Every morning Col.Joshi walked to the nearby park and sat on the bench gazing at the serenity of the lake. A year after retiring from the Indian army, he had discovered this place. Most of the faces here were familiar to him yet he avoided them today as he loathed the sympathy in their eyes. Besides this was his time for planning the day, especially if the date meant a trip to the court.
It had been five years since the night of his daughters’ demise. Death by accident had been the verdict by the investigating officer. But he knew better. Her in-laws had exercised political influence and were granted bail immediately after he lodged a case of murder against them. Despite evidence of years of domestic abuse, the courtroom drama stretched endlessly.
Friends and family had assumed that he would give up after losing his wife last week. But they were unaware that he was actually preparing himself for the court hearing today for he had resolved to bring justice to his dead daughter.
“The red stiletto heels will look gorgeous on your feet Ma’am.” the salesman at the shoe shop was eager to close a sale deal before calling it a day.
Tshering looked at the case that boldly displayed 12000 INR. It had been nothing less than a dream to own the pair. She glanced at the cheap black heels purchased with her first salary at just 1100 INR from the local Shillong market.
Seated on the shop bench, Kodor fondly looked at this girl who had been employed as his house-help two years back. A freak accident in the city lake would have killed his mother hadn’t Tshering dived in to save her. As a swimming coach, he had spotted her talent and immediately taken her under his wings for training. He proudly beamed at the National level swimming champion today as she proceeded to pay the bill for those red heels.
“Coach, shall we leave?” Her voice broke his reverie.
It was already time to head towards the State conducted felicitation ceremony for their contribution to sports.
Hidden behind the bushes, she kept an eye on the house with green window panes. It had taken her three years to discover his recent address after he escaped from the previous city. She had stalked him endlessly for the last two months to understand the pattern of his schedule.
Years ago, he had made her pay a heavy price for rejecting his marriage proposal. The police had failed to trace him while she fought for her life in the hospital. The attack had destroyed her physically but her indomitable spirit sought revenge.
As she touched the burnt skin on her face under the veil, she felt anger rising within her. The deserted lanes were an indication that her wait would come to an end today. As she heard a soft sound of the designated house door opening, her grip on the bottle of acid in her bag tightened. She had chosen the same modus operandi as her target. To see him suffer had been the sole reason for her survival.
The ambulance rushed through the empty lanes with the loud siren to keep signaling the emergency that its occupants were facing. Sanjay kept comforting his mother Renu, “You will be fine Mummy. Don’t worry. ” The unconscious frame of Renu in blood-soaked clothes was hardly in a condition to hear her son. His wife Gauri had been crying incessantly. Sitting beside the driver, Pema kept wondering about the fate of this family on vacation. She had been woken up by the call of a hotel staff Kodor who informed Pema about Renu’s fall.
The old lady had tumbled down the stairs and slipped into unconsciousness. Kodor had been manning the hotel reception at night though it was a rare occurrence at the hill station to see visitors check-in so late in the night. He immediately called Pema, the hotel manager who had brought the in-house doctor along. The doctor had suggested immediate admission to the nearby hospital though he had also expressed his doubts about the patients’ survival, considering the heavy blood loss and her age.
Pema was moved by the emotional state of Gauri. She must have loved Renu like her own mother, Pema thought. Rongapuri was a secluded hill station in North Bengal. The place ran on basic amenities. The Government hospital functioned despite minimum set-up and basic facilities. The nearest private hospital was a minimum of four hours journey in the hilly terrain and they had couldn’t afford to lose any more time.
Father John came out of the board meeting with a heavy heart. The meeting had proceeded as per expectations which meant they only had two months time to shift to the new premises. As he handed over the signed documents to the new director of the board Rishabh Kundra, John felt utterly helpless.
“Father, this is the best we can do. Two months should give you and the school committee members sufficient time to get the new premises ready.”
John made one more feeble attempt, “But Sir, this building was allotted for this school by your late mother Savitri Devi. While undertaking of philanthropic work through her NGO, she had realized that very few schools in the city were welcoming towards the kids of the downtrodden and lower middle class. She wanted her charity work to continue through the education of these young minds. In the last fifteen years, we have had so many bright minds passing out from here.”
Rishabh had recently returned to the country from U.S. after completing his management course. He glared at the fifty-six year old Principal of Savitri Devi Memorial School (SDMS) with annoyance.
“Listen Father, I am neither interested nor do I have any intention to carry forward my late mother’s charity. She lacked business acumen and was incapable of leading Kundra group of companies. I am a businessman whose sole interest is maximizing profits and expansion of business. Your school looks like a good proposition to me on paper. That’s because it takes care of the Kundra group’s corporate social responsibility. Precisely the reason why I am not shutting it down by withdrawing all forms of support. However it is a loss making proposition. So I have decided to tighten the finances allocated to running this school. Besides why do you want those lowly kids to enjoy so many facilities when they can’t even pay a single penny for them? It would rather do you good to accept that SDMS has to move to the old factory site that is to be designated as the new school building henceforth. I intend to turn this well spaced-out structure into a leading B-school. And that would be the end to any further discussion on this subject.” Rishabh gave a final nod as John left dejected.
Samar stood on the balcony smoking. He had given up cigarettes long back but today was different. He was both stressed and excited. Shikha had been noticing her husband for the past few days. Between the two of them he seemed the one most affected by Myra’s wedding. She decided to take a momentary break from the list of things to be completed before the rituals started in the evening.
“Samar, do you want tea?”
Samar turned around. His eyes were moist.
“How will she manage without us? And how will I stay without her in our house?”
“She’s getting married. You should be happy for our daughter. She would be broken if she knew what her father’s going through. Tirtha is a great guy. He is surely going to ensure that Myra stays happy and pampered.” Shikha held Samar’s hand.
With a grip on his emotions, Samar went out to attend to his fatherly duties in a while as Shikha continued with her instructions over the phone.
The wedding was planned as a private affair in Goa. The bride and groom had decided for a registered marriage. Neither believed in social customs and rituals. Only handpicked relatives from Myra and Tirtha’s extended families were invited. Few of their close friends had been called. They had thought of throwing a reception party afterwards. Royal grand resort was one of the few five-star resorts with the facility of a private beach. Today the beach area had been converted into a wedding venue.
Myra had chosen a baby pink gown while Tirtha picked up a blue Tuxedo suit. The guests had started arriving. Samar went inside his room to bring Shikha. The gorgeous red Mysore silk suited Shikha’s plump and dusky frame. She had chosen to wear her own wedding saree on the day their daughter stepped into a new life. Samar gently touched the wheel chair. Her eyes and smile still managed to make him fall in love. They hugged briefly before Samar wheeled Shikha out towards the venue.
Ever since I started blogging, I also started nurturing the desire to become a published author. As part of my pursuit of dreams, I have started writing Fiction. I had begun contributing articles to quite a few websites since December last year. Women’s Web happens to a personal favourite for lending voice to hundreds of women across the country. Every month the site runs a contest called Muse of the Month(MOTM) wherein a prompt is given for the authors to write a short story within 2000 words and submit it within 12th of the month.
My maiden attempt at MOTM for the month of February titled “But The Truth Is That She Is In Charge Of Her Life”had been shortlisted among of thousands of entries. While it didn’t make it to the coveted top 5, the fact that it came close enough to get into this list is a big booster and encouragement for a new author like me. Sharing snippets from the story here –