Random Tales

The Final Moment

There are times when I feel that death is a difficult choice and not the easy option everyone talks about. It’s true that once you die, there is no burden left. However, the moment between your death when you have taken the plunge, both metaphorically or actually, stretches long and you get to see all the realities that are possible. Your mind gives you solutions to the problems you had been struggling for years and shows you the paths it had buried deep inside. Perhaps, it shows this as a last-ditch effort to save itself, not knowing that it’s too late. In that blissful and terrible moment, you see all the people who would miss you, all the people who would be affected by your life, a life you considered fruitless, futile, and frivolous. This is the moment that makes death hard.

Yes, it’s easy to die but death doesn’t come easy to anyone, least of all to people who actively seek it. You can’t escape the pain allotted to you and if you try to cheat, if you try to reduce the pain over the years, it will all come concentrated in that single moment. The good thing is that it’s a single moment, right?

Maybe. But knowing that things could have been better, if only we had thought harder, fought harder, even ran away and then come back stronger, is perhaps the greatest regret of all time. The pain might end after that one second, but experiencing all that pain isn’t a choice, it’s life.

Now, please take a step back so that I can experience that single moment.

Said the man in glasses to the audience before jumping off the roof.

Random Tales

Forever, together

Rama was alone in the house, thinking about Javed, shivering with anger. ‘How could he leave her like that?’ her mind looped back to this single question.

Rama and Javed had started dating two years ago when Javed had asked Rama out , knowing full well the differences between them, not just in their religion but their financial status, family values, and health. Rama came from a rich, albeit dysfunctional family – parents divorced, brother an addict – not to discount the troubles of being a woman in her society which still saw her a secondary character as compared to her useless brother. Javed was from a more modest background. He had reached the college through hard work, scholarship, and education loan. His whole lifestyle was focused on saving money to send it home to his parents whom he loved more than anything else and who loved and protected him with the same intensity. Javed would often laugh that his parents would even fight Allah if he ever found himself facing his wrath.

Amidst all these differences, Rama barely understood why Javed asked her out. They had known each other for just a few months and wary of her past relationships, where the guys were only interested in a casual relationship, she refused. Javed persisted.

“I like you. I don’t want to be your friend and I’m not going anywhere. Deal with it,” he had said one of the times when she had tried to gently turn him down. It took almost a year for Rama to finally agree. It didn’t take long for them to move in after, all differences forgotten.
Three months ago, more than two and a half years after they had met and more than one and a half years after they started dating, she asked him about the future.

“Where are we going?”

He hugged her and said – “We are going into the forever, together.”

She smiled and hugged him back. Soon enough, she talked to her parents about him. His parents already knew about her, everything about her. His mom would often call her to take her advice on the newest fashion or to know what Javed was doing. In comparison, there was furor, drama, and tension at her house when they found out about Javed but Rama and Javed prevailed. They convinced her parents that the differences of religion and status will be immaterial against their love.

“I’m so happy,” Rama said poking her stomach with a needle before her meal. “When will you come?” She asked Javed. Javed was going home to officially talk about the wedding.

“Three or four days, max. I can’t be without you more than that,” he said and hugged her.

That was a week ago. Yesterday, Javed came back, his face ashen, his grin forever faded, with a few new grey hair.

“What happened?” Rama asked, his stress infusing into her. Javed gave a small non-committal ‘it’s nothing’ and went to sleep.

Today, Rama came back from work and found a letter and an almost empty apartment. All of Javed’s belongings were missing. She opened the letter. Her expressions changed from shocked to enraged, tears flowing from her eyes, her fingers curling into fists.

‘I love you Rama, more than anything in the world. And my parents love you as well. They adore you and think that you are the best thing that has happened to me. And you know how open-minded they are about religion, caste, and financial backgrounds. That is why I was shocked when they told me that they don’t want us to get married. I fought them, asked them for the reason and we had extended discussions. The truth is that they don’t want a daughter-in-law who has a chronic disease. I’m sorry that I can’t go against them. I’m sorry.’

Rama crumpled the note. Wasn’t she honest with her illness? Couldn’t they say this two years ago when he first told them about her? Didn’t she convince her parents? She looked around the empty apartment through tear-filled eyes, his words echoing in her head –

‘Forever, together.’

Random Tales

Family Members Only!

I was fifteen when my father died. Luckily, it was cancer. Now, I know what you are thinking. How can it be lucky? In a contorted way, it was lucky because it gave us time to prepare. We shared some wonderful moments and he imparted his wisdom on me.

Two years have passed since then and I take his words as gospels.

  • Never break someone’s trust.
  • Always be kind, even if you can’t be nice to someone.
  • Never wear a crumpled shirt.
  • Always follow the rules on your first day at work.

…and so on. I know the last one might be hilarious for you but in his view, one should always follow a rule until one understands why it exists. Once you understand a rule, you can decide whether you should break it or not.

Yesterday, I was almost forced to break one of his rules but I can proudly say that I didn’t. I hope he’s proud of me.

I started a part-time job in a hospital. My badge said night-attendant but in truth, I was a glorified guard outside the ICU – the Intensive Care Unit – where all the critically ill and terminal patients were kept. I was to ensure that only the family members of the patients are allowed to come inside their respective rooms. Apparently, it was usual for other patients to come in these rooms due to better facilities and sometimes, stronger drugs and I was there to stop that from happening.

I didn’t believe it for fifteen minutes of starting to work. Then, the first guy tried to enter the ICU. He was around 50 years old and while he seemed on his deathbed himself, I realized soon that it was an act. Ten minutes later, a woman, in her 20s tried to enter the ICU. I had to stop at least 10 people in a span of a few hours from entering the ICU.

No wonder that I couldn’t recognize the tall hooded creature when he tried to enter the ICU. He wore a brown-black robe which covered all of his head and his thin and bony fingers were barely visible from the arms of the robe.

“Sorry, sir. You can’t enter. Family members only,” I said to the hood and he promptly ignored me and continued towards the door.

“Excuse me, hooded man. I’m talking to you. You can’t enter,” I said and placed my hand in front of him. He turned to me and whispered in a shocked voice.

“You can see me?”

Anger surged through my body at the idiotic question but I pushed it down.

“Yes, sir. I can see you and I don’t think you are one of the family members of these patients. This means you can’t go inside.”

The man lowered his hood and a tall man with a smirk was looking at me.

“But can’t the rules be bent a little,” he said with a grin on his face. “For special, ah… guests.”

“It’s not up to me to decide that sir.”

“Of course. Perhaps this would help me persuade you to break the rules today.” The man said an fished his hand in his pocket for what I presumed was a few green ones. Not the first person to try this.

“With all due respect, money won’t work.”

“No… No… No… Not money. This,” he said and brought out a six inches rod. He gave it one jiggle and it turned into a large scythe. At the same time, his face started to turn white. No! Scratch that. The skin on his face started to dry out and the white skeleton started to show.

“Oh.” I said.

“Oh indeed.”

“Can I enter now? I have an important appointment with one of the patients. It’s a matter of death and death.”

I took a deep break, closed my eyes and opened them again to find the figure standing tall in front of me. My heartbeat was increasing by the second and panic was taking over every fiber of my body until the image of my father dawned over me.

“I’m sorry sir, Mr. Death. I can’t let you in. It’s the hospital’s rule and I can’t break it. Not today.” I didn’t know why Death was entertaining me. I was sure that it could take me out with a single swipe. I could see in Death’s face that it was also considering that option. But I couldn’t care less. The initial panic and fear was nowhere to be found now. It was replaced by anger and hatred. Death must have come for my father as well. It was because of Death that I became fatherless at the age of 15. It wasn’t cancer but the creature standing in front of me who caused my father’s death.

I won’t let him have another one today.

“I can see your mind. You’re angry.”

“Mr. Death. Please leave, family only.” I reiterated controlling my fury.

The man smiled.

“Ahh… Yes. I remember you. Two years ago. You were crying, holding your father’s hand. I’m sorry I had to do that.”

I felt my eyes welling up.

“Family members only,” I said mustering as much force as I could in my words. They were still feeble. I could see the nurse looking at me weirdly. She was probably seeing a man standing alone fighting back his tears, whispering and mumbling some words to an imaginary friend.

The man smiled once again but there was a strain in his smile.

“It’s very interesting that I can go through any wall but I can’t kill someone whose time isn’t up. Neither can I cross someone who can see me. I don’t know how the rules work but for me to complete my work, you have to move,” he said with a menacing rumble. I realized a moment later that I had indeed shifted a bit just by the strength of his words.

“NO!” I said once more. “Family members only.”

Death looked at me, deeply and then passed through me. I felt a shock run through my whole body.

He had a grin on his face.

“I thought you couldn’t pass me.”

“I can’t pass you to the ICY but I can pass through you, find out what you want so that I can change your mind,” Death said.

“You can’t.”

“Definitely not today. Your father’s gospel run strong in you. But maybe tomorrow?”

“Never.”

“Now… Now… Don’t be hasty. Let me make you a deal. If I keep my end of the bargain, will you break your promise tomorrow?”

I didn’t say anything but he continued talking. After a while, he left. That was yesterday. Today, I’m waiting for him.

My father said never to break a rule on the first day of the job. I kept my promise. I hope he is proud of me when he sees me today.


This story was from a Reddit Prompt and can also be read here – http://bit.ly/2UTw4GY

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Goodbye Vinya

Vinya looked at the mirror and pulled her cheeks. She looked below and squeezed her breasts. She didn’t know what to make of it. Doctors had told that the symptoms for her disease would start with her having a shattered body. It had not begun yet but she had started to feel it internally. She had some discomfort moving around and she was getting tired sooner. Her body however, was still in impeccable shape.

“Maybe the doctor was wrong.” She said to herself and smiled at her own denial.

Vinya turned to her clothes and wore a burgandy dress that was gifted by Vivan to her. She had to tell Vivan that she was dying. It won’t be a pleasant experience but he deserved the truth. She was also happy that he was with her. She didn’t think she would survive this alone.

“Hey!” Vivan said sheepishly getting up from his seat. Vivan was always ahead of time. This meant that Vinya was always late. Vinya’s face lit up looking at Vivan. He was such a calming presence in her life. However, Vinya knew that the news she was about to deliver would change that for the both of them.

“You wanted to discuss something important?” Vivan asked while passing Vinya the menu.

“Yeah. I had been thinking this for a few days. I thought it is time I blurted this out.” Vinya said unable to meet Vivan’s eyes. It dawned to her at that precise moment that she was pulling him into a miserable situation and she wasn’t sure if she wanted that. She looked at Vivan and he was looking expectantly. He had a faint smile on his face as if awaiting a good news. Vinya didn’t wanted to shatter that. Yet, she was halfway through.

“I just wanted to talk…” Vinya said when she was interrupted by Vivan’s phone.

“Just a sec.” Vivan said and picked up the phone. He turned away a bit farther from Vinya and she could see him talking furiously. Vivan was agitated as only work could make him. He came back and sat down in a different mood.

“Something wrong with work?” Vinya asked putting her hand on his. Vivan looked at her dazed before coming back to reality.

“No. Not work. Vinya, we need to talk.” Vivan said and Vinya’s heart sank.

“Yes, Vivan.” Vinya said barely able to contain her emotions.

“I have found someone else. Her name is Neha and we met a few days ago. We have been talking since then and I have felt a connection I have never felt before.”

Vinya felt that she would burst. Maybe she had burst because her innards felt hollow. She just looked at Vivan expressionless. The two sat there for minutes like that.

“I am sorry.” Vivan said finally.

“Huh! No… no… it’s alright. Even I was thinking on similar lines. Perhaps we don’t have a long-term future.”

“Really!” Vivan said, his smile broadening. “I thought you would say something like that when you said you had been thinking.”

“Oh really!” Vinya said realising the source of Vivan’s faint smile.

“Yeah. I don’t want to break your heart Vinya but Neha… She and I are perfect.”

“Good for you Vivan.” Vinya said as a sharp pain shot in her chest. Doctor didn’t tell her that heartbreak could enhance her symptoms. She thought and laughed.

“Wow! You seemed really relieved.” Vivan said seeing her laughing. “I mean, we weren’t that bad, were we?” Vivan said grinning now.

“No. We weren’t. It’s just that things had proceeded so well for the both of us. I didn’t imagine it happening.” Vinya said and tried to give her most genuine smile.

“Awesome! Thanks Vin.” Vivan said and gave her a hug. Vinya hugged him hard, once last time and then turned away.

It had been six months since Vivan’s wedding. He had indeed found the one for him. Vinya looked at the mirror and smiled. Her body had started deteriorating the day Vivan and she broke up. Her face survived Vivan’s wedding, in which she was invited. She never talked to Vivan after that.

Today, however, she was unrecognizable. Today. The day she shifts from her home to the hospital. It was also the day when one year ago, she and Vivan broke up so it seemed apt to her to have another big change in her life on this day.

She had a couple of months left which she knew she would be spending in pain and possibly alone. She could never muster up the courage to tell Vivan her reality. Maybe he will never find out. Vinya thought smiling. The wrinkles on her face cracked and her chaffed lips started to bleed.

“Goodbye Vinya.” She said to the mirror and turned her back forever to it.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Apologies

“Umm.. I am sorry. I am SORRY.. I AM SORRY!!! THAT’S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY.” She didn’t realise she was screaming by the end of the sentence. Sudhanshu’s ears were realising it too much.

“I just slept with a girl. It’s not like I fell in love with her. It was just physical.” Sudhanshu said casually. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t care about Pallavi’s overreaction.

“We are in a relationship. How could you do this? How can you be nonchalant about it?” Pallavi said and threw her phone towards him. He grabbed it and kept it on the bed.

“Our relationship is still as it was. I still love you and care about you. This is just plain sex with a skank because I was missing sex with you. I did this because I was missing you.”

Pallavi burst into tears. She felt a strong pain in her heart that started to flow through her body. She was unable to breathe properly and was gasping between sobs.

“Sit down Pallavi.” Sudhanshu said and Pallavi obeyed. She didn’t think she could handle the stress standing.

“What is happening?” Pallavi said looking from Sudhanshu to the girl lying naked in the bed.

The girl was looking at the whole scene with a smirk on her face.

“It’s nothing Pallavi. You are taking it all very seriously.” Sudhanshu said and got out of the bed. He wasn’t wearing anything but didn’t care about it in the least.

“Who are you?” Pallavi asked the girl.

“Hi. My name is Pallavi as well. I work in his office in a different department. He talks about you a lot. It’s so good to finally meet you.” The girl said extending her arm towards Pallavi. Her blanket slipped a bit showing that she wasn’t wearing anything. Pallavi felt like she was punched.

“You two were really doing it.” Pallavi said. She realised that until she had seen both of them naked, she was still harbouring some hope that this was a prank.

“Of course. Sudhanshu is extremely good. And nice to me too. You are a lucky woman Pallavi.” The girl said.

“How long have you two been having sex?” Pallavi asked.

“A few months ago. Only when you are not in the city and I miss you.” Sudhanshu said drinking a gulp of water from the glass. He poured some water and gave it to Pallavi as well.

Pallavi took a deep breath finally. It was alright, she said to herself. Only a few months. In their 5 years of marriage, these few months are just a blip. This was just a phase that they would survive. Pallavi looked at Sudhanshu who was smiling at her. She turned to the girl, the other Pallavi who was beaming at her as if meeting a star.

“Oh don’t mind me. I have just heard so much about it. I have wanted to meet you for some time now.” The girl said and hugged Pallavi. She couldn’t understand what was happening. When she had entered her home, she didn’t imagine being hugged by a naked girl who was sleeping with her husband.

“You should leave now. Me and Pallavi will sort this out. Let’s meet after that.” Sudhanshu said to the girl. She got dressed, kissed Sudhanshu on the cheek, gave Pallavi another hug and left.

“This is not acceptable Sudhanshu. You can’t cheat on you. You can’t be this casual about it.”

“I wasn’t cheating on you. I was missing you.”

“How would you feel if I did the same on my trips?” Pallavi asked him looking at him directly.

“Like when you slept with my friend just before the wedding five years ago.” Sudhanshu said knocking the wind out of Pallavi.

“You knew about that.”

“Not then. I found out about it only a year later. He told me once drunk. Apologised and what not. Said to me that he didn’t know we were engaged.” Sudhanshu said with an old bitterness entering his tone.

Pallavi looked at him, heart broken.

“Why didn’t you confront me?”

“I love you Pallavi. I kept hoping that you would tell me some day. That someday, we would again be in a monogamous relationship.”

“I have never cheated on you since we have been married. It was a stupid mistake. I got scared by the prospect of marriage. Trust me.”

Sudhanshu smiled. “It’s alright. Maybe we can start over now. Honestly, I have only ever wanted to sleep with you anyways.”

“Really.” Pallavi looked at him smiling hopefully.

“Yeah. That’s why I was so happy that her name was Pallavi. It was so weird calling other girls Pallavi. They don’t like it one bit.” Sudhanshu said grinning.

“Other girls. How many?” Pallavi asked crestfallen. Sudhanshu started to laugh.