“He Bhagwan!”, escaped from his lips as he looked over at the long narrow stretch of road that lay ahead of him.
Far away, the golden horizon indicated that night fall wasn’t too long from then.
He didn’t like this place, not at all.
The road was just a dirt path connecting nowhere to nowhere, benefiting a few scattered villages that fell on its way. Small huts dotted the forests that tried to engulf the road from the two sides.
He noticed a small hut near the bend of the road.
‘Could someone be living there?’ he wondered.
‘No, there’s hardly a chance of anyone living in this God-forsaken place! But, that’s the only chance I have, otherwise I will have to spend the night in the car itself,’ he mused.
A quick look into his water flask was sufficient for him to realize that it would be better to run a few metres in the rain, if it could get him clean water to drink, than sit here thirsty in the car for the night. So he got out of his car and dashed towards the hut, the downpour drenching him cold to his bones.
With each step, his heart got heavier.
He didn’t like this place, not at all.
It literally took him every bit of energy he had to keep sprinting towards the hut. The hut seemed to go further and further away with his will to go on dropping by the second. It wasn’t physically tiring, no! But, mentally he was exhausted.
He had been here before and his past was coming back to haunt him.
He had avoided this road, this area, this state for 20 years. He had got a job, moved abroad, got married, had kids, bought a big car, a bigger apartment, was a successful journalist and had all the comforts that any average man could imagine to have. He had never turned to look back, never let his past reach out to him.
But, probably the past hadn’t forgotten him yet.
It beckoned to him with a proposal to cover a story in a nearby village for the magazine he worked for. The money was good and it wouldn’t take him much time. Besides, you never know which cover story could be your key to a promotion! He took up the project and here he was…running towards the hut.
He reached the hut panting.
Hadn’t it been for the cold and wetness of the rain, he would be drenched in his own sweat.
He looked around and saw no one. The hut was deserted.
His heart sank a bit deeper than it already had.
He bent down, grasping his knees, as he gasped to satiate his lungs which were hungry for air after all that fast a run.
His eyes were closed, yet he could see bits and pieces of his past flashing by.
It was then that he heard her voice.
The voice of a young girl. A girl who had suddenly transpired form nowhere.
“It’s raining really heavily this year, isn’t it?”
He glanced at her sideways, still bending down grasping his knees.
Their eyes met… he couldn’t break off the gaze.
“It has been raining especially heavily this week”, she told coldly and continued, “What are you doing here?”
He was up straight now, still gazing into her eyes, his mouth wide open, his sinking heart now picking up the rhythm and beginning to beat fast.. faster….WAY faster.
“I am returning from the forests. My mother had sent me to get firewood. See, don’t I have enough?” she pointed to a stack of firewood in the corner, her voice colder than ice.
He took no notice of the firewood. His eyes could have popped out of his sockets, and his heart out his mouth.
“You DO know what will happen to me next, don’t you?” she asked, her head cocked to one side, her eyes never blinking once.
He was in his present and his past both at once. He could see now, he could see then, he could see it all. His mind was hardly able to process all that was happening.
“I can tell you what will happen to me next. I will walk down this road, towards my home, my village. A drunken man would pass me in his motorcycle. He will come back. Get off the vehicle. Pull my hands. My firewood will fall to the ground. He will drag me by my hair into the forest. I will keep screaming for help. No one would hear me. I will resist him. Scratch him. Beg him. But he would not stop until his manly hunger gets satisfied.”
He stood there frozen.
She continued, “He will leave me there and go away. I will return to my village with the little life left in me, only to be disowned by my people.”
His mind could not fathom what his eyes were telling him to believe. Standing before him was a girl completely dry in this heavy rain…………as young as she was 20 years ago.
“And then I will run away one morning and jump into that lake,” she told pointing at a water body a little deep into the forest.
That was the first time he shifted his gaze from her. He now stood staring into the direction of the lake, his eyes as cold as hers.
“I will kill myself”
He looked back at her.
“And I can also tell what will happen next to YOU”, she chuckled.
Her head tilted, her voice hollow yet laughing, she told “You TOO will jump into the lake. You TOO will kill yourself.”
As if his feet were ready, only waiting to hear these words, he started walking. Without any hurry to escape the rain, without any fear of the night that was encroaching upon his life, he walked straight into the lake.
And kept walking.
Until he could not be seen.
All that remained was a deserted hut.
And a night sky that poured dark, heavy rain.
~Almas Kiran Shamim
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda