To Marry or Not To Marry

A Short Story

Sathya always dreamed of marrying a beautiful and intelligent woman, who could be traditional, yet, modern in her approach towards life. It seemed to be an unlikely or impossible combination. However, his mother used to bring him out of his imagination, by reminding many times about an old promise made to his uncle, that he would marry her daughter, Shilpa.

It was many years back, when she was born, his mother made a promise to her brother. And then Sathya was only two years old. Sathya had seen her long time back, and then she was in school. Also his uncle’s place was in a remote village, which was about 120 kms from his modern city.

“A promise made has to be fulfilled,” His mother kept reminding whenever she served him food at the dinning table.

“At least let him have his break fast peacefully,” His father said, munching idle with tasty chutney. “I think he should be given the choice whether to marry her or not.” He added.

“Mom, I think dad is right!” Sathya said, pleased with the support from his father.

“No!” She said. “He has to marry her only!”

Sathya always tried his best to change the topic, try to run away from it. But it always followed him like his own shadow, behind. A stupid promise made by his mother when he was just two years old. Now, he was twenty-six, and although the time limit for fulfilment of that promise was past, yet, it lingered into the present and seemed to threaten his coming future.

Sathya’s mother mentioned a firm date for the trip to that fateful village, Sathya protested, “It doesn’t concern to me, your twenty-six year old promise.”

“You were only two years old then.” She said.

“You should have got me married to her then. At least, I wouldn’t have protested then.” He said.

“I would’ve done that if I had known that this day would come.” She said.

Mother looked triumphant with Sathya secure by her side in the bus, his father sat behind them, as he always loved the window seat. The passengers were mostly from villages on the way, returning back to their villages. It was a pleasant trip as the bus passed through many villages, crossed many fields, gazing cattle and sheep, bullock carts, even a bridge upon a river. Finally, the bus reached its destination, his uncle’s village. His uncle was waiting for them eagerly.

“Welcome to our village!” He cried, patting him hard on back of his shoulder. “You have grown up into a handsome young man.” He commented, patting again.

“Only to marry your stupid daughter,” Sathya murmured.

“What did you say?” He asked.

“Never mind! Sathya, that is the temple on the top of the hill in which me and your mother got married.” His father said, pointing his finger to a temple on the top of the hill.

Sathya didn’t bother to look in that direction. Suddenly, his uncle’s hand landed on his shoulder once again. “Well, that is where you and Shilpa are going to get married as well.” He added. Now, Sathya looked at the distant temple on the top of the hill.

When they reached the house, almost entire village had assembled outside his uncle’s house to have a glimpse at Sathya’s face. They started murmuring among themselves as they went in. Sathya’s aunty came with snacks and cool drinks. Sathya was not in a mood to have anything. Shilpa came with her relatives and sat on a mat, before them, with her head bowed down.

“Why don’t you lift your face and see her?” His mother said, pinching him.

“Ouch! Don’t pinch me like that!” Sathya said, lifting his face and looking in her direction. He was surprised and astonished. It was as if his woman of dreams had come and sat before him. He kept staring at her with his mouth open. His mother pinched him again.

“So do you like her?” She asked, looking at his face eagerly for his approval.

“I…err..yes.” Sathya replied.

Shilpa still bowed her head and kept looking at the floor.

“Shilpa dear, lift your face and see him,” His aunty said. She lifted her face and stared angrily at him.

“Do you like him?” Her mother asked.

“No!” She cried, getting up and rushing inside.

Sathya was shocked and he didn’t know how to react to this situation. He didn’t even know whether to be happy or sad at the turn of the event. They came to know that Shilpa had loved a local boy by name, Arun and wanted to marry him only, about this, her parents came to know only now. Sathya’s mother decided to leave that place immediately. Though, his uncle requested them to stay back for a few days.

“Keep seeing, I’ll find a better girl than your daughter for my son. Also send me the wedding invitation of your daughter. As I would like to see the face of the monkey your silly daughter is going to marry.” His mother shouted, getting into the bus, which was about to leave for the city.

“Sure, I’m really sorry for what had happened.” His uncle said. “Sathya, please don’t feel bad for what had happened.” His uncle cried, as the bus started to move.

“No…Uncle…bye.” Sathya cried, peeping through the window. He didn’t bother to see that a girl was seated at the window seat next to him.

His mother and father sat before him. He had to sit next to this girl as the bus was crowded.

“I’ll start looking for a girl from tomorrow itself. What does he think? Is his daughter some Apsara or what?” His mother said, aloud.

“Sathya, I don’t mind even if you marry a girl from another religion, as long as you like her and she is nice to you.” His father said, looking back at him.

“Shut up, will you?” His mother cried, looking at her husband annoyed.

The girl seated besides him started giggling over hearing their conversation. He took out a novel from his bag to read. He didn’t know when he fell asleep reading, as his head landed upon her shoulder in sleep. He felt someone patting on his face.

“Excuse me, Sathya,” She said.

“Yes?!? I’m sorry..” He said, opening his eyes and looking at her for the first time in this journey.

“Can I borrow your book?” She asked, smiling at him.

“Sure,” He said, giving it to her. She was beautiful and young.

“If you don’t mind, may I know what happened?” She asked, turning the pages of the novel, and looking at him curiously. He started telling her the whole story. She couldn’t control herself laughing.

“Sathya, couldn’t you find another seat in this bus?” His annoyed mother asked.

“Mom, can’t you see the whole bus is crowded?” He replied.

“Well, I have seen Shilpa and Arun. I stay in this village and I am going back to city where I am working.” She said.

“How does that Arun look like? Is he handsome?” Sathya’s mother asked, turning back and looking at her.

“Well, aunty, like a monkey..” She replied, giggling.

“Very good! It serves him right!” She said pleased.

“Sathya, I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to complete this novel by the time we reach our destination. Please give me your contact number so that I can return it when I complete reading. You know, I wanted to read this book very badly and it was not available anywhere.” She said, “By the way, my name is Roopa.”

“Sure,” He said, writing his contact number on the last page of that book in her hand.

“Thank you.” She said, shaking his hand. “Friends?” She asked.

“Sure.” He said, smiling at her.

Again, she seemed to be like the woman from his dreams and fascination. They kept chatting with each other like long lost friends. Time just flew in their company. Later, when they reached home.

“Son, shall I speak to that girl’s father?” asked his father.

Sathya just smiled at him and his mother said nothing.

 

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The Body Shop


A Short Story

It was one winter evening; Vikas was seated on one of the benches in the park watching the kids play, while he was lost in some thought. Meantime, a stranger approached him and asked;

‘Do you mind if I sit here?’

‘I don’t mind!’ Vikas said, turning and looking at the stranger, who had an expressionless face, tall and was dressed in black suit.

‘Quite a nice evening, isn’t it?’ He said, sitting beside him on the bench, and making himself comfortable.

‘Yes…’ Vikas said, looking away.

‘Mr. Mist, I have been reading your works and I should say that I am a big fan of your writings! It is really sad to note that you don’t have much time left to live…’ The stranger said.

‘Who are you? How do you know all this?’ Vikas asked him, quite stunned.

‘You can call Me Mr. D,’ The stranger said, ‘and I have a proposition for you. If you agree, you could go on to live some more time…some more time means you could do all the things you like to do which includes your wonderful writing as well. But you need to sacrifice something for that…’

‘…..and what would be that?’ Vikas asked him.

‘You will have to let go of this body of yours and chose the one which you like. Then your soul would be transferred to the chosen body and you can lead a normal life once again.’ The stranger said, handing him a business card.

It read ‘THE BODY SHOP’, Contact#1800 123 4568

‘The Body Shop?’ Vikas asked with a frown on his face.

‘Yes…all you need to do is contact that number on the card and provide your details. The rest will be taken care. So, do we have a deal?’ The stranger asked him.

‘Yes…’ Vikas said, staring at the card.

‘Good. Catch up with you later!’ The stranger said, getting up and taking leave.

Vikas was suffering from cancer and the doctors had given him three months to live. He had a steady relationship with his girl friend, Ananya. Sadly, she had left him after he was diagnosed with cancer. Ananya had quipped that she couldn’t see him suffer and then finally die one day. It burnt his heart in which he had adored her. He had dreamt of spending his lifetime with her. That dream just remained a dream!

He had resigned from his job and started living his life the way he always wanted to. He loved writing since his childhood days…it was short stories, poems, his own personal experiences from life. Readers loved his writings and he was well known by the pen name ‘Mist’.

But the fear of approaching death killed him every single day, apart from the unbearable pain which his physical body went through. Every time, he read about someone commit suicide and end their precious lives, it pained him in his heart, as he wanted to live his life completely with passion.

He called the number provided in the business card after reaching his apartment that evening, and provided them the details as required by them. They gave him an appointment for next evening at 7 PM. Next evening he reached the spot where he was asked to come and wait. A black car came and stopped near by him, and a man dressed in black suit got down and greeted him.

He asked him to turn around and tied his eyes with a blind fold. Then he helped him onto the back seat of the car. Soon the car started cruising to some unknown destination. The car halted in some back alley and the chauffeur ushered him into the back door, a door was unlatched and he was taken a spiral staircase. Finally, his feet touched the floor. Then his blind fold was removed.

‘Welcome to the Body Shop, Mr. Vikas!’ A stranger said, smiling at him with a warm smile, ‘Please follow me!’

Vikas followed him inside and he was led to a computer. He was made to sit in front of the computer screen. He was told that the bodies available in the body shop would be screened on that computer screen along with the brief history of the body. He can choose one of them and then the process of transferring his soul would begin.

‘Well, would I be remembering the things or people associated with the body I would be choosing to be in?’ Vikas asked.

‘No, everything would remain the same. The only change would be your appearance.’ The stranger dressed like a doctor replied.

‘What would happen to my body that I let go?’

‘Usually, we retain only the healthy bodies and our customers could choose it when they drop in like the way you just did sometime back. However, we cremate the unhealthy bodies as it is of no use to anyone.’ He said starting some application on the system, ‘Well, each body on your computer screen has a serial number and you have to make a note of the serial number of the body in which you would like your soul to be transferred into. Here you go! ‘He said, hitting the ENTER button.

Vikas was given thirty minutes to choose a body. While the stranger left the place shutting the door behind him. He went through the pictures of various bodies that flashed on screen. The stranger returned back after thirty minutes past. Vikas gave him the number which he had noted down on a slip of paper.

‘Body No. 50556. That is a good choice!’ The stranger said, handing him a bunch of papers and a pen, ‘Now, you will have to sign these papers before we start the procedures. It is just a formal agreement between you and us.’

Vikas signed those papers. Then he was given an injection and soon he drifted into unconsciousness. When he regained his consciousness, he found his face was covered with bandages. The only thing he could see was his eyes, which surely didn’t belong to him. The stranger came back and took him in front of the mirror on the wall.

‘Now, I shall remove the bandage covered on your new face.’ He said, untying it from behind and soon his new face materialized on the mirror in front of him. He touched and felt it with his fingers.

‘Yes, it is real for sure!’ The stranger said with a smile, ‘Now, you would be left at the place where you had been picked up this evening. I hope you do remember your place to go back to!’ He added.

‘Yes.’ Vikas said, smiling back at him.

‘And may I have that business card?’ The stranger asked.

Vikas gave it to him. He dropped it into the shredding machine and pressed a button.

‘One more thing, would you like to attend your body’s funeral service tomorrow morning at 11’o clock?’ The stranger asked.

Vikas thought for a moment and then nodded his head in agreement.

‘Well, then be at this place by 11am tomorrow.’ He said, handing him a small slip of paper with the address of the crematorium written on it.

The chauffeur tied the blind fold upon his eyes once again. He was left at the same place from where he was picked up that evening. He picked up his mobile phone and dialled his ex-girl friend Ananya’s number and informed her that Vikas Sarma is no more, and also about the funeral next morning. He gave her the address of the crematorium.

Vikas couldn’t sleep that night. He kept staring at his new face in the mirror every now and then.

Next morning, at the funeral service of his old body, he had tears in his eyes seeing his body for one last time.He gently patted on the chest of his old body and said,

‘Farewell, my friend!’

He turned back and found Ananya standing with tears over flowing from her eyes. She walked towards the body. She went ahead of him, bent and kissed one last time on the forehead of the body.

‘I’m really sorry for leaving you alone when you needed me the most!” She said, still continuing to cry.

Vikas moved his hand towards her and was about to touch her upon her shoulders, desperately wanted to take her into his arms, hug her tight and console her. To tell her that he was still alive in the new body, but he just couldn’t do that!

Then the body was taken into the burning furnace and the door was closed shut.

She turned back, wiping her tears with her hanky, and looked at him.

‘Thank you for coming!’ He said.

‘Who are you? I have never seen you before..’ Ananya asked him.

‘I’m his best friend. We both communicated through email. That is the reason you never saw me..’ Vikas replied.

Some months passed by, Vikas Sarma completed writing his first novel ‘The Body Shop’ by Mist. The book became a best seller. There was a success party in a big book shop for which all his fans and readers were invited. Vikas was seated before the audience and he saw his ex girl friend, Ananya seated in the last row.

She kept staring at him while he began to speak and answer the questions from his readers one by one.

‘Mr. Mist, I would like to know whether The Body Shop really exists?’ A reader asked him.

‘Well, to answer your question let me quote a famous saying by John Gardner, “Character is the very life of fiction. Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand. Plot exists so that the character can discover what he is really like, forcing the character to choice and action. And the theme exists only to make the character stand up and be somebody.” The Body Shop exists in my mind and it became a story which you people read and appreciated so well. Hope it answers your this question.’ Vikas said, smiling at his audience.

Then the book signing by the author was arranged for the readers. When Ananya’s turn came, she bent down and whispered into his ear;

‘You can fool anyone with that answer of yours, but not me! In this book, you have written about Vikas and me with so much details…many things only we both knew. I’m sure that he would have never shared those details with you, his best friend! And I know that the body shop really exists!’

‘Really? Thank you for being my big fan!’ Vikas said aloud, smiling at her, while he signed the book and gave it back to her.

She turned the pages while she walked away. He had written;

‘What you believe in is the ultimate truth! Have a great life!’
-Lots of Love, Vikas Sarma.

She turned back and stood gazing at him. He was busy signing books for others.

Meanwhile, at another place….a shop had the name board ‘The Ex-change Shop’ and in the lower basement of that shop was the Body Shop which had hundreds of bodies waiting to be taken by some willing souls just like new dresses waiting in some garment shop to be chosen and worn by someone.

‘Welcome to the body shop, Mr. Amar!’ The stranger said with a warm smile on his face, looking at a 90 year old man, whose hand was trembling on his walking stick, ‘I can guess that you need a young body, am I right?’ He asked.

‘Yes, you’re right!’ The old man said, smiling at him with a wink.

The Sound of Anklets

 

A Short Story

The children gathered under the banyan tree to listen to a story which Mohandas was going to narrate to them. They were discussing among themselves which story should they ask him to narrate this time. They came to a conclusion by the time the old man arrived with a walking stick.

“Well, which story would you like me to narrate this time?” Mohandas asked the children, settling under the banyan tree.

“A ghost story!” said Anil, on behalf of others.

“Well, even I had a ghost story in my mind.” Mohandas said, “Shall we start the story then?” He asked, looking at them.

“Yes!” They all cried in unison.

“A ghost story!” said Anil, on behalf of others.

“Well, even I had a ghost story in my mind.” Mohandas said, “Shall we start the story then?” He asked, looking at them.

“Yes!” They all cried in unison.

It was some time back in the past, ( Mohandas said ) when Rahul, who was really bored with the noisy city life, decided to go on a vacation to some far away quite place. He was traveling by train.

After dinner, everyone in the compartment went to sleep. Rahul woke up sometime later feeling thirsty. He devoured last few drops of water left in the water bottle. However, that didn’t quench his thirst.

It was a full moon night, and the train came to a halt at a deserted railway station, after some time. He got down the compartment with the empty water bottle in his hand, heading towards the drinking water tap at some distance. He drank the water, and then started filling the empty bottle. He heard the train whistle, and as he turned back, found the train leaving the station. He rushed towards his compartment as fast as he could, abandoning the water bottle. But he missed to catch hold of the side bar of the compartment, and saw the train leave the station.

“Did you miss the train?” asked someone from behind.

“Yes,” He said, turning back, looking at the squint eyes; which seemed to look else where while he spoke to him. He was dressed like a porter.

“When is the next train?” Rahul asked him.

“Not until 6’ o clock in the morning,” He replied, “Be careful!” he added, before vanishing into the darkness.

“Why?” Rahul asked surprised. But he got no answer.

Rahul decided to lie down on the long chair, after answering the nature’s call. He walked some distance away from the station towards the busy land. He kept a cigarette in his mouth, struck a match to light it, when he heard the sound of anklets. He lighted his cigarette with that match, wondering who it could be at this hour of the night. He made up his mind to find out. So, he went in the direction of that sound.

He found a woman dressed in a long white gown, had long hair, walking at some distance in the lonely path; which was surrounded with bushes and trees. It was her anklets which were making the sound. He started following her.

The paths lead to an old mansion at the corner, which was surrounded by trees and bushes. She pushed aside the gate as she entered, the gate hung on one hinge. She walked towards the main door of the mansion. There were five steps leading to the main door. She entered the house. He quickly followed into the house, without making much noise. He saw her climbing the stairs, which lead to the room on the first floor and then disappeared into it.

There was complete darkness in the house. He struck a match. The match flared, showing him the way to the wooden stairs. The match stick burned out by the time he reached the landing of the wooden stairs. He started climbing the stairs in complete darkness. He struck the second match when he was about to step on a mouse. They both exchanged frightened glances at each other, before the mouse rushed downstairs. The match burned out soon again.

Finally, he reached near the door of the room. He struck the third match as he entered the room. The match flared round the room and gave him a flash picture of the surroundings in the room. There was a wooden chair near the window, upon which hung a curtain, which was blowing in the wind coming from outside the open window. There was no trace of the woman who had entered it.

“Where did she go?” He asked himself astonished.

He got scared, rushed downstairs, and out of the mansion as fast as he could. He turned back to look at the window on the first floor.

He could only see the dancing curtain in the wind. When he turned back, he found himself standing in front of that woman.

“Did he die then?” asked Vijay.

“He was already dead when he had arrived to that place.” Mohandas said.

“Already dead?” They all asked surprised.

“Yes, he was a ghost who was tired of city life, and was travelling in the train looking for some quite place in some far away destination.”

“What about that woman?” asked Anil.

“Well, she was a cruel ghost who picked her victims from the railway station. The porter who spoke to him was one of her early victims.” Mohandas said, “So, did you like the story?”

“Yes!” They all said together.

“Now, kids go to sleep.” He said, “Good night.”

“Good night, Grandpa.” They said to him, as he left the place.

The moon was shining with millions of twinkling stars in the sky. The banyan tree stood in the middle of the graveyard, and the kids retired to their respective graves.

Story That Made Me Wish For A Daughter

A Page from my life

This happened during my school days, when I had read this story, thinking it to be like any other story that I had read during that time. However, when I finished reading it, I felt as if it had given me a new wish to have a daughter when I grew up and got married. It was a moving and touching story about the bond between a father and his little daughter. Until I read this one, I didn’t know that this bond can be so much wonderful! It was then I felt deep in my heart that every father who has a daughter should really feel proud, and then not everyone is blessed to have a daughter.

Many years later, I got married to a caring and loving woman. It was in the end of December 2011, my wife told me the good news that I am going to become a father. This not only made me feel happy, but deep in my heart I wished it could be a girl.

‘What shall we name the baby, if it is a boy?’ My wife asked me.

‘How about Aryan?’ I suggested.

‘Well, that’s a good name. Alright, we shall name the baby Aryan, if it is a boy’ She said, ‘What if it is a girl?’

I thought for a while. I remembered the long story I had written sometime back called ‘Aryan & Sachika’ and then Sachika was Aryan’s love interest.

‘How about Sanjana?’ I suggested once again.

‘That’s a good name too!’ She said, smiling at me, ‘Alright, Aryan or Sanjana it would be.’

I just smiled back at her in response.

‘Oh, baby, are you Aryan or Sanjana?’ She asked, gently feeling her tummy and the baby kicked from within just then…

‘See…do you feel it? I think it is Aryan!’ She said, taking my hand and placing my palm gently on her tummy, as the baby kicked one more time. I could also feel the sensation. I wonder why the baby kicked then? Maybe, if he was Aryan then he would have kicked when we called him Sanjana or wise versa. It didn’t matter much to me.

‘All I want is a healthy baby and it doesn’t matter whether it is Aryan or Sanjana.’ I told my wife.

We started buying toys for the baby which was still enjoying its stay in her or his mummy’s tummy. Well, most of the toys were meant for the boy, as my wife and her family almost concluded that it would be a boy baby. Occasionally, when she got some doubt that it could be Sanjana then we bought some toys to Sanjana as well. One thing was sure that it was a single baby.

I don’t express much and that doesn’t mean I have no feelings whatsoever. When we went for the first scanning….the heart beat of the baby was like the best music for me in the whole world. I kept staring at the TV screen during the scanning, seeing the movements of the baby. We were happy, but the suspense of whether it was Aryan or Sanjana kept bugging my wife’s mind.

She even went and asked the scanning doctor after the third scan. However, he had declined to share that confidential information to her. He smiled and told her,

‘You should be happy that your baby is healthy and doing well, and the rest doesn’t matter as of now.’

‘Dear, what if it is Sanjana?’ She asked me later.

‘No worries. I already told you that I’m fine with both,’ I told her.

Days became weeks, weeks became months and finally, the day came. It was my birthday on that day…I had ordered a cake and told the person to keep the cake ready by evening, so that I could cut it along with my baby. They took my wife into the operation theatre and the door was closed. I sat in one of the chairs, looking alternatively at the clock and then at the door of the operation theatre.

Unlike our bollywood movies, it didn’t have lights above to include the status of the surgery.

Finally, at 4.54 PM, the operation door opened and the doctors came out empty handed. A few moments later, the nurse came smiling holding the baby in her hands.

‘It’s a girl baby!’ She announced.

She looked so fragile and so small that I was bit scared to hold her in my hands. I kept staring at her…I took her in my arms for the first time with lot of care, looked into her eyes; she too stared at me for a second or two, before staring elsewhere.

My wife still wasn’t completely conscious. She was shivering in cold…I just hoped that she would be fine. Then the nurse gave me the baby’s blood in a small container and asked me to get it tested in a lab. Later, I came to know that not only my daughter shared my birthday, but my blood group too.

We both cut the birthday cake together. The cake had her and my name…I didn’t have words to thank my dear wife for giving me such a wonderful gift on my birthday.

Now, you should be wondering what is that story which had inspired me to have a daughter during my school days?

It was Rabindranath Tagore’s wonderful and touching tale ‘The Kabulliwalla’. That story even inspired me to write a story of my own named ‘Dawn’, in which I became the father and refused to come out of the story when I finished writing it. I had lived my dream through this story then and now, that sweet dream has become a reality..!

 

Solo -It’s sweeter to be so….

A Short Story 

Rahul was writing the poem “Solo Life” sitting on the sand near the beach. It was cool and tranquil in this part of the beach. Not many people came here. That was the reason why he liked this spot a lot. Tomy, his pet dog sat next to him, wagging his tail.

Solo life is the best/ You’ll have no one to nag/ If you work hard or rest/ You can get out of the bed on either side/ You can enjoy nature’s beauty on a horse ride/ You can bring home a dog, and make him your best friend/ You can go for a walk even if there is fog/ You can cook or eat out/ You can enjoy a book while sailing in a boat/ You need not tell someone lies or pretend/ You will have endless freedom till the very end.

Rahul noticed a slight movement near his feet and bent down to see what it was. It was a small green turtle moving over the sand. He loved turtles as a kid. In fact, he wanted to have one at his home, but never got one. It brought a smile to his face. Tomy looked at him, started wagging his tail in joy. Rahul watched the turtle until it disappeared along with the waves of the sea.

Rahul gently moved his fingers on Tomy, which he liked a lot. The evening breeze ruffled a clump of beach grass beside him. He heard some noise, he looked up. He saw some fishermen returning after a fishing trip in their boat. He watched keenly as they leaped out of the boat and hauled it high up on the beach. They took out baskets full of silvery fish, crabs, etc. Soon the fishermen went away and the beach was abandoned once again.

The sun started to set in the distant horizon. When he was young he thought maybe the sun went down into the sea. He got the answer in the science class later.

A young girl came jogging along a dog from one end of the beach. Her dog stopped near his dog, so she too stopped. She sat next to his dog on the sand.

“Nice dog!” She said smiling at him, taking in some breathe “What’s his name?”

“Tomy” He said smiling back at her.

“Mine is Tracy!” She said “I usually come for jogging in the other side of the beach. Today I thought to come here.” He only smiled at her hearing this.

“My name is Neha.” She said extending her hand to him.

“Rahul.” He said shaking her hand.

They started talking to each other. They both realized that they had many similarities between them. They loved their solo life a lot .It gave them a lot of freedom to do other things. Neha read the poem which he just written and liked it. They decided to meet in the same spot the next evening too.

Rahul remembered what his good friend Shiva had said during their college days, “Stay 13 meters away from an electric pole and also a girl. The first one kills you immediately, the other one slowly”. This brought a smile on his face.

“Stay away from girls and electric poles!” He said aloud looking at Tomy. Just then a young girl passed from other direction, she had a frown on her face.

Rahul had lost his love to someone else and also resigned his job. Someone else would have suffered a lot, but not him. He decided to move on in his life no matter what happens. Also he felt nice to get back his freedom of being ‘Solo’ again. He could do many things, like writing short stories, poems, drawing and painting, etc.

He held his painting exhibition in a local gallery. All his paintings got sold for a good price. He also started writing his new collection of short stories and poetry. One of the publishers came forward to publish his work, which made him happy. Both the collections were sold out and got very good response from the readers/critics as well.

Then one day, in the publisher’s office:-

“Rahul, we have a vacancy for the post of editor in our company. Please let us know if you know someone.” Shankar said.

“How about me?” Rahul asked.

“Well, that would be very nice. Can you wait for some time so that I can give you the offer letter?” Shankar said.

“Sure.” He said. Shankar gave him the offer letter in two copies. Rahul signed and gave back one copy to him.
 
Rahul was very happy as he got the job which he loved to do. He reached the beach, saw Neha waiting for him.

He gave her the letter inside an envelope.

“Rahul, I know what is inside this envelope.” Neha said smiling at him “By the way, Shankar is my father”

“What?” He said surprised. He realized that she was behind all this.

“Thanks a lot, Neha” He said smiling at her “You never told me?”

“I wanted to surprise you” She said smiling back at him. 

The Long Wait

 

A Short Story

When he was young he had liked silence more than anything else. He treated it as though it was his best friend. But now, it had become his best foe. He had reached his old age before he could even think how he was going to spend it. He lost his loving and caring wife, who had embraced death before him. His only son, Rohit treated him as though he was responsibility rather than love, love which he had given to him in abundance. While his daughter-in-law treated him as though he was a burden to her. His grandson, Sanjay liked him.

His table was filled with medicine bottles. When his wife was there she took good care of him. She made sure that he took his medication at regular intervals as prescribed by the doctor. Now, no one bothered. Only his grandson asked him about it.

Old age seemed to be a curse as well as a punishment to him. All his friends except Mohan had left for the other world. His close friend, Mohan came to see him once in a while. He couldn’t bear to see his friend suffer like this. His left side was paralysed. And it seemed as though the death was teasing him, by killing only the half of him, a half that belonged to him and once was active, was now dead. Suddenly, the door opened and Mohan came in. Then:-

“How are you doing?” He asked.

“Well, I’m still half alive,” He replied. “Tell me, Mohan, what fun does God get by killing only a side of me? He should’ve killed me completely instead. This life has become more worse than death, my friend.”

“Nandu, I don’t have any words,” said Mohan sadly looking at him. “All I can say is have some patience and hopefully things should get better.”

“When? After my death for sure, but even death doesn’t want to take me with him. How could he take a paralysed man like me. I would become a burden to him just like my daughter-in-law.”

“Okay, I shall take leave now,” He said. “I have to go to the market.”

“Before you go, can you do me a favour?” He asked.

“Sure, tell me?”

“Please move my bed over to that wall near the window.”

“Okay.” He said and started pushing the bed with all his might. His daughter-in-law came into the room.

“Arey! What are you doing?” She cried rather annoyed.

“I’m moving the bed to that corner.” He replied.

“No, no. what if he catches cold and fever? Also it’s rainy season,” She said, “Who will bear the additional expenditure?”

“At least let me die catching cold and fever.” Nanda Gopal cried annoyed.

“Okay, I shall take leave.” Said Mohan leaving.

Later, Sanjay came into his room. Then:-

“Grandpa, whose umbrella is this?” He asked picking and showing it to him.

“Oh, it should be Mohan’s. He had come sometime back. Sanju, will you do me a favour?” He said.

“Yes, grandpa?”

“Will you move the bed to that wall near the window, son?”

“Sure, grandpa.”

That night he stared out of his window. It started raining. He remembered those days of his childhood days when he went out and played in the rain. Now, he looked at the sky. It was dark and cloudy. Just like his own life. His life too was filled with darkness. The old clock on the wall became silent. He turned and saw that the pendulum wasn’t swinging anymore. The clock on the wall showed 12.30 AM. He saw a dark shadow before his bed.

“So you have finally come to take me,” He said looking at the shadow. “Its really very nice of you for coming at least now. I’m so much eager to go with you. Please hurry..”

The darkness crept upon him and his heart too stopped beating like the pendulum of that old clock on the wall. The last breath he had taken in got lost somewhere. His eyes kept staring towards the door.

Next day early morning:-

“Did you hear? Mohan chacha had passed away last night in his sleep?” said Rohit to his wife.

“He was so active in this age. I wish your paralysed father had gone instead of him. At least I would have had some peace of mind.” His wife said.

“Shhhh! Keep your voice low. He may hear it.” He said.

The Last Story

A short Story

Vijay packed his bag and left to a quiet hill station by train. He wanted to spend some time with nature, which was his love. Besides, writing was his hobby since his childhood days. He needed peace and silence to concentrate and think. The pressure at work over last two months was too much. He definitely needed a break. He applied for two weeks leave.

He was reading the book “Tea for two and a piece of cake” by Preeti Shenoi during the journey. He loved her other book “Life is what you make it!”

Finally, It was late in the afternoon when he reached the hotel on the top of the hill station which was surrounded by trees and mountains.

The house keeping person, Ram Lal took his luggage to his room and handed him the key.

“There is one thing I need to tell you.” Ram Lal said, “Do not open the window. If you do, then don’t keep it open after the sunset.” He said before taking leave.

“May I know, why?” Vijay asked. However, he got no response.

The room was nice and spacious. It had a single cot bed, ceiling fan, a writing table with a lamp near the closed window, and an attached bathroom.

Vijay pulled aside the curtains, and opened the window. It seemed as if it wasn’t opened for long time.

He was amazed at the spectacular view outside the window. There were trees everywhere. There was one huge tree among these trees at some distance from the hotel. The sun was about to set, and it turned the sky into orange from blue. The evening breeze was blowing into the room through the window.

Vijay stood there mesmerized at the amazing beauty of nature before him.

Later, he lied down on the bed, closed his eyes to have a short nap. A loud thunder storm with lightening nearby woke him up with a sudden jerk. It had become dark and was pouring down heavily outside. He had a glance at his wrist watch and it showed 12.30 am.

He got up to close the window. His eyes caught the sight of the huge tree. Something was swinging to and fro under its branch. He could clearly see that it was a body of a woman hanging from the tree. A rope oscillated in the strong breeze; he couldn’t see her face, as her hair was hanging loose, and it covered her face.

Vijay picked the torch and umbrella from his bag. He ran downstairs towards the huge tree. The path through the trees became slippery due to the rain. The huge tree stood on the grass land along with other trees. The strong wind blew his umbrella far away from him. Then it just vanished from his sight. He got completely drenched in the rain. He switched the torch on and flashed it on the tree. He was shocked as he saw no body swinging from its branches.

“How could it be possible?” He asked himself, scratching his head in disbelief.

“Maybe, it was my silly imagination.” He thought and went back to his room.

When he saw through his window once again, he saw the body of the woman swinging from the branch of that tree. This time, she lifted her face up and gave a wicked grin. It almost froze him in fear. Her sightless eyes sent a chill down his spine. Her hands and feet were limp. The body was turning round and round in the wind.

He gathered enough courage to close the window .

He was shocked and scared after what he had witnessed. He had written ghost stories, but had never ever seen a ghost in his life before. He crawled onto the bed and pulled up the blanket. He started shivering in cold. He tried to sleep closing his eyes. However, the image of the woman kept playing in his mind.

Something started pulling his blanket. He held it tight with his fingers and pulled it back. Then something started tickling his feet. He woke up with a jerk and found her standing near the cot. She was smiling wickedly, and he could see her white teeth clearly even in the dark. He gave out a cry as she scratched his feet with her long nails.

Suddenly, he woke up with a jerk. He was sweating in this cold weather.

“Thank God, it’s just a dream!” He said to himself, getting up from the bed. It was dark outside. He glanced at his wrist watch. It showed 12.30 am. He looked outside the window and saw nothing unusual.

He sat down on the chair, switched on the table lamp on the table, and started writing the story which he just had in his dream. He had a smile of satisfaction after he completed it. He was so engrossed in writing that he didn’t notice that it had started raining outside.

A sudden lightening made him to get up from his chair and look outside. Now, he saw the body of the woman swinging from the branch of the huge tree.

“This can’t be happening. it’s just my silly imagination.” He thought.

He wanted to confirm that it was just his imagination. So, he walked towards the huge tree with umbrella and torch in his hands.

Next morning, when Ram Lal knocked on his door, he was surprised to see it open. He came in calling his name, but didn’t find him inside.

The breeze was blowing through the open window.

“I told him not to open the window! I told him…” Ram Lal murmured, closing the window. He took the papers on which he had scribbled something. Ram Lal didn’t go to school during his childhood days, so he didn’t know how to read and write.

He came downstairs and handed those sheets of papers to the front desk manager, Rajeev.

‘I think he wrote a long suicide note and vanished like others. I told him not to open the window….I told him…” Ram Lal said, and then went away visibly disturbed by what he had seen.

Rajeev went through the story which the writer had written. It had no title.

He took a pencil and wrote on the top of the first sheet.

The Last Story by Anonymous.