Shrinking Moments11 mins 511 11 mins 511
It was again a sunny morning in the small town of the hilly area. The weather was getting pleasant as winter was nearing. It was time for Shelly to take her driving classes. Shelly was a young bright girl and like any other parents, her parents also wish for a bright future for her. Her parents Mr. and Mrs. Chauhan were rich and well-settled personalities of the town. Mr. Chauhan was a successful businessman with all the means of luxuries by his side. Mrs. Chauhan was a social and kind woman. The couple had only one child Shelly. Mrs. And Mrs. Chauhan had brought her up with love and care. Shelly was very close to her mother which is usually true with every child. But Shelly would kind of worship her mother. It was Mrs. Chauhan who adopted Shelly from an orphanage when she was quite young. Mrs. Chauhan never made her realize that she was an adopted child, though this fact was known to all including Shelly. Shelly was a self-centered person and her time would be spent revolving her mother. She would not socialize much and confine herself to books and TV.
The decision of adoption was mutual and both have different expectations. Where Mrs. Chauhan got a chance to share her love and care, Mr. Chauhan was busy in inculcating the so-called habits of upper strata in Shelly. Mr. Chauhan was very strict when it comes to maintaining his status in society. Where Mrs. Chauhan was a kind and loving lady, Mr. Chauhan was a strict man. He believed in following a daily routine and regime. His tasks were all preplanned. His morning starts with a long walk followed by other daily routines. He would not encourage the way of life Shelly was living and would often tag her idle and lazy. Shelly was not much responsive to his calls. It was the decision of Mr. Chauhan that Shelly must take driving lessons every morning. He considered it a good start for getting into routine life. Though Shelly was not much interested, on the insistence of her mother she agreed. Mrs. Chauhan had no knowledge of driving and Mr. Chauhan would spare no occasion to make her realize that she was a kind of rustic. Such comments were common for Mrs. Chauhan and she never reacted. But Shelly never liked it.
And why did Chauhan’s adopt a child? Mrs. Chauhan gave birth to a boy before adopting Shelly. The boy was mentally and physically challenged and Mr. Chauhan was not at all happy with the arrival of such a child. One day while basking in the sun at the terrace garden the little boy fell on the ground and suffered serious injuries. That day Mr. Chauhan was alone with the little boy when the accident happened. Despite the efforts, the boy could not be saved. The pain of loss was unbearable but Mrs. Chauhan was helpless. She wanted to ask so many things that happened on that fateful day but she could not. Things turned miserable when Mr. Chauhan declared not to try for another kid as he believed that Mrs. Chauhan’s gene cannot produce a sane child. He was more interested in adopting a healthy child who he can train accordingly.
One day Shelly was sitting behind the steering and driving slowly. The instructor was sitting beside her giving instructions. The instructor claimed that driving can be learned in 7 days but it was more than 20 days in the case of Shelly. Somehow he finished the course from his side and advised her to take short distance journey on an abandoned street in the morning for practice. Now every morning Mr. and Mrs. Chauhan would accompany Shelly in the car for her practice session. Every morning Mr. Chauhan would drive the car till the jogger’s park from where Shelly would take the driving seat and Mrs. Chauhan would accompany her. Mr. Chauhan would then join his friend Mr. Bhasin for a walk. Mr. Bhasin was a rich baron and highly influential. Sometimes he would come with bodyguards as he had many enemies.
One day after driving the car to the jogger’s park Mr. Chauhan got down for a walk. At that time Mrs. Chauhan also got down and asked Shelly to join for a short walk. Mrs. Chauhan told that after a five-minute walk they would go for driving. But Shelly denied coming out for a walk and insisted on waiting inside the car. Mr. and Mrs. Chauhan went for a walk. Mr. Chauhan joined his friend and Mrs. Chauhan was walking alone. Shelly was waiting inside the car. She closed her eyes for some moments. When she opened her eyes and looked at her watch she realized that more than 15 minutes had passed. She was waiting for her mother. After some time she saw her father and Mr. Bhasin coming. Her mother was also walking behind them trying to match their pace. Shelly thought of igniting the car’s engine. She started the car. She was waiting for them to come to the car. She could felt the hardship of her mother as she was lagged much behind her father. Shelly was engrossed in her thoughts when a loud noise breaks her thought. She saw Mr. Bhasin falling to the ground with his hands on his chest. His father was trying to hold him. As Mr. Bhasin touched the ground Shelly saw a man with a revolver in his hand. Mr. Bhasin was shot by that man. Mr. Chauhan tried to grab hold of the assailant but he raised his gun towards Mr. Chauhan. That man started running towards the car in which Shelly was sitting. He opened the car gate and took the gun to her head. He asked Shelly to drive the car. Shelly tried to convince him that she was not good at driving but the assailant was not ready for such a reply. The car was already on. Shelly looked at her father and her mother who was trying hard to reach the spot.
Shelly accelerated in a zigzag manner towards Mr. Chauhan. The assailant and Shelly were struggling to take the control of the steering but they could not manage and the car run over Mr. Chauhan who was sitting in the mid of the street with his friend lying on the ground. The car was moving at very high speed and both the assailant and Shelly were trying to control the steering. In this struggle, the car took a U-turn and sped in the direction where both the victims were lying on the streets. The car runs over both at full speed and finally crashed into a stationary lorry. The impact of the crash was so loud that the front part of the car was terribly mangled. Both Shelly and the assailant were lying in the pool of blood.
A police case was filed and the accident victims were hospitalized. Both Mr. Chauhan and Mr. Bhasin had died on the spot. One died of the gunshot and the other died due to crushing by the car. After few days Shelly and the assailant were discharged from the hospital. The assailant was immediately taken into police custody. He was hired by some business rival of Mr. Bhasin to kill him. He was charged with two murders. The police investigations suggested that Mr. Chauhan could have been alive had the assailant had not tried to overpower Shelly. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He pleaded not guilty of the murder of Mr. Chauhan as it was an accident. But his pleas were not heard.
Shelly was paralyzed after the incidence and could hardly speak. Her movements were restricted. Mrs. Chauhan took resort in religion. She kind of renounced herself from worldly affairs. It was very difficult for her to face the relatives and police personnel who kept visiting her after the incident. She got a hefty amount as insurance claims and police suspect that she might be targeted by anti-social elements for extorting money. But Mrs. Chauhan donated most of the money and devoted her time to religious activities and taking care of Shelly. She convinced Shelly for morning and evening walk. Daily they would go for a quiet walk.
One day while walking down the street they reached the same spot where Mr. Chauhan was killed. Shelly stood quietly at the same place and asked her mother about the assailant. Her mother told that he was sentenced to life imprisonment as he was convicted of twin murders. Mrs. Chauhan also said that everyone has to pay for his deeds. At this Shelly asked her mother as to why was she punished by God. Mrs. Chauhan tried to convince her that sometimes God take our test and He surely had something special for her. Shelly smiled and they moved ahead for home. That day Mrs. Chauhan for the first time admitted that she had never enjoyed her walks as she did today with Shelly. Simply because she did not have the struggle to match her steps.
Time was passing by. There was not much improvement in Shelly’s health. While she was lying on her bed, her mother brought some juice for her. With lots of effort, Shelly managed to ask her mother a question. She asked that on that fateful day if that assailant had not killed my father than what his punishment would have been. Mrs. Chauhan said he could have got 7-10 years or any other punishment depending upon the judgment. Shelly again asked about the family of the assailant. Her mother replied that most of the time one’s family also has to suffer for one’s deeds. Her mother then asked her to sleep.
Next day when Mrs. Chauhan came home after visiting the temple, she could not find Shelly anywhere. She asked the maid. She replied that Shelly told her that she was going for a walk alone and would be back by 10 minutes. When Mrs. Chauhan asked her the time she realized that it is more than an hour. She made a frantic search everywhere but Shelly was not found. A police complaint was lodged. It was believed that Shelly was kidnapped for ransom. All were waiting for some communication from the kidnappers. But no lead was made in the police inquiry. After some time when the matter receded, a letter was received by Mrs. Chauhan.
Mrs. Chauhan was surprised to read the letter. It was written and sent by Shelly. After reading the letter Mrs. Chauhan was quiet for some time.
I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference. - said Mrs. Chauhan to herself.
She once again looked at the letter which goes like this-----
As you have said one has to pay for his deeds and God keeps his eyes on everyone I strongly feel that I cannot escape my fate. I was paralyzed for my wrong deeds. Yes …. My wrong deeds. God has punished me. That day father was not killed accidentally. I knowingly run the car over him twice to make sure he should not return to your life. He was not a good man, at least he was not good with you. He always treated you like you have no worth. I have seen him many times in the company of other women. He was deceiving you and I believed you were aware of this fact. But you have accepted everything silently and continued to devote yourself to that selfish man. That day I realized how difficult it was for you to match your steps with him. He could have stopped for you to join him. But no, you were just an object for him of no worth. Your life would have been much better without him. So why not make your life better.
When the assailant pointed a gun to me, he asked me to drive on the other side, but I intentionally moved towards the father. He then tried to take control of the steering but I applied my full strength and succeeded. Then I knowingly crashed the car in the lorry with the intention of getting killed. But….. I was saved.
When I heard that the killer was being punished for two murders, it somewhat disturbed me. I was equally involved and what about his family?
Dear Mom. You are a very kind and honest person. Kindly do something for the betterment of his abandoned family as you did for me.
Though I am an accused but I don’t want to be jailed as this will bring a bad name to you. That day I took that step knowingly and today also I am taking this step knowingly. I would have gone far away from this world by the time this letter reaches you. Please do not waste your time in finding my mortal remains. I am resting peacefully.
There was silence in the room for some time.
Now Mrs. Chauhan decided to meet that assailant and went to the police station. When Mrs. Chauhan asked the inspector about that killer, he said that he had died in the prison, but the address of the family is with him.
Next day Mrs. Chauhan headed towards the house of that killer with the intention of sharing the grief of the family. The killer had a daughter which was sent to an orphanage as no one was there to look after her.
Once again Mrs. Chauhan was busy in doing the formalities of adoption of a child from an orphanage.