Fugitive Fate

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“Come on…. it’s getting late,” yelled Swarna at the top of her voice.  The children scampered all around with excitement. It was natural.  Soham was six and Sona ten, yet they had been on only two vacations in their entire life. The reason was Swarna’s demanding job and never ending fund crisis. 
 Swarna worked in a small firm. The income was meagre and the job demanding.  All private firms were the same – profit oriented.  In spite of her frustrations, Swarna continued her tedious tasks day in and day out in hope of a better future.  This vacation was planned by her, and executed by her husband Joy. Actually his name was Vijay, but Swarna called him Joy which meant victory in Bangla. Joy too called her Soro; a shortened form of Swarna.  She did like the endearment till Sona pointed out that it sounded like sorrow. 
 But by the time Sona had pointed it out; the name itself was ten years old and had achieved a distinct identity.
“Soro!” Joy called out, “it’s time to leave…” “Coming…”  Swarna replied as she hurriedly opened the trunk in which she kept all her expensive saris. She wrapped the small steel box, containing her jewellery, in an old sari belonging to her late mother-in-law, and kept it among the saris inside. It was a small precaution that she always took while leaving the house, she never left it in the safe inside the cupboard. She knew that would be the first place the thieves would steal from in case of a break in.  “ We must buy a locker at a bank, it isn’t safe to keep so much jewellery in the house,” she thought.
Her years of hard work had been transformed into beautiful gold jewellery which she often flaunted at various family functions.  The envious looks of the relatives and friends, gave her the reason to buy more jewellery each year.  From just a pair of earnings and a gold chain that she had during the time of her marriage, she now possessed about twenty items of gold jewellery as well as a couple of expensive saris that she had bought after several severe altercations with Joy.
Satisfied with her work she locked the trunk, and covered it with cushions which turned it into a chair.
She snatched the lunch from the kitchen and headed for the door.
“We’ll miss the train because of you,” her husband grumbled.
Everything went well, and Swarna  posted as many pics and videos as possible. The children enjoyed the beach immensely. Her relatives, friends and colleagues showered them with likes and comments in all the social media accounts that she had.
Swarna was sure they were seething with jealousy inside.
As they arrived at their house, Swarna requested her husband to buy some lunch. She was too tired to move. Joy got down from the taxi at the crossing; and told them to move ahead.  It was only a minutes walk to their home.
Swarna found the key and opened the door.  “I shall sleep for a day before I do any work,” she said to Soham and Sona. “We too,” they replied in unison. 
A wave of shock passed through Swarna as she looked at her living room.  Everything was scattered on the floor. The sari with which she had wrapped the box of jewels, lay on the floor. The window to the living room had been cut open and the thieves had taken their time to remove everything that was worth stealing.
Swarna sank on the floor.  The children hurried to find their possessions. Somewhere through the daze, she heard a voice. “Soro!” .She felt water being sprinkled on her face, and light pats on her cheek from somewhere far beyond.

A Light In The Dark

By guest blogger Tripali.

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It was nearly midnight and I was returning home from my office, my brain weary and on tenterhooks from long working hours. A sudden faint rustling in the bushes made me jump, and a black cat stalked across the street, glaring at me as if I had done it grievous wrong. I shuddered and walked on.

I was new to this mysterious town, and as I walked down the cold pavement through the darkness that seemed to favour this place, I could not help but think about the town’s history. Once a haunt of British ‘babus’ because of its cold climate, these streets had seen both white men make merry and Indians dragged and whipped along it. Dark stone houses of the era still stood defiantly on the deserted streets, seeming to echo both laughter and screams; two sides of the Raj, two sides of the same coin.

I walked on towards the light- wait, light? How was it that I that I had not noticed a faint glow ahead of me, or the fact that I had been following it? In the eternal shroud of this widowed town, the light seemed to be a leftover glimmer, a piece of jewellery that was not removed. Something in the air seemed to whisk away my skeptism of the paranormal, and with each passing second my heart beat faster, as if trying to jump out of my chest and live while I died at the hands of a spectre. I stared with horror and fascination as the darkness began to take shape, the shape of a once-sturdy man, now bent with age, hobbling towards me with a lantern. I shook my head at my own foolishness.

“Hello, young lady! What are you doing, up so late?” said he. I frowned at the accent.” Are you British? Do British people still live here?” I enquired. “Not many, perhaps none at all.” he replied amiably, his voice trembling with age. Something in his voice made me clasp my bag closer. “I do not get many people to talk to. Would you mind entertaining an old man?” he asked. I could not refuse, so we walked. Gradually, the talk turned to the history of the town and the supernatural, as talk with old people usually does. He asked me if I believed in ghosts. Having a scientific temperament, I naturally said, “No.” “Not many people do now-a-days. A pity, eh?” he laughed.”Would you believe if you saw one?” he asked. I shrugged, “Maybe.” I was really tired now and just wanted to get home. But he continued, “Have you heard of stories of spirits of the dead haunting the town?” “Yes, I have.” “Aren’t you afraid, then?” he enquired. “No. Even if ghosts existed, what proof is there that they would mean harm?” I said.

He chuckled, ruffling my hair, and said, “What a sensible girl. I’ll be off now. Thank you for keeping me company.” Saying so, he hobbled off into the dark.

I stood rooted to the spot for a while.

Somehow, my senses had failed to notice all this time that it was not his lantern that was glowing.

It was the man himself.