Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

A Night Journey

It was a dark and stormy night.

Anup had decided that he would never again drive in night to save time. He was sleepy, alone and bored. He had been driving for the past 5 hours and there was no respite from the nature or his body. Unfortunately, there was no way to take rest as the whole area was filled with jungle. The risk of stopping, at least right now, overweigh the risk of driving. Also, he loved driving his white sedan, Anup admitted grudgingly to himself.

5 more hours of driving was left. However, in the next three hours, the sun should come up and probably, some form of civilisation would also show itself. Then, he would make the decision of whether to stop or push himself to finish off the journey. Right now, the answer was simple.

Anup yawned while trying to keep his eyes open looking at the road in front. The tactic failed and for a split second, his eyes were closed.

That time felt like eternity when Anup opened his eyes. The change in scenario told him that he had closed his eyes for at least a few seconds.

“Fuck! I could have died. One turn and I would have been in the jungle, crashed and injured.”

Anup screamed loudly. The scream and scare of death opened his eyes wide.

He feared that he will have to do something to stay awake and he was getting out of ideas.

He increased the sound of music. The radio was gone but the pen-drive was working fine and he could enjoy the romantic music.

Realising his folly, Anup changed the music to thumping rock music. It opened his eyes a little more.

Two more hours passed uneventfully. There were slight rays of sun, or was he hallucinating, Anup thought.

Anup wasn’t. The sun had decided to pity the young man a little and within half an hour, the sun was out and the car’s lights were off. The jungle was still wide spanning. Anup had not counted on the length of jungle being so much. To make the matters worse, the road was not smooth either, with many a pits and potholes. Anup was keeping a steady 60 kmph but often felt bumping up and down. His car was making a repeated sound as well — ‘Tak Tak Tak’. But he avoided it as it wasn’t affecting the car much.

‘Probably something in the trunk is moving.’ Anup thought and continued.

It started two hours after Anup started and continued till now. He knew that the forest did not have many deadly animals but he was afraid of bandits.

‘Even in a jungle, I am more afraid of humans than animals. The world we live in.’ Anup thought with a mirth.

His eyes opened up a bit once he was out of the jungle, safe. There was only one more hour of journey left and Anup decided to keep moving. The city had awakened him enough. The buzz and hum of the city started flowing through him as well.

Morning people were looking at him, probably amazed at how someone could travel in the jungle at night, Anup thought proudly. Few people tried that.

However, Anup was a little concerned looking at the solemn look at most people. He had expected a more lively crowd in the city in the morning. It seemed that they were not happy about something.

“Did something happened in the night?” Anup thought to himself, a little concerned.

The city was in an earthquake prone region and an earthquake could have this affect on people. However, Anup expected to feel the tremors if an earthquake came.

‘What then?’ Anup thought while turning towards his home. He didn’t see many people on the road, not even a single police car.

“No one cares for the city anymore. Bloody Politicians, taking the money and doing nothing.” Anup said to himself annoyed.

However, as soon as he saw his house, these thoughts evaporated. He was going to meet his family after a whole month. His little girl and his wife. He could see his girl playing in the garden outside the house. Involuntarily, he smiled. She meant the world to him and he would keep her safe from everything. No pain or hurt of the world is ever going to be a part of his daughter’s life.

She looked at her father’s car coming from a distance and called for her mother. Then she stood on the chair to look at the car clearly.

Then, she screamed.

Anup heard his daughter screaming even from the distance. It was an earth-shattering scream and wrenched his heart. Scared, he sped up the car. His wife had came out hearing the scream as well, holding a plate.

Anup came inside the gate. His daughter kept on screaming. His wife saw him for the first time then and dropped the plate.

“What happened?” Anup said a little conscious. He stopped the car and came out. Both of them were looking at his car.

He looked at it and was shocked with horror. The whole car had splashes of red. The white car was riddle with blood.

‘Some animal’ Anup’s first thought.

However, he saw what his daughter was looking at and walked to the left side of the car.

The front tyre had a hand stuck to it. He could not see it while driving.

‘The tuk tuk sound.’ Anup thought, his blood draining from his face.