This is the tenth in a series of ten microstories. These stories — vignettes, to be accurate — are set from dawn to midnight in an Indian metro. They follow different people in different settings over the course of a single ordinary day. Two of these stories have been published / accepted for publication in literary magazines. I’ll be publishing one piece per day over the next ten days.
At midnight he takes his motor-scooter for a ride around town. The streets are empty. The temples are locked, but lit. The dogs are on edge.
The men’s hostel has no curfew. First he rides to the women’s hostel, where the girl who keeps saying No has been locked for hours.
He stops at the Shiva temple to ask the god’s blessing for his mission tomorrow. He asks for a sign to tell him: Stop! He waits. Around him the night throbs quiet. Satisfied with the god’s tacit approval, he makes a final obeisance. He rides on.
The dogs wake up and howl, and chase him. He gives them a little exercise. Today, he watches his ankles. Already, he’s imagining attackers in every corner. Attacking him.
He passes his friend, coming down the other way on his motor-bike. His friend is taking his visiting cousins down to the ghat for a midnight smoke. He smiles at his friend. His friend is in the Chemistry department. It’s his friend who set him up.
The women’s hostel opens its gates at 5am. At 8:55am she will hurry out to get to class. He’ll be there. Waiting to throw acid on her face.