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The Balcony

Short Story by Neha Kakde


It was a rainy day, drenched in rain I managed to reach home from work. I removed all the files from my bag and kept them in front of the table fan to let the files dry. Within 20 minutes, I took a bath and made coffee for myself. I took a look at Kuku, my parrot and noticed something strange. He had stored pieces of grains in a corner of the wall adjacent to the balcony. “From where did you manage to bring these and since when?” I asked him although I knew that he couldn’t respond to me. I decided to follow him from the balcony on Sunday. Kuku wasn’t caged; he was free to go wherever he wanted. I never expected him to return back to me, my only responsibility was to provide him and his friends some food and water. Maybe he was impressed by the hospitality I served and hence always turned back to me.

On a Sunday morning, I kept an eye on him with the binoculars. Kuku had a piece of red colored feather that was covered by the green ones but still got highlighted. This unique feature helped me to notice him easily from the flock of birds. “Oohh! There he is. But why is he collecting grains from there and bringing it here?” I acknowledged that he used to collect grains from the balcony of an apartment that was just in front of mine but a few floors higher. A lady, just like me used to offer grains and water to birds in her balcony. “Maybe Kuku wants to exchange our grains or maybe he wants to pay me back the offerings to me. That’s really sweet of Kuku, today I’ll give him something different to eat either chilly or pieces of guava.” I mumbled and continuing my office work. Being a Graphic designer, I always liked to show various current affairs and articles into an animated format. I had also mentioned about Kuku in one of my articles titled “Birds are the paradise on earth” and it gained a lot of appreciation. I was also praised for my work “Mr. Adi Rao” awarded for outstanding performance in Graphic Designing.

** 

Unintentionally, I kept staring at the lady’s balcony. Dusky, smooth skin and long shiny hair, she was indeed a beauty. A lot of craftwork was kept in her balcony, it seemed like she had interest in music. The next day when I was leaving for work, the lady was also going somewhere. I wished to talk to her but was afraid of being interpreted as a jerk, so I continued my way to office. Since the day I confronted her, we started crossing our ways daily but was unable to start a conversation. “Hey! Does that parrot belong to you?” the lady of my dreams questioned me. “Damn! Such a sweet voice” I wondered and said “You mean the parrot?” She nodded and stated “He is very handsome and unique. I really like the only red colored feather on him.”

“Just have a look at me, I also have a good share of looks, you can’t deny.” I kept blushing; it was really difficult to take my eyes of her. She reminded me of someone but that was not the matter of discussion. “Yeah! I used to offer grains and water in the balcony and came across him. He came to my balcony quite often, we became friends and we stay together now. I don’t cage him, he is free to go anywhere and anytime also I call him Kuku” I added and she smiled at me. “Kuku! That’s really cute. Okay I’ll see you later I’m in a hurry.,” she replied and I was extremely flattered when she commended me for his name. “When will you see me later... I mean when will we meet again?” I corrected myself. “I am not sure, maybe some other day or in the balcony.” She replied and left. “Shit! You forget to ask her name” I expressed my foolishness and went to work. While working in the office, I was thinking about her “How am I able to get so easily connected with someone within a few instances?” I thought and eagerly waited for our next meet.

** 

 In the evening, after reaching home I rushed towards the balcony with a cup of coffee. Looking for her glance, it became difficult to take my eyes off her balcony. And she finally appeared “Thank God, she is here. Now I’ll ask her name” I started waving my hand vigorously, she noticed it and waved me back. I tried to ask her name by doing some hand gestures but failed at it. She also wanted to tell something with her actions but I couldn’t understand any of them. I brought the binoculars and tried to observe her actions clearly. “Oh! She is calling me to meet her in the garden… I think she also likes me. WOW! That’s really great.” I observed and went to the garden in excitement. I felt a bit nervous; it was the first time for me to have conversation with a girl. She was waiting in the sitting area with a coffee “Oh! She also likes coffee; it means that we have same interests. God, you are really great.” I kept mumbling and sat in front of her. “What were you asking me? I was unable to understand it and by the way I forgot to ask your name in the morning,” she said and I again mumbled to myself “We also have same set of questions running in our minds. This is indeed destiny” and introduced myself. “Adi, is that really you? And how could you forget me?” she questioned.

“Umm! Yes I’m Adi and what’s the problem in it? And we just met yesterday, so how am I supposed to forget you?” I replied. “I am Daisy, Daisy Thomas and I was your classmate in 4th grade. Do you remember me now?” she added and the flashback of schooling days crossed my mind. “Are you the one who joined the school in 3rd grade and left in 8th grade?” I questioned her as there were many girls named Daisy Thomas in the class. “Yeah! Correct. So you haven’t forgotten about me huh?” she stated and looked at me like a small kid waiting for an answer. “You just left in between and didn’t even bother to inform me or anyone of your close friends. I didn’t have the right to ask you then, but I must ask you now. Why did you leave your schooling in between?” I wanted to ask her this question but we weren’t close friends. “My dad was an investigating officer and he had very frequent transfers. He was called here for investigation of some serious case, but he left the case and we moved back to our hometown.” Daisy responded and smiled.

** 

  “Okay, so he might be staying with you right? I assumed that you were living alone” I responded and Daisy went silent for a while, that made me curious. “What happened? Is everything alright?” I asked her with concern, she looked at me for a while and said “My dad passed away a year after I left the school. He was supposed to encounter a criminal but he himself got trapped and was killed by the people who were known to criminal. Since then I’m staying alone, my classmates used to say that I’m adopted but that never bothered me. My dad had done a lot for me, he taught me to be strong and firm. I miss him!” Daisy confessed with tears in her eyes. I tried to console her by hugging her.
      “It’s Okay; He is watching you and is happy for whatever you have achieved. He knows that his daughter is very strong and can handle things on her own.” I tried to calm her down. I brought some chocolates for her and we started talking about our profession. “I’m a music teacher in a school nearby. I’m fortunate enough to teach something that I love the most. Dad insisted me to join music classes, which helped a lot. So you are staying away from your family for work?” She questioned and I agreed. Daisy expressed her affection towards this place and I was even more flattered. We exchanged our phone numbers and met frequently. After few weeks, we expressed our feelings and kept visiting each other’s place. Daisy used to play various musical instruments and sing classical folk songs for me and I used to animate her pictures when she was busy singing.

One fine day, we were having coffee at Daisy’s place. A file kept on the desk caught my eye so I asked Daisy about it. “Yeah, that’s my file. And all the documents are mine.” she replied and confused me. “But there isn’t any mention of your name in the documents. In fact, it’s written as…” I was about to pronounce the name but Daisy interrupted. “Ira Cruz, yes you are right and they do belong to me.” Daisy responded and kept quiet. I started doubting myself whether the girl whom I love is Daisy or Ira, I needed an explanation “But what’s the reason of having two different names? And why didn’t you talk to me about this before? I can sense that you are hiding something.” I questioned her without raising my voice as I was desperate to know the reality.

** 

Daisy didn’t utter a word; maybe she was afraid to confess it in front of me. “Okay fine. Seems like you don’t want to talk about it, never mind I’ll not force you. I’m leaving now. Bye!” I stated and went back home. For the first time, I felt our relation weak. We were so connected and I had never imagined that she would hesitate about anything. It was 11 pm; I was unable to divert my mind from her thoughts so I switched on the TV. “A criminal escaped from the jail, had a vast criminal record. Was about to be hung, after 7 years of jail.” I read the breaking news. ‘The thought of committing a crime is also a crime’, I had read it somewhere and it is unhealthy for the society. It’s so difficult to understand a criminal’s mindset, some unfulfilled necessities leads them to commit a crime. “Daisy might have also kept things away from me for a cause. I was too harsh; I should give her some time.” I understood her state of mind and texted Sorry.
 

The next morning, I hugged Daisy with a smile. She seemed happy and distinct, I again apologized and she kissed me “You don’t need to be sorry, your reaction was obvious. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to share a few things with you now, I think I need some time.” Daisy replied. I agreed with her and we continued our work. Initially, I felt that Daisy didn’t trust me enough but now I can completely understand her situation. We continued to meet and talked for days, I never talked about that day again. Daisy accompanied me in office parties and I introduced her to my colleagues as Ira Cruz. She was also been asked to sing a few lines in the party and everyone enjoyed it. “Thank you Adi, it was a lovely evening! I’m so happy to have you. You trust me a lot, I would regret for lifetime if I would have to hide things from you. You wanted to know, right. Why am I known as Ira Cruz in front of others and Daisy in front of you?” Daisy questioned and I was unable to answer “Yes, I wanted to know but that’s okay we can talk about this later. You must go home and sleep, it’s very late now.” I tried to change the topic but Daisy kept talking about it. “I’ll take you to your home and we will talk about it. Okay!” I agreed and we entered Daisy’s place. Daisy asked me to sit; she adjusted another chair facing towards me and sat.

** 

“The first time we met in the garden, you said that you felt bad when I left the school without informing you, right!” Daisy stated and I nodded. “I had left the school because the case my Dad was investigating seemed too serious. He came to know that the accused had appointed some people to keep a watch on my dad. My dad was reluctant to give up but the team members asked my dad to leave this place for my safety. Hence, we had to leave this place.” Daisy explained but when I asked about Ira Cruz, she explained. “I haven’t completed the explanation. After leaving this place, we were informed that the accused had been following us. He was supposed to be killed but somehow my dad was shot dead. The criminal was arrested but a few days later he got a bail as he had a political connect so he wasn’t imprisoned for long. I grew up and came back to this place because I felt connected. When I was a kid, I was asked to keep my identity as a secret, so Ira Cruz came into picture.” I was amazed. “Daisy, I can understand what you have been through in such a tender age. I must appreciate your courage.” I praised her.               

 Daisy cautiously said “You must have seen the news that a criminal escaped from the jail as he was about to be hung. He is the one who killed my dad, his name is Walter. I realized that my dad’s death was planned so that Walter could be released free.” I was shocked when Daisy admitted that she had filed a complaint against him for misbehaving. “Do you think it will lead you to the truth?” I questioned as I was afraid of losing Daisy. Getting involved with anything related to crime and politics can be dangerous and I didn’t want Daisy to take that risk.

“Daisy, I really love you and I can’t lose you. Please don’t take decisions that will turn up life-threatening. I’ll be there with you always and I don’t want things to end up miserably.” I tried explaining Daisy but she refused to take her complaint back. “I want justice, Adi. My dad served justice to people and I want to continue doing that. It’s okay, if you disagree but I have to fight.” Daisy responded and took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m with you. You must call me whenever you think you are in danger. I’ll try my best to be with you most of the time but if I’m not able to do so, you have to inform me about everything.” I expressed and hugged her. 

** 

The next morning, inspector had called Daisy to the police station so I accompanied her to address the suspects. When we reached the police station, 4 men were kept under custody but Walter wasn’t present. “Madam, see we have caught them. I hope they are the ones who misbehaved with the girls. We will put them behind the bars after your statement.” The inspector suggested but the person whom we were looking for wasn’t caught. “Sir, these men were along with the person who had misbehaved with the girls. Where is Walter?” Daisy questioned. “Madam, whom are you talking about? The men themselves have confessed that they misbehaved and no one else was there.” Inspector replied furiously. “I am talking about Walter. You also know that he was the only person who misbehaved. Why isn’t he here?” Daisy questioned and the inspector didn’t answer. “Madam, who’s that guy? Your boyfriend?”  The inspector tried to change the topic. “Why does that bother you? Arrest Walter first.” Daisy reacted and I tried to calm her down. “Great! Roaming around with boyfriend and holding hands is fine but if a man approaches a girl then that’s termed as misbehaving. Oh Lord! What has happened to women nowadays?” the inspector commented, my blood started boiling. I was about to punch him but Daisy stopped me “Because of people like you, girls have to think twice before doing anything. Do you know the amount of girls going under depression because of such unexpected encounters by people like you? How do you dare to call yourself an inspector? You are not even a human.” I started cursing the inspector. Till then, the inspector had called Walter to police station. Walter looked at Daisy for a while and I stood ahead like a pillar.

 “Oohh, so you are the one who filed complaint against these men for misbehaving. You take music classes in the school, right?” Walter questioned and I asked Daisy to be quiet. “They weren’t the ones misbehaving, it was just you. You have the power but that doesn’t allow you to do unacceptable things and harm innocent lives.” I responded. Walter was very confident of his political outreach. Within a few days, I noticed that Walter had appointed men to keep a watch on Daisy. “Daisy, I think it isn’t safe for you to stay alone. You have to shift to my place, I have noticed that few men have followed you and also kept a watch at your house.” I told Daisy and she moved in with me.

The Short Story continued here....