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

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

World War III

The world was breaking and there wasn’t she couldn’t do everything about it. The pain of incompetence was too much for her to handle.

“Should I just end the pain?” She asked herself.

“NO!” A loud voice boomed in her head. Mahevash looked around bewildered. She couldn’t see anyone and assumed that the pain was getting to her. Mahevash started the procedure for the complete annihilation.

“STOP!” The voice again shouted, scaring Mahevash into stopping the procedure.

“Who are you?” Mahevash shouted. She got no reply. She looked around. The trees were slowly melting. The buildings were crumbling unto themselves. The sea was almost black towards the shore and Mahevash knew that the situation farther away won’t be much better. The Earth was done for.

The growing environmental problems had suffocated her for so long and then the nuclear war had reduced whatever hope Mahevash had to zero.

The only question was, whether the death should be slow and painful or should the pain be eased.

“This pain is terrible.” Mahevash shouted to no one. There was no one to hear her.

“It will pass.” A soothing voice came.

“How?” Mahevash pleaded.

“By more pain.” The voice chuckled.

“It’s not funny.” Mahevash cried still looking around. “Who are you? Where are you?”

“I’m coming. I’ll cause you great pain but I will help you live. I’m sorry.” The voice said trailing off.

Mahevash didn’t understand anything that was happening. She looked around at all the destruction. She had loved humans. They had caused her immense pain but she hadn’t wanted this to happen. All of them dead. She just wanted to know what happened.

“I’m here.” The voice came. Mahevash looked far and saw him coming. A huge meteor was hurtling towards her. Handsome and young, the meteor had a sheepish smile on his face.

“You caused all this.” Mahevash said angrily.

“Not directly. But I guess I am going to the cause of great pain to you.”

“I didn’t want any of this.” Mahevash said helplessly.

“I can’t change the fate. Time for you to start afresh.” The voice said as the meteor came close.

“Not again.” Mahevash replied as she felt the impact on her. The pain was excruciating. However, she knew, like last time, it would stop soon and she would have to start all over again.

“And the biggest news today is that US and China have declared war. Since it has been confirmed by NASA that the meteor will soon destroy humanity, all nations have openly started to fight. US and China are the last two countries to enter this World War III.

The end is near. Pray to your God. Thank you.”

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

An Interesting Call

“Hey.” Purushottam heard the soft voice from the other end.

“Hello.” Purushottam said tentatively. He didn’t recognize the voice but the kind of days he was having, he was sure it was a prank call or sale call.

“How are you?” The voice asked. It was slightly husky voice with care seeping through the phone. Purushottam was thoroughly confused.

“I am good. I’m sorry but I didn’t recognize your voice.” Purushottam said.

“It’s alright. I’m glad that you are good.” Saying this, the voice cut the phone. Purushottam couldn’t understand what had just happened. He was sure that he had heard the voice before. Her voice wasn’t something you would forget easily. However, he couldn’t put a face to it.

Soon this became a daily pattern. He would get a call every day in the morning almost like an alarm. She would ask him how he was doing and then cut the phone. Some days the conversation would be longer when Purushottam had had bad days. Other times, it would just be a few seconds. Purushottam had tried various methods to trace the call, starting from Truecaller. The app showed the name Neha but he couldn’t remember any Neha with that voice. Even then, he confronted her with the name but didn’t find any answer. Even then, he started calling her Neha anyways and she didn’t object to it.

“Listen Neha. I love talking to you but you have to tell me who are you?” One day Purushottam lost his temper. He was having a particularly bad day and the last thing he wanted was to shout at one person who asked his well being but it wasn’t so.

“As long as you are fine, how does it matter?” Neha asked.

“It matters because I am not fine. I am talking to someone whom I don’t know. Please tell me who you are or at least something to placate my doubts. Please.” He heard an audible sigh.

“I’m your guardian angel Purushottam. When you tried to commit suicide, I lost my angel privileges. I can’t look after you directly through the heavens. Hence the call.”

“Suicide? I have never tried to commit suicide.” Purushottam said flabbergasted.

“It’s alright Purushottam. I know it must be shameful for you to remember that but don’t worry. I know about that anyways. I just want you to know that I am here to help you, care after you and support you in any way.” Neha urged. Her voice had a ring of earnestness in it that somehow convinced Purushottam that it wasn’t a prank call. This opened two possibilities. Either Neha was a mental patient or she was telling the truth. He didn’t know which was more frightening.

“If you are an angel, where do you live?”

“In the heavens of course.”

“And they have good communication systems set up there to talk to humans.”

“I had to get one just for this. Though there are other angels like me. Suicide cases are complicated, especially if they fail. However, few angels actually try to communicate like me.” Neha explained in detail.

“But Neha… What is your name Neha?”

“I have no name in English language. Neha is fine.”

“Ok. Neha. I have never tried to commit suicide. As shitty as my life sounds, it isn’t that worthless. Honestly, I think there is some misunderstanding. I don’t think I’m the Purushottam you are looking for.” Purushottam said. There was no voice from the other end. He heard a few taps and whispers but couldn’t make out anything out of it.

“Oh! I’m sorry. Wrong number.” Neha said in a hushed voice. Purushottam could hear her blushing.

“So who’s my angel?”

“Your angel is looking upon you. Bye.” Neha said and cut the phone. Purushottam looked at the headset muddled. He was glad that there was a guardian angel looking after him but a little saddened that he wouldn’t get to talk to Neha anymore.

“I just hope the other Purushottam is still alive.” Purushottam chuckled.