Now, that I have got the hang of creative writing (sort of!) I have decided to be a little ambitious and start my own series of stories, based in the fictional city of Rottarpur. I know I maybe getting a little ahead of myself, but I hope the story arc would prove otherwise. I intend to spread the story in the form of episodes which I will try to post as frequently as possible.
The age of Shama is waning and the time of Revolution is upon the otiose masses of the State of Hind. The Rottarpur Diaries is a tale of 5 individuals, caught in the rising tide of violence and rebellion washing over the infernal city of Rottarpur, the murky and corrupt capital of the State.
Episode 1 : The Street – Death’s Call
The neon light flickered, first green and then dark and then green. It was supposed to read ‘Comfort Lodge’, but the only thing that now glowed was ‘Lodge’, the comfort having dimmed years ago. This shabby four storied building was a part of several such dreary establishments in that narrow street. There was a steady trickle of humanity here, men and women with dark, morose faces shambling along, bent with the weight of living a hard and disillusioned existence. Some walked through, ignorant of the crumbling edifices around them, just wanting to reach the end of their journey. Others took their time and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells so perverted yet oddly comforting. For, the street welcomed them all with open arms and they willingly went into it, knowing that they wouldn’t be judged here. This small stretch of road connecting the two boroughs of the ever expanding city was where they could be in peace with their fellow sufferers, even if it were for a fleeting moment. Among this sluggish flow of humans, one man stood out. He was hurrying; yes he dared to hurry here, towards the Comfort Lodge. On reaching the lodge, he paused at its door, catching his breath and looked to his left and then to his right. Satisfied that he wasn’t followed he walked in, mopping the back of his neck and his high forehead with a handkerchief. Without throwing a glance at the night manager he strode across the small lobby and climbed the stairs. He was already sweating by the time he reached the second floor. He cursed himself for having skipped all those morning cardio exercises and for choosing this rundown hole which didn’t even have an elevator. By the time he reached the fourth floor, his shirt was drenched and his sparse hair plastered to his head. He leaned on the railing, gasping for breath, his vision threatening to go black. But somehow he steadied himself and gripped the battered Samsonite briefcase even harder. He had to get to his room. The phone would ring in a few minutes and he had to be calm and composed to receive the instructions. He started forward, his sandals hardly making a sound on the dusty floor. On reaching his door he groped in his pockets for the keys but couldn’t find them. His panic returned. He put the briefcase between his legs and rummaged through his pant and shirt pockets for the keys. As he was frantically searching for them, the door behind him opened without a noise on well-oiled hinges. There was no click or a clack of the bolt sliding, for the door had already been open, if only a crack. The man was in such a harried state on losing his keys that he didn’t hear the fall of soft footsteps behind him. Suddenly he felt a searing pain across his throat and his breathing was cut-off. He struggled mightily against the tightening wire, clawing at it with animalistic fervour, but the gloved hand held on with almost superhuman strength. His struggles had kicked the briefcase to one side and churned the dust at his feet. Slowly his movements weakened as the oxygen supply to his brain was stopped, until finally his arms hung limply at his sides and his bowels opened up. He was dropped onto the floor and the soft footsteps receded. The muffled ringing of the telephone could be heard for a long time as the dust slowly began to settle over the dead body of Balbir Singh.