Creative writing, Short stories

Twenty-Four Hours

It was 6pm by the clock; the sky was almost dark with clouds when Maya entered her home with a tired face. “Why do you look so dreary?” Maya’s mother asked. Reluctant to reply, she threw her bag away and jumped onto bed with eyes closed. “Maa, seniors also say the same, first year of the college is boring and tiring.” “Your generation,” derisively spoke Maa, “gets bored of everything so easily. You guys don’t want a life but a horse race!” Indifferent to this she stayed quiet with her hands covering her face. The successive hours were passed by her with light music, scrolling of Instagram and Facebook followed by dinner around 11pm. It was 11:55pm when the first phone call rang making Maya smile as it was her best friend, Mansi’s, to wish her on her 19th birthday.

“Happy Birthday darling! How are you? I’ll be reaching your place tomorrow morning to give you birthday bumps!” said Mansi. “Thank you so much, I’m good buddy” replied Maya, “don’t trouble yourself early; we’re meeting at 9pm tomorrow at The Rodger’s. Hey, what about the dress; suggest me something!” To this without any delay, Mansi exclaimed, “Birthday girl go for a red one-piece; I’m wearing blue.” And so their telephonic conversation went on for 5-7 minutes which was followed by Meenakshi’s, Rahul’s, Sana’s, Priya’s and Zainab’s call. Her dispirited, exhausting day was negated by the cherry of the night, which was carried further to the morning by her mother kissing her forehead for her girl turned 19, and also by her father and two brothers. The sun was beaming as if it too wanted to come down and wish the girl on her day!

She decided to call it a day from college and prepare for the party with all the hair-spas, pedicures and manicures. And finally, clock struck the advent 8:30pm when she got into a cab and headed towards The Rodger’s. On the entrance gate, in front of a huge blue light, were her friends who yelled “Happy Birthday Maya” and came to give her hugs and kisses filled with warmth. This vote of friendship turned into éclat for the next hours during their gala where Maya was seen highly jocund. Around 11:55pm the time to bid adieu dropped in and all the friends parted in their respective directions. Due to some technical glitch in Maya’s mobile network she decided to walk till the cab was booked.

On being engrossed in her device, she failed to observe the silence of the empty road. As she had come a long way from the populated street, an aberrant and vile laughter scared her so much so that her heart started to thump like drumbeats and her blood was rushing in veins and arteries like people running in streets out of hysteria. She dared not look back but collected all her strength to do the same as on such a frightful occasion her mind could not process any other way out. The sight as expected was dreadful as she saw three boys: one with an iron chain in the hand, another with wine bottle and the other staring at her with an assaultive expression hung about his face.

“The last time my mind articulated a thought, Sir, was to run but it rectified itself by stating how far can you go Maya with these beasts hungry for their food? Then, one of them held me with firm hands by the waist and the other covered my mouth with his hand like bonkers. I shouted to seek help, I shouted…but those screams were voice-less!” The police officer continued to question but not a word came out of her mouth; tears rolled down her cheeks which had deadly marks of being hit and her plaintive silence marked the end of the police investigations.

She stood up and went into her room without a word and was without food since her party. There was a dreadful air spread all over the house: the rest of the family cried for their loss as well as for their kid ready to die without a word. Her father knocked the door twice and thrice every 30minutes but was she even there no one knew! Yes, she was there, with grim and gloomy, dark eyes staring at her own reflection in the mirror. She wiped the incessant river flowing down the cheeks and spoke to herself, ”Maa, it was your daughter’s 19th birthday, her last birthday of a happy and healthy life or should I call it a death-day as who used to laugh and jump around the house hugging you each time she needed anything, has died. My deepest sympathies with you Maa; I wish I could smile and look into your eyes once again to pay condolence on your loss. See how nature works Maa, on one night you were jolly in merriment as she had grown up a year older and stronger to play mischief with you and on the other, you are sunken in tears for your child lost that every inch of smile and every phoneme of speech. Earth’s one rotation brings in the light and dark, what a co-incidence, its one rotation made your kid also experience the light and the dark…life changed, everything changed Maa, in just 24 hours!”

The next morning the door of her room was broken to reach her but the pain intensified with the sight of Maya dead! The police again inquired, “was it a suicide?” This time it was the doctor who answered, “A 24 hour’s overwhelming mental depression!” After listening to the fatal remark made by the doctor the officer laid a hand of sympathy on her father’s, saying, “What all can the nature make you see in just 24 hours!”

Alveera Choudhry
M.A English, Jamia Millia Islamia

2 thoughts on “Twenty-Four Hours”

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