Friday, June 28, 2013

Round 2 (Match # 9) - Daud Zaidi vs. Siddhant Shekhar

*) - Letters...

(Daud Zaidi)

“Come on, keep moving”, command constable. Vijay could clearly hear the sound of doors clinging as convicts were moving in their respective cells. He was wearing white shirt and pants with black lining just as his inmates except that his shirt read 242.

“All locked?” asked head constable.
“Yes Sir!” answered constable.
“OK! Lights out”

Soon, all the lights start fading away. Vijay could hear the movements of rats running from one corner to another of his cell. His mind became heavy with memories of past. Six years has past but he could clearly recall as if it was a incident of yesterday. 

“You know, what time is it?, I have been waiting for past 1.5 hours”, Neha said angrily, pointing her finger to her wristwatch. She was sitting in the library with two books on her desk and one book in her hand.
“Well, you could have read books in the mean time”, said Vijay sitting on the chair just opposite to her.

“Good Joke, but I am not in mood of it”
“Ok, Actually I was working on project…”
“You know I had bunk two classes and you are saying that…”
“Ok it will never happen again”
“and how many times have you said that to me before”
“I am reall..”
“Just don’t.”

Realizing the situation Vijay started ignoring her and concentrating on book lying down. He knew that every word that he will say right now would be like bullets to her. After all, this was not the first time that he was late. He knew after 5 minutes Neha will calm down.

“What are you reading in economics book? You haven’t even got that subject”, asked Neha pretending to be angry.
“Let’s take a walk”, said Vijay smiling.
After 15minutes, they were riding on Vijay’s Motorbike, on highway neighborhood of town. They usually ride in this part of town, to get a moment of relax from their busy schedule.
“You know, Vickey was trying to flirt with me this afternoon”, said Neha grabbing his shoulder with one hand.
“Vickey, that son of Commissioner?, you must have showed him the path, I think”, replied Vijay looking at speedometer which points 70km/hr.

“Yeah, Of course”
Soon after, clouds gather and air became cool. Leaves of trees started flying here and there, and dust started to penetrate through Vijay’s eyes.
“I think it’s going to rain”, said Vijay.
“Yeah,”, replied Neha trying to cover her eyes from dust.
But it was not the rain only, it was a storm. Vijay saw the lightning and hears the sound of thunder accompanied by it.
“It is a storm”, said the prisoner 241 in a cold voice from nearby cell.
Vijay awakens from his memories and could hear the sound of thunder and raining.

“Yes it is!”, he replied to himself and fall asleep.
Next morning, as usual after counting the prisoners they were left to work in the fields within the prison. There they usually cut rocks.
“Prisoner 242, Here is the letter for you”, said the constable.
Vijay took the letter and opened in hurry. Tears ran through his eyes and read with patience as if it was the only work he has to do.

 “Dear Vijay,
I hope you are okay and I am fine here.
Good news, your brother has topped his class X.
Your Dad is very ill. His viral is getting worse day by day. He can’t even stand up from his bed. Doctors are doing no good. His only wish is to see you.
I imagine the day when I will be waiting for you on the lake and you will come from behind and hold me in your arms.
There is not even a day when I do not feel sorry for you. Waiting for your parole. Waiting for you.
Yours forever
Neha ”
Vijay could not hold his tears after reading this. His father was ill and he could not get there.
“Hey, man I didn’t ask you but you look to have come from a good family, why are you here?”, asked prisoner 241 seeing tears in Vijay’s eyes.
“Long story sir, Tell you later sometime”
“Now is the time kid”
Vijay started,
“Me and my girlfriend Neha went out on a highway on that day and suddenly the storm started coming..”, striking the hammer on the rock which broke into pieces. He could feel that he was standing there on the highway where he stopped his motorbike and made way into the cabin which was on the roadside with Neha.

He could see a table, covered in dust with hammer, sickle and pins on it. There was spider’s web in all the corners of the room.
“I hope this place is own by some farmer, maybe”, said Neha.
“We will have to wait till the storm clears out”, said Vijay
“Storm hasn’t come yet. Now it will come Romeo”, said a voice from the door. Then they could see the face. It was fair, with long hairs wearing Jeans, followed by another small height gentleman wearing tshirt and jeans.
“Vickey and Viraat, what the hell are you doing here?”, said Neha without thinking.
“To repay you back”, said Vickey
“Excuse me, what are you talking about?”, asked Vijay
“Your bitch slap me in front of all classmates in the library”, said Vickey.
“She insulted me in front of all my mates and she will be insulted everywhere”, he added.

With this Viraat kicks Vijay in his stomach. Vijay fell down to his knees, he could feel pain the stomach. He could clearly feel he has to push down the air with efforts to keep breathing. Before, he could do anything , Viraat punches him in his mouth. His nose started bleeding. Now he has forgotten about his stomach. Waters started coming from his eyes and he began to fall. He falls on the ground. With eyes open he could see the two monsters approaching Neha. Her “dupatta” was thrown on the ground. He could see the clothes ripping out of her. He could hear the screams of Neha asking someone for help. Who is going to help? He was the one who loves her. It was his duty to protect her. He gains all his strength, and stand up on his feet, picks up the hammer which was lying on the table and strikes on Viraat’s head who was busy in devil’s deed. With one knock Viraat was unconscious. But Vickey punched again in his nose and gripped his throat tightly. Hammer dropped from Vijay’s hand. He could feel the pressure on his larynx and could feel that it will break in a few seconds. Suddenly, he could feel the pressure relieving and Vickey fall on the ground. He could see Neha with hammer in her hand and Vickey’s head bleeding on the ground.

“Oh, what have you done Neha, he is dead”, said Vijay panting and speaking with great effort, holding his neck.
“I thought he was going to kill you, so I just bumped the hammer on this bastard’s head”, replied Neha.
“It’s okay, Come here”. He gave his dupatta to cover her and hug her. He took the hammer from her hand. Just then Viraat gains conscience.
“You killed him, you freak! You kill him”, he said trying to stand in a defensive mode so that he could tackle anyone hits him further.
“No, No it was I”, said Neha interrupting.

“No, she is trying to save me, I killed him accidently, I have got a hammer in my hand. It was an accident. Let me try to explain”, said Vijay
“You both are insane. His father will not leave you”, said Viraat running and started his motorbike and flew away. Vijay neither tried to stop him nor tried to follow him because he knew that he could not do anything now. The storm had passed already and highway was shining like a bike after servicing. He was given life imprisonment.

With this he emerged from his flashback.
“After that Neha wrote me letters every week. She told me that Viraat approached her twice then, but she escapes both the time. She even stopped going to college. She holds herself responsible for my condition. Her family members tried to get her married to a clerk but she refused. She is brave. That’s why I love her, she is selfless and she had said whatever happens she will wait for me.
I want to get out of here. I want congratulate my little brother for topping his class. I want to see my dad and say that I am sorry for everytime I have been rude to him. As soon as I get parole, I am gonna get to the lakeside where Neha will be waiting for me. I am gonna hold her from behind in her arms and never let her go.”

“Ok enough talk, number 241 and 242 start working”, said constable who had been listening to them from a distance.
“So in how much time one gets parole”, asked Vijay to 241
“well , it depends upon your behaviour”, said 241
“I know this already, I just wanna know if how many years it might take for me”
“Vickey’s father is against you, right? it means that, Sorry no offence but he can keep you here for as many years as he can”
“none taken”, replied Vijay slowly cursing his destiny.
Four years past. He received Neha’s letters regularly learning that his father has died and brother started working in shop. Then one day,
“Number 242 you have been called at head constable office.”, said a constable.
“What’s it about?” asked Vijay
“I think its parole, pack your belongings”, said constable winking his left eye and with a smile.

He hurriedly packs up his bags and belongings.
“When you see Neha, just tell her that she is a brave lady and what she has done is not that everybody can do”, said prisoner number 242 and showing him the sign of thumbs up with a smile.
“Sure, I will”, said Vijay and waving goodbye to him.
“You are released from here, son. You are given parole for your good behavior. Board has passed your name. You are free.”, said the head constable.
Vijay went to his house. His younger brother, Madan was very delighted to see him.

“Hey, bhaiya how are you?”, said Madan hugging him
“I am good. How are you Madan? Congratulations on topping your class. Do you know where Neha is? here or at her home?”, he asked.
“Actually I am sorry bhaiya but..”
“But what”
“She is dead. She committed suicide three years after your imprisonment.”, said Madan and tear rolled from his eyes.
“What? You got something wrong Madan because she has been sending me letters, every week. See that”, he took out the letters from the pocket and shows them to Madan.
“Sorry, I have been writing these letters for all these years. She wrote to you for the first six years but after that she was captured by Viraat and his goon’s and they did things to her. Feeling ashamed she committed suicide. I thought that it was not the appropriate time to tell you. So I thought of writing the letter as hers.”
“I am sorry, bhaiyya ”
“No Madan, she is waiting for me on the lakeside”
“There is no one there”, shouted Madan trying to convince him.
“N…Neha might be waiting for me. Sh..she may be getting bored.i..i must reach hates waiting. Neha... I am coming…d..dont be afraid. ”, he roared angrily and left hashing the door.
Madan could predict that his brother has gone insane and there was no use in stopping him and neither tried.
Vijay sat on the lakeside throwing pebbles in the lake, waiting for her forever and ever. 

Rating - 73/100 

Judge's Comment - I wouldn't hesitate in saying that this is the best match so far (in terms of content's quality) that I have judged in this contest. As you have gotten comments in past - you are a "Mini Premchand". You are no short of feelings in your creations. It felt to me like a movie is going on in front of my eyes. The climax justified the story.

On a funny note, I laughed at myself when a sudden possibility of a mystery/thriller genre struck in my mind. Had it been Neha's original hand-writing on original papers, with Madan telling the same things about Neha's fate, although without any acknowledgement of the letters!! Ek line aapko Munshi Premchand se Agatha Christie me convert kar deti.

*) - A Web of Ties 

(Siddhant Shekhar)

“Are you sure you can’t come?” Aamna cooed into the phone. It was almost 2 and she was on her late-night phone call with Ankit, her boyfriend, more or less a ritual now for the past 3 months. “No baby, I told you na. I have some paperwork at the college tomorrow and after that I need to go to the office.” Ankit said. “Ok shona. I understand. Now you go to sleep, you have to wake up early.” “You hang up first.” “No, you hang up first.” “No, you do.” ***
  “So how was your day?” Bani could read stress etched on Bob’s face. She touched it, as if trying to wipe a slate clean, as if her touch could banish all the lines on his forehead. Bob closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of her hand on his cheeks, taking in the soft fragnance of her hair, momentarily forgetting all the troubles of his day. “It’s ok now.” he said. Bani let out a soft laugh. She had been with Bob for almost 2 years now and yet his comments sometimes surprised her. Bob rarely showed emotion but sitting here in the crowded mall cafeteria, he did feel contended… Almost as if he didn’t want anything else from life now. Bani waited for Bob to say something for a while but when he didn’t, she asked herself “So, what do you want to do?” Bob, let go of her hand, looked at her and said, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" Bani replied, "I don't know. Maybe go watch a movie or something?" Bob relied, "Cool." *** It had been 5 days in a row now that Chayan and Chitra had slept with their backs to one another. Chitra could tell by the absence of the snores that Chayan wasn't sleeping either. A silent tear escaped her deep, black eyes, she couldn't believe it had come to this after 5 years of togetherness. She silently sobbed into her pillow, careful to not make any sound so that Chayan does not find out she was crying again. Chayan could tell by the uncomfortable silence that Chitra was crying. He pretended to snore, as Chitra had often told him that he did while sleeping. He did not know what he would do, or say to make it better and maybe even Chitra's tears didn't mean so much now that she had shed a few million. Maybe tomorrow would be the day when the final goodbye finally came. Chitra could tell that the snores were too loud. She closed her eyes, wishing that when she opened it, she still found Chayan by her side. ***  

Ankit walked into the mall, panting from the effort of lugging his obnoxiously heavy Camera and equipment around. He silently cursed the day when he chose to intern at the Newspaper. Even he could tell he was only given the assignements that had no way chances whatsoever of making the paper. He pulled out his tripod and started taking some pictures of the mall, as if anyone was interested in the 10,000th mall that opened up in the city. He finished the job in an hour and called up his editor. Ankit was asked to stay back and wait for the reporter who would be there in an hour or so. He silently revised his curses in his head and set off towards the food court.
  Bani sat alone on a table, stirring her cold coffee absent-mindedly with the straw. She felt like she and Bob had fallen into a rut, hit a glass ceiling of sorts. No matter how much they walked, no matter how clear their destination was, they weren't making any real progress. As she continued to mull over her lovelife, she heard a deep voice, "Can I sit here? Everywhere else is full." She looked up to see a tall, thin boy, carrying some sort of a tripod over his shoulder. His face looked flushed and she was afraid he would fall down soon if she didn't let him sit down.
  "Sure", Bani said and moved her bag off the chair. The boy threw himself on the chair and slammed his head down on the table, sighing deeply. Bani found his actions comical and said, "Rough day?"
  The boy, never bothering to make eye contact, with his head still on the table, said, "Nope! I am having a ball, I am living the dream, heck, watch the door, the Pulitzer guys might just be walking in to carry me off on their shoulders."
  Bani giggled, the boy was funny. Hell, he was off the charts hilarious compared to Bob. She said, "Hi, I am Bani."
  The boy lifted his face off the table and said, "And I am dead tired. And Ankit, yeah, that too, but mostly dead tired."
  And that set it off. Soon, they were chatting like old friends who had known each other for all their lives. And the more they talked, the more Bani felt herself drawn towards this boy. She realized she had forgotten that she could laugh at silly things and take life a little less seriously, neither of which had been possible around Bob. And sitting here, feelin something she had no name for with a boy she barely knew, she started thinking of all the times she and Bob had sat silently across each other, never speaking a word.  

*** Aamna was ambling in the mall, complete with her set of friends, intent upon shopping till she dropped when her friend pointed out, "Hey! Isn't that Ankit?" Aamna was as surprised as she was excited on seeing him there as she had thought he was at work. She decided to call him and creep upto him, classic "My Best Friend's Wedding" style and pulled out her phone. She called him up and hid behind a pillar, close enough to hear what he said even without the phone, intent upon surprising him.
  Ankit could tell by the ringtone that it was Aamna, it was her third call since the morning. He found it cute initially but now it got almost suffocating, thrice she had called him in the middle of a meeting with the editor and insisted he hung up after saying an I Love You. He disconnected the call and sent her a text saying he was at work and resumed talking to Bani, killing time, waiting earnestly for the reporter to turn up so he could get done and leave. Aamna was a little surprised when Ankit disconnected her call and resumed talking to the girl sitting across him. Who was she? He had never mentioned her. She looked into her phone again and saw Ankit's white lie. Tears welled up in her eyes. She was convinced, or rather convinced herself that Ankit was cheating on her. She turned around and walked away. *** Chayan saw Aamna walking away and could not believe his eyes. He had not seen her since they were what, 12 years old. He called out to her. Aamna turned around when she heard a familiar voice and could not believe her eyes seeing Chayan standing there. He still looked the same as he did when he was 12. She quickly wiped her eyes and forced a smile onto her face and shook his hand. Chayan could instantly tell she was upset, that's how old friends are. He said, "Woah! Why are you crying? Come on! I cut you hair when you were 11! You are still upset about that?" Aamna laughed a little. She protested a little but Chayan convinced her for coffee and a monologue on her dukh bhari kahani (in his words).
  As Aamna went on a solilquoy about Ankit and the girl she had seen him with and how he was cheating on her, Chayan could not believe how fickle Aamna had become. All she had done was seen Ankit talk to another girl and had already decided to break up with him. He thought back to the countless times that Chitra had shown so much faith in him, never doubting his loyality and always being understanding. Comparing her with Aamna, or even with the "Vixen" sitting outside with Ankit, he suddenly realized how much better off he was with Chitra. He still loved her, but somewhere along the line they just stopped communicating, never having much to say, till a point came when so much was left unsaid that they couldn't say anything now just because there was so much to say. 

Chayan booked a candle light dinner for himself and Chitra from his phone, pretending to listen to Aamna, and texted Chitra up about the date. He was determined to give themselves one more chance, one last chance.  

*** Bob walked into his office to find a new boss, a girl named Chitra. Chitra was able, focused and determined and Bob took an instant liking to the girl. During the lunch break, they sat down in the cafeteria opposite each other talking about their next project. Conversations usually flow like a drop of water dripping down a windowpane, no one knows in which direction it will turn next and soon Bob was telling Chitra all about his love life and how he had fallen into a rut. Chitra was a patient listener.
  Chitra was hearing, not really listening, when her phone beeped. She pulled it out to see a text from Chayan asking her out to a date followed by an "I Love You". Even through black markings on a screen, she could hear its sincerity. She somehow knew it was a new beginning and not the end. A tear escaped through her carefully masacared eye. She showed the text to Bob and said, "See this? Me and Chayan have been together for 5 years and he still is like this. No relationship works on its own, you need to put work into it. If you feel you have hit a rut, get out of it. Or don't be sad when it ends, because you never tried to salvage it."
  Bob did not know why he was sharing his love life with his boss, but somehow, whatever this, this stranger had told him, struck a chord within him. After the lunch hour was over, he thanked Chitra for her advice and planned to go and talk to Bani that evening. Actually talk. Meanwhile, Bani made up her mind and steeled her heart as she typed out an "Its over" on her phone's message box.
  *** Relationships are complicated stuff. There are uncertainities, confusions, misunderstanding, complications, compromises, everything thrown in the mix and then you are supposed to navigate this ridiculously complicated maze and feel grateful about it. But funnily, if you know you are not walking alone, its not so difficult anymore. If your cards are on the table all along and you trust that the person in your team has no aces up his or her sleeve that you do not know about, you should do just fine. :)

Rating - 78/100 

Judge's Comment - Honestly, this is one of the story where I was not just a judge, but I got transformed into a reader (fan wouldn't be too far either) in the process of judging. Although when I started, I felt a little confused (and kinda bored also) due the complexity of characters, but by the time Ankit was introduced, I started smiling from the corners of my lips. The language was flawless, presentation was perfect and your selection of words was simply fabulous. If that's really your original creation, it was a professional stuff from every angle and you write like a seasoned professional.
 However, the one thing that disappointed me is the abrupt end. Actually, you would have gotten even better ratings had it been a complete story. But I am pretty much sure, that due to the word limit, you just butchered it ruthlessly from the center. I may be wrong though, but if it's really the case, I would love to have a good read of your complete creation. If there is any "Complete" version of your story, would you mind sending me that via electronic means?

Result - Mr. Siddhant Shekhar wins the match and moves to Round 3. Mr. Daud Zaidi is eliminated from the Championship, with 73 Points he becomes the highest scorer ended up in a losing cause match breaking previous record by Mr. Yogesh Amana Gurjar.

Judge - Pankaj Vijayvargiya (Author, Musician & Entrepreneur) 

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