Shishir - 2023 Stories - Sushma R.Doshi


A Modern Day Crisis

By Sushma R.Doshi


It is a festive Thursday. Crowds throng the beautiful temple. Scores of footwear are strewn outside the temple complex as the devout walk in barefoot. The deity is adorned with flowers and anointed with sandalwood. Women and men, freshly bathed, are praying with closed eyes and folded hands. A few sitting on the floor are reading religious texts. The smell of marigolds, incense, camphor and diyas lit in ghee, wafting through the air, fuse with the ringing of temple bells, laughter of children and meeting of people.

It is in the midst of this normal chaos that I see The Girl. She was young, possibly around nineteen or so, wearing a yellow and gold salwar kurti coordinated with a gold shoulder bag. Gold earrings sparkle through strands of long black straightened hair. I imagine there are a pair of gold strappy sandals, outside the temple complex, waiting patiently for its mistress. But no…it isn't a pleasant sight as one expects.

The Girl is crouching down on all fours on the cold marble floor. Face down with tears spilling from her eyes, she is weeping. No ….wailing. Loudly.
A hush falls. The bells have fallen silent. Those reading have stopped. All devotees avert their gaze from the deity to gaze at the distraught damsel. The Girl hasn't paused crying. Whispers erupt.

"Who is she?"

"What could've possibly happened?"

"Whatever happened must've occurred after she came to the temple because she is dressed to go out."

Guesses and presumptions bond strangers as they talk animatedly to each other. The Girl continues to weep meanwhile. Her loud sobs have become muffled. But every once in a while she shrieks. Pitifully. Curiosity has overpowered devotion in the temple.

"Suffering from shock..…must've received news of a disaster.…a death or an accident."

"Heartbreak possibly….these days kids are into these relationships and can't handle them…committing suicide over break ups."

"Young girl.…probable that she is suffering from the trauma of failing exams ….from the looks of her….doesn't appear to be a girl interested in studies."

An old woman, her wrinkled face in a neat white bun, shakes her head in sympathy. "I can't let that poor thing be. I must find out what is wrong. She needs help." She hobbles her way to The Girl. She reaches the huddled figure and pats her softly on her shoulder.

"Child! What is it? Tell me."

The Girl shifts from her crouching position to sit cross legged on the floor. Despair couldn't be more evident on her tear stained face. There is a tangible air of expectation in the crowd. This is the moment. The question plaguing everyone's mind is finally going to be answered. The Girl opens her mouth to speak. Her voice is shrill and laden with panic.

"My phone…an iPhone…a brand new Iphone…I lost it…someone stole it from my bag….Whatever am I going to tell Papa?"

The first sound that cuts through the air of stunned disbelief is that of my muffled giggle.



Sushma R.Doshi from India has a BS History from Loreto College, Kolkata and a Master's degree, MPhil and PhD in International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She dabbles in writing fiction and poetry and her work has been published by Contemporary Literary Review India, Green Shoe Sanctuary, Borderless Journal, Literally Stories, Impspired, International Human Rights Art Festival and Syncopation Literary Journal amongst others


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