Settling the Score! – A Short Story in English
Written by Swati Joshi
December 21, 2018
As it is quite common now days that people from rural areas come to earn their bread to cities. Bala, an eighth pass enthusiastic young man has come to this city. He is working as a night security guard in a housing society. Bala is the proud owner of a gawky, slight personality that totally contradicts his being a security officer but he also has a luxuriant, massive moustache which is hankering for entering his mouth whenever he opens it accompanied by a hideous face which actually justifies his appointment!
Bala is a peace keeper by nature and is doing his duty sincerely for a few years. So, no one complains about him except the stray dogs of the area. Bala has a special relation with dogs since childhood. Dogs tried to taste his lanky limbs twice but failed in his school days! Bala also had experienced few of the crooner dogs playing their own symphony all night long near his bedroom window. And he also had experienced a gang war among those dogs while he was stuck with his punctured bicycle so, any kind of woof, yelp, grunt or gnarling sound alarms Bala’s senses instinctively and Bala directly gets switched on to attacking mode.
It is one of the usual nights when Bala is on duty and is on his regular round with a mission. There is this house locked for very long time as the owners have shifted abroad for a year or two so, taking advantage of place being closed, few dogs have shifted there and settled. Today, Bala has decided to break off their comfortable dwelling. With a stout club in his hand, he infiltrates the place. He has decided to horrify the dogs by sudden attack but as we all know the man proposes and here the dog disposes! “The dog of the family” has sniffed Bala’s presence along with his gruesome ideas through his absolute “animal instinct”!! Thus,he without giving Bala any chance, buckles down to jump on Bala. But as the experience makes every “Bala” perfect, he has sensed the dog’s notion. He directly puts himself into action and then over in a second’s time it happened, the dog leaped on him, Bala attacked it with the same force and Mr. Newton helped him too so, the dog gets a hard spank of the stout and died at once!! Bala is standing confounded.
Few weeks have passed after the incidence. But, Bala is still restless due to some unknown terror. As it is quite common in rural culture to have fictitious stories about anything and everything, Bala also has grown listening to those. He has started believing that he has murdered the dog!! And now he is going to be punished for his sin. This he has concluded by few days’ illness and some troublesome episodes with himself as well as his family. The fear is intensifying, turning into anxiety. He takes few days leave determining to visit his village.
As commonly happens, the issue has been discussed with family first then friends and neighbours are involved confirming the mishaps due to the killing of the holy (!) animal and then the whole community is now taking charge of to-do. There is trepidation of awe in the air. After discussing the whole substance in all the established ways people have come to a corollary (that probably would clog Bala’s coronary!!). Dogs in the village are also baffled by being treated so well like never before. They are also feeling little intimidated!!
So, the whole village is gathered today for Bala’s marriage which is the only remedy for the upcoming misfortune due to Bala’s so called evil offense. This phenomenal countermeasure has been suggested by an old Ojha (a priest doctor) after taking an immensely high fee of two chickens, two bottles of palm wine, a sari for his wife and some cash in addition. In return, he is to make all the arrangements comprehensively.
Bala is ready in a groom’s dress. All the villagers are dressed for the occasion. There is a band advancing to the mandapa with groom’s procession. Bala’s mother is sobbing while his father is walking by Bala in the doldrums! The procession reaches the place; Ojha welcomes them all zealously and starts with the rituals. Here is the call for the bride. The bride is led to the mandapa by few leading Members of Bala’s family. Women start chatting about what a beautiful bride Ojha has arranged for in this short period! And few of them focus on her dressing and make up also. Few help the bride to take her seat. She must not be competent for doing it. Bala is flabbergasted rather aghast by looking at his adorned bride- a female dog!! (How could he say her bitch??). Ojha with a savior’s grin starts the rituals.