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The truth about setbacks

So you had a setback? Congratulations. I am not crazy, I really mean it. Though they tend to have depressing effects, setbacks are a necess...

Friday, 26 September 2014

Memory Intrigues - Chapter 20

Note: This is the Twentieth chapter of 'Memory Intrigues', a collaborative novel being etched out by a group of ten bloggers. 

Join our team, the 'DynamicWord Weavers' as we #CelebrateBlogging with BlogAdda's 'Game of Blogs'

Team logo designed by Ruchita

Read the previous part of the story here or check out all chapters on our FB page here.

The story so far:

The phone rings a couple of times more.  This time Cyrus decides to pick it up, assuming it could be some urgent call.  He hits the accept button but before he could even say “Hello”:

“Why are you not picking my call??  It’s you who has done a mistake.  It’s you who has leaked the news about Jen and the memory card and now you show me attitude and refuse to pick up my calls!  Tara. you are just impossible!!”

Beep..beep..beep… the call gets cut. Cyrus stands there cogitating about what he has just heard.

Agitated, Shekhar decides to pick Roohi up from school.


Chapter 20

Back home with Roohi, all his attention is on the clock, anticipating Tara’s return. After many unsuccessful calls to Tara, he calls his friend to cancel their meeting. He can’t leave Roohi alone at home.

Shekhar is fed up of Tara’s annoying behaviour. Every time they quarrel, she either rants, or sulks and ignores him. He has to apologise though he may not be wrong. This time, he knows Tara has crossed the line. If she expects him to back off, she is in for a surprise. Shekhar starts up and shuts down his laptop four times before abandoning it. He finds it hard to concentrate. After pacing up and down the balcony for half an hour he eventually manages to settle down a bit and get down to some writing.

She pushed the door open, and saw him glaring at her. She should have been afraid but she had no idea what awaited her. She ignored him and went inside. He followed her into the kitchen, the best place for what he wanted to do. She faced him when she turned to take out the rice container. He blocked her path, she must have sensed something because she moved back a few steps. Without any warning, he gripped her delicate neck with his hands and started squeezing it.”

Shekhar stops to glance at the words on the screen and feels better. The words have nothing to do with the story he is writing, but everything to do with his state of mind. Not that he wants to throttle Tara, but he isn’t going to let her off very easily either. He leans back, resting his head on his interlaced fingers, visualising different scenarios of how he would make Tara realise that ambition doesn’t have to be at the cost of family, relationships and friendships.

He has no idea how long he has been daydreaming when loud noises disrupt his tranquility. He discovers Roohi engrossed in Doraemon.

He switches off the television, “time for you to sleep.”

It’s only eight!

Shekhar wipes his glasses; the kid has chosen the worst day to rebel. “Never mind what time it is, just go to bed.”

I want to talk to mom,Roohi insists, “besides....

Shekhar remembers Roohi hasn’t had dinner.

Dinner, and then sleep,” he maintains his position.

He checks out some utensils to see what Tara has cooked that morning. He had managed lunch on rice, but Roohi needs a full meal.

Lady’s fingers!” he grimaces as he sees the content.

He should have guessed, he hates lady’s fingers. After every fight, lady’s fingers miraculously appear in the menu. He suspects Tara has a special reserve of lady’s fingers saved for the occasion. Roohi hates lady’s fingers too, but then, she hates every other vegetable except spinach. Spinach has escaped her list of dislikes thanks to Popeye.

A curly-haired head bobs in through the space between him and the utensil. “We should order pizza,Roohi says, eyeing the lady’s fingers.

Shekhar laughs at her comment, “sweetie, you and I are both eating lady’s fingers today.”

Roohi frowns at him, “but, we don’t like it.

He smiles at her attempt to persuade him by using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. He shakes his head and gently pinches her chin, “still, vegetables make us healthy and wise.”

Roohi makes a face, and skips to the dining table. Shekhar warms the food, and serves her.

After about an hour or two, he comes to find Roohi still nibbling her food.

What are you doing?” Shekar asks in exasperation.

Why isn’t mom back?Roohi asks him back with her mouth full.

She should have been back”, he thinks. “She must be partying with her newfound puppy, Cyrus”. He didn’t like the way that guy gazed at his wife nor did he relish Tara’s bringing Cyrus into their house.

Before he can respond to Roohi, a gentle thud of the door informs him of Tara’s arrival.

Is this the time to come home?” Shekhar starts his tirade. It isn’t the first time Tara was late, but today is a different matter. “How dare you not answer my call?”

Tara takes off her sandals, keeps her purse on the table, then replies, “not in front Roohi. If you don’t care about our daughter, I do.

Oh, yeah?” Shekhar says, but doesn’t argue further. Instead, he checks on Roohi and finds her gulping down her food.

Mom, I’m going to be a princess,she squeals.

You’re already a princess,Tara beams at her.

Roohi finishes her food, washes her hands, and scoots towards her mother. “I need a-

Shekhar pulls her back, “you need your sleep, now. You can talk tomorrow about whatever else you need.”

Ignoring her protests, Shekhar hauls her to bed, and kisses her goodnight.
Roohi can’t sleep, she is waiting for her mom to kiss her goodnight. She stares at the fluorescent star stickers on her ceiling.

Eat, you can fight better on a full stomach.Her mom’s shrill voice penetrates the calm of Roohi’s room. This is followed by more indistinguishable words.

She wonders whether their volume would decrease if they knew she was awake. Papa might get angry if he sees her awake. She lies on the bed whispering about her day to teddy.

She hears heavy footsteps coming to the door and feigns sleep. Her mom comes in to kiss her goodnight. Roohi can hear her papa pacing outside the door. Instead of her usual kiss and hair-caressing, mom bestows a quick peck on her forehead. Before, she can make up her mind to talk to mom, her mom is gone.

Roohi leaps out of bed to rush after mom, but her papa’s voice halts her. “Don’t act like you care about Roohi, you couldn’t pick her up one day.”

Roohi trudges back to her bed, ties a scarf around teddy’s ears and puts her fingers in her ears to block out the angry voices, but they manage to percolate through. She hates it when her parents fight.

Is that what is bothering you? That you had to pick up your own kid?

What bothers me is that you’re too busy for your kid, but have time to prance around with that young boy.”

Roohi doesn’t hear the rest of the quarrel. “Papa doesn’t want to pick me up,” she whispers to teddy, “mom doesn’t have time for me. I’ll always have time for you…..even when I have exams.

Roohi wipes away a single tear. She decides to tell them that she can go to school and come back home by herself, whenever the school van gets cancelled. She knows the way very well. Then, she notices the princess sketch. Grandma could make her a tiara, she is never too busy for Roohi. Grandpa would take her to school. Grandma and grandpa never fight, and they love her. Tears start flowing from her eyes, wetting teddy’s fur.

It’s too late to go to grandma’s, Roohi thinks aloud. Then, she glances outside the window grills. It isn’t very dark, the building compound is brightly lit up. She observes two familiar figures talking on the ground below. If she waited till morning, her parents wouldn’t let her go. She folds up one of her uniforms, and her favourite dress and stuffs them into her backpack. Then she tries writing a letter....

Dear papa and mom,

You wo don’t have to pick me up, I can manage on my own. g Grandma can make the tiara.”

It doesn’t sound nice so she crumples up the paper.

Dear mom and papa,

I don’t want to be Little Red Ridinghood. Grandma and g Grandpa don’t fight. They love me.”

She crumples up this paper too. Then she thinks better of writing a letter. If she doesn’t tell them, they won’t know where she is and can’t bring her home.

Get out!Her mom’s voice echoes through the room followed by the slamming of the door.
Roohi checks through the crack, and sees papa marching to his study carrying a pillow.

Next morning, Shekhar wakes up with a severe headache, the sofa creaks every time he moves. He acts like nothing has happened. He does not want to give Tara the pleasure of seeing him distressed. Tara’s usual yelling for Roohi gets on his nerves. After a while, he hears Tara scream for him, “Shekhu, Roohi-she’s gone.”

He hurries towards Roohi’s room, but he is certain Roohi is hiding somewhere. Her bed is strewn with crumpled bits of paper, Shekhar picks them up and reads them. It doesn’t make sense to him. He also finds a sketch of a dress Roohi has drawn. Panic wells up in his throat. He searches the entire house, even under the beds but finds no sign of Roohi.

He overhears Tara on phone with her mom, “Has Roohi come there?”

No, it’s just that....”

He dashes out of the door; his baby doll is wandering on the streets. He has to find her.

Read the next part of the story here.

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”


  1. Excellent. Twists after twists galore. Team Dynamic Wordweavers is THE TEAM to WATCHOUT :D

    Destination Infinity

  2. I am wondering everyone's creativity who have taken part in this! You are making me more and more curious!

    TC! Keep smiling :)

    1. Thanks Sindhu :) Hope, you'll love the rest of the story.
      TC, Cheers.

  3. Gosh! Hope he finds her soon.
    Nicely narrated, Kiran. Suspense is alive.
    Best wishes :)

    1. Thanks Anita, I hope so too. :)
      Keep visiting and reading.

  4. CHAPTER 20
    A child’s feelings and emotions have been excellently flashed in a setting where the parents are not on terms and have their own priorities over family interests. Roohi’s disappearance as a fall out of an agonizing home front is a further suspense stretching the list keeping the readers on tenterhooks

    1. Thanks a lot, Shridhar. I'm happy you liked it. Read the rest parts too.

  5. WOW Dynamic weave writers. In the whole muddle - sad to know that Roohi has walked out of a secured zone. Big question where she is ? Tara's mom does not complete her sentence. Suspense building up Keep going

    1. Thanks a lot. It's always sad when children are neglected.
      Keep visiting and reading.

  6. A fine description of the trauma that a child goes through when the parents fight. Congratulations

    1. Thanks a lot.
      Children suffer when adults fight. :(

  7. Roohi is depicted well - I hv time for u even if I have exams - wonderful - interesting twists ...


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