The Bell

Written on December 7, 2010.

Never before had Bull felt the way he felt right now. His emotions swung left and right, and he was under a fix as to whether what he thought was eternal relationship came to an end just because of the love of one’s own life. As he sat in the cell, the king came along.

“So your dear friend hasn’t arrived as yet. Wasn’t I very sure of this! After all why should someone be so foolish as to come back to die once he has been given the chance to escape? Only because his friend believes in him? This is pure bullshit Bull, I told you earlier do not come into all this but you didn’t listen. Now you have to suffer. You have no other choice.”

And then the man rose his head. The king noticed, silently, how the slight curves on his forehead now smoothened, how a black patch had developed beneath his eyes as though he hadn’t slept a million nights, how the skin of the lips had cracked, and how wrinkled the face had become, as if he weren’t a youth but an old man, older than him. Diseased he is, thought the king. Slowly, taking the support of the wall beside, Bull rose up, stood on his feet and cleared his throat. “Sir, you are mistaken. There is nothing to suffer in this.” And he sat down again, curled himself up and was lost in his thoughts.

The king, too confident to argue, left.

Lost in his thoughts, Bull now remembered those moments of his life which he wished he could relive a million times. The house painted white, behind the hedges, the evergreen field on which it stood, the fan hanging on the beam of the roof of it, which he always wished would rotate faster. He remembered how in the cold winter nights he would curl up under his quilt, listening to his parents’ talking among them. He still did not forget that day, when he returned from school to see that the house wasn’t there anymore, only rubble, and he still didn’t know where his parents were. People had told him that they dies when the house shattered to an earthquake, but he never believed those. He knew his parents would return.

His thoughts then went to his school. It was a small four-room cottage, but it was there that he framed himself for the latter part of his life. He remembered the white and red striped paint on the front walls, and the cement broken on the interiors. He remembered how a mattress used to be kept in order that the room wouldn’t get dirty, and how he and Ross stole all of them. Ross. Yes Ross. His favorite schoolmate.

Ross, a dark-complexioned boy, taller than Bull, he thought, and a wry smile crossed his face, when he was reminded of all the fun they had together. Bunking classes to sit by the river, picking pockets of the travellers who passed by, telling people wrong routes so that they lost themselves, making paper airplanes and flying them in the classroom, never doing their homework yet always escaped the teachers’ scolding by making some lame excuse… and how they grew up together, never realizing that time passed so quickly.

His thoughts now wandered only around Ross. He remembered the lunches they had together at his house, when Ross’s mother cooked better food than any other lady in the world. What a sumptuous lunch they had always, though he always wished that his mother come back from wherever she is and cook him her food too. He too wished that he invite Ross to his house and that he ate his mother’s made food. Little did he know that people don’t come out of their graves. Ross’s mother was a kind lady. Short-heighted, yellow streaks on her front hair, she was always a little bent, due to her age he supposed, she wasn’t pretty, but she was beautiful. Her face was white, white as the snow that fell when he stayed up the hills, at an age of four, with his parents. Sometimes when they both would return from school, his mother would be just outside the door, sweeping the floors with a long broom. The broom had a long wooden handle, and he could still remember the exact picture of it. And she would be coughing loud, the dust causing it. And he remembered how Ross would take the broom from her hands, and ask her to go inside whilst he swept the courtyard, after which they had lunch together, of bread with butter and a glass of milk, the milk of the cow tied to the fence in the backyard.

And then the smile on his face turned to a dark gloom, and the curves on his forehead reappeared. It was due to what happened last week. Murder. Ross. Sentence. Thoughts flashed in and out of his mind. What apparently happened was that Ross had murdered the prince of the city. The reason for this was unknown to everyone. Ross did not share this even with Bull. But there was a rumor that it was because of the fact that both loved the same girl and that Ross was jealous of the fact that the girl loved the prince because he was richer. It was due to that that he had been sentenced to death. However, he had a last wish of seeing his parents before he died. But there was no guarantee that he would return once set free to meet his parents. That was where this man Bull came in. Ross begged Bull to stay in his place till he returned. The king put a condition that if Ross did not return within the stipulated time, Bull would be hanged instead. Bull had almost instantaneously accepted the proposal, he having so much faith in their friendship. But now, only fifteen minutes were left for the bell to ring, and he hadn’t arrived yet.

The bell rung. Bull was escorted to the place which was designed for the hanging. A large crowd had appeared. A sense of serenity showed on Bull’s face although in a few minutes he would be hanged for absolutely no fault of his. The bell rung a second time. The rope was put around his neck. Three. Two. One and… “Stop!” Came a voice from behind. He was huffing, panting and through his blurred vision, Bull saw Ross arrive. There was a smile on Bull’s face, a smile of faith, an eternal friendship, a relationship which had passed all limits. Amidst that smile, Bull’s eyes closed. “No!”, shouted Ross in the background. A loud applause of the crowd. Only had Ross been sooner by a second…

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