Tuesday, October 16, 2012

After the Storm - A very short story

She waited. 2 minutes only. Then she walked out of the door holding her orange tote bag in her arms, leaving it all behind. The wooden window cracked and blood and gore oozed out. But she didn’t see. She didn’t look at it. She didn’t turn back. The pollen grains in the air teased her nostrils and her eyes watered. She blinked and crossed the road. That thing followed her till the checkered fence and couldn’t take a step more. Not step, not step. It. That thing wooshed. That thing couldn’t woosh ahead anymore. It stayed shushed at the lamp post. The solar panel of the government issued lamp post hissed at the empty street. She took the last lone rickshaw, sat on it, “Chalo.” The lamp post burst out and the glass shattered on the wet tar. The last shards tried to reach the rickshaw, as it rolled away downstreet.

The downward slope helped the haggard old rickshaw puller speed on empty streets. She adjusted and shifted her old bag on her lap. Her precious cargo. The railway crossing was open. The ancient, rotten wood and stone fixture was blinking its genial green light. Old Ramji and she raced on un-bothered by potholes. The old tamarind tree at the end of the town shimmied and swayed back and forth. That thing back at the ancient house she left behind howled and cried. The old kite that had been stuck outside the window for months now shook free and floated on behind old Ramji’s rickshaw. The level crossing lifted up just in time to catch the kite and destroy it for the second time in its life. She opened her umbrella and held it over herself and the thin almost skeletal rickshaw puller. The precious cargo shifted inside the bag. The skies which had held its breath till they reached bridge over the river at the end of the town let go with all its might.

The thing. That thing whined and stomped, back in the house. But she was miles away now, tucked in her own bed. The rain plundered on outside. Old Ramji sat huddled in the shaded verandah over a cup of hot masala tea. He would spend the night in. indoors. Safe from the rain. Safe from that thing.

The old faded orange tote lay discarded at the bottom of the bed. Her precious cargo now cuddled in her arms. “Oh! The horror the horror!” She crooned to the orange tabby she just stole from her ex-boyfriend, “He kept you on dry food, baby. That thing!” as she deleted the Ex’s texts (He is my cat!!) from her cell phone.