Team: The Spellbinders
Here are the links to the first eight chapters :
Chapter 8 - When Dreams Came True by Deepa Dutta Chaudhuri
The Runaway Brat
Shekhar got up and stretched his thin frame. Again he had spent hours at the computer and not written anything. His life, like his unfinished manuscript was a mess. Should he just tear his life to pieces and shove it down the throat of the dustbin? Everything happening in his life was way beyond his control, especially the attraction Tara had for DD. The sparkle in her eyes that he had seen at the launch of YTV for DD haunted Shekhar like a witch’s curse. Shekhar groaned and banged his head against the desk.
Why does this hurt so badly, as though she is gripping his innards and twisting it?
He drifted away into the world of misery wondering what made woman’s eye sparkle when she was near a man. He wanted to Google and find what makes a woman’s eye sparkle when she is near a man, but shuddered at thought of what the results may say.
Shekhar felt like pulling out his hair in desperation, but life had denied him even that tormenting pleasure, leaving him to wallow in his frustrations without an outlet. Life had taken away the strands of hair from his scalp and the smile from his lips. But, people said he had a nice genuine smile, a compliment that shocked him.
Tara had not even glanced his way when she had walked out, earlier than her usual schedule. She had called to Roohi and said, “Mama is going to office, beta. Eat and go to sleep early. You have school tomorrow.”
He sighed, desperately trying to make sense out of the words of the manuscript that stared back at him. All at once, he sensed that something was amiss. What was it? Aah! He was not being interfered and troubled by Roohi, who would pester him for a bedtime story even though she knew he would not tell her one.
“Tell me a story daddy, about the princess and how she is rescued from the dragon by a handsome prince”, she would whine. She would continue to pester him for some time every night before finally giving up. Lately, she was asking for a story about a prince with blue eyes, which made it much worse for Shekhar. Why should every person who tormented his soul have blue eyes?
Not being asked for the bedtime story of a blue eyed prince was troubling Shekhar who could not continue with his troubled thoughts of Tara. They hardly talked, and after that big fight, all that was left was silence. A silence that screamed obscenities at him!
Even though the absence of Roohi was a huge relief; since now he could work in silence to make sense of those words, his loving un-paying babies, he realized he couldn’t. He hated himself for feeling at loss and missing her.
Where had the little brat gone?
He was torn between his want to continue to sit front of his manuscript trying to finish it off; but on the other hand, he wanted to be sure that Roohi was safe. He hated himself for feeling that way for a child that had snatched his dreams of bringing up a son and enjoying his life with him. He consoled his tormenting soul with the thought that he wanted to know where Roohi is so that he could see her face and hate her. He wanted her in his life so that he could hurt her and enjoy seeing the pain in those two blue pools, like she had made his heart hurt by being a girl. Grudgingly he adjusted those thin specs and pulled his thin frame out of the chair and looked around the room expecting her jump out of any corner to startle him. No, there was really something amiss. His home couldn’t sleep in silence if the brat was anywhere around it and awake.
He shot a glance at the huge digital clock on his table which blinked back 22: 04 at him. Silently his mind calculated 2+2 = 4. He slowly dragged his unyielding frame into the hall and looked around. The light was still shining through the slightly open door of Roohi’s bedroom. He walked into her bedroom controlling the nauseating feeling trying to make him throw up all the four cups of coffee he had in the past two hours. He could never come to terms with the pink shades in that bedroom, and even after nine years he felt disgusted with it. It was nauseating even now, all the pink curtains, sheets, pillows, and glitters everywhere around. But he couldn’t see the pink cheeks of the girl which he had never kissed with love, bidding her goodnight. She couldn’t be out after 10 p.m. Where was Roohi after all?
As he was about to rush out, something caught his eye. There, on the back of the door was a letter clumsily glued and written in Roohi’s handwriting.
I love you but I don’t want to be with you and Daddy anymore. Don’t look for me because you will not find me.
As anger seeped through every vein in his body, Shekhar ground his teeth so hard that it hurt bringing him back to consciousness.
What should he do? Just wait for Tara to come back? Go to the police? Call Tara and let her know? Where could Roohi go? The questions were rushing at him at super speed, a pace which made him numb. He couldn’t think straight.
From the past he knew the girl was an attention seeker and did things which would put her in limelight for a short while. It couldn’t be anything serious. She must be hiding on the terrace, bathrooms or parking lot so that she could enjoy the drama in the night - of panic stricken people running around, police being called and then Tara breaking down after finding her. How he hated being through all this. He just wanted to pretend nothing had gone wrong and go back to his work. He wanted to forget that he checked on Roohi and found that damned letter she left behind.
He decided reluctantly not to disturb everyone around, or to call up Tara and have her blame him for being responsible everything going wrong in home front, but just find that foolish child and bring her back home. He did not even want to punish her at this moment but he would think of something later.
He decided to start from the terrace of the building, go through the places least visited by people before asking anyone about Roohi.
Shekhar had lost the track of time. He looked inside the track pant pockets for his mobile, but found his wallet instead. Absentmindedly, he checked through the contents and was shocked to find the money inside it gone. He couldn’t find his mobile and he had long ago stopped wearing wrist watch.
What the hell the time was?
He had no idea how long he had been running through the building and around it hoping to see a sign of Roohi somewhere. He found the watchman of the building waving to him. His mind calculated as to how much he should reveal to the watchman as he approached him causally.
“Is something the matter Sahib? Can I help you” asked the watchman.
“Oh, nothing much! Roohi is up to her prank and hiding somewhere in the building. You know how tough it is to find someone who does not want to be found?”, though his heart was pacing fast he tried to behave calm and normal.
“Sahib, she went out earlier tonight wearing a backpack. I thought she was visiting a friend with your permission. I had no idea that you were unaware of her going out on her own. Sorry sahib, I should have stopped her. But I thought one of you was waiting for her outside or something like that”.
The watchman was trying to justify why he did not stop Roohi from going out on her own, but Shekhar was not listening. So far he thought Roohi was hiding somewhere in the building, but knowing she was outside on her own sent shivers down his spine.
He thought of the letter and the sudden disappearance of money from his wallet. Everything was connecting and he did not like the thoughts that were trying to barge their way inside his mind.
He ran in the direction the watchman had pointed out without even asking the blabbering man to stop his tirade. All the shops were closed and streets deserted spare for a dog or two sniffing around.
What was that goddamned child thinking by being out at this hour?
He was just running helter-skelter not knowing where to look for Roohi. The chill of the night could not stop him from sweating down profusely as he cursed her under his breath. He slowly felt anger and frustration rising inside him, overpowering all other emotions he had felt. Only if he could lay his hands on her now!
Somewhere the clock struck 4. What! Was it really 4 in the morning already? There was no sign of Roohi yet and Shekhar found himself wandering down some deserted street. He heard some sound coming out of the deserted warehouse. He ran as though he was a man possessed in the direction of the sound. In the dark, unforgiving, hopeless night, this was the first ray of hope he had seen.
Was Roohi hiding in that deserted warehouse?
Had something scared her there?
Shekhar ran as his mind tried to garner as many questions as it could garner within a second.
Continue to read Chapter 10 - Where is Roohi - by Ritu Lalit
Continue to read Chapter 10 - Where is Roohi - by Ritu Lalit