Every Morning Shika got up from bed to a new experience. Yes she was madly and badly in love with her life. Who isn`t? But in Shika`s case everything was different. She not only loved life but also lived life to the full. Her idea of life was celebration celebration and little more of celebration.
Shika was an eighteen year old doing post-graduation. Her father was no more. In fact she had never ever seen him. As he died when Shika was just one year. Her mother Suma was everything what a mother should not be. Suma was uncaring, obnoxious, and lazy when it came to the matters relating to motherly duties. When home, which she hardly was, she whiled away her time leafing through some sleazy magazines or fiddling with the cell phone. Shika knew her mother was not good with such gadgets. Her mother used the cell phone, mainly to message or to answer some calls. Once Shika listened. It was an argument with someone at the other end. She was sure it was some man. As the argument was over some money matters. Was her mother leading a loose life? Is that why the house had so much sumptuousness.
One day she decided to confront her mother ``momma, are you in some kind of trouble? Shika was genuinely concerned. ``why do you ask? Suma was indeed annoyed. ``whether I am in trouble or not is none of your business now. I am keeping everything so comfortable solely for you to be never in need of anything. Do I make myself clear to you now? Your duty is just to concentrate on studies and try to get a good job soon. “There was a long silence before Suma spoke again. ``Shika, your father left us literally with nothing, when he died. It was not his fault either. He died so young. Where was the time to earn and spend? You know very well how it is with your dad`s people and my people. As we had married from different religion, they have all turned against us. According to our relations mine is a `taboo’ wedding. “Suma paused for a moment and looked a bit undecided as to whether to continue with all the gory details of the past. Then decided otherwise. Why should poor Shika know about it all? What role did she play in it all other than getting born in to such a miserable family?
But Shika was in no mood to let go. She wanted it all from her mother. Because of late there were many unwanted phone calls to her cell. And many rude languages were being exchanged too. What did it all mean? She was worried. But Suma remained deaf to all her cajoling.
Both of them went to bed without dinner. How could they even have a morsel of food? Shika was in two minds as to whether to believe Suma or not. She sat up in her bed and thought about all the past doings of her mother. Never did she ever have a soft word for Shika. Suma often behaved as if she was a kind of impediment in her smooth life. What was her mother up to? Shika knew too well that the comfortable lifestyle they have had its own snares!
Shika`s mother did not have any great education or any acumen in business affairs. How come then she is making so much money?
Once when Shika confronted her mother with an accusing finger, all what Suma did was just stare at her daughter with so much venom, for a long time. Shika did not probe further.
The fact was that Suma was in to some shady jobs. One day she got friendly with one Ajaynath in a super market. That led her in to many cockeyed business. But through his help she was able to get as assistant sales manager in a well-known textile show room in the city.
Though Suma was in the wrong side of fifty, she did not look a day older than thirty eight. With a seductive face and a voluptuous figure, she was indeed a head turner. Not that Suma disliked all these. Since her husband`s death, she was in to many dirty jobs .She was of opinion that a love and marriage did not mean comfort and happiness fiscally.
Suma`s loose life style gathered lot of men friends for her. Suma lent money from them too. Some times for interest sometimes for some jobs they made her do. Suma had a teasing way of dealing with men. She goaded men in to believing that she was game for sex too. But in truth she was not. When she accomplished her aim, she withdrew from the entire act with some lame excuses or false promises. So without her knowledge she was also creating a lot of enemies. Sometimes the money she acquired were written as loan by these men.
This miserable two faced life was unknown to Shika. But Shika suspected so many things. She became slowly indifferent to her mother. She kept herself busy with her studies as well as friends. Positivity was Shika`s main strength. That saw through all her wretched life around her.
Every day, while walking to her college, Shika used to gaze for a long time at the dilapidated and half constructed three storied flat. It was in ruins now, with broken bricks that were coming out of its place due to lack of cementing. Every unfinished window space showed some unruly weeds or grass.
The ruined state of that flat made Shika very sad. Shika once asked the shop keeper near that flat, ``why is this flat in such a pathetic condition. Why did the construction stop all of a sudden? The shop keeper Mukundan, looked up from the paper he was reading for the fifth time. ``who told you the construction was stopped, all of a sudden? Construction was not supposed to stop had the builder became paralysed due to some stroke. His sudden disability created some difference of opinion between his partner and him. It is a long sad story. “Mukundan was surprised that this young girl was even interested in such details. Because according to him these were all insipid matters. Probably she was an estranged relation of that builder. Curiosity got better of him and he asked her. ``why do you ask? ”Oh! It is really nothing I have been plying through his road for the past two years. Since then this flat was in such a pathetic condition, It seemed so strange, hence my interest. “Shika felt as if she was snooping in to some forbidden areas. She walked away abruptly without even a backward glance.
Evening when she came home there wasn’t anyone home. Her mother must be busy with her errands. So Shika had the house to herself. She made a hot cup of tea and sat on the sit out with it. It had started to rain. She loved the pluvial beauty of the nature so much. Rain always brought out some strange memories in her. This time her mind wandered to that lonely discarded incomplete flat. So many aspirations and hopes got stunted and stuck there. Why is it not getting a resurrection? Just because one builder could not complete it due to reasons beyond himself, why couldn’t the other partner team up with some other builder and try to complete it? So many years have been wasted. What about those people who must have invested their hard earned money to own it?
Shika felt it all to be very strange. The strangest part was that the shop keeper was getting annoyed at her curiosity. Wasn’t she eligible to get curious?
Shika was sure now that there was something vile behind it all. How can she find out about either one of the partners? She decided to ask her mother. Suma often boasted of a large friends circle. She finished her tea in a pondering mood. The profusely falling rain only added a tempo to her ponderings.
Suma arrived at 7 pm. She looked as if she had run a race. ``what is it mamma? Why are you looking so tired and panting? Sika was concerned. ``This goddamn rain has sodden the entire road. No auto was willing to come this way. So I sloshed my way to this house .Happy? Shika I don’t like you questioning me .Got it?
Suma was edgy tonight. Shika knew this mood of hers so much. When she was in dire need of cash or when her ways to achieve some easy money failed, she fell in to such blue moods. She decided to let her mother be. They both retired to bed for a restless sleep. …
Morning tea was ready by the time Shika got up. That was indeed a surprise. ``Good morning mama. What made you get up so early and a cup of tea too? Wow! Today, I am sure, it is going to be a special day. “Shika tried her sweetest nature on Suma. ``what is so wonderful about it.”Suma retorted. `I have done nothing special, that others don’t do. So shut up and have your tea. I will make the breakfast .I am in a hurry today. Oh! So that was the reason. Must be in a hurry to con some poor financier. Shika thought to herself. But Shika did not react. She needed her mother`s help for knowing something about the flat builders.
Shika prodded on and put forth her long overdue enquiry. ``Momma do you know the builders of that dilapidated looking flat in the junction?” Suma was surprised at her daughter`s question. ``what is he matter with you, Shika. Of course I know them. They are Prabhakara kaimal and Pramod Menon. That is why it is called as P&P constructions. But why are you interested? Don`t you have anything else to do? But Shika ignored her mother`s indifference. ``Momma, Please do tell me who amongst those partners, fell sick? Why is that flat remaining thus?” Shika was now very interested. She did not know why.
Everything looked special and important now. Shika took it as if it is her moral obligation to make it possible for the construction to resume. A three storied pathetic looking edifice, which seemed to be begging to her to help it get resurrected. ``Shika, are you listening to me?”Suma`s loud sound shook her out of her reverie. ``mamma, I did not hear you. I was away in my thoughts. `What has happened to you Sika.it is very strange interest that you have. Any way I shall tell you what I know. Suma Started to impart her knowledge. `Prabhakar kaimal, who stays near our house, is the one who fell sick. He had a kind of stroke. What people said was that the breakdown occurred solely due to his partner`s cheating ways. Prabhakar had invested a lot in to this project. Pramod Menon was more in to this for lucrative benefits. No one took up that construction further as everyone considered that flat to be doomed. “Suma paused for a moment before saying ``you know why Shika. The very next month to Prabhakara kaimal`s breakdown, Pramod Menon died in a car accident. So everyone who knew about it was afraid to take up its construction. “With that words suma fled past her and in a few minutes she was ready and gone.
Shika sat dumbfounded in her bed for a few moments trying to review all that what her mother had told her .She was confused. What is doomed flat.do such things happen? So many hopes and money had been invested in to its completion. Don’t those hopes have any power? Why only negative forces are rampant and powerful. Then why do people uphold finer emotions and good thoughts? An inanimate flat and a few innocent people are held scapegoats for a virtual feeling called `doomed`.Shika was not able to digest the logic of it all.
With such mixed feelings, she went to college. On her way back she made it a point to stand in front of that flat. Mukundan Nair appeared from nowhere at her side `` why are you stuck with this flat, child. Don’t you know that this flat is cursed? Go away. “Shika was not yet ready to go away. `What do you mean by that sir? Why is it termed as cursed? Is it because two people met with some tragedy. ”isn’t that enough? Prabhakara kaimal who lives just beyond that bend is slowly limping back to normalcy. Do you want to see him sick again” Mukundan was slowly losing his cool`` just when he decided to leave the project, he started getting better. “
Shika did not want to further argue with such foolish people. These were the people who gave everything a very twisted outlook.
She went home that day with a decision to meet Prabhakara kaimal and see what he has got to say about it all. Right from the horse`s mouth itself.
Being in college and concentrating on her studies were now an ordeal for Shika. Her mind was so occupied by that flat. It surprised even her.
Prabhakara Kaimal stayed in a small house now, very near to Shika`s house. It was also near to his dream project –the flat-. Now he was able to walk about slowly. His stroke took its toll on his entire living style .There was a mounting financial obligation now to his credit.
On her way to college Shika decided to visit him. She slowly treaded near his gate. Then she knocked on the gate. A middle aged man with salt and pepper hair came out slowly to see who was at the gate. Shika did not know what to say or do. She Steadied herself and asked ``are you Mr, Prabhakara kaimal? “`` Yes I am”. Came the reply. Shika opened the gate and went in. She l liked him at the first look itself. A simple serene looking gentle man. There was a lot of pain playing hide `n seek in his eyes or was she making it all up. Any way she was impressed by that gentle man. ``Sir, I am Shika. I stay just round that bend. I often wondered at the incomplete flat over there. It was a curiosity initially. Then it became an empathy and now it is an obsession. My heart seems to be tuned towards it”. Shika was surprised at the influx of her own emotions and the words that followed. Prabhakara Kaimal smiled at her and looked far away for a few minutes before he said, `I am so overwhelmed by your interest in that flat, child. I don’t know who you are. But something in me says that you are genuine. “He enquired about her family then he asked her the reason how she got interested in that flat. But she did not answer. That question hung in the silence of the atmosphere. Because even she did not know the reason .At least not a credible reason. But she continued ‘sir, why don’t you ask around? With your contacts, you can come across interested parties. “``I am so happy at your enthusiasm to help me. But let me ask you dear, what is your part in it? Did your parents invest money .You know, I am already incurring a lot of debts in the bank. My illness somehow helped me abide for some more time. ~
``No sir. Shika insisted. There is nothing surprising in it at all. I too live very near to this flat. Consider this as a curiosity or empathy. My parents have not invested in it. My mother has lots of high level friends. She too can help you find someone. “Shika knew it was all a futile attempt .Because there was not any spark of hope in Kaimal`s eyes. But one thing she was sure .That is, Prabhakar Kaimal believed her to be genuine. He would, she was sure, think more about it all after she goes away.
Indeed now she felt in her innermost self that a resurrection of that flat would be inevitable.
After Shika left, Kaimal was in a pensive mood for a long time. He was thinking about Shika. She was so intense and so sure about everything she said. Such confidence and such a good hearted girl. He felt a kind of new energy flowing through him. Was it the effect of positivity imparted by that girl? He did not know. Even his partner Pramod did not have such concentrated dedication. He was more money minded and selfish. Pramod was more of a swash buckler and swindler. Come to think of it, it was mainly due to Pramod`s waywardness and spending nature that they were in such soup. Add to the injury misfortunes befell them one after the other.
Prabhakara Kaimal woke from his reverie and decided to enquire about that girl. Since Shika was almost his neighbour, it was easy. He knew she was genuine. But what could he do about it all? Even if he had the mind who would want to partner his so called `taboo’ project.
Sika went home contented. On nearing her house, she saw three men waiting there. They had opened the doors and were sitting on the veranda chairs. She ran to them and asked the reason for their visit. One benign looking man among them, intervened and updated her in to the reason for their visit. ``I suppose you don`t know the reason for our visit. But your mother knows well. She has been loaning money from us on various occasions, with so many false promises. Now she is nowhere to be seen. In fact she had given us a wrong address. It was with much difficulty that we found this house. I don’t want to go in to all that details. She would either have to report to us immediately with the amount she owes us or she would have to furnish the job entrusted to her. “That benign face was slowly turning irate. Shika was feeling very bad about it all. She said in a hushed sound. ``I am unaware of it all, Sir. As far as I know, my momma works in a textile shop and that she has lot of friends. Or at least that is what she always told me.” The benign man`s eyes softened. ``yes girl, I believe you. But her friends circle is all a sham. She was taking money from us in return for providing young women for housekeeping jobs and other errand works here as well as abroad. She did provide a few women. That is how she created a confidence in us. So we started giving money in advance. All of a sudden she started to avoid us totally.
Then one of the men asked for a glass of water. Shika excused them and opened the door and went inside. …
Those three men looked between themselves and nodded their heads in an understanding way and together they too went inside. The benign faced man made it a point to see that the door was then locked from inside. He then conveniently removed the key too.
A cornered Shika was not even given a chance to cry for help. Three men were too much for that fragile young girl. The two timing nature of Suma took its toll on poor Shika.
They vandalised and gang raped her so relentlessly .They saw to it that one large hand always covered her mouth strongly to snuff out any cries from her, while each took their turn in raping her. Little did they realize that the hand that was covering her mouth was covering her nose too and thus blocking her breathing.
But when one by one took their turn to satisfy their carnal desires in the guise of getting even with Suma, life was slowly ebbing out of Shika. The last thought Shika had was the injustice done to her by Destiny. Before she could salvage her endeavour she was forced to call it a day..
Shika lay cold and assaulted on the floor. There was blood oozing out of her groin. Her eyes stared and bulged out in a cold dead expression .but it still reflected the futility of it all . An act so cruel and cold blooded that even the super powers shrivelled and stared. Nature cried in the form of torrential rain. Her tormenters ran out in to the pallor created by the rain………
Shika saw her body lying cold and dishevelled ``But why am I not feeling anything. Why can`t I get up? “She was jolted out of her body even before she could realize it all. Her soul ran helter skelter. Her mother was a cheat and she had to suffer the fruits of her misdeeds. Shika waited.
Suma came in and let out a shrill shriek and fell on top of her dead daughter`s rigid body. The rain was still lashing its fury. Suma ran out in to her neighbours house ,like a woman gone mad.
~~Momma, what is the use? You should have planned your life well. This calamity would not have occurred had you planned it all properly and led a simple life without any greed for money. Shika` soul and Shika’s lifeless body were conspiring between themselves. The soul came and sat near its body. It was not at all ready to leave this earthly life. The soul was free .But very sad. It had just started to live in that beautiful body happily. It fled in to the darkness. How could it watch that beautiful body being engulfed by fire after coming under the doctor`s knife in a post-mortem table.
Shika`s soul floated in to that unfinished flat, which was her pet interest while alive. She felt a kind of calm come over her while inside that flat. It felt as though the flat was awaiting her arrival. She went through all those unfinished newness. Cobwebs, rats and some unknown insects and bats ruled. They were living out their lives there. It was time for a resurrection.
Shika waited near one of its unfinished window. ..Concentrating intensely.
A new page was turning .A new angle was forming with her ability to do anything with the power of concentration. She was free and invisible. ……………!
Prabhakara Kaimal heard the sad news of Shika`s death, the very next day from the newspaper. It had made quite a news around that palace. He was so stunned and devastated .He felt his senses and self-go numb. Then slowly, ever so softly, an uncanny perception entered his mind. This was another invisible force acting. Otherwise why should that girl Shika befriend him and talk so much about his unfinished project? Her talks had evoked so much positivity and energy in him. He had even begun to think in the way that girl had asked him to do. Yes ask around or look about for a partner. Shika was indeed a kind of motivation for him. Now from out of nowhere that simple life has been snuffed out. He did not know what to do. But he was sure there was something intervening. He was afraid whether it was for good or for bad.
Narendra Chettiar was a very well-known and wealthy person in that place. He was well known not only in that place, but also all over Kerala. He could be even ranked as one of the most prosperous business man and philanthropist. He dealt mostly with home appliances and steel vessels. He had also hands in chit funds charitable organisations cement agencies etc. There wasn’t much Chettiar did not indulge in. He was a very God fearing person and spend lavishly on charitable works.
But he had one great worry. Unfortunately he did not have any children.
So one Thursday as per the wise opinion of a famous astrologer, he arranged for a large `puja` at the nearby Temple. He decided to distribute gold coins to the orphanage working under the management of that temple. It was on the same Thursday that Prabhakara Kaimal too decided to visit the same temple.
Shika`s soul waiting for a propitious time concentrated deeply and her ethereal concentration sought out Narendra Chettiar. She concentrated on to his conscience. The thirst of a soul whose body was broken even without its knowledge acquires double the power in comparison to a satisfied soul. What aspirations and thoughts overwhelmed the physical self would reflect strongly on its astral form. !!
Thursday morning Narendra Chettiar started to the temple to attend the prayer and offer charity .Prabhakara Kaimal was already there unaware of all the celebrations footed by Narendra Chettiar.
So many chanting and so much mayhem .Somehow in the midst of all the pushing and pulling, the box containing a number of gold coins, which Chettiar was planning to offer each orphan child, got misplaced. He became aware of it all only after some time as he was so engrossed in the prayers. On knowing about it he shouted `My Bag My Bag. I can’t find my bag. It contains valuables. Chettiar was very worried now.
Shika`s souls was watching all this happenings from afar. Her time had come to act on the conscience of these two gentlemen…
Prabhakara kaimal`s foot stamped on something on the ground. He looked down and found a red velvet bundle there. He took it and loosed the knot and looked inside. There were so many gold coins in it. ``My God! Whose was it? Kaimal was shivering. It was then he listened to someone shouting` `My Bag My bag. ’So he went to Chettiar and extended the bag to him. `I think it is yours. Because I am sure only you can own so much. Chettiar took the bundle and looked inside and said `` yes it is ``. Hs joy knew no bounds. As according to their belief loosing gold was considered as bad omen. Now that it was brought back to him intact, he felt very elated. He hugged Kaimal. `` you made me so happy’. Then after a pause he asked Kaimal` `where do you live .I have never seen you here before. Chettiar and Kaimal moved to a less noisy place. `` You are right sir.’’Kaimal began.``I am visiting this temple after a long time as I was bedridden with a stroke. “``Oh! I remember you. Aren`t you one of the partners of P&P constructions. ?”I have heard a lot about you and the tragedy that followed.
Thus started their conversations regarding the mishaps, incomplete flat, debt, loan, death and sickness.
Chettiar heard everything with surprise and sadness. When Kaimal finished saying it all, there was a pregnant silence between them. Then Chettiar turned to Kaimal and placed a hand on his shoulders. ``Kaimal, let us join together and finish that flat. I shall help you. Let us become the new construction partners. He smiled at Kaimal. Kaimal did not know what to say .His whole hearted consent was a tear stained smile.
Shika`s soul too smiled victoriously. Her mission was complete. Now it was time for her to go!!..............
One year later, P&P Construction, now P&N, completed the flats in style. Those who had invested in it owned those beautiful flats with pride. It stood against the blue sky like a victorious warrior.
A beautiful garden came up in front of that flat with so many jasmine flowers and rose flowers.
May be Shika`s soul still floats among those fragrance to view her earthly wish fulfilled.