We had gym class today. They showed us a video on substances. Its like a running joke, our part of the town runs on “substances”. Mridul waved at me from across the room. He pointed me to our teacher who was sleeping. We got up and walked towards the door, we slowly opened it and got out of class. A few other kids followed suit.
“So, where are we actually going, huh?”, Pearl asked.
“Let’s go to the shack and grab some beer?” Mridul suggested.
“Sounds good” I said.
We started walking down the hall when we heard a loud bang. We turned around to see that someone had fainted. We rushed over and got a better look, it was Feroz.
“I’m going get the nurse.” Pearl rushed away.
We were agape seeing the pool of blood fraction of seconds later. Mridul shrieked and caught all the attention.
“Oh my god!” I cried out loud.
I fell to the ground crying. Feroz had been living next door to me ever since we were little. He was like a brother to me. The gunshot was loud enough to drive everyone out of their classes. Pearl had arrived with the nurse. She turned over his body and we all saw it. Feroz had been shot. Someone came to the school and shot Feroz. Everything after that was a blur. We went to home early. Not all of us went back home though, but to the hospital where Tyler was. We at Glenwood High are like a family- you can’t hurt one of us and expect nothing back.
We were sitting at the hospital, waiting. The nurse said that Feroz was asking about me. I went to his room to see him.
“Sufi.” He whispered.
And I did what I had to.
The cab halted suddenly and the inertia made me almost jump on my seat. My sturdy, rushed footsteps landed in front of an ivory-colored duplex. I breathed deeply. I knocked the door, and got back to fidgeting with my fingers. Door opened and a young woman stood in front of me and here’s how she went.
* * *
“Sufi is how I am known,
In this world of disowned.
You better carefully listen to me,
We have only an hour to flee.
For his majesty wait for his son,
And this accident is not so fun.
Master Feroz has been shot,
What would I say the king?
We need to hunt down the lanes,
And to him, you- I need to bring.”
I listened to Sufi like an awestruck teen, trying to comprehend what happened in last seven minutes. But she had more to say.
“Say no more, take your robes,
A ragged jacket and a couple of shawls.
Leave a note, write it down,
Dear mom, I’m going outta town.
There’s a friend I know, who’s down with flu,
Dear dad, don’t worry, I’m fine,
And I’m taking freshly made stew.
If you’ve a lover, let him know,
For a week straight,
You won’t show.
There’s a cousin far away who waits right now,
No idea- what, when, where and how.
Write this down to your best friend,
You’ll meet her at a better end.
And to the guy friend who accompanied you,
Tell him to manage this for you.”
She paused again. And my mind was rotating in a fashion which was out of my understanding.
“Miss! Why do you sing like this? What is going on?”
“Oh, good lord! Give me a minute and two,
All of this will make sense to you!”
She clapped her hands thrice,
Everything went black and brown.
I wore a tunic ending at my knees,
As I stepped into this foreign town.
I looked at her and she looked at me,
Was I part of an ancient reverie?
I spoke in rhymes, and how could it be,
Damn, this was some wizardry!
“Sufi, who am I and who are you?
Am I getting a Monday blue?
Feroz breathes on his deathbed,
And you’re eating this gingerbread!
Tell me the king you mentioned about,
Just tell me or I’m gonna shout.”
“I am Sufi, the royal maid,
It was you who had to be shot.
I’m sure the foes just missed out,
Otherwise your corpse would’ve been bought.
This is the town of verses, you see
And you’re the princess Shriti.
The reason you talk so poetically,
I hope is all clear to you.
I know you’ve many questions too.
Let us walk away to carriage first,
And then we’ll quench all your thirst.”
I looked around and couldn’t believe,
All the alphabets were real and free.
The floated around like a memory,
I felt I needed some therapy.
We walked down the lane too slow,
There were paragraphs with the snow.
“Was Feroz, the part of this spree?”,
I asked as I passed the magical tree.
Kate nodded and it broke my heart,
I wished I knew this from start.
“Who were the foes,
How did they know?
Where Tyler lived, and where did he go.”
“Tyler was born a protector of you,
He was sacrificed as a bait,
‘Till you learnt what was true.
Now that you know who you are,
Tyler would return here, without any scar. ”
The carriage moved and story began:
How the king and queen met,
How had love nurtured and fret,
How a girl of words was sent,
And she lived in a world on rent.
She turned into an ordinary being,
She’s made up of magic she’s seeing.
The story stopped mid-way again,
As it had started to rain.
A man with crown ran towards me,
Was he the king of spelling bee?
A maiden walked out in the gown,
Was that a smile or a wordly frown?
“Shriti” was all that I heard,
Oh, I felt like a foolish nerd.
“King and Queen, accept my regards,
My vocabulary is torn into shards.
Am I truly a woman of word,
’cause it all feels so much absurd.”
“Oh yes, you do, my princess for sure
This is actually how you endure.
Don’t you remember the first word you learnt?”
Truly, I didn’t, my memory swiped,
No matter how much I tried.
What was the first word that I learnt?
Hell, jittery, bruise, or burnt?
My lips twitched and I sighed so more,
The queen, meanwhile, appeared before.
The couple gazed at me and I felt bad
It’d better I’d been that Feroz lad.
“Oh child, your first letter had been “chance”,
And last one of them was “substance” “.
A rose bloomed suddenly out of the bud—
I was blinded and amused,
And I was brought to this world by a thud.
No words flying or free,
I came out of the smitten mystery.
“Ms. Safa! Move out of the class”,
I sat in a room with students and a trance,
Still studying about the substance.