Mount Chinanzembe
seen from Mozambique, October 2014
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

167. That Last Night

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 26; the 26th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'That Last Night'.
I am busy with my computer when Bahadur enters my cabin.
“When did you come, Madam?” he asks.
“Oh, just now, a few minutes ago.” I answer without taking my eyes from the screen.
Then I realize that he is still standing there.
I look at him questioningly.
“I was at the reception and I did not see you,” he complains.
“Maybe I came in an invisibility cloak,” I joke but he does not smile.  He goes out reluctantly.
After five minutes, he returns with a cup of coffee.
“Madam, at what time did you leave yesterday?” Bahadur pretends to be casual but there is something funny about his question.
“Bahadur, you know better than me that we have a definite time to come in, but never for leaving the office“, I am getting little irritated. I have a report to complete and this guy is asking stupid questions early in the morning.  “Now, go away, I have to complete this document. Then I will answer all your questions,” I almost order him.
***

Fifteen more minutes and Kapil enters. “Madam, Sirjee is calling you.” He tells me. OMG, the boss is already here and I am still in the midst of the document. But no excuses! I will have to bargain for at least an hour.
“Savitri, Yes, where is the report?” boss asks without any formalities.
“Sir, just give me an hour. I am giving final touches to it.” I say politely.
Boss looks at me with surprise. “But you were to complete and email me the report last night.” He barks.
“Sorry Sir. Just 60 minutes and it will be perfect.” I add apologetically. I am the Project Leader, so he knows I am the best person to write this report. He nods and I start leaving.
“By the way, last evening why did you not pick up my calls?” he asks.
“Your calls?  Sir?” I am surprised.
“Why did you switch your cell phone off?” He looks sternly at me.
I pull out my cell phone from the pocket.
I am bit confused. How come my cell phone is switched off? I think fast.
“Sorry Sir, the Metro does not provide charging points and the battery was almost over, so I switched it off,” I am telling a complete lie. He too knows. He is asking about why it was switched off yesterday.  But he looks concerned.
“Are you telling me that you traveled by Metro today to reach office?” boss asks.
“Yes Sir, as usual,” I am happy with the change of topic.
“Have you lost your mind? Since yesterday evening, Delhi Metro is not running. There was a bomb blast at Rajiv Chauk station. Don’t tell me you don’t know that. If you want to tell a lie, at least be smart enough about it.” Now his rising temper is visible. I am clueless.
Raina, my colleague helps out, “Sir that blast was on Dwarka line. They have restored the Huda City Center line today morning. Savitri must have taken an auto from Central Secretariat.”
I am indeed thankful to Raina.
*****

I come back to my cabin and concentrate. The doubts can wait for a while; the report is the topmost priority now. I am good at focusing, so I complete the report and send it to the boss. On this final report the remaining 20% fund release will happen – so this report needs to be perfect. However, as I am working with this international funding agency for a decade, I know what they want and I have done it without any kind of exaggeration.
I press the bell and ask Bahadur for a cup of coffee. Now I can entertain his questions. In the mean time, I switch on the cell phone and see number of missed calls. It seems that all the people from A to Z in my contact list have called. I have to call back at least some of them But when did I switch off the cell phone and why? I also find it surprising that there is no call from Shaunak. 
With Bahadur, comes in Raina. Bahadur waits in the corner. Raina asks in a conspiracy tone, “By the way, how did you come to office today? You should have called me and I would have picked you up somewhere near your residence.”
“You know it, you told it to boss, and why are you asking me again?” I feel uneasy.
“To tell you the truth, not a single Metro line is yet restored, I said so to save you from wrath of boss.” He says. Is he joking? My head starts spinning.
Diya comes in – bubbling with enthusiasm as usual.
“Are you not well?” she asks.
“Why, I am fine. What makes you think so?” I am not at all polite with her though she is not at fault.
“No, your clothes are not ironed today. Oh, look, you are wearing the same set of clothes that you were wearing yesterday. Is something wrong with you?” She starts laughing initially and then sounds worried.
“Oh, just did not get time to iron it. But I had washed it yesterday evening.”  I say casually. I make out a story – that after bomb blast I took a cab; I was caught in traffic jam; the network was temporarily stopped by officials and I stayed with one of my friends. In the mean time the battery was down …
Neither Diya, nor Raina nor Bahadur are convinced. They exchange looks hoping that I have not noticed it.
They leave but I am sure the discussion continues outside.
*****

Is it all a dream and actually nothing of this sort has ever happened?  It is only that my office colleagues are playing a mischief with me? Let me check about the bomb blast first – whether it is right or not.
I open e-paper and the images tell the true story. The Metro as Raina mentioned is not yet running. I open my purse. My debit card, I card, entry pass, cash – everything is intact.
I make few calls. Everyone shouts at me for switching off mobile and not calling them. After the news of bomb blast, everyone is concerned about my safety and security. I repeat the story. They are angry but happy that I am safe. This continues for more than an hour.
The Tiffin lady (who delivers home cooked food to me) too calls. “Deedee, you did not come in the morning. Yesterday night too Bipin said that the house was locked so he brought the Tiffin back.” I explain again and ask her to send Tiffin today night.
Now I sigh. Something is absolutely wrong here.
When did I leave yesterday evening? Why don’t I remember anything about bomb blast? How did I reach home? If I did not go there, where was I the whole night? Why did I switch off my cell phone? Why did I not complete the report? Why I am wearing the same clothes? Why Bahadur could not see me coming in? if Metro is not running, how did I reach this office?
Questions after questions.
“Am I dead?” I ask myself.
No, it can’t be. My heart is beating, I have taken two cups of coffee since morning, I have done a quick report finalization job, I can breathe, I am anxious. If I am dead, I can’t be doing all these things.
Was I drugged? But then my body and mind both seem alright – no scratches. Did I sleep in the office itself and nobody noticed? But then I would have remembered that. And Bahadur always checks the whole office before locking.
Was I kidnapped by some aliens? That seems to be the only possibility – I say sarcastically to myself.
*****

Cell phone rings. I am surprised to receive a call from Avinash. He is Shaunak’s friend and Shaunak you must have guessed rightly is my husband. Why is Avinash calling instead of Shaunak and at this hour?
“Savitri, here is a good and a bad news for you. Which one you want first?” he asks. He seems to be in a good spirit.
“Where is Shaunak?” I ask.
“Don’t worry, he is absolutely fine. “ Avinash assures.
“Where is he? Is anything wrong with him?” I demand.
“Savitri, listen. Shaunak had a bad accident yesterday, must be around 7.00 PM India time when it happened….”
“What?” I shout before he completes.
“But nothing to worry. He is completely out of danger now. I called you because he keeps on telling me a funny thing and he wants me to tell you that immediately.” Avinash sounds little confused.
“And what is it?” I wait.
“Well, it sounds weird. But Shaunak keeps on repeating that you saved his life. It was you who fought and brought him back from the clutches of Death.”
I smile.
Now I understand the mystery of that last night.
No time to think about it. Maybe I will be able to put the pieces together when I meet Shaunak. 
However, that will come later. Now  I will take the first available flight and see Shaunak. This is my top priority today night . How would I explain that last night to the world, will always remain a problem. 
****
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34 comments:

  1. indeed a gripping story line :)

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  2. Liked the way every section built the suspense about what happened last night. All the best!

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  3. Thanks Dreamer, viva_andya and Sunjoo Krishna.

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  4. Very nice,liked it.
    But,it is a bit longish

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  5. Wow...awesome story!!Loved the suspense.. I remember a show on DD National that talked about a person being present in 2 places at the same time...like teleporting...only driven by a strong will...it's the will to save her husband that caused her disappearance from Delhi that night..I don't know, well that's my interpretation :)

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  6. Good story line. Very unconventional. Excellent building up of suspense. A little more work on grammar and consistency of tense, and it will make for a very smooth reading, despite being long.

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  7. Thanks Chowlajee.

    Rinaya, thanks. I did not know about this show - 'a person being present in 2 places at the same time'. Well, I will find more about it.

    Chicky/Kaddu, thanks for your feedback on grammar and consistency of tense. As I try to use both past and present in the story, in some way the confusion is inevitable .. but certainly I would pay attention to it next time.

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  8. That was some good suspense there!

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  9. very absorbing gripping tale. The suspense very well plotted.

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  10. Excellent story. Loved it. Nice plotting of the ancient Savitri story in modern setting as a suspense thriller story. I enjoyed reading it. Even I have attempted rendering these mythological stories in modern contexts.

    Do check out one of my attempts.
    http://www.luciferhouseinc.blogspot.in/2012/03/dreams-gone-wrong.html

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  11. Thanks Shilpa, pramod and The Fool for your encouraging words.

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  12. Loved the idea around the story and the way you put it. Real good one !!! Enjoyed reading it.

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  13. "Am I dead" is the best line, but also the surprize conclusion is good! :)

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  14. Wow... that's a story... different and keeps the person reading till the last word. Best wishes for B-A-T.

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  15. III higH, thanks. Glad to note that you liked the story.

    Sunilbhai, "Am I dead?" well, at least in story I could ask the question :-)

    jojofeelings, thanks for your kind words.

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  16. Quite long...you can compress in a shorter manner without sacrificing the content of the story!

    It's an interesting story line though!

    You know how to build suspense and let your readers go til the end of the story...:)

    All the Best AAtivas! :)

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  17. Very well written. the story kept me hooked till the end, though I found the end a bit abrupt. Is there a sequel coming ?

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  18. You should have named Shaunak "Satyavan"... The mythology would have been brought alive! :D

    The build-up of the suspense was awesome!

    All the best for BAT!

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  19. A bit long yet a gripping story. ATB for the BAT

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  20. Amity, thanks. But I like to tell the story in details .. :-( Sorry that it bothered you!!

    Vikram, you are right. The end is abrupt .. I was not sure whether I should end the story like this - a bit unscientific it is; isn't it?

    Enchanta, I have never met a person named Satyvan, but know couple of 'Satyen'. So, initially I had named Savitri's husband as Satyen. However, the original mythological story is too deep and I felt bit ashamed to copy the same names for such a shallow story :-)

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  21. Like all said, the suspense is well developed, which made it such an interesting read. All the best.

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  22. wow awesome story there :D \m/
    all d best :) ^__^

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  23. Thanks Cherry Blossom and Shankar Shaji for your appreciation.

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  24. excellent story line aativas.. I loved it so much.. My best wishes to you...

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  25. A good story. Liked the narration. Just a bit too long. All the best

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  26. Thanks a lot SiS and Maverick.

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  27. wow..good endig...gripping..enjoyed reading it..

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  28. Aha!

    This is a very unique post. The build-up to the climax was excellent.

    I can't say I loved the ending the most, but I find it interesting because that's a new one for me :)

    I think you have good narrating skills. Good job.

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  29. Thanks Chetan and Kshitij for your kind words.

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  30. The motive for writing a suspenseful story is to ultimately leave the reader awe-struck by giving him/her something totally unexpected, not by leaving them clueless. The build up to the suspense was good. The ending, because it was left too inomplete, didn't ultimately, make sense or allow the reader to think either. All the best. :)

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  31. D2, you are absolutely right. The end is very abrupt :-(

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  32. Thrilling post..Loved the story..very well narrated and overall the story has been put down really good.

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  33. Thanks Rohit Singh Jain.
    And Welcome to Times Change.

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