Next Door

A Short Story 

Manoj woke up in the middle of the night, saw his wife seated on the bed and staring at their son’s picture in the showcase. He gently placed his hand upon hers; she turned towards him with her eyes filled with tears. He got up, wiped her tears off and hugged her.

The unspoken silence told him everything that he wanted to know. His sixty-five year old wife, Nirmala, missed their son Varun, who had settled in the United States of America long time back. It had been quite sometime since he had paid them a visit with his wife Akansha and son of twelve years, Monish.

‘I know you miss him,’ He said, looking into her eyes lovingly, ‘I shall write to him tomorrow asking him to come home. Now, go back to sleep!’

She nodded her head in response, before going back to sleep.

Next morning, when he woke up, he found his wife clinching their son’s picture to her chest and she had a smile on her face. He found that she had no pulse when he tried to wake her up. She had passed away in her sleep last night. He broke down into tears slumping down beside her. She was the last caring and loving person in his seventy year old life.

After his wife’s funeral:-

‘Dad, would you like to come and stay with us for sometime?’ His son asked him.

‘No, I would be fine over here!’ He replied.

‘At least let me appoint someone to take care of you,’ He said.

‘No, I can take care of myself…there is no need for you to worry,’ He replied, looking away.

‘Fine, then.’ He said, shrugging his shoulders helplessly.

Manoj found that not only his home was vacant, but his heart as well when everyone left. He lied down on the bed, thinking about his loving wife, staring at the rotating ceiling fan, before he fell asleep. Someone started shaking him up. He heard his wife’s voice say;

‘Wake up! Have your coffee!’

He woke up with a jerk. He kept staring at the beautiful face of his wife in disbelief.

‘What? Why are you staring at me like that?’ She asked, handing him his
cup of coffee.

‘I…I…I just had a bad dream in which you weren’t there anymore in my life and I was left all alone in this cruel world!’ He said, scratching his head still shocked, ‘Thank God, It was just a nightmare!’

‘Oh, is it?’ She asked, smiling mischievously at him, ‘I would like to see how you would cope without me in your life.’ She added.

‘I would rather die without you in my life!’ He said, looking at her, ‘What’s the point in living a life without you!’

‘Ah! How romantic you are!’ She said, giggling, ‘You are still young at heart!’

‘That I’m always!’ He said, finally smiling at her, sipping his coffee.

Someone started knocking the main door. Suddenly, he opened his eyes; he still saw the ceiling fan rotating while the knock continued. He turned and saw his wife’s photo on the wall with a garland. When he went and opened the door, he saw a boy of twelve years, smiling warmly at him.

‘Yes?’ He asked, looking at him rather annoyed for disturbing his nap.

‘Grandpa, my ball fell into your apartment through the open window. Could I please have it back?’ He said, pointing his finger towards the rubber ball which was lying on the couch.

‘Sure.’ He said, picking it up and giving it back to him.

‘By the way, we moved into the apartment next door to yours, this morning.’ He said, pointing his finger at it.

‘Nice to know that,’ He said, finally smiling at him. Then he went back to his bed, he kept staring at the rotating ceiling fan, then he closed his eyes. His wife’s voice woke him up.

‘Do you know someone has moved into the next door apartment? And they have a kid of twelve years or so…he reminds me our Monish!’

‘Yeah, I know!’ He replied, ‘I just met him sometime back…’

‘…and he stays with his divorced mother who is in her late thirties. Our daughter Pratima would have been her age, if she was alive today!’ She said with a sigh.

‘Is it? How do you women gather so much information and that too so fast?’ He asked, surprised.

‘Well, don’t forget that we have a common maid servant,’ She said, smiling.

‘Oh, yes! They carry tales with them home to home,’ He said, smiling back.

There was a knock again. He woke up, glanced at his wife’s picture on the wall. There was no garland on the picture.

He went and opened the main door. The maid servant entered asking him;

‘Do you know someone moved into the next door apartment?’ She went past him, going inside.

‘Yes, I know!’ He replied, ‘My wife told me.’

‘What?’ She cried from inside.

He went inside and saw her garlanding his wife’s picture on the wall.

‘Sorry, I forgot to do it yesterday…Did you tell me that your wife told you?’ She asked.

‘No, I met the kid and he told me.’ He said.

‘Good. It’s always better to have someone next door, you know.’ She said, climbing down the stool and smiling at him.

‘Yeah, you’re right!’ He said.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes and found his wife combing her hair in front of the dressing table mirror.

‘What? Why are you staring at me like that?’ She asked, turning back and looking at him.

‘Nothing,’ He said, scratching his head, rather confused and puzzled. He got up from the bed, went to the refrigerator to have some water. He saw a pile of vessels in the kitchen sink.

‘Didn’t the maid come to clean today?’ He asked.

‘Did you forget that we don’t have a maid and I do the cleaning myself?’ She cried from the bedroom.

There was a knock on the door. He opened his eyes, glanced at the rotating ceiling fan above him. He turned and saw his wife’s picture with a garland. He went, opened the door and found that boy from the next door, standing with a stainless steel box in his hand. He had a warm 

smile on his face.

‘My mother made some Gajar ka halwa and I brought some for you, grandpa,’ He said, handing him the stainless steel box.

‘Thank You,’ He said, and the boy went away.

He went inside, kept the box on the dinning table, and went to wash his face. He came back, sat on the chair and started having it. It brought back the sweet old memories of past, when his dear wife used to make him this dish which he loved a lot! He finished it soon thinking about the past.

Later, he went to give back the box. He rang the door bell; a beautiful woman in her later thirties came and opened the door. She too had a warm smile on her pretty face, like her young son.

‘Thank you for the delicious dish!’ He said, handing her the box, ‘It reminded me sweet old memories of my past!’

‘Nice to know that,’ She said still smiling, ‘why don’t you come inside and join me for a cup of tea and some biscuits?’ She asked.

‘I hope I’m not troubling you..’ He said.

‘Not at all! Come in, please!’ She said, ‘Please be seated and make yourself comfortable, while I’ll be back!’ She added going inside.

He sat glancing at the pictures in the room. She came back with two cups of tea and some assorted biscuits in a tray, and kept it before him on a small table.

‘Do you live alone?’ She asked, handing him a cup of tea.

‘Yes, after my wife passed away sometime back,’ He said, taking it and having a sip.

‘Sorry to hear about that!’ She said, ‘Don’t you have any relatives?’

‘Well, my son is settled with his family in the United States of America!’ He said, taking a biscuit, dipping it in the hot cup of tea, and having a bite.

‘Oh, I see!’ She said, doing the same, ‘Anyways, what do you do in your free time?’

‘Nothing much…actually, I’m surrounded by free time!’ He said, smiling at her, ‘What do you do for a living?’ He asked her.

‘Well, I’m a teacher in Rohan’s school. Actually I’m his class teacher…I get promoted along with the class every year.’ She said.

‘That’s really good! You don’t have to teach the same thing year after year, isn’t it?’ He said.

‘Yes, you’re right!’ She said, smiling.

They both chatted with each other for a while. Later, he took leave promising to come back again. Some days, later, one afternoon he had a cardiac arrest and felt as if he was going to die. He had blacked out completely. When he opened his eyes, he found himself on the hospital bed. He saw her and her boy beside his bed.

‘Thank God, you’re okay now!’ She said, smiling at him, ‘It was good that you had forgotten to bolt your door today. Rohan found you in this condition in nick of time! We called for an ambulance and here you are!’

‘Thank You, for saving my life!’ He said, smiling at them.

‘Please take some rest and you would be fine..’ She said, ‘You can read something to pass your time over here…I found this book in the Sunday market…’ She gave him a book of short stories.

‘Sure…thanks again,’ He said, taking it, and flipping through the pages.

‘See you later,’ She said, leaving with her son. ‘Bye, grandpa!’ He said, waving his hand to him.

‘Bye, grandson,’ He said, waving back to him.

He decided to read the story ‘Next Door’ by Rahul Trivedi. When he started reading it…it seemed familiar to him. He sat up, pulled a pillow behind his back and continued reading it. It was almost his story word to word…

‘Oh, my God! It’s my story…’ He said to himself, the story ended abruptly at the point when the old man was admitted in the hospital. The page in which the story had continued was torn off from the book. He took out his mobile, turned on the data connection and searched for the story ‘Next Door’ by Rahul Trivedi and hit search. No results found…came on his mobile screen.

He removed the story name and only searched for the writer.

Again, No results found…came on his mobile screen.

‘Dame it!’ He cried, annoyed and frustrated.

Next day, he was discharged from the hospital. When he went back to his apartment, he met the security person, who looked at him expecting to hear something…

‘Yes, Ramlal?’ He asked, looking at him.

‘Sir, I had called for the ambulance yesterday…’ He said.

‘What? I thought the lady of the apartment 408 had called for the ambulance?’ He asked, rather shocked.

‘Sahib, apartment no.408 is vacant from a long time. Don’t you know that?’ He said.

‘What are you saying? A lady in her late thirties stays in it with her son of twelve years..’ He said, bewildered.

‘Come, and see for yourself, Sahib!’ He said, leading him to the apartment. It was deserted like it was vacant for a long time now. He kept peering inside through the glass of the window. He saw an old couch, some chairs and a small table and some other furniture. Everything was covered with layers of dust.

‘Maybe, you are speaking about the lady who stayed here before you came to this place. She had divorced from her husband. She had committed suicide with her little boy in this very apartment many years back. This apartment is vacant since then, Sahib.’ He said, scratching his head.

‘Oh, I see!’ He said, walking to his apartment. He bolted the door, went inside, fell upon his bed and kept staring at the rotating ceiling fan.

‘Doctor, would he be alright?’ asked a young lady in her late twenties, keeping her hand on her husband’s forehead, and rubbing gently on the bandage which was covered around his head.

‘You told he was working on something before he met with that fatal accident?’ The doctor asked her.

‘Yes, he was writing this story..’ She said, handing him her husband’s journal, in which was written

‘Next Door’ A short story by Rahul Trivedi

The doctor went through the writing and then looked at him lying unconscious on the bed. The ceiling fan was rotating above them.

‘Is something wrong?’ She asked the doctor, curiously.

‘Well, he was thinking so much about this story when he met with the accident last night that he has forgotten who he is and has become the lead character of this story which he was writing…’ The doctor said, giving back the journal to her.

‘Oh, God!’ She cried, ‘what should we do now, doctor?’

‘Nothing….I have given him some medication which should put him to sleep for a while…I think he should regain the reality pretty soon as it is just a temporary thing…nothing major to worry about.’ The doctor said, taking leave.

‘Doctor, what should I do until then?’ She asked, rushing behind him.

‘Nothing…let him play his character until he regains his wits….’ The doctor said, with a smile on his face.

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The Journey by Train

A Short Story

One summer morning, the train was about to leave the station. An old couple got into the compartment, along with their eight-year-old grand daughter. They sat near the window. The old man looked like the typical English man, with a pipe in his mouth, puffing balls of smoke out of his pipe into the air. He was about sixty-five years old, dressed in a suit and a bowler hat on his head, and walking with a walking stick in his hand. The old lady was short and plump, and wore glasses. Jane, their granddaughter, looked cute, with a smile on her face.

The guard blew his whistle and waved the green flag in the air. Just then a young woman, named Mary, got in. She was about twenty-five years old, blonde, with her hair swept back sleekly and set off with a huge white bow. She was blind, as she wore black sunglasses and had a walking stick in her hand to guide her. She searched briefly and sat next to Jimmy, a young boy of twelve years, who had a pair of little eyes. He was seated next to his rotund father, who possessed a drooping mustache.

“Unfortunate,” said the old man, under his breath to himself.

The train pulled out of the station. Some time passed by, and everyone remained silent in the compartment. Suddenly, Jane broke the silence.

“Grandpa, look at those mountains, the trees and bushes. Aren’t they beautiful?” she asked.

“Yes, my dear. They are indeed,” said the old man.

“Grandpa, have you noticed that the trees, mountains and bushes seem to be moving, while we are traveling by the train,” she said.

“Yes, my dear. That always happens,” he replied.

“You have a cute little granddaughter,” remarked Julie Curtis, with a smile on her face. She was seated opposite to Jane; she was a beautiful lady of middling years, with fair skin and a round face. A perfection of her age, she always wore a ready smile on her face, and was courteous.

“Yes I know, thank you,” he said, smiling back at her.

“What’s your name, little one?” asked an air force officer seated next to them. He was tall, well-built and handsome, and had a cigar in his mouth.

“Jane,” she said. “And your name is Mr. Frank Willis.”

“What?” The officer looked at himself and his possessions briefly. “How did you know?” he asked.

“I read your name on the badge of your coat,” she said, breaking into peals of laughter. “Did you forgot about it?”

“Oh,” he said, with a smile on his face.

“By the way, are you visiting your home, officer?” asked the old man.

“Yes sir. It’s been a long time since I have left home, and we hardly get one chance in a year to see our families,” he said.

“Unfortunate, indeed. You have my sympathies,” said the old man, puffing out the smoke from his pipe. He leaned forward, and asked one man, “Have you got any snakes in that basket of yours, Mister?”

“Yes, Sahib. I have two of them,” replied an Arabian snake man, who was seated next to the officer. He was tall and well-built, dressed in robes, with a twisted mustache which scared children. He had a big bag near his legs.

“‘What snakes are they?” he asked.

“Cobras, Sahib,” the charmer replied.

“Aren’t they very poisonous?” asked the old man’s wife.

“Yes, Ma’am. Their bite is death.”

“Can a Cobra dance to music?” asked the curious Jimmy, with twinkling little eyes.

“Yes, son,” he replied. “The cobra is a fine dancer.”

“That means he loves music,” said Peter Hopkins, Jimmy’s father.

“All snakes love music. Don’t they?” asked Julie Curtis.

“What nonsense! Snakes are absolutely deaf,” proclaimed the old man.

“Cobras don’t dance to the music. They are merely on alert and follow the movements of the musical instrument,” he continued.

“What do cobras smell like?” asked the old woman.

“Ma’am, some say they smell like raw potatoes, some say they smell like cucumbers, others say like laundry soap. But for me, it smells like a heated iron box,” he said.

“Don’t cobras have any enemies?” asked Peter Hopkins.

“Yes, they fear three things. The mongoose, the eagle and the monkey,” he replied

“Can a monkey fight a cobra?” asked Julie Curtis.

“Yes, it can. I have seen a band of them kill a cobra with sticks and stones,” he said.

“That’s fascinating,” said Julie.

“What happened?” asked Jimmy.

“The monkeys killed the snake, then the leader picked up the snake and held it to his ear, to make sure that it had died,” he said.

“Very interesting story!” commented the old man.

“It’s not a story. It really happened in front of my two eyes,” he said.

“Could you show us a cobra dance?” asked little Jimmy.

“Sure, son,” he said.

“Not here, son. They have deadly fangs,” said Peter Hopkins.

“No, Sahib. We usually break off the deadly fangs as soon as we catch them,” replied Abu Hussein the charmer.

Abu took out a basket from his bag, kept the basket on the floor and removed the cover of the basket. Then he took out a weird musical instrument from the other bag, some sort of a squeaky violin, made out of a piece of bamboo and half a piece of coconut shell. Abu woke up the sleeping cobra with his fingers and started playing his instrument. Suddenly, the cobra spread its hood and swayed to and fro, in rhythm to the music, moving like the pendulum of an old British grandfather clock. The cobra danced and undulated, entranced by the instruments’ motions, like the crowd was in turn by it. It continued for a short while longer, then Abu closed the basket and placed it back into his bag.

“That was really amazing!” exclaimed Julie Curtis.

“Ah, if you think that was amazing, please listen to this next story,” said the old man. “I had an old friend by the name of Joseph Haggard, who hated snakes. Once, he found a cobra on his farm. He killed it with a stick. Then ten years later, he was bitten by a cobra in the same place.”

“Did he die?” asked Peter Hopkins.

“No; fortunately, he was saved by his neighbor, who was a doctor, and some snake catchers later caught it,” he said.

“When you kill a cobra, you must destroy his eyes, Sahib,” said Abu Hussein.

“Eh? destroy his eyes?” asked the surprised old man.

“Yes, Sahib. If you don’t, his mate will see your photograph burned into her dead lovers’ eyes. She will find you out and kill you even if it takes fifteen years,” he explained.

“Photograph?” asked the air force officer, “Does it have a camera installed in its eyes or what?”

Hearing this everyone in the compartment broke into laughter, except Abu.

“It’s not a joke, Sahib. When a cobra stands on his hood, he is taking your picture,” he said.

The engine whistled, the carriage wheels slowed their speed. The train slowly drew into the station. The old couple got up to leave, and began to collect their things. Abu picked up his bag. Suddenly, the T.C. got into the compartment, and started checking everyone’s tickets. Abu Hussein started, and dug through his possessions furiously.

“What are you looking for?” asked Peter Hopkins, “Have you lost something?”

“Yes, Sahib. I have lost my purse, in which I keep my railway ticket, along with some money,” he said, sadly.

“This is another cock and bull story. Do you expect us to believe it?” demanded the officer.

“No excuses!” said the Ticket Collector, “If you don’t produce your ticket then you will have to pay the fine.”

“Sahib, I swear, I bought a ticket. I don’t have any money to pay the fine.”

“O.K, How much is the fine, sir?” asked the old man.

“Fifty pounds,” said the T.C.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen,” declared the old man, looking at his fellow passengers of the compartment. “This man had entertained us all on this journey, and so it is our duty to help him while he is in trouble. So, let’s see who is willing to contribute for his fine.”

Everyone gave money, except the officer, who wasn’t willing to contribute and help him.

“So, here is the fifty pounds. Here Abu, keep this money with you. I hope it might be of some use until you start earning again,” said the old man.

“Thank you, Sahib. Allah bless you all!” said Abu, with tears of gratitude in his eyes, as he got down from the train.

The old couple got down from the train too, along with their little granddaughter, Jane.

“Have a nice journey,” said the old man.

“Good bye!” said the Jane waving her hand.

Jimmy waved his hand back to her. Outside the train there was the shouting of porters and vendors.

“Well, it was a real pity the Ticket Collector was so unkind,” said Julie Curtis.

“No, he fooled you all,” said the officer. “How often have we come across people with moving stories, and entertaining anecdotes, only to be tricked?”

“It happens, I admit, but there might be people who tell the truth as well,” said Julie Curtis.

Just then a handsome young man, tall and well-built, got in. He was wearing a black overcoat, grey trousers, a black tie and a bowler hat. He had a cigar in his mouth. He sat next to the officer. After him entered two middle aged men, who seemed to be old friends . They sat next to the stranger.

“Well, Mr.Fank, can you tell us some of your heroic adventures during the war, in the air force?” asked Julie.

“Sure,” he said.

The train began huffing and puffing, it gathered speed, the rumbling of the engine could be felt all along the track. And with this began the sailor’s tale:

“During June, 1943, we had been attacked by the enemy. Our team was called the Beatle Gang. My comrades and I flew in our planes to the enemy skies and dropped bombs,” he said.

“Then?” asked Jimmy, curiously.

“Before we could fly back, searching lights targeted many of my comrade’s planes for anti-aircraft fire and many of our comrades’ planes burst into flames.

“Some of my pals and I somehow managed to escape from the search lights. But, suddenly, enemy planes came from nowhere behind us, without any warning and started firing at our planes. My plane’s left wing caught fire. My friend Joe’s plane’s backside caught fire.

“Then?” asked Jimmy.

“Well, Joe shouted at me to get out of the plane as soon as possible. I picked up my parachute and had a glance at Joe. He was struggling with his parachute and his clothes had already caught fire. I shouted at him over the radio, to take his plane above mine and then jump.

“He did just that, as I jumped off my plane with my parachute on. Our planes lost control, hit the enemy planes and burst into flames, destroying them.

“An enemy plane came and started firing at us. I took out my pistol and aimed at the plane’s fuel tank. I pressed the trigger of my gun and down rolled the plane, like a ball of fire. But, unfortunately, many bullets had pierced into poor Joe’s body and he fell down the sky and vanished,” concluded the officer.

“Bravo! Bravo!” exclaimed an excited Jimmy.

“Mr. Frank, you are a real hero!” said Julie.

“You are a hero!” said Mary Shelley.

“Bravo, Officer! Bravo!” said the stranger, clapping his hands. “Brave men speak and never do!”

“What do you mean by that, eh?” shouted the officer. “You are insulting me!”

“Am I? I am sorry,” he said.

Everyone remained silent as the train passed through a dark tunnel. The stranger took a cigar, lighted it, and puffed smoke.

“By the way, what’s your name, mister?” asked Julie Curtis.

“Who…me? Well my name is…er…Jack…Jack Slater.”

“And what do you do, Mr. Jack Slater?” She asked.

“Right now, I am traveling with you in this train,” he said.

“I did not mean that,” she said. “I meant your profession.”

“Well, I am a businessman. I deal with diamonds,” he said.

“Alas! My diamond necklace is gone!” exclaimed Julie, throwing her hands to her neck.

“Look properly,” said Mary Shelley.

“I did, and I was wearing it sometime back,” she said.

“I think that the snake man stole it. He seemed nothing but a thief to me,” the officer said suspiciously.

“I don’t think so,” said Julie, “since I had it at the time.”

“Think again, you might not have noticed that it had gone until now,” said Mary.

“Yes, you may be right,” said Julie.

“Well, let’s complain it to the T.C and the railway police will check in the compartment and find it if it is still here,” said Mary.

“Yes,” said Julie.

The engine whistle shrieked. The carriage wheels changed their sound and rhythm. The train came to a halt slowly in the station.

“I have an urgent call to make. Would you mind looking after my things until I come back?” asked the officer.

“No problem,” said Peter Hopkins.

The railway police got into the compartment and started the search for the missing diamond necklace. They checked every nook and corner of that compartment and then the passengers. When it was the stranger’s turn, he called a policeman aside and whispered something in his ear. The policeman nodded his heads in agreement to what he had said.

“Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, we could not find the missing necklace,” said the police man, “and sorry for troubling you all.”

He went away as they picked up their luggage from the compartment to leave. Then the police man came with a smile on his face.

“Is this your lost diamond necklace?” he asked, showing it to her.

“Oh! Yes, it is! Thanks a lot for finding it for me!”

“Where did you find it?” asked Peter Hopkins.

“You were right, sir,” said the Inspector, shaking Jack’s hand. “We found him.”

The police returned with the officer in tow.

“What did he do?” asked Julie Curtis, surprised.

“Well, he is not an officer in the first place, ma’am. He is a criminal, who escaped from the jail yesterday. He stole Mr. Frank Willis’ bag this morning, wore his uniform and pretended to be him, in order to escape. You may know Frank as…Jack, was it?” asked the policeman.

“Yes, sir.”

“What about the necklace?” asked Mary Shelley

“Well, he had stolen it, along with this purse of some other passenger,” he said.

“Well, it should be that snake man’s purse,” said Julie Curtis.

The real Frank picked up his bag and started walking away.

“Hey, mister,” cried Mary Shelley.

“What is it?” he asked, turning and looking back.

“I had mistaken you, and I’m sorry I assumed you were the culprit in my mind,” she said.

“No problem, it happens,” he said.

“But, how did he know about the war and the story he told?” she asked.

“Simple, he would have read the dairy which was in my bag,” Frank said.

They walked out of the station talking to each other. Unexpectedly, a car careened towards them.

“Look out!” she cried, pushing him aside, in the nick of the time.

“Thanks for saving me…Eh? Wait a minute. Aren’t you supposed to be blind?” he asked, surprised.

“No, I am not blind,” she said, removing her glasses.

“Then, why?” Frank asked.

“Well, I write novels with my pen name Kathe Wilson. At present, I am writing a novel based upon a blind young girl. So, here I am to get some personal experience,” she said.

“Kathe Wilson?” he said, surprised and astonished, “Oh! my goodness! I have been your fan for a long time, and I have read all of your novels to date. May I know your real name, please?”

“Miss Mary Shelley,” she said, smiling.

“Well, my name is Frank Willis, as you already know. Shall we have a cup of coffee in that restaurant?”

“O.K, fine,” she said, smiling at him.

 

The Storyteller


A Short Story


Vinay was a storyteller since his childhood days. One thing that he loved doing was telling stories to others. His grandfather used to tell him stories then. Later, he started reading a lot of story books and also watched movies, which were visual representation of stories on screen. As he grew up, he became a noted storyteller with many publications to his name in various magazines, newspapers and anthologies. Also he had won many short story contests. But that wasn’t enough as he wanted to do something more than the usual.


He pondered over what he could do? Apart from writing, he loved traveling and photography. It was during one of his trips to a remote place which was surrounded by dense forest, that he met a yogi at this place. The yogi had meditated from many years and acquired special supernatural power. He could float in mid air. As he used to spend most of his time in meditating, people of the nearby village used to get him something to eat every day, though he insisted that he could eat something from the forest.
 

He told the yogi about himself. Also that he wanted to do something good to others since his childhood days if he had some supernatural power to help him.
 

‘Son, do you need supernatural power to help someone?’ The yogi asked, with a smile on his face.
 

‘Maybe, if you want to reach out to many people in a different way,’ Vinay replied.
 

‘Like?’
 

‘Like for example I am a storyteller, every person in this world has a story to tell from their individual lives. What if I could tell stories from their lives tweaking it a little bit here and there to make their lives better?’
 

‘Wouldn’t you playing with someone’s destiny then?’ The Yogi asked.
 

‘Not really! I would be just helping them to live better lives or achieve something they wish for, and I need your help for doing that.’
 

‘Nothing in this world could be achieved easily. Even the things which people say was easy had taken some effort from them. If you need something like that then you need to sacrifice something from your life! I didn’t become a yogi who floats in mid air just like that. It took me years of meditation and practice to achieve it.’
 

‘Do you mean to say that it would take me years too?’
 

‘Not really! It differs from person to person. It may take lesser time for you. But you will get there if you make up your mind and have the will power to achieve it!’
 

‘Thank you, Baba,’ Vinay said.
 

‘Son, but let me warn you one thing!’
 

‘What is it, Baba?’ Vinay asked, with a frown on his face.
 

‘The power you may achieve thus can’t be used for selfish purpose. That is the first rule any Yogi would tell you. Neither can you tell others how you are doing it. If you break these rules, then it would have serious implications on your life that is beyond rectification!’
 

‘I would bear that on my mind, baba! Thanks again,’ Vinay said, getting up to take leave.
 

‘Then God bless you, my boy!’ The yogi said, closing his eyes and going back to meditation. 

The last thing he saw him floating in the mid air and reaching the top most branch of the tree, under which he was meditating.
 

***
 

Vinay came back to his place after the wonderful trip, started doing as the Yogi had advised him. He lighted a candle in a dark room and focused his entire concentration on the flame of that candle. He couldn’t concentrate for more than thirty seconds. He repeated it every morning. Many days passed by, the he was able to focus his entire concentration on the middle part of the flame for more than one minute and forty three seconds. Later, it increased to two minutes and forty six seconds.
 

It had been a while since he had written a short story. One day, he got an idea for writing a story and he sat down to write it. He finished the story and took a short nap in the afternoon. Next day, he was shocked to read one of the headlines in the newspaper about a lone survivor in the bus accident. The brakes of the bus had failed and it fell into a deep gorge. It was exactly the way he had written in the short story the previous day. He had a closer look at the picture of the survivor, Rohit Patel, who escaped with a small scratch on his forehead.
 

‘Oh My God!’ He cried, unable to believe what he just read in the newspaper, ‘It’s happening!’
 

Vinay called his best friend Shyam and asked him to come over to his place. Vinay gave him the story to read.
 

‘So, you called me to read your story, is it?’ Shyam asked, hiding his irritation.
 

‘Just read it! I have something to show you after your finish reading it!’ Vinay insisted.
 

‘Fine!’ Shyam said, reading it, ‘It’s really good one! ’
 

‘Now, read this one!’ Vinay said, giving him the newspaper.
 

‘Oh My God!’ Shyam cried, dropping the newspaper rather shocked, ‘what you wrote in the story had just happened else where! It could be coincidence too!’
 

‘Could be! But it is so close to my story!’
 

‘Well, let it happen for the second time and then we can eliminate the coincidence factor!’
 

‘Alright, what you want me to do?’
 

‘Just write another story including someone you know well. You could write on me as well. Let’s see if it happens again?’
 

‘Alright, then,’
 

***
 

Vinay started writing a story keeping Shyam in his mind. He felt tired after completing it, so he took a short nap. He was woken up by his mobile ringing. He answered the call and it was from Shyam.
 

‘Vinay, can you believe it? Aditi just proposed to me sometime back. Did you write about it?’
 

‘Yes! I did write about it!’ Vinay said, somewhat startled, ‘Now, do you believe it?’
 

 ‘Yes, my friend!’ Shyam said, ‘I’ll see you later!’
 

‘See you later, bye!’
 

***
 

Vinay used to update his days events regularly in his diary. He started writing stories and they become true one after the other. In his life, though he had achieved many things, but still he was alone. He couldn’t find the love of his life. He had waited for her to come into his life. Now, a thought crossed his mind.
 

‘Why not I write a love story featuring myself?’
 

‘What about the yogi’s warning?’ asked his subconscious mind.
 

‘I haven’t forgotten about it…but it is so tempting, you know’ He said.
 

‘I leave it to you!’ His subconscious mind replied, before turning silent.
 

Vinay became excited and starting writing the love story with much interest…
 

The Sketch
A Short Story by Vinay Malhotra

 

Vinay suddenly woke up from his sleep, took his sketching pad and drawing pencil, and started sketching a face from his dream. After finishing it, He kept staring at the face on the sheet of paper.
 

‘Who is she? Do I know her? Why did she come in my dream?’ He asked himself, quite puzzled.
 

Later, he rolled the sketch, kept in the pocket of his jerkin and went out. In the crowded street, he saw a woman who was familiar to him. Only after she passed by him, did he realize that she was the same woman of his sketch.
 

‘Oh My God!’ He cried, turning back and running in her direction. He pushed through the crowd trying desperately to reach her. He saw her get into a bus at some distance. He got into the taxi and asked the driver to follow that bus. However, the taxi was caught at a signal, while the bus passed by. He saw the bus turn at the corner and then vanish.
 

‘Oh, no!’ He cried.
 

‘Don’t worry…I know where the bus goes next. We should be able to reach in time…’ The taxi driver said, slamming the accelerator of the car as soon as the signal lights changed to green.
They finally found the bus, and the driver applied sudden brakes. He rushed out and entered the bus, looking at women on that bus. He couldn’t find her on the bus as she had perhaps got down in the previous stop or so.
 

He got down from the bus and thought how he could find her again?
 

Meanwhile, Anamika who had got down in the previous stop, walked towards her apartment thinking about the handsome young man whom she had seen in the crowd.
 

‘Who was he?’ She wondered, standing in front of her dressing table mirror. She looked so beautiful, tall and slender in appearance. It was her eyes…those mesmerizing eyes…which many would get lost looking at…
 

‘That is a good start. I need to think how to take this story forward from here and give it a happy conclusion! Let me go to sleep…’ He said to himself, retiring to his bed.
 

***
 

Next morning, Shyam came to Vinay’s place. He was surprised to see that the main door was unlocked. He went inside looking for Vinay and finally saw him full covered under his thick winter blanket. He found the story on the desk. He took and read it.
 

‘Really engrossing! This time you are writing your story…good luck, my friend. Hope you find your dream girl..’ Shyam said, smiling, pulling the drawer, and taking out his friend’s diary. He went through it and found the last few pages which he had written very interesting…about his trip to the remote location…his meeting with the yogi…then his meditation which went on for months…finally, the wonderful supernatural gift he got!
 

‘So, this explains everything!’ He cried, looking at his sleeping friend under the blanket.
 

‘What?’ asked a feminine voice from the blanket.
 

He got startled, jumped from the chair and pulled the blanket off. He saw the beautiful girl instead of his friend sleeping on the bed. She opened her eyes with a yawn.
 

‘Anamika?’ He said, recalling her from the story he just read. She was exactly like his friend had described in the story
 

‘Yes…who are you? How do you know my name? And what are you doing in my room?’ She asked, surprised and shocked.
 

‘Where is Vinay?’ He asked her still shocked.
 

‘Vinay? Who is he?’ She asked, giving a puzzled look at him.
 

‘The writer and person in this story…’ He said, handing her the writing pad. She read it completely.
 

‘Oh My God! It happened to me yesterday. I was wondering who he was?’ She cried, shocked.
 

‘Where is he? This is actually his place!’
 

‘I really don’t know? All I remember is going to sleep and here I am!’ She said, scratching her hair.
 

‘Now, I get it completely!’ Shyam said, ‘according to the yogi’s warning, Vinay wasn’t supposed to write about himself and he did it! If you have come into the real world from his story then his absence only means one thing..’
 

‘..that he has gone into my fiction world, I.e, the story. He is now trapped within his own story which he was writing yesterday.’ She concluded.
 

‘Yes, you got it right!’ Shyam said.
 

‘Is there nothing we can do to bring him back again?’ She asked.
 

‘I don’t know? I need to go and see this yogi. Maybe, he is the only person who could bring him back!’


‘Shall I come with you?’


‘No, you stay here! I will go and meet him!’ Shyam said.


***
 

Shyam went to the remote place near the forest to meet the yogi, but didn’t find him anywhere. Finally, after questioning the local people he came to know the bad news that the yogi had passed away sometime back. He returned back to his place with a broken heart. He had lost his best friend forever now. He met Anamika and told her about it.
 

‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ She said, sadly.
 

‘Anamika, go and lead your life the way you like! Good bye!’ He said, taking the unfinished story with him. He sent the unfinished story for publication in an anthology. Later, it got selected and published in a book with other stories by various writers.
 

Shyam flipped through the pages of the book until he reached his best friend’s story. A drop of tear fell from his eye and landed on the page near his best friend’s name.
 

‘Good bye, my dear friend!’ He said, closing the book with a heavy heart and keeping it in the book shelf.

When it happened

 

A Short Story 


Pawan was seated on a bench outside the ward, with his face resting between the palms of his hands. His face was filled with sadness and pain. The tube light above him flickered like in some horror movie.


‘Why are you so sad?’ asked a feminine voice.


He lifted his face up and saw a young girl standing before him. She was about his age.


‘What happened to the boy inside the ward?’ She asked.


‘He is suffering from brain haemorrhage,’ He replied.


‘Would he be alright?’ She asked.


‘No, he has gone into coma,’ He said, ‘he may live few hours more…’


‘Oh, so sad!’ She said, ‘How are you related to him?’


‘He is my best friend!’


‘Would you like to go for a walk with me outside? I think you need a break!’


‘Alright,’ He said, standing up and joining her. They walked out of the hospital, entered the park, and sat on a bench under the gulmohar tree. Two ducks were swimming in the lake before them. The evening breeze blew gently towards them.


‘Do you have someone admitted in the hospital too?’ He asked, turning and looking at her. She was beautiful. Usually, Pawan was quite shy and reserved towards girls. However, he was quite normal with this girl and it really surprised him.


‘Well, my dad is a doctor in this hospital and I have come to pay him a visit.’


‘Oh, ok.’ He said, ‘I don’t have any friends who are girls.’


‘You mean girl friends,’ she said, giggling, ‘Neither do I have any friends who are boys…err…boy friends.’


‘Is it?’ He asked.


‘If you don’t mind, may I know, why?’ She asked.


‘Well, I am somewhat reserved and shy with girls.’ He replied.


‘Oh, I see!’ She said, I’m not shy and reserved with boys though,’ 


‘By the way, I’m Pawan!’ He said, extending his hand to her, ‘Friends?’


‘I’m Ankitha!’ She said, shaking his hand, ‘Sure.’


They spoke to each other as if they knew each other for many years. They shared so many memories since their childhood days. The sun started to set in the distant sky.


‘I think we should go back now.’ She said standing up from the bench.


‘Oh, yeah, I never knew how the time flew,’ He said standing up. Finally, he smiled at her.


‘You know something?’ She asked smiling at him.


‘What?’


‘That smile on your face looks really nice….’ She said smiling, ‘Try to keep it there…it suits your face more.’


‘But there is so much sadness and pain around me..’ He said.


‘That is when you need to smile more, you know,’ She said, ‘So that sadness and pain goes away defeated!’


He smiled at her, ‘Would I see you around?’


‘Oh, yeah. I have vacation. I would come back to hospital tomorrow. Bye till then.’ She said, shaking his hand, before leaving.


Pawan felt really nice. He walked back towards the hospital, smelling his hand. It had her fragrance…the smell of jasmine…he knew that he was in love with her. It was love at first sight. 


As he walked towards the ward, he thought, If she loves me too then the tube light would flicker…and the tube light did flicker one more time…which brought a smile on his face. Love was a strange thing…strange because he saw people in love do strange little things. Just now, even he had done one strange thing…which would have seemed silly to him before he fell in love. 


He peeped through the glass door; his best friend was sleeping peacefully inside unaware of what was happening outside the ward? His friend’s mother was sleeping beside him on a chair. It is so painful to see someone close to you dying, and for a mother who has brought up the son should be really devastating! 


He had been with him so far in his life…life is uncertain and so short too. No one can say with confidence that they would see tomorrow. Any moment could be the last moment for someone…somewhere…he sat down on the bench, thinking about her.


He couldn’t forget her wonderful smile….I can’t wait till tomorrow…I can’t….his heart told him. Meanwhile, Ankita too realized that she had deeply fallen in love with Pawan. She was waiting for love to happen for so long. Finally, it had happened. Nothing else mattered to her anymore….she couldn’t wait till tomorrow. So she went back to the hospital to meet him.


She saw him sleeping the bench outside…he had a smile on his face and she knew that she was the reason for that wonderful smile. She sat beside him, took his hand gently into hers. She kept her head on his shoulders and went to sleep.


Suddenly, he woke up with a jerk…saw her sleeping beside him…he had heard beeping sound of the machine inside the ward. He went inside and touched his best friend’s hand as he breathed his last breath…his life line flattened out on the machine screen beside him. His eyes welled with tears. The mother woke up with a jerk and cried her heart out seeing her dear son no more! 


A hand touched his shoulders; he turned and saw Ankita standing behind him. She wiped his tears with her fingers and hugged him.


They walked together hand in hand outside the ward. A stranger was waiting for him outside the ward.


‘It’s time for us to leave!’ He told him.


Pawan had treated himself as his best friend. The boy inside the ward who had breathed his last breath was none other than Pawan Himself. His soul started wandering out of his body when he went into coma sometime back. 


‘Cant I stay back for some more time please?’ He asked the stranger, who was none other than the death himself.


‘Please let him stay back!’ Ankita pleaded with the death, ‘You’ve already killed him. Please leave his soul for me. I have fallen in love with him. I was waiting for love to happen in my life…but it didn’t! It happened to me after my death….I have waited for it so long…please!’


The death looked at her cute face. He remembered how the cruel fate had ended her life sometime back…he couldn’t do anything as it was her destiny. He had let go her soul then on her request,


‘You could take us both, if you have to take him!’ She said, with tears in her eyes.


‘Don’t cry! It doesn’t suit you!’ The death said smiling at her, ‘I would come back sometime later to take you both along with me…till then have a nice time.’


The tube light above flickered one more time and the death vanished into the darkness.

The Mathura – Agra Trip


A Short Story 

It was Saturday early morning, I had got up at 4 am and got ready. The over night stay at Hill Palace hotel in Chana market, Karol Bagh was really good. I checked out, and started walking towards Panicker Travels for my trip to Mathura – Agra. I had a hot cup of tea on the road side and got into an auto, he dropped me just before the bus that was about to leave to Mathura. 

When I got into the bus I found someone had occupied the window seat. Actually, when I had booked that seat on this bus then I was the first person.

‘Do you want your seat back?’ He asked, lifting his face from some book which he was reading.

‘No, you can have it!’ I said, keeping my luggage, taking my seat next to him. Anyways, you don’t really need a window seat in a Volvo bus, I told myself.

‘Thank You.’ He said, returning back to reading the book.

The bus left the place at 6.03 am. The cool air coming from the air conditioner felt good inside the bus. I looked back and found the bus completely occupied. The bus stopped on the way to pick a family who sat on the seat opposite to me. They were young and had a cute little daughter. An old couple were seated behind their seat.

The bus conductor distributed free water bottles to all passengers. The driver inserted some DVD into the DVD player. I wondered which movie it would be? It was Amir Khan’s PK. I had seen this movie more than once and I had liked it.

‘It’s a good movie..’ He said, looking at the TV screen. I was able to see the book cover now…it was ‘The girl on the train’ by Puala Hawkins.

‘Yeah..’ I replied, ‘How is this book?’ I asked him.

‘Well, it is a thriller something line ‘Gone Girl’. Actually, the only similarity between these two is the missing girl. Nowadays, thrillers have all bad people in it. They are either bad or worse..’ He replied, ‘I like Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer books…am a fan of their writing.’

‘Even I like Sidney Sheldon and am his fan too. I have read all his books. They are good page turners, you can’t put them down until you complete them..I had spent many sleepless nights reading his books..’

‘Same here!’ He said, still smiling at me.

‘I still remember during my return train journey from Hyderabad, one fellow had borrowed one of Sheldon’s novel which I had bought in that city. He stayed awake whole night and kept on reading…whenever, I woke up from my sleep I saw him busy reading the book. I was worried whether I’ll get back my book. Fortunately, he completed it as the train reached Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station.’ I said.

‘Is it? So, you stay in Bangalore…are you visiting Delhi for the first time?’ He asked me.

‘No, this is my second visit to Delhi. I had come earlier too.’ I replied.

‘So, what do you do?’

‘I used to work in a MNC at Bangalore.’

‘Used to work?’

‘Well, I don’t any more. I had quit my job sometime back…Actually, my dream was to travel across India and I never planned to quit my job. It just happened.’ I said, occasionally looking at the television screen.

‘Oh..’ He said, somewhat surprised to hear this.

‘It was , as if, something was beckoning me to give up on my mundane existence and experience something more fascinating in the outer world which I realized was welcoming me with wide open arms.’ I said, ‘After eight years in the corporate sector I quit in 2013.’

‘Please continue…’ He said, insisting me.

‘In fact I didn’t even have the required savings but still I went ahead with my decision to quit. I believed in my dreams and took a leap of faith. I decided to travel solo and discover myself and India.’ I continued.

‘That’s something wonderful !’ He replied very pleased, ‘Even I dream of traveling across India, learning about different cultures and people. Every person has a story to tell. Maybe, I could bring many real stories to my writings…like the one of yours, which has touched me.’

‘You know, Every one of us dreams in some way or the other, but only few of us dare to risk everything and go after it.’ I said, smiling at him, ‘Somehow, our heart and soul knows more than we know. If we trust them they will be the torch bearer in our unknown journeys of lives.’ I added.

‘Agreed. That’s what my fav book of my life The Alchemist says!’ He said.

‘It’s my fav book as well. By the way, tell me something about your writing?’ I asked.

‘I started writing short stories and poems. Now, I even write my travel experience in my travel pages. Also reviews on movies and books.’

‘That’s really good. Only few people find time to do it in their routine busy schedule of life.’ I said, ‘even I write short stories and poem in my leisure..’

‘That’s good. Nice to meet a fellow writer in this trip.’ He said, smiling at me.

As I was tired and had limited sleep for last couple of days, so went to sleep. When I woke up I found that a guide had got into our bus. He started adjusting the mike, as he had to address something to us all.

‘Mike testing 1,2,3… All Panicker travels people…you will having breakfast now. All giving 100 rupees to the reception in hotel. You having idli, upma, bonda, etc. Only half an hour time giving and you getting into the bus back.’ He spoke to all of us.

Soon, the bus came to a halt near some hotel. I found him seated alone in a corner and having his breakfast.

‘May I join you?’ I asked him, holding my plate in my hand.

‘Sure..’ He said, looking at me, with a smile.

We finished our food and got back into the bus. Soon, we entered the old Mathura city. The guide instructed us to leave behind our cameras, mobiles, and bags behind as photography was not allowed inside the Mathura temple. We left our foot wear in the bus too. Mathura temple was really good. After sometime, the bus left to the Agra Fort. The guide had got down on the way, before leaving the Mathura city.

A new guide got into the bus entered Agra and his English was far better than the previous guide. We entered the Agra fort, our guide started explaining us about the fort and its rulers. Then he took us to the terrace of the Agra fort, showed us the place where Shah Jahan was kept as a prisoner, but my eyes kept drifting towards the Taj Mahal which was visible at some distance. I tried to zoom my camera lens to capture it.

‘We will be going there shortly…don’t worry!’ The guide said, smiling at me.

Later, the guide took us to a place where he said was the great King Akbar’s court and he explained how the King’s voice reached everyone with a mike in those days. His narration was so interesting that I found even a squirrel from a tree looking at him, as if listening to him with full attention.

My writer traveller was trying to take a selfie with his mobile.

‘May I click your picture?’ I offered.

‘Sure..’ He said, smiling and handing his mobile to me, ‘I didn’t bring my camera along as it was a business trip.’ He added.

‘No worries..’ I said, clicking some picks of him with the fort in the back drop, ‘If you don’t mind, I can click some of your pics in my camera and send them through mail later.’ I offered.

‘Okay…’

‘Cool..’ I said, clicking his snaps with my canon power shot camera. I showed him his pictures clicked with my camera and he liked them.

‘You seem to know photography well too.’ He said.

‘Well, I did a course on photography…’ I said, with a smile on my face.

‘That’s really good..’

Next we went to a handicrafts showroom and the guide told us that we can get Taj Mahal replicas made out of pure marble at that place. However, no one bought anything from that place. Later, we went to a hotel nearby to have our lunch. We both shared the same table and ordered the South Indian cuisine. The food was okay .

Finally, the bus went to Taj Mahal. The place I had wanted to see since my childhood days. Finally, it was coming true now. He told me the same thing, which brought a smile on my face. I came to know that the old couple had lost all their valuables like credit/debit cards the previous day. They too were from my city.

They asked me to click some of their snaps on my camera and send them by mail later. I readily agreed to do that. I also clicked some of his pictures. He clicked my pictures before the Taj Mahal as well..

‘You too seem to be good at photography..’ I said, seeing his clicks on my camera.

‘Thank you, I like photography…’ He said.

Later, the bus left back to Delhi in the express high way. I found him trying to get some sleep and even I tried to get some sleep. Later, the bus stopped for a tea/coffee break.

‘Well, the journey is finally coming to an end…’ I said, sipping my cup of coffee.

‘Yeah, it was really wonderful experience..’ He said, sipping his cup of tea.

‘Really nice to meet you,’ I said offering my hand for sake, ‘It’s so strange we don’t even know each others names…’

‘Oh, yes, I’m Vasu!’ He said, shaking my hand.

‘I’m Swati!’ I said, smiling at him.

He showed me his family picture which he had in his wallet.

‘Your daughter looks so cute…so much like you!’ I said, ‘What’s her name?’

 ‘Thank You,’ He said, ‘Her name is Keerthana!’

‘That’s a good name!’ I said.

The bus resumed the journey back to Delhi. He had provided me his email id as well as his blog id. I had taken the email id from the old couple as well. I like going on solo trips with complete strangers, have been doing it for quite some time now. I have made some really good friends through these solo trips I had been. Every person has a story tell and my journeys provide not only story ideas, but also wonderful characters for them as well.

The bus finally reached Delhi, and I said bye to my new friend, Vasu and the wonderful old couple as well, promising to send them their snaps soon.

The Twist in The Fate – Chapter 3

 

The Final Chapter

5.59 AM, 24th January 2001

In a village, Gujarat

It was early morning, inside the village temple which was on the top of a hill. The priest was chanting mantras. The boy and the girl exchanged their flower garlands twice. The girl’s mother tied the holy knot between the boy’s and the girl’s dress; their hands were joined to signify their union.

The villagers started showering them with rose petals and rice upon them. They both started walking the mangal pheras i.e, four rounds around the scared holy fire. The priest kept chanting the mantras. This was followed by Saptapadi, they walked seven steps together and took vows.

They both bowed before his parents to take their blessings. He came close to her ear and whispered “Sadhana, I love you!”

The girl slowly moved her hand towards his waist and pinched him hard there.

“Ouch!” He cried in sudden pain.

“Mukhul! What happened?” cried his mother shocked.

“Nothing…ma…I think an ant just beat me!” He said, looking at Sadhana, who had a mischievous little smile on her face.

Later, behind the temple :-

“Sadhana, you shouldn’t have done that,” Mukhul said

“Did it hurt so much?” She asked, rubbing her fingers on his waist. “If you want, you too can pinch me.” She added.

He went close to her and placed his hand on her waist. She closed her eyes anticipating pain. She felt no pain, but heard him whisper into her ear “I still love you!”

She opened her eyes…with a smile on her face. He gently kissed on her cheeks.

8.46 AM, 26th January 2001.

The powerful earthquake ripped through the village, destroying everything on its way. The walls of many houses bulged and the roofs fell inwards. The air was filled with choking dust of rumble. Cries of help filled the air from almost everywhere. Everyone came together and started helping those in need.

A middle aged lady dropped the pot of water she was carrying from the well and rushed towards her house, shocked and bewildered.

“Someone please help my daughter-in-law!” She cried, pointing her finger at the debris; where her house had stood some moments back.

The men started digging with shovels. They found nothing but bricks, dust everywhere. However, they didn’t give up.

Suddenly, they saw a mehendi hand of a girl.

“Over here!” cried one of them. Soon they uncovered the dust and found her lying unconscious beneath the debris. Someone sprinkled water on her face. She woke up startled.

“Where is Mukhul?” She cried in chocked voice.

“He went to the field along with your father-in-law!” Her mother-in-law said.

They all went searching for them towards the field. One of the persons who had helped them asked his friends on the way whether they had seen a middle aged man and a boy.

“Yes, we found a middle aged man and a young boy buried under the debris on the way to the field. We are sorry to say that both didn’t survive.” One of them replied

“Also we found this ring in the boy’s hand.” The other said, showing that wedding ring to them. “Do you recognize it?”

“Yes, it is Mukhul’s wedding ring!” Her mother-in-law cried, taking it.

“Why didn’t I die too?” Sadhana crieds, her eyes welled with tears and started flowing down her rosy cheeks. Her mother-in-law hugged her tightly.

Even the stranger had tears in his eyes seeing a young widow of 12 years. Also he had seen the lifeless body of her husband, who was around 14 years and was buried under the remains of a big wall. He had clutched the ring strongly in his right hand palm. It took some effort to free it from his hand.

Sometime later, Sadhana and her mother-in-law left their village forever.

They left in search of a new destination. Sadhana took the ring; it was the last memento of her loving husband. She kissed it whenever she remembered or missed him a lot.

***

Meantime, a NGO had adopted some orphaned kids from this devastating natural disaster.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes after a long sleep and found himself on a hospital bed far away from his village. The last thing he remembered was he and his father walking towards their field. Suraj his classmate joined them on the way.

He asked Mukhul to show is golden ring. Mukhul removed and gave it to him. The boy was too excited looking at it that he slowed his pace looking at it. He was behind him and his father.

Suddenly, the earth started shaking violently and the huge side wall was about to collapse upon them. His father gave him a big push with his all his might. Mukhul fell away and saw with horror the wall collapsing upon his father and Suraj.

He only heard muffled cries from the debris.

One of the bricks fell, striking hard against his head and he became unconscious.

“Where am I? Where is my father?” He asked, getting up from the bed.

“I’m sorry to say that you are the only survivor of your family.” A stranger said.

“No….no…” He cried, with tears flowing down the cheeks.

***

Mukhul had his name changed to “Abhay”. They took him to the Mumbai city; where he was given education along with the other orphaned kids.

He completed his studies and joined a book publishing company. He soon learnt the trade and started his own book publishing company. Soon the business thrived and he opened branches in other cities too.

Many years had passed since the incident which took away his loved ones away from him. He had just her passport picture; which he safely kept in his wallet. He used to look at it whenever he missed her.

***

Sadhana had completed her studies i.e, M.A. Literature and was hunting for a job in the big city. She had read the advertisement in the newspaper that “Ganesh Book Publishing House” requires Junior Editors and Editors.

She went for the interview and saw a big crowd in the reception hall.

The receptionist had collected all their resumes and asked them to wait for their turn.

“Hmmm…it seems many have turned up seeing our add” Abhay said, looking at his assistant Prithvi “Please send them one by one to cabin C5!” He told his receptionist.

Abhay started interviewing the candidates one by one.

Sadhana Mukul waited for her turn to come.

Soon, her turn came and the receptionist told her to walk straight towards the cabin C5. Sadhana started walking, with her heart beating fast. This was her first interview in her life. Meantime, Abhay waited for the next candidate to come.

He took his glass of water and had a few sips of it.

Suddenly, his mobile started ringing. He answered it.

“Prithvi, please take care of this. I need to go now!” He said, standing up and leaving.

“Sure, sir” Prithvi said, taking his seat.

Abhay walked out of the cabin. He saw a young girl outside…the next candidate…He kept the door open till she walked in…they both smiled at each other.

***

Six months went by; Abhay had to recruit some more people for his company. He told his assistant to get the rejected candidates resumes file. She brought and gave it to him.

“Sandhya, I will shortlist some candidates and send you the list. Can you please check whether they are looking for a change?” Abhay said.

“Yes, sir” She said, smiling at him, before leaving his cabin.

Abhay started looking at the resumes in that file one by one. Finally, he saw a resume. He was shocked looking at the name on the top of the resume “Sadhana Mukhul”. He scrolled down looking for other details. His doubt got confirmed.

“She is alive! She is …” He cried, with tears of joy in his eyes.

He called his assistant Prithvi inside his cabin.

“Well, why did you reject this candidate?” Abhay asked, showing the resume on the desk.

“Well, I thought she isn’t suitable for our company. Also she was a fresher with no experience.” He replied, looking at the resume and also the rejected Resumes file on his table.

“Mr.Prithvi, if we turn away candidates for the reason they don’t have experience then where do you think such candidates will get experience unless someone like us gives them an opportunity?” He cried.

“Yes, sir….but…” He said

“Please call this candidate now! I would like to speak to her.” He said.

“Alright, sir” He said, dialing her mobile number. He got the message that “This number does not exist”

“Because of your mistake…now her number is changed!” He said annoyed. “Come with me, we are going to her place now!”

“But sir, why are we going after this particular candidate?” He asked surprised.

“Because, we turned her away six months back!” He said, walking ahead of him.

Abhya explained him the whole story on the way.

They went to her residential address and came to know that they had shifted three months back. Somehow they got her new address…unfortunately; they had shifted from there too. They couldn’t get her new address. They had reached a dead end.

Abhay became frustrated. Privthi came towards him smiling.

“Please don’t irritate me with your stupid smile!” Abhay said, annoyed.

“Sir, I got her new mobile number…She is on the line..” He said, handing him his mobile.

“Sadhana!” Abhay cried.

“Yes?” She said at the other end “What is it?”

“Sadhana, you had attended interview in ‘Ganesh Book Publishing House’ six months back, remember?” Abhay asked.

“Yes, I wasn’t selected. So what about it?” She asked.

“Where are you working right now?” He asked

“I am working as the assistant editor in Rainbow Publishing Company.” She replied.

“Are you in office now?”

“Yes, why?”

“I would like to meet you now!” Abhay said, “Please drive to Rainbow Publishing Company!”

“Sadhana, It’s me Mukhul!”

“Mukhul…but?” She cried shocked other end.

“I will explain everything when we meet..” He said

“Ok..” She said.

Later, they met in her office cabin. Mukhul took out her childhood picture from his wallet and gave her. He explained her everything that happened on that fateful day.

“Mukhul, it’s you!” She said, tears of joy flowing down from her eyes and hugging him, “I am really very happy to see you!”

She took the ring from her purse and gave it to him.

“Oh! I am so glad I found it again.” He said, taking it, removing the thread on the ring and then putting it on his finger.

THE PROLOGUE

Many, many thousands of miles away from planet ‘Earth’. Somewhere in the outer space: –

“So the twist in the fate has been broken.” Said the luminous person, seated on the golden throne, “Man has always put up a fight when the going is really tough and has succeeded in turn.”

“So, Tina, are you happy now?” He asked, looking up at her. “Didn’t I tell you that love is really very powerful? Powerful than myself?”

“Yes, you did!” she said, smiling at him.

The Twist in The Fate – Chapter 2

 

Chapter Two

5:45 PM , 26th September 1975.

The bus was climbing the steep hill. Rahul was listening to the music on his Walkman….with closed eyes. Suddenly, the bus came to a screeching halt and it jerked.

Rahul opened his eyes and looked in front…removed the ear plugs of his Walkman and asked the fellow passenger, who was an old man in his late sixties.

“Why did the bus stop?”

“I don’t know?” he said, shrugging his shoulders and looking at him.

“A tree has been uprooted and fallen on the road. The road is blocked. It would take sometime to clear it off the road. Meantime, you can get down the bus and see the very beautiful view from the top of this hill.” said the conductor of the bus, coming.

So most of the passengers got down the bus, including Rahul. He walked towards the edge of the hill and the memories of the past came to his mind.

“Excuse me, I have something to say.” said a beautiful young girl, coming towards Rahul, while he was chatting with his friend Sanjay.

“Yes, what is it?” he asked, looking at her.

“It’s personal,” She said, looking at Sanjay, “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Ok, I’ll make a move, Rahul.” He said, standing up and leaving, “See ya later.”

“Bye!” said Rahul, “Tell me what is it ?” he asked, looking at her.

“I Love You!” she said.

“W-What?” he cried, “Miss, you don’t even know me neither do I? And you come and say that you love me? Isn’t this strange and ridiculous?”

“Maybe? But I have fallen very deeply in love with you the very first moment I saw you.” She said, “And I think that I can’t live without you…you tell me if you too love me…or else…” She said, seriously.

“…or else what?” He asked

“I’ll have to look for some suicide spot and end my life, Rahul!” She said.

“You also know my name?” he said, “By the way, what’s your good name, miss?”

“Hmmmmm…If you think that you will fall in love with me after knowing my good name…then my good name is Priya. I’m 23 years old and am the only daughter of my parents. My father, Mr.Shaker, is an automobile engineer and my mother, Aruna is a normal house wife and I’ve a pet dog called ‘Tracy’, is this much details enough for you to fall in love with me, Rahul?”

“Alright, but you don’t know about me ?” he said.

“Do you like me to tell your life history, Rahul ?” she asked, with a smile on her face.

“No, thanks,” He said, smiling back at her.

“So what do you say?” She asked him.

“Priya, all I can tell you is that you needn’t have to go in search of any suicide spot anymore.” He said, with a grin.

“Thank you. I am so glad today.” She said, “I will soon introduce you to my parents. I’m sure that they too will like you and agree for our marriage and then…..” She said.

“And then, what?” he asked, looking into her eyes.

“Then, we’re going to have half a dozen kids. The first one shall be a boy named Rahul.” She said, “I hope you don’t mind that!”

“Mind?” he asked, pushing her off, “In the first place, we aren’t going to have a half a dozens kids and then not a boy.”

“Ok, fine.” She said, “How about five?”

“No!”

“Four?”

“No!”

“Three?”

“No!”

“Then you tell me how many?”

“Two”

“Only two, is it?”

“Yes, the first one will be a girl called ‘Priya’ and the second one will be a boy named ‘Rahul’. Is that ok?”

“Fine.” She said, smiling and hugging him.

***

Rahul was approaching the edge of the hill and the memories were flashing faster than before in his mind.

“Rahul, if something worst should happen to me. What will you do?” she asked.

“Please don’t you talk like that to me. Because, nothing is going to happen to you.” He said.

“No, if God forbid something happens to me, then what?” she asked.

“Then I’ll try to save you, if not I’ll join you in death!” he said.

“Do you love me so much?” she asked, smiling at him.

“Yes, I do! I love you more than my life!” He replied.

Rahul reached the edge of the hill. The wind was blowing against him, as he looked down from the top of that hill. It was so deep below.

“It would be an instant death, no doubt about it,” he thought.

“Son, be careful!” cried the old man, from behind, “It could be dangerous!” he warned.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” He said, turning and looking at him…..his mind was going through the turmoil of the past.

“Doc, we have an emergency in the ICU. I don’t think she is going to make it?” said the nurse.

“What’s the case?” he asked.

“A car accident. She had hit a huge tree to avoid direct collision with the bus coming from the opposite direction. Nothing of the car remained. She was driving at 80 kms per hour.” She explained.

“Son, please save my daughter…..please….save her…she’s the only one we have…” pleaded her father, holding his hands.

“I will give try my best try!” He said, soothingly.

Rahul moved toward the unconscious figure in the Coma State and even before he could see her face, he knew who it was. He was shocked.

“Get the oxygen…I want blood over here immediately…it’s O negative…I want it fast..” He cried.

“How do you…?” asked the nurse, “Do you know her, doctor?”

“Hurry! We are running out of time…!” he cried, “Yes….her name is Priya!” he said, softly to her.

Rahul ran his finger around her forehead and he was nearly in tears.

“Doctor, there had been heavy bleeding. I don’t think she will…” said the nurse.

“NO! I want her to live! Do you hear me, LIVE!” he cried.

“Yes,…doctor.” Said the nurse, softly.

Rahul worked hard for another two to three hours making sure that everything possible was being done for Priya. She had a fractured skull, broken spine, a brain confusion, later, Rahul decided there was nothing more he could do for the present. He looked one last time at the unconscious figure.

“We are going to have a half a dozen kids. The first one shall be named ‘Rahul’, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Inform me, if at all there is any improvement?” he said, tired.

“Sure, Doctor.” Said the nurse.

As he walked out of the operation theatre: –

“Son, is she going to live?” asked her father, standing up.

“I..I don’t really know? Let’s pray to the God.” Said Rahul.

“She had told me so much about you, son.” Said her mother.

“And about you both to me.” He said, looking sadly at her.

At 1 am, the phone rang and he picked it up :

“Hello ?”

“Doc.It’s me. The patient in the ICU ward has become critical.”

“I’m coming…” He said, rubbing his eyes.

He rushed to the hospital and into the ICU ward. The oxygen mask had been removed.

“Who removed the God dam oxygen mask ?” he cried.

“Doc. She is no more.” Said the nurse, sadly.

Rahul took a deep breath. Now, the wind was beating from behind. He lifted both his hands up and leaned forward and let the wind push him down the cliff.

“She is no more….I’m sorry.”

He fell down and down. He could imagine Priya’s pretty smiling face in his mind. “I am coming to you….my dear…I’m coming!”

***

Sometime later, many, many thousand’s of miles away from planet Earth :-

“So have you all come to an conclusion about their reincarnation ?” asked a person, with a small golden crown on his head, seated on the golden throne, he was dressed in white robes.

“Yes.” Said Francis, with a grin, handing the file to him.

“Oh!” exclaimed the luminous person, going through the pages of the file, “Does every one of you agree with this?” he asked, looking at them.

“Yes”. They all said, except one, who remained silent all the while.

“Tina, why are you so silent? Is something wrong?” he asked, looking at her, “Don’t you agree with them?”

“No” she said, gently.

“And may I know why?” he asked, looking at her seriously.

“My lord, as you already know that this very couple had been reincarnated six times so far on the planet Earth, this shall be the seventh and most probably the last time. All the six times, their love had been unsuccessful, I should say”

“In one of their previous births, she was born quite late, when he was almost some sixty eight years old. Even though their age gape was more, they still fell in love with each other and even got married. But he was poisoned by his best and close friend.”

“Now, in their last birth, she had met with an accident and reached the heaven. Whereas, he couldn’t bear her loss, committed suicide and reached hell.” She continued.

“Well, at least, I thought that they are going to succeed this one last time. But now, It’s impossible once again!” she concluded with a sigh.

“Tina, I respect your feelings ….But you should know that love is powerful …..It is more powerful than me…the creator of this universe.” Said the person seated on the golden throne, smiling at her.

“But, it doesn’t make any sense in this case, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Wait and see for yourself. You should have patience, my dear.” He said, “If their love is true then it can work wonders.”

“Alright, let them do what they want to.” She said.

“That’s like a good girl.” He said, “So you can go ahead and let them be reincarnated as your team of F.A.T.E. wishes.”

“Thank you, my lord.” Said Francis, with a grin of victory on his face. He stared at Tina, who seemed to have lost the battle.

Francis, Angela, Tina and Edward were the four member team of ‘FATE’. Who were responsible for all the things that happened on the planet ‘Earth’ and else where. Since, the lord of the universe had the other important things to look after. So they looked after the routine matters or things, which included births and deaths, fortunes and misfortunes, etc.