‘Do you see this painting? It’s Picasso. Picasso was very famous for making all his paintings in  shades of green. Like Da Vinci, he sometimes used blood instead of black paint on the canvas.’ Nisa whispered in Kabir’s ear. Was it the museum? Or the dim lighting.. Or the sound of her voice, which seemed sultrier with every passing minute.. He did not know. Kabir was 28 and had travelled 29 countries. He had slept with about 12 nationalities, mostly women, some men. And yes Nisa and the night that he was spending with her seemed uniquely surreal.

‘I didn’t know that about Picasso. And I have seen quite a few of his paintings in Florence. Its amazing how a consultant from a top tier firm has the time to research artists and a photographer who travels for a living does not know this’, he mused. Nisa was strange. If he hadn’t ‘mistakenly’ brushed his hand against hers, he would have imagined her for a ghost.

‘That’s because consultants lie for a living! This is not even a Picasso. It’s by a painter called Gurukaran Desai’, Nisa teased.

‘And you don’t exactly need to be the smartest person in the world to know that there are no Picasso paintings in any museum in Delhi.’ She smirked and walked forward. Kabir looked around. There was no one there. He gently pulled on Nisa’s blouse from the back, gauging her reaction. She did not give any. Kabir pulled her back and in a long, longing moment kissed her cheek. Nisa closed her eyes and turned around. Their lips softly brushed against each other, not locking in a kiss just yet.

‘I think this curated walk will have to wait.’ Kabir whispered. Nisa unlocked one of the harmless looking doors as her other hand lingered on the topmost button of Kabir’s shirt. They both stepped into the dark.

Kabir Mohan was nothing if not a conscientious student. A Prefect, Vice Headboy and then an engineer from IIT – his path to success was laid out by the lords himself. That was until his rather gullible father was sent to prison. In the three months that his father was behind bars , it was as if a dark cloud had descended on the Mohan clan. His younger brother, Mehr, was diagnosed with manic depression ; his mother, who would usually spend her days running a clinic for the poor, started looking like a patient herself ; and Kabir quit his job. The vicious, savage  animal that was the Indian  legal system had  bared its claws and it was out for the Mohan blood. Every visit to a lawyer was frustrating and futile. Kabir would sit and cry in his dark bathroom every night, hoping for the sweet escape of death, and come out and pretend to have the positivity and fighting spirit that had long eluded him. In reality, he was empty. The brash teenage boy turned into an over achieving  man was gone and what was left was a carcass of lost dreams and a nebula of nightmares.

However, time passes, and so did this. If something had shifted inside Kabir, then it was well buried by now, for when his father came out of prison, the Mohan clan was finally what it should have been all along- a family of happy, content, over achievers who took each day as it came. The tough time taught Kabir many lessons. –  about ruthlessness,  about bravery,  about courage and, above all,  about perseverance. Since then, life was perhaps the most beautiful it could be. Kabir had seen the bottom and he had risen back and no one was to stop him now. No failure was big enough anymore.

Kabir became one of the most celebrated photographers in India, had bedded over 92 people and was earning enough to buy a new house every five years.

_______

‘Hi’, Nisa whispered as Kabir stared deep into her eyes.  He smiled. He kept quiet. His hands were searching hastily for the buttons on Nisa’s crazy complicated top. He kissed her softly as he pulled her shirt out of her skirt. Within the next three minutes, their clothes were off and Nisa was kissing Kabir’s forehead as he made her way down her torso.

‘So I can tick off sex in a museum from the list’, Nisa laughed as she  hooked her bra back on.
Kabir smiled, pulling  up his pants.
‘We should probably grab a bite before I relegate you to the land of the lost men’, Nisa
suggested.
‘That won’t be necessary.’ Kabir came closer. He hugged Nisa. What happened next was difficult to fathom. Nisa felt s sharp stinging pain in her neck and a hot liquid trail down her back. Her limbs went soft and everything darkened. A life departed.

Kabir’s pocket buzzed as he walked towards his car.

‘Yes Dad. Nisa Mehra is dead.’

Sanjeev Mohan smiled as he hung up the phone. His son had finally avenged the betrayal his business partner, Sameer Mehra, had once dealt on him.

About The Author

Raghav Chopra

Work in progress. Between the luminosity of lost dreams and the nebula of nightmares

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