the whirling siren – Pt. 2
Faintly, he could hear a song playing on the radio in a whisper. He slowly turned it up, a song from the 1987 Hindi parallel-cinema film, Ijaazat (Permission).
Based on a Bengali story, Jatugriha by Subodh Ghosh. KHALI HAATH SHAAM AAYI THI – Empty handed has the evening come, sung powerfully by Asha Bhosle.
खाली हाथ शाम आई है / खाली यह हाथ रवाना होगी
Empty handed has the evening come / empty handed it will depart.
आज भी, जिसे मैं प्रतीक्षा नहीं आया है / शून्य वापसी करेंगे।
Today too, whom I await hasn’t come / emptiness will return.
इस रात के काले दाग / यदि केवल कोई आ जाएगा साफ हो सकते हैं
This night’s dark stain / Can be wiped if only someone would come
Mr Khan felt absorbed not just from the profound expression of the lyrics, but deeply so, that Maya’s life had become so short-lived. Like the evening, she too had come empty-handed and departed empty-handed, metaphorically speaking. He began softly biting the skin over his lower lip, until he was abruptly interrupted by a loud but startling sound. He directed his bulging eyes up towards the roof of the vehicle.
Inspector Suchdev quickly stirred his head towards the direction of the piercing sound, after he had taken a drag from the cigarette. Mr Khan quickly hunched out from the side of the door, brows squashed together. The plastic case of the whirling siren torn right off. Mr Khan threw an incredulous stare towards the case-less but still whirling siren, as it flashed brightly onto his face. Inspector Suchdev softly blew out clouds of smoke from his mouth, then gently removed his Ray-Bans. He had dropped his cigarette, placed his left hand over close proximity of his loaded Beretta gun cautiously, about to pull it out from the holster.
They’d instantly registered that there was no gunfire of such, even as they searched everywhere with their incredulous eyes there was no one excerpt themselves present here.
Surprise fell over their faces, Mr Khan rested his elbow and part of his forearm onto the roof of the vehicle. His head tilted slightly down and eyes darting the ground. Just as Inspector Suchdev began to place his Ray-Bans back on but paused abruptly, he’d witnessed something rather beyond any form of explanation. It defied the normal physics of nature.
“Khan-Saab…” He called, as his head leaned forward. Mr Khan quickly stirred his head towards Inspector Suchdev and then gently removed his elbow off from the roof. Saw what began to take place in front of their disbelieving eyes. Mr Khan edged towards it, his feet moving tentatively. They watched as Inspector Suchdev’s pen was writing on the notepad, by itself. No such physical force driving its motion. And then, the pen dropped after it was done inscribing. Mr Khan slowly twisted the page with the inscription, it was an address. They’d recognised the address but were very surprised by what it really meant.
“Seems like we have a lead Khan-Saab.” Inspector Suchdev positively confirmed.
“How deep is your belief in science Inspector Suchdev-ji?” Mr Khan questioned without his piercing eyes ever watching Suchdev.
“Very minimal. There are things that go beyond the explainable, Khan-Saab.”
“Are you superstitious?” Mr Khan swallowed the last of the eclair toffee. It left his mouth greasy and dry. Inspector Suchdev crushed the cigarette butt with his shoe, lit a fresh cigarette, pressed it between his lips and after he removed it and blew out a long stretch of smoke, he answered.
“I have not experienced anything like this until today.”