Sunday, December 29, 2013


Pari's laughter rang through the beauty parlor as she got ready for her wedding. She was excited, scared, happy, and sad, all at the same time. The dreams of her new future were coupled with an increasingly stronger realization about how it would change her reality.

"Ma'am, someone is here to see you." Pari was informed by an attendant.

"Who is it?" she turned around, curious.

What happened next was something nobody in their wildest dreams had imagined. A seemingly well-to-do guy entered the scene, smiled at Pari, and doused her with an immeasurable amount of toxic acid; all in a quick succession.

The parlor now rang with her shrieks and screams of others around her. Nobody dared to catch the culprit; perhaps, they were frozen with shock. She cried, and writhed in pain as the ambulance and police were called.

* * * * *

A newsflash revealed that the cops had found a letter left behind by the accused. According to the letter, Pari had been in a relation with the him, and had broken up with him to marry someone else. Heartbroken and infuriated, he had decided this deed would be the best revenge.

This revelation set tongues wagging.

"Children these days have no values, no culture. Making boyfriends and girlfriends and indulging in whatnot. Tsk-tsk. What is our dear country coming to!"

"If my daughter had done this, I would have poured acid on her myself. And, then on that guy, too."

"She has brought shame to her family, and deserves this."

"Her family members can't show their faces to anyone; now she can't, either. Justice has been served."

Another news update a mere day later brought something else to light.

The accused was not Pari's former boyfriend; rather, he was the accomplice of the ex-wife of the elder brother of Pari's husband-to-be. She had already made two attempts before to harm her ex-husband's family, but they had been foiled. By what logic she had targeted Pari was unfathomable.

Pari was shifted from the local hospital to a super-speciality hospital in a metro city. She was in extreme pain. Although she was stable, she was also critical. She had expressed her wish to talk to her fiance. He had, however, along with his family, shirked off all responsibility, and severed all ties with the her and her family.

She, now, was not only gravely physically hurt, but also emotionally wounded. She could not decide which suffereing was greater. She lost consciousness several days later, finally succumbing to the injuries after twenty days of the ordeal.

"We were ready for her bidaayi, but not of this sort. We had been preparing for her wedding, and now we are preparing for her funeral."

In loving memory of Harpreet, the acid-attack victim from Ludhiana, who passed away on 27 December, 2013. Rest in peace.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

On My Way to a Better Place

He had watched her dead body being taken away. His throat was sore from crying all through the previous night. Tonight, only silent tears fell from his big, brown, sad eyes.

He wondered why anyone would, how anyone could hurt a girl like her. She had never harmed anyone; no, quite the opposite, in fact. She had always done everything in her power to make others happy.

The neighbors had offered their sympathy and expressed their inability to understand the atrocity. But, that was it. They did not feel the emptiness, the loss, that he felt. Obviously. They had never known her the way he had.

He had heard from the cops that she was killed in what seemed to be a racist, cold-blooded murder. There was no other motive. And, having been born and raised in Australia, he knew what exactly it meant. That girl was not a native Australian.

So what? He himself was an Australian; he had never felt the urge to torment her. She was a gentle creature, better than many Australians. She had loved him and cared for him when no Australian had ever bothered about him.

He felt his heart break as he thought about her; the memories of the moments they had shared, the time they had spent together...

Fresh tears streamed down his face contorted with pain. Those cruel people had snatched her from him. She had been most gruesomely murdered- stabbed with a butcher's knife, eleven times, all over her delicate body; each stab deep enough to rip up her internal organs.

Sharp, pointed things had always scared her. She never could bear any pain- her own or of others. She was like a child whose heart brims with innocence, compassion and love.

He shivered and shuddered, wondering how much suffering those monsters had caused her, and found himself frantically hoping that she died the very first moment the damned knife had slashed her body, making her oblivious to the rest of the torture.

He let out a heart-rending wail that pierced the deathlike still and silent, cold June night; like the hatred that was piercing the hearts of men.

They said that he was man's best friend. He was nauseated. He did not want to be a best friend to the new man who is so intent on killing his own kind.

The dog howled again, unable to take the agony that was wrenching his heart. He set off into the night; back to wilderness, back to innocence.

Racism, they called it? It’s insane-ism.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reinventing Your Exit

“Hello?” Aakriti answered the landline phone that had been ringing for almost a minute.

“Good evening, Mrs. Kapoor. Can I speak with Taj?” the voice at the other end said.

The sun had just set on a chilly December day. The sky had already turned pitch black and one could not fathom whether it was 5 pm or 9 pm.

“May I know who’s calling?” she questioned.

“It’s Akshay from the office.”

“Okay. But, he is not at home. He’s out of town for some official work. Surely you knew that?” Aakriti sounded suspicious.

“Oh? Oh, yes. Sorry. I had forgotten,” Akshay mumbled, “It was some urgent piece of work. In all this hurry, it totally slipped my mind. Sorry to have bothered you. Thank you. Good night.”

“Good night.” Aakriti ended the call.

She just stood there next to the coffee table, deep in thought, staring off into space. A cold draught of air from the open french window tousled her hair. She hugged herself tightly and shut the window securely.

“Hi. Could I talk to Mr. Kapoor?” Aakriti called at her husband’s office from a private number.

“Sorry, ma’am. He’s on leave.” Aakriti recognized it as the voice of his assistant, Megha.

“Out for some official work?” Aakriti enquired.

“No, ma’am. A leave means he’s not working. He’s at home or somewhere, but not at office. You are?” the irritated woman said.

Aakriti disconnected without bothering to reply.

The past week had been particularly difficult for them. Taj always seemed to be zoned out.

Aakriti was having problems conceiving, and both their families were immensely disappointed. She blamed nobody but her own self for her state. Taj loved kids. He wanted a chivalrous son, and a cute little daughter. All his dreams were dashed to earth when a week ago the doctors had declared that there was only one percent chance that she would be able to carry a baby at all. Her health would be in jeopardy. He loved her too much to endanger her life. Nevertheless, he was brooding.

She tried to call him. His phone was switched off. She felt uneasy and queasy as flung her phone carelessly onto the bed. It rang while she tried to induce vomiting in the bathroom sink. She turned on the faucet and let the water run in the empty basin purely to have some noise. The screeching silence was unbearable.

Picking up the phone from her bed, she found it was one of her best friends calling. Aakriti knew she meant well. However, she was in no mood for anyone’s consolation. All the past week had been nothing, but everyone’s efforts to keep her normal; countless suggestions, umpteen recommendations of better gynaecologists and whatnot had been coming in from everyone. She was fed up.

She let the phone drop lightly, and it bounced off and landed near the pillow. In Taj’s absence, she did not have to maintain a semblance of normalcy and hence, did not cook any dinner. They both had been eating only so that the other ate. Now she was free to sulk. She slid down to the floor, her back resting against the side of the huge bed, and cried. Again.

* * * * *

When Aakriti woke up the next day, it was nearly noon. The sun was shining without warming up anything. She had dozed off during the wee hours right on the cold floor. Her body was stiff and aching. She reached out for her phone from where she sat, retrieving it with difficulty. She pressed a button to unlock it, but nothing happened. She had no desire to get up and charge it, but had to do so in order to check if there were any calls or messages from her husband.

Since phone showed no signs of life, she figured she'd take a hot shower till it became conscious.

When she stepped out of the shower, reluctantly, twenty minutes later, her room was comparatively dark. She quickly glanced at the mahogany-framed window wondering if Taj had returned and drawn the curtains as he was wont to; the curtains were still open. Only the clouds had engulfed the sky, curtained the sun.

She sighed. She had never liked the sunlight. Now, however, its absence made everything look gloomier. Changing into a faded tee and a pair of loose jeans, Aakriti made her way to the kitchen to cook something for keeping herself occupied.

When the doorbell rang, Aakriti came back to earth. She had lost track of time, stirring the contents of a casserole as if hypnotized. The stew that she had been cooking had reduced a bit too much and resembled a gooey mass.

She turned off the stove and opened the door. It was Taj. She hugged him, tightly. Tears rolled down her eyes, automatically. He caressed her hair and kissed her forehead. Picking up the duffel bag, he entered their home and shut the door behind him.

“Have you been cooking?” he asked, sniffing.

“I had too much free time. And-” she let the sentence trail off.

“You haven’t eaten anything.” Taj stated as he poured himself a glass of water in the kitchen. He wasn’t asking.

“No, I did.” she replied hurriedly, feeling blood rushing to her cheeks. Lying was not her forte.

“There are no dirty dishes in the sink.” he said, sipping his water.

“We’ve a maid, remember? She washed them.” she said, turning his back toward him, trying to hide her flushed face, busying herself with the hopeless stew.

Taj gently hugged her from behind, removing her hands from the casserole and the ladle, kissing her hair.

“There are no freshly washed dishes, either, honey. I know you didn’t eat.And, if it helps you feel less guilty, I didn’t, either.”

“I am so sorry.” she broke down.

“Shh!” he whispered, turning her around and embracing her, “It’s not your fault.”

He knew she was apologizing not for missing her meals, but for not being able to give him babies.

“It is.” she sobbed, frantically.

He rubbed her back softly, and swayed her mildly, much like calming down a baby.

“It isn’t.” he said firmly leaving no room for further argument.

* * * * *

It was a rainy, dark and cold night a couple of days later. Aakriti was laying the table for dinner while Taj changed into his pajamas. Both were trying their best to get back to their normal lives, pinning their hopes on the treatment that Aakriti was undergoing.

Taj turned on the TV in the living room, switching promptly to the news channel.

“There was a match today?” Aakriti smiled.

“Yeah. Couldn’t catch it. Gonna make do with the highlights.” he smiled back, sitting at the dining table while Aakriti served him.

The news channel blared out a morbid story about a man who had woken up at an abandoned hospital in a semi-nude state. It seemed to be an update to a previous piece. The news anchor revealed that the man had been castrated without his consent, probably by some gore-loving psychopaths.

Taj choked on his food and coughed.

“Have water.” Aakriti said, getting up, rubbing his chest and his back.

The news anchor continued the story; the man himself was clueless why he had been targeted. A case had been registered, and the police had raided the hospital where this stranger had regained consciousness.

Aakriti stared at the TV screen as a photo of the protagonist of the horror tale was flashed.

“No! Don’t change the channel!” she squeaked the moment Taj had picked up the remote control.

Taj put down the controller and chewed his food quietly, not taking his eyes off his plate while Aakriti gaped in stunned silence.

“Taj,” she whispered, “That-”

“I know. It’s that asshole.” his voice venomous.

The victim was none other than Himanshu, Aakriti’s ex boyfriend. Himanshu had been involved with Aakriti for only three months, two years prior to her falling in love with and subsequently marrying Taj. They had been happily married for more than a year now.

The news piece recapitulated the story, stating all the events according to the timeline. All this had happened three days ago.

Taj switched off the TV, picked up his plate with congealed remains on it and lumbered into the kitchen. She heard him scrape off the remains into the dustbin and run water over the plate.

“Three days ago, Taj.” she had joined him in the kitchen.

“What happened?” he asked, opening the fridge, peeping inside, apparently looking for something. The yellow light from the reflected like a flame in his still eyes.

“Himanshu was fully neutered three days ago.”


“Where were you then?”

“Are you suspecting me?” he shot her a maddened look, “I told you. I had gone out for some official work.”

“Akshay had called here. He didn’t know you were out which I found odd. So I called at your office. Your assistant said you were on leave.”

“She did?” he shrugged, closing the door of the fridge, “Absent-minded, useless girl. Remind me to sack her.”

“Look at me.” she whirled him around, looking into his eyes, “Where had you gone?”

“For an important and urgent work. Honestly.” he said, “But, it’s God’s righteousness, isn’t it?” he added, leaning against the refrigerator.

“Taj,” she began, looking timidly at his rigid face. He appeared eerily calm now.

“I mean,” he started, “It is kind of cool. You can’t have a baby, he can’t, either. God is fair. I like it.” he sounded abnormally normal and that frightened her.

Years ago, when Himanshu had broken up with Aakriti for a trivial reason, she had been heartbroken, depressed, almost crazy. Within days he was seeing a new girl and Aakriti knew she had been played with. The only silver lining was that they hadn’t been physically intimate. However, she had been much too emotionally attached. He had suddenly ousted her from his life. She could not cope up.

One night, she overdosed on the sleeping pills that had been prescribed in limited amounts by her psychiatrist. When the pills hadn’t seemed to be taking any effect, Aakriti had driven off in her car, unbeknownst to her family. Driving had always been therapeutic for her. Somewhere on the road, the drug had done its thing, and she crashed her car into a truck coming from the opposite direction.

Severely injured, half-dead, she had been brought into a hospital by a samaritan. Her family was called after her identity was established by the police. Miraculously, she had survived.

What they had been ignorant of, then, was that her injuries, though healed, had left her womb weak. It had been hurt, too.

Now, years later, that fateful night had come back to haunt her. One mistake had caused her immense loss. She wouldn’t be able to carry the baby, the doctors had told them. Her uterus that worked normally otherwise, would not be able to support the baby.

“Tell me you did not do this.” she cried, fearing her plight had driven him to such a horrible crime.

“I didn’t.” he said quickly, “Although he deserves much worse, some sort of justice has been served.” his eyes, burning with hatred, bored into hers.

Taj left the kitchen, dragging his feet to the bedroom. Aakriti closed her eyes, for once, unbelieving but wanting to believe he had no hand in the incident.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Do You Ever Feel Like Breaking Down?

Note: This is a sequel to I Am Just Talking About Tonight. Tho' this can also be read independently, it doesn't hurt to know what had happened in the previous instalment. ;)

* * * * *

Mohit's mind gradually woke up to the dull buzz of traffic from the highway running nearly a kilometre beyond the house.

He smiled in the afterglow of last night's events, eyes still closed. The warm sun-rays of early afternoon illuminated his gorgeous face and highlighted his messy, chestnut-brown hair.

"Ow!" he groaned, as he tried to move.

He had slept weirdly: lying on his right side, with his left hand under the right side of his face. Not only was his arm numb, but, his wristwatch had etched into his cheek. He recalled how she had not wanted him to remove the watch during their lovemaking session.

Some fantasy! He thought to himself.

His entire body was aching from sleeping too much. Slowly, he turned around to greet her.

Her side of the bed was empty. He got up quickly, groaning again as his body objected against sudden movements, curious where the crazy girl might be. He slipped into his jeans and knocked on the bathroom door.

What was her name, again?

"Misty?" he knocked, calling out her name softly.

When he got no response even after three calls, he cautiously turned the doorknob. It opened with a soft click. There was nobody inside.

He walked up to and felt her side of the bed. Cold. Like it had not been slept in for a while. He gripped the messed up sheets in chagrin.

* * * * *

"I'll call you later, Ma. My phone's dy-" Mohit said to his mother while driving on the suburban road.

"Aaaargh!" he growled, "Stupid battery!" he cursed his phone that he not charged the previous night.

Mohit had been particularly grumpy last evening and had left home to be alone for a while. Driving to his favorite spot near a shallow river that ran south of the city, he had spent the entire night out. It was early morning now and he was driving back home, his mother had only gotten more and more hysterical over the night, as his phone was unreachable.

He slowed down as he entered a posh locality of the town that was nearly one hour away from the main city. He turned off the engine before the very first house in order to find a phone to call up his mother and calm her down.

It was large and pretty house, pure white exteriors with fresh evergreen creepers weaving their way through the foliage in the garden amidst the colorful winter flowers. He rang the doorbell, tugging and pressing the front of his white shirt and smoothing his hair to make himself presentable.

"Yes?" asked the girl who had opened the door.

"Hi! I need some help. My phone battery died," started Mohit, as he took out his phone and showed it to her, "And, I don't have a char-"

"Oh, my God! MOHIT!" the girl cut in, squealing, delighted.

"Uh, yeah. Hi!" Mohit smiled at her.

She seemed to be a teenager. Or, not. Mohit had never been good at guesstimating someone's age by their looks. She had short jet-black hair with contrasting purple streaks, a few freckles on her nose and almond-shaped black eyes.

"I'm a huge fan! Please come inside!" she nearly screamed, dragging him inside by his arm.

The interiors were tastefully decorated: the floor was lined with dark mahogany wood, the wall directly opposite to the door, textured in purple and golden had a door to at its extreme right end. The furniture was all in beige and different shades of purple. A huge tv was hung on the right light beige wall. A door stood in the middle of the left wall that lead to the inner rooms.

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I can't believe it!" she squealed again, as they stood in the living room, almost jumping up and down in excitement, his hand still clutched tightly in hers. He gently retrieved it from her grasp.

Mohit felt a little embarrassed. Although he had been a successful model for more than a year now and such incidents were a part of his life, he still felt incompetent to cope up.

"Who is it, Sarah?" a female voice floated through the left door.

He wished this new girl were someone more sensible and did not know him.

Sarah was oblivious to the fact that someone had just asked her something. She was content with staring at Mohit without so much as blinking.

Mohit looked around, opening and closing his mouth several times, unable to figure out what exactly to say.

"I just need to make-" he began, uncertainly.

"I asked you something, STUPID!" the owner of the voice suddenly exclaimed, entering the living room.

"You won't believe who's here!" Sarah squealed, yet again, clapping her hands happily, bounding towards the new girl.

Mohit could not believe his eyes, or, his fate. Standing right there, under the same roof was the girl he had been looking for, for a whole month now- Misty.

He mentally thanked God for not fulfilling the wish he had made moments ago.

She looked different, somehow. More beautiful than before, if that were even possible, since he had found her to be the cutest girl he had ever come across.

"I..." he started, automatically, "My battery had died and my... I don't have a charger. I... My mom was on phone, she must be worried. My... I have to call her." Mohit stuttered, walking towards her, as if in a daze.

"You want a phone? What a coincidence! I have a phone!!! I'll get you a phone!" Sarah cried happily, as though she could not believe that she was so lucky as to have a phone for Mohit and ran off to her room.

Misty had frozen where she stood, not taking her eyes off him, her face pleasantly surprised.

"How are you?" he whispered, standing directly before her, "You look better. Not the way you look, I mean. No, that too. I mean-" Mohit shook his head, trying to clear his mind.

That made Misty laugh.

Her laughter too had a different ring to it, somehow.

"I am good. How are you?" she asked.

Mohit was apparently shocked that she had replied at all.

"I am good." he smiled, finally finding the controls of his brain "Better, now." he added. "And, I meant that you looked unwell back then. I mean, you were ill, right? You seem better now. And, yes. More beautiful."

Misty blushed,
"Take a seat. I'll see what's taking Sarah so long."

"Sarah," she hurried into the room that Sarah had gone into.

Mohit stood rooted to the spot, waiting for her to return, looking down at the floor, contemplating his next move.

"Stupid girl! Got busy with her boyfriend on phone and forgot all about you!" Misty rolled her eyes, "Here. Take my phone and call your mom."

Mohit took the phone from her outstretched hand. The faintest of his touch gave her goosebumps. Her skin was soft and warm, not feverish like that night. He suddenly felt fuzzy inside.

"Thanks." he mumbled as he quickly dialed his mother's number.

"No! Stay!" Mohit almost shouted as Misty had turned to leave the room to give him privacy.

She looked at him questioningly, puzzled by his reaction.

"I mean, it'll only take a minute." he muttered, feeling silly.

True to his words, Mohit took only a minute to calm down his mother and explain that he was fine and was on his way home.

"Thank you." he said again, returning her phone.

Misty picked it up gingerly, trying to avoid any unnecessary contact.

"Why did you leave?" he asked.

This question had been eating up his inner peace since that Christmas night. She had not seemed like that kind of a girl.

"No, I didn't. I'm right here, ain't I?" she gave the answer in the present context, knowing fully well what he had meant, though.

"You know what I mean." he asserted, knowing that she knew his implication.

"Heyyyyyyyyyy!" Sarah came bursting into the room. "I am SO sorry! It was my boyfriend and I had to talk to him and-"

"That's okay! I got what I wanted." Mohit cut her off, a bit harshly.

"Um, okay." Sarah replied, crestfallen.

He looked at Misty and saw no sign of any emotion or any intention of answering him. Besides, he did not think it wise to broach the subject before Sarah.

"Thanks, again." he said, emotionlessly, and left through the main door.

"Arrogant celeb!" Sarah hmph-ed before retreating into her room.

Misty walked to the window that looked out onto the garden, watching Mohit get into his car. She conjectured there was something wrong when Mohit had not driven off within the next thirty seconds. She saw him hit the steering wheel and then rub his head with his hand in apparent anger and frustration.

"What's wrong?" she asked, when Mohit had gotten out of his car after she knocked on his door.

"No idea! Just won't start." he kicked the tire of his black sedan.

"Volkswagen? You know my brother has the same car and he has had the same problem once or twice. It's probably low on mobil. The warning sign doesn't work, sometimes. We can always check." she informed.

It was the first time Mohit had heard her utter such a long sentence. And, it was the first time he had ever heard a girl utter such a long and intelligible sentence about a car.

"What?" she asked, her left eyebrow raised.

"Nothing... I am just amazed you know about cars." he shrugged and she gave him a dirty look.

"Chauvinist prick!" she muttered, irritated.

"Wouldn't you be surprised if I knew in detail, about, say, Chanel or Maybelline or curling irons?" he smirked.

Misty pursed her lips, analyzing his argument.

"Probably." she smiled, "But, shut up and follow me. And, don't argue with me if you want your car to work." she grinned.

He made a gesture of zipping up his mouth and throwing away the key, smiling.

They entered the huge garage where three, no, four sleek cars stood.

"How many people live here?" Mohit asked, surprised.

"Just Sarah and I. Why?" she questioned from the far end of the room, the shelves on the wall holding numerous cans and bottles.

"FOUR cars for two people?"

"Oh! Two are mine, one is Sarah's and one is my brother's. He keeps one here, not sure why."


"What is your problem? You have FOUR for personal use!" she commented.

"I like cars!" he exclaimed, defensive.

"Yeah? Well, me too." she stuck out her tongue at him, handing him a can of mobil oil.

"I thought you had left!"

It was Sarah who had entered the garage from the inside door.

"Something wrong with my car." he told her, waving the can slowly at her.

"Oh." Sarah stood there, gazing at him, showing no intention of leaving.

"Stop ogling him, for God's sake! You have a boyfriend!" Misty chided her, "Don't you have somewhere else to be?"

"God! As if Mohit is YOUR boyfriend!" Sarah said acidly, "You're such bitch, at times!" she spat before leaving in her car.

Mohit and Misty remained silent for the next ten minutes as they checked and poured the requisite amount of oil in his car.

"So, it really was low on mobil, eh?" Mohit said, to break the uncomfortable silence.

Misty just smiled in reply. He could figure out it wasn't an authentic one.

"I was thinking about what Sarah said." Mohit quietly said, when they both were done washing their hands.

"Oh, don't bother! She calls me a bitch all the time." Misty laughed.

"No... I meant... What she said about me." he said, hesitant.

"You? I don't think she said anything about you." she dried her hands with a towel and turned to walk out.

Mohit caught her by the arm.

"Enough with the evasive replies." his eyes were stern, voice outright serious. "Why did you leave me that morning?"

"Because I had no reason to stay." she answered, pulling away her arm from his grip.

The words stung Mohit.

"And, as for what Sarah said right now. You know you are not my boyfriend." she continued to rent his heart.

"And, you don't want me to be?" he asked.

"No." was her direct answer.


"Because I have no reason to be with you. Or, anyone, for that matter. I am done being in relationships. I am done dealing with all the related crap."

Mohit nodded, his heart thudding with this tangible rejection, certain that he could not stay another moment there.

"Thanks. For everything. I'll leave now." he gave a huge, fake smile and left, not looking back at her or the house, even once.