Arun was my best friend. I knew him from my school days. We shared everything in common. It was the 24th of December when Arun came running to me.

“Can you accompany me?”

He told me about the two lakh rupees credit he had taken from one of his uncle. His uncle, who lived in Mumbai, wanted back the entire amount before New Year.

Arun already arranged for the cash and I bought the earliest tickets available to Mumbai. We quickly packed our bags, taking the minimum luggage required. I asked Arun to be careful with the money.

“I wrapped the cash in a red scarf and hid it under my clothes,” he said, as if it was the wisest thing he could ever do.

In the evening we reached Howrah. The Howrah Junction Mumbai Cst Express arrived on time. I had the tickets. We looked for our compartment and made it to our seats. The middle and the upper bunk was ours. I placed my luggage on the upper bunk and Arun placed his under the opposite seat. An old man with black glasses occupied the window seat from before. He stared at Arun’s bag. The man seemed unusual and strange.

The whistle blew and the journey began. I sat between Arun and the mysterious old man. In order to break the silence, I turned towards the old man, who was now staring outside the window.

“Sir, you are from Kolkata too?”

The man simply nodded.

“Are you travelling alone?” Arun added.

This time the old man did not respond at all.

The man seemed strange from the very start. Night fell. Arun and I decided that one of us would keep a watch on the bag as the other sleeps. The next morning we woke up late. It was Arun’s turn to keep a watch. We were so tired that we both fell asleep. Arun, who slept in the middle bunk, peeped down to see the old man.

To our surprise he was not there.

Arun unzipped his bag to check his money. The money was not there. The red scarf was missing along with the entire amount. The old man and his luggage was nowhere to be seen. One passenger informed us that he had seen the old man leave three stations before. Arun and I got down the very next station.

Arun asked me to wait and he left taking the earliest available local. I watched Arun as he left. When the train could not be seen anymore, I went up to the ticket counter and left for Goa. When I reached Goa and found a hotel of my taste, I unzipped my bag and pulled out a ‘red scarf’. I always wore a diamond watch that showed the time and date. My watch was missing. I untied the scarf. There was no money. It was filled with books.

Meanwhile, Arun reached the junction where the old man was. He watched the old man as his son came to receive his blind father.

A stranger asked Arun the time. Arun walked away as he read the date by the diamond watch on his wrist.

“Merry Christmas.”


PC: royalty free images from pexels



Two years have passed and still there is no trace of him. Even today I wait for him to return. Living in the outskirts, I hardly have any visitors. I have only one friend with whom I share everything. Sitting on the couch for about, I don’t exactly remember, how many hours, I keep staring at the door. Even the tea in the cup has become cold.

“You still believe he will return?” my friend asked.

“He promised,” I replied instantly.

 “The war has ended two years ago,” she added after a long pause.

“But he promised.”

His absence has stolen the colours of my life. Without him around I don’t even feel like changing. Now it seems like I’m wearing this same dress for years. I don’t even feel like loitering anymore. I just wait for him on that old couch with a cup of cold tea.

The silence of our conversation was broken by the sound of the unlocking entrance gate.

“Did you hear that?”

“Maybe it’s him,” I replied. “Who else can it be?”

“I hear a girl’s voice though.”

It was a girl’s voice indeed.
Without answering I waited for the door to open. Not a lash did fall. Finally the door, which was shut for the past two years, opened. A beautiful lady dressed like a bride entered the room. My eyes searched for him.

“Honey, this place is just perfect!” she exclaimed. “Can I check the rooms upstairs?”                                                          

“Yes sure,” came a familiar voice from outside.

“It’s him,” I whispered.

“Who’s she?”

As the lady made her way to the room upstairs, a handsome figure entered the room.

“His wife I suppose,” I murmured.

He lifted me up and stared at me the way I stared at the door for the past two years.

“How I wish we could stay together forever,” he sighed.

Leaving me behind, he made his way upstairs and found his lady shocked and terrified with tears. I knew what had happened. I couldn’t wait for him so long. They discovered my body which was still hanging from the ceiling fan.                                                                                                            

I have so much to tell him but it is too late by now. After all I’m just a photograph and my friend, a silent frame.


By Payal Dutta

PC: royalty free images from pexels



“What took you long?”

“Finding you.”

In the bright darkness, we met each other finally. It seemed to me like we aged neverFitting perfectly in each other, the twists and turns were smoothest this time.

“How did you find me?”

“So desired Richard’s will.”

“So you’ve been staying with Charles all these days?”

“He recently broke his leg.”

There was an awkward silence in the room for a few minutes. Then our conversation continued.

“I stayed with Richard most of the time. He treated me like his only possession. Unwilling to depart from me ever.”

“What then?”

“Cancer, they said.”


“Charles knew about me. He knew how possessive Richard was about me. He waited for him to die.”

“So he broke all ties and let him die?”

“He did. Charles broke Richard’s trust many a times before. Richard left Charles with nothing but me. From the moment Charles got his rights on me, he’s busy finding you. Sometimes I feel he thinks of you only. But then, he grabs me tight like no one ever did.”


“What did Richard have to say about me?”

“He mentioned you never in conversations open. He mentioned about you only in his will when he had options none.”

“What did he write in his will?”

“Charles can have me and that he must find you. There’s something precious in the things you hide. Ever since then we’ve been looking for you. We searched for you everywhere but who knew what’s in store?”

“But why would Charles want me so bad?”

“Richard’s treatment has left him bankrupt.”

“And he seeks for me to gather his fortune you mean?”

“I guess so.”

“Then we should have never met. I’ll disappoint the broken soul only.”

In the middle of our conversation, Charles broke in. He looked at us. A devilish smile on his face we saw. A smile filled with greed and hope. I had never seen Charles like that before. He pushed me and turned me forcefully. Pressing my head hard, his gentle nature escaped. I went round the other in the most comfortable manner. Silent we were. We were closer than ever. More close we wanted to come.

“What’s holding you?”

“Charles,” I replied.

The box unlocked. Charles opened it with expectations great. He found his childhood belongings in there. Richard had collected them all. It was like his hobby. But now, what about Charles? How could plain things like broken toys and records make him happy? With broken hopes he threw the box on the floor. I watched him silently as he broke it too.

I looked up at the table top. Lock was too open to be close. With an open head he could lock my words no more.

I uttered not a word. How could I? A little key I am and my companion an unlocked lock. I wonder why Richard called me the key to happiness.


By Payal Dutta

PC: royalty free images from pexels




Midnight absorbed the hour. I watched David as he lit the candle. Placing me on the table top, he laid me down, still and flat. Silent I remained. I still cannot forget the night. Every word remains absorbed in me.

The silence broke as the two visitors came. Removing their caps, they sat beside me. Close enough to touch my sides. I never felt so nervous before. I don’t remember their names anymore. All I can recall is that one was dressed in red and the other was in black.

As the wind blew, I tried to move away from them. But, like water absorbed by a sponge, the visitors rolled towards me.

David remained unmoved. Everything seemed normal to him. Finally he sat down and I was left alone with three.

All of a sudden, I felt something heavy on me. David, it was. Welcoming the one in black, he placed his hand on me. As he played with his fingers from left to right, the candle light danced on me. His sweat I absorbed.


“How are you?” asked the black.

Neither David nor I replied. The red one, positioned above my head, entered the absorbing conversation.

“I’ve been in London for the past three years. I never thought I’d meet you here. Not this way. Mother said you left us. Left us for another woman. Fortunately I’m a school teacher now. And luckily our school organised a visit to the old age. I was going through the list to count the number of members. There I found your name. I couldn’t recognize you by your picture but my mind was absorbed with those ripe old memories we once shared,” the red one replied as he swayed on me. David moved him gently.

“Could you recognize me father?” the red one continued.

Even in a room with members four, there was an awkward silence. Finally the black one made some design on my right foot. I felt tickled but didn’t move. The candle extinguished. The visitors put on their caps. David lifted me and held me tight. With his tightest grip we moved to the room next door. The visitors didn’t object.

Holding me close, as close as he could, David sat on his bed. Running his fingers on me, his tears ran down. Those drops I absorbed. He loosened his grip and I swayed to the ground. David moved away. As he covered himself with a blanket, I watched him fall asleep.

The red pen and black will dry someday and the letters will absorb in me. I wish I could do something but I’m an unsent letter hiding stories.

By Payal Dutta

Pc: royalty free images from pexels