by Svatee Bedi
Shreya's phone beeped. She had received a message from her boyfriend.
She smiled while opening the message.
“Good Morning,”it said.
She quickly replied to him.
Shreya was deeply in love with Neel,and they were in a relationship for more than two years now.
While still in bed, she had a quick conversation with him, before she got up to get ready to go to college.
As soon as she stepped out of her home,her phone beeped. She had received a message on her phone, but this time from an unknown number.
She checked the message.
It said “I Love You,Beautiful.”
She thought of calling up Neel,to check whether he was playing some prank,by messaging her from his friend's phone.
Shreya called him up, but Neel refused about sending any such message to her.
Her phone beeped again she received another message from the same unknown number.
“I Love You from the day I saw you for the first time.”
“Who is this? I think you are messaging on a wrong number,” she replied.
“I am your Secret Admirer,Shreya.”
Shreya stared at the message.
She called up the number,but no one answered.
She tried calling again,and still didn't receive any response.
Shreya thought about the message for a moment and ignored it.
She got ready, she wore a pink t-shirt and a regular pair of jeans, her hair were open unlike other days when she used to tie a ponytail. Shreya rushed to the bus stop,to catch a bus to college.
Once she reached college she showed the last message,sent by the unknown person to Neel.
He looked at both the number and message and told her to ignore it.
At the end of the day,when she reached home;she received another message from the same number.
She thought of ignoring it once,but then checked the message.
“You look beautiful in pink.”
She froze on seeing the message.
She called up all her friends to check,whether anyone was sending her messages from another number. All her friends refused doing any such thing.
Shreya called up the number to check who it was and again, but didn't receive any response.
Next day, she received another message from the same number.
She felt a sense of fright.
“Who could it be?” she was thinking. She told Neel also about the messages she was receiving daily.Even,he was worried.
After a week,when she was getting ready to go to college, she got a call from the same unknown number; she ignored the call.
Her phone rang after a few minutes once again, she chose to pick up the call.
“Hi!Who is this? And why are you messaging me from the past few days?” Shreya was in a state of anger.
No one spoke for a moment.
“Who is this? And why aren't you talking?”
And,finally he spoke.His was husky.
“I love you Shreya, and..”
Before he could say anything else,she snapped at him.
“See ,I don't know who you are and why are you saying all this to me.I am in love with some one else. Do not try to call me up or message me again.”
She disconnected the call .
Shreya's phone rang again,it was the same number. She didn't reply the call this time.
The next day,she was once again messaged by the same person. She deleted the messages,and ignored the calls by the unknown person.
Shreya got ready keeping her mind away from the calls and messages from her 'Unknown Lover'.
Shreya reached the bus stop to catch a bus to college.
She was wearing a black t-shirt which complemented her looks and made her look prettier than the usual days. Her hair were tied in a high pony,the earrings dangling in her ear made
her face shine even more brightly.
Few passersby, also looked at her gleaming face.
Shreya was smiling at herself.
Suddenly,a bike appeared from nowhere.
Shreya was lost in her thoughts, while waiting for the bus.
She didn't notice the bike, which was approaching her.
The young man on the bike,held out a bottle and splashed something towards her face.
The liquid hit her left cheek,the biker quickly sped away.
Within a minute, she screamed with pain.
Either,everyone on the bus stop was in their own rush to listen to her screaming pain or the cacophony of the traffic faded her scream.
Shreya was crying for help,she was in a state of utter shock.
Soon,a young man standing at the bus stop heard her scream.
He went near her and realised what had happened.
He immediately called up the ambulance.
Five minutes later,the siren of the ambulance was heard from a distance.
Shreya was admitted to the nearby hospital.
She was groaning in pain, when she reached the hospital.
The doctor at the emergency,looked at her condition and kept her in the acid burns ward.
Once, her parents were informed,they along with her younger sister rushed to the hospital.
Her mother was continously crying,since she heard the news.Her whole family was shaken up,after getting to know about the acid attack on Shreya. Even,Neel was shocked on hearing the news.
Her family and Neel wanted to meet her,but no one was allowed inside the ward. Neel had stopped eating anything,since he had heard the news.
Somehow,he blamed himself for the incident.
Shreya was constantly telling him about the unknown person who was messaging and calling her.
He wished,he had taken some action that time. He loved her so much and couldn't bear to see her in pain.
A tear dropped from his eye,thinking about what she might be going through.
It had been two weeks,since any one had seen her.
The doctor treating her had told them,that the left side of her face was quite damaged,and she would be requiring some more treatment,though her face wouldn't look the same in the future.
Her family and Neel, reached the hospital daily so that they could meet her once.
After two weeks, Shreya was discharged from the hospital.
When her family looked at her,they tried asking how she was,she didn't reply.
She was in a state of tremendous shock,her face was veiled when she came out.
Her eyes were numb,and her face was expressionless. Her mother asked her to remove the veil,but she only refused. She was silent,while travelling back home.She didn't speak to anyone,at home.
In the evening, Neel came to meet her at home. Neel was carrying Shreya's favourite flowers-the orchid. Neel looked at her expressionless face. He tried speaking to her,but received no reply from her.
“Shreya,please remove the veil from your face.I want to look at you,” Neel insisted Shreya.
“No, I cannot,” this was the first time Shreya had uttered something after so many days.
Neel fell silent for a moment and then looked at her.
He slowly,moved his hand towards the veil on her face.
Shreya was looking away and asked him not to.
“I am not the same girl,you had known. My face is not the same now,” she said.
He didn't listen and carefully removed the veil from her face.
She shrieked and looked in the other direction.
He held her hand ,and asked her to look towards him.
After lot of persuasion,she looked towards him.
He looked into her eyes and said, “Like I always say,you are the most beautiful girl,I have ever met.”
Shreya didn't reply.
“I love you Shreya.”
She looked towards him,for a moment and a tear dropped from her eyes on hearing his words. ***