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Never give up

The story though is a work of fiction yet the writer hopes that some day it becomes an inspiration for someone in a distressful situation and gives the strength to come out triumphantly.

 

A Story by Dheeraj Kale          

The day commenced like any other day that morning. Himani was scurrying around the house finishing her daily chores hastily to leave for office in time. Despite of the massive backlog at work, she was still looking forward to the day. The reason was her college friend, Ranjana. Ranjana had recently got engaged and was throwing a party exclusively for their six-member girl gang at DLF Cyber Hub in the evening. The fond memories of her college days brought a wide smile on her face while she locked the main door and hurried out through the stairs. She plunged herself in the ocean of those wonderful memories after sitting inside the autorickshaw. She still couldn’t believe that out of all, Ranjana was getting hitched. Ranjana was the one who sapped out their brains through her constant clamoring about all boys being the same and that girls should keep away from them.

“You know they all have a one-track mind. Bloody lechers.” her most repeated punch line uttered with an extremely disdainful expression on her face often threw the girls into a fit of laughter. Ranjana’s outlook towards men often made her the butt of all jokes. She was teased by different names, ‘Sister Ranjana’ being the most commonly used in their group. Himani’s thoughts about her friends and the joyous moments shared with them in college often made her completely oblivious of her surroundings. Indeed that was the best time of her life and she treasured every single memory. She was extremely excited about Ranjana making that invaluable revelation today about her transformation from a misandrist to a woman in love. While the autorickshaw waded through traffic clogged roads, Himani enjoyed the nostalgia of reliving her college memories.

In spite of the hectic and exhaustive day at work, Himani was still afresh and enthusiastic about her evening rendezvous. It was six thirty in the evening. Himani was out on the road in no time walking briskly towards DLF Cyber Hub, which was just a ten minute walk from her office building. Himani preferred to walk whenever she got a chance. She had always been fond of taking long leisurely walks while she was in Chandigarh with her family. But ever since she moved to Gurgaon two years back after accepting a lucrative job offer in a leading MNC, she had learnt to compromise with her interests. It was this city’s dusty and a perennially under-construction infrastructure, which killed her fondness for long leisurely walks.

Himani made her way through the plethora of cars queued up to enter the parking zone. She felt much relieved after reaching the spacious and open-air courtyard lined up with all the trendy and elite pubs and restaurants on each side. Ranjana had aptly chosen a hip and cozy bar-cum-restaurant factoring in the perfect ambience of the place and ease of accessibility for her friends. Himani had visited this place earlier on two other occasions with her office colleagues. However, this time it was different. This time she was her real self – at ease and excited. She finally pushed the door of the snazzy bar-cum-restaurant and adjusted to the dimly lit place with wide eyes searching for the familiar faces of her friends. Audible sounds of feminine laughter from a far corner caught her attention and she knew she was late. Ranjana, Sujata and Shruti seemed to be even more excited than Himani by the sound of their laughter. They had noticed her standing in the doorway and were waving at her animatedly with their pearly whites showing visibly. Himani bowed her head, slightly embarrassed and shot straight to the corner with an uncontrollable grin stretched wide across her face. They stood up and hug her one by one welcoming her warmly and cheerfully.

“Hey!! Where is Sonali? I thought I would be the last one to walk in.” Himani said taking her seat next to Ranjana on the large couch.

“Ohhhh….so you have lost the chance to show how important you are, poor Himani….. Well, she is on her way probably stuck in a jam….you know, the usual evening hour rush” said Ranjana.

“Ok…but I am not going to wait for her, Ranjana because it is getting unbearable now. I want a word by word detailed report on who is this guy who had the guts to win you over. Tell us when, how and where did you meet him?” Himani said trying to look serious, hiding her excitement.

“What!?!……What are you talking about?” Ranjana said with suppressed laughter pretending to be ignorant.

“Oh….C’mon, you idiot, now don’t be a bore. You never shared anything on Whats App and I will never forgive you for that.” Shruti complained suppressing her smile.

“C’mon, tell us about your bloody lecher. Does he have a one-track mind?” Sujata teased Ranjana and all of them burst into laughter over the cliché.

Ranjana retorted “Hey….Heelloooo….. He is no lecher and he does not have a one-track mind. That’s why he is mine.” They all laughed out loud at the expression on her face. Just then Sonali entered the restaurant hastily and joined the gang.

Himani had a great time after a long while just like those glorious college days. But great times normally fly in a jiffy.

Finally, Sonali checked the time and went hysterical.
“Oh my god, it is 10.30!!…..mom’s going to kill me.”

Sonali was about to get up when Ranjana intervened, “Hey hey hey….wait for a second! I have got something for you guys!!”

She picked up the big shopping bag lying next to the couch and began pulling out stuff from it one by one. The first thing to emerge was a slick makeup kit for Sonali, who was always very conscious of her great looks. A genuine leather purse followed soon after for Shruti, who was generally teased for being the biggest miser in the group. Next, came out a pair of trendy shades and a beautiful blue silk scarf for Himani who didn’t think twice to go out for a walk even in the sweltering heat and finally a hamper of exquisite assorted chocolates for Sujata who had a permanent sweet tooth. It was time once again for the girl gang to part.

Sonali, Shruti and Sujata left together. Ranajan’s fiancé was coming to pick her up and she wanted Himani to come along to be dropped back home. Himani didn’t want to bother them and tried persuading Ranjana several times, but she was adamant. Ranjana’s fiancé called to inform that he was round the corner and they can step outside. Ranjana and Himani crossed the parking lot and stepped on the road outside. Several cars were queued up to enter the parking lot. The road outside was badly congested with traffic. After five minutes Ranajana’s fiancé called again to inform that he will take another few minutes due to the heavy traffic.

While Himani and Ranjana were waiting at the roadside, an autorickshaw appeared suddenly out of nowhere and pulled over in front of them. The man inquired from inside if they needed a ride. Though he was barely visible in the low streetlight but all Himani noticed fleetingly was that he was a dark complexioned, middle aged man with stubble and a hoarse voice. Ranjana refused without looking at him. But for Himani this man was offering her the only chance to rid herself from the guilt of causing inconvenience to her best friend and give her some peaceful moments with her fiancé. She turned towards Ranjana who was craning her neck to look beyond the deluge of vehicles for her fiancé’s car.

Himani held Ranjana’s arm lightly and said in her most persuasive tone, “Ranajana, please let me go….This will save you guys from a lot of trouble. Look at this traffic mess. Please don’t worry about me….I promise I will call as soon as I will reach.” Ranjana tried to argue but gave up finally looking at the logjam on the road. Himani quickly hugged Ranjana and boarded the autorickshaw. She waved at Ranajana as the autorickshaw drove off from where it had seemed to appear.

The cacophony of roaring engines and honking faded away behind as the autorickshaw advanced. Himani was exhausted and a slight headache surfaced as a residual of her busy day. She closed her eyes to relax for a while. A few moments must have passed when suddenly Himnai felt as if something brushed against her breast. She woke up with a sudden jolt to find the autorickshaw parked at a dark, deserted place. The sound of traffic was replaced by the sound of night crickets. The autorickshaw driver was sitting beside her. He had a villainous smile on his big dark face clearly reflecting his intentions. Himani immediately jerked off his hand and tried to sit up straight but he was towering over her. He pinned her down easily and continued touching her inappropriately. Himani tried to push him away with her hands and scream for help. But his heavy hand pressed against her mouth ruthlessly almost choking her in the process. A scuffle ensued as he forced himself upon her and she struggled like a little girl trying to break free. He was strong and harsh. She gathered up all her strength and began using every part of her body to free herself. Finally she succeeded by kicking in his groin with her knee. A hoarse moan escaped his mouth and his grip loosened. Himani managed to set herself free and fell outside the autorickshaw on the ground in a desperate effort to escape. She had barely stood up on her feet and regained her balance when he appeared from behind and grabbed her slim frame in his strong arms. He threatened her to shut up and flashed a knife in front of her face. He pressed the pointed edge against her neck slightly and Himani froze instantly due to the pain. He dragged her a few steps away and pushed her on the ground. Himani fell face down on the ground. As she tried to sit up hastily, he kicked her down and got on top of her. Before Himani could react he grabbed her wrists and pulled them up over her head. The razor sharp edge of the knife was now back on her throat while he kept clutching her skinny wrists in the steely grip of his other hand. Himani could barely move beneath his weight. The same devilish smile appeared on his face and he asked her to cooperate and promised to set her free. Her vulnerable body gave up as she crumbled under his heavy weight. For a moment she thought about complying with his wishes. At least she would be able to walk free and unhurt after the ordeal. She began to howl. This made him confident of his victory and her defeat. He brought his face closer to hers. Sweat ran across his big dark face. The pungent smell of sweat and an unbearable stench of Bidis and Gutkha, burned Himani’s nostrils. She felt nauseated. His rough stubble abraded against her soft skin like thorns. At that point, Himani decided that she will not give up. She won’t be a weakling just because she is a woman. She would fight back and die fighting this beast if need be. An idea flashed in her mind. She loosened up her body and became still as if dead. The man raised his head to look at her suspiciously. A smile appeared on Himani’s face. The monster grinned in response exultantly. His hand gradually released her wrists from his iron grasp and moved down slowly to unbutton her shirt. Himani didn’t retaliate this time and instead placed her hands on his back in an embrace. Her willingness elated him beyond his senses. Now he completely forgot about the knife using both hands to unbutton her shirt frantically. Himani slowly shifted her arm from his back to the ground and with a little effort got hold of the knife. The first jab of the pointed blade rammed deep inside the thick flesh of his waist and managed to puncture his right kidney. He let out an agonizing shriek and got off her writhing in pain. Himani got up swiftly. An electrifying charge ran through her veins seeing him in pain. The desire to inflict him with agonizing torture grew stronger within her for what he had put her through. The sharp pointed metal slashed his soft abdomen next, mangling his innards. Blood gushed out like a hot spring and scattered all over the ground. He cried out in excruciating pain, groaning and begging for her forgiveness. His heavy body trembled uncontrollably jerking like a fish out of the water. Himani’s third and last strike was powerful enough to thrust the entire metal inside his chest cavity. The bones of his rib cage cracked with a strange repulsive sound as the knife slashed through his heart. Himani twisted the knife mercilessly with her fragile hands as his violently quivering limbs came to a halt. Himani stood up and looked around. All she could see was trees and shrubs covered with a dusty haze through the dark. There was no human witness to what had just happened. She wiped the blood off her hands and face with the tissues in her bag and quickly fixed her clothes and hair. She was about to get out from there when the blood-soaked knife lying on the ground caught her eye. It was the only thing which rescued her tonight in this godforsaken place. She picked it up and wrapped it in the silk scarf gifted by Ranjana. After running blindly through the woods for a short while, a cluster of lights caught her attention at the edge of the wide road. Himani kept her pace in the direction of the lights and caught her breath only once she reached the brightly lit, invigorating spot. A host of elite restaurants and fast food joints lightened up the ambience. It was well past midnight yet the place was bustling with activity. Families in hordes with a mix of elderly, youngsters and noisy kids were all over the place. Himani took a sigh of relief and slowly entered a dimly lit café so as to avoid unnecessary attention to her disheveled look. She headed straight to the washroom as soon as she entered the café to fix her look. The blue scarf gifted by Ranjana came handy this time in covering up her blood stained shirt. After making sure she looked like just another face in the crowd, she came out of the washroom and went straight up to the counter. The lanky boy at the counter asked with a sheepish smile, “What would you like to have today, Ma’am?” Himani returned his smile and asked for a cappuccino. His smile felt reassuring.

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