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#RubyIyer: BOMBAY SHORTS 25 – ‘Goodbye…’

Previously: Ruby Iyer is pushed in the path of a Bombay local train and wakes up with superpowers. As Bombay Vigilante she now protects its citizens from criminals… sometimes from themselves too. Yet, on coming face to face with her nemesis The Hand her superpowers are no match. Can she save herself? Now read on:

– Goodbye! –

“Madam Honeyjee?”

The Hand relinquished control of the detonator just a little unwillingly.  The fragrance of shikakai wafted over: the aroma strong enough to tease Ruby’s nostril ensconced within the helmet.  Screwing her nose against the unwelcome memories of home, Bombay Vigilante stared at the epitome of the Indian beauty.

Lustrous dark parachute-coconut-oil nourished hair fell past her shoulders framing a classic-oval shaped face, supporting full-fleshed-bright red tinted lips, a slightly hooded nose; and large fish-shaped eyes from which coal dark pupils sparkled back at her.

Her eyebrows were a ruthlessly perfect arch: each kissing the long temple shaped red-coloured-bindi that spurted up in the centre, with an almost pornographic perfection.

She could have passed for aunty Kamli, an old friend of her mother’s who dressed with the panache of a conservative South Indian Family, while ensuring her purity as often graced the society pages of Bombay Times, as her prayers did the Mahalaxmi temple.

“You are not so dissimilar you and I.” Honeyjee’s warm chocolaty-convent-school-educated- English slid over Ruby’s skin; she found herself wanting to believe the woman.

“Yes, the same.” She strove for a casually bored voice, even as her spine stiffened on seeing the cop—Vikram creep up behind the two of them.

What the f— was that stupid man doing here. Barely had she handed over the last victim to him for rescue, he had to play the macho cop and turn up once more. Unlike most police, who reached after the crime though, once again, he seemed to have entered annoyingly just in time.

“At least remove that annoying head-gear don’t you know it’s disrespectful to keep your hat on while speaking to elders?”

“It’s not a hat—it’s—“ giving up, Ruby removed her helmet, wondering why she was even bothering to have a conversation with someone who looked like a well groomed Mother India, but who was probably the real brain behind the biggest terror threat the city had ever faced.

“Your son, is he?” She saw Vikram kneel, before pulling out a second gun and with a weapon in each hand, trained it on the couple.

Madam Honeyjee smiled.

“Adopted. Recently. I am a sucker for strays. I just have such a soft heart you see.”

“Bet you have an entire cricket team of strays by now?” Ruby cast about in her head for something to keep her talking.

“No, actually an entire army” she looked at Ruby out of glittering eyes. “I know what it is to loose a son in a war. Now its time for mothers across the city to share my pain.”

Good God! This woman was more melodramatic than a Bollywood movie.

“Look, I sympathise with you, but my friend there had nothing to do with it. He’s an orphan anyway so no one is going to cry for him. Why don’t you let him go?”

“You would mourn him, no?”

“Why? He’s just a friend,” she tried to call the bluff.

“Okay!” Honeyjee raised the detonator and without being aware of it, Ruby took a step towards her: “NO, don’t!” she raised her voice in desperation: “look what do you want? Take me instead. But let him go please, he’s hurt. He needs medical attention.”

Her answering smile had Ruby blinking at its genuine inflection:  “Hmmm! Interesting. You would have your uses. By the way, are your so-called superpowers real or are you just another wannabe actress, trying to get attention in the industry. I must say it’s one way of not having to go through the casting couch rotation for sure.”

“It’s as real as the hair on your head” Ruby snapped.

Honeyjee caressed the length of her hair with her free hand “its glorious isn’t it? Makes me feel like a real woman.”

Dropping her hand to her side, she turned to the Hand: “Run along and play with your toys, I  have much to discuss with Ruby.”

So she had graduated to playing with the real adults now, had she? Ruby saw his face crumple as if a child who had been ticked off by his mother.

“But…”

“No buts. Go on! In fact here: I’ll give you a helping hand.”

Ruby heard the unmistakeable sound of a train whoosh up, with that typical earth shaking, bone jarring, platform-vibrating hustle.

The woman turned to Ruby and smiled. Without breaking eye contact, Honeyjee put out her free arm and pushed the Hand straight in the path of the oncoming local.

–to be continued

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