Monday, 15 May 2017

Short Story 1 : The Anomaly

She remembered the exact moment when the nightmare had begun. It had been in the garden, in that corner where the jasmine creeper fought for space with the croton bushes.

If only she’d known why she’d tripped there for no reason. After all, she had lived in that house for all of her 14 years. She knew the garden like the back of her hand. Had she ever, ever tripped in her garden before?

But then, one never knows.

When had she realized that something was really wrong? Only a day later…when her right calf had begun to develop the rash, that progressed to a darker shade up her leg, to her thighs, by the hour. And the pain! Oh, the searing pain that shot through her leg had left her gasping for breath before the break of dawn.

Dr. Sharma had been…different. She recalled the panic in his eyes when he first looked at her leg. That look, that said ‘Oh no! Not another one!’ before the hood descended over his eyes.

Panic was what she recognized in Ma’s eyes too, that evening. The muted whispers in the living room that ceased when she was within earshot, told her volumes of what she didn’t want to know.

And then, Roma had called. It was all so weird that she she’d actually chuckled when her childhood friend had explained the ‘anomaly’, as she had worded it. A new virus? A damned virus that only attacked youngsters, particularly pubescent people? It was too outlandish to imagine.  But then, here she was, with a leg that had swollen to twice the size, the painfully open pores oozing awful yellowish fluids at regular intervals…

‘Is there a cure, Babaji?’ she heard the muted sobs emanating from the living room. Ma was inconsolable.

It was yet to sink into her consciousness, that she had less than a week to live.


‘You always chided her for being too dark, too short…that she’d never find a guy who’d agree to marry her…’, Didi’s voice broke, despite the  accusation laced within her tone. ’And now, she is dying...are you happy now?’

Her grandmother, for once said nothing. She knew that her elder granddaughter was only venting her agony. The agony that mirrored the guilt-ridden distress that gnawed at her own insides.

Shreya, the baby of the house, was going to die.


‘Ten thousand rupees’, said the Baba’s disciple with barely concealed excitement in his voice. ‘Not a rupee more, not a rupee less, auntyji’.

‘Let me talk to Babaji, beta…we have been visiting your ashram from 13 years now…Babaji has known our family since ages, he was very close to my father-in-law…’

Kamala’s desperate plea was drowned in the noise the din. The serene ambiance of the luxuriant reception of the ashram, now resembled the chaos of Johnson fish market on Sunday mornings. Except that the desperate people here weren’t buying fish. They were trying to buy the magical elixir of life for their loved ones.

Kamala removed her tiny clutch from the jute handbag she carried and sat down on the tiny wooden stool in the corner to count the currency. Only 7000 rupees. She would plead with Babaji to save Shreya…they could arrange for more money later…


‘How can there be no cure?’ Her father’s indignant tone barely concealed the fake bravado he tried to portray in front of his family.  ‘It’s just a virus, for God’s sake! We have cures for everything these days…and Shreya is so young , doctor…’

She didn’t want to hear anymore. All she could think of was, ‘Four days left to live…four more days, four days, four days…’


‘It has worked on 60% of the patients we’ve tried it on…at this point, we can only grasp at straws and hope for the best.’ Dr. Sharma sounded distant and exhausted.

The sting of the injection hardly registered in Shreya’s mind. She knew that she’d already lost her leg to the gangrene. She tuned out Ma’s constant chanting of prayers, while she applied the sacred vermilion and ash, procured from the ashram, repeatedly over her forehead.

Would the doctor’s medicine work? Or Babaji’s offerings?

Was it better to stay alive as a cripple for life…or was it better to die?

She would know by the next 6 hours. She would know how it was supposed to end for her by daybreak…or at least, her family would.

Shreya closed her eyes and slid into a dreamless sleep.

*** *** ***


  1. Congratulations Ms Chethna Ramesh for such a marvellous, well written stories. It's the narrations, the words and its effect which attracted me most.

  2. Thank you so much, Mr.Raza. I hope to pen more stories that you may enjoy...