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Short Stories
Brajagopal Sharma
       Even his dreams were bedeviled with creepy shadows of the police. His usually restful sleep now turned into a horrendous torment. He got up frequently at night and remained sitting on his bed, wet with perspiration. It is not use trying to escape, they are sure to arrest me, he thought.
       If he heard any motor vehicle during the wee hours of the morning, he imagined the police had come for him in a van. He waited, heart thumping, for the impending doom as the vehicle neared his house. He was not any the less fearful even after it had sped away. Suppose the vehicle was parked farther from his house in order to deceive him? Or may not they turn about and surround the house after getting his address from someone?
       Getting up slowly with as much little noise as could have been made possible under his constrained circumstances, he opened the window a crack to peep outside in the dark. Now, he could not take anything for granted in the abstract similarly of the morning gloom.
       He returned to his bed.
       "What's up, sonny?" his father asked. "Nothing, papa. I just wanted to see the daybreak," he answered. He was a boy of fourteen.
       When the prices of essential commodities climbed beyond all reason, untold miseries were heaped on the people. One day, an irate group of students swooped down on the shops in the main market. They forced open the provision stores, brought out edible items -rice, pulses, onion, potatoes and many more to be thrown outside on the street. Potatoes and onions, things which were too costly to buy, rolled down the gutters. A stationer's shop was set on fire. When it began, the activities of the angry youngsters were confined to a few pockets; but when they had been joined by the riff-raff who sought to benefit themselves, the protest virtually transformed into sporadic cases of loot and arson. Ordinary passers-by were attracted into grabbing anything they could lay their hands upon to gain something for nothing at the expense of ill-fated shopkeepers. A few such shops which were not closed in time had evidently become scenes of devastation.
       Tomba was coming out of a bookstore after purchasing a book when he saw the police charging at the mob fleeing the scene near bus parking. Tomba witnessed a girl being exhorted by a well-fed mayang mahajan to take shelter inside his shop and that owner pulled down the shutter as quickly as the girl ran inside. Tomba joined the fleeing mob all the time taking care of his bicycle. Nobody knew which way they were heading. The sun set amidst this confusion.




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