Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017 Shortlist Khyati Gautam


She was right in front of me posing perfectly – just like Mona Lisa. Her visage was as pretty as a new born. She had a flawless skin, a charming grace, her red attire, and she looked like a princess. A broad glistening smile that adorned her face made her appear prettier. There was a mellifluous music playing in the background – the kind of one that is romantic, sensuous as well as soothing. And, I was busy bringing my love on the canvas. It was my unrelenting desire to bring her alive on the blank paper. So I was making all the attempts to work on the tiniest details of her face to gift her with a captivating portrait. All of a sudden I felt a bit of tremor. Everything started to wane - My brushes, canvas, music and my girl. Eventually, I witnessed the appearance of my mother. Holy shit! She has trespassed into the land of my dreams. I was searching for my princess but all in vain. I stumbled upon a stone and fell from my bed with a loud thud. With this, my eyes opened up instantaneously. My mommy saw it all. A tinge of annoyance was clearly visible on her face. I was awake; my eyes were wide open; the door to my dreamland was closed.

Mom made me realize that it was the time for me to get ready for the first day of my college. I got myself busied to embark on a new journey. My last night’s dream completely slipped out of my head. I reached college on time. The songs I was listening while traveling to my Institute kept playing repeatedly on my mind. I felt jittery, as all the new faces appeared right before me. That sight made me recall the sweet memories from my past which made me nostalgic. The noise of the people broke my contemplation and I headed towards my classroom. As I entered the room, there were very few lads and lasses present. The day began plainly with boring lectures, monotonous speeches of professors and a rather dull view of the classroom itself. At the lunchtime, I felt an urge to move out of that dreary atmosphere. So I went out to breathe some fresh air. But soon the lunch break came to an end and I had to face that bleak environment once again. My mind said to me that I must retreat from going there but my heart coaxed me to go ahead.

The mind and the heart are always at loggerheads with each other. At the end, one has to concede to the power of the other.
So was the case with me that day. My heart won and I prepared myself to bear the boredom for another few hours. As I reached the door of my classroom, a body collided against mine. My head was hung down when this happened. I managed to keep calm and maintain my composure.

As my eyes met hers, I was entranced. I was rapt by the sight of those tiny lamps that shone brightly. That cute face of hers attracted me instantaneously. She looked at me and apologized for a mistake for which I was equally culpable. She didn’t waste a second in arguing and went away. I was overwhelmed by her innocence. I took my seat and wondered that why this pretty face didn’t come in front of me since the morning.

She came again in the periphery of my eyes and I could not help but smile. The next few hours were pleasant. In the evening, the first day of my college came to an end while it marked the inception of the new chapter of my life long book.
In the course of time, I made a lot of friends and she was one of them. At the outset, I presumed that she was arrogant, introvert and extremely rude. But as I got to know her better, I realized how unfounded and futile my assumptions were. She was a cheerful and a bubbly girl with a pure heart. As the days passed by, I fell more in love with her. It was the sublimity of her heart that drew my attention and appeased my inner demons. Her sumptuous smile and vibrant aura shook my ego. The first time we walked, I was elated. Her melodious voice echoed in my heart.

She was a literature enthusiast. Words allured her more than anything. I still marvel at the beauty of her exquisite creations imbued with a plethora of heartfelt emotions. She was gregarious, frisky yet someone who admired the silence. For her, even silence was not silent. The commotion never leaves you. It might subside for the time being but trust its power, it will return because it is eternal.
We never turned into thick of friends. She drifted apart from me as she was apprehensive about me since she saw me for the first time. I don’t know why but she never tried to figure out what laid behind those eyes. My fa├žade was good enough to draw a bridge between both of us. And therefore, I didn’t confess my unconditional love for her.

She was an epitome of the perpetual beauty. The mystery that lingered around her persona was so intriguing that I could never take my mind off her. She was humble, demure, silent, sensitive yet the one whose actions spoke louder than words and whose mettle proved it time and again that none could impede her progress. The fierce passion breathed within her. She was a savage soul and that made me worship her as if she was the incarnation of the goddess.

One day while she was passing through the corridor, a group of morons remarked at her with aspersions and derogatory comments. She was so furious to hear them that she instantly slapped one of them. The slap was so swift and thunderous that the victim stood still. She rebuked him and went away. But what she left behind was the fiery vengeance that was about to eat her away. She risked her life for the protection of her dignity. She punished a man for his cheap activity of humiliating a girl with his nonsense words.

She was on the way to her home. That day she was extremely happy as a major achievement of her life welcomed her. She was being chosen as the President of the student union for her exceptional qualities and gentle demeanor. She wanted to break the big news to her parents and so she was walking quickly. But as the smile on her face broadened, two men emerged unexpectedly and threw acid on her. She was left there dying and crying of excruciating pain. The fatal incident came to her as a bolt from the blue. She lost consciousness and her eyes closed.

When I heard about this, I was taken aback. It came to me as a complete shock. I was bewildered. I rushed to the hospital to see her. All I could witness was a young girl enthused with vigor and unparalleled strength and courage were lying there struggling for her breath. That day I prayed to God to cure her. I didn’t want to lose her.

After a series of woeful prayers, they finally got answered. She returned but with a half burnt face. When the truth unveiled before her, she could not stop shedding the tears. She was weeping uncontrollably. She felt helpless and worthless. The charm and grace that reflected in her personality ceased to appear as the tears and the sorrow surrounded her badly. This phase of her life was terrible. Though she was recovering, her will to live was fading away. She accepted the darkness of her life as her way of living.

It took her family and all of us a great deal of time and patience to handle her devastation. She gave up hopes. But then we made all the efforts to revive them. We made sure that we never show her sympathy or pity her despair; rather we tried to help her summon all her strength to face the adverse situation that engulfed her tightly. It was difficult. This process of getting over the pain inflicted upon her soul was very torturous for her.

It was a Sunday evening when I went to her place. She was sitting in her garden staring at her splendid surroundings. I whispered her name and she got up to face me. The streaks of setting the sun made the sky resplendent. The birds were returning to their nest. The ambiance was full of motion yet the peace slipped into its linings unknowingly. There was an awkward silence that embraced us. I looked deep into her eyes that spoke volumes of suffering and grief. I took a step forward to clasp her tightly. She rested her head against my chest and cried. I didn’t stop her. I wanted her to lighten up herself. The burden was getting heavier on her heart and I never wanted to get it buried because I knew it was more important to release herself from the shackles of agony. And for this, she had to let go of her torment.

That evening she spoke her heart out – her fears of her future, the bleak life she was submerged in, the lack of love and affection, the failure that was emanating out of her constant rumination, etc. her words pricked me. I wanted to shout in anger and pain but I refrained from doing so. The pearls of tear drops didn’t leave her face. She was in a deep thought when I took her face in my palms and planted a kiss on her forehead and said, “I loved you since the moment I saw you and I will love you until the last moment of my life.”
Hearing this, she cried her heart out. And I joined her too to share her sorrow.
Thus, our love ushered us into a beautiful journey of togetherness.

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