I was in Paris to unveil the indoors of this belle ville, for my next project. I was couch hopping with the Moreau family of three, for three weeks. It was my last day. With them.
That day, I woke up to my mother’s call.
“Son, it’s Friday the XIII. Be Careful!”
Mothers and their superstitions, I tell y’all. I smirked.
The family, as the customs dictate, loved to eat together. And since I was their guest, I was treated with as much luxuries as the well-off family could manage.
Alain, my long time couch-hopping buddy and the head host revealed their day’s plan to me. They intended to witness a concert of Eagles of Death Metal at Bataclan Hall that night, followed by dinner. He courteously invited me too, but I politely declined, telling them my plan. I wanted to cover the Rue Cler as a full stop to my travel task and for souvenirs. And that I’d be leaving for my flight straight, from there.
We all decided to leave for our respective destinations at 6 in the evening.
Alain and Amèlie had a phase of rough past, in their happiest life. Their parents were against their wish of marriage, and so they had to elope. Since 7 years, they were in no touch with their parents. But this didn’t show in their good-natured presentations.
Maybe they had found solace in each other and Amy, their 5 year old adorable daughter.
Maybe the pang in their heart was long dead.
Maybe they were a perfect family, now.
Maybe. Just maybe.
Around 5:32pm, as I was stuffing my only backpack, Amy came running into my room to flaunt the dress I’d bought her the other day. In that beautiful red one-piece she looked way too adorable. She blushed to my compliment, and shyly, as a return gift perhaps, planted a kiss on my cheeks. In those three weeks, we became, as she’d say, “best buddies”.
At their front door, while we were all leaving, she started crying amidst the “Adieu”s and “see you soon”s. This time I gave a peck on her cheeks, but it failed in its lead purpose of shushing her. I hugged Alain, and Amèlie, his wife, a sad goodbye. They had been the best to me in the past three weeks, no less than my family. From cooking my favorite dishes (provided Amèlie knew the recipe), to bearing with my late night arrivals, they were always cheerful. I had to convince them for hours to let me do the dishes, and help them run errands when free.
Finally, they settled in their car with a crying Amy, and I darted off on my Iron 883.
I was on my way to the Charles de Gaulle airport, after choosing gifts for every acquaintance I could recall and photographing the busy Rue Cler, when this happened.
I got a call from a police officer, who’d found my number in Alain’s recent call logs. I pulled up, received the call, and paralyzed as soon as he passed on the information after confirming my identity.
“I’m extremely sorry, Sir, to inform you that Mr. Alain and Ms. Amèlie, are no more alive.”
Amy? What about her? Is she alright? The officer said he didn’t get my reference.
I turned my Iron one-eighty degrees, and raced the way to the La Belle Equipe restaurant, where Amèlie and Alain were patiently waiting for me.
Amy? Are you patiently waiting too? Or are you impatient for my arrival for the second time? Hold on, girl, your best buddy is almost there. Just don’t get patient. Please?
This time, I was terribly hoping for the latter.
I was exceeding the speed limits, running the red lights.
For her moist kiss, the previous one had vaporized long back.
I realized I’m near, when the police sirens were audible. My heart went numb, while I could taste the bile in my mouth.
‘Amy,‘ I was chanting.
I jumped off and darted to the scene. And stood motionless as soon as I faced the restaurant, it’s glasses completely shattered, two dead bodies lying outside. A policeman came to pull me away from the scene, but I jerked him off, and ran in.
You aren’t strong. Not as much as Amy, for sure.
I couldn’t hear people crying, screaming. They were only distinctly visible, like an old movie, blurry and colourless, not audible.
I spotted Alain, and Amèlie next. Both patiently lying. But Amy was nowhere near. Maybe she’s still impatient.
I screamed her name. Ran places but nowhere for sure. She is missing!
Amy, still, is missing!
I unlocked my phone. The date – 13th Nov. Friday.
Friday, the XIII. The month of November.
9/11 – USA
26/11 – India
Mothers and their superstitions
I maybe am writing this today, but my mind is still there, paralyzed, screaming and looking for her.
Desperate for her kiss on my cheeks.
To see her blush. To find her.
Pray for all the Amys, the Alains, and Amèlies!
Pray for Paris!
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