Jai was just about to take his first sip of the [over]hyped Golden Toffee Mocha at the city’s most [over]hyped coffee bar when the shooting began. It was evident that no one sitting in the cafe had the slightest inkling about the tumultuous affair that had made a Wednesday afternoon renege all its torpid composure. Within seconds the entire cafe, known for its stuck-up sophistication, broke into the most raucous cacophony. Jai was oddly reminded of his ex-girlfriend’s voice. He would’ve reacted faster to the rapidly transforming scene had he not been busy racking his brains in search of the perfect rhyme for the word colposinquanonia, for his next rap song.
And suddenly, a light of unearthly brightness blinded him; he registered babies bawling, boys screaming and women howling unattractively as he tried shielding his face with his arm. The other hand instinctively reached the front pocket of his pants for his phone – his father could get him out of this chaos, he knew – only to realize that he had left his phone in the car. He felt himself running out of options as the shrieks and squeals grew louder, closer. Panic overrode logic, dazzling flashes of light continued to impair his eyesight and before he knew it, he was under the table with his hands wrapped around his knees. His teeth were visibly chattering and his entire body quivered with the anticipation of trauma. This was the kind of thing that happened to other people – people who belonged to the newspaper headlines; could this be really happened to him? He tried to think of happy things, his family, his friends, his best memories, but his mind kept jumping back to the Golden Toffee Mocha he hadn’t tasted. Was that going to be the thought he would die with? Gold Toffee Mocha?
That’s when he heard an unusually familiar voice calling out to him –
‘Hey, can I help you there?’
Shah Rukh Khan bent down and held his hand out for Jai.
This drove the burgeoning crowd of fans into another wave of mega-frenzy
but this time no deafening uproar burst Jai’s ears, nor did any glaring camera flashes blind his eyes.
He couldn’t have possibly felt more alive.
(No, public shooting are not a joking matter and they never shall be. The idea behind this work of fiction is not to make light of an event so infinitely tragic, but to highlight a dreadful reality – the perverse impact of the increasing statistics of mass shootings on our minds.)
(Featured Image Courtesy: Favim)