Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hana's regret

Hana stood transfixed outside the large footwear section in Soras, a departmental store. What an array of glittering shoes and sandals, she wondered. Surveying all, she fell in love with one high heeled shoe in red leather with strap. 
Dragging her date Reo with her she went in and took the red shoes in hand. Brushing away a sales boy, a young man, possibly the owner from the deferential attitude of the boy, approached her with a smile and said, “Good choice, an exquisite pair from finest leather,”
As he knelt down to try them on her legs, he saw a long scar and looked up. “Are you Hana from Aichi konan college by any chance?” he exclaimed.
Surprised she looked intently at him and said,” Yes, is it Haruto. I cannot forget the mole on your chin. Do you own this store?”
As he nodded his head, she became morose ruing her mistake in rejecting his proposal as he was too poor then for her dream.
Reo instantaneously fell out of her favour.  (174)

FFFAW Challenge-176th
This post is written for the 176th picture prompt in Friday Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a piece of fiction within 100-175 words based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting this challenge.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Vengeful betrayal

It was hot and sultry outside. Sarala switched on the AC and sank in the plush sofa with the newspaper in hand. It was then the doorbell chimed to annoy her as she rushed to open the door.
“Wow, Vinitaa,” screamed Sarala and added,” Welcome, how sweet of you to have traced me after ages? True, we talked on phone a couple of times but could meet only now.” Sarala gushed with warmth even as they hugged each other.
 “What a pleasant surprise! You haven’t changed much in these ten years though quite plump. You must be very happy with your life,” exclaimed Sarala with a chuckle.
“Don’t imagine you have a perfect figure, Saral. I can see clearly the folds in your stomach,” Vinita replied with a mock disdain.  ” First, let me make myself comfortable in the sofa. I have so much to talk to you. Get me something cold to slake my thirst,” said Vinita.
Sarala could not miss the smug smile on Vinita’s face as she sipped Pepsi with her hand on Sarala’s shoulder. The cool air and the cooler Pepsi raised her spirits further. This was the first time they had met after they left the college and parted ways. They were roommates who had no secret between them. Sarala could see a curious sense of accomplishment in her face and her eagerness to share the news.
“Vinita, you seem somewhat different from your usual self. It looks as if you are bursting to tell me something. What is happening?”
“Did you say I seem happy with my life? The truth is I am happy only today but not with my life,” replied Vinita with a mischievous grin and added,” True, I have come to confide in you something serious, Saral, as I always did. I know you keep secrets safe. It will also calm my agitated mind to a great extent.”
“Oh! Take your time. Want some more Pepsi or fruit juice?” asked Sarala.” 
“Yes, some Pepsi. Hold your breath. I betrayed my husband this morning knowingly and was happy to do it. A vile creature, I hate him from the bottom of my heart and took my revenge in a sweet way.”
Sarala was shocked and was rendered speechless for a few seconds. “What are you blabbering, Vinita? Are you really in your senses?”
“Yes, very much in sound mind. I wreaked my vengeance for what he has been doing to me all these years. An incurable alcoholic, he has been of no use to me and was treating me like a door mat and trampling on all my wishes and dreams. Though he was doing well as a lawyer when I married him, he gradually became a sidekick to an important political leader and has since been doing all nefarious and illegal activities. I was against it since beginning and asking him to commence his practice safe in some other state. Instead he has been torturing me for years to be an accomplice in his various activities and I have been putting up with the nonsense not knowing what to do. The last straw was when he slapped me last week in the presence of everyone at a family function. He was out to prove to those wretched people of his that he had me under his thumbs” replied Vinita.
” Serves him right, though I do not agree even a bit with what you did. How come you got this crazy idea? Has a devil taken control of your mind? Who was the guy anyway?” asked Sarala.
Vinita refused to answer saying she was bound by a promise she made to him. All the efforts of Sarala proved of little avail. She would not tell except that she knew him in a birthday party at her friend’s house. I met him subsequently once or twice at his office as I felt he could be the ideal guy for my plan.
“How does he look?” asked Sarala with some inquisitiveness.
“I don’t really understand why you are curious. Anyway, he is a tall, well-built hunk and ruggedly handsome.” she replied.
“My god, what name? Any prominent distinguishing mark? Do remember you never withhold any information.”
“You do not anyway need these. Sorry, I cannot divulge his name or any more details except that he had a big dark mole on his chin.”
“Can you at least tell me where this meeting took place?” asked Sarala
“Both of us wanted it to be very confidential for obvious reasons and met at a resort in Nilankarai.Why do you want to know all these details, Saral? I cannot tell his name but his surname is Dixit,” replied Vinita with a grin.
Vinita could see that Sarala became suddenly morose and her face turned pale for some reason that Vinita could not decipher.
Sarala ran inside her bedroom and came out with a mounted photograph of herself and her husband. “See this carefully and tell me whether this is the guy you met?”
It was a thousand volts shock that left Vinita speechless. Recovering slowly, she said, “Yes, it is him whom I met. I never knew he is your husband, not that it matters much. It can even be useful in some ways,”
Sarala remembered that her husband Mohan Dixit left early in the morning telling her that he had an urgent official meeting at Nilankarai. Has he stooped to such low levels, she wondered?
She suddenly screamed at Vinita,” You bitch, get away from my sight for ever. You had the cheek to snatch my husband for your nefarious deed and also dare to come and tell me. Fie upon you, you will go to hell”. She fell down on the sofa covering her face with both hands and started wailing inconsolably.
“Sarala, you have understood me completely wrong. What I betrayed is not what you think, it is the betrayal of the trust my vile husband had in me. I gave Mr. Dixit of revenue service, whom I did not know till now as your husband, all the information about my husband. I furnished him all the details I was in possession of my husband’s ill gotten money and properties, where they are hidden and who the benamies are. The information was divulged in strict secrecy. He is a perfect gentleman, fully aware that my life would be in danger has promised to safeguard my identity. I hope my man would go to jail and I will be free to move away from him and lead my life. I could not keep to myself such a momentous step I took and rushed to you to share. I can understand why you got upset,” softly and clearly explained.
Sarala stood dazed at the way things had unfolded and was struck by remorse at her hasty and rude reaction. She went down on her knees and holding Vinita’s hands genuinely pleaded for her pardon.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A scary hideout

Panting for breath, she ran helter-skelter with a stalker in hot pursuit. Wishing to hide quickly, she entered into one of cluster of dilapidated houses through a broken door. There was a stench from the dust and cobwebs inside. Avoiding the   rickety wooden staircase, she hid in a dark room at the rear. Her heart froze in fear when she heard faint movements upstairs followed by a glass breaking and  stick falling.
Soon the heavy stalker charged in shouting, “You slut, you are trapped,” and ran up the stairs. Alas, one of the wooden planks of the wobbly staircase gave way and the man fell down with a thud. Hit by an edge of a box, he lay inert. She saw in shock the crimson pool around his head. Her heart skipped a beat when a black cat jumped near her leg. She quickly ran out.
“Don’t you know it is haunted and none enters?” queried an old man outside. Crossing her chest with her hands, she breathed free and walked gratefully.(172)

This post is written for the 174th picture prompt in Friday Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a piece of fiction within 100-175 words based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting this challenge.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The uninvited intruder

“Lochi, make sure you have taken the inhaler just in case you need it,” Lalita shouted to her eight year old daughter from the living room. As an afterthought she added, “Take an extra dress too for any emergency.”
 “I have it, Ma, including the dress in my bag. I am done with the packing.”
“Have you taken tooth brush, paste, comb and such things,” asked a concerned Lalita.
“Ma, I am not going on a long trip. Just one night for a sleepover with my friends. Please do not fret yourself,”
“I know, but this is the first time you are going to spend a night away from me. Get ready. Your friend will be here presently to pick you. It is nearing 8.30pm”
“Ma, can you manage alone? If you wish, I would rather not go.”
“No, I am absolutely fine. Go and enjoy,” said Lalita in a comforting tone.
There were loud beeps from car horn. Lochi and Lalita hurried to the gate. Lochi hugged her mom before boarding the car. Lalita continued to stand at the gate and watched the fading red lights till the car turned at the end of the road.
She slowly walked back to her house. As she turned the key to the door, she noticed a small piece of self-adhesive paper stuck on the door. Wondering who could have done it, she pulled the paper and read a small note scribbled on it.
I know your daughter is away for the night and you are alone. I would be there with you the whole night and give you company. Fear not, I will be kind to you. I will always be behind you.  Do not bother about opening the door. I can find my way in.
Lalita quickly turned round and saw no one. The road was empty and it started drizzling A stray dog barked somewhere in the dark night. She quickly went in and shut the door tight. Shaken with fear and wondering how one could enter the locked house with grilled windows, she switched on the lights in all rooms and searched to see no one was there. She heard a dog bark incessantly not far from the house. With heart pounding as if it would burst, she darted to her room and closed it making sure the door is properly bolted. She moved towards the window and peeped outside only to find no one except that the drizzle has become a steady rain. To make things worse, there were incessant lightening followed by ear splitting thunders. Clutching at her heart, she started reciting her favourite god’s name. She pulled a table with a chair on it and kept it across the door. Wondering how the guy knew that she would be alone, she shuddered at the thought of what could happen to her if he were to come in. She kept awake for long till she dozed off to sleep.
With a startle she woke up when she heard the long bell. The day was bright already. She rushed to the door and called out. “Who is it?”.
“Amma, Lochi here. How long am I to ring the bell?” she said as she came in. On seeing mom, she asked, “What happened to you? You look terrified. I suspected this would happen and that is why I left a note assuring you that God is behind you. Did you not read the note?”
“My god, are you the one that stuck the note on the door? You should have told me, silly girl. I spent the whole night in total fear”
“Did you not see behind the note? Lochi asked innocently.
Lalita turned the crumpled note to see, “Your God “. She read  the contents again and mumbled to herself that everything now fell into their place.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Jagan’s date with Jampa

 It was quite hot and sultry that Sunday afternoon and there were only speeding cars and trucks on the highway. Jagan was proceeding to Chengalpattu to meet Jampa at 4pm at her home at the behest of his parents who have shortlisted her. It was past 3pm and he looked out to see the SRM campus at Kattangulatthur.He relaxed at the comforting thought he had enough time to reach the destination. The song Rangapura Vihara from the YouTube by Harish Shivaramakrishnan in his sonorous voice with guitar and keys as accompaniments was mesmerizing. He slightly adjusted the temperature as he felt cold.
It was then he saw a young woman, in the barren stretch of the road that had no trees, frantically signaling him for a lift. Dressed in a dark pant  and maroon top she was slim and around 25. He stopped the car and slightly lowered the window pane.
“Sorry to trouble you. Can you kindly drop me near Singaperumal koil? It is very hot here and possibly this is no bus stop,” she spoke in impeccable English with a convent drawl.
Chivalrous by nature, he readily opened the front door. There was a gentle fragrance of Chanel No5 as she took her seat. While driving he glanced sideways at her when she was searching something from her handbag. She looked attractive with high cheek bone and long eyelashes. She turned to see him looking at her surreptitiously and smiled at him.
“I am am meeting a friend and have been delayed quite a bit waiting for the bus. You really saved the day. Let me call her to tell her  I am on my way. She will be relieved,” she said softly. The proximity of a beautiful woman, the sweet scent and the pleasing music was a heady combo.
Jagan was silent presumably lost in thoughts how Jampa would look like and whether she would be as charming as the one sitting by his side. The woman was chattering nonstop on her mobile. After a few minutes of driving in silence, he stopped the car
“We have reached Singaperumal koil,” Jagan said.
She got down from the car and after thanking him, she left in a hurry saying she was terribly late without telling even her name. Selfish woman, he thought as he drove speedily towards Chengalpattu.
Hardly after a couple of kilometres from Singaperumal koil, he saw two policemen by the side of a blue jeep waving their hands at him to stop the car. They came near the car and one of them a portly figure gruffly told him. “Can I see your license?”. He turned the pages of the license for a couple of minutes
“We got information from a source that some drugs are being taken in this car. Please step down while we check inside the vehicle. Give me your mobile and the keys,” he said. Turning to other guy he said,” Palani, go through the car like a sieve quickly. It could be ganja, cocaine or whatever.”
The luggage compartment was opened and checked what seemed thoroughly and finding none he started searching inside the car at the rear seats and finally at the glove compartments and beneath the door mats. He drew blank. The stout man shouted at Palani,” It must be there planted in some corner. Check again carefully.” Palani opened the left door where the lady was sitting and gave a shriek. “It is here, Sir and handed over a small bundle concealed in a Venkateswara sweet stall bag. The bundle revealed some whitish substance.
Jagan was stunned at the discovery and pleaded total ignorance of how it could be there. “I am a senior IT engineer in a big IT company and proceeding to see a lady for matrimony at Chengalpattu at 4pm. I promise, sir, I am totally innocent. The only mistake I did was to give a lift to a young woman of about 25 years up to Singaperumal koil. She seemed decent and educated. I do not have any information about her including her name.”
“Don't lie. I am accustomed to hear such sob stories when they get caught. Palani, close the car and keep the keys. We will take him in the jeep to the police station and let him talk to the Inspector. My bladder is full. I will relieve myself and come,” he said with some finality.
When Jagan looked pathetically at Palani, he signaled him to come near. “Do you have any cash? If you can pay 10k to him, I can try to get you out of this mess because you are going to see a girl.”
Jagan quickly thought over the sequence of events like his giving a lift to unknown woman, getting caught with drugs, and not knowing even basic details of the woman. He had no credible answer except repeated denial. This would surely shock his parents and Jampa’s family. After some haggling, Palani agreed upon 7k and whispered to the stout man. They took the money, retained the packet and allowed him to leave after admonition that he would be jailed if caught next time.
He reached Jampa’s place at 4.30pm and they were intrigued to see him in a sweaty shirt and disheveled state. He initially said he was held up due to breakdown of car for the delay and his untidy condition. When he came to know that Jampa’s dad was a DSP in police, he made a clean breast of the happening.
“I appreciate your frankness. I am aware of such a racket going on. What is planted as a white powder is no drug but used for rangoli. I have already put some decoys to catch them. Let us now turn to Jampa who is waiting eagerly to meet you,” he said.
He called “Jampa, take him first to your room for a wash. He needs to be presentable before the girl whom he has come to meet,” amid peals of laughter from others present.
That Jagan found Jampa far more bewitching than the crook who wangled a lift, is a happy titbit.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Happy denouement

 “I have lot of respect for you both but please appreciate it is my life. I will alone choose my partner as and when I come across someone I like. In spite of my specific request, I am hurt that you both chose to ignore my wish, “ Menaka said. She was furious when her dad informed her over tea about one Eswar coming to meet her at a restaurant in the weekend.
 “Menu, I am fully aware of your views on this matter. I happened to meet an old friend of mine after a very long time and exchanged the happenings during the intervening years. When he came to know about you, he suggested about his son Eswar for you. I told him that you are totally averse to arranged marriages and that I can do little in the matter,” said her dad.
“Then why did you agree for my meeting him at a restaurant this Sunday?”
“I could not bluntly refuse when he made the suggestion that you both meet outside at a restaurant over a breakfast instead of at home traditionally. I would not compel you to marry him if you do not wish to. But I am impressed with Eswar’s credentials and would leave it to you to decide after meeting him. I was also told that he is a tall guy with curly hair and athletic build. Please meet him for my sake. Here is his profile. I have no photo of his readily but he will be in jeans and a light blue T shirt” said her dad.
“Which restaurant and at what time? I will just walk out if he keeps me waiting,” asked Menaka with some asperity in her voice.
“Park view,8am.”
After a glance at the profile, she knew why her dad fell for the guy. Eswar met all the requirements that parents of any bride would look for. Highly qualified, he was already holding a middle level position in a multinational bank. He belonged to a decent and affluent family with a large house in a gated community in the suburb. He had a good flat within the city and a medium sized car.
Menaka was at the restaurant sharp at 8 am but the guy was not to been. She waited for ten minutes and was upset with the guy still missing. She had half a mind to leave the place but decided to wait for five more minutes for her dad’s sake. As she was browsing her Facebook, she heard someone loudly coughing by her side. She turned with a startle to see a stodgy guy in blue T shirt of medium height with a receding hairline.
 “Menaka. I believe. I am Eswar,” he said taking her hand and shaking a trifle longer than usual with a tight clasp. The absence of a prefix to her name and the rough handshake put her off instantly. She was speculating at the uncouth stout guy before her to the favourable description given by dad. After initial introduction, he walked to a corner table and settled comfortably leaving her to pull a chair to sit. To make matters worse, the guy ordered idly, masala dosa and coffee without asking her what she would prefer. He was too loud for her comfort and seemed restless drumming the table with his fingers making a few turn their heads.
He then embarked on what seemed to be a long rant and from the word go started telling her what he expected of his wife to be elaborating on his likes and dislikes. He was neither chivalrous to enquire first about her, her interests, her dreams and such like nor gave her an opportunity to talk He kept talking about himself interspersed repeatedly with the phrases’ I hope you follow’ and ’I hope you understand.
The last straw was when he said, “Let me make it very clear at the outset that I am very fond of my mother and would not like her to be unhappy on any account because of my wife whoever she is.ls that clear?”
Menaka developed an instant dislike for him and for his boorish behaviour. She did not talk much. At the end when he asked her whether she had anything to ask of him, she replied in the negative and stood up. Thinking possibly, he made a favourable impression on her, he made a parting remark “You are very quiet. I like you for this reason. I have an aversion for women who talk much.” Without reacting but fuming within, Menaka walked towards the gate.
When she met her eager parents, she did not elaborate but made known her total dislike for him and requested them not to proceed further in the matter. They were disappointed and felt Menaka was being foolish with preconceived notions.
That evening as Menaka readied herself to leave for gym, her dad asked her, “Can you drop me at my friend’s place. He has come to the flat for a couple of days. You need not come inside. I will take an Ola on my way back.” She readily agreed.
When she drew the car to a stop opposite the flat, surprisingly dad’s friend was standing there talking to a neighbour. On seeing them, he was very happy and invited them both inside. Her dad said “Menaka is late for her gym. She will not come. I have come to spend some time with you.”
“No, I would not allow her to go without stepping in. I know she met Eswar this morning. I do not know what they decided. Whatever their decision, I do not care. She must pay me a visit,” he pleaded with her dad.
When her dad looked at her unsure of what she would do, she got down and said “OK I will come in for five minutes. Come on.”
As they settled down on sofa, uncle said, “I am very pleased that you both have come. Menaka, you do not have to speak anything about the meeting.” At that time a tall handsome and muscular guy came from one of the rooms hearing the voices.
“Eswar, see who have come,” said uncle
With a bewildered look she gazed at the young man opposite her for a while and told her father, “Dad, this is not the person whom I met this morning. Someone else short and stodgy in blue T shirt introduced himself as Eswar and was talking to me.”
Uncle turned to the young man, “What is happening, Eswar? Did you not meet her this morning as agreed upon? This is Menaka whom you were to meet. Who is the chap who impersonated you?”
“Appa, I will presently explain everything. Meanwhile, can I have a word with Menaka in private?” he said and turning to a surprised Menaka asked her to give him a few minutes. There was a confused look on the faces of both fathers when both young things went to the adjoining room.
“Sorry. Menaka, I played a dirty trick on you. Frankly I do not believe in arranged marriages. Dad was telling me you too have the same opinion. When he insisted that I meet you. I could not refuse him. But I wished to get out of this without displeasing him. I asked a friend of mine to meet you as Eswar with instruction to behave in such a disgusting manner that you would reject outright. I am sure you must be hating him?” he said patting both his cheeks with his hands symbolically for an apology.
Menaka could not contain her laughter at his theatrics but was gawking at him greatly impressed with his easy going manner, frank disposition and handsome look. He reminded her of Gregory Peck in his younger days.
“You are not talking? After seeing you I now realize I was a fool to have missed meeting in the morning such a charming and accomplished lady. How about meeting tomorrow evening at 6pm at the same place? I wish to impress you to win your nod” he said with a big chuckle.
Menaka equally moonstruck and replied with a bashful smile, “Why not, I will surely be there? Hopefully you will buy me dinner this time.”
“Oh. oh, did that bloke make you pay for the breakfast?”
“It is ok. I did a wise thing to come inside your home when your dad asked,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes
“I have one more request. Can we go to the hall hand in hand to make our fathers happy?” Eswar asked
With a loud ‘chee, chee’ in response, she grasped his proffered hand as they both stepped out rubbing shoulders with beaming faces.