A man covered in Grey Dust

Preeti Chaudhary

While the white moon was scowling darkness to every person walking home that night, Mona was sent to her aunt’s house to grab a bowl of sugar from her.

Mrs. Sahni was making ‘Kalakand’ (a type of Indian sweet made up of milk-boiled to its hard consistency and sugar), that night. An empty packet of 3 kg of sugar was already resting in the bin but still, the batter didn’t gain the right consistency for the sweet. She let out a sigh of despair as she was tired of bringing out the mixture together. Her daughter also looked clueless beside her because the contents of the bowl didn’t match the picture shown on the television. She then looks into her mother’s eyes.

“One last try,” Mrs. Sahni smiles sheepishly at her.

“I think...,” Mrs. Sahni continued on uncertainty, “I think, it needs more sugar.”

“Mum, it is close to 9:30 now and the shops will be closed,” her daughter replies to her request.

“Can you go to your aunt’s house and grab a bowl of it from her,” Mrs. Sahni suggested her.

Mona stands from the bar-stool sitting beside the kitchen top and takes a bowl from one of the cabinets and walks out of the kitchen towards the front door

Mrs. Sahni advise her from the kitchen by shouting, "Beta, just grab the bowl of sugar, don’t sit there. It is too late now.”

She leaves the main gate ajar and then, follows her footstep in the left direction.

Mrs. Sahni’s family was living in a quiet neighborhood. The society was located on the outskirts of Dehradun that’s why — here, there were a greater number of trees than people. Not many regular facilities were available there and that may be the sole reason why many house owners hadn’t signed up for the handover. Here, one would hardly encounter any person walking outside after the sunset.

And there she was walking, or maybe strolling into the darkness in her own tune. After taking too many rights and left, she stood before a grey main door. She pulls her hand into one of the circles on the gate and unlocks the latch.

She enters the drawing-room and greeted ‘Namaste’ to her uncle.

“Where’s buaji,” she later asks her uncle.

“Beta, maybe in the kitchen,” answers her uncle and then shout to the kitchen area, “Mona is here, Kusum.”

“Mumma asked for a bowl of sugar,” she smiles to her aunt and hands her the bowl.

Her aunt takes the bowl and tops it up to the brim with sugar.

“What is she making today,” she winks at Mona after handing her the bowl.

“Something similar to Kalakand,” she innocently smiles back.

On the right hand, Mona was carrying the bowl and with the other, she covers it with the newspaper. She turns around to see if anyone was also walking but, only the darkness was accompanying her that night.

She was only about 200m away from her house and with the next left, she would walk on her lane. Before taking the left, she once again looks behind to check for a vehicle but instead, finds a faint shadow of a person on a bicycle. Now, she walks on her lane.

Suddenly, Mona is approached by the man on the bicycle as he is surprisingly cycling right beside her. She stops on her track and asks him, “Can I help you, uncleji?”

“I am a little lost actually and looking for an address?” the man was wearing white Kurta-Pajama covered in grey dust, requests her.

“What’s the address, uncleji,” she again inquires.

“I am looking for a Sharma family who lives here,” the man put down another leg and handles the cycle only with his left hand.

“Actually, uncleji there are three Sharma families that live in this society. Whom do you want to visit, there is one in this lane, the other two have houses on the very first lane?” she answers him dutifully.

“Oh! I am looking for the one who has two older sons and his daughter is soon to be getting married,” the man now slowly starts to creep his hand on her shoulder.

Mona finds it a bit uncomfortable but still, smiles her best because she was taught to respect the elders.

“There is one Sharma uncleji on the front lane but I guess you heard it wrong, I think his son is getting married,” she answers back.

The man now slowly creeps his hand to her right-hand side and stealthily pulls her into his shadowy embrace. He then, puts back some lose strands of hair from her face by his left-hand. She notices that most part of his body was covered in grey dust and also has a deep cut on his forehead.

“No, beta. I am looking for the one whose daughter is getting married, you must be mistaking him for someone else. Can you try to remember again?” the man now coaxes her into confusion.

Mona now cautiously watches his every movement as the whole idea of the man now creeps her to the bone. She stutters, “No, uncle. I remember it correctly that his son is getting married.”

The man mischievously smiles to her and strongly rejects her answer with his indignant expression. Thereby, he also moves his right palm on her chin like a lion playing with the lamb. Mona squirms under his touch and her heart starts to pound faster and faster with every movement of his palm.

“Mona,” an urgent roar from her mother surprises her to reality. Mona instantly leaves his creeping embrace and run to her mother.

“You spilled half the bowl, beta,” Mrs. Sahni calls her in a beautiful frustration.

“What were you doing standing over there?” Mrs. Sahni continued one second later.

“Mum, the man was asking the address,” Mona answered in subtle fear.

“What man, Mona?” Mrs. Sahni asks in annoyance “You and your vicarious world.”

1 comment

  • I could imagine the whole scenario… very well Preeti👍

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