Saturday, June 24, 2006

Entry #19

"The Eyewitness"
by Bhaswati Ghosh


“Quit it.” Her words stiffened his limbs every evening, as he lumbered his way back home. They got married just four months back. He could sense her yearning for security.

The day job helped little more than pay for the bills and groceries. He couldn’t afford quitting the evening MBA classes. But…

The dark stretch. And the portentous pole.

There were already two cases of electrocution since they joined the neighborhood a month ago. It was a weird road, he thought. No matter how many times the municipality fixed the street light, it stopped functioning.

It’s always midnight here.

But it was the only route to walk back home. Thus her warning, laced with premonition.

“Silly girl, always thinking the worst. I am not the only one who walks on that road.”

Faking reassurance. Easy. Plodding through that dark track every evening. Creepy. The pole alone didn’t bother him; in the back of his mind, snapshots lurked—of pickpockets ruffling his trousers’ back pocket…

A .410 handgun did it in the end. It was Diwali eve, and he bought her favorite sweets. As he wound his way through the dark road, humming a song, three gun shots twisted his gait into a red rivulet. Unarmed civilians were the best targets to drive home the demand for a separate state.

His cellphone, lying unclaimed with his corpse, beeped twice. There was just one eyewitness—a live, mute electric pole.

It was midnight when the police contacted her to identify the body.

30 comments:

Anthony J. Rapino said...

Hey Sury. Nice work with this piece--loved it. It's so much fun reading all these dark stories. My fav.

-oni

Flood said...

Sweet and sad, Bhaswati. Great job.

Jaye Wells said...

Tragic piece. Great writing.

For The Trees said...

Forewarned, but disregarded because of need. How true for our society as a whole!

Very good, very well written! Nice story.

Scott said...

This piece hints at a political struggle in India? I'd like to know more about this. So sad.

desiderata said...

I can empathise, neat meeting point -- living in strife-torn countries has its live hazards, yeah, back in my "terrortry" too.

Bhaswati said...

Thanks everyone. I appreciate all the kind words. I loved your respective entries, too. Those of you who've submitted so far that is. Good luck to all of us!

Scott, you guess is correct. The piece is drawn from a real incident. Years ago, when I was in school, a terrorist movement demanding a separate state of Khalistan was going on. The "terrorists" invaded our neighborhood and adjoning areas on the eve of a festival, killing several people. I was present at a venue they targetted.

Nothing happened to me or my family. We survived. Some of our acquaintances were less lucky, though.

Desiderata, yes, we live amid an ever unpredictable atmosphere, don't we?

Jer said...

Wow. Excellent piece. Jer

Melly said...

The overshadowing was accompanying the piece from the beginning.
Very well executed!

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, Jer and Melly.

And sorry for the typo I made while replying to Scott. It should be "your guess," obviously. Ouch. :P

Scott said...

There is no spell checker in the comments section Bhaswati. I get busted all the time!

Jim said...

I liked the psychological analysis built into the story - we reassure ourselves about dangerous situations in order to cope with our fears and anxieties. Nicely played.

bekbek said...

I love this visual: "three gun shots twisted his gait into a red rivulet." I immediately envisioned a twisted red cord, which in my mind tied/connected all the events/conditions together.

And they are all connected, usually. New technologies, new struggles, new expressions of old struggles.

Bhaswati said...

Good to know I have company, Scott. LOL

Thanks, Jim.

Bekbek, that's a neat interpretation. To be honest, I didn't think that deep while writing that sentence, but it works!

Amra Pajalic said...

Great story. In 250 words you've captured a great sense of atmosphere, a political subtext and the human element of love, marriage and ambition. I'm blown away.

cesarcarlos said...

Great piece, Sury. Sad but really well told. Kudos!

Bhaswati said...

Amra, your compliment blows me away (blush). Your entry is great too!

Cesar, thank you so much :)

linda said...

Its always midnight here. So sad. Great story.

JLB said...

Well done! I love all the dark imagery - the piece truly feels like "it's always midnight" there.

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, Linda and JLB :)

anna said...

Love when a piece starts with dialogue. Kept the pace up
kept the tension
I enjoyed !!

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, Anna!

k l gilbert said...

This is a stunning piece. It is intelligently written and emotionally charged. Unfortunately, all too real in our precarious world.

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, KLG, for the kind words. The world is precarious, indeed, and the stories can't remain aloof from what happens either.

Glad you liked reading it :)

Elisha Bridges said...

I absolutely agree with others who admire the midnight theme, especially as it ties into the ending.

Wonderful.

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, Elisha. I treasure your compliment because I loved your story :)

Fran Piper said...

Great work. In particular, I love your punchy beginning. A two-word command, followed by the strong image of "Her words stiffened his limbs every evening."

Great writing!

Bhaswati said...

Thank you, Fran. I appreciate the kind words :)

jason evans said...

Sury, the descriptive distance from the violence was chilling. Just like the cold emotions of the separatist. High marks for the power of the dramatic impact.

Bhaswati said...

Thank you, Jason, for taking the time to point out what worked in the story. Now, I will look for further feedback from you to know what didn't. LOL.

Thanks a bunch!