Excerpt for Destiny??(+2) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


PREFACE



RAMS

RAMS was started in September of 2017. It has published more than 15 short stories online. The genre of stories includes suspense, horror, thriller etc.

Page: https://m.facebook.com/RRRAMSSS/

Creator: Nittala Venkata Phani Kesava (NVPK)



Copyright © RAMS (NVPK)

















THE STORY

Opening snap

Sonu wake up’, said Rakesh. Sonu who was sleeping until then quite peacefully, said, ‘Never run when you can walk. Never walk when you can stand. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down. Never lie down when you can sleep. Rakesh why should I get up’?

Run when you can,

Walk when you have to,

Crawl if you must,

Just never give up’.

You should get up’. ‘You have to cook for both of us’.

I taught you that yesterday’.

Teach me again’.

Fine, I’ll do it’. ‘Wash and peel six potatoes for me in five minutes’.

Good’.

Sonu was still on bed, sitting, with his legs stretched. He rubbed his eyes, got up, took a bath, went to the kitchen and took one of the six peeled potatoes which Rakesh has put in a plate. He started slicing long pieces of potato.

Sonu, do you not think it’s time that you found some work to do other than cooking in my home’?

After slicing a potato completely, Sonu answered, ‘I need some time’.

For what’?

I need to decide either to stay or to leave. Here, try this one’. Sonu handed a potato to Rakesh.

Rakesh started slicing. ‘Take as much time as you want but you have to take a decision’.

They started having their food – fried potatoes, rice, sprouts and pickle. After eating a piece of jaggery, Rakesh said, ‘This is the best feeling in the world – to have a small piece of sweet at the end of the meal’. Sonu stood up suddenly and went to a bedroom. He came out and went into the second. As he came out and was about to go to the third, Rakesh said, ‘What are you searching for’?



The Habits

Sonu, with his eyebrows frowned, looks towards Rakesh. ‘What do you think I am searching for’?

Sonu stop’, Rakesh said coming towards Sonu. Sonu started moving away from Rakesh. ‘Stop walking away for god’s sake’. ‘Why do you do this’?

I need it so desperately that I am not able to think about anything else right now’. ‘Where is it’? Asked Sonu while he was about to enter the third room.

You have already taken once yesterday’. ‘Do not take too much at once’.

What are you saying’? ‘Have you gone mad’? ‘My nerves are getting frayed’.

My God’! ‘Earlier you used to take once in fifteen days’. ‘Fifteen gradually became fourteen which further went on to become twelve; nine, five, two and now you are taking it to one’. ‘If you do not stop it, you will end up taking fifteen in a day’. ‘Once in fifteen days to fifteen in one day’! ‘Think about it’.

Sonu opened a cupboard, instinctively, and threw out all the clothes in it within seconds. He emptied the cupboard. He closed the cupboard and opened the wardrobe which was opposite to it. He started throwing out all the files, used or unused; papers, written or blank.

He emptied the wardrobe in five minutes.

Stop it Sonu, stop it’! Rakesh said. The syringe is not here. It is in the second room. As Sonu turned around went to the door, Rakesh began closing it. Sonu got in between and he wasn’t letting the door closed.

Let me out of this room, Rakesh’.

Why should I’? ‘You are going to drug yourself anyway’. Rakesh pushed Sonu into the room and closed the door.

Open the door, Rakesh, so that I can come out, please’!

Sonu kept repeatedly hitting the door hard with his hands. ‘Open the door Rakesh or else I am going to break it’. ‘I am serious’.

Did you ever notice how thick the door is’? ‘You are never going to come out if I do not open it, not without a big hammer or an electric saw’.

Sonu stopped hitting the door. He was very angry. He went to the table between the cupboard and the wardrobe. He looked at the pots which were decorated with flowers, peacock feathers and different colour shades. He began smashing them on the floor, one by one. As he held the last pot and shook it, he heard a sound. He understood that there was something in the pot and smiled. He inverted the pot on the table and a loaded syringe fell on it. Sonu took the cap off the syringe and began searching for the vein on his left forearm. There were multiple pin point scars, indicating that he is a chronic drug abuser. He found the vein and injected the drug into it. He was not able to stand on the floor anymore. He fell on the floor towards his back. As he was lying, he remembered that he kept the loaded syringe in the pot the previous day and forgot about it.

Rakesh I can see clouds’. ‘I am falling from a cliff’, Sonu shouted.

Rakesh closed his eyes and gave a sigh. He opened the door and saw Sonu lying on bare floor with the syringe still on the left forearm. Rakesh removed the syringe carefully and capped it. He lifted up Sonu and took him another room to his bed for him to sleep.



Past Time

Sonu woke up the next morning. He sat, not wanting to leave the bed immediately.

He remembered the place he worked earlier – Villu, a roadside hotel. He worked with his friends. All of them worked downstairs and slept upstairs.

Mohan saw a tall and lean guy coming towards Villu. The tall guy came and sat by a table. Mohan asked, ‘What would you like to eat, sir’? ‘I would like to have a dosa’, the guy replied. Mohan went into the kitchen and said to Sonu, ‘Good news! Your day starts with dosa’. Sonu replied, ‘Say Raja to get ready in five minutes’. Sonu took the already ground flour and mixed it in water. He took some amount of it and poured it with the help of a spatula. It obtained a circular shape. He poured oil around it. It hissed as it got fried. He left it until it turned brown on the bottom. He took it on a plate and shouted, ‘Abhi, it is time to serve the customer’. Abhi took the dosa on a plate to the tall the guy who ate it. He paid his bill and left. This was how they managed their livelihood.

One night, when Abhi was watching television just before sleeping, he listened to an announcement of a competition being given. He called Raja, Sonu and Mohan.

The man on television said, ‘We are happy to announce that a competition on deciding the best cooking team of Visakhapatnam is being held two days from now by RK industries’. ‘Make your own dish within one hour’. ‘The item tasting the best will be awarded 10 lakh rupees’. ‘The venue is Hotel Dasapalla’. ‘Interested teams are to register via this mobile number’.

Mohan noted down the number. After a while, they switched off the television. They looked at each other in confusion. Raja asked, ‘What should we do’?

On the day of competition, the four friends went to the hotel via the entrance gate. There were restaurants like Vaisakhi, Dharani, Dakshin, Executive court. They went towards executive court. As they were about to enter, they were asked to show the permission message. Mohan took out his mobile and showed the message and they were let in.

They went to the reception table. ‘Hello I am Sarita’, said a woman. ‘I have some questions for you’. ‘Do you smoke’?

All the four answered in unison, ‘no’.

Do your drink alcohol’?

No’.

Did you bring anything other than your food items’?

No’.

Do you take any medications’?

No’.

Did you suffer from any allergies’?

No’

My god!’ said raja in surprise. ‘There are many people over here’.

Looks like we have a number of competitors today’, said Abhi.

There is our table, number 95’ said Sonu. They went to their table and put all the food items they brought for cooking on it.

There was an induction stove on the table. Mohan took a bowl and took wheat flour in it and added some water to it. He took some of the dough and flattened it. He took some more amount of dough and flattened it too. He put roasted potato chips on one of them and closed it with the other. He fried the item on a pan and made a stuffed parantha. He took the parantha into a plate and covered it. Abhi took out some onions and tomatoes and chopped them into pieces. Sonu fried them and made it into gravy by grinding. Raja cut pieces of paneer and added them to the gravy.

So, we are ready with stuffed parantha with paneer butter masala’, said Mohan smiling at the other three.

There are other tables with items like poppadum fry, pasta, pizza etc.

Attention’, said a woman’s voice. The voice was familiar like it was being heard twice. ‘I hope your dishes are ready’. ‘Place your dishes in a plate’. ‘My assistant will collect your dishes’. ‘Tag your dish with your table number’.

Few minutes later, a man came with a trolley from table to table.

His trolley got filled in fifteen minutes. He took the trolley and went to Sarita. Sarita took out her phone and made a call. ‘Sir, all the participants are ready with their items’.

I am coming in ten minutes’, said a voice on the phone.

Raja’, said Sonu, ‘Whom do you imagine as the winner of this contest?’

May be table number one or may be four, I do not know, damn it’.

Would you both shut up for a while?’ said Mohan, with an intense look on his face.

As everybody awaited the unknown, the doors opened and the chief guest came in. Sarita took the mic on the table beside her and spoke, ‘Ladies and gentlemen welcome the man of the hour, Mr. Rakesh’.

The crowd gave a warm applause. Rakesh went on to the stage. A worker ran towards the stage and climbed onto it. He gave a mic to Rakesh for speaking.

It is so nice to see you all gathered for this competition’. ‘There is a reason why the best should be selected from a competition’. ‘In fact it is a story we all used to read as kids’.

Long time ago, there was a hare that lived in a forest’. ‘It used to live the way it had to’. ‘One day when this hare was hopping around the forest, it came across a tortoise, which was slower than him’. ‘The hare laughed at the tortoise and said, “You are so slow” ’. ‘The tortoise said in reply, “let us see who is slower when the race begins”’. ‘The hare asked the tortoise, “So ready to get humiliated?”’. ‘The race had begun’. ‘The hare, which was so confident of winning the race, got shocked when it saw that a pond, had to be crossed for the race to be finished’. ‘It learned to run, but not to swim’. ‘The tortoise went slowly but surely went by the side of the hare, crossed the pond and finished the race’. ‘There may be ninety hares over here, but I came here to congratulate the tortoises’.

We are starting with table number five, position ten’. ‘Table number sixty, position eight’. ‘Table number nine, position nine’. ‘Table number seventy seven, position six’. ‘Table number eighty, position seven’. ‘Table number twenty five, position two’. ‘Table number thirty three, position four’. ‘Table number fifty seven, position three’. ‘Table number fourteen, position five’. ‘Who is the leading tortoise, can anyone of you guess’? The crowd stood in silence.

Raja’ whispered Sonu, ‘where did you keep the spatula’? ‘Sonu shut your mouth; you are going to get all of us in trouble’.

You come on this stage’ said Rakesh pointing out to Sonu. The intensity of his voice increased many fold. His eyesight was focussed on Sonu. Sonu walked out of fear to the stage.

I need to know what you two people were doing’, asked Rakesh. ‘Nothing’, Sonu said.

Sonu stood like a soldier who was taking a command from an officer. Rakesh came nearby and said, ‘this is how you get caught, tortoise’. Raja, Abhi and Mohan came quickly on to the stage .The crowd applauded loudly. ‘Hereby I now present the leading tortoise’, a cheque of ten lakh rupees. All the four of them stood on the stage as the other participants left the stage. Rakesh stepped down from the stage. The four people stepped down the stage and prepared to leave the hall. As they were about to leave, they heard a voice say, ‘the party is not over, my dear friends’. They turned around and saw Rakesh standing. ‘I invite all of you to my house for dinner tonight’. ‘The address is in this envelope’. ‘Take it’.



Beginning of habits

Sonu, Abhi, Mohan and Raja returned to Villu. ‘I just cannot believe we won ten lakh rupees ‘, said Mohan.

Sonu asked, ‘What should we do with this money’?

Increase the number of tables, chairs cylinders and stoves and maybe we can get an oven for making fast foods’ said Mohan.

Abhi asked, ‘Who is going for the dinner tonight’?

You go for it’, said Raja.

Not me’, said Abhi. ‘Send Sonu for it’.

Sonu asked, ‘Why do you guys put me into trouble always’?

Sonu, you have to go’, said Mohan. ‘You are the only one amongst us who can understand the customs these rich people have’. ‘All right I will’, said Sonu. Abhi smiled at Sonu. Sonu was looking at Abhi in a weird way for troubling him.

It is because only you can save me’, said Abhi. Sonu smiled back. They began their business.

At the time when the sun was setting, Abhi went to Sonu and said, ‘Hey, it is time for you to go’. After the sun set, Sonu left for the dinner. He climbed onto a bus, got down after quarter-an-hour and started walking. After walking for a while, he saw a cab driver relaxing in his cab after he took the fare from the passenger. He crossed the cab and went to a medical store nearby. The man in charge of the store was tall, frail and in his forties. Sonu asked, ‘How can I go to Prem’s bungalow’? The man answered, ‘Go along this road for quarter- kilometre, take a left and walk for five minutes. You will reach the bungalow.

Sonu walked along the road. The traffic on the road was quite heavy owing to strike going on in some part of the city. As he took a left and continued walking, the noise gradually reduced. Sonu’s heart began to beat faster than it was and he started sweating. He wiped out his sweat with his hand, took a deep breath and continued walking.

As he walked, he saw a wall towards his left with barbed wires over it. He walked along the wall to reach a guarded gate. The guard asked, ‘Who are you’? Sonu replied, ‘Tortoise’. The guard let Sonu in through the gate. Sonu saw a building in the shape of the letter “T”. He entered into the building and saw a table and three rooms. The rest of the space was unoccupied.

I want you to say something about this place’, Rakesh said while coming out of one of the rooms which was to the extreme left.

It is like one of the bungalows that I have had a dream before’, said Sonu.

Rakesh asked, ‘Where are your friends’?

They could not come with me due to the heavy rush in the hotel’, said Sonu.

Come here take a seat at the table’, added Rakesh as he accompanied Sonu to the table. ‘What do like to eat’?

Sonu thought a lot, but could not answer Rakesh.

You have pasta, salad and a soft drink for the dinner’.

Sonu looked at pasta and realised that it is not a thing to be eaten with hands. He looked at Rakesh with his eyes widened and lips drooping. Rakesh took his spoon in his hand.

This is how you eat it’. Sonu saw a spoon beside his plate. He took it and started eating. At the time of getting up from the table, Rakesh said, ‘Wait you need to put your hand beneath your table corresponding to your dinner plate’. Sonu put his hand and took out a gift wrap. ‘This is to you for accepting my dinner treat’. Sonu got up from the table. As he was about to leave, Rakesh asked, ‘Should I drop you at your place’?

Sonu answered, ‘Sir....’

Do not call me Sir, call me Rakesh’.

Rakesh I thank you for the contest and the treat’. ‘I will leave’.

Sonu came out of the bungalow. He went towards the gate, came out through it and took a right turn towards the road. He walked along the road. As he walked, he saw a bike going past in the opposite direction. He stopped all of a sudden when a cab came in front of him. He saw the driver and recognised him as the one near the medical store. As he was about to ask the driver, he got hit on his head. He felt the pain. He tried to shout and all he could was moan, with his voice clenched. He felt down on his chest unconscious.

He woke up in the cab and saw four people holding his hands and legs. He could not shout as his mouth was gagged. A window opened and a needle went into his left forearm. He felt drowsy and could not move further.

He opened his eyes again in an old building. It was messy inside, full of spider webs. He got up, coughed and searched for steps, climbed a floor down and came out of the building. Walking on the road with sun right above was a difficult thing for Sonu after the violent incident. The bungalow that he left last night suddenly appeared before him. He did not see the guard at the gate. He entered into it and searched thoroughly through it. Rakesh caught him from behind as he was about to fall.

He woke up on a bed in a hospital. He saw Rakesh speaking to a doctor. The doctor saw Sonu sitting on the bed and approached him.

How do you feel’?

Sonu said, ‘It is better than the last night’.

The doctor said, ‘You can take him home, Sir’. ‘In case of any problem please do not hesitate to come back’.

Rakesh came out of the hospital, took out a car and drove Sonu to his home. ‘You can stay here until you get well’. ‘I am leaving for my work while you take rest’.

After sleeping for a while, Sonu got up. He was unable to forget the drowsiness the previous night. He searched the whole house and finally found some money – a handful of notes. He left the house. He looked for the cab he saw yesterday near the medical store but he could not find it. He felt a tap on left shoulder. He turned around and saw a man covering his face with a handkerchief due to the winds blowing around carrying dust.

Give me the money’. ‘Listen this stuff will last around a year’. ‘Do not come back over here’. ‘Now go to your home’.

Sonu went to the bungalow. He filled the syringe, put it on his left forearm and injected it. His eyes blinked slower than they normally should, everything looked hazier to him even though air is clean and he began to fall until his back reached the bed.

Rakesh returned to the bungalow and saw Sonu with syringe stuck on his forearm. He put his hand on his mouth and brought it down running his index and middle fingers and thumb on his own beard. He went towards the window and looked out.



Advertisement

Rakesh sat beside Sonu and saw him as he sat up on his bed. His face was without any expression. He got up from the chair on which he was sitting and walked out of the room. He came out of the bungalow, took out a car from the garage beside the bungalow and drove away. He went to hotel ‘Novotel’ a hotel on the beach road. He went into a lift that took him to the top floor and saw a cameraman take out a hand-held camera and switching it on. An elderly in his fifties stood by a podium as the news reporters and news writers turned their and cameras and attention onto him.

Do you know how many people suffer from beriberi’? ‘Do you how the number of children affected by it’? ‘Can you guess the major reason behind it’? ‘The answer is polished rice’. ‘After rice is harvested, it is polished, so as to increase the shelf-life, but at the cost of vitamin B1’. ‘B1 protects us from beriberi but we lose it to animals like cows and buffaloes to which the husk is fed’. ‘People in the olden days used to eat rice unpolished but now we are unable to open our mouth until it is polished’. ‘To counter this problem we have genetically engineered a variety of rice which, with its husk has a shelf life equal to that of polished rice’. ‘This rice variety known as rice number 11 is being available in the market at seventy percent of the cost of polished rice’. ‘We manufacture both polished rice and variety 11’. ‘The day polished rice is not consumed will be the day we will stop manufacturing it’. ‘I am here to show the variety 11 which has been released into the market two weeks ago’. ‘It is going to be shown by my son and heir to RK industries – Rakesh’. Rakesh walked amidst being photographed by the reporters. He stood upon the podium and took out a plastic cover with a grain.

This is variety 11 – the unpolished rice’. The grain was photographed by many reporters.

As Rakesh and his father were about to leave, one of the reporters asked a question, ‘Karan Sir, where is variety 11 manufactured’?

It is manufactured on our ship Maha’.

Where is the ship currently located’?

Unfortunately we cannot share the location; the only thing that you need to know is ships are always offshore’.

Rakesh and Karan left Novotel in the car Rakesh came in.

Was it really necessary to bring out about the ship’?

Relax it is not a holiday spot to roam around. It is twenty two kilometres offshore’. ‘Where are we going’?

We are going to the ship’.

Rakesh and Karan went to the port and climbed onto a boat. The boat travelled into the sea until it reached the big ship Maha.

As the boat went near the ship, a staircase came out from Maha. Rakesh and Karan climbed on it onto the ship. The whole upper deck shined in sunlight. They went into the lower deck and dressed to get into it. As they went into the lower deck, the LED lights were soon replaced by red and blue lamps in the lab, with the plantations on a layer of mud.

Karan asked, ‘How is it working’?

It is working in a splendid way’. ‘Look dad I do not want to be cranky but you should understand how important it is to maintain secrecy’. ‘If anybody comes to know about the information of the ship, we will be in a big problem. There might be false claims thefts and I cannot deal with this all the time’.

All they know is the name of this ship’. ‘They do not know this place has only red and blue lights because only red and blue are used to the maximum in photosynthesis’. ‘They do not know that rice plant – Oryza sativa – performs photosynthesis by C4 mechanism and that is why the percentage of carbon dioxide in this room is artificially maintained more than that of earth’s atmosphere’. ‘Do they know this’? ‘No’.

Okay dad you have taught me my lesson, even though I was your teacher’.

Sometimes the teacher needs to be taught by his own student’. ‘Let us go before the sun sets so that we can have a beautiful night tonight’.

Karan and his son left Maha. As they were on the boat, the sun glowed in crimson behind them. They climbed onto the harbour and went away in the car on which they came to the harbour.



Business and other things

Rakesh reached the bungalow in hurry only to find out that Sonu was not there in it. He came out and went to the garage and saw Sonu crouched by a corner.

What happened to you’?

I injured my leg’.

How’?

I hit my leg accidentally to the leg of the bed with force’.

How did you come here’?

I crawled and came here’.

Why did you come here’?

I came to get a cylinder of cooking gas into the kitchen’. ‘The cylinder in the kitchen became empty’. ‘I could not lift it because of the pain in my leg’. ‘I had been sitting here since afternoon’.

Show me your leg’. ‘It did bleed’. ‘Did you actually try to kick the leg of the bed’?

No, I didn’t’. ‘It happened all of a sudden’.

Come on let me help you’. Rakesh took Sonu’s hand onto his shoulder and helped him walk into the bungalow into the room.

You sit here while I get some water to clean the wound’. ‘Do not move the leg’.

Rakesh brought a bucket half filled with warm water. He cleaned the wound.

While cleaning the wound, Rakesh asked, ‘did you take too much of it’?

‘I do not know’.

Rakesh closed his eyes and gave a sigh. ‘You do not remember anything’. ‘Do you?’ ‘Leave the wound as it is and it will heal in time’. ‘Now go to sleep’.

The next morning Sonu woke up to see Rakesh fast asleep.

Rakesh, wake up’.

What happened’?

You told me to wake you up’.

Sonu, get ready and get into the car’.

Why’?

You should know about the work I do’.

After a while Rakesh and Sonu got into the car. Sonu kept seeing along the road. He saw a dad and his kid on a bike followed by an adolescent on a bicycle, dressed in a uniform. As he turned around towards Sonu, the car stopped.

Get down; we have come to the factory’.

What is this factory for’?

This Factory packs and processes the rice from our ship’.

They came out of a car to see a trunk filled with goods entering the factory.

Is that the rice that comes from the ship’?

Yes’.

As they went near to the truck, the truck driver reversed the truck and drove the truck towards wall of a factory unit. The shutter opened as the truck approached. The tail door fell open as the truck bed got lifted. The bags of rice began to slide downwards.

What is that’?

That is the conveyer belt that carries the bags after they fall from the truck’.

They walked into the factory unit. The conveyer belt moved forward until it reached a pit lined with carbon steel. Each bag was struck by a knife before falling onto a moving mesh made of steel. The bag emptied after it was cut open and the stuff in it dropped into a large metal tank filled with water. After washing the grains of rice, the water was drained.

Where does the water go’?

It goes into bay of Bengal after going into sewage treatment plant’.

The tank gets filled with water again, the lid closes and parboiling starts’. ‘Parboiling is a process of semi-boiling rice to protect it from pest infestation’. ‘Following parboiling the rice is dried and packed and sent to the market’. ‘Polished and unpolished rice are handled separately’.

Let us get into a truck’. ‘You can see where the rice goes to’.

The truck went out of the factory compound wall onto a road. Sonu fell asleep.

Hey Sonu wake up, we have reached the market – this is our cold storage room’.

After getting down from the truck, Rakesh and Sonu went into the cold storage room.

It is very cold in here; I must have brought a sweater’. Rakesh laughed.

Well it should be for the rice to be safe’. ‘Now let us go the office’.

They walked to the office which is beside the cold storage room. A man wearing a full hands shirt sat on the table. As he stood up to receive Rakesh, the phone on the table rang.

The phone call first, business first’, said Rakesh. The man picked up the phone. ‘Hello, RK industries, how can I help you’?

The man on the phone said, ‘We need three hundred quintals of rice urgently tonight’. ‘The phone call is from Baadshah stores’.

I got it’. ‘We have got an order from Baadshah stores’. ‘Quick! They are going to need it tonight’.

The workers in the cold storage started to load the bags of rice into a truck. Rakesh and Sonu got into the truck along with the driver. The truck went with great speed and reached the store as the dusk spread into the sky.

As Rakesh got down from the truck, an elderly man came to receive him, ‘Good evening’. ‘How are you’?

I am fine’.

What brought you here’?

I periodically check the way my company works’.

You inspect your company’? ‘How often’?

I do it when it is needed’.

You have given a clever answer’.

Do the goods from my industries reach to you in time’?

Yes, they do’.

All right, I will leave’.

You are good at throwing suspense’, said Sonu to Rakesh after they started their backward journey.

It is required in today’s world’.

The truck stopped by the road.

It is time we had our dinner’, said Rakesh.

They went into a hotel nearby and had their dinner.

Sonu, you can sleep if you want to’, said Rakesh after they climbed onto the truck.

Sonu woke up. He thought, ‘Is it the sound of glass breaking’? He was the only one in the truck in the middle of the night. He saw a lamp post and a big bag beneath it. A group of men came from the other side of the road and took away the bag.

After a while, a voice outside the truck said, ‘Sonu; open the door’

Rakesh was standing outside the truck.

Where did you go’?

We went to smoke a cigarette’. The truck started and reached the factory unit by daybreak.

You shift is over’, said Rakesh to the driver. He got down from the truck.

Rakesh, where are we going’?

We are going home’.



Unexpected turn

Sir, we are going to a small store nearby for delivering twenty five bags of rice’. ‘We will come back in forty five minutes’, said a driver.

Rakesh gave a pause to close his mouth and yawned and said, ‘Go ahead’.

A truck got loaded, reversed and left from the factory. Sonu went to a mirror and looked at his face. He saw dark circles below his eyes.

I could not sleep much’. ‘May be I should go and sleep for a while’, thought Sonu.

As he turned around, Rakesh heard a sound and felt a vibration at the same time in his left pocket of his pant. He took out his mobile and answered it.

What happened’?

All of a sudden the voice on the other side began to speak in apprehension, ‘Sir, they stopped us at the toll gate’. ‘We forgot to bring money’. ‘They are not concerned to listen to us anymore’. ‘Please help us’.

You idiot’! ‘I told you not to make silly mistakes like this’. ‘You will get the whole business into trouble’. ‘Where are you’?

We are at the toll gate near Visakhapatnam steel plant’.

I am coming on the lane you are in right now’. ‘Until then, just stay calm’.

Rakesh got into his car and drove out of his factory. He saw an icon glowing indicating shortage of break oil. He dialled a number put it in speaker mode.

Dad, we have a problem’. ‘One of trucks got stuck near VSP’.

What the hell’! Karan gasped.

I am looking into the matter and it will be solved’.

Inform me as soon as you are through with the matter’.

Rakesh stopped as the traffic light turned red at NAD junction, which is perhaps the biggest crossroad junction in Visakhapatnam. His face is gradually changing from a mask like face to clenching his teeth and then to hitting his clenched fist against his thigh in tension. He saw a man on a bike towards his left.

Please turn green, please turn green’, he murmured.

The man who was on his bike got startled when a car on his right suddenly picked up speed as the light turned green.

Rakesh crossed three more junctions to reach the junction near Visakhapatnam steel plant. He took a left and entered the road towards the steel plant. He took a right just before a petrol bunk which was towards the left at another junction. He went further and saw a board with right arrow on it showing the direction towards Visakha steel general hospital. After taking the right turn, he went past the hospital before taking another right turn. He went on a serpentine road which would ahead and connect to the national highway sixteen. He reached the end of the road and was about to cross the opposite lane of the highway when the break of the car failed. He turned his face to his right and his eyes got opened widely as a reflex.

The driver and his associate were standing outside the truck at the toll gate. The driver asked, ‘What should we do now’? ‘It has been an hour and a half since he called us’.

Let us call Karan Sir’, said the associate. He took his mobile from his pocket and dialled.

Sir, we are still stuck here’.

Has my son reached there’?

No Sir’.

I will send someone else’.

Karan quickly dialled a number. There was no answer from other side. Karan thought, ‘Why isn’t he answering my call’?

Karan quickly dialled another number. ‘Make sure one of you goes to the toll gate near VSP with five hundred’. ‘One of our staff forgot to take money’.

Two of the workers in the factory left in a car towards the toll gate.

A guy who is his early twenties walking by the highway towards a store nearby saw a crowd nearby. The crowd was in a circular pattern. He went through to know what happened and saw some guys trying righting the car on the road. A truck was on the roadside with its front bumper dented towards its right. The car stood upright. As he stood with confusion, a patrol police car stopped by the roadside and two policemen who came out of it started to disperse the crowd away from the car.

One of the policemen asked the other, ‘Have they removed the man in the car’?

No’.

Let us call an ambulance’.

There is no need to call’. ‘It has arrived’.

The door of the ambulance opened and three men in whites stepped out.

One of them opened the door of the car carefully. Rakesh was still on his seat without the seat belt and with many injuries. The second man placed a neck bandage around the neck of Rakesh and together with the third man placed Rakesh on the stretcher. After loading the stretcher into the ambulance, it started off.

One of the policemen asked, ‘How did it happen’?

I was walking by the opposite side’. ‘This truck went on the highway and then this car entered the road suddenly’. ‘Then it happened’, said a witness.

He then questioned the truck driver, ‘Why did you hit the car’? ‘Do not stand with a pale face, speak up’.

Sir, I applied the brakes with full force’. ‘By then it was too late’. ‘The car came in front all of a sudden’.

Let the investigation team decide whether you hit car by will or by mistake’, said the policeman as the truck driver exhaled with force.

The car which left the factory reached the toll gate. After a while, the car was followed by the truck which got stuck. The driver in the truck and his associate were smiling at each other.

The ambulance rushed to outpatient department of Visakha steel general hospital. The stretcher, with Rakesh on it was taken out and Rakesh was put on a bed.

Karan got tense when his son did not return for five hours from the time he left. He went to a nearby police station and lodged a complaint, ‘My son went in his vehicle five hours ago’. ‘He did not lift his phone’. ‘Please search for him’.

A policeman asked, ‘Could you please write down the number of the vehicle in this book’?

Sure Sir’.

After he wrote the number, the policeman saw the number and began thinking and then his eyes widened. ‘This guy has been rushed into Visakha steel general hospital after he met with an accident’.

Karan could not listen any further. He went as soon as he could to the hospital.

The bed, with Rakesh on it, was rushed to a doctor, who caught the hand of Rakesh for a while. He tried resuscitating him for one and a half hours. The doctor came outside and asked an old man who just entered the department. He asked, ‘Are you the relative of this patient’? Karan could not understand. The doctor took him inside and he saw Rakesh and said, ‘Yes, I am his father’. ‘I am really sorry to say this’. ‘Your son is no more’. The doctor left the place as the father cried for his dead son. Karan came home and held a funeral for his son and hoped that his son would rest in peace.



Return and Stories

Sonu was looking at the empty syringe he used last night. He heard the knock of a door and went to answer it after hiding the syringe. He opened the door and saw Karan outside the door.

How are you Sonu’?

I am fine uncle’.

Do you recognise me’?

I saw you in a photo hung on a wall in the hall beside Rakesh’.

Karan went into the bungalow. He and Sonu sat on the chairs in the hall.

Sonu there is something I need you to know’. ‘Rakesh is no more’.

Sonu was shocked. ‘He saved me from a bunch of goons one night when I was unaware of myself’. ‘He took care of me when I was hurt’.

I know how you feel right now’, said Karan with his eyes moistening.

Karan and Sonu looked at each other in silence for a long time.

You need to resume your work’. ‘I have talked to your friends at Villu’, said Karan looking at Sonu.

I will do so’, said Sonu.

The next morning Sonu left the bungalow to Villu. He got down from a taxi and stepped into Villu. Raja was serving a customer. Abhi was cooking in the kitchen. Mohan was taking an order from a customer who had just come into the hotel.

The cook has come home’, said Mohan. Raja called Abhi from the kitchen.

Hey Sonu’, said all the three in unison. Sonu laughed.

Sonu asked, ‘How are you guys doing for the past four months’?

The business went well but not as it had before’.

Okay’. ‘Everybody back to work’, said in his usual tone.

Later after the darkness spread into the sky, Abhi went near Sonu and asked, ‘What happened in the past four months and that night’? Raja, who was cleaning dishes until then rushed upstairs to the room Abhi and Sonu were in, after hearing their conversation, followed by Mohan. Sonu, who was calm until then, started breathing fast.

Abhi asked, ‘Is everything okay, friend’?

No, all is well’. ‘Rakesh called us for dinner and I was the only one who went there’. ‘After having dinner, I left the bungalow’.

The next morning, I woke up in an old building’. ‘It was the greatest mess to ever be in’. ‘It was full of webs dangling from the ceiling’. ‘I was lying on a mattress above a bed’. ‘A small creature started crawling from my chest onto my face’. ‘I woke up in fright and stood up’. ‘A spider fell on the dusty floor’. ‘As I started walking, I kicked a stool, of a height of half foot, unknowingly’. ‘I came of out the room and saw a big sofa which was in the shape of the letter C, which had the dust equal to all the dust in the room from which I just came out’. ‘The floor over there was equally messy’. ‘I went behind the sofa and found the stairs’. ‘After getting down, I saw a door with sunlight coming from the side glasses’. ‘I felt relieved’. ‘I began to walk, with each step emitting a cloud of dust from its sides’. ‘I held the door to pull it; the door came out of the frame and fell on the floor when I suddenly left it’. ‘After stepping out from the abandoned two storeyed building, I decided not to look back and keep going further’. ‘I went on a footpath which ended at a gate and walked along the road outside the gate’. ‘As time went by it became increasingly difficult for me to walk’. ‘I kept on walking along the road until I suddenly reached the bungalow I went the previous night’. ‘I was shocked as I did not expect to see the bungalow and felt relieved because I could ask for help’. ‘I did not see the guard who was there the previous night, so I thought not to enter through the gate fearing that I might have confused an abandoned bungalow with Prem’s bungalow’. ‘I felt dizzy and was about to fall on the ground when something from behind held me’.

I got up in a bed’. ‘I saw a doctor and Rakesh standing in front of him’. ‘The doctor came to me and asked if I got into any fight the previous night’. ‘I did not understand what he was trying to say’. ‘I touched the back of my head and felt a bandage’. ‘After a while, Rakesh took me away to his home’. ‘I worked for him as a cook’.

You went through a hell’. ‘I am happy that it is over’, said Mohan.

Mohan and Raja prepared to go sleep. Abhi was still by the side of Sonu who then asked, ‘What’?

Abhi asked, ‘Did you get hit on your head that night’?

I do not know’?

Within minutes, all of them fell asleep except for Sonu who lay in his bed, giving a sigh of relief.



Worsening of habits

Raja, Mohan and Abhi woke up early as they could not sleep further. Sonu, still in bed, with his blanket on him, was not aware that he was sleeping alone. Abhi took the place of Sonu in the kitchen. The numbers of customers in the hotel were more than usual. Abhi worked for two hours and felt surprised that Sonu has not come to the kitchen. As he got tired after continuously for four hours, he decided to get some rest. He went upstairs. Sonu was sleeping with his chest towards the bed.

Sonu, I am tired’. ‘Please take my place as the cook, there are many customers today’, said Abhi patting Sonu gently on his back. Sonu did not respond, but moved a bit. Abhi got irritated and shook Sonu to the point of getting up. Sonu sat on the bed.

Give me five minutes’, said Sonu.

Abhi went downstairs. Sonu lifted his pillow, took an empty syringe underneath it and threw it out of the window. Five minutes later, Sonu replaced Abhi in the kitchen after getting a fresh up.

Abhi went upstairs and had a small nap. In the night, after closing the hotel just as they were about to sleep, Abhi asked Sonu, ‘What happened to you in the morning’?

I woke up late because I could not sleep well the last night’.

I woke you up five times vigorously, and you did not even blink your eye’.

I am sorry, I will wake up in time tomorrow’, said Sonu.

As he was about to sleep, Sonu was looking at an unloaded syringe he was holding. He kept it under his mattress and slept. He woke up in morning and lifted his pillow as a reflex. There was no syringe. He remembered that he did not take the drug the previous night. He woke up, took a bath and went downstairs. He worked the whole day. He went upstairs as soon as he had dinner.

Abhi asked, ‘Where are you going’?

Sonu said, ‘I am sleeping as I am tired’.

Abhi looked in confusion as Sonu left upstairs. He continued the same routine the next day until he went upstairs. He sat in his bed, with his face covered by his hands. He quietly took a syringe, loaded it, injected it, pushed it and slept off. He failed to get up the next day. This cycle repeated for four consecutive days until Raja, Mohan and Abhi noticed change in behaviour of Sonu from being frank to extremely quiet.

One night when Sonu was about to go upstairs, he was stopped by Abhi who held his hand and pulled him back.

Abhi asked, ‘Is everything okay’?

Yes’.

No, it is not’. ‘You get up two days and do not get up on the third’. ‘Tell me, what is happening’?

My dear friend, I am fine’. ‘Please do not worry about me’. ‘I do not know why but I just get tired these days’. ‘There are too many customers’.

Abhi did not say a thing. Sonu went upstairs.

Mohan said, ‘Abhi do not worry, we will talk to him after three or four days’. ‘Let us give him some time to think’.

Sonu sat on his bed. He was breathing heavily. He thought, ‘Will I ever come out of this’? ‘I took this thing to relieve myself for the first and now this is stopping me from putting my best in my job’. He took a syringe and held it in his right hand. He fixed his gaze on it. He impulsively threw the syringe from the window which was already open. He constantly moved on his bed that night. The next morning he woke up and saw himself in the mirror. The part of his face under his eyes was appearing different from the rest of the face. The day went by, with Sonu getting progressively tired.

All of them closed the hotel after the day’s business. As Sonu was about to climb upstairs, he heard a voice.

Wait’! ‘We need to talk to you’, said Mohan. Sonu sat on one side while the other three sat on the other side. ‘You said that you get tired these days’. ‘In that case, this is what you need to do’. ‘Take rest for three days or so’. ‘If the same continues, you should go to a nearby hospital’. ‘Do you agree’?

Sonu, who was looking at the corner of the room, raised his head. ‘Yes, I agree’.

The next day, when Abhi took a break for some time in the noon, he went upstairs and saw Sonu. Sonu was sleeping in his bed. He sat there for five minutes and left.

He did not wake up yet’, Abhi said after coming down. ‘Let us see him for another two days and send him to a hospital if required’, said Mohan.



Rapid fire

Raja, Abhi and Mohan were waiting for their first customer to step in.

Let us begin the business’, said Mohan. They heard the door being knocked. ‘There is our first customer’, said Mohan.

Abhi went to open the door. A man wearing a white shirt tucked in brown trousers stepped in and sat on the table. Abhi asked, ‘what would you like order for, Sir’?

I would like a cup of tea’, said the man. Abhi went inside the kitchen. ‘He asked for a cup of tea’.

Raja said, ‘Would you wait for five minutes here while I make a cup of tea’? ‘I am feeling bored’.

After a while Mohan went into the kitchen. ‘What are you two people doing over here’?

He is boiling’. ‘I am waiting’, said Abhi.

Abhi please come out’.

Mohan and Abhi went out of the kitchen towards the table. Mohan asked, ‘Where is the customer’?

Let me search for him nearby the hotel’, said Abhi. Abhi came after five minutes and said, ‘He isn’t anywhere nearby’. Raja came out of the kitchen and asked, ‘Did a customer come or was it a ghost’?

Shut up’, said Mohan and Abhi in unison. Abhi asked, ‘Did he go upstairs’?

Sonu was sleeping on his bed with his chest onto the bed on the second day of his rest period. The door opened behind him and footsteps were being heard with increasing sound. Sonu opened his eyes after being tapped on his shoulder. He sat on his bed. ‘Do not move’. ‘Turn around and sit quietly’, said a voice behind Sonu. He felt the muzzle of a gun behind his left shoulder and turned around.

The trio stood downstairs for a while. After a while Raja asked, ‘Shall we go’? The three went upstairs as quiet as possible. They saw the door open and heard the footsteps. Abhi asked, ‘What is he doing here’? As they approached the door, it closed. Mohan went near the door and tried pushing it. ‘He has locked it from inside’.

Sonu turned around to see a man in white shirt and brown trousers. ‘I have been searching for you for past four months’.

Who are you’? ‘What do you do’? ‘How did you get into RK industries’?

My name is Sonu’. ‘I am a cook in this hotel’. ‘Five months ago, a cooking competition was held in hotel Dasapalla’. ‘We went to contest in it and won it’. ‘The next day I went to receive a treat from Rakesh in his bungalow’. ‘After the treat, I was about to make my way to here’. ‘I was kidnapped by a group of men’. ‘The next morning I woke up in an old building’. ‘I came out and searched for help’. ‘I found out Rakesh’s bungalow and I fainted in front of it’. ‘I woke up in a hospital’. ‘Rakesh took me to his bungalow and I have been helping him by cooking since then until he died’.

Why did Rakesh choose you among the four’?

He did not choose’. ‘All the four of us were supposed to go’. ‘Since we ran a business here, only one person could go’. ‘I was the person chosen because my friends thought I could interact better with bigshots than them’.

How did Rakesh die’?

It was an accident’. ‘His car got hit by a truck’. ‘That is what his father told me’.

What did you do other than cooking’?

One day Rakesh took me to his factory and showed how the rice that came from the ship was washed and packed and sent to a cold storage and further to whosoever makes a purchase’. ‘That night I and he went with the truck to deliver rice bags’. ‘We returned the next day’.

Did anything strange happen on any night when you were out’?

I already told you’. ‘I do not remember anything else’.

Be calm and try to remember, this is important’.

Sonu closed his eyes. He suddenly opened his eyes after a while.

I feel like you have remembered something, tell me what you have remembered’.

This is regarding the night when I went in the truck’. ‘After the delivery was made, the truck was returning’. ‘I felt asleep’. ‘In the middle of the night, I woke up’. ‘I saw a lamppost and a big bag beneath it’. ‘I became curious about it but could not dare to leave the truck’. ‘After a while, I saw a car come by the opposite lane’. ‘A group of men may be four of them came out of the car and took the bag and went away’.

What do you know regarding the rice’?

It is made in the ship in the sea’.

What’?

Yes’. ‘In the beginning, I thought that Rakesh was joking but then I saw a picture of him on the ship’.

Do you have anything else to say’?

I have told you what I know’. ‘Now it is your turn to tell me who you are and why you asked me these questions’.



Account of mishaps Revealed

I was in the beach of Coney Island in New York eight months ago, in January of 2010’. ‘Prior to going to the beach, I received a call about a group of suspects doing a notorious deal in the city’. ‘I was standing by a roller coaster watching kids and parents enjoying themselves’. ‘I was told to watch them if they come by’. ‘I only knew that they were four in number, without any idea of how they looked’. ‘As I saw roller coaster, the sun was high up in the sky, making it unbearable for me to keep looking up for a long time’. ‘I turned my head towards my right to avoid the sun rays’. ‘At a distance of fifty metres away from me, I saw a hand with a big packet of plastic’. ‘The packet was received by a person who was standing there’. ‘I took a sprint to see the person who received the packet’.

I asked the person, “What is in this packet”?

He was silent’. ‘His silence made it clear about what was in the packet’

“Where did they go”?

He showed towards his left’. ‘I ran at my full speed and reached the beach’. ‘There were many people in the beach, making it easier for them to hide’. ‘I glanced at all the space around me at once’. ‘I saw a boat far away with five people sitting on it in the sea’. ‘I put my hand in my right pocket for binoculars but to my shock the pocket was empty’. ‘I had either forgotten it in the hotel I stayed earlier or lost it’. ‘The boat disappeared out of my sight’.

Six months ago, in March of 2010, I was in Brasilia walking on a road’. ‘I was in the middle of the city’. ‘A two storeyed house guarded by a wall was beside the footpath I was walking on’. ‘All the vehicles on the side I was on halted as traffic signal turned red’. ‘I heard a scream from my back which shook me’. ‘I turned around and saw a man wearing a black sleeveless shirt and light blue jeans’. ‘His hair was curly cropped up with rubber band’. ‘He was holding a woman captive by placing a knife on her neck’. ‘He turned away from me’.

There were many people at the place where the scene took place.

“Please leave me”, said the woman trying to get out of his hold. “Tell him to pay me the remaining amount or else both of you will die”, said the man holding the woman.

I saw that he might choke her to death as the woman was barely able to move’. ‘I made a check of my surroundings and saw a metal rod which was rusted’. ‘I picked it up and went nearby him and hit him on his head’. ‘He left the woman who got away from him’. ‘He fell down and started to look all of his surroundings’. ‘After a minute he got up and saw me’. ‘I was about to take a step towards him when he took to his heels and went onto the road, only to get crushed under a truck’. ‘The scene was a mess’. ‘I had a difficult time clearing the crowd’. ‘Then I went to the woman who has been threatened by him’.

“Why did he attack you”?

I and my husband live nearby”. “We got married two years ago”. “Things were fine until six months ago when he started coming home late from his workplace”. “At times he used to talk to me once in two days”. “He used to sleep for fourteen hours in his weekly offs”. “I got worried and tried to talk to him, but he avoided the topic using excuses”. “One day while he was sleeping, I went into his room”. “He started sleeping separately around the same time”. “When I went near him to hold his hand, I saw many injuries on his right forearm”. “I got frightened and decided to find out”. “The next day while he was leaving, I let him go and then followed him”. “He usually goes by bus to his workplace”. “He did not halt at the bus stop”. “He went further until he reached a place”. “It was creepy so I decided not to enter”. “After a while, he came out with a bulky packet of size of an open palm”. “He turned around to see if he was being watched and then hid the packet in his bag”. “I managed to get out of his sight”.

The next day I heard a knock and saw this dead man at the door”. “He asked me to pay for the stuff my husband took from him”. “I did not heed to him and therefore he threatened me and left”. “That night I and my husband had a big fight about his weird habits”. “He stopped going to work”. “I tried to get him treated but he would not listen to me”. “Today, when I came out to get some food for both of us, this dead man attacked me”.

I doubted if he were different from the same group that I saw in New York’. ‘I went to the woman’s house, took the husband to rehabilitation centre’. ‘The woman thanked me for helping her’.

Four months ago, in May of 2010, I was in this city. I had to come as the police of this city found a big amount of drugs in here’. ‘The place was aloof and sparsely populated’. ‘It was a small place partly enclosed by a broken wall and partly by trees on other side’. ‘When I went there, I saw a huge pile of boxes’. ‘All the boxes were wrapped in green covers except one which was wrapped in pink cover’. ‘The pink box contained drug in powdered form’. ‘I saw a person being taken away by the police’. ‘He was, as I have heard from the police, found in the location sitting on a chair’. ‘He was a petty criminal three years ago but had vanished from the view since then’. ‘The police suspect him to be a part of drug deals that have taken place’.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-37 show above.)