up from her thoughts to knock on the door of the studio. The place was deserted, save a guard who opened the door and let her in. The script clutched in her hand, she duly walked behind and was led to a huge room and a tall, well-built, mustached man wearing a pink shirt behind a mahogany desk. While arranging flowers on a gorgeous heavy-looking vase, he exchanged pleasantries coldly – short replies in curt, heavy bass tone to her friendly, ‘I-love-butterfly’ voice questions. She proceeded to say the dialogues, and stopped soon- there weren’t many.
There was a minute of silence, right through which he stared at her. For lack of anything better to do she repeated the exercise. And waited when the lines ended. “Done. Do you have another set of lines?”
“No. Again!” he beckoned, walking towards her.
She was past the first half of the page, when she gasped short- as she felt a cold, calloused hand creep up her shapely thighs. The lights seemed to dim. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The hand went further on, as if on cue– greedy and searching. The room reeked of gleeful, shameless lust.
She turned around and slapped him in a spilt second. Years of sorrow strengthening the blow, like hot oil into a fire- of fury.
Brushing the blood of his lips with the back of a cold, calloused hand- he leapt at her like an animal.
For the first time in many years, the fool that rushed in at life that day, was not Miss Sena Roy. She was carefully seizing a firm grip on the heavy vase, behind her.
Ambareesh Sr Ja
27/06/2015- [“Dark blood spilling…” – Quote credits- Arundhati Roy, 1.38 – God of Small things]