Shy Riyah Saves the Day

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A Short Story By Meghna Chatterjee *

 “I would surely go this time,” exclaimed Riyah as their class teacher distributed the excursion forms. It was the first time she agreed to join the outing as she got a soul-mate, Shalini who entered her life like an angel and changed the lonely world around her. She was no more isolated- she too had someone to chat with. The next day a huge crowd of pupils gathered at the school premise and made their way to Botanical Gardens by A.C. buses. Riyah and Shalini sat together and chatted softly while the popular queen-bee of the school, Ananya and her gang continuously mocked and ridiculed them. Riyah was a bit upset but Shalini consoled her and asked her not to bother the bullies.

After one and a half hour they reached their destination-Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful place. Tall trees screened high up the sky, bright roses grew in vivid colours and there was sweet fragrance all around. The lush green bushes were filled with colourful wild flowers. Cheerful sparrows flew here and there, a cuckoo was singing in its gentle melodious voice –heralding spring. The pond was crystal clear and a soft breeze blew pleasantly. It was a peaceful place suitable for soft natured Riyah. She and Shalini were exploring the lovely garden. The sweet aroma of flowers filled their heart with unlimited joy. “Nice place isn’t it?” asked Shalini, excited. Riyah nodded, her eyes twinkling, a smile spread all over her face.

“Hmm-true happiness dwells only in nature- it has a positive serenity that human relationships lack,” stated Shalini. Riyah, all beaming in an inner joy, took time to consider her words.

“Is it really true? Is nature a recluse from human complexity? But how far? Or, is it the abode of nature that brings a scope for exhilaration and refill of life…..” Anyway, Riyah stopped herself. Enough of her introspection- it became almost an involuntary practice now a days. Today, she would only enjoy the moments- no more self -analysis.

 They were roaming around discussing nature in its bounty in high spirit. On the other hand at a little distant spot Ananya was playing antakshari (a popular Indian party game) with her gang while some rowdy local guys showed up and continued to loiter around. They peered at smart, pretty and attractive Ananya nastily with the obvious wicked motive. “Oh how hot she is! Let’s give her some company….” exclaimed one of them with a vile twist of his lips while the others chuckled. They were spiteful, jeering fellows who drew pleasure out of hindering others. Ananya being engrossed in playing antakshari could not notice them and told her gang, “Let’s see the place now,” and as she got up the hooligans encircled her. They started cat calling her in a dirty way, and Ananya though being                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the biggest bully in school cowed down being traumatized.

Moreover her selfish fair weather friends also got scattered being scared and did not even bother to inform the teachers. In the mean time, Riyah and Shalini appeared in the scene. They were on their way to the nearby washroom. The two stood bewildered to see Ananya being abused. The boys were eve- teasing her and was about to harass her physically with all their vulgarity. Riyah was shocked. Her first instinct was to depart the scene, being afraid of the hooligans, when Shalini shook her, “Riyah please! Let’s go and protest! Nurture your woman instinct! Forget everything else,” she urged and as she had learnt karate she rushed to the four guys and started hitting them with all her might. They were initially taken aback but soon they started threatening Shalini. They kept on showering abuses and one of them even warned her of fatal consequences. She could not continue to fight alone for long. She was back tracking slowly while her intent eyes searched frantically for Riyah to help. But Riyah was nowhere to be seen. “Did she escape too?”  wondered Shalini with a lost expression. But the very next moment the once shy and coward Riyah reappeared pioneering a strange battalion.

Next to Riyah was rushing the robust matron with large protuberant fiery eyes, behind them appeared a few teachers with deeply concerned faces, close to their heels, a group of nervous girls. Mrs. Roy, a senior teacher, with her shrill, sharp voice snapped, “Hey guys immediately leave this place otherwise we would have to call the police!” The hoodlums were taken aback. Almost encircled by the students and the teachers, their nasty game came to an abrupt end. Petrified they began to run so hard that one of them slipped and tumbled into the pond, another tore his slipper while the hefty matron followed the other two bellowing at the top of her coarse voice. One of them got a bang of her heavy palm while the other pleaded for mercy while running helter-skelter around the woods and ponds. The cranky matron, Molly Aunty, whom all the girls avoided and made fun at the back calling her Lady Hagrid, had at once become a beloved of all. And obviously, Riyah and Shalini became instant heroes from complete nondescripts.

On their way back to school, Ananya sat with Riyah and Shalini in the bus. She uttered from deep within her conscience, “You have saved me today, and you two were like angels sent from the heaven!” She touched Shalini’s hand tightly and continued in a force of spontaneous catharsis, “Now I know how it feels to get ragged, I am sorry!” she repented and sobbed.

“It’s one of women’s duties to protect women in turbulent moments,” the little woman within Riyah asserted. Ananya was spellbound. The next day the headmistress praised both the girls for their bravery and rewarded each of them with a story book.

“Wow! It’s Agatha Christie’s Third Girl,” Riyah exclaimed with delight being a mad fan of Agatha Christie. She was showered with happiness. Tears rolled down her cheeks-the tears of pride, the tears of joy. The two girls then glided towards their classroom, their heads held high as though they had invisible wings behind.

 * Meghna Chatterjee is a student of Sociology at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India. She shares an immense love and deep passion towards creative short story writing. She always tries to study, depict, experiment and nurture the different shades of human emotions in her writings.

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12










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