Saturday, November 13, 2010


Image: Light Post Before The Storm by Darren Larson, on Flickr
adhumathi was in the kitchen. The TV news was on. The weatherman who gets his share of limelight whenever a cyclone forms over the Bay of Bengal was giving his opinion. The city was going to see a heavy downpour. Cyclone Dimple would make landfall this evening. The Meteorological Department did have a sense of humor—in naming cyclones, of course.

The windows closed with a bang and Madhumathi rushed to secure them, fighting against the strong chilly wind that blew. She made a mental note to call Sandhya who had gone down to play. This was crazy weather.

The television went silent. The lights went out. The house was engulfed in darkness. The city-wide blackout started right that moment.

* * *

Madhumathi’s fingers trembled as she dialed her husband’s cell.

“Ramesh, come home immediately.”

“What happened?”


“Stop crying and tell me what happened?”

“Sandhya is missing. I haven’t seen her in two hours. She went out to play with the other kids and hasn’t returned.”

“You wait there. I am starting right now!”

* * *
Inspector Sathya walked into the police station when the Head Constable came running to him.

“It is him.” He said pointing to the man who sat restlessly in the bench. The station was still buzzing even in the night with the entire city under a blackout. One of the cops was handing out candles to others.

“Yes, I heard the dispatch from the control room.” Sathya walked up to him and patted him on his shoulder.

“Sir, don’t worry. We will find your daughter. But first, I need to ask you a few questions. Can you tell me your name and occupation?”

“I am Ramesh. I run a chain of retail supermarkets in the city…”

“Oh yes! Your face looked familiar…”

“Inspector, my eight year old daughter has gone missing. It has been almost three hours since my wife saw her last at our apartment. Please find her!” He wept.

“Okay, calm down. We need to meet with your wife since she was the last person to see her. Can you please come along with me? We can talk in the car.”

They walked out of the station and got into the inspector’s car. Sathya turned on the flashing lights and siren. The car drove out of the station.

“I don’t mean to scare you. But, in the last few weeks there has been a spate of kidnappings in the city. We will have to rule out all possibilities.”

“Do you have any enemies? From your business side of things…”

“I wouldn’t call them enemies, but there are certainly a few business competitors.”

“We will need a list of people you might have pissed off in the course of business. Any other recent bad blood with anyone?”

“I fired my car driver about a month ago. He was drunk during duty.”

“Okay, I will need his information too. It is good that you came to the police. If this is indeed a kidnapping—and I am hoping it isn’t—let me assure you that we will get them.”

The rain-washed roads glistened in the light from the car’s headlights.

* * *
Sandhya tried banging the doors with her little hands. Her throat was sore with all the screaming. She could barely see in the darkness that surrounded her. The air was getting stuffy and uncomfortable. Her tummy ached and she didn’t know how long she could hold back her bladder.

Sandhya continued pounding the door in the hopes that someone who passed by might hear it and come to her rescue. After sometime, she fell unconscious.

* * *
Madhumathi, Ramesh and Sathya sat around the dining table in his third floor apartment. The dim light from the candles amplified the eerie atmosphere. A lightning bolt struck a high rise building at a distance accompanied by a massive thunderclap. Sathya gulped the glass of water and then started speaking.

“We need to put the timeline together. Mrs. Ramesh, when did you last see her?”

Madhumathi wiped the tears in her eyes. “4.45 or 5 PM, I think.”

“We interviewed the other kids who were playing with her. They say that she was playing at least until 6.00 PM.”

“The apartment secretary has personally visited every residence and confirmed that she hasn’t gone to any friend’s home.”

“Okay. Mr. and Mrs. Ramesh, this case will be my highest priority. If this is a kidnapping, the abductors will call for money. I have asked the phone company to tap your phone. We will be listening in and we will get your daughter soon.”

Sathya got up. The power came back that instant. The television turned on automatically. It was the weatherman again. Cyclone Dimple had changed directions and was expected to make landfall a hundred miles north of the city.

Sathya wished them both good bye and walked out of the house. Ramesh closed the door after he left.
Inspector Sathya stood there at the door and paused for a moment. He pushed the button for the elevator when his cell phone rang. It was the Head Constable.

“Are you sure it is them?” asked Sathya.

“Yes, sir. They were caught at the police checkpoint. Two men… we also recovered weapons.”

“Is the victim safe?”

“Yes sir. He is safe.”

“Good. Wait… That doesn’t make any sense! It was a girl…”

The elevator stopped with a ding. The doors opened. Sandhya lay there unconscious, but breathing.


  1. the narration was awesome, structured very good, but sorry I got the climax in the first point of Sandhya's entry itself...

  2. Thanks Harish. I did struggle with the choice of leaving out or including the entire scene about Sandhya's ordeal. Finally, decided to leave it as it added to the overall drama in the narrative.

    Thanks for dropping by.


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