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.’

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.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Pause

“I love you.” Shubham said, his heartbeat a tad higher, his voice an octave lower in his attempt to sound serious and his palms sweaty. He looked at Anamika hoping to hear the same words back.

Time stood still.

“Not now.” Shubham groaned.

It was a scene that Shubham had seen a thousand times but it still managed to annoy him to no end.

“What do you want?” Shubham said, repeating a line that he had said over and over again expecting a different answer every time.

“Why, I want what I always want — to kill you.” The voice said. Shubham had heard this line many times. Still, he felt crestfallen to hear this line again, especially when he was at the cusp of something so important. Yet, he braced himself for the fight.

The voice gained a body and wings slashed across Shubham’s cheek. A thin line of blood came through the cut before it healed, leaving a trace on his cheek. Shubham wiped out the trace and looked at the white beast in front of him.

Shubham remembered the first time he had felt the time stop. He hadn’t understood what had happened for the first two seconds. On the third second, the whole scene changed and he was on an empty platform. He had heard a flap of wings from afar and had looked towards the horizon with anxiety and excitement mixed. When Shubham had first time seen it, he had thought it was an angel. That mistake had almost cost him his life.

Now, Shubham knew better and was almost always prepared with a few small weapons and one large knife in his back pocket. He brought out the long knife and without even looking at the creature directly slashed. The screech told him that he had aimed true. However, when Shubham looked the creature wasn’t dead. Only a cut on it’s wing. That, however was enough to put it on the ground where Shubham had the advantage.

Shubham ran towards the creature, his knife in stabbing position. The creature shifted slightly and a shine came from its hand that turned out to be a blade. It was a tiny blade but was enough to cut through Shubham’s shirt. Luckily, Shubham had turned at the right moment and the side of the shirt was torn along with his ribs.

Shubham gasped and fell. His momentum created some distance between him and the creature and in that moment, he hoped that he would heal. His knife was lying five feet away from him and he started moving towards it. The creature laughed.

“It is time, Shubham Meena. I finally kill you today.” The creature said in a grating voice. He moved slowly towards Shubham with a knife in his hand.

“Not yet whitey.” Shubham said and crawled towards his knife. He also used his right hand to pick out a smaller knife that he held in his front pocket. The creature fell for the ruse and jumped on Shubham. In a split second, Shubham turned to avoid the creature’s knife and opened the blade of his knife towards the creature’s bosom.

The white creature bawled and tried to run away. The first few times, Shubham had let the creature run away but now, it was just a habit. Like a practiced butcher, Shubham cut through the creature’s wings, made incisions throughout its body and finally beheaded it. In a few minutes the creature was lying on the floor with white creamy blood pouring out of its body.

A lot of Shubham’s life was punctuated by a pause that lasted a fight with this creature. Shubham didn’t know if this was the same creature reincarnate or if they were bred somewhere. Shubham also didn’t understand why he didn’t age or how he healed so quickly in this world. He had once gained his severed arm in this world. But he had learned that he took back the artefacts of the injuries to his world with him. The spliced shirt would remain so and so will any injury that doesn’t heal before he goes back. Due to this, Shubham usually took his time in killing the creature so that his injuries heal in this world.

Finally, he felt a tug in his body and he saw the body of the creature dissolve. It was time to go back.

It was at this moment that Shubham remembered where he had left half an hour ago. Suddenly, he was afraid.

Time started to move again. Anamika was looking at him weirdly as if trying to find the truth in his eyes. Shubham tried to hide the cut on the shirt and hoped there were no other visible signs of his battle. Finally, Anamika smiled.

“I love you too.” Anamika said. Shubham let out a sigh and hugged her. Shubham smiled and kissed Anamika jumping into the bliss before time would stop again.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Lapse

It was a momentarily lapse in judgement but it was enough for the whole life to go on a spiral for Raj.

The car swirled wildly as he tried to save the dog that had come in front of the car — a dog he didn’t see earlier because he was looking at the message he had just received.

In what seemed like a lifetime of fifteen seconds, Raj was sitting in car that was standing still but looking the other way. He tried to remember what had happened in the past few seconds.

The dog had come from the divider on to the road barking at the car. Unfortunately, Raj saw this only at the last second and swirled to the left. The car, which was going at over 50 mph was out of Raj’s control and edged towards the end of the road. Only then Raj saw that the road ended in a deep ditch. Raj pulled the steering with all his force and the car moved towards the divider like a drunkard.

Raj realised that even in this state of panic, he was able to keep his cool enough to make the right choice. Either that or he was lucky that this choice turned out to be right. Instead of turning to left again, Raj swirled the car even more and the car twisted a whole 180 degree and came to a standstill.

The dog was looking at the car uncertainly. Raj kept sitting in the car for a few minutes. It was an empty road. If something had happened, no one would have been there to save him. Luckily, this also meant that no other car bumped into him while he was in this frenzy. That would have been lethal.

He turned the car slowly and was now driving at 20 mph. His heart rate was higher than he had ever experienced. But it was all fine.

At least that’s how he liked to remember the story. Even though the slight blood on the tyres was a bit difficult to fit in this story. And so was the fact that sometimes he had nightmares where the dog would turn into a 5-year old kid.

But in his story, it was all fine.