Short Story: The Bet

“Bet is a bet and you have to do it,” snapped Abraham.

“Yes, you are doing it Peter, there is no second thought about it. This time we will be the spectators!” joined Bharat, Kamal and Vaishali.

“But why it is me? I’m not doing it,” I replied.

“We all have done this many times and this is your turn to do this. Come on be a man”

I was very much speculative about this idea. I had no intentions to do this. When it comes to friends, we always have to obey group etiquettes. So I agreed.

“So who is going to come tonight?” I asked.

“Anjali” came the swift reply from Vaishali.

“Time……”

“12.00 Midnight sharp,” we overheard them from the hostel balcony.

“OMG!!! So you people have been there to the girl’s hostel, haven’t you guys?” I was awestruck.

“No, Vaishali was there in the hostel balcony and overheard them,” replied Kamal.

“Yes, I was just taking stroll in the balcony.” Vaishali was excited, “though I don’t stay anymore there. But I like sneaking into the hostel balcony when the lady warden is fast asleep”

So Anjali is today’s scapegoat for the girls! I quickly looked at my watch. It was already quarter to 12.00. Night was chill. The thick marshy area followed by the sparsely grown trees behind the hostel gave a perfect pseudo setting of a forest. I was wondering why did the college authorities chose such a place to build the girls hostel. I quickly changed to my jeans and Tees.

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Short Story: The Antique Watch

“What is this?” the voice from behind echoed in our living room, as we were looking into the metallic thing shining in my palm.

“It is an old watch” I said.

“Old clock I guess,” Akshay corrected me, “looks like an antique piece.”

“Yea seems to be one”

“But, from where did you get this?” the question was very simple, “tell me Kishore, why did you buy this?”

“I didn’t buy”

“Then”

“The small watch company one below the flyover, owned by Kishandas Jain, he gave me this in replacement for my old wrist watch which he misplaced it somewhere”

“You are nuts!”

“But why?” I asked.

“You should have asked a new watch from him. You are really a nuts dude. He just made a fool out of you. An old metallic watch, sorry it has only the dial, so it is a clock in replacement for your five thousand rupees Titan watch? May be Gandhiji would have used this piece I guess”

“But this is working. I never use a watch now-a-days and that too I bought that watch three years back. The price of my watch would have come down less than its quarter I guess.”

He came around and sat in the bed beside me in my room. Both of us were examining the watch in my hand. It looked so old, but well polished, gleaming silver with a diameter equal to the width of my palm. It had a thin metal lid for its face and a screw to adjust the minute and hour hands. Around the screw was the small hook like thing which you can use it to connect a chain and let it dangle wherever you want. The shop keeper gave the watch in a small wooden box. We were looking at the dial of the watch. It looked so royal, still looking awesome.

“Hey what’s this?,” Akshay jumped and took the wooden box and pulled out a small velvet cloth peeping out of it. I leaned towards him and stared at what he is looking at.

“That must be the cloth which normally they give to clean the watch” I said.

“Hmmm…looks like that,” he said, “but, did you see this? Something is written here” he pulled my shorts. He now brought the opened cloth to my visibility. I could read the thick golden words embroidered in the cloth.

It read,

It strikes! one, two,
Three, four, five, six. Enough, enough, dear watch,
Thy pulse hath beat enough. Now sleep and rest;
Would thou could’st make the time hasten its pace;
I’ll wind thee up no more.

“And now what is this?” Akshay became curious, “Looks like it is giving us some message”

“Akshay, please do not think and imagine weird things. It is just a watch, just an old watch. Just leave this in my place and let’s go out.

“No there is some message in this. Listen, it says, it strikes always one, two, three and four and in constant motion all time. The levers, the metal pins and all the mechanism seems working all time. So if we stop the watch or make its pace faster, it will wind up, no…no..err it will wind us up. This means, it will kill us!!”

He winked at me. I know about him. He takes things which are not so serious into serious stuff and ponders about them. After sometime, he comes back to his normality and views the same thing as crap. Now this thing about the clock has made him hypersensitive which I know that he’ll be back to normal in few minutes.

I ignored his research on the words written in the piece of cloth. Searched for the knob to adjust time and made it ten minutes faster. It was half past twelve and I was feeling sleepy. I kept the watch in the table and dozed off for a while.

Something was disturbing my sleep and found to be my mobile. I picked it up to find Preethi calling.

“Hi Preethi”

“Hi Kishore, know what? I’m leaving for Hyderabad and I’ll be in the station in an hour” She said.

“Oh, why suddenly?” I asked

“I’m on a vacation and going to stay at my aunt’s house there. If possible can we meet in the station?”

“Sure Preethi, I’ll join you for the send off. I’ll get ready in fifteen minutes and try to reach the station”

“Okay, see ya.”

The call disconnected.  My mobile clock displayed 3.00 PM. I had slept for two and half hours. The antique watch was not seen on the table. I could hear the music player sending beats out of Akshay’s room.

He will be having it, I thought

I took a shower and kick started my bike to reach the station. I informed Akshay that I’ll be back in sometime.

After meeting Preethi in the station and an exciting send off, I reached the parking lot in the station and extracted my bike from the crowd of vehicles parked haphazardly. After, crossing the sandy roads beside the railway station, my bike touched the tar road and picked up speed. It was a straight long stretch of road and it was less crowded with the vehicles. I shifted the gear and picked up speed and was tearing the air that came along. Before I could realize what was going to happen, a cow crossed the road and stood straight right infront of my way. I had no time to react but to apply the brakes. But to my disappointment, the bike screeched and ran over a sand spread over the road and so my bike skidded, toppled, tumbled and fell on the ground and thrown into one corner of bushes along the sides of the road.

My hands were paining. Luckily nothing bad happened. I survived the accident with few scratches. I stood up slowly and was trembling a bit.

Thanks a lot God, no fracture too, I prayed.

I slowly walked to the bike and the cow was happily chewing the leaves on the side of the road without knowing the fact that it had caused an accident. I was bleeding a bit too in the hands and in my knees. I picked up the bike, checked if things are fine with it then rode it back home.

“What happened?” Akshay enquired.

“An accident, I skidded and fell on the ground” I answered, “I went to the hospital, and got some first aid. Don’t worry”

I went to my room and was changing into my pyjamas. I slid my hands into my pant pocket to take the bike key out but it wasn’t there. I searched in all places. But the key was not found.

“Akshay, I think I forgot my keys in the bike. I’ll go down and check if I had left it in the parking area itself” I told Akshay and opened the door and walked towards the lift.

“Okay, come soon, by the way, I smell something wrong. I smell gas in here. Did you switch off the stove?” He asked

“No yaar, I just entered my room and found the keys missing. See, I didn’t change my dress too” I replied.

“Okay you carry on, I’ll check in the kitchen” He said. I entered the lift and pressed “G” to instruct the lift to take me to the ground floor. As the lift descended from the seventh floor, my mobile ringed and it was Akshay. I was puzzled on what made him give me a call.

“Hello, what the matter?” I asked him.

“The antique watch, did you do anything to it?” He asked.

“Hey, stop that thing now. Did you check from where the gas is leaking?”

“Yea I checked the Cylinder in the kitchen. It is switched off properly. So no problem with ours and I guess it may be from the nearby kitchen in the flat adjacent to ours”

“I see”

“Now answer me, did you do anything with the watch?” He asked me again.

“No I didn’t do anything.” I answered. Only after answering I remembered that I changed the time ten minutes faster. But what is his concern now? I wondered.

“Hey Akshay, Yes, I changed the time, ten minutes faster, before the afternoon nap. Now I remember. But what is the matter? Is it working fine? Do we have to visit the shop again?” I asked.

“Kishore, do you realize that the accident is because of that? Since you changed the time ten minutes faster, it caused an injury in the form of an accident. I told you before not to take any chances with it”. Then I could hear his laugh and giggle.

“Dude, don’t act funny. This accident has nothing to do with the watch. By the way, why do you want to ask such a question to me now? Is that watch working properly?” I asked him.

“NO” came the reply.

“No? What happened? And by the way we have another spare cylinder in the room, behind the refrigerator. Check that too if the smell is because of that” I told him.

“Yes dude, the watch is not working because I dismantled it. I ripped it open” his answer was followed by a loud blast; an explosion that agitated my mobile. When the lift opened in the ground floor, I could see people shouting and running in the stairs.

Someone came running towards me, “Mr Kishore, a gas cylinder blasted in the seventh floor house. The inmate is seriously injured.”

My heart stopped for a second

As I entered my room amidst the crowd, I saw Akshay burnt and severely injured by the blast. His breath was slowly getting subsided as people around them were fanning his charred body. Someone was calling ambulance. I stood motionless. The dismantled antique clock was lying on the floor, with the cloth underneath it, bearing the golden embroidered words.

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Short Story: The Sign

“Yes mom, I’m coming home, I’ve taken a week’s off. So I’ll stay there, Yes…OK. See ya” I pressed the End-Call button. After a long time, I’m going back home. Work has ruined my personal life badly. I never found time for any other activity apart from slouching in front of the monitor staring at the chunks of codes. I had informed my manager about my leave. I packed my bags and started towards the station.

I did not book the train tickets, so I had to leave for hometown in the unreserved compartment. The worst part is I have to switch two trains to reach my place. I was wondering if I’ve to go for such an option. I could have very booked the tickets later, but I was so desperate to go home.

I reached the station at 9.30 PM. The station was still crowded. The people are swarming here and there. The train had already arrived. The announcement said that the train number 6203 Mumbai superfast express is going to depart in another 15 minutes.

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Short Story: The House

“Mom, please tell me why are you doing this?”

“Munna, I do not do it deliberately, I love them so much and since they didn’t love me as much they did two days back. I’m still showing my affection towards them.”

“But ma do you remember what did they do to you? The left you in oldage home and they took all your property. They took the land which you possessed to be given to your son after his marriage. They forcefully transferred the land to their name. But you still love them”

Beta, I understand all that, but after all they are my blood. He is my brother whom I had taken care of from his childhood. How can I ignore him?”

“That is fine but what about my aunt? Why are you doing very small things to her, when she hasn’t even cared for you two days back? She hasn’t even turned a single stone straight up. But yesterday you have shut the curtain in her room, adjusted the picture which was hanging on the wall straight so that it looks in neat. Why? Why all this?”

“Beta, you do not understand. You are still tender and immature by heart. You do not see things clearly. You need to wait and understand yourself”

“But ma, this is your house. They have usurped it from you. And you still stay here as a maidservant. I hate this to the core”

“Give me one more chance, I’ll show it to you and you will understand everything”

“Ok. Do whatever you want. But let me tell you something. You are not doing the right things, they do not deserve such fondness from you”

The mother gave a wry smile and saw her brother coming into the drawing hall. He was very tired after his day’s work. He sat on the sofa and switched on the TV.

●●●

Radhika entered the house late at night, went to her room and quickly changed to her night dress. She saw Suman sitting in the sofa and staring at the TV very thoughtfully. She went near him and gently stroked his forehead and asked.

“It seems you are in a deep thinking about me”, she enquired

“Yes. I’m thinking about you only”, replied Suman

“So sweet…..” saying this she neared him and was about to give a tight hug, just then he blocked her hug with his hand and looked at her.

“You shouldn’t have been so rude to my sister. You know how much she loved both of us?”

Arrey, what’s wrong with you now? Why are you taking up her topic. I’ve been already hurt by heart for the past 2 days. Today you are again bringing up this topic.”

“Please Radhika understand. I know the incidents which are happening for the past two days. But I can’t just accept the way you behave with my sister”

Radhika frowned at her husband’s expression and fired back, “You never know what mental agony I’m into. You have witnessed what happened yesterday in my bedroom. Don’t you understand that? I need some comfort not scorching words towards me”

She understood that he is not in a mood to listen to her. She quickly hurried way to her bedroom leaving him in the drawing hall with the TV

Suman thought, she was not the one, with whom he fell in love, a year back. I was in love with her, but she was not in love with me but with my money. I was mad on her beauty, but she was mad on my richness. I never felt this before, I was blind in love or my love was blind. I could see that she was not in good terms with my sister from the day one we came into this house. For past two days she has been into great trauma. But why did she do this to my sister?

●●●

“But mom, this isn’t fair and please don’t involve me in such things. Im not ready to do anythingfor her. I can’t….”

“Beta, look Radhika is coming”

“Ok do whatever you want!”

Radhika entered her bedroom. It was dark and the night lamp was the only source of light illuminating the room. She sat in the bed and did not want to see things which happened last night. Just then she was about to adjust the pillow, the chair in front of the dressing table moved without any support. It appeared as if someone was pulling it near the bed. But no one was seen around.

Radhika was petrified.

Suman could hear someone screaming from the bedroom above the stairs. He very well knew that it belonged to her wife. He picked up the telephone which was placed in the centre of the tea table and dialed to his family lawyer, without any second thoughts.

“Mr. Arora, we are planning to sell the house, please meet me tomorrow morning with the documents. I’ll sign right away” said Suman calmly.

“Suman, but why now? You wanted to stay…”

“Please do not ask anything now. I’ve decided to sell it. We are moving to our flat in our native. Please get ready with the documents. We would like to get away with this damn house.” Suman completed the sentence in a single breath and placed the receiver in the phone.

He reached the bedroom to find his wife horror struck and sitting in the corner of the room. He went near her and said, “Rahika, we are leaving tomorrow as your wish. We are not staying anymore here in this house. And you will not be subjected to such incidents happening around you. I love you so much and my sister too. ”

Radhika was still, unable to come out of the shock which she had countered and it’s been like this for the past two days, after her sister-in-law died day before yesterday due to the cardiac arrest with stress due to the extreme mental torture which she has been subjected to by Radhika, which killed not only her sister-in-law but also her only son who hung himself not withstanding her mom’s death.

●●●

“Mom now I understand why are you doing this to her. At last they are leaving now. I never knew you can do this. I was wondering how people simply deceive others and stay happily. I was afraid that they will live happily in our house forever. But with this, they are moving, movng away from our very own house.”

“Yes munna, our work ends here. I’ve done my part. Come on let us too leave. We have our own places to stay, not here from now on.”

A barely visible wisp of air ascended the sky from the room towards the window pane. The bright white curtains swayed in air as the gush of air escaped out of the window

~The End~

Short Story: Achievement

The President International Hotel was gleaming with colors of artificial cuboids structure erupted all the way along the sides of the main pathway into the hotel. The fountains emitted bright and dazzy colorful waters into the large water chamber fitted underneath to collect the flowing waters. The thick and wide red carpet was shining Saturn, laid on both sides of the fountains which lead to the large performance hall where the Fashion Show for the year is going to be held in an hour shortly.

The hotel’s reception was swarming with people who exemplified style icons and fashion freaks. They were clad in apparels exclusively designed by designers who were big shots in the fashion designing industry. Not to mention about the press who were almost fluttering with microphone and cameras around the celebrities and the contestants in an anticipation to get few words out of their mouth which will feed their magazines and newspapers for another week.

Jeniffer came into the contestants’ chamber and settled in her seat. All the others were looking at her with eyes wide open like an owl. She was gorgeous; her face was neat and glossy. It looked as if she had been carved out of butter. Most of them were busy adjusting their hair strands and their makeup. Though it was an air conditioned room, pearls of sweat appeared in the faces of the girls. Jeniffer looked calm and composed. She did not stress herself looking at all others.

“Excuse me. I’m Kalpana Roy from Bhubaneswar”. Jeniffer took her eyes off from the magazine which she was reading and smiled with her cutest of her symmetrical pink lips coated with a light red lip gloss which suited her face and lips perfect.

“I’m Jeniffer. Jeniffer Mathews”

“Glad to know you. I haven’t seen you in any of the fashion fest. Is this the first time you are contesting for “Miss Beauty Queen of the year?”, Kalpana replied.

“Errr…No I’ve been contesting for various fashion fests in the south and this is the first time, I’ve come over to Mumbai for this contest.” Jeniffer gave a smiling reply.

“Oh I see. So how are you feeling right now?”

Jeniffer’s mobile emitted a sweet soft ringtone, to which she excused herself and attended the call outside the contestants’ chamber. Her long white gown covering her from the shoulder to the ground swept the floor as she walked away. Kalpana was looking at the direction she went away.

***

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