Shishir (Winter) 2019, Short Stories - Dhawal Moral




By Dhawal Moral


It was 11:35 am and I was just about done with my social science test. I was seated in aisle position with my back congruent to the wooden support of the 2 capacity maple wood hand-made desk. The school would repaint it every 2 to 3 years which would leave the actual wood lurking behind, almost 3-5 layers of paint and a single nail scratch could fill under your keratin quite an amount of oil based paint. The school had to repaint the desks because students would doodle on it over and over with markers, pens, the classic swiss army knives and god knows what. It was actually really fun to see the creativity and the flaired artifice of the students. The students had a certain freedom of anonymity with the desks doodles that they didn’t get elsewhere. I always wanted to meet the guy who painted the desks because only he had witnessed all the messages of the heartbroken lovers, the suffocating teenagers and all. The guy was kind of a confessor of a church who would listen to all the confessions.


Only 25 minutes were remaining for the test to be over and with it our junior session of high school. Everyone had already packed their bags the night before and were ready to go home and be done with studies; although we hardly did study when we were in school. I could see a bevy of guardians standing and waiting in the reception hall engaged in confabulations ambiguous to my ears.


I was sweating profusely because the motionless sun downpoured his stubborn sunlight directly at my face.


A drop of sweat left my mandible and landed on my answer sheet and I quickly cleaned it with my fingers strewing the ink of answer no 34. The last straw, question no 35 was remaining and I always struggled with this one. We had to mark specific places of rivers and mountains in a map. I always wrestled with this question; every damn test I had appeared, I always struggled with this. Now only 20 minutes were remaining of the test. I foolishly made a self destructive decision.


I tapped on her shoulders. She signaled me with her left hand to wait; she was writing like a goddamn madman. I had to wait for another two minutes.


Her name was Danica Sukh. She came to the school a year before me and we sat next to each other since we were in 5th grade. My name alphabetically followed hers and that was the reason we sat next to each other in the exams. Our names were the main reasons we had become close. That’s actually how we became friends. I knew more about her than she did. She was my goddamn light then; this may sound cheesy but she really was. I was in love with her.


She turned around now with a satisfied smile as if she had won a damn war. She always had a profound complexity to herself which I loved. She read all kinds of books, books I hadn’t even heard of. She was interesting and smart as hell.


“ What is it ?” she asked slyly.


I pointed her towards question no 35 in my question paper and made a no gesture with my right hand.


“ I knew this would come up. Every damn test… I told you yesterday to study the maps but you didn’t listen to me.” She said.


“ You are right… I didn’t.”


“ That’s the problem… you never listen to me.”


I didn’t say anything. I was kind of annoyed.


“ Will you do it then?” I asked annoyingly.


“ Of course.”


She smiled at me. I smiled back. Those moments were like taking a refreshing cold shower in an excruciating summer day.


Our invigilator, Mrs. Darcy, was scrutinizing over the whole classroom but somehow I managed to insinuate my empty map into Danica’s hands. She took it and started writing on it. My heart started beating like a damn freight train when Mrs Darcy approached our desks slowly. I thought she had caught an eye of our little “verboten act” and was about to rain havoc on us; probably report us to the administration and all. But all she did was stand next to the desk ahead of Danica. I was calm now. Now only 15 minutes were remaining and I grew a tad impatient. Danica put the pen down and i knew she was done with my map. Mrs Darcy now turned around and started walking towards the back of the class. Danica, as soon as Mrs Darcy passed my desk, passed me my map and that’s when Mrs Darcy just turned around again.


Noticing our “verboten act” she loudly and assertively shouted, “ YOU TWO, STAND UP!!”


Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the perfect goddamn storm had befallen. I tried to alleviate the severity of the situation with grovelling and obsequious affectations. On the other hand, Danica with her damn mouth started wrangling with Mrs. Darcy. Mrs Darcy then said, “ I saw you passing him the note. I knew something sneaky was perpetrating here…that is why I came here in the first place… Oh kid!! You just brought yourself some damned devastation.”


As she said those words, Miss Dakota came inside. She probably got a whiff of the situation from outside. While Mrs Darcy was explaining the situation to her I looked at Danica.

Her face was boiling red. She was angry; not scared or anything just angry, because I knew her angry face. I knew it well.


The situation grew dire when our wrangler decided to emancipate the anger that was reddening her face. MrsDarcy was still explaining the situation to Miss Dakota when Danica abruptly blurted out, “ Its all false. She’s lying. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”


“SHUT YOUR MOUTH DANICA” said Miss Dakota.


But Danica relentlessly continued inveighing against all the accusations and meanwhile pointed me towards her pen. She had written my map with the similar ball pen I was writing my paper with and she had written her paper in gel ink.


She then walked up to Miss Dakota to explain how we had written our maps in different inks and that there was no way we could have cheated.


Trepidation and fear had engulfed me leading to an abject transfixation. I looked blankly, trying to comprehend Danica was saying to Miss Dakota but utterly failed to sense anything. Danica, although her face red with rage, managed a smile to me. I was in no position to smile back.


Miss Dakota exited the room.


To avoid a hefty punishment I tried grovelling, but Mrs Darcy did nothing but reprimand me. She had turned sullen. I turned to look at Danica who was staring outside the window with deep contemplation and still some anger was discernable on her face. I walked back to my seat, sad and terrified of our plight, as it was the final day and everything was supposed to go right.


I then whispered Danica’s name “ Are you okay?” I asked; she was still staring outside.


She didn’t answer.


“ Its gonna be alright. Miss Dakota is gonna look out for us.”


She still didn’t answer.


It was silent for a while. It was the first time I noticed that some of the students were staring at us. Some of them in an affronting manner, some with pity, some with condemn but most of them were indulged in finishing their tests.


“ Is this the last day we’re gonna see each other?” she asked me, outta nowhere.


I didn’t know what to say.


“ Don’t worry about it. We got a bigger problem to deal with.”


“ You didn’t answer my question.”


“ We’ll talk about it later.”


“ You never answer my questions…. Later when? Maybe later we won’t see each other.”


“ Well whose fault is it? IT AIN’T MINE! You’re going off to somewhere fancy while I’ll be stuck here… in this goddamn harrowing place….Without you… any place will be awful without you Danica… and you won’t understand.”


“ We were over this.”


“ Apparently I’m not. Look, you’re never gonna get the assurance of me being okay when you’re gone. Even if I say I’ll be, I won’t. You’ve changed my life, Danica.”


“ You’re being selfish, alright.”


“ I can’t help it.”


“ I’ll miss you too… you’ve changed my life too…I’ll be sad too.”


“ You use the word ”too” a lot… and looks like we’re both gonna be sad together apart.”


She looked away from me, to the outside again; she was really mad.


Miss Dakota appeared just then and ordered the both of us to follow her. We both walked out of our seats and followed Miss Dakota till we reached the threshold of the stairs.

Miss Dakota said, “ What were you guys thinking?”


“ We’re really sorry. It was stupid.” I said.


“ If it wasn’t for me… they were gonna tell your parents… they could’ve flunked you .”


“ We’re really sorry… is everything okay now?”


“ Yeah yeah…. You stupid morons… now go and wait outside the staff room.”


“ Alright… thank you so much.”


“Alright alright…. Go and wait upstairs now.”


Danica traipsed up the stairs and I briskly followed behind. I reached her when half the stairs were conquered and I held her hand. She didn’t hold mine back, but she didn’t free her hand from my grasp either. She looked at my face, into my eyes then looked away. We started walking up again. I started feeling the grasp of her hand growing upon mine. She smiled at me. She looked beautiful. I wanted to kiss her. I smiled back.


The hallways of the 1st floor were empty. Each step echoed and ours made a synchronized rhythm. We had let gone of our hands by then and were walking alongside each other silently to the staff room. We reached the room and waited outside beholding the trees sojourning alongside each other sheltering birds. As we watched the trees they too watched us and whispered amongst each other through the wind; I thought to myself.


“ I’m gonna go have some water.” I said.


“ Go ahead… I’ll wait for Mrs Dakota… and I don’t wanna miss the view.”


I went and drank some water from the nearby tap and was returning when I heard someone call my name, “ DARREN!”


I turned to see David. David Meshino was in our class but anyone hardly knew anything about him. He thrived in solitude, as he would like to say. His only companion were his books and his never ending cigarettes. He spent most of his time in the library. When he wasn’t sleeping he was in the library. He was smart as hell too. He was the only one who I didn’t have a lousy conversation with.


He then repeatedly chanted my name which was kind of coltish but I’d be lying if I say it wasn’t fun to hear that lay.


“ What are you so chuffed about?” I asked


“ Well, my friend.. the sun is shining, the birds are singing.. the breeze is peaceful… it is a goddamn beautiful day… plus I’m smoking my cigarettes… all alone, unless you’d like a smoke.”


“ What are ya, tryna get me expelled?”


“ They expel ya for smoking some?”


“ probably not you, but me… they will”


“Why?” he asked “ what’d you do?”


“ They caught us cheating. Danica was passing the map to me when Mrs Darcy saw us. They aint doing nothing though… maybe some apology letter or something… I don’t know… that’s why I’m upstairs.”


“ Girls, man.. they are stupid,” he said, while blowing a perfect ring of smoke out of his mouth. “ but we fall for them in mere seconds. We are more stupid.”


“ Its true what Salinger said about girls man… ‘every time a girl does something pretty, we fall half in love with them.’


Half of his cigarette was over now.


“ You gonna keep her?”


“ Don’t have her to keep her.”


“ You love her though right… I’ve seen how you look at her… I know you love her..” he said flicking the butt of the cigarette to get rid of the ashes.


“ Yeah I do… and she knows it too. Its gonna be a dog’s life without her… I tell ya..”


“ She kills ya, doesn’t she?”


“ Everyday man, every damn day.”

He laughed and then smoked up the left cigarette in one drag.


“ What are you doing here?” I asked


“ Nothing… I was bored… told the teacher I wasn’t feeling well… submitted my test and all..”


“ How was it?”


“ The test? Nothing extraordinary.”


He took out another cigarette from his pack and lit it.


“ 7 years man… 7 damn years, I’ve been in love with her and not once have I told her how I feel…. She knows it though.” I said, “ She ever said anything?”


“ Nah man! She smiles at me in the morning like I’m her whole goddamn world and by the end of the day she won’t even talk to me… she’s a damn labyrinth I tell ya…”


He laughed and said, “ Sometimes I wish I were a goddamn fruit, they ain’t much complicated.”


I laughed.


“ You ever kiss her?” he asked.


“ No.. but we did get close once. It were the practice days for the annual function and we were lying on the grass in the field next to each other…. All of our friends were gone for their performances or something.” I said and signaled him with my right hand, asking for a smoke. He took one drag and passed it to me. I took a long drag out of it. Some ash fell on my shoes too.


“ You okay there?” he asked, taking the cigarette from my hand.


“ Yes… and no… So yeah, we were lying there with our eyes up towards the sky and she told me how this was gonna be our last year together. She also said I don’t look like one but that I’m really innocent and told me to never change… also how once when we were going for some competition or something and she listened to me singing songs while I was listening to my I pod… she made me smile with these things…. Then it went quiet for awhile and then we held hands and faced each other… I came closer to her. I didn’t make a move though. I was scared as hell but excited too. It was a moment. But I don’t know what came into her, she suddenly turned away and we were back to looking at the damn sky.”


“ That must have sucked.”


“It did.”


“ Why are you obsessed with love man? People seem fine without it.”


“ Well, I’ll quote Allen Ginsberg here, ‘ if I overreach myself for love, it is because I crave it so much, and have known so little of it.’”


“ I’ll be a hypocrite if I don’t say it. As much as you love her, I crave my father’s approval.”


“ You don’t say!”


“ True!! Sometimes I feel I try to escape reality by escaping my parents lives. We hardly talk at all. It sucks man… but in the end, they are your reality,” he said and threw the remaining cigarette away.


He took out two cigarettes this time and offered me one, which I declined saying, I’ll have a smoke from his.


“ I don’t know what happened. It just all slipped, man. They try to confine you to their stupid worlds, thinking you just belong to them…they won’t let you evolve.” He said “ I’d be lost without them.”


“ I wish they’d abandoned me when I was young…. That way I couldn’t have disappointed them.”


“ Come on man, don’t say t—“

“ Or better yet, I should have died in the womb… that way I couldn’t have disappointed them. Actually I could have. I would’ve disappointed them; by dying.” He said and smoked the hell out of the cigarette.


“ Don’t you think you’re too young to have these morbid thoughts?”


“ Don’t you think I’m too young to have these problems rooting these thoughts?”


“ I don’t know what to say; all I know is that this world is a cruel stage, and we merely its desolate players.”


“ You’re right. Being happy is an exaggeration. Its transient. Ernest Becker said – ‘ it is our altruistic motives that turns this world to a charnel house.’ It is our craving for the heroic feeling that kills us.”


I asked for the cigarette.


“ You ever read ‘ Denial of Death’ by Becker?” he asked


“ No.”

“ You should. Hell, everyone should read that book. This world might become a better place.”


“ I will once I get some time,” I said, giving him the cigarette back.


“ I am telling you, I don’t wanna live in this world anymore man.” he said.


I couldn’t think of anything to say.


“ Maybe a girl might help.”


“ A lovers company might palliate my pain but can never cure it.”


“ I said, it might help.”


“ Well there’s this girl, so beautiful and swell. She really is beautiful. She always carries this red bag with her. I’m pretty sure that bag couldn’t hold more than 2 books. I love how she does her hair everyday…. She’s got these endearing mole marks and freckles on her face that kills me every day.” he said and blushed.


“ You talked to her yet?”


“ Well, this once… in the library… she was smiling and all, looking so damn pretty, I can’t even say man…”


The cigarette was over now and he reached for his pocket and took out two and gave me one; I took it.


“ She reminds me of the daffodils from Wordsworth’s poem; you know how the daffodils flashed in his dreams. She is my daffodil man. It sounds cheesy but she really is.”


“ Hey, how could you even ask me why am I so obsessed love, when you are the real romantic of the two of us, you romantic bastard?”


“ Alright, alright!”


“ You are in love my friend! You gonna talk to her?”


“ Maybe.”


“ I wish I had taken some advice from you…. Maybe I would have kissed Danica by now.”


“ You still can.”


“ I don’t know. She seemed kinda sore earlier.I’ll just let her go…. Just like that…. 7 years and I’ll let her go just like that.”


I gently flicked the cigarette to get rid of the ashes. I then took a large drag out of it and slowly blew the smoke out.


“ I’m a goddamn moron.” I said while rubbing my eyes.


“ You will be, if you don’t tell her you love her.”


“ She knows it already.”


“ She hasn’t heard you saying it.”


“ I don’t know if I can.”


He couldn’t care less about the parents seeing him smoke.


It was quiet for awhile. I threw the remaining cigarette out and drank some water. We both stood next to each other with our hands on the railing of the wall and saw the parents come and go. It was pleasant.


“ I read somewhere that albatrosses can fly for tens of thousands of miles without even stopping once… they don’t even have to flap their wings much.” He said.


“ Must be swell to be one.”


“ Yeah, but they are hunted down a lot by voracious hunters… they make hats out of them or something.”


“ That’s so callous man.”


“ I’ll tell you what it is… this world… its goddamn paradoxical. Its unkind and unfair in tons o’ ways. It scorches when we want it frigid and freezes when we want it warm.”


“ You’re right.”


His cigarette was over now and he took out another two.


“ Hey listen, I gotta go. Miss Dakota must be back by now.” I said


“ Alright.”


“ So I’ll see you after the vacations?”


“ Alright.”


I walked away and was just about to take a turn for the hallway when he shouted –“ You gonna tell her?”


“ What do you think?”


“ I think you will.”


I smiled and then walked away. I was gonna tell her.


When I almost reached the room where Danica was still looking at the view, I felt good; kind of relieved. She was standing there like an intimate and pensive Picasso woman staring into and admiring Monet’s impressionist scenery.


She turned around when she heard my footsteps.


“ Did you drink a gallon of water there?” she asked while I was still walking up to her. I laughed.


“ No, you idiot. I was blowing smoke with David.”


Miss Dakota suddenly appeared and told us we were free to go. She had quashed our issue with the help of our co-ordinator. She told us to go downstairs and left.


“ Looks like now, we are free as those birds.” She said and came closer to me. There was only about 10 cms of distance between us.


“ You know,” I said “ I heard somewhere that an albatross can fly thousands of miles without even having to stop once. Guess there isn’t any bird more fre—“


“ I love you, Darren” she said while gazing into my eyes. Her eyes were brown hued and tourmaline striated.


I was dumbfounded and speechless. She held my left hand with her fingers crossed into mine. I was literally numb from head till toe when this happened and when I vaguely came back to my senses, I said, “ You don’t know how much…. Everyday since I’ve met you, I’ve wanted to say those words to you.”


“ I know.” She said and smiled.


“ I love you too, Danica. Oh! I love you…. So much, so damn much.”


She then came a bit closer and leaned forward. I did too. I held her by her waist and we kissed.


It was amazing, the best kiss I’ve ever had. She then smiled, the best smile I ever saw. I gently brushed a tress of her hair from her forehead to the back of her ears and we kissed again. We smiled, then laughed.


“ You know,” she said “ about those albatross of yours, I heard they are always at peril of hunters.”


“ Well, there’s always a risk we have to take.”


“ We should go,” She said.


We were walking down the stairs together and I said, “ You know, if I were a poet, agood one, I’d write a poem just about these stairs. They’re so quaint… and the walls and the stairs are perfectly juxtaposed with each other.”

She didn’t say anything, just looked at me and smiled.


When we reached the end of the stairs I saw my dad waiting outside, in front of the co-ordinator’s office. I saw the students too, ready to go home with heavy luggage on their shoulders. We waited at the end of the staircase.


I held her hand and said, “ I wish this day had come earlier.”


“ Then it wouldn’t have been so profound.”


“ You’re right. I’m really glad it happened.”


“ Bye.” She said,


“ Bye, take care.” I said.


I saw tears filling up her eyes and her hands trembling in mine.


I let go of her hand and turned around to go. It was a lousy moment, having to let her go. I walked away and turned around again to look at her. She waved her hands, goodbye it was. I turned and walked away. I saw my dad standing there and he saw me too. We both waved our hands to each other. He hurriedly walked up to me and hugged me ecstatically at the drop of a hat.


Our co-ordinator just then appeared from behind me and my dad said to her,“ He has grown up a lot.”


“ Only in size.” She replied.




Dhawal Moral is a student from Assam and aspies to be a writer and a poet. He plans to write a novel or any piece of oeuvre that the youth (teens, adolescents) can relate to and not feel secluded in this harrowing world.


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