Short Stories

The case of a lucky girl

The atmosphere inside the bus was lively, or rather eventful. Hell-bent on reaching Marushur, the terminal point of the route, in time, the driver was driving like a maniac. Having developed a sore throat due to constant blowing of the whistle, the old-fashioned conductor was using the outdated rope-and-bell system. A middle-aged man was snoring away in the last row. Probably, he had got into the bus right from the Shreenagar terminus. A guy in a casual checked t-shirt tucked inside a low-hip jean was animatedly conversing into his mobile phone. Behind him, there was a young couple oh-so in love, exchanging sweet-nothings. An old woman in the seat opposite the couple smirked at their behaviour. Sitting in the front rows were some young labourers, probably Nepalis, their conversation beyond comprehension.

And then there was Nakshathra.

She was an epitome of beauty. Her walnut-brown skin gleamed when the evening sunrays hit her through the window. Her jet-black hair was a hot topic of discussion among her girl buddies. Her perfectly polished nails invoked the jealousy of nail-biting homo sapiens. But it was her kind personality, which attracted many a good heart towards her. She was adjustable, but she hated travelling in the Pallavan Transport Corporation buses. She preferred the auto rickshaw as she could alight in front of her house. Taking a bus meant that she should walk for ten minutes to reach her home. She occupied a window seat and was browsing through Facebook newsfeed when she was interrupted by a tap on her shoulder. She turned back and noticed a Japanese girl smiling at her. She deduced that she was Japanese, as she had watched n number of Japanese movies. Speaking with a foreigner was a rare opportunity for Nakshathra. So, she returned the smile.

“Where will you be getting down?” asked the foreigner.

“The last stop, Marushur,” replied Nakshathra.

“Okay, can I borrow your pen for a minute, please? I will return it when we reach the last stop.”

“Sure.” Nakshathra fumbled through her college bag to find a pen. “Here it is,” she said, offering the pen to the Japanese.

Minutes ticked away. The bus was taking a diversion towards a popular multiplex when the Japanese girl tapped once again on Nakshathra’s shoulder.

“Thank you, what’s your name?”

“Nakshathra,” she said, contemplating whether to ask back. “Yours?”

“I am Deborah. Are you a college student?”

“Yes, engineering, final year.” Nakshathra scolded herself mentally for divulging too many details about her.

“That’s great! I completed my bachelors from Annie Women’s College last year. I am currently travelling to visit my sister in Marushur. I stay at Ice House.”

Nakshathra was taken aback that Deborah had revealed even more information about her. She relaxed and felt comfortable with the foreigner.

“Do you love music, Nakshathra?”

“Yeah, I do. Who doesn’t?”

“Voila! Then I have bumped into the right person. You see, my sister and I are independent Japanese artists. We create low-budget music albums in English. We have only a small fan base in Chennai, most of them are our relatives and friends of friends. So, I would like to spread a word about our work. Do you have college on Sundays too?”

“No! We don’t. Do you want to see me tortured even on a Sunday?”

Deborah let out a short laugh and continued, “Okay, then you can pay a visit to our concert on Sunday at Skysplash Mall. What say?”

“I – I will try to make it. I don’t know what will come up as I am busy with my project.”

“Okay, do try to come.”

The bus arrived at Marushur terminus. Nakshathra got down and to her surprise, Deborah was expecting the conversation to go on.

“If you don’t mind, can I have your number Nakshathra? Or is there any other means of contacting you? I would like to keep in touch with you and update you about our concerts.”

‘God! Where is this leading? Should I trust her? Though a girl, she is still a stranger. I have been taught that I should not speak to strangers. But, from our two-minute chat, I find her trustworthy. I can’t suspect her for no reason,’ thought Nakshathra.

“Why not? You can save my number. It’s 91******30.” Deborah’s fingers typed the number on her Smartphone.

“Okay, I will save it. What are your other hobbies?”

“Writing. That’s my passion. I have authored some short stories and I am currently working on a novel.”

“That’s awesome! Nice meeting you, Nakshathra. Will keep in touch with you. Bye,” said Deborah, surprised by the fact that she was speaking with an upcoming author.

“Bye, Deborah.”

‘Ha! Foolish girl. She has given away her number to a stranger. She doesn’t have an idea of what she is getting into,’ thought Deborah wickedly on her way back to a shabbily constructed old building named ‘Red Label’. The building was hidden from the main road and it was situated on one of the infrequently visited streets in Marushur.

However, Nakshathra was walking back with nonchalance. She held her head high even though she was aware of the cons of giving her number to a stranger.

*****

“Good catch ya dude! You could have asked her Facebook profile link,” said a burly African, smoking a pipe and forming rings with the smoke. The plaits of his braided hairstyle hung loosely before his eyes. The slightly protruding teeth enhanced his appearance of a thug. At the far end of the dingy room, his gang was lost in a game of poker.

“I thought to ask, but these Tamilian girls are intelligent. She would have refused to give me the link,” replied Deborah, slightly irritated that her efforts were not being appreciated.

“Good job, Debbie! Contact her after a few days. Befriend her and click a pic with her.”

“There is no need for that. Let me check whether she is in WhatsApp. If so, I can save her profile image.”

Deborah refreshed her WhatsApp contacts.

“Luther! She isn’t on WhatsApp.”

“Damn it! What’s her name?”

“Nakshathra.”

“Nakshathra. That means star, right? She will be a star after a month.”

The entire room roared with devilish laughter.

*****

“Nakshu dear, what are you looking at?” asked Nakshathra’s mom, worried by her daughter’s behaviour for the past few days.

“Nothing Ma. I am looking at a friend’s profile pic in Facebook.”

“Sweetheart, for the past few days you look sad. Is everything okay?”

 “Ma, that…I had…” Nakshathra put down her Smartphone and faced her mom.

“What?”

“Ma, I..I..”

“Why are you stammering, Nakshu?”

“I have committed a mistake, Ma.”

“What?” She looked agitated.

“I have given my…”

“Given your what?”

“I have given my number…”

“Phone number?”

“I have given my number to Rohit, Ma. He is calling me continuously and disturbing me.”

“Oh, God! It’s only Rohit, right? It’s not a mistake; he is your cousin. There is no wrong in speaking with him. Attend his calls.”

“Okay, Ma, but don’t try to marry me off to him.”

“I would never do such a thing. I am a modern mom.”

“Thank you, Ma.”

‘How can I tell her that I have given my number to a stranger?’

*****

Red Label presented an eerie atmosphere that evening. The air smelled of a mixture of alcohol and tobacco. Luther was scurrying from one end of the room to another. He was speaking on the phone in a business-like tone.

“Okay sir, sure. I will tell her.” Then he ended the call and turned towards Deborah who was looking after a tied up girl.

“Debbie, can you believe this? Mr.Shimasu Kakru has chosen Nakshathra and he would like her to be traded immediately to Seoul. So, fix a meeting with the tramp in Skysplash Mall. Convince her; say it’s an important concert. You know what to do. Whisk her away and drug…”

“Okay, okay, Luther. I understand. I will call her right now.”

Deborah dialled Nakshathra’s number.

Please check the number you have dialled. Neengal dial seidha tholaipesi ennai seri paarkavum. Please check the….

 ‘Oh, my god! Did I save her number correctly?’ Deborah panicked. Her fingers trembled as she dialled once more.

 Please check the number you have dialled. Neengal dial seidha….

‘Why does the recorded voice sound different? Does the network company have a separate recording studio?’ She dialled the number for the third time. The same message was received.

“Luther!” cried Deborah.

“What?” he asked, hoping that Nakshathra would have given her consent for a meeting.

“We have been deceived.”

*****

International high-profile prostitution racket busted in Chennai.

The headlines caught Nakshathra’s eyes. She raised an eyebrow as she noticed a familiar face amidst the gang of pimps.

‘Deborah! What the hell!’

She continued reading the news, which said about the hidden Red Label building and how the hoodlums were abducting young girls. Deborah was the catalyst. She would befriend the girls, take their phone numbers, and, after a few days, set up a meeting with them in a mall. Then, she would drug them and take them to Red Label. Subsequently, the girls would be traded to different countries and given away to big-shots as escorts.

Nakshathra couldn’t believe her eyes. She was horrified. Bile rose in her stomach. Hurling the newspaper away, she ran to the bathroom, and threw up.

“Nakshu, what happened? Why are you vomiting?” Her mom hurried into the bathroom. She held her daughter’s head while she was puking.

Nakshathra drank some water and settled down on a sofa.

 “What happened, Nakshu?”

“I am not feeling well, Ma. Let me sleep for some time.” She began sweating profusely.

She shuddered at the thought that she was almost abducted and traded away. She thanked God for saving her at the nick of the moment. She headed for her mobile phone to set the alarm. There were two missed calls from an unknown number three days earlier.

‘What if I had attended the calls?’ She trembled at the very thought.

*****

Rohit planned a mind-blowing ceremony for proposing to Nakshatra. He was sure she would accept his proposal. He smiled at her picture on his mobile and dialled her.

Please check the number you have dialled. Neengal dial seidha tholaipesi ennai seri paarkavum. Please check the….

 ‘What? This is ridiculous! Has she changed her number within two weeks? Let me try again.’

And the second time also he received the same message.

Please check the number you have dialled. Neengal dial seidha tholaipesi….

“Hello!” It was Nakshathra’s voice. Rohit gasped at the other end.

“Nakshu! Is this you?” He checked the screen to ensure whether the call has been attended.

“What, Rohit? Have you gone mad? You have called my number and you are asking whether I am Nakshu.”

“Hey! This is unbelievable. I would have not called you the next time.”

“Why?”

“Because I heard a voice telling ‘Please check the number you have dialled’. Can you believe this?”

Nakshathra’s heart skipped a beat. She stood still with her eyes transfixed on the wall in front of her. Like a bolt from the blue, everything became clear to her. She got the answer for her probing queries. She had wondered why the unknown number hadn’t made any calls after that evening. Realization dawned upon her. She had a miraculous escape from a horrible racket.

“Hello Nakshu, are you there? Why did it happen? Anything wrong with your phone? You can change to another network if you want..hello…”

“Rohit! That voice you heard is…”

“Yeah, what about that?”

“It is my hello tune, which I had set from the Funny Hello Tunes series provided by Vodafone. I almost forgot about it. You know, it saved my life.”


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5 thoughts on “The case of a lucky girl

  1. Kavya, your stories get awesome with each one!!!!!! Wow wow wow!!! I loved this so much. It had me sitting on the edge of my seat till the end. A great short thriller which had the perfect cherry on top at the end. Loved it to bits. I wanted to laugh out loud but couldn’t quite do it because I was too busy heaving a huge sigh of relief!! 😀 *clapping hands* Great work, sister!! Rock on!! Please continue to write more and more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you soooo much Deepika!! 🙂 🙂
      I love to write stories with a twist in the end. I am fascinated by O’Henry style of short story writing. 🙂
      And there are more stories in my kitty. But I think I wouldn’t be posting everything in my blog. 😀
      I am planning to self-publish an anthology of my short stories soon. 🙂

      Like

      1. That’s amazing, Kavya! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 Yeah, it’s a wise decision to not publish everything here. I’ll be looking forward to your published book soon!! All the very best *thumbs up*

        Liked by 1 person

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