This short story became SPIXer (Most popular story) on 29 Mar 2014 and won INR 500
This story is selected as Editor’s Choice
“God, please. Please God, Not today.” She begged as she cut through those ten minutes of her journey from the school to her home. Ten minutes. Those ten minutes of hell that she had been passing through every day, when she walked back from the school to her home. “Don’t hit that dog come along today. Please God, please.” She was still praying from the bottom of her heart. Those were the earnest praying she offered to the GOD and she used to pray like this only just before her annual results.
Her heartbeat grew faster and so did her praying as she approached near the turn, two kilometers before her final turn to her house. He was THERE, leaning across the wall, grinning at her and was showing his disgusting yellow tobacco stained teeth.
“Yuk.” She immediately wanted to throw up. He looked so filthy, so repellent!!
“Oh,God!! Not again. Please.” Her eyes welled up with tears and she turned around for assistance. She found none. The path was deserted as always. This narrow path usually remained deserted, the silence only filled up with the barking of the dogs or the trin–trin of the ongoing bicycle riders or the rare view of the pedestrians who made a rare appearance through this empty narrow path at this odd time of day.
She felt his stinky gaze on her that penetrated her whole body from top to toe. She felt the hotness on her face and could distinctly hear her pulse that was flashy enough to hear anybody walking beside her. She crossed him making her best effort to ignore him and as she crossed him, she could hear the Hindi song from some c-grade Hindi movie. The lyrics of the song made her face redder as she blushed with shame and wrath. She could sense the footsteps behind her back. He was following her as usual.
She started to walk faster, her mind completely blocked with terror. The routine had been continued since from the last three days. The first day she ignored the goon completely hoping this would end that day only. Nevertheless, the trauma continued to be there the following days and now she knew that it won’t be ending really shortly. I will tell mother about this today. Definitely. She vowed to herself and then she will have never to face him again. Should I tell the boys of my class about this? They would set him up and he would never dare tease any girl in his life. He should get a lesson.
“Aklee no bazaar jaya Karo…” The human dog was singing, rather barking in the most grating voice while attempting to stay tight to her as much as possible. He stank of sweat. His odor immediately reminded her to gag on him. “Idiot”, she abused him in low tones.
“Hey. Are you talking to me baby?” He reacted hearing the mumbling without actually learning the tidings. Yeah. Go to hell. She wanted to scream out loud but chose to keep the mum and accelerated her pace. Five more minutes and it will be over for today. She consoled herself but she knew those five minutes would take ages. Just a few more minutes and the last turn and he would turn back from there. He won’t dare accompany me in the crowded and the unresolved place.
“ILU!ILU!!” The dog barked once again.
“Kal phir milenge..wahi..jaha koi ataa jata..nahii” He construed his intentions before turning back from the last turn. A strike of terror ran through her spine.
“Why? What happened?” Her mother checked her forehead for fever. “I don’t think it’s the fever.”
“No, it’s my stomach. It’s upset” She rested her case to her mother.
“Take this medicine. You will be okay within an hour. You don’t have to escape the school”
“No, mother. I have a horrible stomach ache. Please have me stay at home today.” She was pleading with her mother hoping that her no show would discourage the jerk to wait for her the following days.
Now she was the girl who would never miss her school. Her mother gazed at her. Surprised. “What’s going on?” She was genuinely puzzled. May be a test at school? She never dreaded of it. May be her homework? Always completed and up to the mark. What else could be the reason? Was she telling the truth? What could scare a ninth class student from attending the school and that too, if the student is the topper of the class?
“Are you sure you don’t want to go?” She inquired.
“Yeah, Mother. I just can’t make it today. I want to take some rest. I can’t even talk.”
“Do you want me to take you to the doctor?” She was visibly concerned.
“No. Just an hour or two of sleep and the medication, I’ll be fine.” Please allow me to stay at home. She was praying seriously from the core of her heart.
“Very well, take a rest then. And do let me know if you need something” Replied her mother as she picked up the phone to inform her class teacher of her absence from the school.
“Sure, mother.” She heaved a sign of relief.
She needed to take rest and she needed to call back more or less the next plan of action. Should she look for the help of her mother or her classmates?
But for how many times do I’ll ask for their help? Girls have to face this every other day. For how many times they would guard me over. Can’t I handle it myself? They say I am bold and intelligent. Yes. I am going to teach that moron a lesson. He would probably never eve tease a girl again. But before that I’ll have to be firm and brave. He is also a human being, though much stronger than me. There must be a way out and I‘ll have to find it out.
Next morning she collected the scraps and leftover from the last night dinner carefully hiding from her mother. She hid the bag full of scraps and leftovers in her school bag.
Thankfully the jerk never showed up in the morning on her way to the school. She thoughtfully stared at the empty narrow path and found out what she was looking for. A smile floated on her lips. A group of stray dogs was relaxing on the road. She approached them and poured the bag full of scraps in front of them. The hungry animals devoured the stuff in seconds and they stared at her wanting for more.
“Dogs will be dogs,” She threw some biscuits to them, “But more faithful and less dangerous than men”
And she resumed her walk to the school.
On her way she met with the same group of dogs. You want some more? Follow me if you want more. She cast some more cookies to them.
The hounds started to stick to her obediently. She twisted back to see her army and now felt a sense of potency in her. The turn was not far away now.
He was right there. He gave her same hungry look as he ran his fingers through his oily hair. The same tobacco stained teeth were exposed and a cheap Hindi song croaked out of his throat. Today, she didn’t attempt to cut him, but she saw straight into his eyes. He stopped singing for a while, but later came back to his cheapness as he winked at her.
She felt embarrassed, but continued to stare at him and then she walked towards him, fearlessly. His voice broke as he found her drawing near him. He stood there silent, bewildered. He had not expected this from the small girl. And she stood there, right in front of him, staring directly into his eyes. And before he could sense the reality, a loud slap had been glued to his cheeks.
“Shuuu” She signaled the dogs and before he could recover from the shock of being slapped by a small girl, they were there all over him, eager to pull him off apart.
The Hungry dogs were just obeying their commander as faithful soldiers.
She resumed her walk to her house and she was still being followed. The loud vociferations of the human dog were still stalking her, but she knew that there would be no following from the day onwards at that place.
The next day morning newspaper reflected a little news in the nook of a column. “Human attacked by stray dogs, badly wounded.”
The human dog never showed up his face again, if only he would have managed to save it that day.