This book is dedicated to my late friend Sachin
I am obliged to my family for supporting me when I was writing this novel.
I am thankful to all those who helped me in gaining enough experiences in life that I could apply in my writing
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, incidences used in this book are the product of author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, past events is entirely coincidental.
It was a quiet night with few clouds; a local bus was running on highway. Old Kishore Kumar songs were being played in it. There were hardly any passengers in the bus. He was sitting near the window seat. His phone vibrated.
"Hello" he said while picking up the call
"Hello bro are you ok?" a worried voice came from the other side
"Ya, I am ok, aren't you asleep till now? I told you I will call you as soon as I reach home"
"Listen to me carefully, I have something very important to tell you,” the person from the other side said
"Yes tell me"
After listening for few seconds, the phone almost slipped from his shaking hands, drops of sweat surrounded his face and his breath was suddenly heavy. For the very first time he was feeling helpless, he wanted to call someone but he knew he didn't had much time left. The only way was to take the shortest route to his house.
The bus finally stopped and everyone sitting in the bus stepped down.
He didn't waste a second, grabbed his handbag and started moving fast. He was now sure that someone was following him. He entered in the children's park and without looking back started running as fast as he could. The only thing he could hear was that, more than 1 person was running towards him. He still didn't bother to look behind.
"Grab him, grab him" one of the followers shouted to other. They were two.
Finally they grabbed him. In a fraction of seconds one of them took out his knife and stabbed him. He resisted, but couldn't help it.
After few minutes he was all alone in the park. Lying down with no energy to move, looking up in the sky and trying to inhale as much air as he could with a hope that someone will soon come. His phone was vibrating continuously but he could not pick it up. After some time he saw a familiar face coming near. A smile came to his face halfway and then left in pain. He was trying the best he could but he knew that he isn’t going to make it...and with a whole lot of dreams in his heart and dissatisfaction he took his last breath...
Now we were not three anymore…
My name is Vikram and this story begins with my arrival at the Indore station. After passing the entrance exams in Biotechnology, I had happily packed my bags with all the essentials: my brand new trainers, two new pairs of jeans, six t-shirts, a new sports watch, and some irrelevant subject books. I was excited to meet my classmates, with little concern for the seniors I would encounter. But I have to admit that I was impressed with Indore Station. The only two concerns were; there was no coolie to take my luggage, and secondly, none of my relatives in Indore were there to receive me. This was my first time in Indore and I already felt unwelcome. After waiting for twenty minutes I decided to take my luggage myself.
Before I continue with the story, I should tell you about my aunt’s family. They are one of the rich Punjabi families who, just like other Punjabi's, love to exaggerate almost everything about everything they have. They have four children at this point of time when India is on the brink of population explosion. Out of four children, two are married and have three children each themself. Just imagine, what's the use of discovering condom?
Irrespective of my less than glowing opinion of them, I was just visiting my aunt’s family so that they could help me move to the university dormitory and with all the other official requirements. My father had to cancel his program to come with me because of some urgent meeting.
About my father - he is a businessman, not a greatly successful one, but he provided us with all the luxuries of an upper middle class family and I am proud of being his son. He instilled me with many important values.
One thing that my father told me, and which I certainly noticed on my way to my aunt's house, is that there were at least a hundred tea stalls on the route. They were selling jalebi and poha, a snack, mostly cherished by almost 100% Madhya Pradesh population.
Within twenty minutes or so, I reached my destination. Despite my expectations, the auto driver was fortunately not a cheat. Like most of Indians, I almost always had to fight with auto drivers so that they would actually charge me the fee on their meter. Perhaps people here in Indore were more honest.
I paid the bill and entered the premises. It was a big old house, and reminded me of movie home set of 80's. Windows were open; some of them broke but still carrying their weight somehow. Big green moss was covering half of the house. The stairs were circular like I have seen in movies.
“Namaste Aunty" I said, seeing my aunt who was standing at the door waiting for me.
"How was your journey, Son?"
"It was fine" I replied, leaning down to touch her feet in respect.
"So, Son how is everyone at home?" Aunty asked, while serving me tea and samosas after I kept my bags on one of the rooms and settled on the couch
"Everyone is fine, they send their regards and also this" I handed over a package containing a Banarsi Saari which my mother had asked me to pass on “by the way, Aunty, where is everyone?”
"Oh, Son, there was no need to send anything" she replied as she took the gift. “The others will be here in a few minutes, they are at the temple nearby. I have told them about the arrangements needed for your dormitory"
I finished my tea and samosas and went for a bath to relax after my long journey. While bathing, I heard voices outside which indicated that the family had returned.
"Is he going to stay here?” I heard Uncle Vijay was speaking loudly and deliberately. Did he want me to hear?
"Please lower your voice, he will hear you!” admonished Aunty. “I told you that he is only here for a few hours. And so what if he stays for a day or two? After all, he is my relative!"
"I know, but... oh, never mind!"
I felt like going out, grabbing his collar and telling him I didn’t want to stay in his house anyway, but I didn't. I waited until everything went quiet before dressing and going outside to join them.
"Hello Uncle, how are you? It is so nice to meet you,” I said, trying to control my emotions.
"Hello Son, I am fine. Kavita told me you were accepted at the university here. Are you moving into the dormitory today?” The latter remark wasn’t really a question.
My aunt’s face looked a little pinched and pale. I couldn't figure out if this was due to anger or shame, but I didn't mind it because I knew that she adored me and it was not her fault.
"Yes, Uncle. I really would love to stay here and spend more time with you, but unfortunately my classes are starting tomorrow, so it would be better if I can adjust to college and dormitory life as soon as possible".
"Yes, it will be better. Anyway, I have told Rahul, he will go with you, and make all the arrangements for you. Do you need anything else?" Rahul was his youngest son.
"No, Uncle, that will be fine".
As planned, Rahul and I left for the university shortly after. My aunt cried when she came outside to see me off, but I didn't say anything to her.
We finished all the official requirements first and then we went to my department. It was a huge building, painted yellow, and I noted that the entrance gate was rather rusty. I looked, but couldn't find anyone in the vicinity. We found an empty chair outside the office of the Head of the Department. The door held a large nameplate bearing the name of the old fellow (at least I guessed he would be old) Dr.A. K. Tiwari. There were two other rooms on the ground floor, both seemingly well-equipped labs. However, on closer inspection, I found that most of the machines were covered with dust. They were screaming of their long disuse. Looking at their condition, I suddenly remembered the words of my Botany professor in Delhi who had said to me, " It is a good idea to get admission to a government college for your Master’s degree, because you will be exposed to all the necessary stimuli required for you to be a good biotechnologist".
"What the hell" I said to myself, cursing the botany teacher. Did I need this kind of environment to be a good biotechnologist? I asked myself.
"Vikram, did you like your department?"
"Truly speaking, I don't know. It looks okay. I’m not very impressed by the building and the equipment"
"Don't worry, it will get better. Usually when we visit some place where we are suppose to spend some time alone, we don’t like it, but slowly everything gets settled" He paused "I have to say something personal to you"
"Yes?" I asked.
Rahul hesitated before speaking. "I want to apologies for father's behavior back at the house. I was in the other room when he was talking to mother about your stay. If I could hear them so clearly, then I assume you were also able to listen to their conversation. He shouldn’t have spoken that way. Even mom was upset"
"It’s absolutely all right, you don't need to apologize. They are our elders and they have the right to say anything, good or bad, about their children. I didn’t mind it, but I hope Kavita aunty will be fine"
"Yes, she will be okay. I will speak to her when I get home"