Mohit punched the water with all his might. The salt water splashed on his face and was indistinguishable from the sweat dripping from his face. Near him, several people were screaming and calling out the names of their dear ones. But had he ensured that his dear one was safe? He spread his hands wide like a flying bird and lay flat on the water. The neon-coloured life jacket around his waist kept him afloat. Like a log swaying up and down with the waves, he lay afloat, hoping that the water would swallow him. He cursed himself for his psychic powers. Everything had happened in a flash. He screamed his wife’s name, hoping that the wind would take his warning to her. Swimming in the endless ocean, he thought about the previous night when the dreadful dream had occurred.
It was 9PM. Mohit had just entered his single bedroom flat at Sydney after a long day’s work. He made himself some toast and sat in his balcony with a glass of raspberry juice. The park in front of his flat that brimmed with kids in the evening, was now an arena for couples. His thoughts drifted to Mona. She would be asleep at their home in Delhi. It had only been six months since their marriage and he had left to Sydney for an official project. He remembered the hot tea and the fresh dinner she would prepare for him when he returned from office. When he had spoken to her in the evening from office, they went over the arrangements for the inauguration of Mona’s bakery the next evening. Mona sounded extremely excited. It was her long-time dream to open a bakery. Mohit wished he could be with her on her special day. He wished he could somehow change his power and make wishes come true instead of dreams. He went to bed thinking of Mona. Soon enough, tiredness caught up with him and he drifted into sleep.
Mohit woke up with sweat dripping from his forehead. His phone displayed 3AM in the morning. He could feel his heart beat under his t-shirt. His head hurt badly and he could feel the remains of the dream still lurking behind his head. He had seen a bomber attack Mona’s bakery during the inauguration. He remembered seeing a pool of blood around Mona. If his powers were true indeed, his dream would certainly come true. He wanted to ring up Mona, but she would never understand. Last time when he had dreamt about his dog biting him and feared it would come true, she scoffed at him saying he was behaving like a kid. ‘Come on! Look at Bushy, he’s so lovely. Why would he bite you? And stop fretting over your dreams!’ she had said. Much to her annoyance, their dog went insane in an unexpected way and bit not only Mohit but anyone who dared to near it. Later she brushed it away as a coincidence when he brought the topic.
Mona wouldn’t listen if he asked her to postpone the inauguration just because he had a dream. But he knew she was in danger and he had to save her. He remembered his friend telling him about an ethnic cult who claimed that their dreams came true in unexpected ways. Mohit immediately took his phone and searched for more information on the cult. After an hour of searching, he got the information he needed. In order to save someone from death, he had to enter a dream and sacrifice someone in the place of the person to be saved. This was his best chance. He framed a plan in his mind.
It was 2PM. Mona was getting ready for the inauguration. Few of her friends had already arrived to help her with the arrangements. There was a lot to be done. She was practicing her inaugural speech for the fifth time, yet she was not very confident. She wished Mohit was there to help her out. Since their marriage, she had never done anything without him. She wanted to speak to him. She rang him up.
It was 8:30AM. Mohit was on a taxi, with the driver driving like a crazy to the airport. He had booked a ticket to Delhi in the next available flight at 9:00AM, and he was determined to catch it. The nearer the incident, the more difficult it is to change it. He was already short of time. He needed at least an hour to manipulate his dream and Mona’s inauguration was just 4 hours away. He couldn’t afford missing the flight. As he was looking out of the window and cursing the red signal, his mobile rang. It was Mona.
‘Mona??? Are you alright?’
‘What?! Don’t freak me out! Of course, I am alright!’
‘Mona, listen –
‘I am really scared Mohit. I have never faced such a huge crowd without you. Can you help me with the speech? I just wrote it down –
‘Mona… I want to keep listening to every word of yours and for that very reason I need to hang up now. I will call you later Mona. All the best with your speech.’
Before Mona could say anything more, she heard a beep and the line was off. Tears welled up in her eyes without her control. She fell on their bed and hugged his pillow. His smelled lingered around her nose and intensified her feelings. She knew he loved her. But the small things that he ignored made her feel empty. She gulped a large bout of air and wiped her tears on his pillow.
A drop of water fell on Mohit’s cheeks. Mohit scanned the roof of the flight for any leakage. When he found none, he attributed it to his hallucination. The flight had just taken off and the city was disappearing below him into tiny specks. He was ready for his ritual.
The flight had ascended above the clouds. In a few hours, he would be flying above the sea. He closed his eyes and relaxed his muscles. He felt his pulse increase and he controlled his breathing to relax his brain. He felt sorry for the other passengers, but he knew no other way to protect Mona. He brought the vivid image of the flight in his mind. He saw the crew and the people around him. He felt their minds in his; happy, excited, anxious and fearful. Slowly he steered his mind to the action part as exactly mentioned in the cult’s blog. He saw the engines blow up. He saw people jumping off the flight with life jackets. He saw the fire approaching him with great rapacity. He felt every cell in his body become a prey to the fire. Once he was fully integrated with the fire, he saw Mona sleeping peacefully in her bed.
A tight hand on his shoulder was violently shaking him and he burst awake. He was staring at the face of a panic-stricken hostess.
‘We are making an emergency landing sir. Please get your life jacket ready.’
‘Fire…There should be fire… WHERE IS THE FIRE?’
‘Sir please calm down. We will be safe. We are making a safe landing on the sea.’
Before he could argue, a life jacket was thrusted on him. He was lingering between reality and dream. He wanted to become a prey to the fire and save Mona. Without his sacrifice, Mona would die. He wanted to throw the life jacket away and fall into the sea. He started walking towards the exit. He was saying something about wife and ritual but nobody would listen to him. Tight hands pinned him to the seat.
Miles away, Mona was dressed and ready to invite the guests. It was pouring heavily as if hells broke loose. Many of her guests were trapped in blocked roads due to the sudden rain. She would have to postpone the inauguration at this rate. She dialed Mohit. Hearing that he was not reachable, she left him a message.
Mohit was sitting on the sea shore, recollecting the events. The rescue crew had found a fatally injured man and the paramedics were administering some medicine with strange names. They couldn’t save him. Also, Mona had sent him a message that the event was postponed due to rain. Had his plan worked or was it merely a coincidence as Mona would say? What had he done wrong in the ritual? He never wanted to sacrifice anyone but himself. He decided not to share the incident with Mona.
Mona was at the terrace when somebody hugged her from behind. The hands felt very familiar but impossible. How did he come here?
‘Yes, it’s me,’ Mohit whispered in her ears.
All the emptiness vanished from Mona’s heart. She was ready to go through a thousand empty moments for one such ecstatic moment.
Mohit pulled her closer and the couple felt solace in the silence, relieved of their burdens. Mohit decided to leave only after the inauguration. He would help her with her speech.
The stars were winking above them. Two nights had passed, each night a story of its own.
Twenty miles away in suburban Delhi, when it was still pouring, someone’s phone was ringing.
‘Stop the inaugural shooting. Our chief was killed in a plane crash. We abandon the mission.’