31st December 2015.
A street full of people, reeking of alcohol. Flashes all around. A jizz of beer flies high up in the air and lands with a splash on my head. I am soaked. The vision goes blurry. I take out my two eyes and desperately search for a proper piece of cloth on me to clean it up. Someone on my right shouts “HAPPY NEW YE...” and out comes the undigested bile with a significant stench of yet more alcohol and lands on my brand new jacket. The red “FERRARI” is now “F#$%&R@”. I look at the guy. He laughs like a maniac, feebly mumbles an apology and goes back to the Heisenberg in his right hand. I feel sick. I start walking towards my orange CBR, removing the jacket and throwing it in the nearby bin. I loved that jacket.
I insert the keys in, rev the engine up to full throttle and disappear into the darkness.
1st January 2016.
The signal reads GREEN: I push the throttle; GREEN…GREEN...GREEN: I rev more; GREEN...ORANGE: I release the accelerator, decelerating instantly. The speedometer drops to 67-53-39-13-0. The signal now reads RED. A duke just behind me breaks in panic and barely manages to stop in time to prevent colliding with an adjacent Swift. The biker takes out his helmet and yells at me “Why did you stop?!” I gesture towards the signal, which still read RED. The biker looks there and then back at me and grunts. I make out a few curses under his breath as he fastens his helmet once again. He starts his Duke, revs it: a standard call for “Bring it on!”. I keep the CBR shut. After a couple more revs, he lifts his visor and shouts “I’ll race you, you shit!”. I shrug. He grunts again. His pillion gives me threatening looks. I start the CBR. The race is on.
I hear a pronounced wailing of an ambulance coming from the opposite direction on a single lane road. I move left and decelerate giving it ample space to move by me. I hope he is not dead. It would have been worse for the pillion. What a way to kick off 2016. I remember someone saying “Half of the people who have ridden Duke are no longer with us.” No surprises there.
Home. Goel won’t be home till after 3. Swapnil would be out with Nizam, trying out his luck. Why didn’t I go with either of them, I wonder. Laying flat on the bed I try to recollect the happenings today. No, yesterday. Images flash in my mind. Fireworks. Booze. People shouting. Vomit. Red. Collision. Bodies flying. Red.
I shudder, switch off the lights and try to get some sleep.
I am awakened by noises that no one wishes to hear. Let alone at this time of the day. It is a cry which cannot be mistaken. It is the cry which is true and long and full of agony. A loss. The loss of a loved one. The year does not always bring happiness. Not for everyone. What’d have happened, I imagine. I’ll race you, you shit! I tremble. I put a pillow over my head, the muffled cry pierces through. I desperately try to get back to the dream I was dreaming. Was it good? I ask me. I don’t remember. Can’t be, a voice in my head answers.
I wake up with a headache. The sun is shining brightly for the first time in days, smiling over the world. A new year?
My room is full of sunlight. It’s too bright. I get up and draw the curtains. Visibility ensues. My throat is parched. I open the door and walk towards the kitchen. Goel is fast asleep on the sofa, drooling. I kick him to this realm and start getting ready for the day.
As I have breakfast, Goel narrates the happenings of yesternight. About how crazy it was. The shit crowd they were with. The girls.
I sit staring at the laptop screen, trying to concentrate on what’s in front of me. I look around: everyone is happy. Wishes all around. I think of the cry I heard at night: Not everyone.
I put on headphones, open itunes and double click on “Weathered” and select “Lullaby”.