Stranger – A Short story in English
Written by Swati Joshi
September 28, 2018
Today, Shyamal is leaving from the office a bit earlier as he has to visit few houses. He is searching for a house to be taken up on rent as he has been married to Anokhi since last two months and still staying at his bachelor room because he could not find a place that would be suitable for both of them.
Shyamal who has been working as a crime reporter in a well-known publication is a scholar and really an intelligent man though brought up at an orphanage. He fell in love with Anokhi who is a creative writer at an advertising agency. Anokhi’s parents did not agree on her marriage with Shyamal. Thus, two months back they ran away and got married without asking for parents’ permission. Both are earning and independent so, it’s not much difficult for them to survive in the city.
Before Shyamal leaves the office, his boss summons him. Boss handing over a file, briefs him that there is a serial killer in the city now a days who usually kills young, working women. Shyamal has to work on the case and investigate for the story. Shyamal taking up the work leaves for home.
At the dinner table,
Anokhi: “Don’t you think the rent they have fixed is too high for that house?
Shyamal: “Yes, I also have the same feeling and honestly telling you I didn’t like the land lord much. You should have noticed his expressions while he was staring at you during negotiation.”
Anokhi: “Come on Shyamal, it is exaggeration now.”
Shyamal: “Not at all. You don’t worry, I have few more places where we can check and will surely finalize by this weekend.”
Both finish the dinner arguing over the land lord’s wrong attitude.
The next evening, around 6:30 p.m. Shyamal gets a call from Anokhi to pick her from her work place. Shyamal finds a tinge of stress in her voice. Shyamal picks her from her office and takes her out for ice-cream.
Shyamal ordering two ice-creams; — “How was the day?”
Anokhi: “A routine one, nothing special.”
Shyamal: “Are you worried about something? Is there anything that you need to tell me?”
Anokhi: “It is not that serious but why I don’t know, I feel someone is following me since last week. I thought it to be my suspicion but today, I consciously noticed that there is this man, wearing a monkey cap, followed me from our house to office and watched me until I stepped into the office.”
Shyamal: “What? Are you serious? Dear, you don’t know how dangerous it could have been. You must have told me earlier.”
Anokhi: “Dangerous? I think that he is just a stalker.
Shyamal: “No, it may not be that easy. Let me tell you that you might not be aware about a serial killer killing young, working women. He has the same modus operandi. You must not take risk with any stranger……..”
Finishing his ice-cream, Shyamal decides to inform police as soon as possible. He thinks that he can’t afford to be inadvertent in this matter as it is about a killer after all. Still, Anokhi tells him to wait for a day or two to confirm that the stalker is really behind her.
The next day, Shyamal gets ready little earlier, leaves and returns before Anokhi is ready for office. He drops Anokhi to office, instructing her to be careful.
It is around 12:30 p.m. when Anokhi gets a call from police station near her office. It said that they have caught a man, might be following her. They want her to come and recognize the person. She is little surprised and calls Shyamal. He tells her that he too got a call from inspector about the same. He is leaving for police station soon.
After a while, both reach to the police station in worry and anxiety. Here, inspector informs them that they have arrested a man who is suspected to be following Anokhi. The man was wearing a monkey cap and found sneaking around Anokhi’s office. Anokhi is still baffled about how inspector came to know about this disguised stalker. He asks officer to clear her confusion.
Inspector: “Mr. Shyamal visited us this morning telling us about this stranger following you since last week and he also informed us that this man might be the suspect, we are searching for in serial killing case. He is kind of very sincere crime reporter. So, we couldn’t take a chance to take him lightly. Thus, we set a trap and here we have this man caught.”
Shyamal asks for inspector’s permission to see the suspect. Inspector leads them to a cell where they have imprisoned this guy. Anokhi feels little frightened as she is not used to this entire police or crime thing. They reach to the cell where this man is sitting facing the opposite wall. He seems to be a middle aged man and no one at first look can conclude about his being a serial killer.
Inspector tells him to turn around. The man turns his face slowly to all of them. As soon as the man turns round and everyone sees his face, Anokhi screams fiercely;
Shyamal and inspector: “What?” Your father, a serial killer?”
Now, as the inspector comes to know that he is Anokhi’s father, he orders to take him out and to know what the truth is.
Anokhi: “Papa, what is this? Were you following me since last week?
Shyamal: “But why?”
Father: “Just to confirm that Anokhi is safe and alright. I and her mother came to know about a serial killer targeting young, working women in our area. Since that day, we were worried about Anokhi……….”
“……… Anokhi, Shyamal might be taking good care of you but in kind of circumstances you got married, we don’t know him so closely yet so, he is a stranger to us. That’s what made us worry more about you. I did not want to take any chance in case of your safety. Thus, started following you from office to home and home to office.”
Anokhi: “You could have told me this before. And why is this monkey cap?”
Father: “I didn’t want to make Shyamal realize that I am this much insecure about you or I am that weak. I didn’t want to spoil my image in front of son-in-law. And I am a retired bank manager not a criminal so, couldn’t find anything better than a monkey cap to avoid someone recognize me.”
Everyone laughs boisterously. Anokhi embraces her father. Shyamal apologizes for not going to them after marriage. Inspector with all due respect releases him and offers them a ride to home in his jeep. Anokhi leaves with both the “strangers” to meet her mother happily!