A crow caws outside the window early in the morning. Caw-caw-caw. Incessant. Rhythmic. Sharp. Loud gurgling sounds emerging from its belly, and thrown out by its ugly mouth. Caw. Rohan watches the crow through blurry sleepy eyes, finding its noise oddly comforting, a pause from his dark thoughts. He knows the time even before he sees his watch. He still looks at his loyal leather watch kept on the bed stand. The crow is always on time.
Rohan moves with precision, every step, every movement calculated. First, turning on one side, and then slowly getting the legs together. Then using his hands and feet, he tries to gets up. He is successful on his third attempt. By the time he is up, he is already exhausted, sweat beads forming on his forehead, but he lets them be, using his hands to wipe them off would be a waste of his energy; something he barely has.
As if on reflex, he takes a step, slowly and meekly, then locates his walker and walks more confidently now.
He walks aimlessly for a few minutes, exploring his own house. The amoeba like cracks beginning to form on the walls, a faint ray of light, simple and expanding, makes its way through the closed front door. The living room window which is always open a bit, no matter how many times he tries to close it. The kitchen, a fading mix of blue and white, is the room where he feels utterly lost. It was never his anyway, it was governed by Riya. She would move effortlessly, whisking the cookie batter with one hand, and mixing the dal with the other while talking on the phone, wedged between her ear and right shoulder. She knew every inch of the house and also him. He asks kaka to make him a cup of coffee. This is the only thing he knows how to make well. Rohan sits by the window, too tired to stand and wait. Below cars pass by, cows move slowly with the bells around their necks ringing side to side and the people carry on with their lives. He stares at their monotonous ways and how he was the same, before Riya and now too, after Riya.
The night was lit and a cool wind was blowing, it was the perfect time for a drive. "Lets go to Nariman Point. It'll be beautiful at this time", said Riya. Rohan smiled instantly and agreed. She sat behind him, arms wrapped tightly around his body, giving off warmth and comfort. He started the bike with one loud kick, and off they went. A beautiful road, streetlights casting shadows across them and a truck; a black rusted beast that changed the course of their lives forever. Rohan was in the hospital for 3 weeks, unaware of everything. Riya was in another place, far away, a better place maybe, where horizons met. 'Traumatic paraplegia' that's what the doctors told him. The trauma on his body had caused his legs to stop working, though temporarily. His heart however was injured beyond repair.
There goes the crow again, breaking his thoughts. His coffee has gone cold. The jet black raven, stares at him with determined eyes as if asking him to do something. He'd read somewhere that crows carry the souls of the dead, till their purpose is complete. He never believed it but the everyday appearance of this one, makes him wish for it to be true.
Rohan doesn't know this yet but exactly 1 year, 3 months and 13 days later, the crow will make its last visit and Rohan will swear that the crow had smiled at him that day before it flew away.
Photography By: Ved Dubhashi