Story Collection - Chaalbaaz


The alarm woke Sidhant up and he cursed the day he decided to put his favourite song as the alarm. Now, nothing else would wake him up and he can’t listen the song without cringing. He checked his phone and saw Srishti’s message on his phone.

‘Good morning. How are you?’

‘Morning. Just woke up.’ He typed a quick message and sent it. His eyes were drooping again and soon he was snoring. His alarm didn’t find it amusing and rang at full volume.

“Damn snooze!” Sidhant cursed.

He yawned and stretched himself. There was a lot of work to be done today. His stocks were almost empty and he had to check the emergency systems as well.

Sidhant picked himself up and scratched fourteenth line on the wall — one for a day. It felt like yesterday when he would have woken up next to Srishti and gone to work. Then, one day, he woke up alone in his room, in his house, in this world. He tried to find people everywhere but none could be found. Most of the systems were working fine but if any system broke down, it remained so. Sidhant had learnt to fix a few systems that were extremely essential to his survival but other than that, he was as useless as Srishti used to call him when he was with her. Here, he had seen one house on fire that remained on fire till it was ashes as there was no one to fight the fire; he had also seen half the city’s electricity going out due to some failure. Luckily, his house was secure and comfortable till now.

Sidhant had cried for the first few days and had barely been able to hold himself together. Initially, he thought that he was part of some huge prank that was being played on him by someone. However, after one Sunday had passed, he started accepting that he was part of a puzzled reality. He was alone, in the whole city and probably the whole world.

His only solace was the mobile phone that was still receiving full signal. He could still message and call everyone on his contact list. He could even use the internet for most of the period. However, the speed was abysmal and no cat videos or video calls were coming to pacify him. Initially, he would talk to his wife for hours every day but now, it was only in the evening, for half an hour or so. She had her work and he didn’t want to latch on to her.

Sidhant went to the super market and picked a trolley. Today was a big shopping day. Whenever Sidhant had imagined an apocalyptic situation like this, he had expected zombies. He still expected (hoped?) that a zombie would pop up from somewhere and he would be able to use the bazooka that he carried with him. He knew he would be able to shoot the zombie in a second but at least he would have company for that one second.

Sidhant picked up a laptop as well. This time he chose a Macbook. He had a huge assortment at his disposal and he enjoyed the choices. He wanted to update his blog and email his wife. He had been delaying this email for a long time now but he decided that it was time. Sidhant picked up a few more items and came back to his house. He went to his study and sat down to write. His phone vibrated.

How’s the plan going?

Srishti’s message flashed. She would at least one ask this of him. Sidhant smiled painfully. The plan was immediately formed as soon as he had talked to his wife. He would try to find a way back here and she would try to do the same in the other world. At least that was the plan that they had decided upon. However, with each passing day, his resolve weakened. He still harboured some feelings for the home that was once his but he no longer had hope and didn’t even bothered to try to find a way.

He started typing the email-

Hey Srishti,

I love you. I miss you.

Sidhant stopped and looked at the words he had written. He knew the hardest part was to frame the words that were coming next.

I don’t think there is a way out. I think it is prudent to accept the truth as it is. It is time you move on. The book that I have written should be giving you the revenues and I hope those would be sufficient for you and the kids. I will continue to write and all the proceeds from them will reach you. However, it is time that you move on. I have missed so much that even if I can somehow come back, I don’t think it would be the world I left.

I have missed the birth of my kids. Heck! I found out that we were having twins through a message. I am trying to take care of them the only way I can but I am as good as a dead father. Please give them a real father.

It has been seven years now. I have loved you each day of these seven years and I know you have too. But it is time to move on.

Love, Sidhant

Sidhant read the letter once again and tears prompted in his eyes. She had been with him through these seven long years. She was the one who inspired him to write the book about his life in this place. In return, he was making her wait for a person who would never go back. Sidhant had stopped trying for almost a year. Even the solutions that the scientists sent him, he had stopped attempting. He would simply reply back that it didn’t work. While he missed his wife, he enjoyed the solace of the place — free of any burden or hustle and bustle of life. He didn’t miss his twin seven year old kids much as he had only seen photos of them and never even talked to them.

Sidhant stood up and looked around the room. The walls were filled with scratches, each denoting one day he had spent here. Perhaps, he had started to like this place.