Unfinished Short Story

Short Story 1

Jan 19th 2012

It was an overcast morning. Jai woke up with a heavy head. He forced his eyes to focus on the wall clock. It was barely seven in the morning. The funeral was still four hours away. He buried his face in the pillow, but he knew he wasn’t going to get any more sleep. Images from the day gone by flooded his head.

The phone call from Shweta, her broken words as she sobbed and told him she was in the hospital and that Divakar was dead. It was all so sudden. He remembered rushing to the hospital to help her out. The sight of cops near the ICU filled him with a lot of worry. It was a case of accidental death. A fire caused by a gas leak.

As soon as he heard that, he thanked the Almighty for the good fortune that she was away when the accident took place. With the kind of bad luck that Shweta usually had, it was a miracle that she hadn’t been the victim of the gruesome accident. He reached the hospital just when she needed him the most. Divakar’s body was being moved from the ICU to the morgue. She nearly collapsed at the sight of the burnt body. It was barely recognizable. He had to use every ounce of self control to stop himself from throwing up as the smell of burnt flesh and hair filled the passage outside the ICU.

Even though he hated Divakar for several reasons, he felt pity for the man. This was no way to die. He couldn’t imagine the pain that Divakar must’ve suffered as he burnt to death. Shweta kept crying softly as they took the body away. A few of Divakar’s friends were present along with Shweta and him. No words were exchanged – just blank stares of realization about how quickly life could take the most cruel turns.

His thoughts were broken by the sound of his cellphone. It was an sms from Shweta.


He thought for a second before replying.

ya… u ok?

She replied within seconds.

yes J. come a little early if u can. i’m tired of doing everything alone

He replied saying he’d reach in an hour. The funeral was to be held at her in-law’s house on the outskirts of the city. Half of Divakar’s house had been destroyed in the fire. There was no way that the ceremony could have been hosted there. He took a quick shower, that was when he realized that he did not have a white kurta which was the expected attire for the funeral. He couldn’t believe his luck. The only traditional wear he had with him was a sherwani he had worn to a wedding some time back. He decided to wear a white shirt and blue jeans and make a quick stop on the way.

He bought a white kurta on his way and changed into it at the shop itself. That was when he received another message from her, she wanted him to buy some ‘havan samagri’. He felt weird about shopping for a funeral.

Jai finally reached the destination where he saw a dozen relatives of Divakar looking morose while arranging things for the funeral. An old man took the samagri from him. Jai asked the old man where Shweta was. The pointed him towards a room in the house. Jai walked towards the room and knocked on a door that was locked from the inside.

“Just a second”, Shweta said in her trademark soft voice.

She unlocked the door and held it ajar. She was wearing a white cotton saree. She did not have a single ornament on her, nor the sindoor. She was dressed like a widow. Associating that word with Shweta would’ve seemed unthinkable a day ago, but now, fate had played its hand and here she was, dressed in white. The colour from her life, destroyed by fire. Fire. The witness of her marriage had also turned executioner.

“Hi” he said to her awkwardly.

She greeted him with half a smile. He entered the room and sat down on a chair kept next to the door. She sat down, facing him, on a bed.

“You bought that kurta today?” she asked him.

“Yeah. How’d you know?” he asked.

“There’s a price tag stuck on your right shoulder” she pointed out.

He felt embarrassed. She could see his ears turn red as he quickly scratched the price tag off his shoulder. They both looked at each other. On any other occasion, they would’ve laughed. But they were at a funeral. Her husband’s funeral.

“Did you get any sleep last night?” he asked her, out of genuine concern.

She shook her head.

Awkward silence followed for a while. She was staring at the floor and he was looking at her eyes, wondering if she was about to cry. But she did not cry. Not then, not even when the ceremony began and her in-laws broke down. Neither did she shed a tear when the dead body was put into a van to be taken to the electric crematorium. He wondered if that was normal. But then what was normal about a funeral of a man who had burnt to death in his own house.

Jai stayed back with her and a few others. After a while, they went back to the same room. He wanted to comfort her. He wanted to give her a hug. He knew she needed one. But it would have been inappropriate. There was family all around her. Not for a second did he get a chance to talk to her in private. He gave up the thought. But he couldn’t help but notice how pretty she looked. Even in a simple white saree, she still looked so attractive. He wondered why he couldn’t take his eyes off her. That was when the thought came to him. It was the first time he was seeing her in a saree. It added to her grace. The way she arranged her pallu, holding onto it with just two fingers. It blew him away. Her hair was open and gently fell over her shoulders and extended down to her slender waist.

Stop it! He told himself. Feeling repulsed by his own thought process. How can you look at her that way on this day. The repulsion turned into shame. He made a conscious effort not to look at her unless she spoke to him.

As the day went by, so did the relatives and friends. Her in laws were the only ones left by late in the afternoon. He felt uncomfortable being the only ‘outsider’ there. He signalled to her that he was planning to leave.

“Stay for a while please” she requested in what was almost a whisper.

Every request of hers was a command to him. He decided to stay for as long as she needed. After a while, her in-laws retired to a room to get some rest. That was the first time she felt a little at ease. She walked upto him and then held him in a tight embrace as she cried her heart out. He had no words to console her. With one eye on the door, looking out for her in-laws, he returned her embrace. Holding her tight as he gently patted her. After what seemed like an eternity, she broke the embrace and looked at him, with tears in her eyes.

“What happens from here… where do I go… what do I do?” she said to him.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what’ll happen, I don’t know where you’ll go or what you’ll do from here on. But no matter what happens, I want you to know that I’m here for you” he replied, with a sense of boldness that surprised him.

“You’re all that’s left in my life” she said to him as she clutched at the fabric of his kurta and burst into a fresh round of tears.

He could feel her body shake. He was worried about her. He did not want her to suffer a nervous breakdown. He held her in an embrace as tight as possible without hurting her and kept repeating the words “I’m here for you” over and over again. There was something about watching the woman of one’s dreams crying that addled every man’s brain. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. All he could do was pray that she felt better and hope that he did not begin to breakdown. And it worked. After a while, she felt better. They started to talk.

“You’ll be staying here tonight?” he asked her.

“Yes. At least until the twelfth day. Then I’ll have to find a place” Shweta replied.

“Don’t worry about it. I have a friend, she’s looking for a flatmate. I’ll get you fixed up at her place”

“Thanks” she said to him with a hint of a smile.

They could hear sounds of her in laws talking in their room. Shweta knew it was time for Jai to leave. Jai left but not before giving Shweta a few words of solace and hope.

As soon as he reached home, he spoke to the friend and fixed up the arrangement for Shweta to move in after two weeks. He took another shower after that and then fell onto his bed. Thinking about her.

So many things had taken place in the past five years between him and Shweta. Good things and bad. He felt a certain amount of thrill in the way she had behaved with him during the day. He was the only friend she had called to help with the funeral. Everyone else was Divakar’s friend or family. Her family members were far away and would only make it for the twelfth day ceremony. She had other friends in town, but she chose to call him and no one else. What did it mean in the context of all that had happened with them in the past. Would they get back together. That thought brought a smile on his face. It would be a dream to be with her.

Once again, he felt disappointed with his thoughts. It had been just a day since Divakar died. No matter how much he despised the man, he had no right to think of Divakar’s widow in such a manner. Not yet at least.

But what could he do. He loved her. Ever since they parted ways, he had tried his best to forget her. But he had failed miserably. She was his only love. And the events of the past year had brought so much of turmoil in his life, but also a lot of joy.

“Shweta… Shweta… Shweta” he whispered into the night as he closed his eyes and let her memories fill his mind.

Five Years Ago

July 2007

They had spent two years as classmates in college and he had finally decided to ask her out. She was wearing a blue sleeveless top, her hair back then was shoulder length and she wore a nose ring that was only visible from a distance of a couple of feet, but added a lot to her beauty.

He waited for the final lecture of the day to get done. As she set off for the girl’s hostel with the rest of her gang, he called her cell phone.


“Hey Shweta”

“Yeah Jai. Sup?”

“Can you hang around in college just for five minutes. I want to ask you something”

“OK” she said innocently.

She asked her friends to carry on as she stood around waiting for him to show up. He waited till the rest of their classmates were away before making his way towards her. He made some last minute attempts to set his hair and tuck in his shirt and to clear his throat.

“Hi” he said to her.

“Hi” Shweta said in reply, wondering what it was that he wanted to ask her.

“So, I was wondering if you’d like to go for a movie tomorrow?” he asked her.

“Sure. Who else is coming?” she replied.

His heart skipped a beat as he heard her words.

“Just the two of us” he said, recovering quickly.

“Oh…” she said softly, as she realized what his question actually implied.

She looked at his eyes, they were filled with expectation, nervousness and hope. She found it very cute.

“So…” he prompted her to give an answer.
“Jai. I don’t date guys” she replied.

“I’m cool with you dating girls also” he remarked.

They both laughed.

“No. What I meant was… I don’t date anyone”


“Because… because my family won’t be too happy if they find out”


“Generally. They have expectations from me, that I’ll have an arranged marriage sometime after college and I can not go against their wishes”

“You know what… if you want to say no, it’s fine. I won’t feel too bad, but if it’s a no, then please say no. Don’t tell me something to just make me feel like I’m not being rejected” he said, his hopes crashing with each passing second.

“I’m not saying this just to pacify you. Promise. Just think about it naa, if I could’ve dated a guy, by Third Year I would’ve found someone”

“OK” he said, finding it hard to breathe. His heart was racing. It had gone horribly wrong. What was he thinking when he decided to ask her out.

“But I’m still up for watching a movie with you, if thats all you plan to do”

“Well I was hoping for doing something more than just watch the movie”

“Uhh… like what?” she asked, with surprise in her voice.

“Like having some popcorn and some cold drinks” he replied as they both shared a laugh.

That initiated an amazing phase in their lives that lasted for two years. She knew that he liked her and she trusted him. He kept his feelings under check and enjoyed every moment spent in her company. College got over, they got jobs in different companies. She left the city for two months for training. During those days they spent hours every night on the phone.

During those two months they got even closer to each other. They shared some very personal details of their lives. Sometime during that phase, she fell in love with him.

When she returned to the city, she was in a state of disarray. They still hung out together on weekends and spoke every night. But it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to hide her feelings from him. She wondered how he had managed to keep his feelings aside for the past two years. But she couldn’t hide her feelings for too long.

One night after dinner, as he dropped her home on his bike, she gave him a peck on his cheek. It surprised him.

“What was that?” he asked.

“Nothing” she replied nervously.

“The lipstick mark on my face is not nothing”

“It’s late now. I should go” she said nervously, turning around to walk away.

He held her hand gently and stopped her.

“What is the matter. Tell me” he asked her calmly.

“Do you still like me, Jai?” she asked him apprehensively.

“I can never stop liking you Shweta” he replied. She smiled.

“I think it’s time I tell you something. I’ve fallen in love with you. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But I’m sure of it and there’s nothing I can do about it” Shweta said to Jai.

His ears turned red. She knew he was as nervous as her now.

“I think you’ve known all along about how I feel about you. You’re the only girl I love… you’re the only girl I will ever love”

He pulled her towards him and she put her arms around him and held him in a tight embrace. She felt a great sense of release now that she had confessed her feelings to him.

For the first time in his life, he was holding a woman in his arms. He savoured the feeling. The warmth of her body as it pressed against his, the fragrance of her hair, the touch of her soft skin as he stroked the back of her neck and the sound of her breathing. He wondered if she felt the same kind of nervous excitement as he did. She let go of him first as she took a step back. She was blushing.

“So… say something naa!” she said to him in her soft voice, that pierced his heart every time she spoke.
“Can I be honest about how I am feeling right now”


“I want to kiss you”

She couldn’t help but laugh as she saw the expression on his face.

“I wasn’t joking” he said to her, feeling a tad offended.

“I know” she said in between two bouts of laughter.


“Not here. My roommate is at home” she replied.

“What about there?” he said, pointing towards an empty parking spot.

“You want to experience your first kiss in a parking spot?”

“I am a twenty one year old man who has never kissed a girl. Any spot is a good spot”

His candid confession, made her laugh once more.

“It should be somewhere private” she said to him.

“I know just the place. Let’s go for the afternoon show of some total flop movie. Perfect place”

“You’re joking right”

“No. I am serious”

It didn’t take long to convince her about the idea, she was quite taken by the thought of doing something adventurous. She agreed to go ahead with his plan.

The next day they met at a multiplex and purchased corner seat tickets for the dullest movie of the month. As they made their way into the cinema hall, they realized they weren’t the only geniuses with the idea of using the dark hall for non-cinematic purposes. They could spot a dozen or so couples inside the hall. But no one was sitting on the row they occupied.

The lights went dark, the movie began to roll. But neither of them were even remotely interested in the movie. He was looking around to make sure no one was looking, she was waiting for him to make a move. Every time he thought of making a move, he feared that someone would notice and that gave him cold feet. He finally mustered the courage to turn in his seat and face her. Her heart began to race. Her first kiss was moments away.

He reached for her right hand and gently brought her wrist closer to his lips and planted two short kisses. She turned towards him and leaned in. He brushed aside strands of her hair that fell over her face as she turned. With his left hand he cupped her face. She closed her eyes and immediately felt his warm lips on hers. She took a deep breath and parted her lips, allowing him to explore more of her.

Their movements were awkward, she clutched at his shoulders, then at the back of his neck, trying to find more comfort as they were locked in a deep kiss. The armrest between their seats was the biggest hurdle to them kissing comfortably. They broke the kiss after a long time and were breathing heavily. Both of them had embarrassed smiles on their faces. After catching their breaths, they both looked at each other and knew it was time for round two. This time he leaned in closer to her, but the damn armrest jabbed at his ribs.

“I wish this thing could be removed” he complained about the unnecessary appendage.

“Wait. I have an idea” she whispered to him.

She got up from her seat and looked around for peeping toms. There was no one within range. He wondered what she was upto. She then surprised him as she sat down on his lap.

“Now there’s nothing between us” she said to him, brushing aside her hair as she put her arms around him and kissed him.


Jan 19th 2012

He opened his eyes, it was close to midnight and he was alone. She was a widow and the only place where she was his was in his memory.

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