The “Better” Alternative – A Short Story

Freedom, Friends, Love Story, Marriage, Protest, Story, Subhra's Chronicles, Supernatural

December 21st, 11.03 pm:

Abdul is coming to Kidderpore from Howrah. His one hand is in his jacket’s side pocket clutching something and another one holding a card. His head is slightly down towards the dark pitch road and he is just blindly making steps for walking. His speed is so fast that even in this chilly night he has started sweating. Sweat drops on his forehead are coming down slowly towards his neck. Roads are too dark to see anything. No one is here to accompany him except some beggars or drunk truck drivers who are snoring on the footpath. Abdul keeps on walking like an invisible man in the darkness. Only sometimes, when a lamp post comes, he becomes visible as his sweaty face starts glittering in the pale yellow light & again after just a few seconds, he vanishes into a directionless dark night.

Abdul is deeply thinking about something & unaware of his surroundings, he continues to walk, lost in his own world, when all of a sudden, a loud sound, ‘BEEP BEEP’, brings him back to the reality. He moves his head up & instantly two headlights of a truck directly fall into his eyes, making him almost blind for a moment. The truck, full of goods has come so near to him that it takes an immediate sharp turn to get past him & to avoid collision; Abdul tries to jump onto the footpath. But his foot gets caught in a pothole and he falls down heavily, dropping something from his hand. Ignoring the injuries he got from the accident, he gets up quickly & starts looking for the lost thing. But everything is so dark that he cannot make out where it is. He starts feeling confined in the darkness. Suddenly an idea clicks in his mind & he takes out his cellphone from his shirt’s pocket to turn on the flashlight. But to his utter dismay, the touch pad stops working. Blood coming out from his injured hand, drops down on the cellphone making the touch pad slippery. He rubs his cellphone and tries again. This time the cellphone screen shows a message, saying-“battery less than 5%”.

Sohini Roy, a Hindu Brahmin girl, belongs to a rich family and is a college friend of Abdul. In the first year of college, they used to be best friends. Gradually, they both felt to take their relationship to the next level and started dating. Everything was fine as they had imagined to be. But no one’s life is free of twists & turns. In their life, twist came in the form of emotional blackmailing. Where your voice gets cramped by some illogical principles. Where you get stuck between the taboos of two different religions. Where emotion counts using money.

December 21st, 11.35 pm:

Abdul opens the door & a crackled sound comes from it. A voice comes from inside –

-‘Ghar aa gaye beta?

Abdul’s room is on the second floor, so he takes the stairs, enters into his room and locks the door from inside, without giving any response to his Ammijan. She has waited for Abdul to come home & then dine together, but Abdul is not in the mental state now to talk to anyone. After some time, his mother calls him again but still no reply. She gets impatient this time and comes to his room. Knocking on the door, she asks,

– ‘Beta so gaye kya?’

No response comes from inside. She sighs & goes downstairs again.

December 22nd, 3.45 am:

A thin ray of light interrupts the darkness of Abdul’s room. With an image of a pretty girl with a radiant smile, his cellphone rings. He picks up the call but doesn’t say anything. From the other side, Sohini is also silent. Both of them can hear their breathings. Sohini’s sobbing sound can be heard off & on. To break this uncomfortable silence, Abdul asks–

You haven’t slept?’

– ‘Even you are awake’, says Sohini.

Yeah!! Have some personal work to do.’

– ‘What personal work?’

– ‘Nothing as such. Leave it.’

– ‘Oh!! Now you are hiding from me. From me? We’ve shared everything in our life Abdul.’

– ‘Our life?? Are you kidding me Sohini?’

 The irritation in his voice is clearly showing on Abdul’s angry, tear-shed face.

‘The girl with whom I shared my whole life, who taught me how to live in a simple way in this complicated world, who used to do ROZA for me so that she could share my pain just because I always struggled with hunger, is now no more mine. We have taken each & every step in our life together Sohini.’

Sohini remains silent.

Abdul goes on, ‘We had planned our future exactly as we wanted and all of a sudden you came to me yesterday with your wedding card and told me to forget everything between us. It’s not fair Sohini, it is just not fair.’

Sohini tries to say something here but stopping her Abdul adds furthermore, ‘You separated yourself from my life and now you are telling me to think about our life? Yes, one day, it used to be our life when there were two souls, madly in love with each other, were ready to sacrifice anything & everything for one another. But no further. Everything’s gone. Everything has finished.’

From the last five minutes, Sohini didn’t get a chance to say something. Life has its own rule and that too is a secret. You don’t come to know whether you are being able to follow the rules or not. Only when the result is shown, you can comprehend what wrong you have done.

‘I think we should hang up now. Today is a big day for you, perhaps the biggest day in your life, your wedding. You must be very busy with it. Go, start preparing’, says Abdul.

‘Can we talk about something else?’ Sohini says, making everything that Abdul has said up till, insignificant.

Abdul remains silent. The rage inside him is making him helpless. He picks up the glass of water from the table and takes two sips. The atmosphere is too suffocated, so he gets up and opens the window and immediately a cool fresh air comes into the room. Placing the chair beside the window, he sits & closes his eyes.

‘I am sorry Abdul.. Everything happened so quickly..I told my father about us..and then within such short span of time he fixed my marriage with his friend’s son..I just didn’t know what to do’, Sohini says, tears coming out from her eyes.

Now this is simply intolerant for Abdul. He just cannot watch Sohini crying. Each and every drop of her tears hurts Abdul even more.

– ‘You should’ve told me once Sohini, atleast once.’

– ‘You know Abdul, on my 11th birthday, my mother gave me a puppy. I named her Pluto. She was very close to me. I also loved her so much that I could do anything for her. After 1 year, I lost my mother in a car accident. Since then, Pluto became the memory of my mother. She became even more special to me. She was the only one with whom I used to share my time.’

Sohini stops to take a deep breath. Abdul could not figure out where the conversation was going, so he lets Sohini speak her heart out.

Sohini continues, ‘My father has never accepted me as his child. He wanted a son & my only fault was that I was born as a girl. When I used to return from school, I wanted to go to my father & hug him tightly. I wanted him to play with me, to love me, to care for me. I didn’t want to be alone, actually. I just hated the loneliness around me. But my father didn’t bother to care for me. He always pretended to be very busy in his own life. And when I used to cry too much, he used to threaten me that he would harm my Pluto if I didn’t obey his rules.’

‘He made himself very clear by telling me that he was not like my mother who would give the same amount of love to an unlucky girl child.’

Sohini stops. Tears are rolling down her cheeks. She gets so choked up that she can’t even talk properly. Controlling herself, she keeps on saying-

‘One day I told my father firmly that I too deserve his time. I told him that I didn’t like other women to be with him, I didn’t like to approach raj bhaiyaa, who was the right hand of my father, for every single thing that I wanted. I was scared of him definitely, but somehow I placed my opinion. And you know what he did? He just stared at me, his face was distorted with rage. Getting scared, I ran away from there. And the next day morning, Pluto didn’t come to me. I had lost her. I don’t know what happened to her but I know who took my Pluto away from me. That whole day, I had cried. I didn’t eat anything for three days. But my father didn’t care. I got anemia & was hospitalized. At the time of discharge, Raj bhaiyaa came to pick me up. While returning, he touched me with wrong intentions. I slapped him on his face and got down from the car. I had come home all by myself that day.’

‘Why haven’t you told this to your father?’ Abdul says, bursting with anger.

‘He wouldn’t believe me. He trusted Raj bhaiyaa more than his own daughter. I have never been able to share this with anyone. Everyone thinks that we are a happy family. But I know how much anger, hate & negligence my father has for me. I have seen it in his eyes. When I was a child, he was no more than an evil to me. He has never accepted me, never loved me. He has always been ignorant to me. I think, he gets some sadistic pleasure in watching me suffer. So if I have something really close to me, I have to keep it a secret or else it would be snatched from me.’

Abdul can’t believe what he has heard. From the last few days, Sohini wasn’t talking to him properly, moreover she was trying to avoid him and then yesterday, she gave him her wedding card and now she is telling all these things. In this three years of relationship, she never told him anything about this. She has shared each and every happy moments of her life with him but never the sad ones. She only shared her happiness with him & never let Abdul see her inner soul which had uncountable bad memories. She never wanted to associate him with her sad past. Sohini made herself a part of the sad moments of Abdul’s life but she never let Abdul share her pain.

A little guiltiness now starts flowing inside Abdul…

‘I am sorry Sohini, but we can talk again on this matter & if you have any problem with me, there has to be a way out also. But why do you have to separate yourself from my life? I know I too have many flaws. Sometimes I behave rudely with you, I get angry with you, I shout at you, but I never want to lose you. You are the one who used to stay awake late night for me so that I can complete my study for the next day’s test, you are the one who stayed the whole night in the hospital after my accident and now you are leaving me? I can live my whole life without blessings of my allah but I cannot take a single breath without you. I don’t know what I have done wrong but please believe me, I love you, I need you..’, Abdul says, weeping like a hopeless child.

‘You have done nothing wrong Abdul, rather I consider myself very lucky to have you in my life. I would always like to spend my whole life with you but it is simply not possible anymore’, says Sohini.

‘But why??’ murmurs Abdul, this time he feels totally broken, struggling with what to say.

‘Just because of you and your safety. I know I still love you, I know I will Love you, I know I will care about you,  I know I will think about you.. But sorry, I don’t want you back in my life. I can sacrifice myself for the sake of our love but I can’t put you in danger. Being apart, I would at least know that our dream, our love is still alive and I need this to be alive. I don’t want to kill the special moments, the sweet togetherness, the beautiful memories of our journey’, says Sohini as she breaks into tears.

Abdul is taken aback by what he has heard so far.

It’s almost morning, crows are cawing outside, and the sun is preparing to bring a glorious morning. Abdul’s eyes are glued to the rising sun which comes with a huge energy to lighten this earth, to enlighten its beautiful souls, whereas Abdul’s soul has gone to the darker world, where there is no energy to create hope for him.. no energy to bring him back..

– ‘From where does the safety of me & my family comes into it?’, Abdul asks finally.

– ‘Will you be able digest the truth? Then listen. What if I tell you that you father has lost his job because of my father? What if I tell you that your mother cannot get ration from the local ration shop just because of my father? He did all these things using his power, after getting to know about us.’

‘Oh God’, says Abdul.

‘You must have thought that I wasn’t able to tell my father about us because I was scared of him, which is true, but partially.. because there is also another truth which is, I didn’t want him to harm you. When I finally told him, he didn’t say anything but he showed in his activities what he can do further if I don’t change my decision.’

This time Abdul doesn’t take a single second to respond.

‘Listen, your father may have lots of power in his hands because he’s rich. But that doesn’t mean that we should sacrifice our love by getting scared of him. May be my life will be in danger, but that doesn’t mean that we should end our relationship this way. It has of huge value for us; a pure bonding has more power than money.’

Sohini nods her head in agreement with him.

‘If he can do anything with his money then we can also stop anything using the power of our love. Yes it WILL be difficult, but we have to face it rather running away from it, which you did and I am a fool who let you do this. I forced you to get to know what happened with you but I didn’t stop you from doing these nonsensical things like getting away from me, sacrificing our love etc. due to the shit ego of mine, otherwise the situation would have been different.’

‘I know your father is a businessman so he only thinks about profit or loss in everything. So he wants to make profit by arranging your marriage with another rich Hindu businessman which can move up his career to a higher level. It is not his problem if you think from his point of view but you are the one who has let him do business with you. We could easily stop him if you had shared all these things with me earlier.’

‘You have to realize that, when in love, you have to always take decisions together. One person’s idea or thought at a time can be wrong but two persons cannot be wrong at the same time.’

‘Can’t we do anything now?’ asks Sohini, with a little ray of hope in her voice and a certain guiltiness by realizing what wrong she has done.

‘Yes we can. It’s 4.30 in the morning. Come to Howrah station by 6 & we will go far away from this’, says Abdul, his eyes beaming with sweet happiness.

– ‘And what about your parents?’

– ‘As of now, I know that they are secured in this area and besides that we are not leaving for ever. We will come back once everything settles down. Then, you will have to give me some time to be established. After that I will ask your father for your hand in marriage.’

– ‘I have something to say.’

‘Say it fast, we don’t have much time’, Abdul says in a hurry.

‘I love you, promise me you will never let me go away from you’, Sohini says in a deep voice.

‘I promise.’

December 22nd, 9.00 am:

Droom Droom!!

Abdul’s friends are trying to break his room’s door which is locked from inside. His Ammijan is crying continuously. Some of his neighbors have started gathering in front of his house. His father, utterly confused, is standing outside the room, & worrying about what happened to his son. Abdul hasn’t responded since last night. Meanwhile, his friends finally succeed in breaking the door. Inside the room it’s too dark to see anything. One of his friends opens the window and suddenly Abdul’s father screams out-

 ‘Yaa allaahh..yaa allahh..yaaa allaahhh..’

Abdul’s dead body is lying on his bed, 2-3 flies are flying around the frothing at his mouth. On the palm of his left hand; there are 4-5 soiled empty strips of sleeping pills, which he had finally found from a slight hollow in the ground, dropped from his pocket, after his accident.

His friends help his father to get him out of the room and his Ammijaan faints on the floor.

The Telegraph, 22nd Dec:

A young girl commits suicide by jumping in front of train near Howrah, last night at 12.30am. Sources reveal that she was Sohini Roy, the only daughter of famous businessman Angshuman Roy.

 

Author ~ Subhra Raha. Born on 27th April, 1992, at Kolkata, West Bengal. A B-Tech Graduate from St. Thomas College of Engineering & Technology, Kolkata, currently working at Cognizant as a Programmer Analyst. Besides reading and writing stories and poems, Subhra also loves to play Cricket. Cooking and Travelling are also there among his hobbies. Connect him at – subhraraha27041992@gmail.com or follow him @subhra.raha.35

 

Raw Cover Images (Assembled): nvestnlove.com & articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Cover Image Design: Anari Minds

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