I could feel the Sun’s rays for a while before I heard my mother shouting, “Wake up Naina!”
After shouting for a while, she barged into my room to turn off the fan forcing me to get out of my bed. Struggling to open my eyes, I looked at her and she was already dressed.
Noticing me wake up, she asked, “Listen I can’t pack your lunch today. Can you eat in your college canteen?”
Closing my eyes, I replied, “Yes mom. I can eat in my college canteen. Can you turn on the fan please?”
Pulling off my blanket, my mother asked, “You know where I’m going right?”
Triggered, I shouted, “To the office, Mom!”
Following my answer, she spanked me. When I shouted in pain, she reminded me, “I’m going to Ishitha’s wedding along with our neighbours.”
Observing me not getting up, she instructed, “Lock the doors when you’re leaving for college and it might get late by the time I return.”
Sitting on my bed, I pleaded, “Why do you give me so many instructions and treat me like this every morning?”
Surprisingly, my mother didn’t say a word, unlike most days when she would argue about me failing to start my day early.
A moment later, she picked her handbag and left bidding me goodbye. As the door closed, I turned on the fan and fell asleep.
Waking up an hour later, I got ready and by the time I reached the bus stop, I found out that my college bus had already left. Cursing myself, I booked a cab to reach my college as I couldn’t be late since we were to start a new laboratory assignment and the instructor wouldn’t allow me in if I’m late.
In six minutes, a cab arrived and I felt more comfortable during this journey than my routine bus journey. We didn’t even need to take the long route as the buses do to get students.
Everything was pleasant until the car stopped in the middle of the highway. The cab driver got down to check if he could try out his luck in getting it fixed.
In a few moments, he informed, “I’m sorry, madam! This car should be repaired. I could call another cab if you could wait for a couple of minutes.”
Disappointed about the way things were turning out today, I agreed. Not wanting to sit in the car missing the cold winds and cloudy sky, I waited outside leaning on it.
While I was surfing on my phone, I heard a scooter stopped near me. When I turned to look at the driver, I found my uncle with his wife and their son.
Looking at me, he smiled before asking, “Need a ride, Naina?”
Approaching them, I replied, “Just waiting for another cab. Missed my bus. Are you guys going to marriage?”
As my aunt nodded, I touched their two-year-old Anil’s cheeks. Looking at him, I mentioned, “You guys look lovely.”
Meanwhile, Anil started pulling my hair-band that ensured my hair strands did fall on my face. As my aunt tried to stop him, he didn’t and seemed to want it. I pulled out my metallic band and gave it to him and he started swinging it.
While my aunt mentioned, “Don’t give it to him. He will keep it!”; for me, it doesn’t matter since Anil seemed to love it.
As he played, another cab arrived while my uncle questioned, “You’re skipping the marriage to attend college? You have indeed lost sense.”
I couldn’t help but smile. As he started his bike to leave, I bid Anil goodbye and thanked the first cab driver before settling down in the new cab.
As my journey presumed, I could see the new cab driver hit the brakes as I continued surfing on my phone. Curious to see what has happened, I saw the most terrible scene that shook me to my core.
A lorry hit my uncle’s bike and all the three of them were on the road bleeding. The cab driver called 108, followed by calling the police while I was in shock looking into their eyes open.
I couldn’t utter a word until the ambulance arrived and the two policemen ordered the medical team to collect the three dead bodies.
One of the two officers approached the cab driver to question him about what had happened. Meanwhile, the other officer demanded I call my mother. After he finished talking to my mother informing her about the accident, he asked to meet us at the location.
I informed the police officer, “The couple who were killed… are my uncle and aunt.”
Surprised, the police officer enquired their names and as I waited for my mother, I couldn’t help but recall how they were all with me just a moment ago.
Completing the formalities, I was dropped by my mother at home before she returned to file a complaint against the truck driver whom they had captured a few kilometres later.
A drunk man snatched the lives of the man who raised me after my father died along with his entire family. My uncle was so high-spirited and kind that I wouldn’t have been what I’m, without his constant encouragement. The more I thought about what had happened, I couldn’t help but agree when they said that the Gods are cruel. If they aren’t, why did they snatch away the men I loved?
Revisiting the dead through my thoughts every second, I couldn’t focus on anything I was trying to do. Hoping to clear my mind, I took a walk in the lanes. On my way back, I ate snacks.
Without intending to do anything else, I rested on my bed trying to sleep but for the first time, I heard the sound of two metals clashing.
I looked around to see no one. Resting back on my bed, I closed my eyes. When I was almost asleep, I heard the sound again. This time, it is not just once but a couple of times.
Following the sound, I slowly walked to the kitchen hoping to find out who was making it. When I was walking towards the kitchen, the volume of the sound kept on increasing. The louder it became, the more slowly I walked.
When I reached the kitchen, I no longer heard the sound but my heart sank staring at it. I couldn’t believe or offer an explanation as to how my metallic hair-band was just lying on the floor.
That’s the only metallic hair-band I owned and I couldn’t believe how it got here after I gave it to Anil. As long as I didn’t see it I could listen to the sound. In the years to come, the sound just got faint but it never stopped no matter what I did with the hair-band.
This short story has been published in an anthology of eight stories titled “Casket of Tales”. Our artists would benefit if you could order a paperback to show your support. Order your copy now!