Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017, Longlist Dr. Diwakar Pokhriyal

Kiss of Freedom

“I think I have started liking you” Priya looked at Dinesh.
“Oh! Really?” Dinesh smiled, looking at Priya. Her blush was the evidence of the truth.
“Yes” She shook her head.
“Ok then, close your eyes” Dinesh said.
“What?” she was surprised at this.
“You like me, but don’t believe me?” Dinesh was surprised.
“No, no, this is not the case” She was a bit embarrassed.
“Then close your eyes” Dinesh closed her eyes with his fingers.
“And” She murmured with closed eyes.
“Listen to me” Dinesh came closer to her and murmured.
“What?” She could feel the breath.
“A kiss” He murmured, and kissed her lips.

For next five minutes Priya was all lost in the ecstasy of love. She was lost in the act of pleasure that touch the lips and heals the soul. A drop of water trickled down her cheek and she opened her eyes. She realized there was no one nearby her.

“Where are you?” Priya looked around.
“Don’t play with me, don’t hide, I know you are around here” She was smiling and she knew that Dinesh used to hide from her only to come back from nowhere to hug her.
“Where are you?” Priya again looked around and waited for some time.
“Ok, I am leaving” She said and left the place.

Priya and Dinesh were very good friends, they used to share their pain and happiness together. After a long period of two years, Priya finally decided to propose him. Dinesh on the other hand had always kept his emotions in his heart. He used to talk with her, but never tried to drive her towards the world of pleasure. They used to talk long hours during the night or day or whenever Priya used to get the time.    

“Where is he?” Priya was now a bit worried.
“Who?” Her friend Shasha overheard Priya.
“No one” Priya was a bit hesitant.
“Oh, your boyfriend?” Shasha smiled.
“How do you know?” She was surprised.
“By your reaction girl” Shasha laughed.
“What?” Priya was caught.
“So, tell me now?” Shasha said and Priya told her.
“You never met him, I means only once” Shasha was surprised.
“Now help me” Priya was tense.
“Ok, show me the number” Shasha enquired.
“Number is not valid” A tear trickled down her cheek.
“What?” Shasha took his number and tried to get the same result.
“Don’t worry I’ll try something” Shasha said and left the place.

For the next few days Shasha was busy searching for Dinesh, but she was unable to find any clue.
“What is all this” Shasha was utterly confused.
“What happened?” Shasha’s friend looked at her worried face.
“A problem” Shasha told her friend.
“Why don’t you ask your friend how did she started talking to him” her friend suggested.
Shasha went back to Priya. She was all lost and as she looked at Shasha she broke again.
“Don’t cry” Shasha hugged Priya.
“Where is he?” Priya was in tears.
“Tell me when you met him or how you both have started talking” Shasha asked.
“Wait…” Priya started remembering her past.  
“I got a call from him” She said.
“How did he call you, I mean through any of your friends?” Shasha asked.
“I don’t know?” Priya wasn’t able to connect.
“Okay, you met any of your friends prior to this?” Shasha asked.
“No, I was in my grandmother’s place at that time” Priya told Shasha.
“You went alone?” Shahsa was surprised.
“No, I went with my parents, but my parents came early and I came after a week” She said.

“Where is your grandparents place and do you have any friends there?” Shasha was trying to understand.
“I went there….” Priya told her the whole story.
“Oh” Shasha got some doubts.

“But what this all has to do with Dinesh” Priya asked Shasha.
“Nothing” Shasha said and left her house.
Priya was all lost in herself; her mother was also tense looking at her daughter. Priya didn’t tell her anything and also was not ready to do anything. She was in love, but Dinesh was nowhere to be seen.
“Priya why are you so sad” Priya’s mother was worried.
“Nothing much,” She said.
“You are not eating well” Mother sat closer to her.
“I don’t feel like eating” Priya was depressed.
“Why so?” She asked.
“I want to meet him?” She burst into tears.
“Who?” The mother was surprised.
“Dinesh” Priya told her mother the whole story.
“What?” She hugged Priya. “Don’t worry, I am with you” She said and Priya got some strength.
In the next two weeks Shasha again came to Priya house.

“Hi aunty where is Priya? Shasha inquired.
“She has gone to her grandparent’s place” The mother said.
“What?  When did she leave?” Shasha asked.
“Yesterday” the mother said.
“I need to talk to you about a serious thing” Shasha said.
“I know she had a boyfriend who left her” Mother was a bit worried.
“Uncle is at home?” Shasha tried looking around.
“Yes Shasha” Uncle came and sat with them.
“Aunty there is no one called Dinesh” Shasha was serious.
“What are you talking about?” Aunty was taken aback.
“Look at this” She gave them few papers.
This is the call history of the number with whom she was talking. This number does not exist and yet she talked for hours” Shasha said.
“This can’t be true” Uncle wasn’t able to believe.
“Then she was talking to whom?” Her mother was now a bit afraid.
“Most probably she was talking to herself” Shasha said and both of them were taken aback.
“Herself? What do you mean? She has gone mad? What proof do you have” The parents became loud.

“Isn’t this call history a proof. She is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. In all her youth she wanted to love someone but because of some fear she kept her desires to herself. She started reading love stories and started imagining herself, this must be a case. And when she went to her grandparent’s place last time she actually went to a place which was famous for these stories which acted as the final trigger,” she said.

“How do you know about the palace?” They asked.
“She told me about it while explaining about her trip. She explained everything in so much detail that I was surprised” She said.
“Then who is this Dinesh” They asked.
“Dinesh is the name she must have given to her second self” Shasha said.
“What do you do?” The parent asked Shasha.
“I am a psychiatrist” Shasha said and both were now worried.
“What do we have to do?” they asked.
“Believe in me and let’s hope for the best. Don’t tell her this otherwise it may get worst.” SHASHA said and started leaving for the place.
“When will she be cured,” they were in tears.
“May be soon, maybe never” Shasha took a long breath and left that house with worried parents.
Shasha went to Priya’s Grandparent’s house.
“Hey how are you” Shasha smiled looking at her.
“I am ok, what are you doing here?” She was surprised.
“I came here for some work” Shasha smiled.
“Oh, that’s great” Priya smiled.
“Oh, after so long you are smiling” Shasha said and Priya again smiled.
“I am getting bored, let’s go somewhere” Shasha said.
“Where you want to go?” Priya was about to give her the list.
“The place you explained me” Shasha said.
“No, not that place” Priya changed her expression.
“I want to see that love paradise. Think a bit about me also” She laughed and Priya agreed.
In the next hour or so they were all set to leave for the place. Priya’s grandparents told them to come before the sun set. While walking past the road they met an old Pandit Ji.

“Priya, how are you” The Pandit Ji saw her.
“I am good how is your uncle” Priya hugged him.
“She is my friend” Priya introduced Shasha and he smiled looking at her.
“Where are you two going?” He asked.
“We are going to find something?” Shasha said.
“What?” He was a bit surprised.
“Nothing uncle we are going just to see the place” She told uncle everything that happened with her.
“Are you sure his name is Dinesh?” He asked.
“Yes, he only told me” Priya said.
“You live where?” The uncle asked.
“Delhi” She said.
“Oh!” The uncle was surprised.
“What happen?” Priya looked at his face.
“Let’s go Priya, we will miss otherwise something” Shasha pushed Priya.
“You are a blessed girl” The uncle said.
“No, I am not” Priya was a bit sad.
“No, you indeed are. You helped someone unknowingly with your pure heart” He smiled.
“What? I can’t solve riddles” Priya was a bit frustrated.
“We will solve the riddle” Shasha said.
“You are following a mirage, be careful” The Pandit Ji said looking at Shasha.
“What?” Shasha was a bit surprised. 
“Ok, Uncle we will meet you again” Priya said
“You have to come here very soon,” he smiled.
Both of them looked at him and left for their destination. In the next half an hour they reached their destination.
“So, this is the place” Shasha and Priya went inside that old heritage.
“Yes” Priya said.
“What is the history of this place?” Shasha said and a guide crossed their path.
“This is build by Maharaj Diwesh Natrajan Eshwak,” He said.
“What? Such a big name” Shasha & Priya was surprised.

“Yes, he was a very kind king and everyone used to respect him. He used to talk very less. Once he fell in love with a girl. They never met each other, but people say that they used to exchange letters. Once the King went to meet her and that was his last day. No one knew who killed him. The girl was also nowhere to be found after this. There are rumours that the girl killed the king, or someone from girls family or king own family members. Nothing is clear.” They were walking and listening to the story.

“There is no photo of the King? Why there are no kings for queen like us nowadays” Shasha laughed.
“There is, but in the innermost part. He didn’t believe in placing his own photos all over his house or in his kingdom. He believed in serving the people” The guide said.
“I want to see the photo” Shasha was excited.

“Madam, tomorrow you can see. There is a function that happens every month. Everyone is allowed to go into that place.”The guide said and everyone left the place.
The next day they came to the function. As they were walking towards the innermost room, Priya could feel something similar, as if she had been here before. But she never had that privilege to go out of his house during her childhood. She lived in Delhi and came to her grandparent’s home only when she was in college. 

“Here is the photo” The guide showed both of them the photo and Priya was now a bit shocked.
“Oh My God, he is so handsome” Shasha melted looking his photo.
“Don’t you think so..” As Shasha turned towards Priya, she saw a frozen Priya looking constantly towards the photo.
“What happen?” Shasha was surprised looking at Priya.
“No….nothing?” Priya was still frozen.
“Oh! I am sure you must have fallen in love with someone like him, then you must have been much happier” Shasha laughed.
They witnessed the function where everyone was hailing the king’s good work and asking for his blessing and they left the place in the evening.
“Have you got any call from Dinesh” Shasha asked.
“No” Priya was still in the thoughts.
“Ok, no issues, sleep” Shasha said and went to another room.
Shasha called Priya’s mother.
“Hello Shasha, how is Priya?” She asked.
“She is Ok” Shasha told her.
“Is there any progress” She asked.
“Not yet. I was monitoring her for two days, she wasn’t talking to anyone. How this sudden change can happen” Shasha was a bit confused.
“She might be all right” She said with hope.
“Might be” Shasha said and after sometime disconnected the phone.

Whole night she was unable to sleep. Shasha was a bit worried looking at the sudden change in her friend.
“What happened?” Shasha asked Priya next day.
“We should go to Pandit ji” She said in a serious note.
“Pandit ji?” Shasha was surprised.”Please don’t believe in all this”
“Let’s go, I have a few questions” Priya said and they went to kill their anxiousness and doubts.
“Welcome back Priya” Pandit ji smiled.
“How did you know uncle that I will come back” Priya asked.
“Because your answer is here” He said.
“Here?” Shasha was surprised.
“You know Dinesh?” She was still in disbelief.
“You both have seen him and me too” He was very calm.
“I have not seen him” Shasha raised her hands.
“Be aware of the situations and you will get the answers” Pandit ji smiled looking at Shasha.
“I really haven’t. Have I?” Shasha said, looking at Priya.
“Yes you did” Priya said.
“When?” Shasha was surprised.

“Yesterday in the heritage” The Pandit Ji said.
“That was Maharaj….” She realized and related to Priya’s reaction.”The name is not same. The guide told us a big name”
“Come with me” The Pandit ji told both of them and they followed.
 He took them to a room in that old heritage.
“Wow, such a huge room” Shasha eyes were welled up.
“The key of this room is with me. My last 5 generations were with them and even now I am in connection with them” Pandit ji said.
“Really?” Shasha said.
“Yes, they moved to another place, but they call me often, for important rituals” Pandit ji said.
“My questions are still unanswered” Priya interrupted in between. 
“Go and check that box” Pandit ji pointed towards a box.
“What is there in box” Shasha was anxious.
“Answers” The Pandit ji said and both of them opened the box.
“Wha…?” Priya was speechless.
“These are letters, but she used to get calls and that too in her mobile” Shasha was not impressed.
“Look at this” Priya gave her a bag to Shasha.
“What is in this now?” Shasha opened her bag.
“Oh My God! This is exactly same handwriting and name ‘Dinesh’ is there. Mother of all coincidences” Shasha was not able to believe.
“What about the calls then?” Shasha asked.
“There were no calls, I used to fake it so that no one else would come to know” Priya said.
“But why me?” Priya looked at Pandit ji in confused state.
“You know that too. The answer is in Delhi itself” The pandit ji said.
Next day they went to Priya home and stayed there. Shasha told her parents that there is nothing to worry about. The pandit ji met the parents and they didn’t discuss anything about the incident.
“This is the place where I used to get the letters” Priya told both of them.
“You never told me that you come to such places?” Shasha looked at Priya.
“This is such a peaceful place” Priya said.
“You know about this place?” Pandit ji asked.
“No” both of them shook their heads. 
“Take help of google” He laughed.
“You know google?” Shasha took a jibe.
“My child, we are modern pandit ji” He laughed.
“This is a heritage and there is a story about this…” Priya was searching for the answers.
“I got it” Shasha showed his mobile.
“Look at the girl” He said.
“She is like you or you are like a queen” Shasha looked at Priya and then at the photo of the queen.
“What this means?” Priya wanted to know.
“You helped the king to release from a recurring event. You freed him from his last wish” He said.
“What?” Priya was unable to believe in all this.
“He had everything in his life and the only thing he wanted was love. Both of them exchanged letters but meeting someone and acceptance of love completes the whole cycle. That cycle wasn’t completed until now” Pandit Ji said.
“Are you sure?” Shasha was still in doubt.
“This is life, we don’t know why are we meeting someone and when will they leave our lives. We can only use our limited knowledge to connect the dots to get the bigger pictures. Few events are to end through us and few are to start” Pandit ji said and all three of them started leaving the place.
“Was that the “Kiss of Freedom”,”? Priya was thinking while leaving that place.

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