It was late midnight. My car had broken down all of a sudden; I was stranded at the strange place, all alone. With each passing minute, my hope to get some assistance was wavering like the intermittent road light that was illuminating the spooky street.
I tried to contact my co-workers, but, the absence of network in my mobile phone clearly amplified my helplessness. Suddenly I saw a pair of headlights approaching from my left. The Audi
to which they belonged came to an abrupt halt beside me.
As the window glass lowered, a pale sight of a man in his late fifties became visible.
"Do you need lift, madam?" he asked.
I took a while to respond. The incidents of unknown men seeking carnal pleasures from helpless women were not unknown to me, and also the possibility of paedophile couldn't be discarded. But, with no other alternative available, my urge to reach hotel as soon as possible, overwhelmed my suspicious nature, and I nodded.
His face beamed and his eyes widened. He unlocked the door, and I stepped in cautiously.
"Where do you want to go?" he inquired in similar unnaturally kind tone.
"Not far from here, if you could just drop me by Hotel Jubilanta."
He pressed the accelerator and the luxurious car zoomed ahead. I couldn't help but notice that though he faced ahead, he kept on looking at my bodice from the corner of the eyes. I fumbled with my one-piece and vainly tried to stretch it below my knee.
"You look very beautiful."
No wonder, I thought, my notion of 'all men are dogs
', time and again proves itself. But, I sealed my lips, for this cheap man had given me lift in my need.
He turned towards me and continued conversationally, "So, are you new to the town?"
"Oh yes, I am here on a business trip. My colleagues will be awaiting my return at the hotel." I purposely laid stress on the latter sentence to strongly convey it to him that I, though it may seem, am not alone. So, if you plan on doing something, beware!
"Oh, and may I know your name?"
This sudden change of topic took me by surprise.
"Sakshi" I lied. He had no reason to know Aishwarya was my real name.
With a smug smile stuck on his face, he continued to drive the rest of the journey, in silence. I didn't complain. To while my time, I took a piece of old newspaper lying ahead. I was about to read it, but he turned right and the hotel came in view.
The car stopped in front of the gate. It was time to formally express gratitude.
"Thank you so much for your help, uncle!" Though you were so cheap with your stares and remarks.
His smiled diminished upon hearing 'uncle'.
"I'm not your uncle, sweetheart!"
I hurriedly got off the car and looked back once only to find those longing eyes gazing at me.
Still clutching the newspaper, I raced towards the hotel, savoring my rescue from the sleaziness of that cranky old man.
It was late midnight. I was returning back to my home while driving my Audi
, that had actually meant to be a gift for somebody else. The radio sang slow songs, to soothe my lonely life. Suddenly, in the dim road light, I spotted a young girl anxiously waiting beside her car, which supposedly had broken down.
Old memories stung my eyes, and I resolved to stop and help the poor soul. I stopped the car near her, and lowered the window. Oh my God! She's just like her.
"Do you need lift, madam?" I asked tentatively.
Her expressions changed from surprise to shock to contemplation. Oh, even her eyes are so similar to her.
Destiny is so enigmatic. As I was hopeful for her not to decline, she gave a brief nod. My prayers were answered.
She climbed in. I asked her destination. Hotel Jubilanta? I gasped! She has come back. My sweetheart has returned to her home. I am not a fool.
Excitedly, I raced ahead, eager to reach home, as soon as possible.
I have waited for you so long. Let me have a proper look at you, my dear.
"You look so beautiful!" Of course, she does! After all, she's mine. Look at the way she responds to the flattery with cute silence.
"So, are you new to the town?"
Oh, she is still on the business trip! Not any more! I won't allow you to go away again. You must enjoy your life. Chill out. Party, if you want. But no more business trips!
I noticed her uneasiness. Wait, I have recognised her; why hasn't she yet? She is my sweetheart, isn't she? Oh, what if she's not? No no no! She's my only hope to prove to the society that I was right all along! To abate my tempest of doubts, I asked her her name.
Sakshi! I screamed jubilantly in my head! I am right! My euphoria became evident on my face. I was so pleased with myself. Her presence had rekindled all my hopes, calmed all my doubts, and will in no time refute my insanity. I was so happy.
Hey, why has she taken my newspaper?
Well, let it be. She deserves it more. Any ways, we are going to stay together.
I took a right turn, and my home came in the sight. I stopped the car in front of the gate.
"Thank you so much, uncle!" What? Uncle? I gaped at her.
"I'm not your uncle, my sweetheart!"
She suddenly opened the door and swiftly walked away. What happened?
Oh destiny, I curse you. Don't you remember me, my sweetheart? I was about to scream at her, but her abrupt departure raged back my frustration. Maybe, she was just an ordinary girl and not my sweetheart! Because unlike this girl, my sweetheart would have surely remembered me. My daughter would have remembered me. When she comes back, she will! Oh yes, she'll come back. I'm not a fool. She'll come back! As I parked my car, and entered my bungalow adjacent to the hotel, tears trickled down my face. I won't lose hope. I will wait for her, forever, if that's what Destiny wants.
As I entered the hotel, the manager came running towards me.
"Oh Aishwarya madam, you had been away for too late. Is everything okay?"
I informed the manger to send someone to bring back my broken car in the morning, and having taken the keys from him, I went to my room, without any talk of that old dog's incident.
I need a hot bath! Where's my face wash? I rummaged through my hand bag and threw aside the tiny piece of crumbled newspaper on the bed. Oh I had forgotten about it. Any ways, let me first take a shower.
But the lamp light gleamed upon it and two year old news report revealed two photos: a pretty young girl like me and an elderly man. OMG! That's the man who gave me lift!
I picked up the paper and began to read:
Daughter of Hotel Tycoon Found Dead
Ms Sakshi Saxena (20), the only daughter of the renowned hotel tycoon, Mr Rajesh Saxena (58) was found dead last night, lying alone in the murky street two blocks away from Hotel Exotica in Delhi, a part of Jubilanta group owned by Mr Saxena. The marks on her body, though yet to be confirmed, also supposedly suggest sexual assault on her, who was on a business trip to the metropolitan city.
Ms Pooja, one of the co-workers of Ms Saxena, told us that about the profound relationship between the father & daughter, and also how he had expressed his unwillingness to let her daughter go to the big city for business trip. "Uncle loved Sakshi very much. He couldn't bear any separation from her. Even when he melted in front of Sakshi's stubbornness to go, he used to daily call her and had booked rooms for her at their own hotel.
The police are continuing with their investigation. "We have found some evidence like traces of blood, patches of sole, and torn piece of shirt , that suggests that criminal was an old man in late fifties. The forensic report and post-mortem report are yet to come, that we might add substance to our case.
Mr Saxena, the owner of 37 hotels spread all over the country, upon hearing the news, is reported to go in deep trauma, resulting in loss of sanity. Before he was admitted in the hospital for treatment, his last words quoted in front of the media were, "She will come back. Look, I have even bought her an Audi for gift. I am not a fool. She will come back!"
With wet eyes, I kept the paper aside and with a heart heavy with guilt, I stared in the mirror. Resolved not to judge people by sight, I admitted I was wrong. Not all men are dogs.
© Story by Manas Madrecha