As luck would have it.

He looked at the bruises covering his body and sighed, a slight moan escaping his dry lips, as he limped his way along the deserted sidewalk. He would never have imagined that such a simple activity like walking could feel so tiresome if it weren’t for today. He carried on, albeit slowly, dragging his right leg as he stepped on with his left, grunting every now and then when it got too tedious

Wiping the perspiration on his forehead with his right sleeve, he noticed how grimy and torn it was, and shook his downcast head thinking about the days’ proceedings. He couldn’t believe how bad his luck had been today starting from the very moment he had seen the morning sun. “I should have heeded the warning and stayed inside”, he chastised himself as he thought of the black cat that had crossed his path.

He stumbled a little, grabbed a lamp post for support, and then carried on. Head still downcast he remembered how all his efforts had gone in vain today starting with the lady at the bus stop. He had followed her for a long distance and waited with her at the bus stop for the next bus, when he would snatch her purse and be gone. But as he saw the bus approaching, and hence his chance, a man came on his bike and she went with him, laughing it seemed on his lady luck.

Disappointed a little at the wasted time he ventured towards the temple where he was sure to get some careless victim. Soon enough he saw a college girl absorbed in her mobile phone unaware of the surroundings. What appealed to him most, however, was the thick gold chain she was wearing. He casually walked closer towards her waiting for the right moment and when he saw that the coast was clear he grabbed at her chain and sprinted away. She shouted for help and even followed him some distance but he was quick enough on his feet and easily eluded her. Turning a corner he stopped in a dark alleyway, panting for breath and took a look at the chain in his grip. Lo! It was fake and he flung it away in anger, cursing the girl for wearing it when she looked as if she could afford real gold.

After catching his breath he decided to go to the market in search for his next victim. He saw a man buying roses on the sidewalk, most probably for a female aquaintance, and putting his wallet in the back pocket of his jeans. It didn’t go in all the way though and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. He took a deep breath and then applied his skills to take the wallet out. As soon as he laid his hands on the wallet the man got wind of it and grabbed his hand. He acted quickly and jerked the hand away and started running at full speed. The man followed as he shouted for help from the passers by and soon there was a crowd following him. As luck would have it he stumbled on a brick unable to keep his balance. As he fell on the street he felt the first fist land on his back and then another followed. Soon he was being beaten black and blue and somebody snatched the wallet from his hands. He begged for pardon, crying helplessly and finally they took mercy upon him and let him go after a warning.

And so here he was now, at this hour of the night, full of bruises but without any money. He cursed his luck under his breath and prodded on, puffing on his recently lit bidi. Seeing a glint in the middle of the road, he went to explore what looked like a wallet from the distance. Overjoyed to see it he exclaimed, “Finally my lady luck is happy with me! “,and walked over to pick it up and felt its weight in his hands. It felt nice and heavy and curious to see the contents he opened it up and was elated to find a wad of hundred rupee notes inside. Before he could count how many there were the photograph in the side pocket caught his eye and to his dismay he saw that it was of the local Thanedar. At that moment he saw a man coming this way searching the grounds as if looking for something. His heart skipped a beat when he recognized the Thanedar, obviously looking for his wallet. Frightened, he dropped the wallet back on the ground and hopped to the nearby tree hiding behind its back, eager to be out of the way as quickly as possible. He thanked God for the narrow escape as the policeman picked up his wallet, and satisfied of its contents, went his way. If the policeman had seen him with his wallet he would surely have been arrested, not to mention, beaten badly.

“Well, looks like today is my day after all”, muttered the guy as he hobbled on, thinking about his narrow escape from the Thanedar, “but tomorrow is another day, a fresh beginning”. Resolving to do better tomorrow, a smile came to his lips for the first time as he thought of retiring to the comfort of his bed early today.

The Other Guy : My entry for the Get Published Contest

The Idea:

Ritu falls in love at the most inopportune time – after marriage. And to make matters worse – it isn’t with her husband.

Eager to escape her hell like home, where her father abused her mother but constantly got away with it, the small-town girl marries a big-city guy and settles in the city, eager to start her new found life.

Her life, however, soon becomes a noose around her throat as she realizes how little is her worth in the household. Her opinions matter little, her capabilities are doubted, she is not allowed even the simplest pleasures of life and has to be dependent on her husband for everything.

Even though she is fed up of so many restraints on her life she has no choice but to carry on when one fine day she meets a boy who doesn’t doubt her but encourages her to explore the world and do as her heart desires. Her life changes from a boring and mundane to-do list to an exciting and thrilling adventure. She soon finds herself attracted to this positive young man and wonders what life would be like if she were with him. Every meeting brings her closer to him and her desires get stronger. But suddenly she finds herself standing on a cross road where she has to chose either her husband or the other guy.

But is it easy for a married woman to leave her husband because of an illicit affair? Would society allow such sin? And the worst part is – would she be able to justify this to her guilt-ridden conscious?

What makes this idea Real:

This story is about a married woman and the real life obstacles she faces on her way to find true love. Obstacles like the society telling her ‘How’ and ‘Who’ she should love.

Excerpt:

She tried to drown out the cries coming out from her parents bedroom by putting some pillows on her head but they didn’t help much. She could still hear her mother crying loudly, begging him to stop. His laugh sounded almost maniacal as though he was drawing some sadistic pleasure by hurting her so. As silent tears ran down her pale cheeks she wished she could do something to stop her father once and for all. She shivered remembering her fate when she had dared to knock on the closed bedroom door on a similar evening ; she still bore the mark of his anger on her forehead. She couldn’t bear the noise any longer and went outside in the freezing January night, praying to God she might catch her death in the cold, anything, as long as she could be free from this hell…

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

In case you like this story and would like to see it in print, kindly vote for me Here.

Kidnapped.

It all started on a cold January afternoon while I was returning from college, hands in pocket and satchel on back, hurrying to cross the deserted alleyway. It was then I felt those eyes on me, roving over my body and boring into my back, penetrating the many layers of clothing to reach my heart and make it skip a beat. Not stopping, I turned around abruptly hoping to catch the culprit who had disrupted my quiet afternoon walk home, but found the street deserted except a grey sedan that had just turned a corner and was coming in my direction. I nodded my head in disbelief and looked to the front again, irritated at my hyperactive imagination, my brain arguing that I was safe but my heart refusing to act normal again. I quickened my pace a little, resolving to reach the warmth of my home and a steaming cup of coffee as quickly as possible, but heard another set of footsteps matching my pace. Before I could react I felt a hand pin my arms behind my back while another held a cloth to my nose and mouth.

***

This must be a mistake, I thought to myself, they will surely realize how wrong they are and will apologize to me and set me free. Just have some patience girl, I told myself. I couldn’t move my hands and feet. Obviously, they were tied. I couldn’t see a thing but I knew I wasn’t blindfolded.I sat up with some effort and tried to keep my eyes open, focusing on some distant point. As they grew accustomed to the darkness I noticed how dirty the walls and the floor were and had to stifle the urge to vomit. Come to think of it, that’s what those dark, dry patches on the floor looked like, Vomit. I screamed with outrage, angry at the absurdity of it all, angry at what was happening to me, angry at these men for doing this to me. I shouted obscenities at every present and non-present being, hurling insinuations at them and daring them to face the consequences. Suddenly I heard footsteps coming towards my room and then the lock turned and the door opened with force. As the dark, looming shadow entered the room I started screaming at the top of my lungs, all the while backing towards the wall using my tied hands as support. In an instant he was hovering above me and then I felt a sharp sting on my right cheek and tasted blood. His arms went around my neck and I felt a cold steel chain grip me, digging into the flesh as he started to strangle me, snuff out my life. I could offer little struggle and I soon started to gag, tears escaping down my eyes when I felt his grip relax a little and then stop entirely. He pushed me away and threw me on the floor. I started coughing and crying and begged him to stop, to not take my life. I told him I would do anything he asked, even ask my dad to give him money or whatever he needed. He chuckled at that and said he was not looking for money. I told him he would get whatever he needed but pleaded with him to please stop hurting me and set me free. He laughed aloud when he heard that, a blood curdling laugh, and I cringed, something died within me that very moment as I realized exactly what he wanted from me.

***

I cried a lot nowadays, though not loudly anymore and cringed at even the slightest sound, always dreading the sound of the door lock opening. My hands were finally untied but I was still locked in this godforsaken room. I tried to sit up with my back to the wall but my whole body ached with the effort. I had not eaten anything for the past few days and I felt weak and dizzy. I knew I had to do something soon or it will be too late, I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything whatsoever. I put my hand in my pocket, feeling the assurance the steel chain provided to me, a chain I had stolen from him the last time he visited me. I planned to surprise him with it, a surprise attack being my only chance to freedom. I heard the faint footsteps approaching and quickly went to the darkest corner of the room to wait, a hunter waiting for its prey. He came inside and put the dinner on the floor asking me to eat it and turned to go outside. Deciding now or never, I leapt at him from the back, putting the chain around his neck, strangling him with all my might. He struggled to keep my hands at bay but I kept pulling fiercely and after a while I heard him gagging and then his body went limp and and I let it fall on the floor. Am I finally free from this man? I couldn’t yet believe this. Scared that he would wake up any minute, I let the chain go and quietly went out the door without once looking back, finally full of hope because I had survived yet another challenge that Life threw upon me.

She did It!

Ritu was sitting in front of the dresser, carefully applying polish to her manicured nails, when she heard the door bell ring. Startled by the sudden noise in the middle of the afternoon, she upset the box of polish which fell on the floor, smearing the tiles in pastel shades, sound of breaking glass echoing through the room. She decided to ignore the bell as had been her habit for the past few weeks, hoping the bell-ringer would get tired of waiting and go away, and paid attention towards the mess; contemplating the best way to deal with it. But the chime of the door bell quickly became loud and persistent, just like it had always had in the past, as if the bell-ringer was drawing some sadistic pleasure from abusing the bell.

She swept aside the sudden bout of fear she felt, fear so strong and menacing that it paralyzed her for sometime, convincing herself that it can’t be Him. After all, she had dealt with him, hasn’t she? Ignoring the mess in front of her she decided to see who was at the door, realization dawning on her that the commotion outside would have woken up all the residents of the building from their afternoon slumber. She hurried towards the door and looked through the peep hole to find some uniformed men in Khaki, ringing the bell impatiently. Relief swept over her on discovering that it was indeed someone else. She gathered herself together and asked aloud who it was.

“Police”, came the answer, “Open the door quickly”, one of them said. Again she had the familiar feeling of fear gnawing away at her heart, reducing it into a mass of tissue that thumped loudly against her chest. She knew the men outside would become upset if she delayed any longer and so informed them loudly that she was going to open the door. Summoning up some courage she first of all unlocked the safety latch and then moved the lower and the upper bolts, finally going over the center interlock which she opened last, and taking a deep breath to relax her nerves, she opened the door. Moving aside she invited the two men and a woman in, apologizing for the smell of acetone that now filled the apartment, and trying hard to hide her anticipation and anguish she asked them whether they had news about her stalker.

The policeman that had the smartest uniform on, ran his index finger over his neatly trimmed mustache and said, “Yes, we do. We did find him but he was dead on arrival.” She looked at them, staring each one in the eye, waiting for them to tell her more, her heart beating fast. She didn’t have to wait long though because the same man announced that they had come to arrest her on charges of murder. She felt the whole world swim around her head and quickly grabbed the nearby chair for support and cried out loud, “There is some mistake, I am sure. I don’t even know his name, How can I kill him?”
“We traced your address from the murder weapon, Miss. I am sure there is no mistake.”
“Murder weapon, what do you mean?”, she was literally crying now, feeling all confused and at loss.
“We found your revolver near the body.”
“Oh!”, she whispered, heaving a sigh of relief, “But that’s impossible because the revolver is in my purse” she said and went over to the wardrobe to get her purse, the men following her all the way to the bedroom.

She opened her purse and looked through it, not finding the gun she was looking for. Throwing it aside impatiently she grabbed another purse from the wardrobe, rummaging through its contents. The relief she had felt earlier had turned to panic now. Uttering a cry of sheer despair she chucked the purse aside and went back to the previous one and turned it upside down, spilling all its contents on the bed, searching in vain for the weapon. She slowly realized what this meant and sat on the bed abruptly, tears threatening to run down her cheeks anytime now. She couldn’t believe she had been so silly, after all, forgetting the weapon at the crime scene! The woman constable put a hand on her shoulder, she looked up and slowly followed her out of the room.

Who Am I ?

It’s funny that you are asking me who am I because you have met me so many times but hardly ever made an effort to notice or recognize me.

I am the girl you bullied at school, calling me names and making fun of me in public, taking advantage of your being a boy just because I didn’t see eye to eye with you.

I am the girl in college you whistled and groped at while passing by everyday, making me feel afraid, insecure and at risk, trampling my self respect and dignity. And when I resisted your advances the best you could do was throw an acid bulb at my face.

I am that girl friend you took advantage of, making me give you everything that was mine, not only the money but also a part of my body and soul, only to throw me aside later in order to marry someone who offered you a bigger price tag.

I am the co-worker you harassed, sometimes by passing dirty jokes in my presence, at other times by touching my hand while taking a file or bumping into me and feeling me up, never sparing any thought about my rights.

I am the mother you took for granted, ignoring my pleas and concerns, ignoring my emotions and thereby changed me into a monotonic machine that does only two things – work and ramble, until one day you decide that since I am no longer useful I must be sent away to die in anonymity in some God-forsaken old age home.

I am that wife you never took notice of other than in the darkness of night, ignoring all my efforts to please you and grab your attention just because your roving eye and dripping tongue was never satisfied, when one fine day you suddenly realize that I make for a great punching bag – one that never hits you back.

I am the sister you claimed to love deeply, the one you fiercely protected from harm’s way, but when the time came to stand by me and show your support you chose instead to beat me and my lover up and then murder us in cold blood only because we had dared to love.

I am that girl child you killed when I made my presence felt even before I saw the light of day, my only mistake was being a girl and therefore not welcome.

Yes, I tolerated all of this but still gave you a second chance because
I am a Woman.