He liked his new home. It was not big nor was it small. She was not an art enthusiast either, but someone with a great deal of aesthetic sense. The house was decorated with remarkably few things. But each item that adorned the wall, table, window and corners of the house was unique. Every non-living thing in that house seemed to breathe and have a character as well. He could not help, but feel at home.
The journey to his new home was quite unpleasant. He was wrapped up for too long and it was a relief to feel the light as she pulled off the layers of bubble wrap and covers. She smiled at the painting like it was some trophy. Like something she cherished, like something she was proud of. “If only I could ask her what she saw…,” he thought. She was walking around the house, trying to find a place for him.
“The hall has a painting already… Hmm.. Kitchen? God! Who keeps a painting of a guy in the kitchen? What happened to my sense of interior designing…!?” She chuckled to herself and continued to roam the house. The study or the bedroom. Those were the only two options left with her. She went to her bedroom. “Sheeeesh! Have I been sleeping here for all these years?”
There was absolutely nothing cheerful in the room. A big bed with lots of pillows and cushions. One could call it a cheerful piece of furniture, if somebody was there to give her company on that bed. But there was no one. Her job did not allow her to date. Or she did not allow herself to go for a date. Or anything social or informal. Then there was a cupboard and a dressing table. A rocking chair. A door that led to the balcony. Not even a toy or a photograph or a flower vase or a clock. “Shit man… At least a clock should have there.” If not even a bloody clock, better be a painting then. And if no real man, at least an impression of a man.”
Right opposite to her bed, she fixed the nail and hanged the painting. The wall was painted in a similar shade of blue of the sea in the painting. “There you go. This is your new home. Hope you like it. It seems like you got a little bit more sea to look at with my wall being the same blue as your sea. But don’t expect any waves. Unless I throw water or coffee or anything in one of those of my infamous temper tantrums. Dont worry. I dont really have the habit of throwing and smashing things when I am angry. I just shout. You can call it screaming, if you want. But that’s pretty much it. Nothing more. So you ll be safe there. By the way, I am Scarlett. Scarlett Williams. Nice to meet you.”
Then she laughed. “I think I have gone mad.” But that was a good conversation after all. No negotiation. Just conversation. Although one-way conversation. She smiled. She turned to the painting, ” I think I need to give you a name as well. If we are to have more of these insane talks, it would be better if you had a name. Don’t you think? Give me some time, okay? I promise it will be a good one. And nothing ordinary.” And she walked out of the room.
Scarlett Williams. That was her name. And she was going to give him a name. Then she had smiled. And she talked to him. He was overwhelmed. He wanted to run on that sea-shore. He wanted to swim and drown in those waves. He wanted to bury himself in the sand. He wanted to wrestle with the sea. He wanted to be alive. He wanted to feel flesh and bones and blood. He wanted to feel the real sun and the real breeze. He wanted to move his hands and legs. He wanted to walk, run and jump. But most of all he wanted to talk. No. More than that, he wanted to turn and look at her when she talked to him. He wanted to see her smile. He wanted to see the expressions in her eyes. He wanted to see her hair. God, how he wanted to see Scarlett Williams.
He had a name, hadn’t he? He had a life. He also had a job. Friends and family. But he did not have a heart. This was a story that no one would believe. Not that he could say it to anyone. Still, he knew that there was no way to make anyone believe his story without sounding like a raving mad man, a lunatic. Yet, it had happened. In this age of science and technology, where logic and proof were everything. Everything supeficial or supernatural was mocked at, branded as silly, romantic, stupid, crazy, unreal, overactive imagination, hallucination or maniacal.
Magic existed. He knew that. Now. Because he was cursed. In this same tech-savvy and science crazy world, he was banished into a world of nothing, of absolute stillness. He was cursed into eternity. Why? Why because he was cruel and unkind and ruthless. He was responsible for many a broken dreams and hearts and hopes. He had behaved like a man possessed by demons, like a blood thirsty vampire. One day, an employee under him snapped under the pressure and humiliation and suicided. He had not stopped then also. He did not care even after watching the river of tears that flowed from the mother’s eyes. He still counted his loss and lamented about wasting time.
There was no word spoken aloud. But he had felt the mother curse him, as tears continued to flow. He had seen red. He had seen black. He had lost his balance and swayed on his legs. He had felt dizzy. Other staffs with him had taken him back to his palace like house. Those grief-stricken eyes had haunted him. He knew everything was somehow different now. He was terrified to let his eyes close. All he saw was her unforgiving look. He had fainted then and saw her in his dream.
In his dream, she did not look like the frail and old woman he had seen earlier. She was terrifying and he had felt himself cowering into a corner of the room. Her wrath, her rage, her pain, her loss. He saw it all in her eyes. For the first time he had felt irrelevant, tiny and puny, afraid and helpless. That too in a dream. A dream that was more real than life. He had expected her to shout and scream and bellow at him. But she had just looked at him at first. What had she seen? What had she felt? Pity? Disgust? Hatered? Revulsion?
With a strange kind of calmness in her whole self, as if she is holding the reigns of a devastating storm which could free itself anytime, she said, ” Do you know what you have done? To me and to many others? Do you?”
” Ye…yes… I know… I…I am…mmm… sorry….” He had stammered and stuttered like a silly little boy.
“Do you really? I don’t think so. Even now you are thinking what a fool he was to take his own life. You still think it was his mistake.”
“No. Nooo… No.”
” You lie.”
He was lying, wasn’t he? Who was he trying to fool, he didn’t know.
“I… No.. I… I am sorry…”
“You are such a pathetic fool. You think you are great? You think your money can buy you life? Love? Happiness? You think you are invincible? Do you think nothing can hurt you? Break you?”
What could he have replied to her? His mind had been nothing, empty, a plain black board. He could not think of anything that reminded him of love or life or happiness either.
” You will know. Soon. What life means. What love means. What true happiness is. You will watch and feel and yet wont be able to see it. Neither will you be a part of it. You will be confined inside four walls. All you will do is think. You will live as long as the walls stay. ”
“Nooooo… Noooo…nooo…please… noooo… What walls? Where? No… Please…”
“You many people begged you like this? Do you even remember?”
He had cried then. Because he remembered, every face he had hurt with words, looks and deeds, with a startling clarity.
” You are a cursed life. You don’t repent even now. You are searching for escape and trying to lay the blame on others. Are you even human? Even the worst kind of animals have compassion. But you… You are a beast. A devil and a demon. You will pay for your deeds.”
Suddenly everything had gone black. He could not see anything. He felt suffocated and squeezed and pressed and jammed. His breath had tasted of salt. There was no longer shoes on his feet and he felt sand and water. He opened his eyes. He was trapped. In his own painting of the sea in his room. He could turn a little but not more. He could breathe. He could see. He could hear. He could think. But nothing else. The frame was his four walls. This was to be his tower of confinement. He had screamed then. But no sound came. Nothing.
He screamed again. A scream that came from the deepest part of your soul, from the deep dark bottom of the heart. A scream that would have shaken the world, had it ever been voiced. His throat had hurt. He had felt it tear. He could do absolutely nothing.
He heard her sound again.
“Take all the time you want in this world. You will not age there. Think of everything you did and say. Think of all your sins. Because that is the only company you have got there. If ever, in this eternity, you feel that your heart can beat for somebody else… If ever, you think you can put someone else before yourself, if ever you can re-arrange your priorities, you will come back into life. Do you think you can being the still life painting you are?”
He could not even scream. He could not even cry. He could not even apologize.
“I will know. If you heart beats for someone else from inside that frame, I will come again and let you free. Till then its your life to live. Rather, re-live or not to live . ”
Its been five years now. Five long years of re-living and not living at all.