The Perfect Shot_Short Story

The Perfect Shot

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Mohsin looked at his watch moving like a perfect shot! He noticed the hour and minute hands kissing each other between 1 and 2. He has been on the deck of the two-floor corner guest house near Chiktan Fort in Chiktan village, Kashmir for straight 24 hours.

 

The sun was almost on top of his floor and head. He could feel the heat entering through his eyes and traveling through his spine to his feet. It was -10 degrees Celsius but he could still wish to escape the sun rays hitting directly on his minimal exposed skin. He found himself at the edge of two wars simultaneously. One was his body which was losing the immunity to stand still. The other was the armed security personnel of the Army at the Fort gate.

 

The Army guarded the entrance and militant coup in the area.

 

His hands could not bear the weight of the Norinco assault rifle- the Chinese version of AK-47.  This 9 lbs weapon felt 10 times heavier.  Holding it for straight twenty-four hours made the ammunition heavier than it actually weighed. Mohsin was a part of the rebel group which was fighting against the national establishment. The so-called war of independence for Kashmir from India was the agenda. He left his house at the age of 19 after being influenced by a religious preacher he had heard online.

 

The ideal visions of the inspirational speaker lured him into believing that the local government shouldn’t be the one formulating laws in his side of the valley.

 

He remembered the argument he got into with his father, a day before eloping. The discussion over the table was about the myth of Kashmir’s independence. Zia- ur, his father, was a son of a martyr who fought alongside Gandhi for the country’s independence. He clearly understood what bloodshed of the lost was at the cost of freedom. He tried to explain to Mohsin the mindset of fundamentalist and their ideological character. The lecture wasn’t frictional as this was a learned experience of a senior officer in the state-controlled police department. Zia- ur, had been fighting with the extremist agitating for their so called free Kashmir movement. Mohsin couldn’t agree to the litigation objections raised by his father. His father explained to him that a fight against once own land and people wasn’t freedom.

 

Hurting and killing one's own people wasn't independence.

 

His mind was in a deadlock. Mohsin couldn’t relate to a word his father uttered that day.

 

Mohsin was the elder to his 12-year-old sibling. Shabana was his only prized possession. He adored her, almost raising her after their mother’s death. Walking by the lake across the Snow Mountains and collecting Chinar leaves, Shabana would tell her stories.  Mohsin would ask her questions to intentionally argue with her. He'd burst into laughter later!

 

Each day his schedule pretty much involved Shabana. She had the lion’s share of his time! A couple of hours with his father, he practiced shooting and enjoyed a two-hour evening stroll with Nafeesa, his charming love interest daily. His life wouldn’t be less blessed; if he could have only made it a little more worth! Sadly, it sketched out like a scattered plot.

 

Mohsin tried to make the flashbacks fade away! His cause was greater than any of the rosy thoughts of the past.

 

While his head mused about these thoughts, a bullet brushed past his ear- the distance of snail’s length. The shot was fired by the army man from the fort wall. The images of the valley, the river, Shabana, his father shouting him at shooting range started to diminish. It took him a round of second’s hand to regain his senses and get hold of his artillery and peruse the sight for his mission. He felt like being teased that nomad of a bullet; as if it was amused at his failed objective. He rested the rear end of the rifle against his shoulder and leaned back a little.

 

He took a good calculated guess at the target distance which approximated to around 300 meters. A target shot was something he had never been able to achieve in his life since started practicing from back in the day.

 

He loosened his muscles and relaxed the grip of his rifle. Mohsin slipped low and rested his back against the wall to hide his visibility. Placing his mind to work and he formulated the strategy to shoot down the target in the defense attire. The binoculars locked his sight and brain; releasing one the lenses from the front by cracking the tripod adaptor from the middle. He stood up once again and placed the Gun at the edge of the wall, circled his index figure around the trigger tightly to take control. To ease the resistance he felt from his hand, he took off his glove and tried again.

 

He detached the lens from the binocular and moved it towards the target so that the sun rays reflected at an angle creating a distraction. The trick worked and the officer in the array of rays moved above the covering wall at his side. Mohsin contracted his finger twice and shot two bullets straight at him, one holed onto the shoulder and the other in the face. The officer tumbled forward.

 

Hitting the roof of a floor, the adversary fell- finally resting on the pavement.

 

Mohsin leaned back again, unfreeze his grip, kissed the rifle and put it down to rest. He uncovered his face and took a heavy breath. Focusing his eyes away from the painful sight, his blood flow started running to normal. He felt proud of his shot. This, he believed was no less an achievement. He wished Shabana could have witnessed his subtlety. Mohsin also felt respect for his enemy who almost had him until eventually, the man had surrendered to the darkness!

 

He collected his stuff and moved towards the fort to take it into control and notify his fellow fighters. Just at the gate, he found the body of his trouble maker covered with streams of oozing blood. He bent forward to smile at the martyred face. Mohsin's smile was that of a winner. He relived the entire shot in his head and the brilliance of execution. His chest pumped with the thought of it! He turned the unresponsive body of the only witness of his act and looked into the eyes of his dead father-

 

Author: Muflis Musafir

Our Song Recommendation for this Short Story!

Barter

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Annie woke up from his light sleep after getting incoming from the reception that a pregnant lady had met with an accident and was in a critical state.

 

The nurse briefed on the phone as he ran for the lift on the seventh floor. The injured had a car accident and her womb had been hurt hard with profuse internal bleeding. He instructed to shift the patient to Operation Theatre. It would be difficult to save both, mother and child, something he had learned from experience. He dialed the number of another doctor on duty to assess the situation and simultaneously pressed first-floor switch.

 

Dr. Anhaya Kapoor was the cherry among the lot, known by a more popular name among his breed-Annie.

 

An upbeat guy in early thirties with a faded beard. He was the senior resident doctor at Brighton’s Medical Research and Science Institute, a prestigious hospital in South Delhi. A hospital founded by his father, who passed away six months ago, Dr. Jagdish Kapoor.

 

Annie’s brain was as good his face that bruised the hearts of many. He was considered one of the best in the profession a talent he had inherited as genes from his father. His father had been the best surgeon in the country, a favorite among politicians and businessmen who traveled in a private aircraft often for holidays.

Annie wasn’t a spoilt brat at all but had a deal in the closet that constituted of everything considered unethical.

 

He smoked pot, pee-ed on streets, drank abruptly, had a thing for madly kissing his dates in the parking lots. He chased a cop once till the end of the capital border! Annie could play the flute with ease; spoke French and Latin without stuttering. He was a state level swimmer. Rich, smart, fancy looking, a persona other guys wished to be and girls got lured to was Annie. All this charisma was sadly shadowed after he got married to a girl his father chose for him. This was another feather of burden. He loved his dad too much to keep dating Meera; the girl he loved passionately- his lifelong desire.

 

They had met at a bar at the Inner Circle in Connaught Place, just next to the coffee house.

 

Meera’s sleeveless blue dress could just kiss her knees! She came for her friend's breakup party, and he was there … coz, he was there most of the times. She was a jingle writer for an upcoming ad work agency who always carried a sweet tone in her laughter. That laughter eventually made the doctor lost his heart. He could never express accurately the love he felt in his heart for her with his multi-lingual skills but she could read it in his eyes. They were the most handsome couple in the circuit without a penny space between them!

 

A decade later, he was playing high.

 

When on a game night his dad asked him to marry the daughter of a family friend he held high regards for. His father has just recovered from the second heart surgery. However,  he could feel a lot more pain agreeing to his father’s request, the pain of a poisoned heart! Meera and Annie spent their last night together speechless, just holding hands. He made love to her like never before and cried as she led him to the door in the morning, kissing- a final goodbye. Eight weeks from his wedding date his dad passed away. Annie felt deserted without the two people he loved.

 

Annie lost the desire for life and spent most of his day hours in hospital after the marriage.

Everybody knew his story but no one ever whispered in those hallways or canteens!  The times were not the same; he was more of an enigma now, never indulging in his old misadventures. The lift reached the first floor and Annie ran out from the half open door and lurched toward the operation theater. Attendant doctor submitted the summary of the report confirming the urgency of the surgery. He wore his latex gloves and entered the operation theater where the proceeding had already begun.  Sphygmomanometer showed a continuous drop in blood pressure due to excessive blood loss.

 

Annie completed the caesarean and saved the child.

 

The mother’s heart had unfortunately stopped beating midway the surgery! The beats didn’t bounce back by the defibrillator. The failure- the silence of losing the mother was broken by the first cry of the child! Annie took the child in his hands and felt a resemblance in the touch and couldn’t stuff away that instant love for the child! He went through the patient information sheet to sign off the document and read the mother’s name -‘Meera’. 

His eyes blurred as he waddled out of the room with his daughter in the arms.

 

Author: Muflis Musafir

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Yellow Slip

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For the first time in her life, she felt that a pack of stapler pins could be that heavy to lift as she tried to throw it in her drawer. She could feel her heart go heavy with those thoughts as she tried to quickly clear up her desk. She extended her arm to the fullest and swept the desk at one go and dropped everything into the middle drawer of her Sheesham wood desk.

Stunned at how dreadfully she had let him go- actually made him go! She rushed out of her corner desk leaving behind her favorite red stole on the chair, whispering in her concerned colleague's ear about some emergency for her pale face. The stairs of the two floored building looked like an infinite to her.

She smashed the door of her office building and ran through the pavement shouting for a taxi. Some angel from heaven stopped his taxi and she occupied it without losing a breath. She ordered and begged in a single tone to the man on the wheels to drive to the airport; her thoughts on the ruined collage of her life- a life without him.

The terminal T2 was just 5 kilometers away from her office and never took more than 20 minutes whenever she traveled in the past, but presently it looked like a travel to another continent across the seas. She could not imagine the look on his face after reading the letter she left on the kitchen table.

On a yellow slip, she had burst her heart out on. She had known him for years and today it felt like never ever. She always knew there was something which staggered his smile sometimes but he never expressed. He was always caring and loving, someone who would die for her smile. He was lazy but never failed to share his feelings, except one.

She still remembered the day her father, even against his dislike of him agreed to let her move in with him. He dressed clumsily in formals; didn’t shave for a month and was often high on alcohol. Still the charm he carried in those brown eyes and double-chinned face along with the ability to accept the failures of his life without a rebuttal, left no corner of insecurity in her dad's heart that he is true to himself if nothing else.

A sudden stoppage at the corner across the foot over bridge brought her back to her senses. She observed lane of cars bumped into each other, in alarm. She quickly grabbed her wallet, took a couple of tenners and threw them on the front seat next to the driver's, collected her stuff and thoughts and ran like a train towards the airport.

Her feet felt as if they were not with hers. She tried to run faster with those heels but couldn't overcome the resistance offered by her legs. How could she just write a letter asking the guy who cared for him the most to leave her and go to the girl she thought he wished to spend his life with? She was too broken and in love with him to give up her only desire and reason to live. She loved him too much to make him stay although she knew the feeling of pain it would invest in the heart to not have his love.

What could she have done? The question kept hitting her head. She has been stubborn and a demanding girl since childhood, one who never ever shared, forget about giving up! But today she let her most prized possession go, and he was the reason for that change in her.  The only thing she could do was to let him go, she tried to lessen her pain of guilt with this thought, but it would come back with more beat.

He made her laugh and took jokes on himself, they dined out often, he bought her flowers and chocolates, and they danced and held hands at events. He even kissed her at his mother's birthday. She loved sleeping in his lap with her cheeks in his hands and arms around his waist.

Although he earned little from his hateful job, he always found time to hear her office woes. And she returned the favor with a yellow slip endorsing him to return to his earlier love and a flight ticket- a complimentary gift. And she had done it all, without confirming what he wished for.

She was brought back in time by the security personnel at the entrance of the airport; with a pounding heart and vision blurred with uncontrolled tears. She believed this poison would kill her which she herself slipped in for no grant. She took long steps, by now her feet had given up, could barely stand but she refused to lose the battle.

A piece of paper could not be the reason for her soulless life. She’d fight, beg, cry or even contest but wouldn’t let him go. Standing next to the immigration counter dressed up as he wished to live for only this moment, she thought she saw him! A sound hit her ears confirming that the flight for Sydney has left with all passengers on boarding. With her misty eyes drying up, she had imagined someone but it was actually the image of another footfall in the crowd and not him!

Her heart stopped for a minute and her throat went dry. She then recollected the images in her head and walked out of the airport unsteadily. She bought some eggs, a milk pack and a loaf of bread and walked back on her way home. There were no thoughts fighting in her brain, the feelings were all fallen.  Her feet were blue out of defeat as she climbed the stairs of her apartment.

She opened the door- her fingers devoid of any blood flow. She locked the door from the inside with no intentions to ever unlock it again and dragged towards the kitchen sink. As she unfolded the paper bag and got hold of the matchstick to light the stove, she felt a pair of hands swirling around her waist, a pair of wet lips touched her neck. She turned around and looked into those brown eyes that freed her and fell into his arms for a sound sleep.

Author: Muflis Musafir

 

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Secrets Best Kept

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It was Maggie’s birthday and she has been a road runner all day, flashing her new car keys with style, a birthday gift from her single mother, Saayra. Maggie waited for this day for ages; the day she would get her hands on the wheels of her own ride. Her mother had promised earlier in the year that she would surprise her baby on the birthday she turns 19. Maggie lived in a wonderland; she had stuff since childhood kids couldn't dream of. Her mother raised her with too much love and pamper. She wouldn’t wish for things rather simply demand them and they would be there in her room the following day.

Saayra worked as the Head of Corporate Communications and Public Relations at People Opinions Media Publications, a big daddy company in journalism. She had all the resources and finances to lure anyone to keep the smile on her only daughter’s face.  She has been a doting mother and was often criticized for the same reason, but the nature she possessed was induced in her genes since birth, she herself was a fairy for her dad who was a strict Army General had mellowed for her... She had ruled hearts in her days when she never took no for any reason. So she just continued the family trait and went miles to cover girl's the wish drops.

Although Maggie loved her mother Saayra, couldn’t stand her mother’s everlasting ally, Rehan. He had been around even for no reason. He was a dark shady guy touching forties, just like her mom.

 

He always ambled casually, dangling a leather bag on the left shoulder and a deep cut glistened on his forehead. He was definitely a lip smacking guy who carried a mix of a little attitude and little character. Maggie couldn’t stand the un-heady mix and would not even share a coffee on the table while he was around. Her mother’s fondness and bend towards Rehan often created thoughts in her mind about the relationship they shared.

She wasn’t an orthodox school kid, so would have interfered or disapproved of a status her mother would like to give to that relationship. Yet she unwilling to share her mom with Rehan.  Everyone knew the bond shared by Saayra and Rehan but no one ever inquired or challenged them. They sustained it for long and whatever doubts or presumptions people made were all gone during their years of being together. Rehan was a full blown supporter of Saayra and had been a pillar of support throughout her life. People doubted his intentions including Maggie but could never found a blind spot to attack Rehan.

 

It was evening and they were all prepped to leave for the celebration dinner. Maggie heard some murmuring while crossing the study to find her mother and Rehan discussing something. She peeped in through the side curtain and saw Saayra leaning with teary eyes on Rehan’s shoulder while he tried to sooth her, running his hand on her head and downwards. Maggie had never seen her mother so weak. She knew that her mother hid her pain and troubles from her but she had never seen her broken down like this.

 

She often thought if she was a fruit of Saayra’s and Rehan’s party play days. These feelings often killed her extrovert nature and turned her into an impulsive and irritating maniac. Though she lived the best of life with all the pleasures and pleasantries, the thought of her identity and creation made them artificial supports. She tried to be sly but would often forego any discussion regarding her conception by looking into her doting Mother’s eyes, full of love and care.

 

She couldn’t take it anymore, it was hard to crush the feeling in her heart, she felt it was her right to know the truth. It wasn't fair that her entire existence was a mystery. She banged into the library and spoke her heart out to the shocked faces of Saayra and Rehan. Saayra had never expected such words and tone from Maggie and she herself couldn’t believe she possessed them. Her angry words were to know her father and revelation of the relationship that Saayra and Rehan maintained.

Maggie demanded to know all -- the dark secrets and stories she was kept aloof from, the reason she was fatherless child and name she carried. Her mother broke down and fell on the wooden seat as Rehan tried to give her support. Rehan looked into Maggie’s eyes, turned to get hold of his bag and grabbed what looked like a newspaper and handed over to Maggie. She turned to the first page of a twenty-year-old newspaper cutting with a side corner headline --

 

‘Girl gang raped in an SUV, friend beaten to bloodshed’.

Author: Muflis Musafir

 

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Love Story

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It's a Love Story...

Sunaina just got off the call with Arpit, discussing last minute stuff of her engagement with Sameer that was still midway. Time does not define the intensity of friendship between two people, at least among them. She met him at Saira’s wedding, her childhood friend, last year which wasn’t a Kodak moment of capture; the first hold off for her with Arpit. She thought him as the groom and the chaos and pools of laughter it created henceforth were the highlights of that wedding. He went with the flow to add some drama but eventually came to her rescue when she drowned twice her hair length in embarrassment.  Since then they have developed an amicable relationship which included 10-hour telephonic conversation a week, a couple of hundred messages and a few video chats.

Sunaina worked as a Junior Associate at Mehra and Sons Advocates, a midsize law firm in Bangalore suburbs. Sunaina was a quiet and introvert in a group as long as she wasn’t a couple of wine glasses heavy. She was also badass enough to scatter a few here and there with her words and raised eyebrows in the courtroom.  She scared a Judge once with her trademark eye-raising style; all he did was responded to a mobile call during the court trial.

She was altogether a different person in her formal attire, one who is not a  mirror reflection by any angle. This characteristic of Sunaina made Sameer swipe the floor with his knees and ask her to marry him. Sameer didn’t only love her for her juvenile nature but a lot more for the personality she grew into once in the courtroom.

She banged her right fist on the table, looking into the eye of the police officer and would say "Spill out the truth about fake FIR lodged”, (against the client) or “I’ll not only prove it but also open the book of your entire life deeds.” Looking at the convict and gave him the feeling that if he'd lie his soul would come out and reveal the truth out of fear. The magical moment when the officer gave up efforts to stand against her, was when Sameer knew she is the one he would like to grow capsicum in his backyard and eat lettuce every morning, from whatever was left. He held high regards for the profession and the way Sunaina embraced it and grew in it, made him respect her.

Sunaina, on the other hand, was never into a relationship, apart from once when she was in Graduation College. She fell for a guy who was eight years older to her, (at least that what she believed then). The guy worked at a local newspaper as a political editor. They even met her parents to get their blessings for marriage. That was some day! Her mother almost lost her senses; her father's blood pressure rose beyond approved levels and her elder sister fell off the floor in laughter holding her stomach in laughter pain. She used that topic for two straight years for amusement and even rumored it with spice among all their cousins. But this time when Sameer asked she and was blown away. He held high standards and repute among the line of co-goers. She couldn’t have found a better one and felt

Arpit also supported her in the decision and reviewing the case in his court of judgment favored for her corner. Though he was shocked on initially, he eventually couldn’t find anything against Sameer who led her to the ocean of lovers and blossoms. The jury (friends and family) also got hit at first, the way Arpti and Sunaina spent time in conversations. They always believed that it had gone beyond the cooking stage and they were actually piping. Her boss would tease her at social gatherings and off-site meets, but she could never make them believe that there was nothing beyond calls, messages, holidays and overloaded discussions.

Sunaina and Sameer got engaged at city’s most lavish fine-to-dine. It was a magical night with flowers, wine, music, and dance. Happy faces, roars of laughter, neon light flashings, and fathers drinking for the first time in life - the day couldn’t have gone better.

Arpit came to her room and she was already up. She hugged him with a smile turned towards the mirror, admiring her looks and recalling the last night. She had weird thoughts and feelings, into a space of uncertainty. She could feel her heart go heavy but rebutted with a thought that maybe it's normal. Arpit looked into her eyes and felt the reason of her pale chin; he held her hand and told her not to worry. But she couldn’t get it off her head; she could feel something in her spine going down and all of a sudden her feet went cold.

She hugged him again and could find peace transmitted into her body through his arms around her waist. She felt like sleeping and transferred her body weight onto him. She tightened her armband around his neck, bowed on his right shoulder and leaned towards his ear and with closed eyes and dry lips she whispered:

If it’s not you who wakes me up, let me sleep.”

 

Author: Muflis Musafir

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