Pooja went missing.
One week before the missing happened, Gautam slept over a book, before reading these lines.
“Thoughts of any intensity whether discreet or loud, deliberately derives the source for a momentary realm. A realm of scant guesses and stupid confusions. And then stories bloom, veined from the moistened yet slender thoughts. Stories conjured from deep emotional foundation. As humans, its an evolutionary compulsion we were taught with.
Stories and magic have a lot of traits in common. What secret does the excitement furnished in magic holds?
We force ourselves to believe the deceiving tricks we see, even after knowing the gimmick beyond. We believe. Now, stories are likewise. We looms into the stories, rip down words, and we just let them sunk in. Regardless the fact that we are deceived by our own stories, we believe them. Thoughts weaved stories. It is a power exhibition of magic, least to mention story makers are the greatest magicians in the world.”
14 yr old Pooja.
Blue-eyed, adventure savouring Pooja.
The same night, the night Gautam slept over that book, what ran through Pooja’s mind?
She full heartedly planned in on an adventure. An adventure she had longed for long. She indicated the thoughts of perpetual random sounds in the carnival, and thoughts of the diversity in stalls,trapeze players, wonder exhibitioners, comedians, gamblers. Picturesque scenario, it was. And then with a part of her daring mind, she thought of the magic show. A meagre fascination exuded in. The dark inquisitive atmosphere inside the magic hall, ears believing the soothing wonders, eyes curious about the moment next, hands applauding the brilliance of the magician. She wanted to see ‘The girl in blue’, and it stood alone in her amused mind for quite some time. She had seen it once, five or six years back, of which the memory was pale. She wanted to see it again, to feel the intangible intend of absolute magic.
That night, as told before, she planned in on adventure. The plan, that reasoned her missing.
What did her missing left Gautam with?
Before you care to answer, let me tell, this story concern less about Gautam, Or Pooja, or about her missing.This story is about magic.
It was long after sleep resigned from his bed, does Gautam thought of what a night’s difference could make. Last night, under the star populated sky, he was stimulated about doing something he felt adventurous. Something he thought, suffice to call so. Only an impalpable tinge of fear dipped inside, which was consoled soon after the remembrance of her words.
‘We must watch it before Venkat does’. She said some days ago, revising their common competitive hatred they reserved for Venkat. There is nothing to fear, Gautam. Nobody will know.’
After all, love is about the finding the hidden courage inside to do things that felt impossible. That night in sleep, he dreamt of a girl in blue appearing from an empty space.
And what of this night?. With a stressed mind, Gautam thought of Pooja. Where did she go? And with each ounce of thoughts about her, he felt more and more of a coward.He had let her go missing. Even if no one accused him for- which itself was a way too prediction, he knew it. It was him reasonable for her missing. He should have never left her.
And what could have happened to her ? In her thoughts, he inhaled deemed obsession and exhaled fire. Fire braced in fear.With weary eyes, he tried to remember her. It happened all of a sudden, he couldn’t remember her. Her smile. Her blue eyes. Even a momentary slice of her’s seemed to deviate from him. When he thought of her, all it was confined to was the sounds from the carnival, the whistles, welcoming sound of gamblers, shouting from volume of crowd, the scenes from the inauguration of grand food stall centre. And the silence that was disguised in the empty dark magic hall.
And Gautam did thought of the night after this. What awaits him?
Chaos, he felt. Future for him bounced chaos to his mind. He censured himself to greater degrees and wished they hadn’t gone to the carnival, bunking school. He wished he hadn’t gone trying the wagon wheel leaving Pooja alone.He wished today hadn’t happened like today.A chord of cry stacked in. Potentially, he silenced his weeping against the pillow.
Gautam heard prayer chantings from the room adjacent and realised grandma was still awake. She might be reading the beads of her rosary, he reckoned. He remembered how his grandma lamented child abductions and molestations. She, a social-worker long retired, had criticised the damaged moral virtues of the society for long. She prioritised the safety of children more than any other. He hadn’t took her’s for note ever, now there is a victim for it. The girl in blue is missing. It was little uncalled for him to think grandma’s assertions to Pooja’s missing, but such a thought was revolting inside and it let his tumult whirling, just like the magician whirls his wand, while doing magic. It can’t happen to her. Thinking the likes if it had, let him feel an eerie crawling in his already intact psyche.
‘Its not something new’. She told him.’Its certainly old, antiquated as history, that inclines us to believe its new, every time we see it. Lady in blue, is not just about magic, I can promise that. It lifts us to something extra. You may feel its impossible. Of course it is. That’s why we love it’. Despite the rock hard adeptness of Gautam, he surrendered to the compulsion. Between the school hours, the magic show on the carnival tented in the church ground,was not a peradventure possibility.
‘We can bunk the sports meet’.The Plan was finalised two days ago.
Walking to nearby bus stop, after leaving school unknowingly, Gautam and Pooja listened to Ayoob. The mad Ayoob, who sat below the laburnum. Sun-burnt, unshaven face and wrong grown hair. Like every other child, they were also taught to avoid him. But instead, Gautam liked Ayoob. Beyond the mad blabbers, beyond the irksome actions, there was something that distinguished Ayoob from the totalitarian society. People called him mad, but he was equitably different. He talked about things people less comprehend, even if taken to account that they listened. Coincidentally he talked about magic, that day.
‘Magic always want belief, magic loves eyes with belief, magic grows upon it. With belief only it gives its appealing clarity, reason and shape. Or else, its just an expanse of transient lying’. He went unperturbed. But even with belief, at the end, when thought hollow, magic is about self betrayal. Its cheating ourselves to some excitation. Its about losing something in self, than believing. Magic cheats you’.
And then his murmurings clung to those words, on and on and on.
‘It was seriously mean’. Pooja retorted later while travelling to carnival. ‘If I had tried to laughed it off, it would have been an offence. What do this mad man know about magic?’.
‘The girl in blue’. I tried to cool nerve and falter ourselves from Ayoob.’Isn’t it too trivial title for a magic trick?’
‘Maybe. But there is a story accompanying the title’. She explained what she knew. ‘Long time ago, the rule of Ottoman dynasty, it was then the invisibility magic tricks were first practised. There was an expert magician in there who made the audience go inexplicable with the roun of his trick, “the lady in blue”.That was the reversion of his pre-eminence in craftsmanship. He crafted it well. And he had a beautiful assistant.Obviously, they were in love. Deep, mad love. Nobody knew their name. They were called red and blue for which the magician was always dressed in red and the girl in blue’.
‘During magic,She would hide herself in a stoor box. The magician will cover the box before whirling his wand over it three times, and then she was gone. Obscure. Just like that. Only the box remained,empty. She’ll reappear then, some time after, from some other side. Nobody could hypothesize where’.
‘This trick, is still conspired the old way, almost. Through ages, among the numerous mutation magic castrated, Girl in blue stayed alike. Only men had changed his red to black. The girl remains blue, still.’
‘Have you heard about the first magic?’. She continued. ‘This happened long, long back. In distant past. Even before the Ottomans. Even before Alexander. Its some time we compel to call pre-historic. The then king, of lands and oceans sought a groom for the princess. But he had a condition, indubitably. The groom must be strong enough to forbear the whole world in his shoulders. The whole world, more or less. The king searched seven lands, and seven heavens, yet he couldn’t find a match. Even the strongest among the strong couldn’t do it. Some couldn’t carry the air, or for some, the water was difficult. Gravity, Soil, people. Everyone failed in carrying one or the other. How a world could be complete without any of these?. The King stood his ground and the princess remained single. Then came a man. With a fantasy hat and wand. He whirled his shallow piece of wood around and confined the whole world, the smell, the light, people, animals, gravity, everything inside the princess and then carried her. It was a stupendous act, the King hadn’t even dreamt of. He was convinced. The magician and princess got married. It was the first act of magic known’.
Gautam remembered the eerie, timid feeling he had when walked through the vacant, dark magic hall. The half crushed plastic bottles, soft drink cans, cigarette butts and food wrappers were stretched throughout the hall.The place did smelled of devoid mystery, rather magic.
“It is too early for the show”. A dark silhouette from the dull stage had shouted. It was difficult to find the face who sourced the voice. Outside, the inauguration of a mega food mall was progressing. Some sound vibrations of the cause rooted inside the hall and it reverberated inside. Pooja later told him how she felt the place way too odd for magic.
“You could hang out for couple of hours, or” An intended pause was shot at Pooja and he continued “you could wait. May be I can show you our workshop, where we practice to entertain”.
He laughed then,It wasn’t a giggle,Gautam could remember. Nor a guffaw. It was a fiendish, voluminous laughter. Through echoes, the silhouette reached every place. Gautam grabbed Pooja’s hand and they ran to exit.
Thinking through his palpated heart, Gautam wished he hadn’t gone to the wagon wheel. The decision to try it alone, to show off the spurious bravery drawn inside him, that was biggest of the mistakes he did that day. When Gautam returned from the wagon wheel, she was gone. Intoxicated to the point of being known. The population congregated at the grand fool stall, among which she stood when Gautam went to wagon wheel, had dispersed and she wasn’t there. Just erased. Like a wand whirled, she was gone. It took him less than a moment to apprehend she was missing, and to actualize the darkness breaching his eyes. She is missing. Just like a reflection obliterate at the touch of a feather, her blue eyes were gone.
He searched, from everywhere to everywhere.He asked the crowd, from everyone to everyone.Every question he asked the people around, confused him with a reply bizarre in flow than how he asked. People seemed to take him minuscule for their interest. He wanted to ask more people. He wanted to search more places. He wanted to disclose the burden he was bearing to some one, but the fright of a response unfavourable, let him silent. He dragged his mind to believe this was part of a magic. May be like the girl in blue, she would reappear, from somewhere. He really hoped so. Only, she didn’t come.
Inevitably, the chapter ended. Evening was born. Up in the sky, placid intense of blue was replaced by the menacing red. Down here,Pooja was gone, Gautam remained. Later, walking home drenched in heavy rain, Gautam perceived of the possibilities that could’ve embraced her. And each of them heaped more reverence in him and less hope. May be she got home safely, he endeavoured trust in his thought-weaved story. On reaching home, he tried to ring her but the rain had already paralysed the telephone lines. He wanted to talk about it. With phone dead, parents abroad, and grandma not an option, he felt alone. He felt like Ayoob. He wanted to cry. Cry like it would comfort him. He had nobody to discuss his mind with, to cry with, and with unexplainable downfall and agonising clarity, he realised what a hold she had over him.
In bed, Gautam thought what would happen tomorrow?
Chaos, it will be. He will be seized tomorrow. Accused of bunking class, and moreover of suspicion regarding her missing. He wished today hadn’t gone like today. Whatever Ayoob confronted felt legitimate to the extent. “Magic is more about losing something in self, than believing”. Gautam had lost something.
His thoughts went serene sometimes,narrowly. He thought may be he had gone too far. She must be home. She could’ve felt something wrong and went home. May that was it.But what if not?. What if something had happened to her for real?. His mind swayed like a pendulum tirelessly between both the extremities. It went on and on. And at midnight, he felt sleepy. Like snowdrops crawling the window pane, sleep conquered him.
Before dawn, Gautam had a nightmare. A wand was whirling around a box with an extreme force of motion, yielding a hissing sound. Gautam, the lone spectator was seeking the magic upcoming, closely. Suddenly, the box bounced to his feet. Inside, all left was blood. Blood with traces of blue. When Gautam woke,trembling, he was bathed in his sweat, just as was in rain some hours ago. It was Five past four. Dawn. His mind again lend space to accommodate something said by Ayoob.
“When we wake up at dawn, nightmares, insomnia, or because of anything, or if even without any reason, it is because someone remembers you, and want to be remembered back.” Ayoob had told once.
True, it is. Gautam knew no matter whatever people scorn Ayoob, when problems arise, that madman’s words were divine. Gautam left the idea to pursue sleep. He just stayed in bed, remembering Pooja. She would’ve conveying him, and wanted equivalent, he thought. It was like a telepathy expelled, but never received.
Next day, Gautam voluntarily reached school before anyone does, and waited for her. He waited at the corridor. Then in front of class. Then near the seat she usually takes. Venkat came. Other classmates came. When the live buzzing of school settled in for daily chores, her seat remained vacant. The first period started and she hadn’t come. Or she will not. Ever. Gautam felt very much of all these. He felt a distressed and tranquil hollow insidious. Sleepy, Gautam rested his head against the bench. He knew he had enough of sustained, awful time and needed rest. Effortlessly, he drowned to sleep. The teacher, with bifocal glass and less focussed eyes, bothered him less.It was over now.
Soon before the end of first period, Gautam had his certainty. He was vigorously separated from his sleep to inform he was wanted by the principal. He knew that was it. Only the interrogative inquisitiveness of what had happened to her stayed the course. He let all the curious eyes probing him to descend in. They’ll know soon. ‘I’m convicted’. He uttered silently. ‘And my judgement is near. I knew it was certain. It was just a matter of when’.
Magic, suits more with the empowered sense of utter joy and pleasurable emotion of astonishment. When Gautam turned the corridor to principal’s room, he beheld a sight of surprise. A surprise whose head hung down eyeing the uniform motion of ants. And In reply to footsteps, the surprise looked up.Then, he saw the face of a girl he couldn’t recollect past night. He saw a smile hidden pitched in the saddened face. He saw a pair of blue eyes, that he always wanted to believe at most. The girl in blue, just as in magic, had reappeared from somewhere. All of once, His body was intensifying the charisma of a moment he thought was impossible. Indeed, it was impossible. May be that’s why he loved it in abundant.
‘My dad was there yesterday, for the inauguration’.She confessed before Gautam entered the room. ‘And I had to tell him whom I was with. I couldn’t help it, Sorry’.
Her confession was short, but Gautam knew it had more apologies. It doesn’t matter now. Apologies or no apologies.
As Gautam had expected, her Parents were inside. Walking to them, the short distance to judgement, he lived a long trance of the day before.He felt his thoughts too cumbersome and silly. And foolish. ‘Thoughts are magic’, he comprehended.It had deceived him, his own thoughts. They are the most amazing magic tricks and thinkers, faint or solid are the best magicians in the worlds. And during the short walk, despite the strict and repulsive atmosphere, he was relieved. Relieved from the greatest magic he lived and only the wonder remained. He celebrated it with a silent smile. Whatever awaits him in here, explanation from parents, suspension, or even dismissal concerned him less. The girl in blue had reappeared.
Two years later, when the school auditorium opened, a magic show came to school. Among the perplexed and gratified audience, Gautam and Pooja breathed the charm of magic. Bullet catch, Dove pan, Head mover, shadow vision, and last came the girl in blue. A girl in blue attire covered herself in a box.The magician whirled his wand around it and seconds after when the was box opened, as you guessed, she wasn’t there. Some gasped, some uttered their fascination, some simply blinked, hard to believe what they have witnessed. Before claps, Pooja looked at Gautam sitting two rows behind and smiled. He paid a smile back and waited for the girl in blue to reappear.