Vermillion | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 14, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 14, 2018

Vermillion

Radha stared ceaselessly at the mangled slab of flesh, blood and bones, trying to find any hint of resemblance between the person she'd known and loved, and been happily married to for all these years, and the mess lying in front of her.

“They said he's still alive,” whispered her daughter Shyama, her fearful eyes brimming with tears threatening to spill any moment.

Radha yanked her gaze away from the deformed body and looked at Shyama. The girl searched for reassurance in her mother's eyes, she wanted her mother to look into her eyes and tell her that everything was fine, and no matter how faux her promises would sound, she wanted to clasp on to that last few shards of light before drowning in the ominous, inevitable pool of darkness.

But Shyama saw, in her mother's eyes, a never ending vortex of nothingness. Her eyes looked more dead than that of the dead.

Radha, on the other hand, looked eerily calm and well put together. She was staring at the pool of blood, mesmerised by its magnificence. It looked so beautiful, so lively, she couldn't take her eyes off of it. It was a fresh, bright hue of Vermillion, and Radha could swear she'd never seen a colour more vibrant. She felt that her world was too vague, too insipid, compared to the dazzling Vermillion, which made every other colour seem bland.

Shyama couldn't tell what horrified her more – watching the blood drain out of her father, or the life drain out of her mother. Her momentary trance was shattered by a group of volunteers in scrubs, who rushed in, picked her father up from the floor, placed him on a stretcher, and hurried away. Taking a glance at her mother, Shyama quickly followed.

***

The sound of Samar's toy car was what woke Radha up, and she cherished the warm sense of relief that radiated through each cell of her body. It was only a dream. A nightmare. Pradeep was on his way home, and probably would be here in a few moments. The familiar whirring of his bike would make the children rush to the door, betting on who was there first. All was well.

The sound of her son's toy car was gradually amplifying, and Radha was forced to open her eyes, finally realising that she'd fallen asleep outside Pradeep's cabin. She felt tired, she felt so, so tired. She stared at the sky, set ablaze by twilight, a beautiful opalescent colour had taken place. She watched a livid hue slowly take over, disintegrating the fiery, passionate Vermillion.

The blood curdling scream from inside the cabin revealed that the Vermillion had faded away from Radha's life, and had been wiped away from her temple forever.

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