A surprise call

I haven’t thought about this person for almost three years. I probably have forgotten about the existence of this person. Busy life and who has time to think about others when they are just chance acquaintances?  This call was a pleasant surprise for me and cheered me up. So I thought of writing a quick note here hoping it will cheer you up too and also helps me to update this blog. Seemingly self-boasting though.

I was working in a company in 2010 and there was a stall  which sold corn in our cafeteria. There was a boy working at that stall and he was in his late teens probably. He was sincere, polite, and always had a smile on his face. I became friends with him and he always treated me well. I usually do a lot of small talks with people to understand their lives. This is more out of curiosity than anything else. I wasn’t doing this before I started writing. Writing has in a way inspired me to understand different people and their lives.

He told me that he moved to Hyderabad for an year to earn money to pursue his studies. He told me about where he stayed and with whom he stayed. One day he looked concerned that the corn stall was going to be given to some other vendor and he may not find a good job again. But luckily that din’t happen and he was so happy and I still remember his excitement.

One day he told me that he was moving to his home-town as he earned enough money to continue his studies. I was very happy to hear that. I honestly do not remember now how much money I gave him but I gave him what I thought would help him at least to buy his books and stuff. He tried his best to not to take that money. I had to convince him a lot before he accepted.

I forgot about this incident completely and I never thought about this boy until he called me one fine day a couple of weeks ago when I was having lunch.

‘Hello, sir.”

Assuming it was a telemarketing call, I said ‘Who is this?’

Then he switched to Telugu. ‘Sir, this is Naresh. Do you remember me?’

‘Which Naresh?’ honestly, I was a little frustrated.

‘Sir, it’s me I used to work in the corn stall in ___(he told me the office name).’

Then I just remembered this guy after almost three years. I had no clue what to talk, but I quickly realized that I must have hurt him by not recognizing. That was one thing he must have feared when he called me. I said sorry and told him I was confused as I know other people with same name.

Then he told me sorry that he never called me as he lost my number. He told me that he finally found the paper on which he wrote my number. He thanked me for helping him at that time and said he just called me casually and he is continuing his studies. He told sorry a lot of times and asked me if I thought bad about him as he never called. I told him I never felt bad and I told him that I was really happy that he called me.

I couldn’t talk to him for longer as I was in the middle of my lunch. I saved his number but I am guilty of not calling him even after a couple of weeks.

I hope he gets what he deserves in his life. I am going to call him soon. And it’s only at times like these that we feel grateful to the things that life has quite generously blessed us with. Everything that we take for granted are still dreams for a lot of people. I really hope this guy gets a good living for all his hard-work and sincerity. Wish him the best.

He made my day with that call.

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Posted in: Life, Musings, Personal | 2 Comments

Short Story: A Romantic Dinner

Inspired to write more frequently by the positive feedback that I got for my last post, I have decided to complete this short story which was in my drafts from quite some time. I hope you like reading it. Please use comments section to send me your feedback.


A Romantic Dinner

I hate summers. I hate summers like everyone else in Hyderabad. One thing that I particularly hate about it is that the day starts early. The rays of the Sun fell on my face through the open window as if the Sun was waiting sincerely all the night to wake me up like an alarm clock. Like every other day, I woke up from my bed, put on my spectacles, walked up to the hall and picked up the news paper. Like every other day, I opened the astrology page and started reading what was in store for Capricorn.

“This is your day. You may receive some good news at the office today. You are likely to get more involved in work.  A friend may surprise you. A romantic dinner is around the corner to make this a perfect day.”

That brightened my usually dull Monday morning. Monday! Why can’t it be Sunday forever.

I heard a beep on my iPhone and I unlocked it punching the boring four digit code and saw a message from Deepa that she is going to start in thirty minutes. I brushed my teeth in a minute and rushed to get ready as I can not imagine going to office in a bus sweating like a pig by the time I reach office.

Like every other mother, my mother woke up well before I did and prepared the most delicious breakfast and lunch. She is proud that her little daughter is now a big software engineer in an even bigger software company. This I call, the text book definition of an Indian middle-class dream coming true. Children settling as software engineers, doctors, and for some lucky few, IAS or IPS officers in the government.

I messaged Deepa to wait for five more minutes before she starts and knowing me well that five more minutes is always ten more minutes, she honked in-front of our home after fifteen minutes. The mad city traffic already started. I told her sorry a couple of times without really meaning it. We knew each other for a long time to really mean a sorry or a thank you.

She dropped me at my office. Her office is a block away from mine.

I remembered what I read in the news paper in the morning, though I do not completely believe in the astrology and stuff, I am superstitious to an extent to believe in anything that makes me happy.

I have been working in the same office in the same project in the same place for last two years. It’s not as boring as one may think as there is always a sense of superiority that I quite paradoxically enjoy.

I started my day by cleaning the spam from my office Outlook inbox and then went for a coffee. I was waiting for that good news to come to me as the paper said.

Before the good news came, there came Rakesh. By the way he looked and walked, I was sure he had some news for us.

“Have you heard?” he said while he was still a few steps away from us, and he lowered his voice when he came close to us and said “Pradeep has got promotion!”

“What the,” I swallowed the four-lettered word and my face had shown that expression instead.

“That guy spends more time in his manager’s cubicle than at his disk. No wonder he is promoted.”

We discussed how stupid it was to promote him and talked about a couple new movies and by that time I finished my coffee.

I returned to my desk a little bit disappointed but remembered what I read in the news paper and wishing that good news will come sooner to make this otherwise boring day a little interesting.

Midway through the day, there wasn’t any good news. I went for an early lunch as Monday lunches usually are interesting with people discussing what they did during the weekend. Rupa, with her never ending and unbelievably soup-serial-type domestic troubles with her newly-wed husband and her in-laws, bored me like she always did. I hurried through my lunch, part because I was in no mood to listen to her troubles and also I did not want my manager to nag me more to finish the work.

It was seven in the evening when I finished the work that my manager wanted. It was then I called Deepa to see when she is starting home. Unfortunately, she started already and told me that she texted me which I missed seeing.

I was left alone to cursing myself and decided to stay a little late before the mad Hyderabad traffic eases out.

At eight thirty, exhausted and hungry by a boring Monday, I went to a nearby restaurant to eat a quick dinner.

When I saw the same news paper at the entrance, I remembered what I read in the morning. A romantic dinner is around the corner. Really! There wasn’t any good news still. But the monkey inside me imagined that I may meet a guy at the dinner and may be that would make a good ending to a boring day.

The waiter helped me find a decent enough place and was surprised to see I was alone. Why an averagely beautiful looking girl who is a software engineer would go for dinner alone in Hi-Tech city?

I ordered Biryani and started to go through my Facebook feed, liking some photos and statuses.

Before the food came, there came a handsome guy and sat right in-front of me on another table. For a moment I remembered about what I read in the paper.

‘A romantic dinner is around the corner.’

What a correct prediction, except that he was joined by another girl and they had a romantic dinner, around the corner.

I hurried through my dinner thinking same old thoughts and shamelessly glancing at that guy a couple of times while he quite proudly and possessively fed his girlfriend with a spoon. I hate public display of affection for some weird reason. It was nine in the night and I could officially use a cab that my company provides for free.

My mother was eagerly waiting for me even though I spoke to her four times after I started from office accompanied by a company security guard.

Exhausted from a not so interesting day, I hurried up to sleep and had a smile remembering what I read as my day’s prediction.

Everything happened as it was written. I heard a good news, but not for me. I had a surprise from my friend, Deepa, but it wasn’t pleasant. Romantic dinner was around the corner and I was a spectator.

I went to sleep and the Sun woke me up again on Tuesday and as they say, life continued.


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Pizza, Pasta, Smiles, and few Surprises

I was exhausted from a couple of hours of drive on the Hyderabad roads. My most awaited Saturday was spoiled after I got into an argument in the evening with traffic cops when they misbehaved.  I gave up knowing well it’s useless to argue further, quickly came out of the ego trip, and started my car cursing India and The world in general.

I drove to Paradise restaurant for a Biryani take-away for dinner. On the way back I stopped my car near a traffic-signal. A boy came near me asking for money and started knocking on the car window. Most of us learned to ignore and look away. I confess I do ignore many times even though I feel bad.

My food parcel was on the front passenger’s seat and that kid pointed his finger at it. I do not like giving money. But how could I possibly ignore when he is asking food that’s already a hand stretch away from me?

I lowered my window and asked him to cross the road and wait near a Pizza shop. Realizing he might not know what a Pizza is, I told him to stop near a shop where people are eating and the shop’s board is in blue colour and there is a bus stop nearby. I was not willing to give my Biryani take-away as I was lazy to go back and get one more.

I was in for a couple of surprises which I least expected. Without those surprises I wouldn’t have written about the incident here.

I went near the pizza shop and waited for five minutes. And many thoughts crossed my mind. Why din’t I take him in my car? What if he comes after I leave? Why do I not do this every day but why today? Did he really believe me? What if I leave and he comes and thinks I cheated him? I forgot my obsessive thoughts about my fight with the traffic cops.

I waited for five minutes and couldn’t find the boy anywhere near the shop. I thought he din’t trust me. But I started walking towards the signal hoping I would find him. I saw him with a girl and they were running towards me. But they ran past me as he din’t recognize. I called him and they stopped. All smiles on their faces. I was happy to see him.

What surprised me was that he brought this girl, whom I assumed his friend. When I saw the girl with him, two words came to my mind: best friends. If he came alone, I probably wouldn’t have written about the incident here. A little while later he tells me that she is his younger sister. I ordered some pizza and pasta but the cashier made a mess out of my payment as he over-swiped my card by ten times and that delayed my order.

The kids were all smiles and anxious – waiting to eat pizza for the first time.

Finally the pizza came and I took it to their table with a coke and then the pasta came a little later.

And then came another surprise that I least expected. I was thinking they would jump straight into the yummy pizza. The girl took the box and both stood up. They wanted to take it to their mother and eat with her. Knowing well this can be a wrong excuse, I told them if they don’t eat with me, I will take the food away. I convinced them for five minutes before they ate one slice each. Then few more minutes of convincing to eat half a slice each and kept one slice for their mother. And I told they can take Pasta box and eat at home – if they had one.

I spoke to them while they ate and they looked to be totally free from the worries of future. They got a pizza to eat tonight and they are happy till the next day morning before they go on finding food again. They told me that everyday they find food randomly. The boy said he is educated till fifth standard and can read numbers. I asked him to tell me when the waiting counter shows 330. He was repeating all the numbers as they changed. I was expecting to see him excited when he reads 330. But to my disappointment the waitress gave the box to me before the number was displayed.

They said they liked the juice – I told it’s Coke – and obviously this must be the first time they drank Coke.

The boy tells me about their parents and where they sleep everyday. And all the time he was smiling. I was wondering those innocent smiles are going to disappear from their faces soon. When they grow little older, they realize that they can’t smile any more. They know the world they live in is not a place that can make them smile forever like this. But then they were smiling like there is no tomorrow. And that left me to thinking how often do we smile like them?

They took the remaining pizza slice and pasta box and ran and vanished into the buzz of the vehicles and the pedestrians.

Here are the kids. Boy: Surya Prakash – means sunlight; Girl – Sri Lakshmi - Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty.

I started my car with the same old thoughts. Why can’t we do something? But how can I? May be I need to earn enough money and leave my job and then start helping people. But how much enough is really enough? But more importantly, what happens when these kids grow-up like this? Their kids and their kids. Where’s the way out of this trap that you are born into? Am I just satisfying my ego here because I had a bad day? Are they happy or I am more happy? Why do we worry so much even though we have so much?

I confess I do not do this everyday. Not even every month may be. Nor do I feel proud when I do it on those rare occassions. I was really moved when I saw the girl with him as I least expected it and the way they were running with a big smile and excitement on their faces. That made me write this post. A brother helping his sister. And the innocence on their faces and the happiness oblivious of the problems of the real world and their future. I am still wondering where is the way out of the trap they are so innocently born into?

Posted in: India, Life, Musings, Personal | 24 Comments

Short story: For WritersDigest Weekly Creative Writing Prompt

Out of a great urge to write and having no particular topic to write about, I ended up looking at this week’s Creative Writing Prompt on WritersDigest. I have added a link to the prompt at the bottom of this post. The prompt looked very familiar and I hit the pause button on my work and jumped straight in. But they have a 500 word limit. My first draft had 1150+ words. I managed to cut it down to 650+ in the first revision. But finally ended up at 800+ words. This was really challenging as I wanted to tell a short story.

Please send me your feedback using the comments form.


Priya was deep asleep when I finished typing the last sentence of my first novel. It was a story about a suspicious new neighbour who commits a murder. It was past midnight and I went to sleep happily.

I woke up from my blissful sleep when I heard a loud noise from our neighbour’s house. He moved in recently. I looked at my wife and she was still deep asleep.

The first time I saw him a few days ago, I had a strange feeling that I have met this guy before.

I got up from my bed, put on my shirt, walked half awake and knocked on his door.

He opened the door after a minute.

“I am Akash, your neighbour, I heard a noise from your house, everything fine?”

He nodded and gestured me to come in. His expressionless smile revealed silver teeth he had for two of his upper canines like the murderer in the novel I just finished writing. I smiled at the strange coincidence and went inside.

I sat on the sofa as he excused himself and went to use restroom. It took me few minutes to realize that there were many things in that house which I wrote about in my novel. To make things more confusing, this man looked very similar to the murderer that I always imagined while writing the novel; including those two silver teeth. I started to sweat and I tried to believe this was a mere coincidence.

The most terrifying of all were the following words on the wall written with a sketch.

“I am not a Romeo. I rather want to kill her than to die for her.”

As I finished reading those words on the wall, I had to shout loudly to believe I wasn’t dreaming.

He rushed out of the bathroom and asked me if everything was fine.

I wrote these exact lines and those were written on the walls of the murderer’s house in my novel which I used as a crucial clue in solving the murder mystery.

“What is your name?” I asked him dreading to not to hear the same name.

“Rakesh. Friends call me Raku.”

The same name as in my novel. As if that wasn’t enough to make me go insane, as I started walking towards the door, I saw a knife that had a pink rubber handle similar to what my character used to kill a woman in the first page of my novel.

I hurried to see if Priya was sleeping. I woke her up and asked her to kiss me. She wiped the sweat off my forehead and kissed me. I knew it wasn’t a dream any more.

I never slept that night.

I decided to not to tell Priya about what happened.

I followed my neighbour for next two days to look for clues to dismiss the whole thing as a supernatural coincidence.

Many strange things happened which were exactly same as I wrote them in the novel. Three nights later he knocked on our door as my character did in the novel. He borrowed some sugar while carefully studying our house and often times looking at our bedroom where Priya was talking on the phone.

This was beyond what my brain could handle.

The most terrifying of all was that I knew what was going to happen if things continued to follow as per the novel.

Priya would be brutally killed with a knife if things continued to happen. So brutally that I regretted imagining it.

I was totally insane. I hurried up Priya the next morning and asked her to go to her Mother’s place. She fought with me and I convinced her somehow.

I was insane to an extent that I forgot what I wrote in my novel. The murder happens in the victim’s mother’s place. I realized it after we sat in the car.

She did not agree to change her mind and all the way she was asking why I was behaving weirdly.

If this insanity continued, I had only twenty four hours to save Priya. I took a couple of pills and never knew when I fell asleep for few hours in the noon.

In my dream, I met a publisher in a bar. He looked at the manuscript and read first few pages.

“Akash,” the publisher said while putting his wine glass on the table, “can you change the place where she gets killed and the way she gets killed. We may turn off some sensitive crime fiction readers because of the brutality of the murder,” then he laughed and vanished with the dream as I woke up abruptly.

That saved my wife and my life. I opened my laptop and changed the story without sleeping the entire night.


The prompt: http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/novel-character-comes-to-life-and-may-murder-someone

The word limit of 500 din’t allow me to elaborate the story any longer than what I did. I ended up with 800+ words though.  Hope you liked it.

There are quite a few movies and novels which revolve around a similar theme. The challenging part was to finish with as minimum words as I can while keeping the interest till the end without missing essential details.

Thank you! You have made my day if you have read this entirely!

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Short Story: The book of my love

Article type: Short Story
Average reading time: 10 to 15 minutes

This is my first attempt to write a real short story. I have tried before, but many of them had to do more with facts and less with fiction. This was an attempt to see if I can really write something purely out of imagination. Not sure if it really keeps you interested till the end. But I needed to give it a try.

This is an over optimistic start as I have tried to write from a woman’s point of view and that too with a setting in which I have never lived for sure. But nothing wrong in trying to write. In the least, it’s always better to write a bad story than not to write a story at all.

Your feedback is most valued. So please drop in your thoughts using comments form.

The book of my love

May be we will be happy once again, when the war is over. But nobody knows when the war will be over. And nobody knows whether we will be happy when the war is over.

I wish I could go somewhere where I do not want to fear death every second. There lands a bomb from nowhere on the opposite house. I know I missed it only by few meters. That’s what scares me most about this war. There is no clue when you will die. But then life has to go. I can’t stop eating. I can’t stop doing many things which look totally meaningless in a war. But I have to do because the bomb hasn’t found me yet. And may be it will never find me. That’s the hope with which we live in a war.

Those were the daily thoughts in our lives. To fall in love in times of war will not help you in anyway either. In fact, it is so horrible to be in love in times of war. Let me tell you my story of love in times of war.

I was a twenty-two year old girl then and I guess it was somewhere in early 1940s. Now that it’s almost forty years after the war, everything looks like a far away nightmare. Did I really live and survive the war? Many of my friends died. It’s at least better to know that they died. What happened to many of my friends is a mystery till today. They may be alive somewhere or dead long ago, who is to tell me.

I used to work as an assistant in the local library. I used to walk to work as the library was only a mile away from our house. I stayed with my parents. My father used to run a small business and my mom was a housewife. I was the youngest among four siblings. I had two brothers and a sister. My brothers went to stay in their own houses after they got married. We used to meet once in a month and it was such a fun. And what happened to my brothers is still a mystery. Everyday I pray to God that they are alive somewhere, that they will find me someday and we will have a dinner together again. But it’s a hopeless prayer.

Library was in an old building which I guess was built four hundred years ago. It had no particular historical significance though. The walls of the main hall where the books were placed were decorated with many paintings. Of all the paintings, I loved one painting in which a couple are walking on a busy road holding each others’ hands. The artist captured every small detail on either sides of the road. There were stalls selling fruits, clothes, sweaters, and many more items. There were small kids playing on the footpath. And there was a butterfly flying. Amidst all the miniature details, the artist still captured the passionate couple and the love they had for each other. I still remember the way they held their hands and the smiles on their faces and the love that motionless picture conveys in that eternal moment.

I used to go to work by nine in the morning and stay there till five in the evening. I was an assistant to the main librarian. And most of my work was to place the returned books in the right places. It was also my job to help people find the books they wanted. I used to get plenty of free time which allowed me to read many books.

One afternoon, when I was busy shuffling the books to make sure they were in the right places, there came a man. When our eyes met for the first time, I fell in love with him. He was not that kind of a guy every girl would dream to sleep with. He looked moderately handsome with a body which faintly hints you that he worked out for quite sometime. But not like a dream boy by any chance. But when I saw him for the first time, I just fell in love with him. I never knew it could happen that way. And we rarely get a chance to think about love in the times of war.

I was sure that he was there for the first time as I could recognize almost everyone who used to visit the library.

‘Excuse me, I am looking for A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway. Can you please help me find it?’

I almost knew where every book was and I could find the books blindfolded. I also remembered which book was taken by readers.

‘Definitely. But I am not sure if it’s there or someone took it.’

‘I hope it will be there. I wanted to read it from a long time.’

‘Please come with me,’ I said. My heart was beating at a speed where I could almost hear the sensations inside. I tried myself to be normal but I couldn’t hide my tension altogether.

We went straight and then took a left to reach the corner where this book was supposed to be. I knew that it was taken out for reading. An old English man had taken it yesterday. I helped the old man to find this book. I wanted to spend sometime with this man. I acted as if I was searching. He also looked in the racks for a book which I was sure he wouldn’t find.

‘I guess it’s taken out,” I said finally when I thought it was enough to fool him, ‘give me a moment to confirm it from the notebook.’

‘Please, will be a great help if you could somehow get this book in a week.’

‘Sure. I will find out who has taken it and I will ask them if they can return the book.’

‘Thank you very much,’ he said and started for the main door.

For the first time in my life, I really loved a man. Well may be liked a man. I have met many men and never really felt like what I have felt that day.

On my way back home, I stopped at the old man’s place to find out if he had finished that book. He was surprised to see me stop by at his home and he was kind enough to invite me for a coffee. We discussed about the war and I learned that his son was taken by the army the last month. Since then he hadn’t heard about what happened to him. That was the toughest part to be alive in the war. You never know what happened to people. It’s good to know that they are dead than not to know what happened to them.

It was a small house with one bedroom and I could hear a old woman coughing profusely from that room, whom I imagined to be his wife.

“She is my wife. She is suffering from fever from last ten days.”

“I pray that she recovers soon,” I said in a consoling voice.

He went inside the room and came back with the book in his hand.

“Take this book. I am not in a hurry to read it. May be it’s good that someone reads it.”

I took the book and pushed into the small red colored cloth bag stiched by my mother in which I used to carry my lunch box.

“Thank you. And when you visit the library next time, please tell me how she is feeling.”

I knew she wasn’t going to recover. The way she was coughing some how suggested that she might not live long. It wasn’t any helpful to be sick in times of war.

Next day, I went to library hoping that man would come back for the book. I haven’t returned the book because someone might take it again. I kept it in my bag and hoped he would come to take the book.

I had to wait for three days. When we were about to close the library on Friday evening, he came rushing. He asked me if the book was available. I had to pretend as if the book was returned. I gave him the book and modified the register.

He said an honest thank you and he was about to leave.

“What’s your name?’ I asked him hoping it would get us into a conversation.

“It’s there on the card. Din’t you see?”

“I want to hear from you.”

He told me his name and smiled.

“Coffee?” I asked him shamelesly.

He accepted and waited for five minutes as I helped the main librarian to close for the day.

We started walking towards a street which was once one of the busiest market streets in our town. Now you could only see dilapidated buildings on the two sides. When the war broke in our town, this street was first to see it.

We were silent for the first five minutes and by that time we entered another street which had some shops to buy groceries and a coffee shop where people gathered to discuss about the war and life in general.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

I told him my name.

There was silence for few minutes and he was trying to read the back cover of the book.

“Where are you from?’ I asked him as his accent suggested that he was not from our country.

“I am from America.”

“So, what are you doing here?”

He smiled and never answered though.

We went inside the coffee shop and sat in a corner where I always preferred to sit. The radio in the coffee shop was announcing the war news and few people gathered near it to hear clearly. And then there was a huge uproar after the lady on the radio announced something. I was sure it was not the end of war announcement even though I wished it was.

I always wonder how wars start and how they end. They seem to be eternal when we are in a war.

“So why did you come from America?”

“I was working with American army. But not anymore.”

“Did you escape from the army?”

“No, I wasn’t fit to be in army after my left leg was amputated.”

“Amputated?” I couldn’t believe. It was difficult to guess from the way he walked that one of his legs was missing. He used a prosthetic but he managed it quite well.

“Yes, I lost my left leg an year ago.” And he lifted his pant till the knee to make me believe.

“Why do we have wars?”

“I have no idea, may be that people have to die”

We ordered two coffees and waited for fifteen mintues before they were served.

I was trying to believe that this man was really in a war and he lost a leg.

We drank the coffee in silence and he paid the bill and we started to take a walk back.

We crossed the school building where I used to study. I have showed him the classroom where I used to sit. The classrooms had half destroyed walls. But still one could make out which room was which.

We walked past the school and took a right.

“I think,” I said, then stopped and looked into his eys and said, “I love you,” and started walking a bit faster as I couldn’t look into his eyes any longer.

“What do you mean? You mean you really love me?”

“I think I love you. I am not sure what is really loving,” I said and stopped there as he was a couple of steps behind me.

He came to me, held my face in his hands, and kissed on my forehead and said, “I wish I could love you too. I wish we could love each other and have a happy family. I just wish I could.” Then he kissed me on the forehead again, said bye and left.

I wasn’t sure what he meant.  I wasn’t sure whether he loved me.  I wasn’t sure whether he loved someone else. All I knew was that I was in love for the first time.

I walked home alone thinking about how hard it must have been for him when he lost his leg. How hard it must have been for him to live in a foreign country in the times of a war.

On the way back home, I realized there was a crowd in front of the old man’s house I visited a couple of days ago. I felt really sad and I knew what must have happened. I went inside the home and prayed for her and left the house. The old man was sitting in a corner looking at the corpse of the woman who would have been alive if there was enough medical care. But life has no significance when there is a war. When a bomb can kill you, how does it matter if you are healthy or sick.

By the time I reached home, my brothers were there and they were waiting for me to have the dinner. I explained the story of that man who lost his leg and everybody thought he was very unlucky. I thought it was better not to tell them that I have told him that I loved him. And I told about the old man who lost his wife and everyone thought he too was unlucky.

I waited for that man everyday at the library for next ten days. I wasn’t sure what he meant when he said he wished he could love me. I wanted to see him again and tell him that I really loved him.

Meanwhile, in those ten days, many buildings were bombed in our town. And I was always warned by my parents to not to go to library because it was one of the famous buildings in our town. I never heard their advice though as I rather foolishly believed if a bomb had to find me it will find me where ever I was.

Unfortunately, my mother fell sick and I had to do the cooking at home. It made me go late to the library after I finished the household chores. I managed to go an hour or two late.

This unusual work at home gave me those rare moments when I forgot about that man and my love for him.

It was on eleventh day after my mysterious proposal to that man, that I had a chance to see him again. By then, I started to believe he returned to his country.

But unfortunately, on that very same day in the morning, our library was bombed. And fortunately for me, I was late to the work as my mother was still sick. The main librarian escaped with injuries and a couple of readers died in it. And to this day, I think what if my mother wasn’t sick ? I am not sure you would be reading my story. Who is to tell what could have happened. Life is mysterious.

I did not know that the library building was bombed until I reached there. I wished it was a nightmare when I first saw the destroyed halls of the entrance. But wars are nightmares in real. I rushed into the library and found a crowd already gathered. I saw the main librarian sitting on a chair in a corner with a bewildered look on his face. When our eyes met, there was an expression which suggested that he was thinking I was really lucky to be alive.

Then I went to the place where the crowd formed a circle. There were four or five dead bodies and it was difficult for me to recognize if I knew anyone of them. As I looked at each of the four dead bodies closely, I saw something.

I saw a man who was lying motionless with a face which was very difficult to recognize after the injuries. But that man, in one of his hands was carrying the book: A Farewell to Arms. The book was partially damaged but it was easy to see the title of the book on the front-cover.

There was only one ‘A Farewell to Arms’ in our library and there was only ‘one man’ who took it. I looked at his almost damaged face more carefully and realized it was ‘That man.’

I sat there and cried for sometime. I took the book off his hand and walked back home.

I still have that book in my home. It’s almost forty years after the war. I have never opened the book until yesterday. When I have finally opened it, I have found a paper in the book which said:

“I love you. I really do. Coffee at 6PM today at the same place?”

Everyday, I think, what if I haven’t given him the book. May be he would have escaped the tragedy. But may be not. Who is to tell me.


Thank you very much for reading. I hope you found it interesting.

It wasn’t easy to write this story. For some weird reason, it struck me on one night that I had to write a short story about love in war. It was definitely an attempt which is very difficult to be successful at for a first timer, for I haven’t read much about wars except in a couple of novels and I have almost no experience writing short stories like these.

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