Fiction: Flawed (Someeta Das)

Someeta Das
The two girls held hands as they waited beneath the famous clock at the railway station. Seeing them, one could envisage that both had escaped from their homes. Both were in their teens, running away from poverty, brought by a common ‘Uncle’, who had promised them jobs and good money, some of which they could send home. The ‘Uncle’ came soon, with a bag swinging by his side. Since it was dark, he said he would take them to their respective employers’ homes the next day. Both girls thought of the strange question the Uncle had asked. He hardly enquired about what housework they knew, but asked them respectively if they had any marks on their bodies. Both girls replied in the negative. Bina, concealed the fact she had a small rash on her. “How did it matter in housework, it was just a small one and would disappear in a few days”, she told herself. The reply seemed to satisfy the man. He led them out from the station and walked with them towards a big hotel nearby. The girls gasped in disbelief. Never in their lives had they seen such a magnificent and luxurious hotel. It had – they counted ten floors. Excitedly they clutched one another’s hands as they thought how their family and friends at home would envy them.

Even the lift was huge as they were whisked up to the tenth floor in a flash. The man took them to a room, told them to freshen up, after which they would eat. They entered the bathroom one by one, taken aback at the panels, as they cleaned themselves as instructed, with the toiletries they found on a shelf inside the bathroom. There was one set for each of them. Emerging, from the bath room they found fresh clothes laid out for them on the bed. Smelling fresh from the aroma of the cleanser, they laughed their way into the clothes, admiring each other as they were served such fare which they had seen only in the few films that had been screened in their village.

After a while, the man came and summoned Bina, saying “Come your employers are here and waiting to question you”. Looking surprised, Nirmala wished her ‘Best of Luck’ and sat down, switching on the huge Television. It was nearly an hour later, when she had almost dozed off, she heard a loud scream followed by a thud. It sounded very close, but before she could look out of the window, she was summoned in a similar way. The man evaded her question about Bina and took her to the next room.
The next few hours were a blur of physical pain and unbearable atrocities. She crept back to her room a couple of hours later, with the ominous threat “You were spared as you were unmarked, or your Fate would have been just the same as your friend who did not require the lift.”

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