This story of mine has been published in the newly-launched e-magazine “Guwahatian”. Dear reader, I hope you enjoy it.
The link to the e-magazine is http://guwahaticity.in/talesofmind.html
It was a late autumn evening of October. A mild breeze with a flavoured scent of simmering tea wafted around me. The smell of tea was coming from the nearby tea stall, where a middle-aged lady was treating the customers with fresh tea and stale-looking rusk biscuits.
I was at Pan Bazar Bus Stop amidst a throng of people who were waiting to board the oncoming city-buses. Among those people, there were a few teenagers in colourful attire; they were engrossed in their own world of endless gossips. I wondered what they were talking about with so much rapt attention! The other people were mostly middle-aged adults who looked weary after the day’s hard labour. I was extremely amused to notice a stout man sleeping soundly while sitting under the shed. Nobody seemed to be concerned that this man might have had a bus to catch but he had succumbed to tiredness at the wrong time. What a fool I am! When those people had not seen me yet, when I was walking so close to them, how did I expect them to notice this hapless man? People nowadays are so busy and self-centred!
I then noticed Shikha coming towards the bus stop. Suddenly, I felt a wave of joy rush through my entire body. I wanted to rush to her immediately. She was returning from school. She halted near the shed and looked quite happy.
Shikha was the only daughter of Mr. Ajay Dutta, a rich businessman, in whose house I used to live for the past 3 years, until today. She had not been present in the house, when, at 8am, Mr. Dutta kicked me out of the house, in a fit of rage. Had she been there at that instant, the situation would have been entirely different. The poor girl had lost her ailing mother 4 years ago and she withdrew herself into a shell to deal with the loss. Her father gradually became worried to see his daughter isolate herself from everyone. However, his tight business schedules did not allow him to spend time with her and give her some much needed comfort. The house maid tried her best to uplift the girl’s spirits but her efforts went in vain. That is when I was brought in the house. Oh! I forgot to mention my name; my name is Tina, and soon Tina and Shikha became the best of friends. I gave her the love and time, which she needed to recuperate from her mother’s loss. Whenever she returned from school, she ran to me and gave me a tight hug. We even used to lunch together. In her leisure time, she would dress me up in weird costumes and both of us would pose before the self-timed camera. She had made a violet-coloured scarf with my name embroidered on it and tied it around my neck. She was very fond of my straight and silky hair, so she would spend extra hours combing it and accessorising it with funky jewellery. We were no less than those fashion divas in the Vogue magazines!
Last evening, Shikha’s aunt came for a night’s stay. She was a very rude, foul-mouthed lady who hated me very much. She never ceased to shoot me with her toxic words. Often, I overheard her complaints about me to Mr.Dutta, insisting that he gets rid of me as soon as possible as I am bad luck for the house. Neither did Mr. Dutta had a bad run in his business nor Shikha fared bad in studies. Everything was in harmony in the Dutta residence; I was sure that this lady was actually the bad luck! Today, during breakfast, Shikha accidentally dropped a glass bowl of milk on the floor, scattering pieces of broken glass over the entire floor. Her aunt was in a very irritable mood and she used this opportunity to let out all her frustration on her niece. I silently witnessed the scene and plotted to take revenge for her ill-treatment towards both of us.
I waited for Shikha to leave for school. Her presence would have softened my determination. When she left, I rushed to her aunt’s room which was luckily kept open. Seizing my golden chance, I ransacked her entire room – tossing all her jewellery kept on the table, tearing her neatly-folded saree kept on the bed and soiling the floor carpet. It was a thrilling experience for me.
Suddenly, I felt two arms wrap around me, dragging me away from the room by force. I looked around to see Mr.Dutta, red-eyed with rage. I was so frightened at the sight of his face that I forgot to let out a cry of help. Even if I had done that, who would have come to help me? The house-maid was on leave and I could only see the wicked aunt of Shikha nearby. She was flashing a malevolent smile at me, which said that she was so delighted to see her dream come true! Within a few minutes, I found myself thrown outside the gate. Mr.Dutta chose his sister over his daughter’s happiness. I feel pity for this heartless man! My anger had not yet subsided, so I did not feel scared initially. But, soon, fear sank in. I had never been outside the gates in the past years. My entire day was devoted to Shikha within the boundary walls. I looked around with the hope that I spot Shikha or the house-maid, but in vain. But I caught a faint trace of Shikha’s lavender perfume and decided to follow it. I soon reached Pan-Bazaar!
A car halted before Shikha and the door opened. It was her friend Disha’s car. Both the girls were supposed to have a sleepover at Shikha’s place. I was supposed to be the star performer of the night as Shikha wanted me to entertain her best friend with my pretty antics! I thought this would be the best opportunity to return to the mansion, as Shikha would definitely shield me from her father-aunt abuses. Shikha stepped inside the car and the car started to move away. NO!! I ran across the road towards the moving car, when suddenly something hit me and the world turned dark for me.
It is early morning. Mrs. James pats me on my back and wakes me up. A veterinary doctor by profession and an avid dog lover, she restored me to good health within a month of that dreadful autumn evening. It was the evening I lost Shikha but gained a new friend. The 40 year old lady resides in a small apartment in Uzan Bazar with her husband. The couple lost their only daughter Marie to dengue last year and since then, they could not recover from the pangs of grief. I looked at Mrs. James beaming face and then towards the dish where she had put Pedigree dog food for me to eat. Surprisingly they named me Tina. If I remember well, I was wearing the violet scarf on the day my life took an unexpected turn. Perhaps, the couple wants me to be found by Shikha. But, do I have a choice?