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On a Dark Night

by Himanshi Shukla
(Lucknow, India)

I hugged my friend goodbye after a sumptuous and lovely dinner and headed towards the main road. I had a look into the Uber app. There were still ten minutes for the cab to arrive. I called the driver to check on him. “It’ll just take a few minutes ma’am. I’m struck in a jam.”

“What? You don’t mean I have to stand here and wait for that stupid jam to disperse!”
“Well, ma’am if you don’t mind you could just walk over. I mean, it’s just that from your location, it’ll be like 200 meters straight. While, if I were to reach to you, I’ll have to follow an extra 3 kilometer stretch due to the diversion.”

It gave it a moment’s thought. A post-dinner walk would be good for my digestive system. As it is, I was going to freeze in the biting December cold that is. Plus, it’ll be Eco-friendly and time-saving.

“Hello, ma’am, are you there? Please don’t cancel the trip. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes, I just-
“No! No, you wait right there and I’m coming.”
Just as I hung up, I noticed a man hurrying in my direction. I couldn’t see his face, given the fact that he’d covered it a hood and a muffler. I could see him waving his hand. I was so scared that I ran with all my might, even as I kept checking on him. Oh god! He was right behind me! I tried to shout for help but my words failed me. I couldn’t sense anything except the horror of what would become of me if this man got my hold.

I skipped forty three heartbeats, when I sensed a hand on my shoulder. I led out a wailing scream and tried to increase my pace, but I hurriedly tripped and fell down instead. Next, I could see him approaching me and I found myself incapable of moving a muscle. The moment he stopped, I just
closed my eyes and covered my face with both my hands so that they be harmed if he’d been planning an acid attack. Ten odd seconds passed and nothing happened. I opened my eyes and tried to peep behind my hands. He was still there sitting on his knees, his breath heavy and quick. Thankfully, there wasn’t any acid bottle or knife with him. I gathered all my courage. I could still trick him and escape. I grabbed a handful of gravel and was just about to blow it in his face when he took out a familiar looking object from his jacket and offered it to me.

“Oh my god!” It was my wallet. I looked at his face. He was still trying to catch his breath.
“Listen, um, thanks. I think it just slipped out of my jacket while I was… But hey, why didn’t you simply yell out. I wouldn’t have been so petrified. Even you won’t have to run.
The boy guffawed. He started doing some gestures which I didn’t seem to buy.
“What, are you mute?” I snapped.
He nodded.

I felt so bad for him. It was so mindless of me to address him that way. It mocked him when all he was doing was trying to help.
“I’m really sorry… about my behavior.” He shook his head consistently.
“Thank you so much for the wallet. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. I mean there are people who would have never come running for returning it. Um, well, it’s time to reward you for your honesty.”

I handed over a five hundred rupee over to him, but no matter how hard I insisted, he was adamant not to take it. He just shook hands, smiled and left soon after. I heaved a sigh of relief! Humanity still exists after all. And virtues like honesty, chivalry and truthfulness exist too, though behind the clouds of doubt that seem to blind our vision.
***

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Dec 04, 2018
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Ideal
by: Malcolm Marsh

Occasionally people and situations are not what they appear to be.

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