Pragati Gupta, Longlist Short Story 2017

Humanity Wins!

Pragati Gupta

The morning was slowly and steadily drowning into the afternoon.  Naina was driving her car straight on MK road. For the past two years, she had not gone by this route for she was living in the city. She looked up to see the milestone on which it was printed “SARAHPUR 80 Km.” “They are still far!” She thought about her family and sighed. She suddenly felt famished. By god’s grace, she saw a small road-side-restaurant and a petrol pump just beside it. It was unusual. However, she stopped there, ordered her food and sat down to eat when it came.

While she was paying the bill, a slightly dust covered SUV stopped at the petrol pump making a screeching halt.  A hefty man protruded out of the driver seat, and shouted, “Is anybody out here? I want to get diesel filled in my car. Right now!”
While he was shouting on top of his voice, Naina noticed some disturbance inside the car.  It looked, as if someone was struggling to get free from someone’s clutches.  Meanwhile, the owner filled the fuel in his car. While he was doing so, the rear car door suddenly flew open, and a man stumbled and fell down hard on the ground.  All customers and the owner in the restaurant stood up after seeing such a mishappening.  Immediately, a girl and a boy ,both of about 20 , both in tattered clothes also rushed out of the same door, unmindful of the man who was bleeding profusely and lying on the ground, holding his head, and ran towards some people sitting in the restaurant, and pleaded for help.

“Help please help, save us from these monsters! We beg you. Help!”
Meanwhile, two men , strong and carrying a long rods with the man, who was asking the owner to get petrol filled in his car ,all ran towards the girl .The hefty looking man who fell down earlier now stood up and joined the other three.  Both the girl and boy were looking shabby, while the four men were hefty, strong and carrying guns and metal rods. “No, don’t even dare to touch us!” the boy shouted protecting the girl, while she was crying bitterly. 

“Get aside!” shouted the one with a metal rod & struck it hard on the boy’s right.  The boy fell down.  “Dad please. Leave him! Kill me if you want but leave him please. For God’s sake!” cried the girl.

Her father pulled her by her hair and threw her on ground.  “Beat them!” he ordered.  The other three men started beating them.  Naina was horrified to see all the fighting and pleadings.  “Hey! Stop all this.  Why are you all beating them?  Just stop it!” She immediately intervened. “Get away! It’s none of your business!” a man pushed her hard on the ground.  Naina fell down on the ground but stood up almost immediately facing the men and protecting the boy and girl.  “I tell you! Get away!” shouted a man from behind.  “No, I‘ll not.  I’ll not let you commit such a sin.”
She, by now, understood the matter completely.

Honor killing. They were trying to kill the boy and girl, who might have earlier fled from their homes together perhaps tarnishing their families’ image in the society.

“GET ASIDE!!!” shouted a man & struck Naina with a rod.  She snatched it & struck it on the spine of the man.  He fell down in pain.  The others also charged on her.  She struck everybody one by one.  She turned to one of the customers looking horribly at the scene. “Help us! Fight with these goons and support these two. Please stand by them.” she screamed.  Nobody even moved a step but hung their heads low. “Where has the humanity inside you gone?” She continued to say while fighting with the goons.  She overpowered the goons and struck everybody hard with the metal rods in both her hands.  Everybody fell down. She used her vigilance and immediately called up the cops. While the goons were still lying wounded and exhausted, she turned to all the customers and shouted, “Shame on you people! Has humanity died in your hearts? Can’t you help someone in distress?  Are you humans or not?” While she was saying all this, the siren of the police car could be heard.  They were at the scene of crime much before anticipated. The cops arrested all the goons and congratulated Naina for showing courage, bravery and especially humanity when others did not.  The boy and the girl also expressed gratitude for saving them while others hung their heads low.  She reciprocated their thankfulness and continued on her journey.  Humanity won!

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