A Race among the abused

A Race among the abused

A Story by Ashwin Shanker

‘I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.’
Kamal looked outside his window. The sun was setting and the clouds had just stop pouring. He looked outside his hut, which was located besides  the backwaters of Kerala. He looked at the dense clouds sail across the sky, as a gentle breeze caused his wooden window to creak. Apart from the wheezing noises of the wood, and whispers of the wind, there was silence in the air.


Kamal kept looking at the still waters .  As the ripples sailed across the water, he simply stared into the distance, his  eyes reflecting a nostalgic sundown.
----------------------
“We need to run faster Kamal, faster than this.” Suresh said, panting, his hands on his knees, several steps ahead of Kamal, who was also in the same position.


Their footprints were imprinted over a stretch of a kilometer behind them. The boys started walking again, Kamal dusted the trousers of his uniform as they reached the end of the lake.

As they reached home, Suresh placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder and said, “Tomorrow we need to get this under twenty seconds, then we could have a chance at the relay team. I see bright future in you Kamal, I have a feeling you could end up running faster than me at this rate.”


“Stop flattering me, I will continue to be your running partner even if you don’t butter me. Save the flattery to charm the girls.”  

“See you tomorrow partner, don’t forget to call me once you finish homework,” Kamal waved as his friend started to walk back, a gentle smile fixed on his face.


----------------------

Suresh did not call Kamal that night,  nor was he present in school the next day morning. Later during that day, Kamal found him waiting at his doorstep, clad in his track suit and running shoes. His left cheek was pink and swollen “Before you say anything, I wanna say that I am sorry I didn’t show up at school, I tried to run back home, as I was about to reach , it got dark and I slipped.” he said.
“Teacher asked me about you today, I had no reply for her. You know what?” Kamal said.


“What?” Suresh said,

“You are taking this running habit a tad too seriously,” Kamal replied.


Suresh laughed. “You think I have no idea about what I am doing here Kamal? I cannot describe the joy I get from running to you, especially before I get home. I run...  the feeling that you get after crossing a barrier that you have set for yourself, after you lose your breath but you get strength back again, to keep moving forward. I cannot, even if I use a thousand words more, do justice to describe that feeling. It is liberating; it is peaceful. ”

------------------------


Suresh was not present at school the next day either. Kamal found him waiting at his doorstep. Both his eyes were blackened like a boxer post-fight, he had stub marks all over his left forearm.   


Kamal looked at his friend’s bare feet. They appeared swollen. Answering the question his friend’s silent eyes were asking, Suresh said,“I don’t think I can run for a while, dad stepped on my feet yesterday with his boots,.”


That day for the first time Kamal heard Suresh speak about his intimate family affairs. “Everyday, as I reach my door, I sniff for any traces of cigarette smoke. If the air stinks of it, then that means dad is drunk, and he is angry. In all likelihood, Mother is crying, sometimes nursing one side of her face. There’s little I can do to help her and that makes me feel powerless, weak. I always avoid going in;  I simply keep running down the road. Running makes me feel like I am gaining strength again.  I go on running, this is where the feeling of freedom comes from; running is what liberates me. The further away I am from home, the better it is.”

------------------------------


‘I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.’


Kamal kept looking outside the window, the wind brought with it clouds, that drowned the evening sun. It robbed Kamal’s room of its natural light. He reached for the light switch, almost losing balance. The light turned on, Kamal looks up from his chair to find Varunamma standing before him, “You need to be more careful my child,”


-------------------------------


Suresh’s feet took three weeks to heal. And then he began running again, this time faster with each sprint, each kilometer, each passing day.


They covered the distance to Kamal’s house under fifteen seconds. Suresh would run till the end of the village corporator’s office, one stretch of 700 metres under 40 seconds. They discovered new places together, running as long as the horizon was still lit.  Kamal would often invite Suresh home on seeing his crestfallen face  at the time of saying goodbye.


One night, Suresh managed to sneak out of his house for a midnight dash all the way to Kamal’s home. He carried with him biscuits and milk, which the duo had under Kamal’s sheets with the flashlight turned on.

The next  afternoon, Suresh did not turn up at his gate for the evening run, even though he promised he would,  after school. Neither was he present in class the next day.


That evening, Kamal saw his mother sitting at the staircase of his front door. She looked concerned, “I want to tell you something important and you are not to share this with any of your other friends.”


Kamal nodded, as he froze in his tracks.


“Suresh’s mother called me. His father has been arrested by the police. Suresh is recovering from first degree burns and will take a week to be back in school. You and I could pay him a visit if you change out of your uniform soon.” .”


It was awkward for the two boys to speak their language, while their mothers were right next to them; a different kind of bonding took place in parallel. Kamal asked, “how soon would you be fit to  go running again?”

“I have nothing to run from anymore Kamal,” Suresh said with a smile, his eyes droopy, and speech slurred due to the potent painkillers in his system.  

Suresh stayed for longer lengths at Kamal’s house. The latter’s mother never seemed to mind, the boys were like brothers and the smile on Suresh’s face gleamed like the first rays of dawn.


-----------------------------

One evening,  Suresh was sitting down on the railway tracks.  Kamal approached him clad in his uniform trousers and school bag, carrying two badminton  rackets in hand, “Let’s start playing badminton from today.”


The lad looked up at Kamal, looking petrified, “Father is out on parole, I smelled smoke the minute I entered my house. He was asking my mother where I was.”


Suresh started to shiver, as he continued, “I can run till the end of this world but I cannot go back to that house again Kamal,” he started to cry.

Kamal kept a hand on his friend’s shoulder “Let’s go to my house immediately. I don’t want you to be sitting here any longer. The Shatabdi express will be coming any minute, let’s go home,” Kamal said, taking a few steps behind.  

Suresh did not respond to Kamal’s suggestion. He just kept staring to empty space, “Kamal, go home. I will see you tomorrow in school.”


“What do you mean?”

“Just go home Kamal,”


“No Suresh, this time I am not letting you go home alone; you are coming with me to my house.” Kamal said, authoritatively.

The duo could hear the blare of the Shatabdi express approaching towards them. Suresh looked up; he could see the approaching lights. “This is so beautiful, something so bright, so powerful… It is going to take me away from this place. I wonder what the other side would be like!”saying this, Suresh  started walking  towards the train.


Kamal exerted all the force he could to pull his friend away from the approaching train. He kept telling him that everything was going to be alright.


But Suresh was beyond all that worldly reasoning now. His face mirrored the tranquility of his soul being set free of all trauma, an anticipation of the world that was to come.  

The bright headlight of the train grew brighter as the boys raced towards it, staying on its path, on its tracks. The engine was running at 70 Km/h, closing the distance.


“Kamal, stay away from me and the tracks!” Suresh screamed. Kamal was deaf to both the grinding chugs of the engine and his friend’s desperate pleas. All he wanted was to extricate his friend from the collision of certain death, come what may.   Suddenly, he stumbled a few steps, but managed to balance himself.  He was running out of breath as the stress of stopping his friend from colliding with the charging train that was barely fifty meters away from him.


Kamal made one frantic effort, to push Suresh out of the tracks, but his legs folded under him; he stumbled and fell, with his ankles lying over the tracks. The train attacked them both - first it  swallowed Suresh whole beneath it, before each and every wheel on one side run over Kamal’s legs.

---------------------------------

‘I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.’

“You need to be more careful my child,” Varunamma helped Kamal back into his wheelchair.


“Thank you Amma, that was a close one,” Kamal smiled at her.


“If you ever need anything to be done, anything at all, you need to call me. I am just a shout away my child. I cannot have you fall from the chair again, your mother might kill me.”

“Or she might cripple you and keep you here full time.” Kamal said, gently laughing.  


Varunamma smiled, “We might laugh about this now, but I will never be able to imagine what you must be going through my child. I feel it is wrong, that you are having to go through this at your age. Perhaps the divine one above is training you to be ready for a bigger and better destiny. Don’t lose faith my dear boy, I will always be there for you.”


“I know that Amma, I am lucky to have someone like you here on this beautiful day with me.” Kamal replied.

“My child, I cannot help it but ask you - do you still get think of Suresh?”

“Sometimes Amma, Sometimes.”


THE END     



© 2017 Ashwin Shanker



Author's Note

Ashwin Shanker
If you have read this till the end, spare a few moments for a review.

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Featured Review

I really enjoyed this story. It begins as a tale of hope and the possibility of leaving the bad for better, but the end! Did not expect that child to commit suicide, but, too many times, suicide is the only alternative some can see. The story only alludes to the horrors Suresh endures, there is no need to elaborate on that and a child is especially vulnerable, the reader can assume the details for themselves. Keep writing your stories, even if they are not written well, the story is out there, and you can always return later for refinements. The important thing is to get them out of your head, onto a page. Good writing comes with more writing. As you flex your "muscles", and become stronger, as I said earlier, you can return and hone and fine tune as you see fit.





Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

Are you implying that the story is not written as well as it could have been?
Carol Cashes

3 Months Ago

Good Lord, no! It was written well, with minor grammar issues and some jumps in action as pointed o.. read more



Reviews

I really like the repetition of the "I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop". The language and the story line are beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this story! It was also very realistic and believable. Thank you for writing this.

Posted 1 Month Ago


Oh Wow. It was really a great story.
Emotions, friendship and hope. All packed beautifully. The end was tragic but taught us a lot.
Well done!

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

2 Months Ago

Thank you for the review beauty ;)
NerdyBeauty

2 Months Ago

You're welcome.✌
A 💯 for this story- beautifully crafted the friendship between Kamal and Suresh, good blend of emotions, and though a sad ending but a child may only seem to quit early instead of enduring pain and physical abuses. Very well written 👍

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

2 Months Ago

A 100/100 WOW... Thanks man...
Do have a look at 'Knife of a backstabber' too :)
Anjali

2 Months Ago

Sure will read it soon.
WOW! This is something else! Although it is tragic, it is also beautiful. And this story is told with such finesse. The language is appropriate for the characters. The ideas are coherent and flow well.
This was well thought out from beginning to end.

And I enjoyed how the first line is used as a motif.

The one thing that really stood out to me that takes away from the strength in your work is in some places the grammar is slightly off. Also there are a few instances where more transition words could help the flow of ideas.

Your images are so strong and your use of personification sets the scene.

one of my favorite lines: "Apart from the wheezing noises of the wood, and whispers of the world, there was a silence in the air"

What an enjoyable read! I absolutely loved it! Thank you so much for sharing!
~J

Posted 3 Months Ago


I really enjoyed this story. It begins as a tale of hope and the possibility of leaving the bad for better, but the end! Did not expect that child to commit suicide, but, too many times, suicide is the only alternative some can see. The story only alludes to the horrors Suresh endures, there is no need to elaborate on that and a child is especially vulnerable, the reader can assume the details for themselves. Keep writing your stories, even if they are not written well, the story is out there, and you can always return later for refinements. The important thing is to get them out of your head, onto a page. Good writing comes with more writing. As you flex your "muscles", and become stronger, as I said earlier, you can return and hone and fine tune as you see fit.





Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

Are you implying that the story is not written as well as it could have been?
Carol Cashes

3 Months Ago

Good Lord, no! It was written well, with minor grammar issues and some jumps in action as pointed o.. read more
I found something deep behind the idea when Suresh ran. He ran away from his fears of going home, he ran just to save himself from his father. I guess the best part was when His father got arrested.
and the worst was when in misery Suresh thought to choose the other part -The death- which he thought could be greener or happier........

Beautiful piece
Lovely to read!

keep up the good work!
:)




Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

when the torture was going beyond his control, the approaching lights of the train was depicted as a.. read more
Tragic end but a story with good potential...

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

Only potential?
Swetha

3 Months Ago

well it was a good one, got me bit teary...
Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

I am honoured that the story succeeded in invoking emotions in you
I found the story somewhat repetitive and in places where it was used, evidently for effect, it was more of a distraction. It lacked a cognitive flow of events also. By this I mean, we go from someone sitting looking out a window to people running but not running..."We need to run faster Kamal, faster than this.” Suresh said, panting, his hands on his knees, several steps ahead of Kamal, who was also in the same position.
Their footprints were imprinted over a stretch of a kilometer behind them. The boys started walking again," So to begin "walking again" they must have been walking before...it lacks clarity in definition of how this happened...did a race or a run start out at a walk? That I found perplexing. Some of the wording I also found overly descriptive...as in "he said, authoritatively"...it would be more useful to make the statement authoritative without telling the reader it was. "SHOW DON'T TELL" is the first mantra every good writer should learn. The story line itself as a tragedy was not disappointing but it could use some editing and consideration in my opinion. Stop to think if the words used to describe the events are how the story would be told by the character who is narrating the events. I like the compassion of the represented characters and perhaps that could be built upon without repetition of a singular thought. I hope this helps slightly in developing the potential within the story. Bless.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

I used the words nostalgic sundown, which denotes that the boy is moving through his memory lane, I .. read more
Well...that was tragic!!! Well done! I did not expect to be in tears at the end. The tale of friendship and devotion through the secret into the reveal provides a nostalgic childhood feel. The abused parts is also well intertwined and you can't help but be drawn into it.
The train bit takes the reader into both minds which is hard to do without the back up story, well done!!!
The ending provides a touch of comfort as your numb mind adjusts to the tragedy that just unfolded.
Not what I expected in the end. I really liked the storyline. This could probably be stretched out into a nice book.
Tabby

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

You had tears? WHOA ... I am sorry, I didn't mean it to be this tragic... I loved your review... I a.. read more
this was very well written
the descriptions and flow of the story itself was amazing !!

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashwin Shanker

3 Months Ago

Thank you very much for the review Pia

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11 Reviews
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Added on August 29, 2017
Last Updated on September 12, 2017

Author

Ashwin Shanker
Ashwin Shanker

Calicut, Kerala, India



About
I am 25 years old, copywriter working at Mullen Lowe Lintas Group, Mumbai. I love writing and have been doing the same since six-years-old. I am a huge fan of communities of writers who support eac.. more..

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