She was beautiful. She was young. And she was alone.
She was everything that could go wrong on a deserted bus stop in New Delhi, in the dark of the night.
She had been to meet a friend Maya in Punjabi Bagh who had returned from abroad. They had been such close friends during college; there was so much to catch-up. Time couldn’t be a hindrance for the two friends who missed each other a lot. Her friend had gone on a business trip abroad and was happy she was finally able to nail the deal. She was so proud of her achievements. It’s a feeling only true friends can appreciate, when one goes through the same struggles of life and finally finds one’s footing, when one does justice to one’s life. They had been through it all, which made her really happy for her friend’s triumphs.
She checked her watch, quarter to midnight.
Maya had coaxed her to stay back, but she insisted on going back. Unfinished business, she couldn’t lose a night.
She took out the small mirror from her Gucci bag, checked and reapplied some lip gloss. Wine red was her favourite shade of lipstick. It was very important in her profession to be well groomed and presentable. With her erratic schedule, she had to be always prepared. Turning a potential client to a sure-shot target customer- she knew the tricks of the trade by heart. What made matters more difficult for her was she was an entrepreneur.
There was still no sign of any bus. The journey from Punjabi Bagh crossing to Shahpura, Tilak Nagar would take approximately 45 minutes. Still time enough for her to catch some much needed sleep.
Finally. A white chartered bus slowed down and came to a stop. From a distance she could see few people inside. She was relieved, although it was five past midnight now. She applied one final touch of lip gloss and mascara and proceeded towards the door. Be prepared at all times, her rulebook said, for prospective clients can be made, anywhere, anytime.
As soon as she got in, she could see the other four male passengers stir in their seats. In a moment as she just expected, they turned back to take a look at their new co-passenger. Before she could settle herself in a seat close to the door, she heard the youngest of the passengers, in her late teens whistle lustily at her. She adjusted her Saree and started groping her bag for her cell phone. In her hurry to do so the bag fell down from the seat and she bent down to pick it up. By the time she sat back, there was a man standing next to her.
The rest three men had already stood up from their sitting positions. They had things on their minds, which they didn’t imagine till now. She could smell it all, she could see it all. The end was near.
After what seemed like an hour of manic screams and helpless wails that reverberated in the confines of the bus, the journey ended. On a sad, bloody note.
Yet again, another unexplained bus accident near Shahpura. All four passengers and the driver, strangulated and their bodies severely damaged.
Later the forensic reports suggested, the men died before the bus hit the curb and ran down a wall, there was no trace of alcohol or drugs in their blood sample which could explain the accident. The cause of their death was still unknown.
Anamika was at it again. She stepped out feeling a sense of happiness for herself and Maya. She has achieved her first success, the very first taste of redemption.
Maya had already triumphed, she had crossed the seven seas for the man she had once loved with all her life, who in return had left her on a hospital bed remorseless, bloody and dead, along with the little dream that couldn’t bloom in her womb. She had traced him on another corner of the world, happy and settled with a family, yet no trace of regret. She had nailed her unfinished business, took away everything that he held dear to him, leaving him lonely and sad. Torture of a lifetime is much worse than death, Maya had realised.
But Anamika must not stop. For, her potential customers lured in every nook and corner of the city, day and night, and they need tending to.
Samshan Ghat,Shahpura,Tilak Nagar, New Delhi – 18
Punjabi Bagh Cremation Ground,Ring Rd, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi – 26
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