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Ankush: The Goad

By Ruma Chakraborty

She walks down the street everyday around this time

Staring ahead absentmindedly or looking down at her feet or the dusty road as to divine some hidden meaning in her traversing.

The slight figure, mundane and plain till she looks up at you.

There is something mesmeric in her gaze.

Dark brown eyes with flecks of hazel around the iris.

She looks at you without fear, rancour or coyness - a direct gaze that travels straight to the soul of things.

The eldest child among eight, a mother before time, a lost youth.

She doesn't mind not being a beauty.

Of having the village boys throw chits tied to stones through her window or trail her on their bicycles to school.

She is glad that her poor father sent her to the village school albeit to get one mouth off the rations as the school provided the midday meals.

She grew up in peace. At her own pace, almost unconsciously.

Then one day, he saw her.

Marked her with his spoor.

Followed her with his gaze as she walked past where he sat smoking the bidi.

Desire curled out with the smoke through his sooty nostrils.

He didn't know why she captivated him so.

Bewitched, he twitched with desire.

He wondered how she would react to his longing.

He suspected that she would look at him with that calm gaze that didn't judge, rate or hate people.

She was different.

Crazed, he caught her, passing by the old unused factory shed(a false promise to good days by the prevailing government of that time).

The decaying tin shed and silent rot witnessed the cat and mouse game.

She resisted, strangely, with vehemence.

Clawed, bit, kicked.

Each resistance acting as a spur, a goad.

He stared, surprised by his own carnage.

He saw the congealing blood with satisfaction.

The price to be paid for disinterest.

Pride is tolerable in beauty but seems an affectation in the plain looking.

He packed up the battered body in a gunny bag, weighed it with stones and drops it into the pond.

The swollen body surfaced the next evening when the birds were making their way back to their nests.

The elderly woman who found it, had a round of hysterics. The sack had fallen open, the fish had feasted on her face.

The general consensus ran like this...

'What was she doing out so late?'

By Ruma Chakraborty

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