Excerpt for Destiny??(+2) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


PREFACE



RAMS

RAMS was started in September of 2017. It has published more than 15 short stories online. The genre of stories includes suspense, horror, thriller etc.

Page: https://m.facebook.com/RRRAMSSS/

Creator: Nittala Venkata Phani Kesava (NVPK)



Copyright © RAMS (NVPK)

















THE STORY

Opening snap

Sonu wake up’, said Rakesh. Sonu who was sleeping until then quite peacefully, said, ‘Never run when you can walk. Never walk when you can stand. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down. Never lie down when you can sleep. Rakesh why should I get up’?

Run when you can,

Walk when you have to,

Crawl if you must,

Just never give up’.

You should get up’. ‘You have to cook for both of us’.

I taught you that yesterday’.

Teach me again’.

Fine, I’ll do it’. ‘Wash and peel six potatoes for me in five minutes’.

Good’.

Sonu was still on bed, sitting, with his legs stretched. He rubbed his eyes, got up, took a bath, went to the kitchen and took one of the six peeled potatoes which Rakesh has put in a plate. He started slicing long pieces of potato.

Sonu, do you not think it’s time that you found some work to do other than cooking in my home’?

After slicing a potato completely, Sonu answered, ‘I need some time’.

For what’?

I need to decide either to stay or to leave. Here, try this one’. Sonu handed a potato to Rakesh.

Rakesh started slicing. ‘Take as much time as you want but you have to take a decision’.

They started having their food – fried potatoes, rice, sprouts and pickle. After eating a piece of jaggery, Rakesh said, ‘This is the best feeling in the world – to have a small piece of sweet at the end of the meal’. Sonu stood up suddenly and went to a bedroom. He came out and went into the second. As he came out and was about to go to the third, Rakesh said, ‘What are you searching for’?



The Habits

Sonu, with his eyebrows frowned, looks towards Rakesh. ‘What do you think I am searching for’?

Sonu stop’, Rakesh said coming towards Sonu. Sonu started moving away from Rakesh. ‘Stop walking away for god’s sake’. ‘Why do you do this’?

I need it so desperately that I am not able to think about anything else right now’. ‘Where is it’? Asked Sonu while he was about to enter the third room.

You have already taken once yesterday’. ‘Do not take too much at once’.

What are you saying’? ‘Have you gone mad’? ‘My nerves are getting frayed’.

My God’! ‘Earlier you used to take once in fifteen days’. ‘Fifteen gradually became fourteen which further went on to become twelve; nine, five, two and now you are taking it to one’. ‘If you do not stop it, you will end up taking fifteen in a day’. ‘Once in fifteen days to fifteen in one day’! ‘Think about it’.

Sonu opened a cupboard, instinctively, and threw out all the clothes in it within seconds. He emptied the cupboard. He closed the cupboard and opened the wardrobe which was opposite to it. He started throwing out all the files, used or unused; papers, written or blank.

He emptied the wardrobe in five minutes.

Stop it Sonu, stop it’! Rakesh said. The syringe is not here. It is in the second room. As Sonu turned around went to the door, Rakesh began closing it. Sonu got in between and he wasn’t letting the door closed.

Let me out of this room, Rakesh’.

Why should I’? ‘You are going to drug yourself anyway’. Rakesh pushed Sonu into the room and closed the door.

Open the door, Rakesh, so that I can come out, please’!

Sonu kept repeatedly hitting the door hard with his hands. ‘Open the door Rakesh or else I am going to break it’. ‘I am serious’.

Did you ever notice how thick the door is’? ‘You are never going to come out if I do not open it, not without a big hammer or an electric saw’.

Sonu stopped hitting the door. He was very angry. He went to the table between the cupboard and the wardrobe. He looked at the pots which were decorated with flowers, peacock feathers and different colour shades. He began smashing them on the floor, one by one. As he held the last pot and shook it, he heard a sound. He understood that there was something in the pot and smiled. He inverted the pot on the table and a loaded syringe fell on it. Sonu took the cap off the syringe and began searching for the vein on his left forearm. There were multiple pin point scars, indicating that he is a chronic drug abuser. He found the vein and injected the drug into it. He was not able to stand on the floor anymore. He fell on the floor towards his back. As he was lying, he remembered that he kept the loaded syringe in the pot the previous day and forgot about it.

Rakesh I can see clouds’. ‘I am falling from a cliff’, Sonu shouted.

Rakesh closed his eyes and gave a sigh. He opened the door and saw Sonu lying on bare floor with the syringe still on the left forearm. Rakesh removed the syringe carefully and capped it. He lifted up Sonu and took him another room to his bed for him to sleep.



Past Time

Sonu woke up the next morning. He sat, not wanting to leave the bed immediately.

He remembered the place he worked earlier – Villu, a roadside hotel. He worked with his friends. All of them worked downstairs and slept upstairs.

Mohan saw a tall and lean guy coming towards Villu. The tall guy came and sat by a table. Mohan asked, ‘What would you like to eat, sir’? ‘I would like to have a dosa’, the guy replied. Mohan went into the kitchen and said to Sonu, ‘Good news! Your day starts with dosa’. Sonu replied, ‘Say Raja to get ready in five minutes’. Sonu took the already ground flour and mixed it in water. He took some amount of it and poured it with the help of a spatula. It obtained a circular shape. He poured oil around it. It hissed as it got fried. He left it until it turned brown on the bottom. He took it on a plate and shouted, ‘Abhi, it is time to serve the customer’. Abhi took the dosa on a plate to the tall the guy who ate it. He paid his bill and left. This was how they managed their livelihood.

One night, when Abhi was watching television just before sleeping, he listened to an announcement of a competition being given. He called Raja, Sonu and Mohan.

The man on television said, ‘We are happy to announce that a competition on deciding the best cooking team of Visakhapatnam is being held two days from now by RK industries’. ‘Make your own dish within one hour’. ‘The item tasting the best will be awarded 10 lakh rupees’. ‘The venue is Hotel Dasapalla’. ‘Interested teams are to register via this mobile number’.

Mohan noted down the number. After a while, they switched off the television. They looked at each other in confusion. Raja asked, ‘What should we do’?

On the day of competition, the four friends went to the hotel via the entrance gate. There were restaurants like Vaisakhi, Dharani, Dakshin, Executive court. They went towards executive court. As they were about to enter, they were asked to show the permission message. Mohan took out his mobile and showed the message and they were let in.

They went to the reception table. ‘Hello I am Sarita’, said a woman. ‘I have some questions for you’. ‘Do you smoke’?

All the four answered in unison, ‘no’.

Do your drink alcohol’?

No’.

Did you bring anything other than your food items’?

No’.

Do you take any medications’?

No’.

Did you suffer from any allergies’?

No’

My god!’ said raja in surprise. ‘There are many people over here’.

Looks like we have a number of competitors today’, said Abhi.

There is our table, number 95’ said Sonu. They went to their table and put all the food items they brought for cooking on it.

There was an induction stove on the table. Mohan took a bowl and took wheat flour in it and added some water to it. He took some of the dough and flattened it. He took some more amount of dough and flattened it too. He put roasted potato chips on one of them and closed it with the other. He fried the item on a pan and made a stuffed parantha. He took the parantha into a plate and covered it. Abhi took out some onions and tomatoes and chopped them into pieces. Sonu fried them and made it into gravy by grinding. Raja cut pieces of paneer and added them to the gravy.

So, we are ready with stuffed parantha with paneer butter masala’, said Mohan smiling at the other three.

There are other tables with items like poppadum fry, pasta, pizza etc.

Attention’, said a woman’s voice. The voice was familiar like it was being heard twice. ‘I hope your dishes are ready’. ‘Place your dishes in a plate’. ‘My assistant will collect your dishes’. ‘Tag your dish with your table number’.

Few minutes later, a man came with a trolley from table to table.

His trolley got filled in fifteen minutes. He took the trolley and went to Sarita. Sarita took out her phone and made a call. ‘Sir, all the participants are ready with their items’.

I am coming in ten minutes’, said a voice on the phone.

Raja’, said Sonu, ‘Whom do you imagine as the winner of this contest?’

May be table number one or may be four, I do not know, damn it’.

Would you both shut up for a while?’ said Mohan, with an intense look on his face.

As everybody awaited the unknown, the doors opened and the chief guest came in. Sarita took the mic on the table beside her and spoke, ‘Ladies and gentlemen welcome the man of the hour, Mr. Rakesh’.

The crowd gave a warm applause. Rakesh went on to the stage. A worker ran towards the stage and climbed onto it. He gave a mic to Rakesh for speaking.

It is so nice to see you all gathered for this competition’. ‘There is a reason why the best should be selected from a competition’. ‘In fact it is a story we all used to read as kids’.

Long time ago, there was a hare that lived in a forest’. ‘It used to live the way it had to’. ‘One day when this hare was hopping around the forest, it came across a tortoise, which was slower than him’. ‘The hare laughed at the tortoise and said, “You are so slow” ’. ‘The tortoise said in reply, “let us see who is slower when the race begins”’. ‘The hare asked the tortoise, “So ready to get humiliated?”’. ‘The race had begun’. ‘The hare, which was so confident of winning the race, got shocked when it saw that a pond, had to be crossed for the race to be finished’. ‘It learned to run, but not to swim’. ‘The tortoise went slowly but surely went by the side of the hare, crossed the pond and finished the race’. ‘There may be ninety hares over here, but I came here to congratulate the tortoises’.

We are starting with table number five, position ten’. ‘Table number sixty, position eight’. ‘Table number nine, position nine’. ‘Table number seventy seven, position six’. ‘Table number eighty, position seven’. ‘Table number twenty five, position two’. ‘Table number thirty three, position four’. ‘Table number fifty seven, position three’. ‘Table number fourteen, position five’. ‘Who is the leading tortoise, can anyone of you guess’? The crowd stood in silence.

Raja’ whispered Sonu, ‘where did you keep the spatula’? ‘Sonu shut your mouth; you are going to get all of us in trouble’.

You come on this stage’ said Rakesh pointing out to Sonu. The intensity of his voice increased many fold. His eyesight was focussed on Sonu. Sonu walked out of fear to the stage.

I need to know what you two people were doing’, asked Rakesh. ‘Nothing’, Sonu said.

Sonu stood like a soldier who was taking a command from an officer. Rakesh came nearby and said, ‘this is how you get caught, tortoise’. Raja, Abhi and Mohan came quickly on to the stage .The crowd applauded loudly. ‘Hereby I now present the leading tortoise’, a cheque of ten lakh rupees. All the four of them stood on the stage as the other participants left the stage. Rakesh stepped down from the stage. The four people stepped down the stage and prepared to leave the hall. As they were about to leave, they heard a voice say, ‘the party is not over, my dear friends’. They turned around and saw Rakesh standing. ‘I invite all of you to my house for dinner tonight’. ‘The address is in this envelope’. ‘Take it’.



Beginning of habits

Sonu, Abhi, Mohan and Raja returned to Villu. ‘I just cannot believe we won ten lakh rupees ‘, said Mohan.

Sonu asked, ‘What should we do with this money’?

Increase the number of tables, chairs cylinders and stoves and maybe we can get an oven for making fast foods’ said Mohan.

Abhi asked, ‘Who is going for the dinner tonight’?

You go for it’, said Raja.

Not me’, said Abhi. ‘Send Sonu for it’.

Sonu asked, ‘Why do you guys put me into trouble always’?

Sonu, you have to go’, said Mohan. ‘You are the only one amongst us who can understand the customs these rich people have’. ‘All right I will’, said Sonu. Abhi smiled at Sonu. Sonu was looking at Abhi in a weird way for troubling him.

It is because only you can save me’, said Abhi. Sonu smiled back. They began their business.

At the time when the sun was setting, Abhi went to Sonu and said, ‘Hey, it is time for you to go’. After the sun set, Sonu left for the dinner. He climbed onto a bus, got down after quarter-an-hour and started walking. After walking for a while, he saw a cab driver relaxing in his cab after he took the fare from the passenger. He crossed the cab and went to a medical store nearby. The man in charge of the store was tall, frail and in his forties. Sonu asked, ‘How can I go to Prem’s bungalow’? The man answered, ‘Go along this road for quarter- kilometre, take a left and walk for five minutes. You will reach the bungalow.

Sonu walked along the road. The traffic on the road was quite heavy owing to strike going on in some part of the city. As he took a left and continued walking, the noise gradually reduced. Sonu’s heart began to beat faster than it was and he started sweating. He wiped out his sweat with his hand, took a deep breath and continued walking.

As he walked, he saw a wall towards his left with barbed wires over it. He walked along the wall to reach a guarded gate. The guard asked, ‘Who are you’? Sonu replied, ‘Tortoise’. The guard let Sonu in through the gate. Sonu saw a building in the shape of the letter “T”. He entered into the building and saw a table and three rooms. The rest of the space was unoccupied.

I want you to say something about this place’, Rakesh said while coming out of one of the rooms which was to the extreme left.

It is like one of the bungalows that I have had a dream before’, said Sonu.

Rakesh asked, ‘Where are your friends’?

They could not come with me due to the heavy rush in the hotel’, said Sonu.

Come here take a seat at the table’, added Rakesh as he accompanied Sonu to the table. ‘What do like to eat’?

Sonu thought a lot, but could not answer Rakesh.

You have pasta, salad and a soft drink for the dinner’.

Sonu looked at pasta and realised that it is not a thing to be eaten with hands. He looked at Rakesh with his eyes widened and lips drooping. Rakesh took his spoon in his hand.

This is how you eat it’. Sonu saw a spoon beside his plate. He took it and started eating. At the time of getting up from the table, Rakesh said, ‘Wait you need to put your hand beneath your table corresponding to your dinner plate’. Sonu put his hand and took out a gift wrap. ‘This is to you for accepting my dinner treat’. Sonu got up from the table. As he was about to leave, Rakesh asked, ‘Should I drop you at your place’?

Sonu answered, ‘Sir....’

Do not call me Sir, call me Rakesh’.

Rakesh I thank you for the contest and the treat’. ‘I will leave’.

Sonu came out of the bungalow. He went towards the gate, came out through it and took a right turn towards the road. He walked along the road. As he walked, he saw a bike going past in the opposite direction. He stopped all of a sudden when a cab came in front of him. He saw the driver and recognised him as the one near the medical store. As he was about to ask the driver, he got hit on his head. He felt the pain. He tried to shout and all he could was moan, with his voice clenched. He felt down on his chest unconscious.

He woke up in the cab and saw four people holding his hands and legs. He could not shout as his mouth was gagged. A window opened and a needle went into his left forearm. He felt drowsy and could not move further.

He opened his eyes again in an old building. It was messy inside, full of spider webs. He got up, coughed and searched for steps, climbed a floor down and came out of the building. Walking on the road with sun right above was a difficult thing for Sonu after the violent incident. The bungalow that he left last night suddenly appeared before him. He did not see the guard at the gate. He entered into it and searched thoroughly through it. Rakesh caught him from behind as he was about to fall.

He woke up on a bed in a hospital. He saw Rakesh speaking to a doctor. The doctor saw Sonu sitting on the bed and approached him.

How do you feel’?

Sonu said, ‘It is better than the last night’.

The doctor said, ‘You can take him home, Sir’. ‘In case of any problem please do not hesitate to come back’.

Rakesh came out of the hospital, took out a car and drove Sonu to his home. ‘You can stay here until you get well’. ‘I am leaving for my work while you take rest’.

After sleeping for a while, Sonu got up. He was unable to forget the drowsiness the previous night. He searched the whole house and finally found some money – a handful of notes. He left the house. He looked for the cab he saw yesterday near the medical store but he could not find it. He felt a tap on left shoulder. He turned around and saw a man covering his face with a handkerchief due to the winds blowing around carrying dust.

Give me the money’. ‘Listen this stuff will last around a year’. ‘Do not come back over here’. ‘Now go to your home’.

Sonu went to the bungalow. He filled the syringe, put it on his left forearm and injected it. His eyes blinked slower than they normally should, everything looked hazier to him even though air is clean and he began to fall until his back reached the bed.

Rakesh returned to the bungalow and saw Sonu with syringe stuck on his forearm. He put his hand on his mouth and brought it down running his index and middle fingers and thumb on his own beard. He went towards the window and looked out.



Advertisement

Rakesh sat beside Sonu and saw him as he sat up on his bed. His face was without any expression. He got up from the chair on which he was sitting and walked out of the room. He came out of the bungalow, took out a car from the garage beside the bungalow and drove away. He went to hotel ‘Novotel’ a hotel on the beach road. He went into a lift that took him to the top floor and saw a cameraman take out a hand-held camera and switching it on. An elderly in his fifties stood by a podium as the news reporters and news writers turned their and cameras and attention onto him.

Do you know how many people suffer from beriberi’? ‘Do you how the number of children affected by it’? ‘Can you guess the major reason behind it’? ‘The answer is polished rice’. ‘After rice is harvested, it is polished, so as to increase the shelf-life, but at the cost of vitamin B1’. ‘B1 protects us from beriberi but we lose it to animals like cows and buffaloes to which the husk is fed’. ‘People in the olden days used to eat rice unpolished but now we are unable to open our mouth until it is polished’. ‘To counter this problem we have genetically engineered a variety of rice which, with its husk has a shelf life equal to that of polished rice’. ‘This rice variety known as rice number 11 is being available in the market at seventy percent of the cost of polished rice’. ‘We manufacture both polished rice and variety 11’. ‘The day polished rice is not consumed will be the day we will stop manufacturing it’. ‘I am here to show the variety 11 which has been released into the market two weeks ago’. ‘It is going to be shown by my son and heir to RK industries – Rakesh’. Rakesh walked amidst being photographed by the reporters. He stood upon the podium and took out a plastic cover with a grain.

This is variety 11 – the unpolished rice’. The grain was photographed by many reporters.

As Rakesh and his father were about to leave, one of the reporters asked a question, ‘Karan Sir, where is variety 11 manufactured’?

It is manufactured on our ship Maha’.

Where is the ship currently located’?

Unfortunately we cannot share the location; the only thing that you need to know is ships are always offshore’.

Rakesh and Karan left Novotel in the car Rakesh came in.

Was it really necessary to bring out about the ship’?

Relax it is not a holiday spot to roam around. It is twenty two kilometres offshore’. ‘Where are we going’?

We are going to the ship’.

Rakesh and Karan went to the port and climbed onto a boat. The boat travelled into the sea until it reached the big ship Maha.

As the boat went near the ship, a staircase came out from Maha. Rakesh and Karan climbed on it onto the ship. The whole upper deck shined in sunlight. They went into the lower deck and dressed to get into it. As they went into the lower deck, the LED lights were soon replaced by red and blue lamps in the lab, with the plantations on a layer of mud.

Karan asked, ‘How is it working’?

It is working in a splendid way’. ‘Look dad I do not want to be cranky but you should understand how important it is to maintain secrecy’. ‘If anybody comes to know about the information of the ship, we will be in a big problem. There might be false claims thefts and I cannot deal with this all the time’.

All they know is the name of this ship’. ‘They do not know this place has only red and blue lights because only red and blue are used to the maximum in photosynthesis’. ‘They do not know that rice plant – Oryza sativa – performs photosynthesis by C4 mechanism and that is why the percentage of carbon dioxide in this room is artificially maintained more than that of earth’s atmosphere’. ‘Do they know this’? ‘No’.

Okay dad you have taught me my lesson, even though I was your teacher’.

Sometimes the teacher needs to be taught by his own student’. ‘Let us go before the sun sets so that we can have a beautiful night tonight’.

Karan and his son left Maha. As they were on the boat, the sun glowed in crimson behind them. They climbed onto the harbour and went away in the car on which they came to the harbour.



Business and other things

Rakesh reached the bungalow in hurry only to find out that Sonu was not there in it. He came out and went to the garage and saw Sonu crouched by a corner.

What happened to you’?

I injured my leg’.

How’?

I hit my leg accidentally to the leg of the bed with force’.

How did you come here’?

I crawled and came here’.

Why did you come here’?

I came to get a cylinder of cooking gas into the kitchen’. ‘The cylinder in the kitchen became empty’. ‘I could not lift it because of the pain in my leg’. ‘I had been sitting here since afternoon’.

Show me your leg’. ‘It did bleed’. ‘Did you actually try to kick the leg of the bed’?

No, I didn’t’. ‘It happened all of a sudden’.

Come on let me help you’. Rakesh took Sonu’s hand onto his shoulder and helped him walk into the bungalow into the room.

You sit here while I get some water to clean the wound’. ‘Do not move the leg’.

Rakesh brought a bucket half filled with warm water. He cleaned the wound.

While cleaning the wound, Rakesh asked, ‘did you take too much of it’?

‘I do not know’.

Rakesh closed his eyes and gave a sigh. ‘You do not remember anything’. ‘Do you?’ ‘Leave the wound as it is and it will heal in time’. ‘Now go to sleep’.

The next morning Sonu woke up to see Rakesh fast asleep.

Rakesh, wake up’.

What happened’?

You told me to wake you up’.

Sonu, get ready and get into the car’.

Why’?

You should know about the work I do’.

After a while Rakesh and Sonu got into the car. Sonu kept seeing along the road. He saw a dad and his kid on a bike followed by an adolescent on a bicycle, dressed in a uniform. As he turned around towards Sonu, the car stopped.

Get down; we have come to the factory’.

What is this factory for’?

This Factory packs and processes the rice from our ship’.

They came out of a car to see a trunk filled with goods entering the factory.

Is that the rice that comes from the ship’?

Yes’.

As they went near to the truck, the truck driver reversed the truck and drove the truck towards wall of a factory unit. The shutter opened as the truck approached. The tail door fell open as the truck bed got lifted. The bags of rice began to slide downwards.

What is that’?

That is the conveyer belt that carries the bags after they fall from the truck’.

They walked into the factory unit. The conveyer belt moved forward until it reached a pit lined with carbon steel. Each bag was struck by a knife before falling onto a moving mesh made of steel. The bag emptied after it was cut open and the stuff in it dropped into a large metal tank filled with water. After washing the grains of rice, the water was drained.

Where does the water go’?

It goes into bay of Bengal after going into sewage treatment plant’.

The tank gets filled with water again, the lid closes and parboiling starts’. ‘Parboiling is a process of semi-boiling rice to protect it from pest infestation’. ‘Following parboiling the rice is dried and packed and sent to the market’. ‘Polished and unpolished rice are handled separately’.

Let us get into a truck’. ‘You can see where the rice goes to’.

The truck went out of the factory compound wall onto a road. Sonu fell asleep.

Hey Sonu wake up, we have reached the market – this is our cold storage room’.

After getting down from the truck, Rakesh and Sonu went into the cold storage room.

It is very cold in here; I must have brought a sweater’. Rakesh laughed.

Well it should be for the rice to be safe’. ‘Now let us go the office’.

They walked to the office which is beside the cold storage room. A man wearing a full hands shirt sat on the table. As he stood up to receive Rakesh, the phone on the table rang.

The phone call first, business first’, said Rakesh. The man picked up the phone. ‘Hello, RK industries, how can I help you’?

The man on the phone said, ‘We need three hundred quintals of rice urgently tonight’. ‘The phone call is from Baadshah stores’.


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(Pages 1-18 show above.)