As I was taking an indolent stroll in that lonely road, in the wee hours of freezing December, I found this glittering placard pointing towards the west with the bold letters shining red – Contemporary Arts Museum. Since the winter was more piercing, even with the fur coat dominating my feminine enclothing, I decided to give in to the warmth of the museum.
I stepped into the museum whose facade was well lit and showed signs of being operational even at this freaking hour of 2.00 am. The benignity of the lady at the counter was well expressed – graciousness personified. She smiled and gestured me to sign the entry register.
Sarah Parker. I entered my name with my cold white fingers precariously trying to hold the ball point tip pen.
“What is this?” the voice from behind echoed in our living room, as we were looking into the metallic thing shining in my palm.
“It is an old watch” I said.
“Old clock I guess,” Akshay corrected me, “looks like an antique piece.”
“Yea seems to be one”
“But, from where did you get this?” the question was very simple, “tell me Kishore, why did you buy this?”
“I didn’t buy”
“The small watch company one below the flyover, owned by Kishandas Jain, he gave me this in replacement for my old wrist watch which he misplaced it somewhere”
“You are nuts!”
“But why?” I asked.
“You should have asked a new watch from him. You are really a nuts dude. He just made a fool out of you. An old metallic watch, sorry it has only the dial, so it is a clock in replacement for your five thousand rupees Titan watch? May be Gandhiji would have used this piece I guess”
“But this is working. I never use a watch now-a-days and that too I bought that watch three years back. The price of my watch would have come down less than its quarter I guess.”
He came around and sat in the bed beside me in my room. Both of us were examining the watch in my hand. It looked so old, but well polished, gleaming silver with a diameter equal to the width of my palm. It had a thin metal lid for its face and a screw to adjust the minute and hour hands. Around the screw was the small hook like thing which you can use it to connect a chain and let it dangle wherever you want. The shop keeper gave the watch in a small wooden box. We were looking at the dial of the watch. It looked so royal, still looking awesome.
“Hey what’s this?,” Akshay jumped and took the wooden box and pulled out a small velvet cloth peeping out of it. I leaned towards him and stared at what he is looking at.
“That must be the cloth which normally they give to clean the watch” I said.
“Hmmm…looks like that,” he said, “but, did you see this? Something is written here” he pulled my shorts. He now brought the opened cloth to my visibility. I could read the thick golden words embroidered in the cloth.
It strikes! one, two,
Three, four, five, six. Enough, enough, dear watch,
Thy pulse hath beat enough. Now sleep and rest;
Would thou could’st make the time hasten its pace;
I’ll wind thee up no more.
“And now what is this?” Akshay became curious, “Looks like it is giving us some message”
“Akshay, please do not think and imagine weird things. It is just a watch, just an old watch. Just leave this in my place and let’s go out.
“No there is some message in this. Listen, it says, it strikes always one, two, three and four and in constant motion all time. The levers, the metal pins and all the mechanism seems working all time. So if we stop the watch or make its pace faster, it will wind up, no…no..err it will wind us up. This means, it will kill us!!”
He winked at me. I know about him. He takes things which are not so serious into serious stuff and ponders about them. After sometime, he comes back to his normality and views the same thing as crap. Now this thing about the clock has made him hypersensitive which I know that he’ll be back to normal in few minutes.
I ignored his research on the words written in the piece of cloth. Searched for the knob to adjust time and made it ten minutes faster. It was half past twelve and I was feeling sleepy. I kept the watch in the table and dozed off for a while.
Something was disturbing my sleep and found to be my mobile. I picked it up to find Preethi calling.
“Hi Kishore, know what? I’m leaving for Hyderabad and I’ll be in the station in an hour” She said.
“Oh, why suddenly?” I asked
“I’m on a vacation and going to stay at my aunt’s house there. If possible can we meet in the station?”
“Sure Preethi, I’ll join you for the send off. I’ll get ready in fifteen minutes and try to reach the station”
“Okay, see ya.”
The call disconnected. My mobile clock displayed 3.00 PM. I had slept for two and half hours. The antique watch was not seen on the table. I could hear the music player sending beats out of Akshay’s room.
He will be having it, I thought
I took a shower and kick started my bike to reach the station. I informed Akshay that I’ll be back in sometime.
After meeting Preethi in the station and an exciting send off, I reached the parking lot in the station and extracted my bike from the crowd of vehicles parked haphazardly. After, crossing the sandy roads beside the railway station, my bike touched the tar road and picked up speed. It was a straight long stretch of road and it was less crowded with the vehicles. I shifted the gear and picked up speed and was tearing the air that came along. Before I could realize what was going to happen, a cow crossed the road and stood straight right infront of my way. I had no time to react but to apply the brakes. But to my disappointment, the bike screeched and ran over a sand spread over the road and so my bike skidded, toppled, tumbled and fell on the ground and thrown into one corner of bushes along the sides of the road.
My hands were paining. Luckily nothing bad happened. I survived the accident with few scratches. I stood up slowly and was trembling a bit.
Thanks a lot God, no fracture too, I prayed.
I slowly walked to the bike and the cow was happily chewing the leaves on the side of the road without knowing the fact that it had caused an accident. I was bleeding a bit too in the hands and in my knees. I picked up the bike, checked if things are fine with it then rode it back home.
“What happened?” Akshay enquired.
“An accident, I skidded and fell on the ground” I answered, “I went to the hospital, and got some first aid. Don’t worry”
I went to my room and was changing into my pyjamas. I slid my hands into my pant pocket to take the bike key out but it wasn’t there. I searched in all places. But the key was not found.
“Akshay, I think I forgot my keys in the bike. I’ll go down and check if I had left it in the parking area itself” I told Akshay and opened the door and walked towards the lift.
“Okay, come soon, by the way, I smell something wrong. I smell gas in here. Did you switch off the stove?” He asked
“No yaar, I just entered my room and found the keys missing. See, I didn’t change my dress too” I replied.
“Okay you carry on, I’ll check in the kitchen” He said. I entered the lift and pressed “G” to instruct the lift to take me to the ground floor. As the lift descended from the seventh floor, my mobile ringed and it was Akshay. I was puzzled on what made him give me a call.
“Hello, what the matter?” I asked him.
“The antique watch, did you do anything to it?” He asked.
“Hey, stop that thing now. Did you check from where the gas is leaking?”
“Yea I checked the Cylinder in the kitchen. It is switched off properly. So no problem with ours and I guess it may be from the nearby kitchen in the flat adjacent to ours”
“Now answer me, did you do anything with the watch?” He asked me again.
“No I didn’t do anything.” I answered. Only after answering I remembered that I changed the time ten minutes faster. But what is his concern now? I wondered.
“Hey Akshay, Yes, I changed the time, ten minutes faster, before the afternoon nap. Now I remember. But what is the matter? Is it working fine? Do we have to visit the shop again?” I asked.
“Kishore, do you realize that the accident is because of that? Since you changed the time ten minutes faster, it caused an injury in the form of an accident. I told you before not to take any chances with it”. Then I could hear his laugh and giggle.
“Dude, don’t act funny. This accident has nothing to do with the watch. By the way, why do you want to ask such a question to me now? Is that watch working properly?” I asked him.
“NO” came the reply.
“No? What happened? And by the way we have another spare cylinder in the room, behind the refrigerator. Check that too if the smell is because of that” I told him.
“Yes dude, the watch is not working because I dismantled it. I ripped it open” his answer was followed by a loud blast; an explosion that agitated my mobile. When the lift opened in the ground floor, I could see people shouting and running in the stairs.
Someone came running towards me, “Mr Kishore, a gas cylinder blasted in the seventh floor house. The inmate is seriously injured.”
My heart stopped for a second
As I entered my room amidst the crowd, I saw Akshay burnt and severely injured by the blast. His breath was slowly getting subsided as people around them were fanning his charred body. Someone was calling ambulance. I stood motionless. The dismantled antique clock was lying on the floor, with the cloth underneath it, bearing the golden embroidered words.
Dr.Purushothaman, Psychiatrist interrogated her with his bald head shimmering in the Tube light’s reflection
“I had a bad dream today. I’m going to die. But do not know how. The dream is actually incomplete” said Grace with worried face.
He has seen many patients with mental disorder and many other cases dealing with dreams. He could understand her. She was yet another patient who has been affected mentally by dreams and this makes her uncomfortable.
“OK, tell me what happened and what did you see in your dream. I’ll try to sort it out” said the doctor.
She started narrating,
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