Since this template does not display the description of the tag I will briefly explain what “Tell-A-Tale Tuesday” means so that you know what to expect when you see an article under this heading. This tag would feature a fictitious tale every (hopefully) Tuesday. Writing fiction has always been on my To-Do list but I want to make sure that I can pull it off. This is a small activity that I plan to do every week to get a hang of fiction writing and learn its intricacies.
Here goes the maiden story of “Tell-A-Tale-Tuesday”.
A Scary Ride
It was a usual day at the office. She finished her work and called it a day. Just as she swiped out, she saw Annie. Annie was her colleague from the admin department who volunteered to accompany her till the bus bay.
She usually boarded her Share-auto from the junction near her office bus bay. It irked her to walk to that place daily amidst the maddening rush of people pushing past her and the honking horns of the dazzling cars which now fit into almost everyone’s budget. The noise of people chattering and the deafening sound of horns disturbed her in the process of unwinding herself after a busy day at office.
Today was different. She had Annie accompanying her. Although Annie was from a different department she could still connect with her and have a “bitch-about-your-husband” conversation. Annie was married to a businessman and had two kids. She had seen Annie in office parties and occasionally met her during lunch and tea breaks.
After the usual catching up, Annie started talking to her about various things like house, kids, work pressure and office gossip.
Annie: Know what? Guys from the ‘networks’ team went out with a group of girls from the nearby college to some pub in South Delhi last Saturday. Completely sloshed, they hit a man on a two wheeler!
She: Who? The newbies who joined recently from college? Hmm.. I keep reading about such incidents daily happening near my house. Life on roads is becoming more and more unsafe these days. Men, especially youngsters in Delhi have lost all the respect and dignity that they once used to have and have started indulging themselves in such horrendous crimes.
Annie: Yea! I totally agree. With kids and family we don’t have any choice but to stay indoor after dark. Movies and Dinners have been long forgotten.
In the middle of their conversation Annie found the route 20 bus that she took. She waved her goodbye and promised to accompany her daily till the bus bay. With Annie gone, she was again lost in her thoughts. Why has the city which once used to be so safe changed so much? Was it the sudden surge of money due to IT or the rise in real estate prices? What made her city so dangerous, so full of crimes? Her memories of countless eve-teasing, of being followed by strangers started stirring and then came to a sudden halt when she saw a Share auto stop by suddenly. It already had a few people and there was barely any place for her to squeeze in. However, all autos would have the same scene since it was 6 ‘o’ clock which was the regular time for all office goers. She knew there was no point waiting.
On the corner seat was a girl wearing white salwar suit. Her face was covered with a pink dupatta. Next to her was a daily wage worker with a bell-bottom pant and a torn shirt soaked in sweat. Then there was a guy in his mid 20s, wearing a blue jeans torn just above the knee cap, a fashionable Tantra T-Shirt with a dirty joke on it and a neck band with a skeleton pendant. Few other men, mostly workers from factories nearby sat on the wooden plank and few sat on the front seat along with the driver. (A typical Share auto has a seat where 4 people sit and a wooden plank which accommodates 4 others. Apart from this, 3 people sit in the front along with the driver).
She pushed herself into the auto and took a seat between the girl and the daily wager. Just when she tried to make herself comfortable, she smelled something pungent. Something that made her nauseous. She had smelt this before back in her college days near the Tasmark in Chennai. She instantly knew what it was. It was the smell of desi –daru (local beer). Suddenly her eyes started moving in all directions. She didn’t know whom to suspect and whom to trust.
“Was it the daily wage worker? Maybe he was tired after work and had casually gulped down an entire bottle to ease his physical strain. Or was it the 20 year old guy? May be he is a college dropout who is also a part of some gunda group. Was it mean from the factories or was it the driver himself” she wondered. She slowly started adjusting her dupatta so as to cover her recently waxed hands as she could sense lust in every man’s eyes. She wanted to instantly alight but what if the bugger sensing her anxiety started following her. Her husband was on a week-long tour. There was noone to call for help if something happened. With so many people in the auto she found her hand slightly rubbing against the daily wager’s, her legs touching the factory worker’s. Fear started gripping her more and more.
“Should I get down” she thought.
“No, getting down at the usual place would be a better idea” she convinced herself.
” At least Hari Bhaiyya would be there in case I need any help”.
Hari Bhaiyya was the watchman of the Arihant apartment near her destination stop. She has interacted with him many times while waiting for Share auto.
Every moment in the auto was frightening and the time somehow refused to pass. Her mind was clouded by all those dreadful incidents that she read in newspapers. She was cursing herself for wearing her 24 carat- 24 grams gold mangalsutra (a chain all Indian women wear to indicate that they are married and no longer available).
“What if the senseless drunkard misbehaves with me and snatch my chain?” she hesitated for a moment when the thought crossed her mind and started fidgeting with her dress to ensure that the chain was not visible from her 4″ neckline. Her husband had offered to put it in the locker before going on the office tour. Had she known earlier that she would be have to be amidst such people she wouldn’t have dared to flaunt it.
Slowly time passed and some men started alighting. She hoped and prayed that one of them was the black sheep. But her hopes were shattered when the smell was still in theair. It started getting dark outside and the traffic refused to clear up. It was just those 3 men, the girl in white salwar and the driver. She knew very well it had to be one of them. The girl in white salwar was still covered up in her dupatta totally unperturbed.
“This young girl doesn’t even realize the danger she is in. How can she be so calm after being stuck with a bunch of men one of whom is drunk. How can she sit still with the stale smell of desidaru emanating from one of the men” she thought and she felt good about herself for being aware and watchful.
Finally the traffic started to clear up and the auto started speeding up. The cool evening breeze made the air inside slightly manageable. She closed her eyes, her attempt to shut herself completely from the lusty eyes of men. The auto came to a screeching halt and the driver started shouting – Arihant, Arihant.
Arihant apartments was the last stop and that was where she usually got down. Her house was a good 15 mins walk from there but her husband would oblige her by picking her up from there on days when he came early. Today she had to tread that path alone. She missed being with him. She wanted to hug him, be with him.
Slowly everyone started alighting. She wanted to wait till all men left and then get down. She started searching for her purse and then started looking for some change. Of all things she dint want to get into a tussle with the driver by giving him a Rs.100 note, for she was not sure if he was the one drunk. She thanked her fate as she found a Rs.10 note and packed her bag to immediately run from there. She waited for the white salwar girl whose face she hadn’t seen yet to get down so that she can follow next. She was in no hurry today. She really wanted the men out of her focal radius. People paid people left but the smell remained. Now it was just her and the girl. She was about to take a deep breath when her heart skipped a beat. The girl untied her dupatta from her face and began to talk to the auto driver.
The smell became even more obvious!