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

True Love

Ritesh swallowed a little bile that he felt rising up in his throat. The smell of burnt flesh was making Ritesh nauseated.

“Is it necessary?” Ritesh asked Riyanka. He kept his voice low — almost to a whisper.

“Yes.” Riyanka replied in her usual loud voice. “And you don’t have to whisper. He’s dead.” Riyanka continued.

Ritesh dabbed sweat from his forehead. He hadn’t killed anyone before, let alone burn a person.

“I am afraid.” Ritesh said, still whispering. Riyanka rolled her eyes.

“Of course you are. When are you not afraid? It’s a good thing that I was here. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to kill him, let alone dispose him off.” Riyanka said checking if the burning was complete.

“I don’t understand why did we have to do this.” Ritesh said pointing towards the fire.

“Body means proof. Proof means possibility of getting caught. Besides, this way, he can’t rise from the dead.” Riyanka said winking at Ritesh. Ritesh smiled shakily.

“I love you.” Ritesh blurted. Riyanka smiled and kissed him.

“I love you this much.” Riyanka said waving at the burning. Ritesh finally smiled. Ritesh and Ismail had been together for 5 years before Riyanka came into his life. Ritesh had met Riyanka at his wedding with Ismail a couple of months ago. All it took was one meeting for him to fall head over heels in love with Riyanka. Suddenly, the idea of living with anyone except her seemed horrific.

“He wouldn’t have understood.” Ritesh said to himself.

“He might have. If you could have just explained him properly. He wasn’t a bad person.” Riyanka said patting Ritesh.

“I tried. I tried telling him that I love someone else. He didn’t believe me first. And when he did, he didn’t take it well.” Ritesh said once again iterating the story that he had lived a few hours ago. Riyanka looked at him with love and sympathy.

“He started throwing things at me. Then he started to choke me. I was just trying to protect myself. I didn’t know he would get thrown off the stairs.” Ritesh said and started weeping. Riyanka put her hands around Ritesh and kissed him on the cheek.

“It’s okay. Now, it’s all going to be over.”

“But police will find out. They won’t find out the truth. My brother is a cop. He told me to burn the body. This way, it’s a kidnapping and not a murder. We would go to him. If he handles the case, we are safe.” Riyanka said and hugged Ritesh.

She couldn’t believe what was happening. When she first heard, what had happened, her first reaction was panic. However, by the time she reached Ritesh’s house, all she wanted to do was protect the person she loves. She had known from the day she met him that she would do anything for Ritesh and today, she knew how true it was. She could do anything for Ritesh.

“I love you Ritesh.”

“I love you Riyanka.”

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Post-Death Syndrome

Anant grabbed the knife and ran towards the open door. He knew he had a few minutes before Priya would wake up.

“Shit.. Shit.. Shit.. I shouldn’t have stabbed her. I hope she’s alive.” Anant cursed himself and shut the door behind him. Ever since the outbreak of the virus, dying has become worse for the killer. If Priya died, he would have a real hard time. All he could hope was that he would be far away before she wakes up.

Anant had just reached his car when he heard Priya’s voice.

“I knew it.” Priya said looking at Anant from the door. Blood was gushing out of the cut that Anant had made. Priya’s clothes were tattering because of the scuffle that they two had had.

“You won’t catch me Priya.” Anant said and jumped in the car. Even before he could start the car, Priya was at the door.

“No Anant. You don’t get to run.” Priya said and broke the window of the car and grabbed Anant.

Within a minute, Anant was on the road, his neck broken.

“I hate you.” Anant said standing up.

“You still didn’t have to kill me.” Priya said an annoyed look on her face.

“I didn’t want to. I just hate you so much that I couldn’t control myself.”

“Now, what are you going to do?” Priya asked. She was sitting down now, her body’s strength seeping away. The virus that had activated her body post-death had used up the energy.

“I will probably go and tell Suhani about this. She lives a block away so I will reach her in time.” Anant said.

“I wish I had the time to kill that bitch.” Priya said and lied down.

The virus only became activated when a person died. However, during that period, the brain would be reactivated and the body gained huge energy surge. A person would get superhuman strength and speed for a flicker. Scientists called this Post-Death Syndrome. This reanimation would only happen in bodies with virus and almost 95% of humans were infected by the virus. As there were no other probable side-affects, the research for cure was limited.

“Goodbye Priya. I didn’t want it to end this way. I’m sorry.” Anant said and sped off.

“Bye Anant Chaudhary. I love you.” Priya said to the wind Anant had left behind and then fell silent. The virus was done with her now.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Medicine

Aeshwarya didn’t know if she was more angry or more in pain. She cleaned up the blood and threw blood stained clothes in the dustbin. She hated when it creeped up on her. No time to prep. She knew that she must dispose off all of that soon but right now, she just wanted to relax. Aeshwarya was tired and done for the night.

She looked at Rita and her pain (and anger) increased. She had heard so much that girls who stay together get on the same cycle. No such thing happened between her and Rita. Rita was sleeping like a baby who had nothing to care for. Aeshwarya felt jealous of Rita. Rita didn’t go through this much pain. Heck! She was more productive during such situations than Aeshwarya was on a regular day.

“She could care for me.” Aeshwarya whispered to herself and then lied down on the bed. The cramps were killing her but she tried to fall asleep by forcefully closing her eyes. No such luck favoured her. Today was an especially troubling night for her. She wished Rita would bake her special cookies for her. Those were extremely helpful in getting her mood up but she decided not to wake Rita for this. It would be extremely selfish.

Aeshwarya willed herself to reduce the pain and focus on sleep. Slowly, she felt the pain to recede. She didn’t know if this was actually happening or was in her mind but at least she was feeling better. Just then, Rita turned and hugged Aeshwarya. She put her leg over Aeshwarya and put her hand across Aeshwarya’s tummy.

Wind knocked off Aeshwarya and tears came to her eyes. The pain that she thought was going away came back with vengeance.

“RITA!!!” Aeshwarya shouted with pain. Rita woke up startled.

“Aeshwarya! What happened?” Rita said somnolent. Aeshwarya remained silent trying to control her pain.

Rita looked at Aeshwarya holding her stomach and saw the filled dustbin.

“When?” Rita asked Aeshwarya.

“A few hours ago.” Aeshwarya whispered.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Rita said. A hint of disappointment crept into her voice.

“Didn’t.. Trouble..” Aeshwarya said in broken tones.

“Idiot.” Rita said and went out of the room. She tried calling Rita and was really furious. She was in pain and Rita was the one leaving the room.

Aeshwarya kept lying in the bed upset at the unfairness of the situation when Rita came back.

“Here is the medicine I had bought for you. This should give you some relief. I had also baked some cookies yesterday for this. Take it.” Rita said shoving a biscuit in Aeshwarya’s mouth.

“Mmphh.. Wurpphhh..” Aeshwarya said with her mouth full.

“Yeah.. yeah.. I know.” Rita said nonchalantly and opened a bottle of balm and started massaging Aeshwarya’s stomach.

“What are you doing?” Aeshwarya asked swollowing the cookies.

“I learned this a few days back. It should ease up the pain.” Rita said.

“You did this for me? Where did you learn this?” Aeshwarya asked taking another cookie.

“Youtube.” Rita said blushing.

Aeshwarya laughed despite the pain.

“I love you.” Aeshwarya said.

“Take the medicine.” Rita replied continuing the massage.