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Wrong Picture: A Short Story

August 12, 2013

An open ended short story set in Kanya Kumari. Read how to write the Open Ended Story in Writer’s Scratchpad.

by Vedabhyas Kundu

Prakriti appeared quite exultant when we reached Kanya Kumari. She had been very impatient throughout our journey from Thiruvananthapuram. It was because of her insistence that I agreed to make the trip to Kanya Kumari instead of spending the day at Kovalam Beach.

“Believe me, Anantvijay,” Prakriti became emotional as she clasped my hands, “All my life I wanted to come here. Now my dreams have come true.”

It was quite hot and we quenched our thirst by drinking coconut water. The Vivekananda Rock looked imposing as we stood in a long queue to get tickets for the ferry.

“I sincerely believe that one’s sins get washed away here,” Prakriti said, adjusting the pallu of her sari. She looked totally different from the day before, when she had been in slacks and we had such a great time at the Kovalam Beach.

“I don’t believe in all these things,” I said disdainfully.

“Come on, don’t be so cynical,” Prakriti chided me, “Sometimes you should believe in things even if you are not sure about them. Raw practicality makes your life totally barren.”

Vivekananda Rock Memorial Kanyakumari,_India

The Vivekananda Rock looked imposing as we stood in a long queue to get tickets for the ferry.

I looked at her astonished. We had just entered the ferry. I had known Prakriti for only a few days–we met in the train while coming from Delhi–and she had appeared to be quite coquettish during the short time I had known her. Such philosophising on the life process seemed far removed from her. Perhaps the serenity of the Vivekananda Rock had had a wholesome effect on Prakriti.

“How I wish I could stay here forever…” Prakriti murmured.

“And who would look after your garment business? ” I shot back.
“Why talk of worldly things in such a tranquil and holy place?” Prakriti seemed annoyed with me.
“Probably you could become a sanyasin,” I said with a laugh.
“I would love to,” Prakriti said softly, “Perhaps in five years’ time, if all goes well, I’ll go to an ashram.”
“You can’t be serious!” I exclaimed. The very thought of a voluptuous and beautiful girl like Prakriti wanting to renounce worldly pleasures to take to spiritualism seemed incredible.
“I’m a sinner, Anantvijay,” Prakriti took off her stylish sunglasses and said, ” I want to undertake penance for my sins.”
“Come on, Prakriti,” I was flabbergasted at the unbelievable transformation of the girl with whom I had even dared to share dirty jokes, “All of us are sinners, it does not mean that the whole world is going to sacrifice worldly pleasures and join ashrams.”
“I’m not concerned about others. I know that I am a sinner and I must do something about it.”

Prakriti spent the next hour meditating as I roamed around the Rock. People of all kinds were there, some for pure fun while others seemed to have come for spiritual purposes. A cool breeze was blowing which made me feel strangely happy as I thought of Prakriti.

What a wrong picture I had drawn of Prakriti! She was neither the extrovert nor the sensual person I had imagined her to be. She could not be someone who was totally indifferent to the man she had befriended. I was in love with her but felt I could do little, as she was a businesswoman, a really successful businesswoman, who was beyond my reach.

That whole day was spent in Kanya Kumari. We went to all the temples and offered prayers. Prakriti definitely seemed a very religious person. It was almost 10 a.m. when we reached Thiruvananthapuram.

“Can we talk for a while?” I asked Prakriti as she prepared to go to her room.
“You are not tired?” she asked gently.
“Not really, but if you are then you can go ahead to your room.”
“Come on, Anantvijay, ” Prakriti responded immediately. “I am used to sleeping late at night.”
“You must be working till late at night,” I remarked as we entered her room. “Why don’t you tell me more about yourself?” I was totally infatuated with her.
“What do you want to know?”
“Everything, your likes, dislikes, your family…”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I want to marry you,” I could not understand how the sentence slipped out of my mouth.
“Come on, why would you want to marry me?”
“Because I am in love with you.”
“You are very naive,” Prakriti muttered as she lighted a cigarette, “Once you know more about me, you will want to forget me altogether. You’ll start hating me.”
“I am not bothered about anything,” I insisted, ” I want to marry you because I love you.”
“But I can’t. You are a decent man with a comfortable business. I can never be your wife.”
“But you are a businesswoman too, running a successful garment factory.”
Prakriti quickly took a few more puffs, “Since you are so insistent, Anantvijay, I must tell you the truth.” She looked serious as she gazed into my eyes.
“I don’t own a garment factory.” Prakriti lighted another cigarette.
I was dumbfounded.
“Anantvijay… I came here to run away from my usual work, to find solace,” Prakriti continued.
“Do you want to know what I do?” she asked.
There was nothing I could say. I kept gazing at her astounded.
“I am a call girl.”
I was aghast. I could not believe her confession. Was I dreaming? How could a girl like Prakriti, so beautiful, so spiritual, be a call-girl?

Prakriti’s head was bent low as she said, “Anantvijay, I am ashamed of hiding the truth from you. There is something else I need to tell you–my real name is not Prakriti.”
I tried to hold her gaze as she continued, “I came over here for a few days and I wanted to be different, wanted to forget all that I do… my real name is Aradhana.”

I did not know how to react to this. I stood up and began to walk away. But as I was on the verge of opening the door, I turned and took hold of Aradhana’s hands. “Dearest, I forgot to tell you something,” I said.
“What?” she exclaimed.
“That I don’t own any pharmaceutical factory… I am just a medical representative.”
Aradhana stood there astonished, gazing at me, as I kissed her hands, “And my real name is Jatin not Anantvijay.”

Read how to write the Open Ended Story in Writer’s Scratchpad.

Pic attribution: Kishorerajuphotography – wikimedia

This short story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).

 

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