The Painting


A Short Story

Arun was looking for some nice painting which he could hang on his bedroom wall. He had visited many art shops, but couldn’t find a suitable one any where. He had told about this to his friends. 

One Sunday morning, Ritesh called him and told to visit an art gallery in the Church Street, where they sold good paintings at cheaper price. Actually, the paintings were cheaper because they sold the second hand paintings, people used to sell their old paintings at this particular shop. Also they used to exchange with some other paintings or art work as well.

Arun liked the idea and he reached the art shop, after having his break fast. He liked most of the paintings displayed in the shop. However, one painting held his attention for quite some time. He kept staring at it, when he heard someone from his back:

‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’

He turned back and found the shop owner standing behind him, with his hands on his trouser pockets, and a broad smile on his face.

‘Yes..’ Arun said.

‘Well, there is something about this painting which I need to mention,’

‘What is it?’

‘This one though beautiful has come back to this shop five times and you would be the sixth customer, if you decide to buy it,’

‘Oh, I see! May I know the reason for the same?’

‘Not sure! Maybe, it didn’t bring any good luck to previous owners?’

‘Anyways, I don’t believe in luck!’ Arun said, smiling at him, ‘I would like to take it, could you please arrange to pack it?’

‘Sure, with pleasure!’

Arun took home the painting and hung it to a nail that was waiting for this painting for quite some time. That night before going to sleep, he gazed at the painting, and the scene from this painting appeared in his dream. When he woke up, he remembered he dream. He ignored it, but the same dream repeated every night.

‘That’s strange!’ Arun thought to himself. One evening, he covered the painting with a white cloth, so that he doesn’t stare at it before going to sleep. That night though the dream repeated, he found himself being a part of the dream. He was lost in that place of the painting, and he was trying his best to escape from that place, but he didn’t know how to get away from it?

Next morning, his girl friend Ankitha started calling him, but she was getting the answer that ‘the customer you are trying to reach is out of the coverage area. Please try after sometime.’ So, she reached Arun’s place with Ranjith. They knocked on the door, but there was no response. Ranjith called up his office and they informed him that he hasn’t come in today so far.

‘I think something is wrong.’ Ranjith told him.

‘The door seems to be locked from inside. That means he should be inside!’ Akitha said, trying to peep through the key hole, ‘I see the key in the key hole! Find me some paper, please!’ She added.

‘Here you go!’ Ranjith said, returning with the newspaper.

‘This will do, thanks,’ She said, bending down, pushing it below the door gap. Then she removed the hair pin and gently pushed it through the key hole. The key fell down upon the newspaper; she gently pulled out the newspaper, and got the key.

‘Let’s hope he hasn’t bolted the door,’ Ankitha said, turning the key in the lock, and the door opened.

‘Arun!’ They both cried, stepping into the flat, but there was no response. They both searched every room in the flat and found him nowhere. Finally, they both reached his bedroom and he wasn’t there as well.

‘Strange? Is he abducted or something?’ Ranjith asked.

‘I don’t think so. The door is locked from inside and all windows are closed,’ Ankitha replied, starring at the white cloth over the painting on the wall. She dragged a stool and removed the cloth from the painting.

‘And why did he cover that painting?’ Ranjith asked.

‘No idea!’ Ankitha said, starring at that painting, ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’

‘Yes, it is!’ Ranjith replied.

Meantime, Ritesh called her mobile and she answered the call.

‘Did you find him?’

‘No, we didn’t! The door was locked from inside and there is no way he could have gone out as all the windows and even the back door is locked!’ Ankitha replied.

‘That’s strange!’ Ritesh said.

‘Yes, maybe we need Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery! I will speak to you later,’

‘Sure…let me know if you get some clue?’

‘I’ll do that!’ Ankitha said, hanging up, ‘I think I’ll take home this painting,’ She added.

‘Okay!’ Ranjith said.

They both searched for him in all know places, but couldn’t find him. They advertised about him with his picture in the ‘Missing’ column of the newspaper, and also informed about it to the police. Meanwhile, Ankitha hung the painting in her room. She too started getting the same dream every night.

‘Ranjith, I am getting a strange dream every night and it is the scene from the painting!’ She told Ranjith.

‘Let me take home and see!’ Ranjith replied.

‘Sure, be careful with it! Something seems strange about it!’

‘We will get to know it soon!’

Some days went by, Ranjith went missing one morning. The last thing his mother remembered was he going to his room and sleep. Ankitha told everything to Ritesh.

‘Maybe this painting is cursed in someway?’ Ankitha concluded.

‘Could be? Let us return it back to the painting shop before anyone else gets disappeared!’ Ritesh said.

‘That’s a good idea! But how do we bring back Arun and Ranjith?’

‘We need to wait and see!’ Ritesh said.

They both packed the painting with an old newspaper and took it to the painting shop. However, to their surprise they found that the art shop was gone and in its place a fancy shop had come up.

‘Any idea where the art shop got shifted to?’ Ankitha asked the new shop owner.

‘I think the shop owner shifted the items to some godown somewhere, as he was traveling out of the country!’ He replied, ‘Why? What’s up?’

‘Well, we wanted to return this painting to him.’ Ritesh said.

‘Let me have a look at it!’

‘It’s…’ Ranjith wanted to say something, but Anitha interrupted him, ‘Sure, you can have a look at it!’ She removed the newspaper cover and showed him the painting. The shop owner was wonder struck seeing the beautiful painting.

‘And may I know what price are you looking for? Would One thousand rupees do?’

‘I think that is too less.’ Ankitha said

‘How about Two thousand?’

‘No.’

‘Three?’

‘No.’

‘Five thousand and that is the maximum I could give for it!’

‘Okaaay! You can have it!’ Ankitha said, letting go the hold on the painting. The shop owner paid her the money with a big smile on his face.

‘Where are you going to hang it?’ Ritesh asked him, with a worried look.

‘In my bedroom!’ He replied, still smiling.

They both left the place.

‘We shouldn’t have sold him the painting! What if something happens to him?’ Ritesh asked her.

‘That’s not our problem. We had to get rid of the painting and we did it! Also we got the price for it! And that is the end of the story.’ Ankitha said, smiling at him.

Couple of days later, Arun and Ritesh were back from nowhere. All they remembered was the strange place where they both were lost and that place resembled the scene from the painting.

‘Where did the painting go?’ Arun asked, starring at the blank wall.

‘We sold it to a fancy store owner!’ Ankitha said.

‘Oh! My God!’ Ranjith said, reading the newspaper.

‘What?’ They all asked together looking at him.

‘The fancy shop owner to whom that painting had been sold has gone missing mysteriously sometime last night!’ Ranjith said, looking at them with a puzzled expression on his face.

 The End

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The Pink Planet

A Short Story 

“We’re approaching planet Pluto.” said the astronaut, Jack Collins.

“Good.” said Angelina Fox

“It looks beautiful from here! ” exclaimed Edward Stallone.

Suddenly, something hit their rocket and it lost it’s balance and started spinning off, very fast and headed in different direction all together.

“What was that?” asked Angelina.

“Maybe a meteorite?” said Edward. ” and where are we now?”

“No idea. Pluto is out of sight!” said Jack.

“What’s that ?” asked Angelina, pointing her finger.

“Maybe another planet?” said Jack.

“The tenth planet? I thought we only have nine planets?” said Edward.

“Even I thought so.” said Jack.

“Let’s check it out!” said Angelina.

***

The rocket landed on the strange planet and they came out of the rocket, and started walking on the ground. They saw plants and trees. But everything was pink in colour. The branches were swaying. It meant that there was oxygen.

“I think this planet has oxygen.” said Edward, removing his helmet.

They too removed their helmets. They walked towards a tree. Jack plucked a fruit from that tree and gave it to Angelina. She had a bite of it. Then :-

“How does it taste like~?”

“Fine. I haven’t tasted anything like this before in my whole life! ” She said, having another bite.

They too plucked and started eating it. They ate more, as they hadn’t tasted anything like that in their lives before. Suddenly, wrinkles appeared on their faces and their hands, and they started growing old. Their hair turned white from black and brown…

“What’s happening to us ~?” asked Jack.

“I think we’re growing old all of a sudden!” said Edward.

“At this rate we will die any moment from now.” said Angelina.

Soon, they fell down on the ground, losing their strength. Some pink coloured people appeared, held them and made them to eat another kind of fruit similar to what they had eaten sometime back and they came back to normal.

“S’ti dlo nam truif !” said one of them, pointing his finger to the tree, from which they had plucked those fruits and ate them before they could come.

“I don’t understand what you are saying ~?” said Jack.

“S’ti dlo nam truif !” He repeated again.

“That should be their language.” said Edward.

“Tahw truif si siht ?” asked Angelina.

“Gnouy nam truif!” He replied, smiling at her.

“What did you say ~?” asked Jack, looking at her stunned. “Have you been to this planet before by any chance ?”

“I asked him, what fruit is it?” she said.

“And what did he say ?” asked Edward.

“Young man fruit!” she said.

“When did you learn their language ?” asked Jack.

“Don’t you get it ? It’s our English in the reverse order !” she explained.

She asked them how the fruit worked ? They told her if they ate one old man fruit, then they will start growing old slowly. In case they ate more, like they did then they will grow old that much faster. Then they need to eat the young man’s fruit within one hour of eating old man’s fruits to grow young again. If not, they will die and go to “Toshg Danl” [ Ghost Land ], where such spirits live. They looked curiously at Angelina.

“Yhw t’nod uoy evah nemow ni rouy tenalp ?” asked Angelina.

“On!” one of them replied.

“This is irritating ! Doesn’t someone on your planet speak English?” cried Jack. “Doesn’t anyone know English?”

“I can!” replied a pink person, stepping forward. “We don’t have any females in our planet. It’s the young man’s fruit that has kept us alive for generations together. Only stupid and crazy people have reached the ghost’s land.”

“Then who does the cooking ~?” asked Angelina.” Don’t you reproduce ~?”

“We eat the fruits in the trees. That’s our food. So we don’t have to cook anything. We can reproduce ourselves. All we have to do is just jump into the well on the top of the mountain. When we emerge out. Another copy of ourselves come out a second later.”

“How come you have young children ~?” asked Angelina.

“Simple, whosoever wants to relive his childhood has to eat three young man’s fruits and they will reach their childhood. If they want to reach back to normal again then they will have to consume three old man’s fruits. That’s it!” He explained.

“They shouldn’t forget to have one young man’s fruit after munching three old man’s fruit, right?” asked Edward.

“Yes, you got it!” said the Pink person, who could speak English.

“Do you have any currency ~ ?” asked Jack.

“No currency!” He said.

“Any religions, caste, culture ~?” asked Angelina.

“No..nothing !” He said.

“Do you believe in God ?” asked Edward.

“Who is God ~ ?” He asked.

“The person who created you…who created us !” said Angelina.

“No one created us !” He said. ” No one created you for that matter !”

“Then don’t you pray ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Yes, we pray to the sun, without whose light our plants and trees would have died and so would have we.” He said.

“Don’t you get sick ? illness ?” asked Jack.

“Yes sometimes we do fall sick. Then we turn dark pink in colour. When we take the medicine plant juice, we get to normal again.” he said.

“Can you show us the plant ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Sure, here it is!” He said, pointing his finger at a small plant.

“Jack, why don’t you try it ~ ? You’ve asthma. Let’s see if it could cure it.” said Edward.

“Fine.” He said, plucking and eating the leaves of that plant. Soon he started feeling better.

“How do you feel ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Fine. It seems to have started working already.” He replied.

“Can it cure any disease ~?” asked Edward.

“Yes, almost anything !” said the Pink person. ” You will become healthy and normal again.”

“Then we should take a few plants to planet earth too.” said Angelina.” Can we ?”

“Sure, you can!” he said.

“Do you work like us ~ ? what do you do ~ ?” she asked.

“Yes, we do work. Our people had travelled to other universes too. Surprisingly, we came to know that there is life on other planets of other universes too. The only thing is that life has different forms, shapes and sizes.” He replied.

“Really? Amazing! Have you visited our planet ‘Earth’ ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“They did try to visit ‘Earth’ a couple of times, but there was big war going on during that time. So they had turned back.”

“You maybe referring to World War -I and II.” said Edward.

“Yes.”

“Would you like to visit ‘Earth’ with us this time ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Sure, I would love too.” He said.

“I don’t see any birds or animals on this planet ~ ?” asked Jack, turning and looking around.

“Well, there are. But few in number. Many had consumed the old man’s fruit and had died.” He explained.

“While only a few survived !”

They enjoyed their stay on the ‘Pink Planet’. When the time came for them to say farewell, they took some medicine plants and left to planet ‘Earth’, along with ‘Yoga’, the pink man, who can speak ‘English’. The aircraft left the ‘Pink Planet’ and finally reached planet ‘Earth’. When they landed on ‘Earth’ ; they saw no sign of human life on earth..

“What could’ve happened ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“Maybe, the big meteoroids should’ve hit while we were away, similar to those which wiped out the ‘ Dino ‘ race on Earth long time back.” explained Edward, pointing his finger to the spot, which had become hollow, clearly showing that something had hit that spot.

“I lost my family and fellow beings on Earth !” cried Jack, with tears in his eyes, down on his knees. They both consoled him.

A squirrel hopped towards them. Angelina picked him up in her palm. A parrot flew down and landed and Jack’s head and they broke into laughter seeing this. Then a dog woofed and ran towards them. Similarly a kitten, followed by a chicken.

“I think you should come and live on our planet.” said Yoga, the pink man.

“What about Earth ~ ?” asked Angelina.

“I’m sorry to say this in the next few days to come, many more meteoroids would strike planet earth and whatever life is remaining on Earth will be wiped off forever ! Even the sea and ocean water will get intoxicated killing the sea creatures. Oxygen will vanish later from earth. Then Earth will resemble the other planets in this universe, with traces of past life.” Yoga said.

“Really sad.” said Jack.

They flew back to the Pink planet.

“We can drop this chicken into the well whenever we want to have N.V. But only one of us can marry Angelina.” said Edward.

“Which one let her decide.” said Jack.

“I’ve an idea!” Angelina said. “Follow me !”

They climbed the mountain and reached the well. She plunged into the well with the chicken in her hand. She came out wet with the chicken in her hand. A second later, another copy of Angelina came out, with another chicken in her hand.

“Who am I~ ?” she asked.

“You’re my sister ‘Anitha'” said Angelina.

“Really ? I love you, sister.” She said, hugging her.

“He is Jack, you would be husband.” Said Angelina, introducing him to her.

“Really ? Will you marry me, Jack ?” she asked, looking at him.

“Sure.” He said.

The End

One Man’s Dream

A Short Story 

‘Son, what would you like to do with your life, now that you have completed your studies?’ Aryan’s father asked him.

‘Dad, I don’t want to do the usual 9 to 5 job like everyone else.’ Aryan said, seated opposite to his father in the living room, the old ceiling fan was whirling above them making more noise than giving air in the hot summer afternoon.

‘Then what would you like to do?’ His father asked him, lowering the daily newspaper which he had been reading, and glancing at his son rather annoyed.

‘I would like to do something different from others,’ Aryan replied.

‘And may I know what this something different is?’

‘Well, something that will make me feel happy doing it.’

‘Do you mean to say that what others do for their living isn’t making them feel happy doing it?’ His father asked, with a frown on his face.

‘I guess not! Most of them do it for their living rather than enjoying what they really do and what they really want to do is just a dream to them, which will remain a dream rather than becoming a reality.’

‘And you’re going to live your dream then?’

‘Yes, I’m!’

‘Son, whatever you would like to do it, do it! I’m giving you two months time to get towards your so called dream job. If you’re not able to achieve it then you will have to do what everyone else is doing in their lives…I mean the so called 9 to 5 job.’ His father said, before taking up his daily newspaper, and covering his face with it.

‘Thanks, dad,’ Aryan said, getting up and leaving.

***

Before the two months could end, Aryan placed before his dad, the offer letter from a famous travel channel which had global reach. His job involved traveling around the world; meeting people of different walks of life, knowing their culture and tradition, visiting the unknown places which had the potential to become famous tourist attractions in the days to come, etc. His program would be telecasted on their TV channel around the world everyday.

His father pulled out the offer letter from the envelope and went through it.

‘What do you think, dad?’ Aryan asked, leaning forward curiously.

‘Is this your dream?’ His father asked him.

‘Yes, dad! I would like to travel around the world, see places and meet people, know about their cultures, take pictures, and stuff like that…I would be actually living my dream rather than just making my living…’ Aryan said, smiling with excitement in his eyes.

‘But, son, we would miss you as you would be staying so far away from us…’ Aryan’s mother said, feeling sad hearing all this.

‘Let him live his dream! You can see him online everyday through video chat and also see him every day on the TV show…’ His father said.

‘Don’t worry, Mama, I will speak to you every night…also send you postcards from those countries I would be visiting…’ Aryan said, looking at his mother.

‘Then when will you get married and allow us to play with our grand children?’ His mother asked him.

‘Mom, I am just starting my career…I would surely marry and settle down when I find a suitable girl for me…and you shall play with your grand children, don’t you worry…I just need some time…’ He said.

‘I’m happy for you, son. Go, live your dream!’ His father said.

‘But…’ His mother said.

‘It’s alright, Sumithra…’ Aryan’s father said, pressing his wife’s had gently with his.

‘Thanks, dad and mom’ Aryan said, smiling at them.

‘So when do you have to leave?’ His mother asked him.

‘I would be joining next month…meanwhile; I need to buy things I would need there…’ Aryan said.

***

Aryan’s mother purchased and gave him Sony DSC-HX300 : H series camera before his journey to the first country he was visiting.

‘Thanks a lot, mom! I would always treasure this camera and send you the pictures which I click from it!’ He said, kissing on her cheek.

‘And I would treasure those pictures which you are going to send me, my dear,’ His mother said, kissing on his cheek, ‘Hope I would see you in person soon..’ She added, hugging him and patting on his shoulder, before his departure in the International Airport.

‘I would miss you…hope this isn’t the last time I would be seeing you..’ She said, with a tear drops in her eyes.

‘No, mom, I would be coming back soon!’ Aryan said, hugging her again, ‘I promise you that!’

‘Hope so…son,’ She said, wiping her tears from her eyes.

***

Aryan travelled many countries along with the cameraman, Andhrew Hopkins. His travel episodes become famous day by day. His parents never missed any episode. Aryan posted post cards from various places to his mother as he had promised. Also shared the pictures he shot with the camera she had bought for him.

In Nigeria, during the TV show, he met an old man with whom he became friends and started calling him ‘Granpa’ as he was that age. The old man’s name was Kele and his only son had abandoned him after marrying a girl of a foreign country.

‘Now, I have no one…Aryan,’ Kele said, with moist eyes, ‘I am waiting for death as I have no purpose to live anymore…my dear wife would be waiting for me eagerly in heaven…I should go soon..’

‘No, Granpa,’ Aryan said, being moved by his story, ‘I never knew how my grandparents were as they passed away by the time I was born…I would like to adopt you as my grand father, if you permit me to.’

‘You want to adopt me as your grandfather?’ Kele said, surprised.

‘Yes, I would like to! Would you be my grandpa and come with me?’ Aryan asked.

‘Yes! Yes! I would like too…I am very happy to have you as my grandson, Aryan,’ Kele said, smiling at last.

So, Aryan adopted Kele as his grandpa and legally signed the adoption papers. They both traveled together to other countries. Kele found a new purpose to live his life. He called up his biological son and told him the news.

‘Really, papa?’ His son asked him on phone.

‘Yes, Babatunde!’ Kele said, smiling, ‘You heard it right! Switch on the TV channel ‘Travel Now!’ and you’ll see my grandson, Aryan….goodbye!’ He said, before hanging the phone down.

‘I can’t believe this!’ Babatunde cried, switching on the TV and browsing for the channel his father had told him.

‘What you can’t believe, Babatunde?’ asked his wife, Maria.

‘Someone has adopted my old father!’ Babatunde said, reaching the ‘Travel Now!’ channel, in which Aryan’s program was coming at that time.

‘Who adopted him?’ She asked.

‘Him!’ Babatunde said, pointing his finger at the Aryan on the TV screen.

Maria glared at the television screen and screamed,

‘Look! Your father is with him too!’ She cried, pointing her finger at the old man Kele with Aryan with Pyramids of Eqypt in the background.

‘Yes, I’m not blind! I can see too!’ Babatunde cried back, ‘That old man wanted to visit the God dame Pyramids some day and this fellow has taken him there!’

‘Be happy, papa…’ Babatunde murmured, as a tear drop fell from his left eye, ‘I’m sorry that I couldn’t be a good son to you!’

***

Then Aryan went to France with Kele and his TV cameraman Andhrew Hopkins. There he adopted a boy of eight years named Leon. Leon was an orphan boy, whose parents were killed in a car accident after his birth. Kele and Leon became good friends soon.

‘I have two grandsons now!’ Kele said in joy.

‘What shall I call you?’ Leon asked Aryan.

‘You can call him Papa.’ Kele said.

‘Ok then. Papa where is Mama?’ Leon asked him.

‘We shall find her too soon.’ Aryan said, smiling at them.

Aryan introduced Kele and Leon to his parents on video chat the next day.

‘Nice to meet you Kele and Leon.’ Aryan’s father said, smiling, ‘Wish to see you both in person soon.’

‘Aryan, don’t marry a foreign girl over there. You should come and marry our Indian girl only!’ His mother said, rather sternly.

‘Sure, Mama, anyways, I haven’t found any interesting girl over here!’ He said, smiling at her.

***

The next country they all visited was Spain. They reached the beautiful island called Lanzarote. There Aryan met a beautiful young girl named Alba and fell in love with her. It was love at first sight.

‘Holla! I’m Aryan. I am new to this place. Could you please guide me towards Papagayo beach?’’ He asked her.

‘Holla! I’m Alba. Nice to meet you. Actually, I’m going to the Papagayo beach…you gentlemen can come along with me..’ Alba said, smiling at him.

‘Garcia’s, Alba. It’s very nice meeting you too!’ Aryan said, smiling back at her, and then following her along with Andhrew.

‘Garcia’s, once again, Alba!’ Aryan said, after reaching the beach, ‘It would really nice if you could join us for a drink.’ Aryan said, thanking her and inviting her for a drink.

Alba joined them both for a drink. They all drank Cola.

‘By the way, what is the meaning of your name?’ He asked her.

‘Alba means ‘Dawn’ in Italian as well as Spanish, you see.’ She said, smiling at him, ‘And what is the meaning of your name?’

‘Aryan means ‘Noble’ in Sanskrit!’ Aryan replied, smiling at her.

‘You’re indeed a noble gentleman!’ Alba said, still smiling, while sipping her cola.

Soon, they both fell in love with each other. He proposed to her and she accepted. He told her about Kele and Leon, and introduced them to each other.

‘Aryan, I never thought a person like you could even exist! I am proud to have you as my life partner!’ Alba told him, looking into his eyes, in love.

‘Thank You, Alba.’ Aryan said, smiling at her.

That Sunday Aryan married Alba in a church in presence of Kele, Leon and Andhrew as witness. Alba’s parents were pleased to see their daughter happy with Aryan.

Finally, they all came to India. Aryan introduced them to his parents. Finally, he introduced Alba to his parents. Initially, his mother was reluctant in showing her feelings to Alba. But when Alba said, ‘Namaste, Maaji!’ and fell to her feet to take her blessings, she was touched. Also Alba started speaking to her in Hindi. They bonded with each other like long lost mother and her daughter.

‘Alba, by the way, when did you learn Hindi?’ Aryan asked her, surprised.

‘Well, I had asked you about your mother tongue, when we had met the second time, remember? You told me that you speak Hindi at home. So, when you proposed to me and I accepted. Then I realised that I need to learn it so that I could speak to your family members when I arrive in India!’ She said, with a chuckle.

‘Smart woman!’ Aryan said, smiling at her.

‘Thank You, Aryan.’ She said, still smiling.

‘So, you’ve lived your dream son?’ His father asked him.

‘Yes, dad! Now, I would like to do something staying in my country. I feel I have travelled enough now. Also I have a big family to take care of me now.’ He said.

‘Yes, son, I can spend time with Kele and Leon..’ His father said.

‘Mama, what do you think about your daughter-in-law? I thought you wanted Indian girl…’ Aryan asked his mother teasingly.

‘No, Alba is like my daughter,’ His mother said, ‘I’m fine with her, son.’

When they reached home, his father took him to his room. When he opened the door, he was surprised to see all the pictures which he had sent had been cleanly pasted sequentially to the wall as if a long wallpaper.

‘Wow! That’s amazing!’ Aryan cried, surprised.

‘Your mother did it, son!’ Aryan’s father said proudly.

The Missing Story – Last part

The Missing Story
Part Two
A Short Story 

I am not sure what happened to Varun and Aman after that? I tried calling on their mobiles and haven’t been able to reach them. They haven’t returned back after that night. Now, I would be going in search of them to the deserted bungalow to find out for myself. And I am not sure what would happen to me? I have written so many stories, which includes horror stories as well. Now, I am going to be part of the story which I have written for the first time in my life…that is the reason I had warned you before reading this story…There is a cursed legend about ‘Purani Haveli’ that whosoever gets curious to know about it becomes part of its story. Many people have gone missing so far which includes my best friends, Aman and Varun as well.

The legend of ‘Purani Haveli’ goes back to the era of the British rule in our country. It is said that mayor stayed in this haveli with his family. It is also said that the mayor had a beautiful and young daughter in her twenties named ‘Rachel’. There was a village that was on one side of the stream and on the other side was a village. Rachel used to sit under the banyan tree near by the running stream, and compose poems.

During one such days, a village lad had seen her and was mesmerized by her sheer beauty. He tried to propose his love to her, which she declined. Enraged by her rejection, he abducted her with the help of his friends. The mayor who came to know this torched up the entire village in fury. The villagers attacked the haveli and burnt it down along with its inhabitants, by locking it from outside. Rachel some how managed to escape from her abductors who had taken her to the nearby forest.

She was heart broken and devastated seeing that her entire family was burnt down. So she hanged herself to one of the branches of the banyan tree, under which she used to write her lovely poems. It is also said that the village lad who had abducted her and his friends died under mysterious circumstances in following weeks.

It seems Rachel had her revenge. Also the village was cursed, as people started dying of an epidemic that started and devastated the entire village. The village that had once witnessed prosperity was soon in ruins and became a ghostly village with no survivors.

It is also said that during full moon nights one can see Rachel seated under that banyan tree, with a book on her lap and a pen in her hand, still writing her unfinished book of poems…that brings to an end to the cursed legend of the Purani Haveli…

‘So, there ends the so called “Don’t read this story!” Moksha concluded.

‘That was really good one…but is it true?’ asked Gokul

‘Yes, whatever was mentioned about the so called ‘Purani Haveli’s legend is true…also the road that goes through the middle of the jungle has witnessed many accidents. It is also said that those who were killed in such road accidents have turned in ghosts and haunt this road during nights. So, people travel less especially during evenings and nights in this haunted road,’ Anuj said, browsing in his mobile, ‘Now, comes the question what happened to our writer and his friends?’

‘The only way to find that out is if are able to locate his address…’ Moksha said.

‘And I just got his address too!’ Anuj said.

‘Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go and check it out!’ Sahana cried, excited.

They all went to Vishal Varma’s place in Anuj’s Mahendra XUV 500. Vishal’s servant told them the shocking truth which they seemed to know already:

‘Vishal sahib went in search of his friends after the book got published and hasn’t returned back since then,’ Vishal’s servant Manoj said, with sadness filled in his face.

‘And when did that happen? I mean when did he go looking for them?’ Sahana asked.

‘Sahib went two weeks back on Sunday afternoon,’

‘Did you try calling his mobile number?’ asked Gokul

‘Yes, I did!’ He replied, ‘I was getting the message that the number you are trying to call is either out of coverage area or switched off.’

‘Thank you for the information, Manoj,’ Tarika said.

‘Are you guys going in search of him? Please try to find him and bring him back. We would always be grateful to you, if you could please do that,’ He said, folding his hands in respect, with tears overflowing from his eyes.

‘We are not sure whether we could do that?’ Anuj said, ‘Have you registered missing case with the police?’

‘Yes, but there is no response from them so far..’

‘Okay, then, take care. We will get back to you, if we get to know anything about Vishal,’ Gokul said.

‘Thanks a lot, Shahib,’ Manoj said, folding his hands once again.

They all go back into the XUV and Anuj started driving back towards home.

‘I really felt sad seeing Manoj…’ Anuj started.

‘Me too!’ Sahana said.

‘We should do something…’ Moksha said.

‘What can we possibly do? Go looking for him in the jungle, is it?’ asked Tarika.

‘Maybe, we could do that?’ Sahana said.

‘Yes, I think we should go there and find out for ourselves!’ Gokul said.

‘You mean we should go to that Purani Haveli, is it?’ asked Tarika, ‘I’m too scared about these ghosts and things like that!’

‘Yes, let’s go!’ Sahana said.

Everyone agreed to go except Tarika. Finally, Anuj drove towards the road that took them deep into the jungle. Everything was silent and it was a full moon night as well. They only heard the sound of the crickets occasionally. Everyone remained silent and they could hear their own heart beats in that eerie silence.

‘There!’ Gokul cried, point his finger ahead of the car, at some distance, they saw a lady dressed in white sari standing at some distance with a lantern in her hand.

‘I see her too!’ Anuj said.

‘Oh My God! Is she some ghost or something?’ Tarika cried, with her heart beating fast in fear.

‘Could be!’ Sahana said, holding Tarika’s hand tightly.

As the car started nearing her, she started walking towards the middle of the road.

‘What the hell is she doing?’ Anuj cried, slamming his accelerator.

‘Avoid her! You could kill her if she is still alive!’ Gokul cried, holding the steering and pulling it to his side.

The car missed the mysterious woman in white sari by few inches and went ahead.

Everyone looked back and saw her turning and looking towards them, most of her face was covered in her veil.

The car was moving ahead leaving her far behind them. After they covered distance, they found her once again standing in the middle of the road, ahead of them.

‘She is surely a ghost!’ Gokul said.

‘Yeah, you’re right!’ Moksha said.

‘What do we do now?’ Sahana asked.

‘Just avoid here!’ Tarika said.

The wind pulled her veil off; they were shocked to see a skeleton in place of her face. The skeleton had two scary eyes in the sockets. Then flesh started appearing on the skeleton and soon there was a face.

Anuj started doing dim dip headlights. However, she stood there.

Anuj pressed his feet on the accelerator once again and the car rushed towards her. Suddenly, he missed her by some inches. Finally, they reached the peepul tree and he took the turn into the muddy road. They reached the dead end of that road, found a narrow path that lead them into the jungle. They all stepped out of the car with their torch lights on and guiding them ahead.

They saw a car which was out of shape and it had hit a huge tree that was in the middle of the path and another car was parked in

some distance behind it. They found both the cars empty..

‘That should be Aman and Varun’s car!’ Moksha said, pointing at the first car.

‘Yes! I see those creepy words ‘You’ll die!’ on the rear glass of the car.’ Sahana said.

‘The other car should be Vishal’s!’ Gokul said.

They started walking in the narrow path. It was a full moon night and they heard the cry of the jackals at some distance which was followed by the hooting of the some owl. After walking some distance, they could see the deserted bungalow at some distance. They could see it clearly with the moonlight.

‘Where are you guys and gals going in the middle of the night?’ asked someone, from their behind.

They all turned and found a guy standing behind them at some distance.

‘Vishal?’ Tarika and Sahana cried together.

‘Yes, it’s me!’ he replied, walking forward towards them, ‘It seems like you have read that missing story..’ he added.

‘Yes, we did!’ Moksha said.

‘Alright, follow me…in silence..’ Vishal said, leading them behind the deserted bungalow. He stopped at some distance and pointed his finger at a banyan tree beside a running stream, under the tree sat a beautiful girl writing something in her dairy.

‘There she is…my love…’ He said.

‘But she is..is long dead…’ Gokul said.

‘I know…I know..’ Vishal said, ‘But love is something that never dies…’

‘We have come to take you with us..’ Tarika said, ‘Your servant misses you..’

‘Is it? That poor guy! He took good care of me since my childhood days..’

‘Where are your friends, Vishal?’ asked Anuj.

‘They are dead! And I buried them behind the bungalow!’ Vishal said.

‘Dead? Were they both killed in the accident?’ Sahana asked.

‘Seems to be…I found them dead in their car when I arrived here.’ He replied.

‘I think we should leave now. Come with us, Vishal!’ Gokul said.

‘No…I belong here now. She is waiting for me…You people leave now. Do you have that book?’ Vishal asked them.

‘Yes, It is with me!’ Sahana said, taking it and giving it to him.

He went to the end of the book then, ripped some pages which contained the story “Don’t read this story!” and he gave her back the book.

‘Do one of you have a lighter?’ he asked looking at Anuj and Gokul.

‘Here you go!’ Anuj gave it to him.

Vishal lit those papers with the fire, allowed it to burn and then let it go.

‘I think that should be the last copy of the book having this story and it ends here.’ Vishal said, handing back the lighter, ‘Now, you guys leave, good bye!’ He said.

‘But…’ Gokul said.

Vishal was gone as if he had vanished into the thin air like in magic. Then they all found him seated beside her and she was resting her head on his lap. Both of them seemed to be deep love that transcends generations. 

They all returned back early next day morning.

The Missing Story – First part

The Missing Story
Part One
A Short Story

It was Saturday evening 7.15 PM at Café Coffee Day. Five mugs of hot coffee were kept on the table.

‘How are the stories?’ Moksha asked leafing through the pages of the book. It was an anthology of horror stories by Vishal Varma. Moksha was seated along with her friends: Sahana, Tarika, Anuj and Gokul .

‘They are creepy and manage to give readers chills!’ Tarika replied, ‘The last story is missing from the books,’

‘Missing?’ asked Sahana

‘Yes, someone seems to have deliberately ripped it off from the book,’ Tarika replied

‘What’s the title of the missing story?’ asked Gokul

‘Don’t read the story!’ Tarika replied

‘That’s a strange title for a story,’ Anuj said

‘You bought the book from Sunday book bazaar, right? Let’s go tomorrow morning and see if we can find another copy of this book which might have this story.’ Moksha said

***

Next morning, all the five friends went to the Sunday book bazaar, started looking for this particular book. They did find many copies of the book. However, the last story was missing from most of these copies. Finally, Gokul found a copy in which the story was still there! They all headed to Anuj’s place, seated on his bed Moksha took the book to read the story aloud:

‘The story title has a warning!’ Moksha said

‘And what does the warning say?’ Sahana asked

‘It says, ‘Don’t read the story for you may end up becoming part of this story!’’

‘Really?’ Gokul asked.

‘So, what do you guys want me to do? Shall I proceed?’ Moksha asked

‘Yes, please go ahead..’ Anuj said

‘Alright, here I go…’ Moksha said, looking at all of them one by one. They all sat looking at her, giving her complete attention.

‘I am Vishal Varma, a writer and by the time I was completing this collection of short stories, my friend Varun had an argument with my other friend Aman. The thing was that Varun believed in the existence of ghosts, whereas Aman didn’t! He wanted to see them with his own eyes to believe it.

‘Ghosts are some writer’s imagination,’ Aman said, ‘They exist only in movies and story books.’

‘They’re real and I can as well show them to you!’ Varun said

‘Well, there is an old deserted bungalow in the jungle which is most haunted place in this city! Many people who have traveled by this road which passes through the jungle have reported to have witnessed ghosts…some who have dared to visit this deserted bungalow haven’t returned so far..if you are ready then we visit this bungalow sometime..’ Varun added

‘Why not we leave tonight? I have nothing to do tomorrow as it is Sunday.’ Aman said, ‘Vishal, you’re coming too right?’

‘No, I have some work to do…you guys carry on! You can call me and let me know,’ I said, ‘Isn’t it the same road where many accidents have taken place and people have died?’

‘Yes, it’s the same!’ Aman said

‘Then isn’t it risky to go there?’ I asked.

‘Well, I think the risk would be worth it!’ Varun said, smiling at his friends.

So, that night Varun and Aman left the city and reached the road that lead into the dense jungle. The road was lit by moon light, it was silent but for the sound made by crickets in the nearby bushes.

‘Do you have the direction to this so called haunted bungalow?’ asked Aman

‘Well, we need to take a right turn into a small road immediately after a peepal tree…we need to drive till the dead of that muddy road. Then walk about some distance to find the bungalow.’
Varun replied

‘Sounds interesting! Let’s find the peepal tree first then.’

It was the lonely car traveling in the isolated road that passed through the middle of the jungle. The moonlight lit up the up the eerie path, and they heard occasional hooting of owl, which was followed by sound of crickets. Varun started playing haunted music on the deck. Aman switched it off.

‘Are you scared, Aman?’ Varun asked, teasing him, turning and looking him.

‘Watch out!’ Aman cried, holding the steering and turning to his side. Suddenly, the car went sideways missing someone walking in the middle of the road.

‘Who the hell..?’ Varun asked, looking at the side mirror of his car, and he found a headless figure of a man walking in the middle of the road behind them. He applied sudden brakes and the car came to a halt in the middle of the road.

‘What the hell are you doing?’ Aman asked, rather shocked, as he watched the headless figure approaching nearer to their car.

‘Just wait and see!’ Varun said, smiling.

The ghostly headless figure reached their car, started shaking the car violently for few seconds and then disappeared. Then turned and saw the figure walking in front of the car. Varun slammed his feet on the accelerator and went ahead trying to hit the figure with the car, but the car passed through the figure which seemed to be transparent, leaving it behind.

‘Are you crazy?’ Aman cried, annoyed.

‘Yes, I’m!’ Varun cried, smiling wickedly.

‘Let’s go back home now! We have seen enough!’ Aman said, wiping the sweat on his face with the handkerchief.

‘The fun has just begun and we still have to visit the deserted bungalow..’ Varun said.

Soon, they both reached the peepal tree and Varun took a left turn immediately and he was about to hit someone, who was in the middle of the road. He applied sudden brakes, and in the headlights of the car, appeared from the dust, a sadu who glared at them rather annoyed.

‘What the hell…?’ Aman cried.

He started saying something which was inaudible in the engine noise.

‘What is he saying?’ Varun asked.

‘Go back! Go back! Go back from wherever you came from! This is not a safe place for you guys!’ The Sadhu cried at the top of his voice.

‘But we have come to see the deserted building..’ Varun replied.


For which the Sadhu just glared at him, still annoyed, then he walked away and only dust remained.

‘Where the hell did he go?’ Varun asked , turning and looking around.

‘Don’t know? Shall we continue?’ Aman asked.

They heard the banging on the rear window of the car, they turned and saw just a head without a body, starring at them with a wicked smile on his face.

‘It should be the head of that headless body we had come across sometime back…’ Aman said

It started writing something with its tongue on the rear view mirror and it read –“You’ll die!” and it was followed by creepy laughter.

Varun slammed his feet on the accelerator and the car raced ahead in the dust… Aman called me and told me everything that had happened as promised.

‘Aman, you guys please turn back now..!’ I cried on the mobile, but the call got disconnected at that point.

To be continued….

The Saviour

A Short Story

The woman handed a hot cup of coffee to her husband with a smile on her face. Meantime, in a distant room of a tall building, a stranger loaded his long range gun and took his aim. The husband took the cup closer to his lip. The stranger moved his finger closer to the trigger, and as he had one sip of the coffee, he pulled the trigger of his gun. The bullet raced out of the gun, cracked through the window glass and pierced into his forehead. It was just a fraction of few seconds. She had turned to leave, when the cup of coffee slipped from his hands and crash landed on the floor. She just took a turn, in that very moment a bullet pierced into her heart. She collapsed on the floor.

Taking lives of his targets was the profession of this stranger. He had got this assignment from his boss. It was an honor killing. The couple had fallen in love with each other, though they belonged to different caste. They had eloped from their village knowing the fact that their elders wouldn’t spare their lives if they came across them anytime.

He scanned through the lens of his gun to see if he left any witness in that house. He was shocked to see a baby crying in the cradle in the next room. 

“Alas! What have I done?” He cried, letting his gun fall from his hands, which hit the floor.

He rushed to that building and saw the innocent face of the baby. The baby stopped crying seeing him. He slowly lifted the baby from the cradle and kissed on his forehead.

“I’m very sorry! I killed your parents!” He said. The baby just smiled at him, and held his finger. He walked away from the house with the baby in his arm. His mobile started ringing and he answered when it started ringing for the second time.

“How could you do this to me?” He cried 

“Do what? What are you talking about? Did you complete your job?” The voice asked him from the other end of the line.

“This!” He cried, taking the receiver of his mobile closer to the baby’s mouth.

 “I didn’t know that the couple had a baby!” He cried back.

“Don’t you dare to lie to me? You know very well that I don’t take the assignment of parents having children.”

“Why create a fuss on the split milk? Just put another bullet in the baby’s head and send it to its parents!”

“How about putting a bullet in your God dame head instead? I am leaving forever! Never try to contact me or track me down. If you do then you will meet your end! Good bye!” He said disconnecting the call. 

Later, in an isolated house in the out skirts of the city, the killer was seated on the sofa, and he was depressed. He couldn’t forgive himself for what he had done today. He knew well what loneliness meant in life, having no one to neither take care nor love. He had been through that in his life, and now he had just made this baby an orphan.

The moon was shinning in the sky. The moon light fell upon the cradle in which the baby was sleeping peacefully, unaware of the fact that his parents were killed by this killer.

He took the loaded gun and pressed it against his head and was about to press the trigger, closing his eyes. Suddenly, he heard the cry of the baby and opened his eyes. He walked towards the cradle. The baby stopped crying the moment he saw him. He kept his hand upon the baby, gently patted him. The baby smiled at him, closed his eyes again and went back to sleep.

“No, I can’t do this!” He said to himself, keeping his gun in the drawer of the table and closing it.

Some years passed by, when the boy who was named Aryan was eight years old, one day, he was down with high fever and cough. He called up a doctor.

The doctor answered the call after the third ring “Do you know what time is it? It is 2 am for God’s sake! Can’t it wait tomorrow morning?”

“No, doctor, someone wants to speak to you..” The voice said. Then the doctor heard a boy’s voice, which was his son’s voice.

“What do you want? I will pay you whatever money..” The doctor fumbled.

“I don’t want your God dame money, doctor. Just Hurry up with your medical bag to this address…” The voice said.

The doctor was wide awakened now. He took the scribbling pad and noted down the address. He rushed to that place in his car as fast as he could.

When he reached that place, he was escorted to the boy’s room.

“Where is my son?” He asked him.

“He is fine. First, you treat him!” He said.

The doctor checked the boy and gave him an injection.

“He should be fine by morning. Call me, if the fever doesn’t come down. Now, where is my boy?”

The door opened and his son of nine years walked in with handful of chocolates and a smile on his face.

“Dad, this uncle is so good. If at all I have to be kidnapped again then I want him to do it!” The kid said.

“You could have called me up without doing all this” The doctor said, holding his son’s hand and pulling him along.

“I am sure that you wouldn’t have come so fast if I hadn’t done this. I just wanted to show you that my son’s life is as important as your son’s life to you.”

“Thanks…you have opened my eyes. Good night!” He said, getting into his car with his son and driving away.

He went back to Aryan’s room, bent down and kissed on his forehead. When Aryan opened his eyes in the morning, he found him holding his finger and dozed off to sleep on the chair next to his bed.

“Dad, you didn’t sleep in your room?” He asked, waking in him up.

“Son, are you all right now? Has the fever come down?” He asked up, waking up.

“I’m feeling much better, dad. Thanks for being there for me.” He said hugging him. “I love you dad!”

“I love you too, son. You know, it feels so nice to have someone love and care for you. I had no one in this world until you came.” He said.

***

Twenty five years later. 

“Son, I would like to confess something to you. I am not your real father, and your parents were killed… by me twenty five years back. So I brought you up from then.” He said

“Killed them? Why did you do that?” Aryan, the young man asked shocked.

“Because, I was paid to eliminate them” He replied

“Eliminate them? Who paid you to kill parents? Why?” He asked still in shock.

“Your grand parents had made a contract with my boss to eliminate your parents to save their honor. Your parents belonged to different caste and married against their wishes.”

Aryan became depressed learning the truth about his parents. He was confused whether to hate or like the person who had brought him up in the place of his parents, even though he was responsible for his parents’ death. But then he was just an instrument or a weapon in the hands of people who wrote the fate of his parents.

Next day, he went to him and asked :-

“I want the details of my grand parents! Where do they live?”

“What would you do knowing that? Kill them? Would it bring back your dead parents to you?”

“Just give me their details!”

He gave him the details, and he reached his grand father’s house in the village.

“Are you Karam Chand?” Aryan asked the old man.

“Yes, what can I do for you, young man?” He asked.

“I want my parents back!” He cried, taking out the gun and pointing at him.

“What the hell are you talking about?” The old man cried getting up.

“You know what I am talking about!” He cried walking forward.

“So you are their weed!” He frowned and said “I thought you were plucked too!”

“It would have been nice if that had happened then you could have lived peacefully. Now prepare to die!” He said, aiming his gun at him. 

“Please don’t kill my husband!” An old lady rushed blocking the old man.

He aimed his gun at the big portrait of his grand father and fired all the bullets from his gun. They hugged each other in fear.

“I wanted to put all the bullets into your body for killing my parents. However, I couldn’t just do it. How could you kill your own son? Whom you had brought up? How could you…?” He cried.

“You will have to pay for this!” He said, before leaving.

***

Some days later, a stranger took his gun and aimed from a vacant under construction building.  His finger moved towards the trigger. A bullet hit his hand while he pressed the trigger of his gun. The bullet from his gun missed its target by a few inches and hit the book shelf, breaking the glass of the book shelf to pieces. Aryan was shocked to see what just happened.

He looked in all directions to see who had shot at him, but couldn’t find anyone. Just then his mobile started to ring.

“Who the hell is this?” He asked.

“Someone who just shot your hand. Remember, the next time you take your aim then I will have the bullet delivered to your head.” The voice from the other end replied.

“What do you want me to do?” He cried feeling scared.

“Just leave this place!” He said “And do tell your boss that if you try again then I will eliminate each one of you and put an end to this!” The line got disconnected.

Aryan’s mobile started ringing.

“I think by now you would have understood that you can’t kill the hatred from some people’s hearts. Your grand father had sent him to eliminate you” He heard the voice of the person who had brought him up.

“Yes, Thanks for saving me. However, don’t be under the impression that I have forgiven you.” Aryan said

“I know. I wouldn’t forgive myself, even if you had. Take care, son” and the line got disconnected.

 

Keep Moving Forward

A Short Story 

Prologue

Four kids each aged about eight years were seated on the lawn in the garden of the orphanage.

‘Did you hear this?’ Rajesh asked starting the conversation.

‘Heard, what?’ Varun asked.

‘Some childless couples are coming to see us tomorrow, and they may choose one of us…’ Rajesh replied.

‘Yes, he’s right!’ Rashmi said.

‘And we all shall be separated from each other…’ Varun said.

‘I agree, but think positively!’ Rashmi said, ‘each one of us shall be getting a family, and isn’t that we all have been longing for?’

‘Agreed, but still friends are also important in life, isn’t it?’ Varun said.

‘Well, we can’t have everything in life, can we?’Rashmi said looking at him, ‘Let’s hope that we all get loving and caring families…’

Rashmi took out four small slips of folded paper and handed it to each one of them. They unfolded them and it was written in bold letters…KEEP MOVING FORWARD

‘Keep moving forward? What’s this?’ Akshay asked with a puzzled look on his face.

‘It is a message for each one of us that we should keep moving forward in life no matter what happens!’ Rashmi said, smiling at them, ‘We may go far away from this place. We may not be able to keep in touch with each other, but we all shall meet on some future date…by the way, what date is today?’ She asked.

‘It’s 26th September!’ Varun said.

‘So let’s all meet in this same place twenty years later on the same date at say 5PM!’ Rashmi said.

‘Why twenty years later?’ Akshay said.

‘By that time we would have achieved something in our individual lives…Do you all agree for this?’ Rashmi asked, looking at them for an approval.

‘Yes, we agree!’ They all cried together.

Within next few days, all the four of them were adopted by childless couples from different places.

***

The ceiling fan noise woke Akshay up. He found that he was lying on the bed in the hospital. He was feeling a lot of pain in his left foot, which was bandaged. He recalled the horrible car accident which had happened the day before…in which both of his adopted parents were killed on the spot, which obviously meant that he would have to go back to the orphanage. He had left this place in search of a new home with lots of dreams for his future. Sadly, everything came down tumbling down like a house of playing cards.

He found the forearm elbow crutch at the side of his bed. Immediately, a scary thought crossed through his mind.

‘Is it a temporary or permanent disability?’

He wanted to know the answer for it badly. Then he remembered the voice which he had heard in his sleep sometime back.

‘So sad that he has to use the crutch for the rest of his life…is there no surgery to make him normal again?’ asked a familiar voice.

‘Sorry to tell you the answer is NO.’ said another voice.

He took out the slip of folded paper from his shirt pocket, and unfolded it.

KEEP MOVING FORWARD…was written on it.

He kept staring at it. Tears welled in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.

***

Nineteen years later:-

Varun sat outside the operation theatre, waiting anxiously for the doctor to come out and tell him the good news. He remembered the conversation he had with his wife Suchitra a few days back.

‘Do you have any names in your mind?’

‘If it is girl then let’s name her Meghna.’

‘What shall we name if it is a boy baby?’ She asked.

‘Then we shall name him Aryan.’

‘That’s a good name! So, let’s freeze both these names…’

‘I just hope everything goes fine this time…’ He said.

‘Yes, everything would be fine. Please don’t worry, dear.’ Suchitra said pressing his hand gently, reassuring him.

Varun glanced towards the operation theatre. He closed his eyes and prayed silently for the well being of the mother and the baby. Some minutes later, the doctor came out of the operation theatre…he didn’t have a smile on his face.

‘Doctor, is everything fine?’ Varun asked anxiously standing up from the chair.

‘I’m sorry, Varun,’ The doctor said, ‘you’re wife has once again given birth to a stillborn baby… it would be better you both go for adoption as trying to conceive again would be risky for her life…You can go and see your wife in sometime…’

Varun sat down back really depressed. He took out his wallet from his trouser pocket, picked out a small folded piece of paper from it, and unfolded it slowly. He kept staring at it.

KEEP MOVING FORWARD….was written on it.

A drop of tear escaped from corner of his eye and flowed down his cheek. He wiped it with his fingers and took a deep breath. This was the third time it was happening to them. He had hoped against hope that it would be alright at least this time…

‘I’m Sorry…Varun..’ Suchitra said, between sobs.

‘It’s not your fault, baby. Don’t worry…everything would be fine.’ Varun said, hugging her, and kissing on her forehead, ‘Remember that no matter what happens, I’m always by your side, my dear.’

***

‘Anusha, do you like my son Rajesh?’ Rajesh’s father asked the girl.

‘Yes…’ She said blushing and bowing her head down.

‘As they both like each other let’s….’Rajesh’s father said.

‘But before we go ahead further…please clarify one thing to me.’ Anusha’s father said, interrupting him.

‘What clarification?’ Rajesh’s father asked him.

‘Is he really your son?’

‘Yes, he is!’

‘What I mean to ask is he your biological son? I heard that he is your adopted son, isn’t it true?’

‘Yes…but we have brought him up like our own son.’

‘It doesn’t make any difference to me…I don’t like to give away my only daughter to an orphan!’ He said.

‘What?’

‘Did you call us to insult like this?’ Rajesh stood up annoyed.

‘Come on, son…let’s leave!’ Rajesh’s father said, standing up along with his wife.

Later, at home, Rajesh was lying depressed on his bed. He had some hope as Anusha loved him. Just then his mobile beeped with an incoming message and it read:

‘I can’t go against my parent’s wish. So, please try to forget me! Good bye!’ It was from her.

He tried to call and speak to her, but her mobile was switched off. He threw his mobile away…it went and hit the wall and the parts flew apart before touching the floor…

He had loved her so much. How could his heart forget her even if his mind wanted to?

He took out the slip of paper on which it was written KEEP MOVING FORWARD…and kept staring at it with teary eyes.

***

‘Where are mom and dad?’ Rashmi asked her elder brother, Rahul. She had been busy in her life following her career. Finally, she was able to get an offer to direct her first feature film. Her parents were staying with her brother, and she was visiting his place after quite some time.

‘They are fine in a place spending time with people of their age.’  Rahul replied.

‘Did you send them to some old age home, is it?’ She asked, rather shocked at his reply.

‘Yes….’ He replied.

‘Couldn’t you take care of them considering that they had brought you up?’ She asked him.

‘Bringing me up after giving birth to me was their responsibility, isn’t it? What’s the big deal in it? Any parents would do that to their children.’

‘Well, whatever you are today it is because of them. So, don’t you think that they need your support when they have grown old?’

‘Rashmi, why are arguing with me like this? You know well that I and my wife are both working and we are finding it hard to devote our time to our kid then how do you expect us to take care of them too? Also dad is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease from past few months and had even got lost once…we had a tough time tracing and bringing him back home…so I had taken this decision…they are taking good care of them over there…’

‘What? You never told me all this?’

‘Well, you were very busy directing and making your movie…why are making it such big thing? After all, you are only their adopted daughter…’

‘I may be their adopted daughter….but for me, they are my parents too. They brought me up just like they had brought you up. It is my duty to take care of them in their time of need. Please give me the address of this old age home…I will take care of them.’

He gave her the address and she started to leave.

‘Aren’t you staying with us for some time?’ He asked her.

‘Well, after all, I’m only your adopted sister…good bye, brother,’ she said before leaving, ‘Hope your son doesn’t repeat what you have done to our parents.’ She added, before closing the main door behind her, with a bang.

***

Varun and Suchitra went to the orphanage from where he was adopted may years back.

‘Well, this is where I grew up until I was eight years old,’ Varun told Suchitra, as they both walked inside the orphanage.

‘Then you were adopted by your parents, isn’t it?’ Suchitra asked him, smiling.

‘Yes! I’m so happy that I am doing this again..I mean adopting another kid myself…’ Varun said.

They went and met a young man of Varun’s age in the office room and told him that they both wanted to adopt a child. The young man gave Varun some forms to fill up.

‘Your face looks some what familiar to me…’ Varun said, ‘you remind me someone I knew in the past…’

‘You mean from this place?’ The young man asked.

‘Yes, aren’t you Akshay?’ Varun asked.

‘Yes, and you should be Varun. I’m really glad to meet you…’ Akshay said, standing up and hugging him.

They both told each other their life stories. While Suchitra went along with someone to see the kids. Finally, they both adopted a cute little girl named Sofia. Varun and Akshay exchanged their contact numbers to keep in touch.

***

A few months later, one day, Rashmi was searching for something in her hand bag, and she found the small slip of folded paper. She unfolded it…KEEP MOVING FORWARD was written on it. She had written it many years back. She remembered the past.

‘Mom, what date is today?’ Rashmi asked her mother.

‘It’s 26th September, why?’ Her mother replied.

‘Oh! God. I almost forgot it…I have to rush now…’ She said, having a glance at her wrist watch.

‘Where are you going?’ Her mother asked her.

‘I shall come back and tell you everything, mom.’ She said, leaving home in hurry.

Rashmi reached the orphanage…the building had become old now…it appeared the same like it was many years back. She walked in the garden, and sat on the bench under the tree…she remembered those days when she used to spend time with her best friends Varun, Rajesh and Akshay. Today she would be meeting them after a long time. Hope they remember it and turn up…she thought, holding the small slip of paper in her hand.

‘Keep moving forward!’ someone said behind her. She turned and found Varun standing there, with a smile on his face.

‘Varun!’ She cried, getting up and hugging him joy, ‘I’m so glad to see you again.’

‘Me too,’ Varun said, patting gently on her back, ‘I had seen your movie ‘The adopted daughter’ and liked it a lot! You have done a wonderful job as the director of the movie! Also I’m really very proud to tell everyone that my best friend had made this movie.  I was so much impressed by your movie that I even adopted a cute little girl named Sofia.’ He added.

‘Thank You, Varun.’ She said, ‘What about Rajesh and Akshay?’ She asked him.

‘Rajesh is on the way…Akshay had called him…’

‘Where is Akshay then?’

‘There he is!’ He replied, pointing his finger at him. He was walking towards them with his crutch. He explained to her about the fatal car accident which landed him back in the orphanage.

‘Didn’t anyone come to adopt you again after that?’ She asked, with a sigh.

‘Well, who would adopt a physically handicapped boy?’ He said, smiling at her, ‘I was destined to take in charge of this orphanage after sister Angela passed away…I am happy doing her work now…by the way, I had seen your movie and it was fantastic! I think people have started adopting after watching your movie. As a matter of fact one of the couple told me that your movie had inspired them to go for adoption.’

‘And that couple happen to be Varun and Suchitra, right?’  She said, smiling at him.

‘Yes!’ Akshya said.

‘Guys! Did you miss me?’ Rajesh cried, coming towards them, with a big smile on his face.

‘Yes, we did!’ She cried, smiling at him.

‘You know, Rashmi, your this slip of paper helped me to move on in life..’ Rajesh said, taking it and showing it to her.

‘Same with us too!’ Others replied.

‘I’m really glad to hear that!’ She said, smiling at them.

‘Did you know, a female director with your name has directed a superb movie recently…’

‘Is it?’ She asked, holding back her smile.

‘Well, She is that director, you moron!’ The other two cried.

‘Is it? Oh, wow! Congrats, Rashmi!’ He said.

‘Thank You.’ She said.

***

Epilogue

‘Madhavi, congratulations for your debut novel ‘Keep Moving forward is already a best seller and people are loving it.’ The interviewer said.

‘Thank you…’ Madhavi replied, smiling at him.

‘Isn’t Rashmi your other name?’

‘Yes, it is!’ She said.

‘Does that mean this story is a real story and is based on your life story?’

‘It could be or it could be a wild imagination of my silly mind.’

‘Wouldn’t it be nice if the readers know the fact?’

‘Well, I would like to leave it to my readers’ imagination.’ She said, still smiling at him.