Random Tales

Quest for Mortality

It was a day to behold. Death was standing in front of Kartraya once again. Last time the two had met, Kartraya had defeated Death – the first and only being in the universe to do that. Death had not taken its defeat lightly.

“Come what may, you will live. I won’t ever come to you again.” Death had said and gone in shame. While this may look like whining, it was the gravest of all punishments for Kartraya. Once, a victorious prince who captured the hearts and hearths of many other beings, today, he was tired. His body still looked pristine, like the day he stood victorious in front of Death. His mind was another story. He couldn’t differentiate between the reality and dreams, the past and the future, what had actually happened and what was etched in his mind as memory due to the time elapsed. Meeting new people every few decades exhausted him, seeing his loved ones die again and again crushed his soul, and knowing there is no end to his actions made them meaningless.

He turned cruel over time, barbaric, almost mindless. He had phases that lasted decades when he lost the ability to think and would wander meaninglessly, animalistic in behavior, and jaded in outlook. He would eventually come back, sometimes with the memories of the brutal time and other times, like a new born.

The only memory that stayed with him without fail was the fateful night when he had won against Death. Everything else was fluid. He had defeated Death! And today, finally, Death was standing in front of him, still sulking like an impertinent child angry over an old gripe.

“What do you want?” Death said while twisting its arms.

“I want to die,” Kartraya said calmly.

“That can’t happen.”

“Yes, it can. Take me with you and let me rest.”

Death looked at its shackles and laughed.

“You captured me to ask me to take you. You have some serious issues.”

Kartraya’s voice lowered. “I don’t have patience anymore. Take me with you. I want to die.”

The menace in Kartraya’s voice sent a shiver down Death. “I can’t. You have defeated me – twice. It is beyond my powers to hurt you now.”

“There must be a way,” Kartraya whispered.

“The essence of Jalep. I was born out of a drop of Jalep’s essence. If you drink it, you would die. Not the same death as others, but death nonetheless.”

“What would be different?”

“No reincarnation. You won’t exist anymore. There won’t be a soul or any mark of you left. Unlike others, you won’t get a second chance, nor would you meet your friends or family from the past.”

“I don’t want another chance. I just want it all to end.”

“Find the essence of Jalep and you will be free,” Death said with a grin on its face. The essence of Jalep was impossible to find or attain.

Kartraya looked at Death with keen eyes and skepticism. Then he dipped his hand in his pocket and took out a vial with dark liquid – almost black with hint of pink swirling every so often. The liquid was splashing and writhing even in a stationary bottle, as if in pain.

“H… H… How do you have that?”

“I heard about it through the winds but wanted to be certain about it before I drink it,” Kartraya said and gulped down the vial. Death looked at it with horror and fascination.

Kartraya closed his eyes and lay down on the ground. His breathing became haggard and an occasional twitch formed in his hands. A darkness seemed to engulfed the whole environment even though the sun was still shining brightly. Death had never seen the effect of the essence and didn’t know what was happening.

“Can I die by the essence that created me?” Death thought. For a split second, it felt fear for itself. The second passed and Kartraya’s breathing stopped.

Death looked around and everything was again bright and exciting. Its nemesis, its biggest foe, was in front of him, dead and forever gone. It was then that Death realised that Kartraya had left it chained. Death tugged at his chains but couldn’t budge. In his quest for mortality, Kartraya had left the whole world immortal.

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.’

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Marriage

Siddharth stood at the end of the cliff contemplating suicide. Rishika was sitting in the car, waiting for her husband to come back from peeing.

This was the summary of a relationship that had completed five years two days ago. A day hadn’t gone by when Siddharth didn’t think that he was better off dead. A day hadn’t gone when Siddharth thought of leaving Rishika.

Rishika on the other hand was madly in love with Siddharth. She had loved Siddharth since the first day she met him. The two had arranged marriage and while Rishika had gotten everything she had ever asked for, Siddharth had lost everything.

“I can’t marry you Siddharth. I can’t go against my parents.” These were the last words of his first love. These were the words that pushed Siddharth into marrying Rishika and these were the words that taunted and tortured him every day.

Siddharth threw his cigarette stub in the lake below. He would be next. Siddharth didn’t know how to swim and it would just take a few minutes before he would finally be free of his pain. A pain which he couldn’t share with Rishika. In the past five years, he had tried to tell Rishika about his past but he just could never share it.

“What would I say? That my greatest regret is marrying you instead of her.” Siddharth said, almost whispered and finally took his step towards the lake. His heartbeat increased in anticipation. He tried not looking down at the lake and simply walked as if on a footpath.

“Nice lake Siddharth.” Rishika said holding Siddharth’s hand. Siddharth turned sharply and saw Rishika looking at the lake beside her.

“When did you come?”

“Just now. I was getting bored and I realised that you must have found something interesting.” Rishika said admiring the view around her, oblivious to the scene.

“Yeah. It’s an interesting lake. Quite deep too.” Siddharth said with a longing. He felt he shouldn’t have smoked the cigarette. It took a lot of time.

“Do you wanna jump?” Rishika asked point blank to Siddharth.

“What?” Siddharth said flabbergasted.

“Yeah. It would be great fun. I love cliff diving.” Rishika said holding Siddharth’s hand. “We can dive in together.”

“I don’t know how to swim.” Siddharth said. The last thing he wanted to do was dying in a way to make Rishika a suspect.

“Don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to you.” Rishika said squeezing his hand. “Now, let’s jump.” Rishika spoke and pulled Siddharth along for the jump.

Siddharth’s mind was filled with images of his first love, slowly being substituted by Rishika’s face. Things had indeed changed over the past 5 years. Maybe, in the past 5 minutes.

Rishika helped Siddharth get off the lake and the two reached back the car half dried. The rest they wiped out by the towel.

“Rishika. I haven’t told you about Shraddha. I am sorry but you should know.” Siddharth began. Rishika nodded and sat in the car attentively. Siddharth started his part with Shraddha and didn’t stop for the next an hour. He told everything about the relationship, the breakup, his marriage upto today’s suicide attempt.

“I’m sorry Rishika. I am just a broken person who can’t ever be healed.” Siddharth said with his head hanging.

“Your mom told me about Shraddha even before our marriage. She told me that you are not in a good place and I will need to work hard to keep this relationship alive. There’s a reason we had a 6-month courtship. I wanted to be sure.”

“Sure of me?”

“Sure of the fact that every time you think of jumping of a cliff, I am there to hold your hand.”

“You knew but didn’t say anything?” Siddharth asked, slightly impressed.

“I hoped one day you would tell. Besides, even if I force it, it wouldn’t have changed anything.”

“You are awesome!” Siddharth said looking at her, his mouth opened agape.

“I know.” Rishika said smiling. “And now what? Are you still committed to committing suicide?” Rishika said with a smirk. Siddharth smiled.

“No. My commitment to committing suicide is over.”

“Good.” Rishika said and kissed Siddharth, her husband for the umpteenth time and Siddharth, his love for the first time.

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.