[#12] A Bluff That Kept Him Alive
A tale told by Mohit Mamoria
The story begins at The Haveli.
Before Saafiya could realize what she had heard, Ryu moved swiftly and picked up the candle from the table and as soon as he touched it, it began to glow — someone with a purpose was in its vicinity. Ryu touched the glowing top with one hand and held Saafiya’s hand with another. No one present there could even blink their eyes and both of them were sucked inside the candle.
Inside the candle, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. A vast space, black, unending, without boundaries, no floor, no ceiling. Immersed in this nothingness were Ryu and Saafiya.
“To kill your father”, Ryu said.
“Where are we?” Saafiya asked, ignoring what he said.
“WHERE ARE WE?” Saafiya asked in a louder voice.
Ryu laughed louder.
“WHERE ARE WE RAGHAV? WHERE ARE WE?” Saafiya asked in her loudest voice.
“SHUT UP, YOU LITTLE CRYING BITCH!” Ryu scolded.
Saafiya’s eyes widened and her voice went numb. She didn’t speak. She didn’t move. She didn’t blink. She was shocked for what she just heard.
Ryu continued, “We are in the time. Inside the candle. We can go anywhere from here, Saafi…ya, Saafiya.”
Saafiya kept her widened eyes fixed on her best friend. Ryu laughed. He laughed louder. He laughed like he hadn’t laughed in a long time. He laughed as if he got what he desired. And mixed with his laugh, he heard a whispering.
“The candle is defective.”
He couldn’t understand Saafiya’s broken whisper. He demanded to repeat, “WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU MURMURING. SPEAK UP.”
She gathered whatever courage she had left and said, “The candle is defective. It doesn’t work. It makes people stuck in wrong time, mixes up things or throws them back out. It is defective.”
“HA HA HA HA HA!”
He laughed as if he was waiting for her to mention this. After another round of cackling, he replied, “The candle is defective? No no no no no. It was. Not any more. Not any more after your grandfather has fixed it. Didn’t you hear what Ramu Kaka said — ‘Your grandfather tried fixing the candle and tested it by sending a few rich people to a different time that they desired. He succeeded too but years later.’ He succeeded. He SUCCEEDED. HE SUCCEEDED, SAAFIYA. HE SUCCEEDED, BITCH.”
Every time Ryu called her a bitch, a tear from her eyes rolled down from her eyes, onto her cheeks and would then fall down in the vast emptiness. She never imagined her best friend calling her a bitch.
Ignoring her tears, Ryu continued, “I couldn’t kill your father until I had a way to go back to my time. And all this time… And all this bloody time… It was made to seem like the candle is still defective. A BIG BLUFF. A BLUFF THAT KEPT HIM ALIVE. JUST A BLOODY BLUFF. YOUR SMART ASS GRANDPA HAD FIXED IT YEARS AGO… YEARS AGO, BITCH… YEARS AGO!”
Saafiya’s teary eyes rewarded the emptiness with a couple more tears — one from each eye. But once these were out, she decided those were the last time she cried due to Ryu. She reminded herself that the person standing in front of her was not Raghav, but Ryu. She argued with him, “But it did throw Kaka back to this time when he tried traveling to his time.”
“Poor man… He wasn’t thrown back. He was sent back. He had successfully traveled to his time but when they got to know that he had fled you, he was sent back. His cover was brilliant, I must say. Brilliant. But one mistake in his narration… Ha Ha Ha!”
“Why my father? Why do you want to kill him?” she finally got the nerve to ask the question.
“I’ll tell you but don’t tell anyone. Promise? HA HA. Leave it. Ramu already knows. I want to kill your father because your grandparents’ real son is alive in his time. And since the day the past was altered because of the birth of your father, their real son… their real son… my father is suffering.”
“My father, sister. You are my sister in another time. You are my sister, bitch!”
She took in a long breath and the darkness around her began to take some shapes. They began to resemble the indoors of the Haveli again. Just a moment before everything came back to normal, the last words of Ryu that she heard were, “Now, go back. And I will find your father and do what I was sent to do and save my father. I am sorry, sister. All these years I couldn’t do it because there was no means for me to travel in time. But I have this candle now. The time has arrived. The deed needs to be done. It will be done.”
Saafiya was back in Haveli standing among everyone except Raghav. Raghav was gone. Ryu was gone. And as soon as she realized she was back in Haveli, she collapsed.
The story continues:
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