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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...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Memory Intrigues- Chapter Four

Our Team Logo designed by Ruchita

This is the Fourth chapter of Memory Intrigues, a mystery series in the “Game of Blogs for the team “ Dynamic Word Weavers” as a part of #CelebrateBlogging campaign by Blogadda

Read the previous part of the story here

Chapter- 4


Finishing before the deadline is an “Eureka” moment for a writer. Shekhar has already mailed his article yesterday evening, so he can concentrate on his second novel. His first novel is still on the shelf, but he hopes to see it soon in the bookstores. He is not going to allow a few rejection slips to shatter his dreams. He sits there staring at the screen, tapping his fingers on the wooden desk. He takes off his glasses and wipes them twice. The calm, cozy room fails to inspire him. There have been times when he hammered non-stop on the keyboard. Today, he hasn’t typed a single word, unless he counts the words which were erased by the click of the “delete” key. He isn’t devoid of ideas; the ideas fly around like bubbles which rupture as soon as he touches them.

His study is secluded just as he likes it. Tara is in her office and Roohi is never a disturbance. He has also closed the curtains to avoid distraction. His room seems like an isolated, dimly-lit cave, but that doesn’t prevent his mind from wandering. After that disturbing call, Jennifer hasn't called again. Shekhar's normally smiling face has started to show worry lines. Still staring at the screen, he imagines a world where he could write without worrying about finding publishers or readers, a content and less nagging Tara, a happy Roohi, and no friends in danger.

A harsh, ringing noise disrupts his reverie, he looks around for his mobile. Sifting frantically through the pile on his desk, he finds it and answers without bothering to check the number.

“Hello!” he screams into the cell phone. If the other person doesn’t like being screamed at, it isn’t his problem. He doesn’t like being disturbed either.

“Shekh, I’m scared...they are onto me.” He hears Jennifer’s voice along with her laboured, heavy breathing. The clamorous din in the background suggests she might have called from a market or perhaps, a station.

“Where are you? Have you reached Mumbai?” Shekhar fiddles with the bunch of keys on the desk. Though his voice is still high-pitched, it is mixed with concern. It has been two days since the previous call. Kochi isn’t that far from Mumbai.

“No, I-I couldn’t get away.”

“What do you mean ‘couldn’t get away’? Who are these people?” He grips the keys hard, his palm hurts as the edge digs into his palm. “Jen-”

“It’s big, a Cen... Central Minister is involved.” She stammers, “Shekh, I’ll try to-”

He hears a sharp click followed by silence. “Jen- hello, Jen...” he keeps calling her name though he knows the call is disconnected, hoping it would reconnect by some miracle.

No miracle happens and he tries to call back the number. All he gets is a short, rhythmic beep-beep. The phone is engaged. He glances at the number from which she called, it isn’t a Kerala code. It could be Bangalore or Chennai, he isn’t sure.

Shekhar slumps in his chair, and strokes his beard. His mind is full of the worst fears. Did she disconnect the phone or did someone else do so? She may have hung up and was on the run or someone else cut the call, and dragged her away. He pictures the phone hanging from the cord. The cord could be easy to use for....He stops himself from completing the thought and shakes his head as if that would drive the sinister thoughts away. Devious ideas are the curse of a writer’s mind, he closes his eyes. He thinks about his time with Jennifer, when he was a carefree, dauntless journalist. He can almost smell her lavender scent as if she is beside him. Her impish smile, and those clinking accessories, he could hear her coming from far. He had hair back then; he smiles as he rubs his head. He remembers her gasping voice on the phone and springs up from the chair.

His friend is in trouble, he can’t just sit around. There has to be something he could do, only if he could think of it. His agitation and concern have infused some sort of strange energy in him. He tries to organise his desk,  then gives it up, and paces around the house. He doesn’t see Roohi carefully avoiding him and tiptoeing to her room.

He wishes they had a bigger house - there isn’t enough place to walk. His restlessness drives him from room to  room, even the ones he hasn’t been to in a long time.

Roohi is startled to see her father at the door. She jumps up from her bed and tries to hide her comic book behind her teddy.

“You want anything to eat?” Shekhar asks.

He could see her, and he was actually talking to her. Roohi is speechless.

“I am making ‘Maggi.”

Roohi nods, but Shekhar is already gone.

The kitchen is in stark contrast with his desk. Everything looks spotless, but Shekhar doesn’t bother checking if Tara has made anything. He puts the pan with water on the stove and rummages through the drawers in the kitchen. “Why can’t Tara keep everything in place”, he grumbles. The least she can do is keep the ‘Maggi’ in front.

He finds the ‘Maggi’, and rips it open with his hands. No point in wasting time looking for scissors. Some of the raw noodles fall on the floor. He empties the remaining into the boiling water, adds the spices from the enclosed packet, and stirs to mix. Now, all he has to do is wait for some minutes.

“Was it Bangalore or Chennai?” Shekhar starts thinking again. He decides to check it, that being the least he could do. Shekhar hurries to his desk and looks for the STD code. It is Bangalore, he wipes his glasses with his Tee. The knowledge doesn’t make any difference. Maybe if he knew the minister….. he googles ‘central minister, Kerala’. He isn’t sure if she meant a cabinet minister or minister of state. Besides, he isn’t sure he heard her clearly, it could be a state minister too.

The house is gloomy, he reflects as he gazes at the drab walls. They could do with some bright colours, but that would mean a quarrel with Tara. He isn’t intimidated by a fight, he just doesn’t care.

The house smells foul too, he thinks. Then he recollects the ‘Maggi’ he had left on the stove.

He sprints to the kitchen, but it is too late to save the poor noodles. He switches off the stove. Most of the sooty noodles have stuck to the pan, some strands which aren’t stuck appear brownish black.

“Black noodles, anyone?” he asks no one in particular, trying to lift some noodles in a spoon.

A bubbling laughter directs his attention to the door where he sees swinging ponies, and brown eyes peeking into the kitchen, and he chuckles. The burnt smell must have drawn Roohi and her teddy. He wonders how long it has been since he heard her laugh.

A monotonous ringing cuts through the house, and Shekhar dashes to the phone; he has to know that Jen is safe. “Bloody call centre!” he exclaims, as he tosses the mobile back on the table.

Read the next part of the story here

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


  1. Very well written. Out team is awesome :)

    Destination Infinity

  2. Well expressed, Kiran.
    Interesting! I imagined burnt Black Maggi :)
    Best wishes :)

    1. Thanks Anita, It's my first effort writing recipes :P
      Have a great week ahead.

  3. Enjoyable read! Happy writing! TC... Keep smiling :)

  4. you have built the tempo set by first chapter atlast but only thing i find odd is he was frustrated n his laptop was old n so probably slow one how come he finished the story in that state of mind seems unbeliable unless he is super human being.....

    1. Thanks Vishku for commenting. He didn't finish the story in that frame of mind. The first novel was written long ago.
      If you mean the article, which he was supposed to write for Hindu, He took one whole day and two nights to complete the article. The fourth chapter, starts after a gap of a day. Since, nothing much occurs in that day, the story moves forward to the next day.
      "It has been two days since the previous call. Kochi isn’t that far from Mumbai."

  5. Interesting - tempo had been maintained in all chapters - maggi and roohi s laugh are neatly narrated

    1. Thanks Shobha. I hope you like the rest of our story, too.

  6. If Shekar mailed his article yesterday evening, the suggestion that the first novel is still in the shelf may perhaps need a link and a clarification. Shekar’s nervousness, conflicts in his mind, his disturbed state of mind evident in his actions dealing with the kitchen have been captured beautifully. The intensity of the suspense surrounding Jennifer and her link with Shekar edges on into knowing what the next chapter holds.

    1. Thanks Sridhar for the suggestion. Actually, the rejected novel was a continuation from first chapter but if it is confusing, I'll try to modify it or add some explanation.
      I supposed that the article and novel time schedules are self explanatory. It's good to see comments which point out it isn't so.
      Thanks a lot. If the suspense has aroused interest, then you should continue reading the rest of the chapters. :)

  7. Good! Tempo is being maintained!

  8. The suspense is building!!

    wanna read next part asap :)

  9. Tempo is moving. Maggie for the first time is burnt - Roohi is laughing finally. Keep the mood team


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