Times of India has recently announced a competition for writers. The competition is titled “Write India Campaign”. A paragraph is provided by renowned author, which the author has to develop.
This month famous author Chetan Bhagat had provided a small preface, which was to be developed. The para was :
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf…
I found the concept challenging and unique. So i tested my writing skills and have penned down a small fiction which is submitted to Times of India. Winning or Losing does not matters, participating does matters.
The story is reproduced below :
It was altogether a different day today. Her world had moved upside down, there was a tsunami of emotions, lurking to explode from within, but, her outer demeanor was Buddha like. From her exterior she looked at peace, peace perhaps was the last word to describe her inner turmoil. It was a hot summer afternoon, the air conditioners and the fans in the coffee shop churned to their optimum. There was traffic out, the routine din, but she was unfazed, time had stopped for her. It was not an ordinary day afterall. It was not that she dropped at Starbucks café everyday, neither did she murdered people every day…
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. She waited for the cops to arrive.
The coffee tasted never so good before, she said to herself. Soon the siren of the Police van was heard, she understood that the cops were nearby around. The media too got the whizz of the it and they too arrived uninvited. As usual the intense fight erupted over news channel to break the news a second earlier than other. The cops came, she handed over the blood stained knife. The lady constable caught hold of her, the knife, was carefully kept in the plastic bag and she was taken out of the shop.
The news cameras and the tv journalists gheraoed the police team to take photos and bytes of the Killer Lady, as she was by now rechristened. They asked several questions and almost instigated her to extract a byte. But, she did not utter a word. The cops managed to somehow take her away to the Police Station. She was taken into police custody.
The media went berserk, the whole nation was shocked, there was palpable tension all around. The lady had not killed a common man. She had killed the most respected Spiritual Guru. This guru was no common a man. He had a following that ran into several millions. Ordinary people crazed for one glimpse of him. He was Guru of most powerful politicians of all hues, he was guru of business leaders, of media tycoons and celebrities. One could see his photos alongside gods in the temple. One could see his photos in lockets, in purses, on the windshield of cars. Afterall, his one utterance could make or mar many a destinies.
The lady was dubbed as a Killer, Vernacular media dubbed her as “Hatyaran”. Experts ranging from Psychologists to Former Supercops thronged Prime Time to analyse the motive behind the murder. Many conspiracy theories were floated. The only question that was being asked by one and all was, after all, why did the lady kill the Guru. A guru, according to his staunch followers, was no lesser than a manifestation of Lord himself. The man was loved by all, respected by all, he lived a very simple and dignified life, ran many ashrams for urchins, widows and did community service. A man who had sacrificed his entire life for the mankind. Why was he killed?
Sitting inside the police custody, memories rolled back, the lady went back.
Meet Asha, a girl with very uncommon dreams. Asha means hope, and the girl personified her name. She was an eternal optimist. She was a dreamy girl from Sangli in rural Maharashtra. A girl who wanted to do it big in life. A bright student she was. Sadly enough, her luck was not however as bright as her intellect. Right from her birth, she had to struggle. Her father a worker in one factory in MIDC, earning a salary much lower than the dreams of Asha had to look after Asha, her younger sibling Amit and his wife, who was most of the times bedridden due to chronic asthama. Asha, it seems, grew faster, perhaps poverty erases many a childhood memories, as one don’t like to remember the past. So the semblance of growing up faster. Asha stood first in the city in her board exams and her dreams grew exponentially, poor father though, thought his daughter should not have been so bright. The girl wanted to do engineering, so she wished to do Sciences. The father was not sure how to arrange for the finances. One day the father confessed to the girl his inability to fund her studies. To her credit and to justify her name, Asha had never left hope. The girl with the help of a local social worker, came to knew that there is one ashram of the Guru in Mumbai, where girls like her were provided free stay and admission in one of the colleges run by the institutions of the guru. The girl’s happiness knew no bounds. She, with the help of the social worker reached Mumbai. The town where she always wanted to be. The city that would have really justified her dreams. The girl stayed in the hostel and started her studies. She was indebted, hugely indebted to this guruji, his beaming picture was in her bag, her purse, in locket and everywhere. The guru was a in his thirties then and had a charismatic personality. He inherited much of the fame and fan following from his father who too was a guru and who ensured that his son inherited his seat. Asha felt very indebted to the guru, because of whom she was able to continue her studies.
Her roommates Sheila, Priya and Pooja were her best buddies. Asha was always full of life and she many a times expressed her desire to meet the godman atleast once to express her heartfelt thanks. The girls would often wryly say, she would definitely one day. Asha would get confused. In her exuberance, she would always keep on inquiring more and more about guruji. However, to her surprise, the girls would either change the topic or avoid the question. There was something amiss in their behavior. Asha found the reason one fine day. And she found it in a terrible manner. The girl was summoned by the guru in his ante chamber for giving her blessing, his aide told her. The girl was very thrilled see the guru for the first time as she too had longed to meet the guru. What transpired in the ante chamber, however, left the girl scorned, scorned, throughout her life. She somehow came to her room. The friends knew what had happened and so the room was somber. Nobody uttered anything. Asha wept and wept all the night. She wanted to commit suicide, but, her dreams, her dreams were to be fulfilled, she had to sustain her family, grow big. A small sacrifice meant nothing she consoled herself to reconcile with the fact. The girl had compromised for the sake of her family and her dreams.
Asha completed her Engineering and was picked in a campus interview itself by a reputed International Engineering company. She drew salary, she never could have imagined back in Sangli.
Days passed, she was no more a small child now, she was a beautiful women, she was settled in life and as luck would have it. She fell in love with Samir. A fellow colleague in her company. His simplicity appealed her, he was a devout follower of the same guru. It seemed, the whole town was. Asha married Samir. They were now leading a very contented life. Asha supported her family back home. Regularly and almost devoutly she would send money to her father who was now old and her mother not around. She ensured that her brother would continue his education. That year Asha gave birth to a child a baby girl Shreya. A bundle of joy, the girl brought meaning to the family and happiness she never witnessed ever before.
Asha was in her thirties now, Shreya was in her school days, she was as lively and as bubbly as Asha was in her school days. Asha would wander in her childhood days seeing Shreya. Shreya had parents like no other child had. She got all the happiness in her life, which her mother could not get. Samir too was a dotting and caring dad. He ensured that both the mother and child got all they wanted. Days were passing like a dream. But, then dreams never last forever..
Samir was very attached to the guru, sometimes to the hilt, Asha would find it suffocating to bear. She sometimes wished she should expose real face of the guru, but, she wondered Samir would never believe. He was almost addicted to the guru and was on verge of being a fanatic supporter of guru. On the other hand everytime when Samir would talk about guru, asha would try to maintain silence or change the topic. Asha’s stoic silence would somehow disturb Samir. He thought that it was ingratitude on the part of Asha not to acknowledge the guru. Asha had never discussed the physical, mental and emotional turbulence, so many a times, she had been during her stay in the ashram.
Good time come with a curse of flowing away too fast. It is the bad times that have the pace of a tortoise. One day, Samir woke up late, it was his usual nature to stay awake till late and wake up late in the morning. He somehow got ready for the office, Asha had taken a day off that day. She had to attend the dance competition in which her little fairy was going to participate. Her fairy was now in her eight standard. She was a good exponent in Bharat Natyam and it was her first big performance. Asha was thrilled. Samir was to join the mother daughter duo directly. He did so, the performance of the fairy was par excellent and she won the trophy without any competition. The family had one of the most wonderful evening that day, they celebrated the trophy. The girl was pampered and all her wishes were instantaneously fulfilled that day by Samir. He had turned into Alladin that day. Asha cherished the happy moments of her live. Deservedly so..
The next morning Samir took a day Off, he said he would take the girl to the guruji for his blessings. The word blessing meant very bad a meaning in the heart of Asha. She shuddered, she tried to prevent Samir from taking her to the guru. But Samir was as adamant as Asha that day. Asha somehow thought that the girl would be safe as Samir too would be around.
Asha left for the office, somehow, she was not normal, her heartbeat was not normal, she sensed something bad would happen. She tried to ring and message Samir, but Samir would switch off the phone whenever in Ashram. Asha returned in the evening. She saw Samir and Shreya. Asha breathed a sigh of relief.
That evening after dinner, Samir went downstairs for a walk. Shreya was not normal, Asha had realized by then. She took the girl near her. The girl looked fraught. Asha inquired and she was facing the shock of her her, the second time around. The girl cried her heart out, Asha was very angry, she decided to confront the guru. She took the girl with her, but, the sevaks would not allow the lady in the night reasoning that the guru was meditating.
Going to the Police Station was another option available to her. But, she said to herself, the top cops sit with folded hands in front of this guru, who will take her complaint. Asha had thought something drastic.
By then Samir ranged looking at the door locked. Asha came back, she told Samir, Samir was dismayed, shocked. He did not know whether to trust the little girl or distrust his guru who was not less than a god. He was confused. He was shell shocked. Angry and furious, but, with no possible remedy to do justice to the girl was in his sight. He felt helpless like never before. In fact, he even thought of burying the matter and forgetting that day. Asha never felt ashamed of Samir so much before. She said this to Samir in no uncertain terms. That night passed long.
The next day, Asha left for the Ashram, this time alone. She sat for the morning aarti and guru darshan. She was very furious to see the guru and the way he was being showered with praise and the way people thronged to touch his feet. The lady did nothing; she wanted an audience in private. She contacted a sevak she knew for many a days and somehow got the audience of the guru for three minutes.
The guru was sitting in his ante chamber. Oh, how could she forget the ante chamber. The guru was in his sixties now; white flowing beard brought an aura around him, which people worshipped. He was all alone in the chamber relaxing on the wooden relaxing chair. He looked at the lady and understood what she was going to ask. He gave a cunning smile to remind Asha what happened in her college days and said to her “I blessed your daughter yesterday.” Trying to pre-empt the question he further said “it’s all in the fate, you people are lucky to be so close to the guru. Your family is the chosen lucky family.” Asha had enough of the pravachans by now, she rushed near the guru a fruit basket with fresh red apples was on the side table and a sharp knife was glazing, almost inviting Asha to do the pious deed. She in a flash of a second picked the knife and stabbed the guru many a times, she did it with all her might to ensure that the guru may not see day of the light again. She just uttered the words to the guru; I should have done this to you many a years back…
The guru was stabbed so badly that he could not shout, he died instantly. Asha picked the knife rolled it in the blue scarf, she had rolled on her head and kept the blood stained knife in her purse. She simply walked away, as if nothing had happened. For next half an hour, nobody entered the ante chamber thinking that the guru was resting.
Asha sat in the Starbucks and sipped the coffee. She did not feel guilty. In fact, she felt, she delivered the justice. Albeit a bit late.
Samir rushed to the Police Station, where Asha was lodged. He fought a very tough legal battle to ensure Asha was out. Asha did’nt bother though. She thought that perhaps it was in her destiny to end the cruel hypocrite guru and save many innocent lives.
Perhaps, Samir’s faith, which by now had turned blind faith, was the reason to ruin the lives and happy family.