As he sat behind Kumar Anna in the thumping bullet, he felt so happy that to be with Anna - a familiar figure with whom he can share his new found happiness. The midnight has lulled all the souls of the street into sleep. The roads were empty and the streetlights – at least, those that were not bust, cast eerie golden pools of shadow. Even the dogs and cats, that usually dart here and there were curled cozily into their own warmth and dozed. This would be Arul’s first visit to Kumar Anna’s place, even though they knew each other for more than a year now. He felt a little odd that his first visit is at this ungodly hour. But since Kumar had no issues about it, Arul rode wordlessly with him and they arrived at the gates of Kumar’s residence.
As Arul was about to get down from the bike, two dogs pounced at them out of the blue. With their teeth bared and a low menacing growl rumbling from their throat, the guys felt as if were dropped right in the middle of a scary movie. The ferocious black dog was looking at Kumar and barking furiously. Its barks echoed eerily in the cold deserted night air. In the ghostly moonlight, Arul could feel the shock and fear that was coursing through him reverberate in Kumar. They did not know how to tackle this beast and escape with all their flesh intact on their legs. To make matters worse, the black beast latched its paws onto Kumar's leg. Scared out of his pants, Kumar tried to scare the dog away by revving up his engine. This made the other dog to leap in front of the bullet. With its front legs planted solidly on the wheel, the second dog started barking angrily -not budging even an inch when Kumar tried to move his bike forward.
Arul could see that they were literally trapped between two crazed, frantically barking monster dogs. Arul, who is already scared of dogs, was at his wit's end. The barking continued unabated and the black dog, which was clinging on to the trembling legs of Kumar, turned towards Arul and started snapping at him. Arul could handle it no more. He jumped out of his seat and took off -running like a madman down the street.
To his great relief, Kumar watched the two crazy dogs take off like rocket and disappear round the corner of his street. He was perplexed and still shaky from his midnight adventure with the dogs. “I have come home numerous times at this hour, sometimes even later. What made these dogs –that too the familiar street dogs that I see everyday - behave as if they were possessed?” wondered Kumar.
He quickly opened the gates and let himself inside. He felt too nervous to venture again into the dark to lock the main gates behind him. He dashed into his home and jumped into his bed, quickly discarding his clothes and changing into comfortable shorts. As he lay, staring at the ceiling, he felt his heart rate return to normalcy. “Thank God I escaped without any scratches or bites” he murmured.
Even before the alarm could irritatingly wake him up, Kumar got up - wide awake. The mistress of sleep ditched him even without the final caress of the state between sleep and wakefulness. The time was 5.30 am and he didn’t have the usual urge to burrow into the bed and doze for another 30 minutes. Instead, he started thinking about today’s match. They were playing against their rival team –from the other end of the city. He started strategizing and plotting about the 15 over match.
Brushed and dressed, Kumar slipped on his shoes and pocketed his wallet. Swinging his bat on his shoulders, he snatched the mobile from the table and checked for messages.
“Dai, what the F*&% da? We are playing our rivals. If we cancel the match now, they will think we have chickened out!” Kumar shouted.
“Macha, listen to me da…our Arul…he is no more.” Sashi said quietly.
“Macha?? You there da? Am now at his home. They have taken the body for post mortem. Why don’t you come over?”
“Sure…sure…I will be there soon. What is the need of post mortem? Was he murdered? When will they release the body?” Kumar couldn’t stop himself from shooting questions to Sashi.
“These government procedures…I think we can count ourselves lucky if we get the body in another 5 hours.”
Kumar sat down heavily on his bed. Even last night he remembered taking his last fag outside Arul’s place. Everything was as normal as they could be. How come he died? That too so suddenly? Kumar’s thoughts kept circling round and round Arul.
“Sashi, what happened da? How did it die? Even last night I was here and everything was normal. When did you get the news of his death? Infact, today morning I was about to leave my home to pick him up for our match. I was so shocked to see your message.” Words tumbled out of Kumar.
Before Sashi could answer, there was a commotion at the gate. Two policemen were escorting a body bag, which was placed in the freeze box by two health workers. The police handed over some documents to Arul’s father –who wordlessly passed it on to Sashi. The police turned to us and said“Get these documents photocopied. They are the post mortem report”
Sashi was looking at the body bag in a stunned state and he was not responding to the police. Arul's face was swollen and blue. The face barely held any resemblance to the young and smiling Arul. When the police prompted Sashi again, Kumar nodded to them and dragged Sashi out of the house to his bike. Sashi climbed wordlessly and they went to the nearest“Xerox” shop. Kumar went to the shop and ordered for 3 copies, collected it, paid and came back to his bike.