Ashvamegh ~~~~~~~~~~ Short Stories ~~~~~~~~~~ October 2015 ~~~~~~~~~~ Issue IX ~~~~~~~~~~ ISSN : 2454-4574
Read short stories published in October 2015 issue of Ashvamegh
Till the Last Breath, Onaiza Khan
Till the Last Breath by Onaiza Khan
The dry wind swept away the hopes at the moment when she needed them the most. The clattering windows and the fluttering curtains gave messages that she wouldn’t want to accept. This night had promised her love and passion and relief, but it was still hostile to her. Leaning in her favourite recliner was the least comforting. Throwing quick and pained glances on her cell phone only grieved her more. A call from him would end up the anxiety, but she wanted to hear his footsteps moving desperately towards her, and then his strong arms grabbing her in an enduring and passionate hold. After all it was the last night of their togetherness! The sun will rise with her fall. She will sink in the sea of her own desires. Her life was tied to the night by an irreversible spell of the most powerful witch. Her death would bring upon peace to her family and shower them with prosperity and children.
I have always been the selfish one and yet I cannot live to the demise of a family which is not even related to me in blood. Maybe somewhere there is peace; there is love, some place that I haven’t seen yet. Perhaps my sacrifice will take me there where I will not be abandoned or sacrificed, where I’ll be fought for and lived for. All I ask from this world is a little chunk of time with the man who still needs me, the man I’m not being fair with. As the hours are ticking, I can’t imagine his loss, his pain, his suffering which is on me and I will never forgive myself for him.
A light knock on the door startled her. It was him. She could feel it in her bones. All she wanted was to fly herself to the door and smash it open, see him for the last time and see him till her last breath.
I know what he will say to me, “Don’t leave me now, now that I know how much I want you, how much I need you. I love you Hayat.” What will I do then? Will I snatch back my hand and send him away to grieve after me forever? Or I’ll brush away the conscience that has compelled me to do something for a greater good. I may just about forget everything that has led me here and follow my heart which lies in his chest.
The door was continuously thumping by the force of the urgent hits of a dejected soul, “Please, let me in. I can’t let you die for those who don’t care. You have to live for the one can’t live without you. Open up please. Listen to me at least.” The sound trailed as she lied back in her recliner trying to sleep when a sprinkle of water sent down cool shivers in her body. Water busted inside her room making it damp and the sky dark.
Rain, have you come to give me another chance or just a little cheat time to live a moment of desire?
And even the clouds couldn’t hide the sun for long and she settled into a more peaceful nap. And left for us all that she had …Hayat…Life.
Onaiza Khan: In her own words, “though I can talk endlessly about myself, I usually have to cut it short considering the place and occasion. I’m a writer and I love writing and that says it all.” She can write almost anything, paid or unpaid, starting from news and opinion writing to poetry, fiction, and surrealism to almost anything. If there is anything that can be written, she wants to write it. Once in my lifetime, she wants to become an audience of a play written by herself. Her dream is to travel the world with a backpack, a damn good camera, a laptop and not necessarily a lot of money. Now getting serious about the introduction, Onaiza is a 24 year old, simple looking girl with a Management degree, and few certificates in ‘French Language’ and ‘Creative Writing’ lying in her cupboard and dreams encircling the whole world living in her head. And the desire for learning new things in life is always on for her. And Onaiza means the first drop of dew.
An Encounter, by Sanjoy Dutt
An Encounter, Sanjoy Dutt
My job as an assistant with health services brought me to a small town by the sea. Although its beaches, natural greenery, lovely scenery and the cool shades of coconut trees attracted many wealthy tourists, the local population consisted of poor god fearing folks who loved a bit of country music in their lives.
The chief purpose of my health office was to coordinate with different health centers in the district and ensure their prescription demands are met on time and the needy residents get their medication. A lot of drug suppliers came to our office to contract with Dr. Fix, the medical officer of the region.
Since I did not own a car, I found a short walking route to work that went through a deep growth of trees. The way was sparingly used by locals. I liked it as it had wildflowers, orchids and the songs of several birds.
The sun had set and a winter fog had made clarity hazy as I took the trail through the wood on my way home. Suddenly I heard hasty footsteps following me.
“Hello, are you the new medical assistant?” I was surprised by the sudden appearance of this man with an unshaven, dirty look, wearing stained boots and an old coat.
“Yes, do I know you?” I half expected him to ask for money.
“We have not met before, I am David,” he replied.
“Nice to meet you, but I need to go. It’s getting dark,” I explained as he walked in my direction.
“Please, if you spare a few minutes to listen?” he urged.
“Can we do that as we walk?” I was trying hard to be as polite as I could be, I expected him to spin a grief-stricken story before asking aid.
“Please, can we stay here, I will have to go back in the other direction.” He requested.
“Is it very important?” I was doubtful of his intentions as I was alone.
“It’s related to your work. There is more hidden than what you can see.” David said.
David disappeared in the dark after a few minutes of talking, leaving me alone in the woodland sunk in profound silence and a thick misty road to travel. That night my mind was disturbed and I could not sleep. I wondered how David had such critical knowledge about my office.
I spent the next few days looking for the old files and found them exactly where David had said they were hidden. Privately, I examined the files, keeping them buried in my desk. The information in the records told me something big was truly going wrong in my department.
I looked for David on my way home every day, but never saw him again. I wrote a letter to the medical administrator notifying him of the problems and telling him where he could find the files.
One day, two cars arrived with men who searched the entire office and discovered the secret files. They took Dr. Fix and his deputy along with them. I found out later they were from the medical administrators’ office and the files had incriminated Dr. Fix, his deputy, and some medicine suppliers of cheating the state exchequer of thousands of dollars. The files contained proof of fake bills and inadequate supplies.
“How did you come to know about the hidden files?” An investigating Officer asked.
I told him about meeting David and gave a brief description and that based on his information I found the files.
“Is this the person you met?” The second Officer showed me a photo of a clean-shaven, tidy David smiling.
“This is him!” I recognized David instantly, “I looked for him later but never found him.”
The two Officers wordlessly looked at each other.
After a few minutes of absolute silence the First Officer spoke, “We thought something suspicious was going on here and sent David to investigate. David was getting near busting this racket, but….” he paused.
The second Officer took over, “David had a habit of drinking and we assumed he talked a bit too much one night after drinking. Three years ago, his body was found in the woods. Perhaps he had you finish what he left undone.”
I could only stare in stunned silence.
Sanjoy Dutt, an engineer and sales professional is passionate about traveling to historical places and the Himalayas. For the last ten years, he has been writing travelogues and short stories for various magazines. Website-http://duttasanjay63.wordpress.com