Sunday 10 June 2012

Short Story 2012 Longlist, Shanika Bhowmick

Think Before You Curse

Megha woke up feeling particularly good that morning. It was one of those weekdays when you actually looked forward to the day. She knew she would have a great day at office, a fun outing with friends, a good chat with folks back home, and a relaxed night’s sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

After a fresh shower and a hearty breakfast she still had time to read the newspaper, which was an achievement in itself. She couldn’t help grinning to herself. As she was about to leave her house she heard a crashing sound outside her door. She quickly grabbed her bag and rushed out. That’s when she found out that her morning euphoria was extremely false.

All her flower pots lay broken outside her door. Mud littered the floor. Her precious flowers lay smashed. And then she found the evidence. Evidence of the culprit. Without a doubt she knew who it was. Tiny little muddy footprints led from the site of crime to the house next door.

Boiling with rage she pounded the door bell of her neighbour’s house. Six-year old Chintu opened the door, a wicked grin playing on his face. Just the sight of him made Megha delirious. She grabbed the kid by his t-shirt and dragged him out. She lost all awareness of her surroundings. Without even caring that his parents could be around, she landed a resounding slap on Chintu’s face and continued to do so until the boy started crying.

Jerking herself out of her mad rage she began to shout at him. It was not the first time that Chintu had done something like this. He always managed to create trouble and upset Megha. Either it was soiling all her washed clothes hanging outside, or littering her doorway with sand and pebbles from the road, or just repeatedly banging her door and running away. She had complained several times to his parents who turned a deaf ear to her. Chintu was a darling son who could never have done any wrong to anyone. Megha gradually began to detest him. No amount of explaining cured him. She tried to relax herself by justifying that he was just a kid and kids are mischievous. It wasn’t right for her being an adult to harbour so much hate for a child. But she couldn’t manage to have any sympathy for him. And today’s incident just pushed things a little too far.

She blurted out “I wish you died, little rascal!” at the crying boy standing there and stomped off from. Minutes later, sitting in the taxi she realised what she had just done. She was surprised Chintu’s parents didn’t come out to stop her. She felt a sudden pang of guilt when she thought of how she had hit him. She was personally always against any kind of physical punishment towards children, no matter what the fault. But here she was losing her cool and doing just that. She made a mental note to go and apologise to him when she returned from work and probably cheer him up with a box of chocolates.

After an uneventful day at work she felt a little nervous while going home and facing what she had left behind in the morning. As she approached her building she saw a crowd gathered outside. Feeling curious she ran up to her house. There was an ambulance and also police vans waiting outside. She went closer to get a better view. The first person she noticed was Chintu’s father with a panic stricken expression. As she approached him to ask what had happened, she heard a woman’s wails. Within the next minute she understood what had happened.

Chintu’s badly battered body lay limp on the ground. His mother clutched on to him sobbing. A cold chill ran through Megha. She suddenly felt sick and couldn’t stand there any longer. She receded and stood among the crowd of people surrounding the scene. She could hear people discussing how it had happened. Chintu’s parents had gone out for a few hours in the morning, leaving him behind at home. Being the mischievous boy that he was he had gone up to the terrace to play and somehow fell from there. He died on the spot. Other residents saw this happen and contacted his parents.

 The world just blurred out in front of Megha. Her words “I wish you died, little rascal” felt like a piercing sword to her. The words echoed around her. She somehow felt it was her curse which made little Chintu face this tragedy. Unable to bear it any longer, she slowly walked up to her house, the broken flower pots still lying outside her door.

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