CHAPTER TEN: DEJECTED
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The last but one chapter. Bear with me for some time more, please.

Oh well, please do not cringe at the turn of events. The thread of destiny connects people in its own way. Let's see what it stores for the MC.

The first thing I did after being released from the hospital, was to look for Misha.

It was around five in the evening when all the formalities were completed and we could finally leave the hospital.

As Bill's car rolled out of the hospital gate, I heaved a sigh of relief and turned to him.

"Can you please take me to Misha's place? She must have come back home by now."

"Alright, where is it?"

"Third Block, First Avenue. The lanes are too narrow for your car, so you can just drop me on the road."

"Let's go there first."

When we arrived at the familiar spot Bill parked the car at the side of the road and came with me. I felt a little uncomfortable and it didn't escape his eyes.

"I'll wait on the road. Don't expect that I'll let you move around alone just after I got you released from the hospital."

I understood his feelings. I was feeling a little bit of shaky myself. But I was too worried about Misha to look at my own health right now.

We walked through the narrow lanes and reached the building where Misha lived. I left Bill on the road and went inside. The elevator was working today. I took the elevator and went up to the third floor.

The door of Misha's flat was locked from outside. Dumbfounded, I stood in front of it for a few minutes. Then I did something desperate.

I rang the doorbell of Misha's nosy neighbour. After a few seconds the door opened slightly and an elderly lady peeked out.

"Who are you? What do you want?"

I felt a bit nervous at first. Then I gathered my courage.

"Good evening, mam. Isn't there a young lady living next door to you? I need to see her."

"Oh, but she doesn't stay here anymore."

"Are you sure?"

I must have sounded quite rude, for the old lady looked offended.

"Do I look like a liar to you?"

"I'm really sorry, granny, but I need to see her now! It's very urgent."

"Granny! Who is your granny?!"

She was livid with anger and shut the door close at my face with a heavy thud.

There was nothing that I could do, so I came downstairs and left the building.

Bill was standing on the sidewalk. I went to him.

"She isn't staying here anymore. Her neighbour confirmed it."

"What do you want to do now?"

I couldn't decide upon my next course of action. I could go and look for her at her workplace, but that place must have been closed by now. Bill was also thinking in the same line which was revealed by his next remark.

"Do you know where she works?" He asked.

"Yes, but that place is probably closed by now."

"Let's go home," he said. "Give me the address where she works. I promise you, by tomorrow afternoon you'll get some news of her."

Another day went by.

I kept on calling her number, but in vain. It was switched off.

I didn't have anywhere to go today, so I stayed at home and waited for news from Bill. He didn't call, but returned home early in the afternoon.

"She has resigned from her work, citing personal reasons. I've found out the housing agent from whom she had rented the apartment. She vacated it on a day's notice. Naturally, they were unwilling to refund her advance rent in such a short notice, but she told them that she couldn't wait for it. It seems that she was in a real hurry."

There was nothing I could say in reply, so I kept silent.

It was Bill who spoke again.

"Do you know anything about her family? Like, her family name or where she came from?"

I shook my head.

"I just know that she had fallen out with her parents and was living separately. There's another weird thing. I still can't guess who informed her about my accident. I never introduced her to any of my friends, not even you. In fact, it hasn't been long since I came to know her."

Bill looked surprised at first. Then the creases on his forehead smoothed out.

"Quite interesting. She was informed by someone who knew about your relationship with her."

He paused for a moment, then added, "I think she had her own reasons for leaving so suddenly. You should stop looking for her."

'How could you say it so calmly, Bill? Well, I guess it's impossible for you to realize how I feel right now!'

There was really nothing that I could do to find out someone who had gone missing on her own. In spite of everything that took place between us, we were nothing but two strangers who didn't even have the right to look for each other properly.

Where could I go looking for her? Whom could I ask about her?

There was no one to answer me.

So the days started to pass one by one. With each passing day, I sank deeper into dejection.

I should have started looking for either a fixed job or more consignments, but I just didn't feel motivated enough. I moved about and did what I was required to do, but all the time I felt stifled by a heavy load of sadness. Once again I had started to feel that my warm sunny days were nothing but half-forgotten dreams.

I had started drinking regularly. It was not that I started enjoying alcohol, but it helped me to smother the pain that always gnawed at my heart.

I would roam around the city in those evenings when I didn't have any shoot or other assignments. Memories of long-buried past would float before my eyes. The lights of the amusement park; happy cheers of spectators in the well of death; Inna's laughing face; Misha's dark eyes. How could I ever forget them?

Never in my life had I felt so lonely. Not even in those days of my trial after my mom had passed away.

Those were the days when I still had hope in my heart. That hope was gone now.

The rainy season was almost gone by now. The heavy rain clouds had finished their duty. White and fluffy, they would now float above, near the boundaries of heaven. They were going back home.

I wanted to go home, too. It was so long ago that I saw mom's face; that I heard Inna's voice. I longed to be with them once more.

There was nothing binding me to life. Misha was gone, too and there was really nothing left to sustain me through my dreary days and nights.

As I walked through the desolate back streets, I searched into my heart again and again. No, there was nothing.

Returning to Bill's apartment, I took out the half-filled bottle of whisky from the cupboard. It was the remnant of a gift from Inna. It was she who had finished one-third of the bottle and I had cracked some foolish jokes about it.

I smiled at those memories, poured some of it in a glass and gulped it raw. The fiery liquid burnt its way down my throat and chest and the heat went straight to my head.

'I've to cool down', I thought.

I went to the bathroom and filled the bathtub with cold water. I preferred showers more and never really used the bathtub, but today I decided to do it differently.

I poured the remaining whisky into the glass, put some ice in it and drank it quickly.

'Now that I'm properly drunk I can go and relax,' I thought.

The water looked so alluring! I didn't bother to take my clothes off. I just slipped into the water-filled tub and let myself sink slowly. Cool water swallowed my body and closed in upon my face. My body tried to struggle, but alcohol had lulled my brain by now. I couldn't find the desire and strength to fight against the water and keep myself afloat. I just sank deeper and deeper like a dead log.

Inna's face flashed before my eyes. So this was how she must have felt before dying!

There was none to hold her back. It was the same with me.

A scene came in my mind. My mom sleeping on the floor by the side of my door, so that she could respond quickly to my cries from nightmare. Wait! I had seen something similar recently. But where?

Yes, it was Bill sitting up all night after I came home injured.

How could I not have seen it before?

How could I be so blind?

By then water had engulfed me fully.

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