The Colour of Money

Excerpt: Josh filled with guilt, sadness, and other negative feelings there is, looked slowly to Suhaz's tumbler, instead of the purple colour of grape juice, he saw dark blood colour. The blood that stained the money they bought it with. (Reads: 280)

 

From the moment he opened his eyes that day, he knew what that day’s importance was. He looked left to the bed at the other side of the room, his room mate was not there. He quickly got up with a sudden energy.

He dragged himself towards the bathroom, the energy disappeared quickly. He looked inside. Suhaz wasn’t there. Josh looked towards the room door, it was closed. A few seconds’ pause and he turned to the door of the bathroom and went inside. Where did Suhaz go? That was the only thought in Josh’s mind. The thought felt like bouncing off the walls inside his head, while he was inside. Minutes passed very quickly.

He was startled by a loud sound, no it wasn’t that loud, but it felt like one. It was a knock on the door. Josh felt relieved and asked, “Where you went to?”

Suhaz said, “I filled up the bike, it was nearly empty, we don’t want any troubles today.”

“Mm”, a grunt from Josh was the reply, not sure Suhaz heard it though.

Suhaz continued, “My cash is all used up, only for today’s need is left. Then there is not even enough to buy a tea. I will go home today afterwards. You are also going right?”

“Yeah, man”, the reply came out as dryly as possible from Josh. “Same situation for me too”, Josh continued.

After a minute Josh came out of the bathroom and said, “Be fast, we have to go now to be at the front of the queue”, and Suhaz went past him into the bathroom.

Josh started dressing up, and he finished dressing up just seconds after Suhaz came out of the bathroom. Suhaz quickly started to dress too.

Suhaz said, “We would be eating breakfast right? I am starving.”

Josh replied, “Sure man, the last two films were flops, so only fan’s association members would be there for the noon show, today. We have enough time.”

Three floors down, the hostel’s mess was getting ready. No students had yet came down for breakfast. Like on all the releasing days of Josh and Suhaz’s favourite star’s film, unlike other days, they would be the first to arrive for breakfast. And not breaking that tradition both came into the empty mess today, took their breakfast from the counter, sat down and started eating. It was dosa and chutney that day for breakfast.

The film star whose name has no importance in this story, but he was the most important person in the friendship between Suhaz and Josh. Both were of the same age, same college and both lived in the same hostel. Yet, they didn’t knew each other, as they were in different departments, until they meet at the theatre on their idol’s first film release day during the first year.

After that day, however, they became close friends. Became room mates the next year. And has been together ever since.

On every Fridays which were the releasing day of their idol’s film. They got up early, ate breakfast and went to the theatre to get into the first show itself. They were ready to wait hours before the show to get tickets.

This Friday was a public holiday, almost everyone went home from the hostel, yesterday evening itself. Josh and Suhaz postponed this after they watch the movie. The hostel was very quite. Only a handful of people were left.

As both were quietly and quickly eating the breakfast, a figure came into the mess and with his food and sat across the room from Josh and Suhaz.

His voice disturbed their eating.

“Guys, pay Rs. 100 everyone else gave it yesterday before going. I know you guys are going to cinema now, I am going to give the money today to Tony. It’s very urgent.”

They both looked at the person and before they could reply some sounds had the three turn their heads toward the canteen door.

A group of juniors too came into the mess listening the dialogue. Josh and Suhaz looked at each other.

Tony was a student in their hostel, who came from a poor background and he unfortunately met with an accident the last day and a fund raiser by all the hostelers for him was started. Ramesh was the person in charge of collecting money, he is the one confronting Suhaz and Josh right now.

Ramesh said in a slightly meaningful tone, “Guys just for this time you could postpone your cinema going, this is a more important issue.”

The film going tradition of Josh and Suhaz was a popular one among students. The pressure was too much and both painfully reached for their money and gave it to Ramesh, who went back to his seat, while taking a small diary and writing their names in it.

The two friends now have no money left for their friendship ritual, the cinema. On the way back he looked at the juniors and noted one, who hadn’t yet gave money and went to him.

He too quickly reached his back pocket and gave the money to Ramesh. Ramesh then went back to his seat to finish his breakfast. Both Josh and Suhaz watched all this and after one more look at each other they gave their attention to their breakfast.

Dullness was the sole emotion on both Josh and Suhaz’s faces, they came out of the mess after the breakfast. They turned to go back to their rooms on the top floor, instead of, the parking lot where Suhaz has his bike parked. Their tradition has broken. They are missing a release for the first time. Also there is no one left in the hostel that could lend some money.

They both comforted each other as they climbed the stairs.

As they reached their floor Josh said, “Let’s take our bags and go home.”

Suhaz just grunted. They entered the room and both crashed into Suhaz’s bed. They occupied the 2 corners of the bed on the wall side, and laid there for some time.

After some minutes of silence, Josh said, “Come on, let’s go.”

Suhaz said, “We will. Let’s just lay here for some time.” He took his phone and looked through it with no purpose.

Josh seeing this, took his phone also and started playing a game to kill time.

Time passed, a ring on Josh’s phone tried to shake them out, but had little success. Josh dully attended with a puzzled look and saying, “It’s Varun”, to an uninterested looking Suhaz.

Josh talked through the phone with little emotion, “Yes Varun, it’s me Josh, say.”

“No, I am still at hostel, I will go today, after some time.”

“Yes.”

“Hmm.”

“Is there no one else?”

“Okay.”

“Where?”, Josh’s face brightened. Suhaz didn’t notice though.

“Medical College Hospital, OK I will go now itself”, he tried to get Suhaz’s attention by pulling his leg.

“I will go afterwards, there is no urgency.”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

“Bye, I am going now”, Josh put down his phone.

By now Suhaz has his full attention on Josh.

Josh said excitingly, “Are you okay with watching matinee? Then there is a way.”

Suhaz paused a little, and nodded approvingly. And said,”It’s okay for me.”

Josh said, “It was Varun, in Riya’s class, he is the blood donation group’s head, right?”

“Mm”, Suhaz tried to nod.

“He said someone need AB positive blood, it is not a rare group but is uncommon, and he knows I am AB positive so.” Josh stopped for Suhaz to react.

“People will pay money for it right, in emergencies?”, Suhaz asked.

Suhaz continued, “But how much time will it take?”

Josh said, “All process takes under an hour, I have done it twice before. And the hospital is the Medical College here itself. Varun had already talked with relatives about the money and they will pay.”

“But by then the queue will be too big, we won’t get ticket. But we can get matinee tickets”, Suhaz happily said with a pinch of sadness still there.

“Right”, Josh said and he looked at the phone that just vibrated, indicating a message received.

“Varun had said he will send the patient’s relative’s number as a message and we should call them, this must be that”, he said while looking at the phone and dialled the received number.

“Come on let us go”, Josh said while keeping the phone next to his ear and getting up from the bed.

“Yeah”, Suhaz approvingly got up. By the time he took the key and got to the door, Josh started talking through the phone and walked out. Suhaz locked the door and paced to get near Josh, who had already introduced himself and told the matter.

“I am coming now itself, maximum 10 minutes. I will call again once I reach the hospital, OK”, by now the two of them were climbing down the stairs.

“Okay, bye”, Josh said and cut the phone.

As they reached the ground floor Suhaz said, “If there is enough money and even if the queue is big, we can try to get tickets in black for the noon show itself.”

Josh nodded and said, “Yeah, we can try that, even if we don’t get tickets, then also no problem. We’ll see the next show.”

“Yeah”, Suhaz said.

By now they reached Suhaz’s bike and they got on it very quickly. The two of them rode the bike quickly and soon reached the gate of the Medical College Hospital. Suhaz pulled the bike to a side and said, “Josh, call them now and ask where to come”.

Josh took the phone and dialled the relatives. After few seconds the call was attended Josh said, “It’s me Josh, I had called you earlier, we has reached the gate of the hospital where should I come?”

“Ok, I will come in a minute”, Josh said and hanged the phone.

“Blood bank, they are in front of the blood bank”, he turned back and climbed down the bike and said, “I will ask the securities”, and he went toward the building attached to the gate, few metres behind.

Suhaz waited on the bike while keeping his head turned.

After some seconds, Josh came back and told Suhaz while climbing the bike, “Go straight, it’s the ground floor of the third building on the left.”

Suhaz started the bike and went straight, slowly. As they reached the third building, they saw a man waving at them, Suhaz pulled close to him.

The man asked, “Josh?”

Josh answered, “I am Josh, this is my friend Suhaz, we both study at the engineering college here.”

The man said, “Thank you for coming, my name is Raghavan. The operation is for my brother’s five-year-old child, she has a weak heart since birth. Recently, her condition became very worse. This operation is essential for her. It will be carried out today within a few hours.”

Both Suhaz and Josh nodded in sympathy.

Suhaz said, “Let me park the bike here”, hearing this Josh climbed down and Raghavan gave way for the bike to be parked.

Suhaz parked the bike to the building’s side and joined Josh and Raghavan, who already started walking towards the building.

Raghavan said, “We need six people, four already came, one called and he is on his way. You guys wait here a minute.”

Raghavan then pointed to a bench on the side of the hall, which you enter as you go through the door of the building. There were three people sitting there and a fourth one standing just a few feets away, talking on his phone.

“Those are the four people”, Raghavan said. The next second Raghavan’s phone rang and he attended it quickly and while talking he showed some hand gestures and everyone understood that it was a signal to talk to each other and Raghavan went out of the building.

Josh and Suhaz went to the bench and sat down.

One of the guys started talking to Josh and Suhaz, while the other two showed great interest.

The talk started with a good energy and faded after the introductions were over. Everyone struggled for words to continue. The uneasy pause was broken by the guy who was on phone, he finished his talking and joined the group, restarting the talking.

As the chatting continued Raghavan came with a new guy. “This must be the last one”, one of the men stated, everyone nodded and grunted. Raghavan speaked first, “This is Mathew. Mathew these are the rest of the donors.”

Everyone murmured greetings. “You guys wait here, I will tell them everyone has arrived”, saying this Raghavan went inside a room.

Mathew didn’t believed in formalities, he just sat there telling nothing. No one cared to ask him anything too.

After a minute of unease, Raghavan came back with a nurse. She gave us each a form to fill. Josh quickly filled it and was first to finish and he got up and gave the form to the nurse.

Suhaz stayed on the bench and happiness filled his face as Josh was the first one to donate, more earlier the better.

Fifteen minutes passed, everyone has filled their forms and Josh came out drinking a fruit juice pack. As Suhaz walked towards him, Raghavan came in between and took Josh to a corner and shook his hand.

Suhaz knew exactly what it was, Raghavan has given him the money. Josh looked at it. Suhaz understood he had paid well from Josh’s expression. Josh and Suhaz looked at each other and smiled. After exchanging goodbyes with both of them, Raghavan went towards the others.

Josh and Suhaz walked towards their bike and counted the money. They were excited, there was money for watching the cinema two times and more. They quickly got on the bike and left the hospital, to their destination, the cinema theatre.

They reached the theatre, it wasn’t packed as expected, because of the last few films of their idol were flops. Only the hardcore fans were present.

Suhaz stopped in front and Josh got down to enquire about tickets, and Suhaz went on to park the bike. After parking the bike Suhaz searched for Josh, he was found talking to a group. Suhaz walked towards Josh to join the discussion, but upon reaching Josh said, “It’s houseful and these guys think since all these are fans no tickets will be available in black. Some were available, but they would have been most probably sold already.”

Suhaz said, “Let it go, we will see the next show. Let’s go and pack and we will come back and wait.”

Josh nodded in agreement and both of them went towards the bike.

They drove back to the hostel. Quickly went to their room after parking the bike and started packing.

After packing as quickly and shabbily as possible, they drove back to the theatre. The gates were closed, the watchman told them the show is nearing the interval. Josh and Suhaz decided to wait and after about quarter of an hour they heard the bell for interval.

People came out to catch some fresh air and refreshments. Josh called one man who came out, towards them. He came near.

Suhaz and Josh asked with great interest together, “How is the film?”

The man said cheerfully, “Super film, hit for sure”.

Suhaz and Josh looked at each other with joy. Soon the break ended and the show resumed. The two of them tried to befriend the guard and made sure they will be the first to enter the gate when it opens, the guard told them the time at which the gate will open next.

Seeing there is plenty of time, Suhaz suggested getting something to drink, as he feels thirsty and now they have money to spare. Josh agreed and they walked to a nearby cafe.

Both of them sat on a table and ordered chicken sandwiches and fruit juices, grape for Suhaz and orange for Josh. Sandwiches came first and both of them started to eat. The happy faces of the two friends confirmed the food were good and soon the juices came. Suhaz started drinking the juice quickly, Josh watched his friend for a moment and seeing his friend’s face brightened more by the juice Josh reached for his orange juice excitingly.

The second he touched the tumbler, his mobile phone rang and interrupted him. Josh took out his phone and told Suhaz that, it was Raghavan calling. With a pinch of curiosity he attended the phone.

Suhaz tried to concentrate on his delicious grape juice, but he couldn’t so seeing the face of Josh turn grim. Suhaz left the juice for now and watched his friend.

The phone call ended quickly by Josh saying, “I’m.. I’m sorry Raghavan. Eh.. Yeah… ok”, a very saddened and some more complex emotion filled Josh’s face.

“What is it? What did he say?”, Suhaz asked worriedly.

“The child died during the operation just now”, Josh said.

Both of them stayed silent for some minutes. Josh breaked the silence with a sigh and said, “What we can do.”

Suhaz asked, “We have to go to the funeral. When is it?”

Josh nodded approvingly and said, “Raghavan said nothing, but I will call later today itself.”

“Mm”, Suhaz grunted.

After a few moments’ silence Suhaz returned to drinking his juice, far too little joy in his face now. Josh closed his eyes and grabbed his own juice tumbler and started drinking.

He couldn’t feel any taste, he slowly opened his eyes and was taken aback. He clearly remembered the juice’s delightful orange colour but the tumbler in front of his was filled now with a red liquid. A dark red, the colour of blood. Josh now could only see his tumbler filled with blood.

Josh filled with guilt, sadness, and other negative feelings there is, looked slowly to Suhaz’s tumbler, instead of the purple colour of grape juice, he saw dark blood colour. The blood that stained the money they bought it with.

–END–

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