My new book ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. So, I thought I would share the first two chapters with you all so that you can read it and decide if you would like to buy the book! Order links will be at the end of this post.
The umbrella refuses to open.
I look around the crowded street, wondering if anyone is watching me struggle with the inanimate object. But they are too busy trying to escape the rain. So, I try one more time. Another gust of wind threatens to blow my clothes off me as I cling onto my skirt for dignity’s sake, muttering curses out loud for choosing to wear it on this particular day. The air is filled with the scent of moist earth.
As I step out onto the curb, looking up at the sky, I warn it not to shower all over me. Just then, a drop plops onto my nose, making me flinch. I begin fishing in my bag for a tissue, squinting awkwardly as the drop rolls down the tip of my nose and hangs there precariously, threatening to fall off if I don’t act immediately.
Then it happens.
As if in a movie, it drops in slow motion, staying mid-air for a very long time. Then it suddenly splashes to the ground with a deafening noise that I know only I can hear. As it touches the floor, it bursts into a million, tiny, colourful droplets and I look up, to see if anyone around me even notices my presence. That is when I realize in horror that everything has come to a standstill.
The adults stop walking, the children aren’t crying anymore and the cars freeze in the same position. Movement no longer exists. But before I can react, I feel a hand on my shoulder.
“Mom,” I say smiling, without turning.
I don’t need to turn around to know who it is. It has to be her. That cold palm on my shoulder is a touch that I have known for so many years in my life that it no longer feels like a surprise.
“How could you tell?” she chuckles as I face her, taking in her beauty.
The sight of my mother fills my heart with more warmth than dread.
“Your fingers,” I say, laughing. “I’ve known them for years.”
“You looked beautiful last week,” there is a glint in her eyes.
I frown, trying to remember meeting her seven days ago. I would have remembered if it happened. I turn back towards the colourful droplets in an enthusiastic attempt to show them to her. But they are gone. The people around me begin to move again, minding their own lives. When I face my mother, she is gone too.
It is weird that I still wish to be with her every single day, that I want her to love me like she used to. I want to live in the same house with her again, instead of in my own. I am 35 years old with a child and a husband. So much of my life has gone by but that is not really why it is weird.
It is because I haven’t ‘seen’ her since 18th September, 20 years ago.
Because that is the day she died.
“Are you really that desperate?” he asks, cocking his eyebrow like he just won the ‘Comment of the Year’ Award.
“Excuse me?” I look at him angrily.
“You heard me! You are pathetic!” He shakes his head at me. “Get out of my house.”
I glare at him. My fists clench.
“I am not paying you anything,” he says, “Do whatever you want.”
But instead of punching him, I reach into his bulging shirt pocket, pull out a wad of cash and say in my most professional voice, “Thank you, Sir. That should cover your cable bill for the month. Oh, and I appreciate the generous tip.”
He looks at me, confusion written across his face.
Then, he grits his teeth.
“What is this? Are you a thief now or did you just want an excuse to touch me?”
I sigh, turn around and start walking away. This client is just not worth talking to.
Yes, before you ask, I work at a cable company. My job is to collect money personally from defaulters. Generally it is only from the women but I suppose there must have been some sort of mix-up.
It isn’t glamorous work, but at least the pay is good.
Okay, fine, I admit it. I hate what I do. Especially when the clients are this repulsive.
I turn around and look at him.
“How do I know you aren’t stealing my money and that you really are from the cable company?”
“I have a badge, sir!”
“So? You could be a prostitute with a stolen badge for all I know!”
I fight the urge to kill him and instead, continue to stare at him like an idiot. It has finally happened. Words have failed me. If only my husband could see this now!
As I look away, it hits me.
This man is accusing me of selling my body. He is accusing me of being a thief. What is worse is that I am letting him get away with it. A wave of feminism surges through me. Women do not deserve to be treated this way. If this was a man in my place, they would be bonding over chilled beer or at least a cup of coffee before ending this on a peaceful note. But this man is trying to take advantage of me because I am a woman. I refuse to let him.
Gritting my teeth, I turn back and barge into his living room.
“Look, mister! You have no right to insult me that way!”
“It is not my fault that you work at that disgusting place. I haven’t been able to watch a single thing for more than two weeks.”
“Well, if you weren’t so cheap, maybe we wouldn’t have had to cut the cable connection!”
“Look who is talking about being cheap,” he snorts. “You are in my house, begging me for money and I am the cheap one?”
“Look. I don’t appreciate this. You have called me a lot of names just because I am doing my job. I could call the company and have you removed from the customer list.”
“Oh, really?” he challenges. “Then you really will be out on the streets doing god knows what. Customers come first. Remember that… No matter what you end up doing.”
His double innuendos enrage me. Over my dead body, I think.
If I were to sleep with someone for cash, which is what he is implying, I would definitely be very choosy.
Err, I mean, I am married! Married women do not sleep around.
Looking around frantically, I find a glass of water on his dining table and pick it up. In a moment of rage, I hurl the water at him. For good measure, I also throw the glass at his face. Even though he ducks, I feel proud.
“Jerk,” I spit. Not very original, but at least it’s something.
As I am descending the stairs, my face burning with anger, paranoia strikes me. What if he is dangerous? What if he chases me and kills me in the middle of this empty street? There isn’t a single house or person in sight. Who’s going to save me? Oh my God, does he have a gun? You can get those weapons anywhere these days!
That is when I start running. At this point, you have to know something. I have always been terrible at sports. I failed in PT class, was never picked in games period and often faked an ailment during Sports Tryouts. So, needless to say, running is not my thing. But I manage to get into my car, panting, my hands shaking so badly that I can’t insert the key properly.
A sudden knock on my window makes me freeze.
Without looking, I scream loudly (Also not my thing so you can imagine how weird I sounded) as I force the key in and floor the accelerator at once. There is a sudden jolt, the car rams into a tree, the safety balloon bursts, I feel a shooting pain in the side of my head and before I know what has happened, I blank out.
Death is my last thought.
When I open my eyes, everything is hazy. But eventually, as I adjust to the surroundings, I see that I am now in a white room. For a second, I think I am in an asylum. Oh my God, I gasp in my head. I have finally been diagnosed as insane. But then I realize it is actually a hospital. I close my eyes, trying to remember what had happened.
No memory, whatsoever. I have no recollection of what put me in this room.
Realizing that there is no point in stressing over something that I have no clue about, I start looking around instead. Out the glass pane, on my right, I see my husband on the other side.
He is talking to someone, smiling. The person he is talking to is the doctor. My doctor. I know, because he has a stethoscope around his neck. This is proof enough that I haven’t lost my mind completely. Yet.
I relax a little. Just then, something happens. The room starts to spin, very slowly at first but then it gains speed. I panic, looking around, desperately hoping that my husband turns my way so that he can help me. Is this what death feels like, a horrible merry-go-round?
Clutching the sides of the bed till my knuckles turn white, I start breathing heavily. The terrifying sound of my own heartbeat is replaced by a piercing noise. Instantly, I turn to face the glass window. It is slightly cracked, almost invisible. But then, it starts spreading like the branches of a tree, getting bigger and bigger till the whole glass looks like a spider web of cracks. Then, it shatters. I flinch, expecting the tiny bits to come and cut me into shreds, but nothing happens. I finally open my eyes slightly.
It is my husband. I sit up and hug him tight, sobbing. I then realize that his face is very unfamiliar to me and that sends a jolt down my spine. Feeling awkward, I pull away. The spinning has stopped. Everything is back to normal.
“The window… Spinning… I… Thank you, Anuj. You saved my life”
He smiles but even though I can’t recognize his face, I can tell he is disappointed.
“What happened?” I ask.
“Nothing, sweetheart” he says, kissing me on my forehead as I try not to flinch. “Thank God you are safe.”
It is then that I see his office tag. A very silly detail under the circumstances, surely, but I am drawn to it.
‘General Manager,’ it says, ‘Offshore Technologies.’
Under that is a photo from when he was younger.
But the name on the tag isn’t Anuj.
It is Jay.
“It is weird that I still meet my mother almost every day.
I am 35 years old. But that is not why it is weird.
It is because nobody else has seen her since 18th September, 20 years ago.
Because, that is the day she died.”
Meet Ria, the charming woman with an edge. Her life is nearly perfect. Or so it seemed, until one fateful day an accident wipes out parts of her memory. Suddenly, she starts to experience strange visions involving repressed childhood memories which send shivers down her spine.
A man called ‘Anuj’ whom she can’t remember.
The sadness that led to her mother’s sudden death.
Answers that her husband Jay refuses to share.
Secrets begin to resurface and Ria is left with no option but to confront her own fears.
Twisted is a tale of love, family and friendship, where bitter memories and shocking truths drive everyone to the point where they have to decide – Will the relationships crumble to dust or can love really conquer all?
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