Saturday, 25 May 2013

A story by ASHWIN - a 'lengthy' short story

What's so special about this story?
Of course this story is special because this marked the silver jubilee among my short stories (25th story). I penned this story in the month of September (year 2012). Initially I decided to write it as a full length romantic story, but after writing the first paragraph a concept struck my mind that made me to change the genre from romance to a suspense thriller (read the story, I don't want to break the suspense). 

About the title
Most of my regular readers asked me a question - 'why did you choose this title?' Well, let me explain. I wanted to use an unique title for my 25th story and hence I zeroed in the name 'a story by ASHWIN'. The specialty with the title is it gets synced to the story -- just look at the order in which the characters are introduced, and if you club the first letter of their names together (in the same order I introduced) you'll end up with a name that is closely linked to the title. 

Genre
Suspense / Thriller

Note: Do not forget to post your valuable comment in the comment box after reading the story. There might be some grammatical errors and ignore if you come across any of those errors. 

A story by ASHWIN

DAY 1 – 11.30 am

Guy: Hey!
Girl: Hey! How are you?
Guy: I’m good. It’s been a long time. How are things going on with you?
Girl: Yeah, it’s been a long time, and, everything’s cool with me ;)
Guy: Shall we meet up, say, tomorrow? Is that okay for you?

That was a simple conversation between a boy and a girl, but the end of the conversation makes up for all everything. Ashok kept staring at his monitor awaiting reply from Sakshi. After some time, the reply flashed on screen.

Girl: Hmmm, okay. Where and at what time?

Obviously, Ashok was delighted after seeing this. He was scratching his head not knowing how to react. His friend, Hariram, who sat beside him, helped him out.
‘Dude, why are you looking so confused?’ Hariram asked Ashok, as he went through the conversation.
‘Dude, she agreed.’ Ashok replied keeping his vision on the chat box.
‘The place where Wesley took us last week, that restaurant was too good. Fix that.’ Hariram said this and left the place.

Guy: Hotel Park - tomorrow 4.30 in the evening?
Girl: Sounds good. I’ll see you there.

Ashok still kept staring at the chat box even after he read the message ‘Sakshi logged out from chat’. Later, he closed the laptop. He looked at Hariram, who was dumping the clothes in the washing machine, and smiled.  

DAY 2 - 4.05 pm
Ashok was there at the restaurant quite early. He booked a table at the garden and was waiting for Sakshi to arrive. He was not sure whether Sakshi will turn up at the mentioned time or not. With a little hope, he waited there. The time was running out and yet Sakshi did not arrive. He waited there for almost three and half hours, and still there was no sign of her. Out of frustration, Ashok left the restaurant. He went to the parking lot, got into the car, and then drove back to his house.  

DAY 2 – 8.45 pm
It took half an hour for Ashok to drive home from the restaurant. He reached JB Apartments, where he lived. After parking his car in the basement, Ashok got into the elevator, which took him to the seventh floor. He reached 7D, his flat, and found the door locked from outside. He unlocked the door and got inside, and rested himself on the sofa in the living room. After few minutes, he saw his friend Hariram getting into the house.
‘Hey!’ Hariram greeted Ashok, as he entered the house. He continued, ‘The traffic was heavy today.’ He went to the fridge, took out the water bottle and drank some of it. He then put back the bottle into the fridge, and turned to Ashok and asked him, ‘You look dull. What happened to you?’ Hariram went and sat next to Ashok.
‘She did not turn up at the restaurant.’ Ashok said to Hariram.
‘She? Who?’ Hariram asked Ashok.
‘Sakshi, the girl I always spoke about. I was supposed to meet her at the place you mentioned yesterday.’
‘Wait, wait, wait, what place? You are confusing me.’
‘Dude, what’s there to confuse? Yesterday, it was you who mentioned the name of the restaurant while I was chatting with her. I told her to come to the place at 4.30 in the evening, but she did not turn up.’ Ashok explained to Hariram.
‘What the hell are you talking, Ashok? Yesterday there was no power in our area. And, moreover we were at Indrajith’s place. We were not here.’
That shocked Ashok. He was left speechless after hearing that from his friend. He then spoke, ‘You were dumping the clothes in the washing machine.’
‘Washing machine? Dude, we don’t have a washing machine and neither did Indrajith. Look around.’ Hariram said to Ashok.
Ashok looked around and found no washing machine. He was confused about what was going on with him. Suddenly, the telephone rang, and Hariram went and picked it up. While he was speaking on phone, Ashok slept off on the sofa.

DAY 3 – 7.10 am
The next morning, Ashok woke up on his bed in his room. His cell phone lay beside him. He wiped his eyes and looked at the time in his cell phone. It was 7.10 and he got up from his bed, and walked to the living room. Hariram was there, sitting on the sofa and reading the news daily.
‘Good morning!’ Ashok greeted his friend.
‘Good morning, dude. You want some tea?’ Hariram asked Ashok.
‘Later.’ Ashok looked around the living room and asked his friend, ‘What happened to the telephone instrument?’
‘What phone?’ Hariram replied and got up from the sofa.
‘The telephone, you got a call yesterday.’
‘Dude, FYI, I don’t have a telephone. I use mobile, and you know that. Yaar, what happened to you all of a sudden?’ Hariram went near to Ashok, and put his hands on Ashok’s shoulder, and said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘Dude, just leave me alone. I feel confused.’ Ashok walked back to his room. Before entering his room, he turned back and asked Hariram, ‘what happened yesterday night?’
‘I don’t know. By the time I reached home, you were asleep in your bed. I didn’t want to disturb you.’
‘Mm...Hmm….’ Ashok nodded his head and went inside his room and slammed the door loudly.

DAY 3 – 9.30 am
After few hours, Ashok stepped out from his room. By that time, Hariram left to work. He tucked in his shirt, put on his shoes, took his bag and locked the house. He got into the elevator and reached the ground floor. To his surprise, his car was not at the place he parked it the previous day.
‘Watchman.’ He called out aloud, ‘Hey, Watchman.’
The watchman ran and came to him, and said, ‘Yes, sir.’
‘Where’s my car?’ He asked the watchman.
‘But sir, you don’t have any car.’
After a moment of pause, Ashok replied, ‘What the hell? I parked it here yesterday. I still remember it. I own a car.’
‘I’m sorry sir, you don’t have any car.’
‘You know that I live here?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘For how many months you are seeing me here?’
‘4 to 5 months, sir.’
‘So, how many times you’ve seen me driving my car?’
‘Sorry sir, you don’t have any car.’
‘Ah! Crap! Get the hell out of here.’
Ashok’s frustrated tone scared the watchman away. He went to the ground floor from the basement by walk and then got out from the building.

DAY 3 – 7.40 pm
Ashok returned home from office late in the evening. Things appeared normal to him for the rest of the day. Hariram was already there in the flat before his arrival. He greeted him and went into his room to freshen up. After some time, Ashok came to the dining hall to have dinner with his friend.
‘Dude, don’t I own a car?’ Ashok doubtfully asked this to his friend, at the dining table.
Hariram put down his spoon on the plate and replied, ‘What happened to you, Ashok? You do not seem normal now-a-days.’
‘Dude, please answer my question.’
‘No.’ Hariram said this and continued to have his food.
‘Dude…’ Ashok spoke but Hariram interrupted.
‘Look Ashok, I am tired for this conversation. Let’s have it tomorrow. I should go to office early tomorrow, and that means I have to sleep early. Understand? I don’t have patience to hear you stupid conversation.’ Hariram spoke angrily.
‘I’m sorry.’ Ashok lowered his head and ate his food.
After the dinner, Hariram, without speaking any word, went inside his room and turned the lights off. Ashok washed his plate and cleaned the dining table. After that, he went into his room and closed the door, and switched off the lights.

DAY 4 – 8.00 am
Ashok woke up in his bed. He took his cell phone that lay beside him. He saw the day, and it was Sunday. He heard the door bell. He got up from the bed and answered the door. It was his friend Hariram.
Hariram spoke as he entered the house, ‘Dude, I’m sorry. The work was hectic yesterday, so I had an overnight stay at my office.’
Ashok stood there frozen. He was looking at the dining table, where he had dinner with Hariram, the night before. But now, his friend says that he stayed at the office. He stood there confused, with his eyes wide open. He opened the door and ran away from his flat. He got into the elevator and got down at the ground floor. He went outside and asked the watchman to get him a taxi. After the taxi arrived, he got into it and asked the driver to take him to Eureka Multi Specialty Hospital.  

DAY 4 – 10.00 am
Ashok met Dr. Netra, a lead psychiatrist in the city, and explained his situation to her.
‘From how many days you are experiencing this condition?’ Doctor asked Ashok.
‘I don’t exactly know what my condition is. I feel confused. Am I hallucinating?’
‘Hmmm, I’ll need to perform some tests on you, if you are okay with those. What do you say, Mr. Ashok?’
‘Go ahead, doctor.’
Dr. Netra performed some tests on Ashok’s blood and took a scan of his brain. She went through the reports and was shocked to see the result. She took out her cell phone and dialed a number. Meanwhile, Ashok was sitting at Dr. Netra’s room, waiting for the reports. After some time, Dr. Netra went to her room.
‘Doctor, what about the reports?’ Ashok stood up from his chair and asked Dr. Netra, as she entered the room.
‘Sit down, Mr. Ashok. We need to talk.’ Dr. Netra sat in her chair, opposite to Ashok.
‘Is there an issue?’ He asked the doctor.
‘I wonder whether you know it or not, for how long you are under the influence of heroin?’
‘Heroin? You mean I am under the influence of drugs? That’s impossible!’ Ashok’s tone was tensed and he started to sweat.
‘You have been heavily drugged with heroin. And, that’s what makes you fantasize your memories. I’m sorry Mr. Ashok; you have to be hospitalized immediately. The Police is on their way. I just gave them a call and explained your situation. You’ll be safe with them, Ashok.’
Ashok started to sweat more. He looked at the doctor and said, ‘Heroin? And, what’s that got to do with the Police?’
‘Consuming heroin is illegal and with it you cannot be let out. It is a threat to your life as well as to the society. I won’t let it happen. Your blood toxication is almost 20%. You need hospitalization immediately. The Police will hospitalize you under their surveillance.’
Ashok drank a glass of water, which lay before him. He wiped his mouth and then spoke, ‘Is there any other option?’
The doctor nodded a ‘no’ and then said, ‘It’s too late, Mr. Ashok. It’s for your wellness. Please, co-operate with us.’
Ashok got up from the chair and shouted, ‘No, this can’t happen to me.’ He then walked around the room shouting, ‘What the hell has happened to me? Somebody please explain.’ He turned to the doctor and said, ‘Why you are doing this to me? I never took drugs.’

Two officers from Police arrived at the hospital. Meanwhile, Ashok was given some shots of sedatives. He was then shifted to the Prison Hospital and was kept in the psychiatric ward under the surveillance of Police officials.  

Next few months
Ashok was kept locked in the cell at the Prison Hospital for months. He has been treated with medicines, mostly sedatives, and he underwent some rigorous psychological sessions to cure his illness. His friend, Hariram, took care of the medical expenses. He went to the prison to meet Ashok, but Ashok refused to meet anyone. After a year of treatment, the doctors were able to see some results. He started to show some improvements.

After 14 months
Exactly after fourteen months, he was set free. His illness was rectified and his health improved. He collected his things and left the Prison Hospital with a thick grown beard and mustache. He was expecting his friend, Hariram, on the day of his release, but he did not turn up. He decided to go to the apartment by himself. He got into a taxi and reached the place where he used to live before.
At the gate, the watchman stopped the car from entering into the premises.
‘Are you new to the apartment?’ Ashok asked the watchman, who stopped the car.
‘Yes, sir, can I help you?’ The watchman replied.
‘I own flat 7D. Is Mr. Hariram still living there?’
‘Sir, I was appointed three months back. I don’t remember any Hariram to be living here. And, the flat is empty.’
‘Okay, let me in.’ Ashok said to watchman and closed the window.

The watchman opened the gate and let the taxi in. Ashok got out of the taxi and went straight to his flat. He had the key in the baggage he collected at the hospital. He opened the door. The house was dirty, filled with ants and dust. Spiders were swinging from web to web, and they were everywhere. Ashok locked the door and stepped inside. He put the keys aside and started to clean the room. He started with living room, and then cleaned the dining, kitchen, and bathroom. Finally, he stepped into Hariram’s room. He cleared the dust and wiped the floor. Then, he found something strange near to the cot. There was a wire protruding at the end of the cot. He bent down and let his hand inside the cot. He found something. It was a wired telephone. He slowly got up, holding the instrument in his hand. He recollected the conversation he had with Hariram that morning.
Ashok looked around the living room and asked his friend, ‘What happened to the telephone instrument?’
‘What phone?’ Hariram replied and got up from the sofa.
‘The telephone, you got a call yesterday.’
‘Dude, FYI, I don’t have a telephone. I use mobile, and you know that. Yaar, what happened to you all of a sudden?’
Suddenly, he rushed to the door. He unlocked it and got into the elevator. He pressed the basement button. 6…5…4…3…2…1…B, then the door opened. He got out and went to the place where he supposedly parked his car. To his surprise, his car was there. He then rushed back to his flat. He went into Hariram’s room and made an intense search. All he found was underwear, a shirt, a receipt and a packet filled with some white powder. He smelled the packet and the smell was stimulating. He guessed that could be the heroin. He then opened the receipt. He was shocked to see the sale receipt of the washing machine and it was sold by none other than his friend Hariram. He recollected something said by Hariram.
'Washing machine? Dude, we don’t have a washing machine and neither did Indrajith. Look around.’  
Ashok stood there and spoke out, looking around the room, ‘Washing machine, telephone, car; he made everything disappear.’ He threw the receipt aside and searched the room once again. He opened the draw that lay next to the cot, and emptied it. He then left the flat.

Few minutes later
Ashok got down to the basement and got into his car. He drove the vehicle straight to Indrajith’s apartment to find out what exactly happened that day, the day before he went to meet Sakshi. Ashok got into Indrajith’s apartment and parked his car near to the gate. He then went to second floor, where Indrajith was supposedly living. He knocked the door of flat B4. The door was answered by Indrajith. At first, he was not able to recognize Ashok, as he sported a weird look with a thick beard.
‘Can’t you recognize me? I’m Ashok.’ Ashok said to Indrajith who stood there staring at him.
‘Oh! Ashok, come in. Look at you, what’s this new avatar? What happened to you and where were you?’ Indrajith spoke as he welcomed him inside.
Ashok sat on the sofa, opposite to Indrajith, and he spoke, ‘Do you remember when exactly we met last time?’
‘Yeah, we met at Odeon bar, on your birthday. Man! I tried to reach you many times, but I wasn’t able to get into contact with you. Where did you go? What happened to you? Even Hariram didn’t know your whereabouts. He told me that you left home one day and never returned. I was worried. But, I’m happy to see you back.’
Ashok, after hearing those from Indrajith, spoke, ‘Do you know where Hariram is?’
‘Dude, you know, he got married to that rich girl. What was her name? Ah! Sakshi. Man! She is such a gorgeous girl. Really, Hariram is one lucky fellow.’
Ashok gave a faint smile and said, ‘Yeah, I too found that out recently. I really need to congratulate him.’  
Ashok took out the photo from his pocket. It was the photograph of Sakshi, and he got that while emptying the draw of Hariram’s room. He then realized that sending him to the Prison Hospital was a well planned trap.
Meanwhile, Indrajith replied to his question, ‘Ah! It has been a long time since I spoke with him. It was four months back, I last saw him at his wedding. Wesley might know his whereabouts. You can contact him.’
Wesley, on hearing this name, Ashok recollected something said by Hariram.
‘The place where Wesley took us last week, that restaurant was too good. Fix that.’

Wesley, an Anglo Indian, was a common friend to Ashok and Hariram. Indrajith introduced him to them three years ago. From then, Wesley and Hariram started to bond strongly. Indrajith knew where Wesley lives. He accompanied Ashok to help him in finding Hariram’s whereabouts. Still, Indrajith didn’t know the truth. Ashok didn’t want him to get into trouble. He dropped Ashok at Wesley’s house and Ashok asked him to leave the place. Indrajith took his car a U turn and returned back while Ashok went forward to meet Wesley.

Ashok knocked Wesley’s door and it was Wesley who opened it. On seeing Ashok, Wesley pushed the door hard and started to run. Ashok, who was hit by the door, got up and went chasing behind him. They were running through the streets and got into the market. After crossing the markets, they got into an over bridge, and after crossing the over bridge, Ashok halted at once. Wesley fled away from the location, while Ashok stood there looking at Hariram, along with his wife Sakshi, getting into the car. He went and blocked the way to the car. Hariram, at once, did not recognize Ashok.
‘You.’ Ashok pointing Hariram who seated next to the driver, said, ‘Get off the car.’
‘Hey, relax. What do you want?’ Hariram said.
‘Can’t you recognize me, Hariram?’ Ashok said in a furious tone.
‘Ashok?’ Hariram said.
Hariram appeared puzzled. He asked the driver to drive home. The car left the place and Ashok was furiously looking at Sakshi, who was leaving in the car. Ashok then went to the corner of the bridge and leaned on the pole facing the river. Hariram went and stood beside him.
‘Why?’ Ashok asked in a low tone.
‘I can explain it, Ashok.’ Hariram placed his hand on Ashok’s shoulder.
‘Take the hand off, you jerk.’ Ashok pushed him aside.
‘Ashok, I can explain everything.’
‘How can you marry the girl I loved? How can do such a thing to me?’ Ashok shouted aloud.
‘She was my girlfriend before you loved her. Remember that.’ Hariram shouted back.
Silence filled the place all of a sudden. Ashok’s face was reddened. He knew that Sakshi was Hariram’s girlfriend and he was chatting with her from Hariram’s ID.  

Few months ago

Hariram, you have got a message: Sakshi accepted your friend request

One fine day, Ashok read this on the screen, while Hariram went to the bathroom leaving his laptop open. He opened the browser and browsed through the profile of Sakshi. The moment he saw her face, he was totally attracted to her. Hariram came out from the bathroom and saw Ashok browsing his laptop.
‘What’s going on, dude?’ Hariram asked Ashok.
‘Dude, who is this girl?’ Ashok asked him back pointing at Sakshi’s photo.
‘Ah! She was my classmate at the high school. You know what; I had a secret crush on her. It has been a long time since I wanted to be in touch with her, and finally it happened today.’ Hariram said this and took his hand to the laptop, but Ashok interrupted him.
‘Dude, she is driving me crazy. I think I am falling for her.’ Ashok said this to Hariram.
‘Dude, are you serious?’
‘Yes, dude. Please, let me try.’ Ashok pleased him and Hariram gave a nod.

They didn't talk anything about Sakshi for a couple of days. One fine day, Sakshi was online when Ashok was browsing the internet using Hariram’s laptop.
‘Dude, she is online.’ Ashok said this loudly as Hariram was a room away.
Hariram came to the living room, where Ashok was sitting, and said, ‘If you want to talk, just talk. Don’t keep bugging me.’
Then Ashok had the conversation.

Guy: Hey!
Girl: Hey! How are you?
Guy: I’m good. It’s been a long time. How are things going on with you?
Girl: Yeah, it’s been a long time, and, everything’s cool with me ;)
Guy: Shall we meet up, say, tomorrow? Is that okay for you?

Present day
Ashok and Hariram were standing near to the pole, facing the river. Ashok looked at Hariram and then looked at the river.
‘You should have told me. I would have backed off.’ Ashok said this to Hariram.
‘You were too furious, Ashok. You would not have listened to me.’ Hariram replied him back.
‘Was that the way you found to stop me?’
‘Yes, I had no option other than to eliminate you.’
‘Shut up, Hariram. I lost my life and my job because of you. I lost everything and how dare you say like that in front of my face, you selfish bastard.’ Ashok said angrily looking at Hariram.
‘Who isn’t selfish, Ashok? You yourself wanted to snatch my girl. Was that not a selfish thing? Yes, I drugged you with heroin, I sold the washing machine, I hid the telephone, and I bribed the watchman to lie to you that you don’t have any car. All I did because I had to stop you from meeting her. You know what; she came online again that evening. I changed the venue and I got her phone number too. I met her that day. We met regularly thereafter. I kept you away from her. We got married one fine day, and you were at the Prison Hospital, so I couldn’t invite you. Yes, I did it all because I was selfish about myself.’
After hearing this from Hariram, without saying a word, Ashok started to walk away from the location. On seeing Ashok walking away, Hariram said, ‘Don’t just walk away. Say something.’ But, Ashok didn’t care for anything, instead he continued to walk. Hariram stood there looking at Ashok. Suddenly a heavy metal object fell on Hariram’s head. Within seconds, Hariram started to bleed heavily. People surrounded him at once.

Ashok did not turn back. He walked away from the location. He noticed that the over bridge was under maintenance and he saw workers working at the top of the pole, and Hariram stood right below the pole. While listening to Hariram, -- ‘We got married one fine day, and you were at the Prison Hospital, so I couldn’t invite you. Yes, I did it all because I was selfish about myself.’ -- Ashok noticed that a metal object slipped off from the hand of a worker. Without saying a word, he started to walk away from the location. He heard the metal object hitting Hariram’s head strongly. Still, he didn’t turn back. After walking few steps, he turned back and saw a group of people carrying Hariram into a vehicle. He looked at Hariram’s face and said, ‘You deserved this long back.’ Ashok thereafter went to his hometown and started a new life. He had his own supermarket business, which was successful. After a couple of years, he got married and after a year he was blessed with twins.

Written by Ashwin Kumar

4 comments:

  1. amazing plot. loved the concept of your title. no wonder your brain works 24x7. God bless :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. gave the experience as if watching a movie. Unexpected and surprise twist which made me to read without bit pause. Expecting more. by ANBU

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    2. thanks for dropping by, Anbu :)
      You can find more stories here: http://thewriterashwin.blogspot.in/p/short-stories.html

      Keep reading..
      Cheers!

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