Hope 1/3

Luggage is strewn across a little corner in the bus stop. Her clothes are all raggedy and her hair’s rubbish. People feel irritated by their presence and give them despicable looks occasionally. A little child wails in her arms, in want of milk. But she doesn’t have any. The child’s elder sister isn’t much of a help to her mother. In fact, she’s a burden. She’s busy staring at a stranger’s smartphone, gaping at it in fascination. She was once close to dreaming about having it, and that’s about the closest she ever got to owning it.


Long before she could fully marvel at it, her eyes fell upon yet another luxury. This one, she could never have dreamt of. She saw a girl, only a few years older than her, who had her arms wrapped around a guy’s arm…..her boyfriend. She had always despised men, more correctly, she was taught to. What her dad had done to their family was unforgivable, and her mom was quick to generalize her dad’s malevolence to all men. All men are the same she had said. Her mom had warned her to keep away from them, and so she did.


It was easy until she began to develop feelings for them. “Ehh! They’re not that bad”. But her mom’s vexed remarks still echoed in her head. “Men!”, she’d say with a sigh…..eyes rolled upward. She struggled to suppress the infatuation. She begged to differ from her mom, but couldn’t dare talk back to her. She felt crushed between her mother’s ideals and hers. But she decided to give up hers, cause her mom was always right.


Her thought train derails when a dog starts barking loudly at her mom. She tries to shoo it away, but the dog seems adamant. What a pity? Not even the dog was afraid of them. Earning respect in the society was becoming costlier than earning money. Those who didn’t know them despised them, and those who did know, just pitied them. Every passing day was a bitter reminder that they were on their own.


Amidst the shouting and noise, a bus comes to a screeching halt. It was what they had been waiting for. The bus was getting cramped and crowded as more people tried to get in. They quickly grab their belongings and board the bus as fast as they can. But not surprisingly, they were the last to get in.


They didn’t seem to mind. They had gotten used to it. But now was not the time to worry….cause things were about to change for good. The bus would take them to their village. They were going home.


One Last Time – Part 3/3

“Stella” “Stella” “Stella”


She woke up in a trance. Breath heavy. Her chest heaved with fear. Her shirt, wet in perspiration, clung to her supple body. She looked around, panting for breath. It was her bedroom. Then she saw him. He was right there. His face inches away from hers. He could hear her gasps. A concerned look on his face slowly faded away into a cordial smile.


“Good morning sunshine”, he said, and took her into his arms. She felt a wave of relief and shyly let him take her. Finally catching hold of breath, she managed an utterance. Those three words were enough. They said it all. The nightmare reminded her of how much she loved him. Made her realize how much she wanted him. How much she missed him.


She never should’ve doubted him. He was pure. The beacon of hope in their relationship. She was the black sheep, a remorseful black sheep. But it’s all over now. No more “last times”. She found true love, yet again. And this time, she won’t spoil it.


She tries to fight her conscience. She decides not to tell him about the dream or the “me-time”. Honesty can only makes things worse she concludes. She’s off on a fresh start. A resurrection of love. She struggles to put all these thoughts away.


All the surge was too much for her. Too much to contemplate. Too much to give her time to notice the red lipstick on his white shirt’s collar.

One Last Time – Part 2/3

The room was just as empty as the bar, except for a teak wood table in the center. The small room was filled with cigarette smoke which made everything hazy. It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting and then she saw the silhouette of a woman. The woman was sitting with her back to the door. The woman turned around to see who came in and then Stella saw her features.


The woman had a vibrant red lipstick that seemed to glow like radium in the dark. With shiny black hair and a graceful figure, she could easily qualify for a supermodel. Her perfect silhouette was a sight enough to conclude that. But the woman wasn’t alone. There was someone else, a man. He was standing near the table with the woman sitting right in front of him. He looked like a pale white ghost in the fuzzy background. He had his arms wrapped around her and was holding her close. Too close. The woman had a terrified look on her face, suggesting that there was guilt attached to the intimacy.


The woman struggles to escape and while doing so, reveals a glimpse of the man. A glimpse of the intruder’s husband. Stella’s husband. She stands there dumbfounded. Never in her dreams had she imagined that it would come down to this. He was ever so loyal, never once he glared at other girls. His purity in their relationship was what intensified her guilt. But now she began to question everything. Momentarily, it made her feel better, a little less remorseful.


But she couldn’t believe the breach of trust. A perfect irony to top the icing. She felt tremendous anger followed by a dizzying pain. The small room got smaller. The smoke began to thicken. Her vision slowly began to blur and she started to lose ground. Her husband was moving towards her with arms outstretched.


“Let me explain, sit down”


“No” “no” she wanted to scream. But her voice wouldn’t come out. She felt a knot in her throat that seemed to tighten when she talked. She started to sweat profusely as the room started to spin around her. She felt her vitals crumbling from inside, churning the life out of them. She could see people talk but couldn’t hear them. All noise was muted to her. The last thing she heard was…..


“Stella” “Stella” “Stella”

One Last Time – Part 1/3

The bartender’s eyes widen. He shakes the shock off and retakes her order. “Please excuse me. I was stunned by what I saw”, he explains. She quietly blushes. He quickly prepares her drink. He offers it with a straw, and winks. A smirk that he makes no effort to hide.


Stella feels glad about being at the place and finds a quite table in the almost empty bar. Her husband is off to work and she’s here to relish a piece of solitude from her “me-time”. She’s been having a lot of “me-time” these days and that keeps her worried.


For what happened the last few times, still haunts her with guilt. Feelings of regret and remorse have etched into her heart. And she’s here to finish it off once and for all. One last time she’ll be indulging in the sin. She can’t do this to her marriage. She can’t do it to Harry. That’s why she has made up her mind to put an end to it, but her lust craves for one last time. “One last time” she repeats to herself. And takes a deep breath.


Feelings of guilt are quickly pushed aside when a loud group of hillbilly motorists, sitting at a table in a corner far away, can’t take their eyes off of her. They occasionally steal glances and laugh. One of them makes an obvious joke and they all burst into laughter. One of them whistles too. She hears the words: “fine”, “looks as sweet as sugar” and “what a shame!”. She feels quite flattered, quite glad she’s here. “I brought my ‘A game’ tonight”, she smugly smiles.


She visits a different bar each time and now she was worried if she gave her partner-in-crime the address right. What’s taking him so long? . Meanwhile she orders a hamburger and basket of fries. The waiter doesn’t make eye contact while he takes the order. He barely takes his eyes off the notepad. As if he’s afraid of revealing something. As if he’s quietly blushing. It adds to her complacence. “What a great start to a great end!”.


She starts to feel bored and frankly, a little dizzy. Something didn’t feel right and she didn’t know what. She was about to find out.


She gets up from her table and heads to the washroom, hoping that a face wash can set it right. She stops before a room while on her way, for she hears giggles and laughter coming from inside. Out of curiosity, she reaches for the door knob. The anxious bartender screams from behind, but it was too late.