Shiksha Upadhyay

The Close Shave

Dare To Share is a part of Tales To Read which allows people across the world to share their stories . This not only enhances interactive reading but also provides a platform for many of those who wish to do something creative. Today Rukmini Krishnan brings on Tales to Read a story written by Shiksha Upadhyay .  A special thanks to PinkySharma who was instrumental in introducing me to Shiksha.

Pinky Sharma
Pinky Sharma








Shiksha Upadhyay
Shiksha Upadhyay

Name : Shiksha Upadhyay

Profession : First Year Medical Student in Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences in Loni, Maharashtra, India.

Interests : Music, Dance and Reading.

Family : Father, Mother and a Younger Brother in Navi Mumbai.

Life to her means : Insatiable.  She strongly believes that every person is dissatisfied with the way their life is and instead of viewing it as something negative I think that it is inevitable and drives us to do better in life

Here is her prize winning entry in a Creative Writing Competition

11 July, 2006

9:30 am

Virar, Mumbai


“Bye honey! Love you! I’ll be early today for your pasta.”

Arun kissed me and started to leave.

“Hey, wait!” I called him.

“What?” he said turning back.

I froze. My fists were clenched and words were getting stuck in my throat. Come on Natasha you have to tell. Now or never!

“Umm….I’ll tell when you’re back. Now be quick or you’re gonna miss your train!”

“Okay, bye!” He kissed me again and left closing the door behind him.

I quickly went to the window and peered out of it. Arun was walking on the pavement across the street. As he walked he shifted his gaze from the street to our apartment’s window. On seeing me he stopped, waved and smiled. I smiled too. A fake smile. He was still looking at me. Then he waved again and resumed his path. I was still looking out. I sighed. Then I remembered that day a year back.

26 August, 2005

“Will you marry me, Natasha?”

Arun was kneeling down like a typical lover staring right into my eyes. He was holding a tiny box which was open for me to see. It had the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever seen.

“What?!” escaped my lips. I staggered back. I knew the expressions on my face weren’t promising.

Arun’s expression changed. He was still kneeling down.

“I thought you loved me….”

Same old lines!

“I do love you honey! But I can’t marry you now!”

“Why?” he asked in a low, disappointed tone.

That face! He made a face that could have made a man of steel cry! His eyes full of sadness, guilt and sorrow; his lips almost shivering. Ugh! This isn’t fair!

I replied anyway,

“Because all this is happening so fast! I haven’t even started with my internship. And I can’t just get into this marriage business right now!”

This did no good. He was getting worse.

“But we had planned so much for ourselves. Then why….”

‘This would go on for hours!’ I thought. I had to think of something.

“Okay, baby listen. I can’t marry you now. I’m just not ready. But… perhaps…..we can move in?”

Now my plan had to work. He being the old school type would refuse to move in and this topic would be closed for some time.

He changed his expression once again. But unfortunately, a smile spread across his face.

“Yeah! That’s a great idea! You’re right. We don’t need to marry now. You should settle your career first. We’ll move in your apartment? I’ll be there in two days!”

11 July, 2006

I was still staring out of the window, not knowing what to do. I had been living with Arun for the past one year but never had a nerve to tell him the truth. I loved him a lot. But the thought of marriage and living together scared me. I wasn’t ready for it. I couldn’t do it anymore. But I also couldn’t hurt him. I would not be able to forgive myself if I did so.

But I decided I would tell him for sure today. He needed to know the truth. I couldn’t deceive him further.

The entire day had gone glum because of the fear of talking to him. I also did not go to work. I slept most of the time. Then I did some office work.

I was still staring out of the window, not knowing what to do. I had been living with Arun for the past one year but never had a nerve to tell him the truth. I loved him a lot. But the thought of marriage and living together scared me. I wasn’t ready for it. I couldn’t do it anymore. But I also couldn’t hurt him. I would not be able to forgive myself if I did so.

But I decided I would tell him for sure today. He needed to know the truth. I couldn’t deceive him further.

The entire day had gone glum because of the fear of talking to him. I also did not go to work. I slept most of the time. Then I did some office work.

11 July, 2006

6:30 pm

It was difficult to explain how I had been feeling the entire day. I wanted Arun to come home as early as possible so that I could spill out everything. But I was too scared to say anything. I was literally practicing in front of a mirror. But then I finally gave up in the evening. Before I went into the kitchen to make something for myself I checked the clock. It was 6:30 That’s the time Arun always calls when he’s sitting in the train and coming back. He was reaching in some time. I went to the kitchen, took out the packet of pasta I had bought the day before.

That’s when my cell phone rang. Arun, I thought. I went to our room and glanced on the phone screen. It was Smriti, my colleague. I pushed the green button and held the phone to my ear.

“Yeah Smriti, I’m sorry I ditched you today. I didn’t want to come. You know…”

“NO! Listen to me. Switch on your television! Quick!”

Her voice was filled with urgency and fear.

“What happened?! You sound scared.”

“Just do what I’m saying!”

I grabbed the remote and switched on the television. We hardly watch TV and even if we do it’s always for news so the channel was already there when I switched on.

“Breaking news coming, we are bringing live pictures from the spot. As you can see, the blast has completely destroyed the train. Dead bodies are still being taken out. A lot of bodies are completely unidentifiable. There is a lot of chaos and…Prakash? Yes I hear you! Oh my god. Yet ANOTHER blast has been reported at Santacruz. We’ll soon be bringing live images from the spot. Keep watching Times Now!”

As I kept staring my eyes widened. I couldn’t believe what I saw. A local train was completely mangled. People were moving around haphazardly. Then as the camera focused more I could see that blood had stained the walls of the train. I even forgot Smriti was on the phone.

After around a minute of shock I finally spoke to her.

“Wha…..what is all this?”

“There was a bomb blast reported just now in this train. There had been more just minutes ago. Natasha, Arun also travels along the western line, right? Is he okay?”

My gaze automatically went to the wall clock. It was 6:35. Why didn’t Arun call?

“I…..I….don’t know. He hasn’t called yet. I mean he calls everyday at 6:30. He….”

“Call him!”

“Yeah!” I said and quickly hung up. Then I punched some numbers on the phone and held it to my ear.

The number you are trying to reach is switched off. Please try again later.”

“Damn!” I said hanging up. I redialed the number.

The number you are trying to…..”

I called Smriti.

“Hello? Yeah, his phone is switched off! I don’t know what to do!

There was a deadly silence. Then she said,

“Listen, don’t worry. Just keep trying, I’m coming over there.”

I hung up. Then I again called Arun. His phone was switched off.

I focused my attention to the television. I could see horrific pictures of the scene. It was all very scary. I flipped to the other channels. Every single news channel was showing the same. Every minute the number of dead people reported was increasing.

Then suddenly very unknowingly my eyes started getting moist. My face felt hot. I was finding it hard to breathe. And then tears rolled down my cheeks. I closed my eyes. A cute and cheerful face of Arun materialized in my head. Was he leaving me forever? No! I couldn’t think of anything like that.

Just then the door bell rang. I went up to open the door. It was Smriti. On seeing me she hugged.

“It’ll be fine! Nothing’s gonna happen to him.” she tried comforting me.

She entered.

“There were total seven blasts. And that too in just eleven minutes!” she said.

I barely heard her. All my thoughts were focused on Arun. Why wasn’t he picking up his phone?

I called again. It was switched off.

“What do we do now, Smriti?” I said between sobs.

“Everything’s gonna be fine. Just…” she saw the TV screen. I followed her gaze. A woman was speaking.

“Nearly 200 people are dead and 700 are injured. All the dead bodies have been taken to the following hospitals. People who cannot contact their relatives are requested to visit these hospitals for the identification of dead bodies….”

Smriti looked at me. I looked at her. I knew what she was asking for.

“No……..!” I said crying bitterly.

“This is the only way of knowing. We don’t have any other choice!” she said sighing.

I agreed reluctantly.

11 July, 2006

7:30 pm

Borivali, Mumbai

We reached the government hospital nearest to our home. As we got to the entrance a fat woman wearing a white uniform who was standing near the entrance asked us,

“You have come to identify a body?”

“Yes….” I replied in tears.

“Then come this way. A lot of bodies are still not identified. Male or female?”

“Excuse me?”

“The body is of a man or a woman?” she said rolling her eyes.

“Oh! Man.”



She lead us to a dark and smelly room. There were several bodies kept on the floor covered with white sheets.

“Now be quick. Don’t waste time.”

I approached the corpse which was nearest to me. I noticed how badly I was perspirating. I looked at Smriti.

“Do it……” she said. She was also in tears.

With my hands shaking I lifted the sheet from the head of the body. I saw the face. It was covered with blood but I could say that it was not Arun. My hands automatically went up to my mouth and nose to cover it as I breathed a sigh of relief.

It took a lot of time but we checked all the bodies in the room. Every instance of removing the sheet off the bodies was a horror. Those instances irked the fear of losing Arun.

With the last corpse, it was confirmed that Arun was not present among them. I couldn’t understand whether I was to be happy or sad about it.

I tried calling him again when we were out of the hospital. His phone was switched off.

“Which hospital should we move on to now?” asked Smriti.

“I don’t know. I am so…” I stopped. I couldn’t speak a word. What I saw had frozen me.

Smriti saw my face.

“What happened?”

“I….think…I think I saw Arun!”

“What!? Where?”

“Over there!” I said pointing to the crowd of people trying to enter the hospital. I started running towards the hospital entrance.

“Wait Natasha! Are you sure it’s him?”

“I don’t know! I think I saw his bag. The one he takes for work every day. I think it’s him!” I replied running.

The entrance was heavily crowded. I tried tearing through it and succeeded. I entered the hospital. It was no good and equally crowded. I scanned the corridors but couldn’t locate Arun.

Suddenly a zebra pattern caught my eye. It was the same pattern that Arun had on his bag. I followed it. I forgot all about Smriti, about the crowd and the entire world. For that moment nothing mattered more that Arun. I kept following it and almost leaped forward to catch it. Once in my hands, I pulled the bag and its owner also got pulled.

In moments I was staring at the person. Hazel eyed, brown hair, a slightly long nose and thin lips. Then suddenly I don’t know why, that day; five years back flashed in my head.

“Okay, so Arun, this is our first date. Why do you think I’ll fall for you?”

“Why not Natasha. Am I not handsome?” he said smiling.

“Why? Because you have hazel eyes, brown hair, a slightly long nose and thin lips?”

Then he stared right into my eyes and said,

“You’ll fall for me ‘coz I’ll always be there to catch you!”

Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I hugged Arun in that messed up crowd.

“Natasha!? Oh god! I was so worried! Where were you? I had been looking you all over. I got caught up in work and when I saw the news channels I thought something might have happened to you while you were returning from work! I couldn’t even call you because my phone was run over by a car in all this chaos…”

I hugged him for about five long minutes.

“Let’s go home!” I said half crying.

11 July, 2006

10:30 pm

Virar, Mumbai

That night I lay close to Arun my head buried in his chest.

“So honey,” he said smiling “You said you wanted to tell me something…”

I lifted my head and looked at him. His eyes were lovingly looking at me with a cute smile on his face.

“Yeah…I was thinking that it’s been pretty long since we’ve lived together.”


There was a long pause before I said,

“Will you marry me, Arun?”


2 thoughts on “The Close Shave”

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