12:10

After Mak has told her of the whole plot to topple the government tonight, Shakira dabs a piece of tissue paper across her eyes and sobs uncontrollably as Mak tries to console her. The last of the screams and shouts have subsided from inside the GK, but Shakira refuses to go inside and is trying to make Mak change his mind too.

‘Please Mak I beg of you, don’t go in there, there’s nothing left in there, there’s no future for GK, it’s a failed state, please come with me to F-9 park, your cousins will accommodate you there’, she implores.

Mak grins, it’s more of a grimace, ‘I cannot leave GK, my roots are here, outside of GK I’m a nobody, here people know me, they know my family, I am somebody here. You don’t just get up and leave a place just because it’s failing, no!!! You try harder the next time, and the next, until one day, perhaps, when you’re no longer alive, your children’s children would say, “our old man was strong enough to stand up for what was right, and we love him”, think about it, baby! We could be a part of something new, a new beginning, I’ve known Lazarraf and Spindle and even Bruno, they would take us in, we would be useful to their government.’

Shakira shakes her head ruefully ‘I’m afraid I can’t go through this with you Mak, these last few minutes spent with you have been the happiest of my life, and i’ll cherish them as long as I live. But I have a career and it’s in the wide open spaces of F-9, I feel claustrophobic in GK and I can’t stand all the politics and hate and violence and intolerance, you will be a great fly one day, I know, but us, it was never going to work baby.’ Without a second look, Shakira flies away.

Mak looks at her fast receding shape, women, he mutters under his breath.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The battle inside has been short and bloody. The victorious red ants led by their veteran General are now congratulating themselves on a major victory. Amongst the killed lies Bulgari the rat, Lazarraf the lizard, Gilly the cricket and Spindle the spider.

As Remi sifts through the dead and dying, he comes across the body of his old friend. Memories of all the times spent together flash across his mind. Two bright young, optimistic and carefree individuals, they had entered into politics together, filled with innovative ideas and schemes of success and power. This is what it all boils down to old friend, thinks Remi, a solitary tear trickles down his stoic face.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

‘What seems to be the problem soldier? Why has the column stopped?’ barks General Choonti at the clearly nervous red ant.

‘S-s-sorry sir! But our route seems to be blocked’, he nervously points to the closed window leading out of the ghussal khana. ‘How is that possible?’ shouts Choonti incredulously, ‘we just came in through here!’ he tries to push the little opening in the window, but it has been sealed tight by something. As General Choonti looks helplessly outside, a bumblebee flies in the moonlight.

 

*Missed the full story? Check out the rest of the parts of our short story series ‘Ghussal Khana Khappay”, here.

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