THE hit seemed as if it came out of nowhere. There was a whistling sound that was mutedly audible as the bullet traversed the 10 feet journey from the Beretta 92FS to the bulls’ eye marked out clearly on the forehead. The desired impact was apparent. There would be a loud noise, not from the actual shot but from the splattering of the brain on the wall. There would be blood too, but most of it had already dried out. The hours of torture had all but deadened her. She had longed for the hit and was almost relieved when it came.
Before the end they say there is a moment when life flashes in front of your eyes in quick succession. Scores of old photographs do a quick slide show, perhaps in black and white. They will be in soft tones, like a dream. Hazy! Nebulous! Almost not there. None of that happened. As she sat in the corner, the only thought that crossed her mind was how soon this would get over. She was not aware of her past but was intensely aware of the present. The smell of fresh paint had hung heavy in the air. The overlooking environ was all green. It could have been invigorating. The rain was lashing against the big window pane. What a pitiful waste of a wonderful day!
There were other people present there as well.
She looked at that man sitting in the middle over there…looking preoccupied and distracted. His shifting glances indicated his distress with his present situation and desperate need to be elsewhere. He kept glancing at something under the table. An open field with 15 men somewhere …
That tall man staring out of the window pane had the look of a pining lover. Maybe he wasn’t pining and was just hopeful. Maybe the reality of his imminent death escaped him. Maybe he’d escaped into his lovers waiting arms.
There was a droning noise too. Someone kept muttering. There was a buzz and muttering, buzz and muttering. It was cyclic and if one negated the humdrum then one could hear just that…the buzz and the muttering.
The glassy eyes looked back at her from behind the specs. She was sure he was looking at her lustily. Right now?In this state!? Sicko! She dared to look back and noticed he was transfixed. He was not looking at her but through her. To something beyond, in a realm of his own. She did not exist for him. She wasn’t sure if he himself existed.
The lady played with the end of her duppatta, twisting it between her fingers and untwisting it back. Her hand kept going to the lock of hair which was tucked away behind her ear. With a swift movement she pulled it forward and tucked it back. No, she couldn’t be still.
The last man on the row ... did he now…no really… o my god… he did…he picked his nose! A surreptitious look here and there and then quickly took the chance!
A light flickered somewhere. It wasn’t the light of the afterlife beckoning to her. A dull whirring sound stopped. She could feel the heat on her face. It wasn’t the muzzle of the Beretta 92FS unloaded. Just that the heated projector had stopped and the lights had been switched on.
The meeting ended. There was hope after all.
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