Hi friends,I am uploading the short story which I had submitted for Times of India Write India Contest.
Preface was given by Chetan Bhagat.
Rules by the Author
The story should be a life lesson. That's the only rule. Rest, use your skills and imagination!
Preface by Chetan Bhagat
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. ..
Story starts now...
Madhulika dashed down the stairs, kicking open the gate, paused for a nanosecond to look back. Next second she was running with a blood stained knife in her hand. The long distance runner in Madhu made her legs strike the ground at a steady pace through the green lanes of Koregaon Park. Her heart pounded with fear. Knife may attract attention! I am a fool to run like this! She pulled the blue silk scarf from her neck, ducked behind a big Banyan tree and wrapped the knife in it. Grey clouds and sleepy by lanes of Koregaon Park afforded her the luxury of going unnoticed. She turned back to gauge the distance she had covered. Her heart jumped into her throat. A speeding bike with two men was just 100 metres away.
They are looking for me! She froze for a moment behind the banyan tree. The bike went past, stopped at the cross roads ahead. They searched in both directions, talked over mobile for half a minute and took a left turn. She raced and took the right turn.
Damn! I didn’t come to Pune to become a murderer and flee like a criminal! Looking back fearfully, she cursed her fate. Road was empty. Clouds were threatening. Bolts of lightning flashed with a deafening sound. Run Madhulika! She darted again.
She passed the place where her misery started, the gates of the Osho commune, where she bumped into Shikha Roy, her senior from Kolkata.
‘It’s so good to hear Bengali after a week.’ Excited Madhulika hugged Shikha.
Shikha worked at an IT firm and was staying in Magarpatta City. Her Boyfriend was accompanying her.
‘I have joined Symbi for MBA and am staying in a Hostel.’ said Madhu .
Both chatted about Bengali films, literature and Music. Her boyfriend became a little impatient.
’Madhu! Our friends are meeting in Starbucks Café and going on to a Movie. Will catch you later!’ She smiled sweetly and left. Madhu turned back to resume her aimless strolling.
It was a Saturday afternoon. Madhu had wanted to explore Pune. Her Hostel friends were busy. So she ventured out alone. She googled Osho Park, captured the route map in her mobile. She had an important letter to be couriered, so she took it along with her. She took a Rickshaw to go to Osho Park. After spending 2 hours in Osho Park, she had run into Shikha on her way out.
I have to search for a good courier service. Idiots! In this cyber era, they want me to send the refund request by post. Her request of email had fallen on deaf ears. She heard a male voice speaking sweet Bengali.
‘Hi! I am Ajit! Are you a Bengali?’ A suave, stylish, handsome guy with chiseled face and rimless glasses was smiling at her.
‘I guessed right! Your silky tresses, beautiful eyes and flawless skin say it all!’
I am talking to a stranger in an unknown city. Madhu shrugged and started walking.
I have to find a courier!
She scanned the names of the shops. Should I ask someone! She stopped.
‘May I help you?’ She turned back .Ajit gave a cordial smile. ‘I live in this area! Think I can help you!’
Oh! Same guy again! Your looks are stunning man! But I am not interested!
‘No! Thanks!’ She tried to look as if she was just sauntering along.
Let me ask this shop owner!
She went near a shop. The shop was crowded. ‘Could you tell me where a courier shop is?’ She asked in a polite tone. Shop owner was busy and not interested in answering her. Shit!
‘I love Robindra Sangeet. I am dying to talk about it. Let us chat over a cup of coffee!’ Ajit was still following her. Madhu tried to ignore him. She had other thoughts on her mind now. Her upset bowels! Roadside panipuri had taken a toll on her digestive tract. I have to reach the Hostel before my guts go crazy!’ She was wary of the hygiene of public toilets.
Ajit was continuously talking about Bengali writers and Films passionately. She found that his taste matched hers. His impeccable Bengali impressed her.
‘Are you a Bengali?’ Her eyes widened.
‘No! I am a Multi linguist. But I love Bengalis and their language!’ His eyes twinkled.
‘I resigned from an IT company two years ago and own a startup now.’ He looked dashing in a half sleeved white Shirt and light khaki cargo pants. Madhu realized that she had got carried away by his sweet words and had walked pretty good distance .Roads were getting quieter without much traffic.
It’s high time I enquire about the courier shop. A petty shop was quite empty.
‘Is there any courier service nearby?’ Shop owner showed left direction but immediately changed his pointing fingers towards right. His eyes were fixed behind Madhu. ‘Go straight and turn right in the second lane.’
‘Thank you!’ Madhu started in that direction. First,Second… She turned to the right. Beautiful bungalows adorned the lane. There was a courier service shop in a car parking area of an old bungalow but it was closed. Now her bowels started troubling her. Oh! No! Not Now!
‘You have come very near our house. See my sister- in-law standing in the balcony. She will prepare a good coffee for you!’
‘Sudha! Prepare a good coffee for my friend.’ He told the beautiful, dusky woman.
‘No Thanks! I am not in the mood for coffee now.’ Madhu turned back. Sharp pain in bowels started troubling her again.
There is a woman in this house. So no harm in going to the house. I will use their washroom at least!
‘If not coffee then please have Milkshake!’They climbed the staircase of the Bungalow and went to the first floor. Sudha opened the door and gave an unwelcoming smile.
‘She is my brother’s wife. He has gone to US for a project.’ A fair plump old woman with bright bindi entered the hall.
‘She is my aunt. ’ Aunt smiled and folded her hands. ’Namaste Beti!’
Two young men came out of the bedroom. Ajit introduced them to Madhu.’Rohan and Rahul! My cousins cum business partners! Our office is on the ground floor.’ They smiled politely and turned to Ajit.
‘Ajit! We will be back in 30 minutes!’ They walked down the stairs.
Madhu was desperate. Cramps had become severe. ’Mr.Ajit! May I use your washroom please!’
‘Please!’ Ajit showed her the way. After easing herself Madhu came out and stood near the washbasin. Guys had left the bedroom door ajar, she could see the computer screen. A slide show of nude photographs of different girls! What the hell! Anyway it’s none of my business! She turned towards the kitchen to bid adieu to the ladies but Sudha’s strange action puzzled her. She was adding a white powder in the milkshake meant for Madhu. She was whispering to the old lady ’Should I add more essence, so that she will not be able to smell anything wrong.’
What the hell is happening here?
Ajit was talking on the phone in Malayalam. ‘We have caught a bong fish. I called Sudha and asked her to be in the balcony to gain her confidence. Sudha has arranged everything perfectly. She is an expert now. After sedating her we will do our job. I will send the video and photos...’Ajit was continuing.
Thanks to her Father’s posting in Kerala during her school days, she could understand Malayalam well but not able to speak fluently. Madhu was terrified at the planned chicanery.
How foolish of me to blabber about all my interests and personal details to Shikha in a Public place. He has overheard our conversation and used it to trap me in this hell! Thank God! I didn’t let on that I understand Malayalam. I have to escape. But How!
She sneaked into the Kitchen. There was a sharp chef’s knife on the table. She stealthily picked it up and started moving out. But the alert old woman tried to grab madhu’s hands. Madhu swiftly tucked the knife out of sight and slapped the old woman with the other hand. Sudha ran towards the old woman who had lost her balance. Madhu dashed out to the entrance.
‘Where are you going? You can’t escape from us.’ Ajit winked with a nasty smile. He twisted her arm behind her back. His vicious twist made her squirm but she gripped the handle of the knife tightly, turned and lunged at Ajit’s abdomen. She pulled out the bloody knife as Ajit fell with a sharp cry. She rushed towards the entrance with the knife and started running…Now she was running with the wrapped knife.
Madhulika slowed down her pace as roads were getting busier.
It is a main road! She turned back to look for the bike.
No! They have not found me yet!
She looked at both sides of the road. The Starbucks symbol caught her attention.
Shikha said that she was going to Starbucks to meet her friends!
Madhu entered Starbucks café, and looked around for Shikha.
No! She is not here!
Madhu climbed the helical staircase and scanned the mezzanine.
Tired and exhausted, she put her handbag and scarf on a table. The sight of the two men emerging from the helix triggered panic in her. She quickly ducked under the table, and pretended to look for something. Two pairs of jeans clad legs slowly approached her table, but stopped to attend the mobile.
‘Ajit! She is not here.’
‘What did the Doctor say?... Wound is not deep!..Bandaged!...Good!’ Pairs of legs started moving away.
Madhulika’s muscles relaxed a bit. Devil is alive! Should I inform the police now? or should I go to hostel?...confused!
She slowly got up and calmed down oblivious to the fact that her handbag and Blue silk scarf had been noticed by the guys.
I will wait here till those demons vanish! She went down, placed her order, took her coffee and luckily found a free table near a window.
She sat in the Starbucks café, 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 couldn’t believe the way the day had unfolded.
Now I don’t need this knife! She opened the handbag and put the wrapped knife inside.
After spending thirty minutes in the coffee brown interiors of Star Bucks, she walked out of the café and waited for a Rickshaw. It was raining heavily .Rickshaws were packed. She started losing patience, but regained energy as a Rickshaw slowed down near her. She hurriedly got into the Rickshaw and asked to be taken to ‘SB Road.’
It was raining heavily .Name board of a shop alerted Madhu. Am I going in the wrong direction? Before she could gather her wits, a bike slowed down near the Rickshaw.
Oh My God! She froze in terror. Same guys! One of the men grinned at the Rickshaw driver and showed a Thumbs up sign.
Shit! All belong to the same racket!
She thought of jumping from the Rickshaw. I may break my limbs and worsen my condition. Is this the end of my life? Loud crackling thunders started shattering Madhu’s confidence.
Tears trickled from her eyes slowly. She wiped them with her hands. Rickshaw stopped near the gate. Rohan pulled her out of the Rickshaw.
Now she was taken to the house in ground floor .Interiors were different. It was like a studio. Flash lights. Erotic Paintings, statuettes! Disgusting!
Ajit was reclining on a couch. She was surprised to see the energy in him despite the injury.
‘Darling! Have you come back? I was waiting for you.’ He smirked. He turned back to Rahul and Rohan. ‘Guys! Make arrangements faster. This enchantress is elusive.’
‘Bastard!’ muttered Madhu. He ignored her and turned to Sudha.
‘Sudha! Bring the nectar!’
‘Ajit!I would suggest that you inject her. That will be more effective and long lasting.’ She gave a cold look at Madhu.
‘You Bitch!’ shouted Madhu. Sudha ignored her and went to a room.
She hurriedly came back and called Ajit. ’Send Rahul and Rohan to Bhaiyaji’s house to bring the drug.Quick!’They immediately left for Bhaiyaji’s house which was nearby. It was pouring outside. I have to escape!
‘Baby!’ Ajit raised her chin with his forefinger.
’Sudha was my first catch. Initially she also resisted like you. But see how she is cooperating. Now we have hundreds of women. Girls fall for me and end up like this.’ He turned and smiled at Sudha. She smiled cruelly at Madhu.
‘We have branches all over India. You have to cater our rich clientele. Those rich and spoilt fuckers want only housewives and young college girls. You have to heed to us. And… You will!’ jeered Ajit.
‘We will have all your videos and photo graphs with us.’ Madhu ‘s heart pulsated at seeing his sardonic smile. Her eyes were fixed on his wicked face.
Very Handsome but wicked! Now I am going to kill you to save many innocent girls. Nothing wrong in murdering a Satan!
She used her fingers to locate the scarf in the handbag, searched for the handle of the knife, and picked it out of the handbag. Her silk scarf fell to the floor, she gripped the handle and with a swift movement, she tried to stab him, but a violent blow on her wrist stunned Madhu, her grip loosened and the knife fell to the floor. She tried to grab it but Ajit slapped her brutally. Madhu lost her balance and fell clumsily.
‘No need of any injection. You bitch! I will teach you a lesson!’ Ajit pounced on Madhu. Madhu steadied herself and kicked his groins.
Ah…! He groaned with pain. ’Sudha! Give me the knife! I will kill this …! I don’t like intelligent women.’
Madhu was terrified at the devilish expression in his eyes. Sudha quickly picked the knife from the floor and moved towards him. He stretched out his hand, with a quick movement Sudha stabbed with vengeance. Not Once but Thrice. Blood spilt out of his guts and spread all over. Ajit slowly toppled to the bloody floor.
‘Thanks for giving me the courage. Today my sins are washed. ’ Sudha was shaking terribly.
‘I will handle this. Get out of here before they come!’ She shouted at Madhu.
Madhu started running towards the door. ‘Take your scarf and get lost!’
Madhu picked up the scarf and started running … the splashing drops slowly washed away the blood stains on her blue silk scarf.