Two days had passed since Neha last attended the college. There was no phone call from Aman; not even a text message. All she did was cry. All she thought was, “How will I face the world.” She may not believe but for the society she was living in, it was a matter of her dignity. “I will always feel those staring eyes on me, at-least in my college. Who knows how far that clip will be circulated? Will the people outside my college also recognize me in the same manner? Will my parents come to know about it? No, they must never come to know about it. It will break their hearts. But was it my fault? Yes, it was. No one will understand me. It will be me who will be the outcast.”
“Who found the clip first?” she asked Tanisha. She has been living with her and Riya since the incident. “We don’t know for sure. But we have heard that it was available on a porn site and then the person who downloaded it mailed it to all of the students from an anonymous ID”, she replied sadly. “So, it is not just a college thing, Aman had uploaded it on the internet” she thought while sobbing. The once unconditional love was transforming into hatred. Her eyes were burning with rage and the tears she had been crying. “Aman have spoilt my entire life” she thought and suddenly she blurted out in rage, “I will kill him.”
Riya and Tanisha were startled at her words. “Calm down Neha, please for god sake. Don’t talk like that. Look at yourself. Can you acknowledge yourself in the mirror? What he did was sick but please help yourself” Tanisha said hugging her. Riya, who was lost in her own thoughts spoke suddenly, “She is right.” Tanisha and Neha looked at her blankly. “He must get a taste of his own medicine. For what he has done, he must be punished” she added. “She is right” Neha added wiping her tears. “What do you mean Riya?” asked Tanisha in shock. “He’s not at home. But he will come home someday. Maybe when Neha would have been exploited to full extent by lewd comments and crude jokes of the college students, he will return. But when he returns, he will meet with his destiny that he has crafted with his own hands”, she spoke with an evil half grin on her face. Neha fell into her arms sobbing. “Shushh darling. You won’t have to cry now. This time, he will be the victim and you will be the one enjoying it” she said caressing her head. Tanisha looked at them in shock for a moment and then she spread her arms across both of them. This was all the approval Riya needed. “The bastard has spoiled Neha’s life. He do not deserve to live anymore. People like him should best be killed than destroying someone else’s life”, she thought.
Aman was still in shock. It was too soon. How could god be so cruel? His mother did not get a chance to even see her son before she left the world. Why could he not reach there in time?
Four days had passed since her death and Aman was still grieving for his mother. The relatives were long gone and his father was all alone now. Suddenly he realized that he had forgotten all about Neha due to the sudden death of his mother. “She must have been calling me”, he thought. “Will they have picked her call? How could that be possible? They must have removed the sim the moment they stole my phone. Bloody Pick Pockets!” He picked up the landline and dialed Neha’s number only to find that it was switched off. He tried after an hour to have the same result. That night was no different from others, he could not sleep.
In the morning, he tried her number again but it was switched off. “I will have to go back to Delhi dad”, he said to his father who had clearly grown a couple of years in these days. “Oh yes beta, don’t worry. I’ll be perfectly fine. You must not skip your studies” he said in a gentle tone. “I’ll be back this weekend, I promise” he said placing his hand over his dad’s. They both exchanged a glance in affirmation. On his way back, he was worried about Neha. “Why was her phone switched off?” he continued to think.
Neha and Riya had just returned from the police station. Tanisha was extremely annoyed at them. “How could you be so careless Tanisha? Why did you have to use Neha’s phone for such a thing. We all would have been traced and our life would have been finished”, shouted Tanisha frantically. “It’s all taken care of now. We have reported for misplacing the phone. I have broken the sim and now I will be contacting them from the fake number we got our hands on yesterday”, said Riya assuring her. “Have you arranged for the money?” she added. “Yes, I have kept the entire twenty five thousand in the cupboard. Do we really have to do this Neha? Have you thought about it again? We can still back off you know” said Tanisha looking at Neha. “He must die for what he has done” said Neha with an expression-less face. Riya picked up the phone and called the hooligans whom they had hired to kill Aman. She told them his address and the deal was done. They have to keep a watch at his home. No matter when he returned, they have to kill him.
Aman opened the door of his home. He kept his bag in the cupboard. “I have to find Neha right now” he thought and left the room to visit her. He did not have the faintest of idea that he was being followed by a few unknown men in a car who were paid by Neha herself to kill him. The moment they got a clearance, they pulled him inside and drove away to a desolate area. They pushed him down on the floor. All the way, he had struggled to set himself free but to no luck. He had no energy left in him by now. They started beating him mercilessly.
One of them kicked Aman in face while he was lying almost unconscious. The pain was unbearable for him as blood oozed out of his mouth. The other guy took out his knife and slit his throat. They left him for dead and ran away. Aman’s world was fading out but before he took his last breath, an image dissolved-with-faded-colors appeared in front of his eyes. It was Neha. He blinked his eyes only to find out that he was alone. With a sigh he took his last breath.
This story was written by me for the Grapevine India's '25 Strokes of Teen Life' Contest. Unfortunately, I was not one of the shortlisted 10 people. But the aim was and always have been to reach readers and if you liked the story, then I have achieved my goal.
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