The Painting Pen – 3… 2… 1…

The Children’s Park of Mylapore, Chennai was bustling in its usual colors that Sunday evening. With the Independence Day celebrations right around the corner, the inter-colony sports tournaments were at their most hectic schedule. On one corner of the park was the Cricket tournament finals between Vijaya Colony and Sriram Nagar. This year’s favorites were still Sriram Nagar, their ace player- Rohan (6th Standard, Vivekananda Vidhyashram) was standing strong even after scoring his second fifty of the tournament in this inning. By the looks of things, things weren’t good for the opposing Sriram Nagar team, though John – also from 6th Standard, Vivekananda Vidhyashram, managed to knock off the top order early and keep the run rate in check, he couldn’t do much against his classmate. The other side of the park was busy with hosting the preliminaries of the Chess competition at the junior level. Little kids whose palms were hardly the size of the pieces were joyfully moving them about enthusiastically, determined to win the game and soon the championship itself. Mrs. Raghav just entered the park after nearly ten minutes of circling around it in her car to find an apt parking space. She constantly kept checking that her three year old daughter Keerthana didn’t break off her hold and run away to chase some rabbits that were common around the park. She didn’t want her little daughter to get bruises again this week. Not only because her husband would be very upset, but also because of the doubled amount of tantrums she would throw while she had to take care of the wounds. The Yoga Community for The Senior Citizens had begun to gather at their usual spot near the line of trees. Mr and Mrs Vasudev slowly walked towards the dustbin to throw away their paper tea cups and walked towards the Yoga gathering hands held together. At the farthest corner of the park around the northern benches, a guy arrived in a mechanical wheelchair. He looked sick and in definite need of the fresh air. All around the park business was flowing as usual. The Chat counter guy Rajiv was arguing with a customer that he did give his Pani Puri the way he was asked to and demanded the exact amount he had eaten for. The sweet sound of the Chimes filled the air as the ice cream wagon began to circle the park to gather all the little children’s attention. None of the surrounding events seemed to disturb Aakash and Anitha who were sitting in a secluded bench, holding each other’s hands busy getting lost within the other’s mesmerizing eyes.

 

With no warning or even the slightest hint of foreboding, The Bomb exploded. It instantly decimated the whole park and blew away the surrounding apartments into smithereens.

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Vinay had no idea why he was there in the park, what he was doing there or how he got there. Everything around him seemed so blurred and like an old movie in poor definition. His head was in pain at a catastrophic level and this chiming he kept hearing didn’t seem to make it easy for him. If only these people could shut up for a single second! He tried to gather the events that led him here. He tried to find out answers to the questions that kept popping up in his mind. Why was he in a wheelchair? How did he get here? Why can’t he move his body? Is he drugged? What is this thing that is strapped on to his chest? It feels so darn heavy and keeps vibrating… Oh no! The memories that came back to him did not help him calm down to find the answers he needed. He remembered walking back to his apartment two days ago. But didn’t remember making it inside. How he was drugged and then mugged were all a blurry vision to him. He remembered another blurry image of being in a place he couldn’t recognize. Maybe this thing was strapped onto him during the time. What was it anyway? He then saw that there was a timer counting down. He had seen enough Hollywood movies to discover that it was a bomb vest! He tried to run, to shout and call for help. But he realized too late that he was paralyzed because of the drug. 3… No! It can’t be! He didn’t want to kill everyone around! He tried to signal them. If only someone could turn to him and understand his signal! 2… He didn’t want to be found out as the killer, some terrorist nut who blew up a children’s park! What would his parents think? His girlfriend would definitely hate him and his memory forever! His parents, his friends and colleagues would disown him for sure. Sorry guys… I couldn’t do anything. 1… The purest form of fear kicked in. He tried to kick and wrestle his way out of the vest but they were utterly useless. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to live, even if for a second more. As the number 1 began to fade away, an all-consuming heat and flame began to engulf his body from the center of the bomb and rise above him. Everything around him was turned into dust in an instant.

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The single second of the explosion, when measured as several micro instances of a second, reveals the final reaction of everyone at and around the park during the explosion – their final moments recorded.

The yellow wave of heat and fire began to spread from the guy at the wheelchair. Aakash kept holding Anitha’s hands as it hit them. He bent forward to kiss her beautiful hands, but they burnt away right before his eyes. He was vaporized before her teardrop hit him, both of them adding a flavor of red to the yellow expanding circle. The Chime of the Ice Cream wagon was heard for the one last time, before the wagon threw its owner in the air, but turned into dust and ashes before it hit the ground, its owner another pile of ashes right next to it. More red. As the customer extended his arm towards Rajiv with the 10 Rupee note, Rajiv was the one to vanish first. He didn’t even get to the money he deserved, thought the customer as he was blown into oblivion too. More tinges of red got added to the yellow slowly. With their friends from the Yoga Community vanishing right before their eyes, Mrs and Mr Vasudev turned to each other and faintly smiled. It was the smile of the people who have seen and done everything they wanted to. For one last time Mr Vasudev wanted to hold her hands, so as they inclined towards each other trying to touch the tip of the other’s fingers, they were erased away, adding to the red. Mrs Raghav was happy that she shielded the wave from her daughter Keerthana, if only for a moment, and she gave her a long kiss with tears drenching her beautiful soft cheek. Before she could hug her, Keerthana’s mom vanished right before her eyes. Before she could even process it and start crying, she was gone too. Turned into nothing but more red. The kids at the chess tournament had no idea what was happening around them. They just wanted to keep playing the game they so much loved. But all the tables and chairs before them kept burning away into ashes. They only wanted to play, enjoy and finish this one game before them. Their opponents, their pieces, the powerful queen, the precious king and then all of their big dreams. Vanished into the thin hot air right before their eyes, only for them to follow. Rohan had hit the ball again high in the air. John kept praying that the fielder below would be able to catch it. Finally, he would have the last laugh. But he quickly realized his mistake. Apparently, someone else had a plan to laugh at them all. The ball and the fielder below fell victim to the oncoming wave of heat and fire with mixed tinges of yellow and red. Both the kids were old enough to realize what was going on, but not old enough to do something about it. Before they could turn away and run, their fragile human body gave up against the heat, even the bones that boasted to be the strongest. Within the one single moment, the orange light of fire engulfed the surrounding making quick work of destruction to all objects, alive or otherwise. All that happiness and innocence in the park wiped away without a trace along with all the hopes and dreams of their bright futures.

 

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