Her friends said she was intelligent. Shalini never trusted them. She always muttered to herself: “They’re all lying. I’m incapable!” In a way she was right. For, she never realized her talent. Her intellect was way beyond the scope of her classmates’ imagination. She was obsessed with Mathematics. She loved anything and everything with numbers. Before the mathematics teacher finished dictating the question, her hands would fling high in mid-air; ready with a precise answer correct to the fourth decimal place. Never did she go wrong, never! Still, Shalini was unsure of herself.
She would spend hours staring at the mirror in her room on a daily basis. A flabby body that barely supported an equally fat head: complete with a pockmarked, pimpled face would glare back at her. Shalini would feel a chill deep in her spine as she saw her image. Especially when she noticed those gigantic eyes, accentuated by a pair of thick spectacle-lenses. It resembled an alien she’d seen in that random sci-fi movie on HBO. She would imagine the mirror was lying to her, and would check a hundred other mirrors elsewhere for authenticity. Her mirror image remained as scary as ever. Amused, once she laughed so uproariously at herself that her mother had to actually beat her back to consciousness! Shalini knew she was born the way she was born, and nothing, not even God himself could change her; make her resemble Anna…
Anna was the most beautiful girl she had ever seen… She was the epitome of feminine beauty, and was everything she was not. Beautiful, smart, elegant; even angelic. Yes! When she read about the angels in heaven, she was convinced Anna was one among them. She adored Anna, and found a torrent of ecstasy and happiness in her company. But strangely, Anna never ever reciprocated her affection. Shalini doubted whether Anna had ever talked to her once, though they’d studied in the same class for over eleven years. Once, when they were in the first grade, Anna forgot to bring her pencil-set in the drawing class. She passed on her pencil set to her, and lied to the teacher that she forgot to bring hers. The teacher spanked her black and blue and made her stand out of the class for the hour, but she was happy. Her angel would be able to translate her dreams on paper! But, Anna never even returned her pencil-set, let alone thank her for the gesture. Still, Shalini loved and adored Anna.
That day, she was at the library. Reading was Shalini’s passion. She would spend hours at home lying on her bed, piles of books by her side. She devoured them the way a hungry tiger would devour its pray. While she was glancing through the latest work of her favorite author, Carl Northcutt; she heard a peculiar noise from the next shelf. It was a group of shelves, actually, enclosing a square-sized mini-cubicle with benches to help readers select books of their choice and read. Her instinct said that the sound was definitely human. But that perplexed her, for, she was sure there wasn’t a soul in the library that evening other than the librarian (who was dozing off with a magazine on her lap) and herself. Could it be some evil spirit? The ghost of Wordsworth himself wailing about the plight of the multitude of his unopened book?
She gingerly walked forward and glanced through the shelves. There stood a guy by the window. She wasn’t quite sure who he was, but she’d seen her around the school. Though he wore the school uniform, his tie was unbuttoned and her shirt wasn’t tucked in. Shalini could hear him talk in hushed tones to a female form that almost entwined his body the way a parasite-creeper would attach itself to its host-tree. The female-form, wore a partly-unbuttoned white shirt and check-skirt; her school uniform. She couldn’t for sure say,who it was, for the face was hidden between the boy’s shoulder and her long, flowing hair; neatly held by a hair-bun.
Before the next thought could cross her mind, the female form lifted its head up and its moist-lips contracted to an O-form only to be joined by the guy’s lips. As Anna kissed the boy full on his mouth, Shalini felt a sea of panic rage deep within, which,in no-time found its outlet through an involutnary shriek. Anna quickly retracted her face only to see Shalini’s contorted, teary-eyed, panicked face stare at her in pain and disbelief.
“Aw f**k!! The bloody c**t saw us! Hey, a*****e? Who asked you to peep in upon us? Who the f**k, do you think you are? Miss goody-two-shoes? If you’re dying to get f**ked, go d**k-searching instead of peeping around, you bitch!…”
Shalini shut her ears with her hand!! She wasn’t quite sure what her angel was saying, but she guessed it was something really bad which would depose her from heaven and lead her to hell! Anna had betrayed her… Someone had cast a spell on her angel and made her a devil. Her eyes were flooded by tears, and the pitch of her shriek grew exponentially with time. Her obese frame made running hard, but some newfound energy from within spurred her to run; away from her angel who had now become a devil… away from the facade of her life…
That evening there was quite a crowd outside the school library. Young Shalini Mathews’ body was being carried away into an ambulance for autopsy as her parents’ looked on, hysterical and broken. Elsewhere the School-Head Girl Anna Teresa, Shalini’s classmate, was stoically fielding a team of reporters: “She was such a brilliant girl! I actually saw her hysterically running out of the library and jumping down. I tried my best but… alas! She’ll always be alive in my heart!“
Shalini’s face, devoid of life, had a placid calm all about it…
This sheer beauty and poignance of this short story by my friend Sindhya Chechi, precisely is the reason why I ventured on writing a story for the first time in this blog. Do read that too… It’s way better than mine. 🙂
If you felt this was too cheesy, apologies. Hope you weren’t offended by the expletives. 😉 This is my first attempt which was written on impulse. I need to learn quite a LOT to pen-down a ‘readable’ short story! 😀
Hari.. guess i m the first one to comment… My first thought when i started reading the post was its long.. dunno if il finish it in one go…
But once i started reading, i remember stopping only after i finished.. Your narrative skill is too good.. I definitely say your story is better than mine..
I do criticize when i comment.. Here i dont know what to say.. It was a very captivating story and too down to earth.. If my post made you write this then i m flattered.. Thats the best compliment i can get..
Anyways good to c that even thought the mag committee doesnt accept my article at least some people appreciate it..
It’s amazing to have such detailing in such a simple story, like …”Her obese frame made running hard, but some newfound energy from within spurred her to run…”
As I said, I love fantasies and dreams, and needless to say, I loved that sequence.
And, the death in the end. That’s how I’d like my stories to be.
I’d go with Sindy, … you narrate the story so well, Hari.
You’re narrative was awesome and the plot.. hats off young man!
Too good… do come up with more.
Hey Hari awesome story man. U sure had me crying in th end. Felt so bad for shalini and also for her lack of friends because if she had some decent friends she’d hav not had such a bad end. Even though in th middle u made me feel lik th story is going towards a kavya vishwanathan style opal mehta makeover. Had some doubts though- lik how’d a bookworm(tht’s th idea u gave) lik shalini see hbo? Also cutt northwho? U cd hav used some real name. Still creative immunity:) u write what u feel:)
Thanks a bunch, chechi… 😀
*I definitely say your story is better than mine..
That’s just an illusion. Yours is way better. Period. 🙂
Thanks! About the ambiguity thing, that you’d told me: I need to work on it.
Thanks. 😀 (Maybe I need to turn-off anonymous postings in my blog)
Well, there was a word missing at that sequence, which totally turned the tables. The *author*’s sur-name is ripped off from a name I found long back in an old novel of Dad’s. Carl Northcutt is a maverick-oilman in the story. Creative immunity? Not quite. 😉
hehe.. i never knew sindya could write stories so well.. whenever i see her in IEEE related activities its in a serious manner.. man beautiful story.. ofcourse, its the narration that gives the package its full beauty :-0.. good work..
what an awesome story. initially i wondered at the post’s length. but wen i finished it i was gapin at the entire story..n wonderin how it became so short…n how i finished so fast…
its more than wat i call “interesting”. Hats off to you…u r an exceptional story writer…
wat a beautiful theme…an emotional buster too…hmmm…keep it up hari…kindly publish more stories.
@ hari vishnu:
Thanks, man. 🙂 Sindhya chechi really is a multifaceted personality. 🙂
@ miss small wonder:
Thanks again. 🙂