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It kept snowing since evening. The Fridays usually attract a lot of people on the road who either seem to go for a party or coming back from the dinner, but the hot dog bars on the roadside sat idle today and there were not more than two to three customers in the grocery shop across the street. It was going to be a lousy night. Maybe a scotch, some countryside songs with a bonfire and a couch would complement the night. Gretchen has neither of it at her place and she was running late for her place today. She was walking down the sidewalk, a few snow deposits in her hair strands and the trembling teeth directed her underdressed statement pretty loudly. The door to her building was just few steps from the sidewalk. On turning to the alley on her left she brings out her keys and took time to get control over her shaking hands. There was not much light, but her palms seemed pale. The winter was harsh and Gretchen did not knew that she will be running into a woman who has nothing to do with her but turns out to be survivor on her shoulders. Her fingers were not retracting the way it should and the dry skin was causing a pain in inserting the keys like some one was peeling off her skin with knife. The key hole needed some kind of lubricant to avoid such stuck on friction. “Click” the sound was a relief on turning the keys after several tries and she twist the knob to escape the chilled breeze and the continuous snowfall.
Usually, Gretchen used to come back by sunset so she never left any lights on, but today was an exception. Only the street light from her little window around the kitchen brought a warm light to fall on the slab, full of grocery cans. Its been only a few months when Gretchen shifted in this apartment and that made her difficult to find the exact location of the switchboard to turn the lights on. After tumbling one of the cereal boxes, she got the switch, turning on all the lights of the studio apartment. The Christmas tree in the kitchen was waiting for its decoration. The Christmas lights were rolled on the kitchen shelf but she left the power plug in the supply, which lit on turning the lights on. The bottle of wine kept just beside the role of Christmas lights made it look like a bottle shown in the big ad campaigns where the bottle would be dark on one side and lit on the other. Gretchen pulls out her scarf from her neck and throw it on the dining table, slides the chair out and keeps her bag, picks up the bottle and while stripping naked walks into the bathroom.
Gretchen kept thinking about the lady in the Sari, and what would have caused her to walk so relentlessly on the streets. While sipping the glass of wine in her hot bathtub she was trying to come to a conclusion. Somewhere back in her mind, she and the rest of the world who saw the lady walking knew that she might have been raped and out of a mental trauma she kept walking until her body gave up. Now how will her family find her and how she would pay for the hospital bills, all these thoughts suddenly got disturbed with the mobile ringing in her bag. Gretchen blows out a breath for such an odd timing of the phone as she did not want to leave the bathtub.
Gretchen comes out of the bathroom tying her bathrobe and hurriedly picks her bag to find her phone and quickly answer it. “Hi, can I speak to Miss Gretchen?” answered the phone on which Gretchen introduced herself and asked who was it? “Hi, this is Jessica from Mount Sinai Hospital. This call is regarding your friend Savitri who is admitted to the emergency ward. You are requested to come by the hospital as soon as possible. The cops are here and they want your presence here”. Gretchen took a few seconds to understand who is ‘Savitri’? “I will be there, but it will take an hour to reach”, “certainly! I can say that to them. Can I have your alternate number?” asks the caller. “Sorry, I carry just this number, don’t worry I will make sure I do not miss any calls… And can you please tell me if she is fine?”.”I am sorry, she is still sleeping, and I don’t know much about the condition, it would be better if you can come here”, “Aye, I will be there, thank you” saying this Gretchen disconnects the phone.
The city bus stops at the bus stand and the hydraulic doors open in front of Gretchen.
“Where to mam?” asks the city bus driver with grey small hairs and round spectacles made him look so adorable that Gretchen could not stop smiling. Suddenly she felt the warmth, and she steps on the bus saying, “Asking like a cabbie. If I will tell you where I am going, will you be dropping me at the gates?”, “Its snow all around and most probably ours is the last bus of the night as the roads are jamming with snow, so I thought dropping at the gates would be safe” The driver closes the door and starts the bus. Gretchen just realized that it’s not a normal snowy night, maybe a storm is in its way. She should not have left the house, it was still not late but little she had control over herself. May be its her humanity which is making her doing this. She took the seat along the window and looked around to see the other passengers. Not more than 4 people were boarded on bus and every one looked anxious. The bus starts rolling and it crossed her building and she kept looking at the alley as she will be missing her apartment. May be the snow was scaring her and she was prepared for the road blocks due to snow.
The night was getting harsh and on reaching the hospital, Gretchen was a bit surprised to see an army of press reporters on the gates. She slides into the crowd of reporters, and all of the reporters were giving an interview to their respective cameramen. While going through the gates, she overheard the name “Savitri” several times from different reporters. Gretchen ignored every one and pulled her hood to hide from any attention from the press. She kept pushing and sliding between the reporters’ crowd to reach the gates of the hospital. On reaching the gates, the security asked for her access card on which she opens her bag quickly and brings out the access card. The security guard turns on the torch from the other side of the gates and looks carefully at the access card. He looked pissed and reacted like Gretchen is a prisoner and she is seeking permission to go beyond the bars. He was wearing this thick cap which restricted a clear view into his eyes with uniforms that it seemed to be snowfall resistant as it was not affecting him at all. The snow kept on accumulating on his shoulders and the stars pinned on were summering into the tiny deposits of the snow. He was surrounded by 3 more guards who looked pretty young in age and were scared of the press army. Every one stood with extreme consciousness and kept looking at the press reporters. After verifying the access card, he shouts, “Let Her Through!!!”. One of the junior guard opens the gate by some inches, she gets squeeze between them and blurted out into the campus. On stepping in, she kept walking on the snowy carpet. The gates were followed by a long narrow road to the hospital covered with pine trees on both the sides and some parking spaces before the wide cemented shed at the main doors of the hospital appears. The ambulances parked in the parking bay had sone deposits around them. It seemed like the car was sleeping in the snow blanket. “God knows what will happen in a case of emergency”, she asked herself. The building she was heading to was getting the glow of flashes to which Gretchen stops for a while and turns to see. It was a pure madness, the media person kept on clicking the gates for no reasons, and the humming of their interviews was scary. Everything flash the photographers took at the gates felt so low paced that it reminded of Savitri walking down the sidewalk in her waving Sari. Nothing was moving around her, she felt like everything was freezing. Gretchen was now scared and she could not figure out what she has got herself into, and how bad the situation is. Who is Savitri and how come a person who is so famous dropped in the middle of the street and there was no one to recognize her?
In the hospital, Detective Presley was heading the case. He stood just outside the ICU and kept looking at Savitri. “Sir?”, a police from he the patrolling party came to him with some papers and while handing over to him says, “The doctors said that she has got a lot of physical bruises but she was not raped”. This comes as a surprise as it was the only possible mishap one can figure out of it. “There is more to it sir, there are some youtube videos which came in notice showing a girl walking in the middle of the night and in middle of the Nevada Deserts like a ghost”. Presley kept listening to all the impossible tales of Savitri and stayed numb. “Sir!” to which Presley looks at him with dead eyes, “As per the videos and speculations, she has been walking for more than 2500 Miles… This is so unreal”. Presley looks back at Savitri and asks the inspector, “Call Rohnald Rhodes, the Secretary of States and ask him to come down as soon as possible and also tell him that the first thing we need to do tomorrow is to meet the President”. The inspector felt chills over his body when he heard Presley. The case seemed more than a high profile case and the inception is already groundbreaking.
There is more to come, keep visiting my blog Life Kicks. There is more to follow…
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