Five Minute Walk
By Fahad Shah
Cool breezes kissed her cheeks. Hair flicks fell on face. A two lane wide road welcomed. She stepped out of the Metro station. One room windowless dwelling is a mile away. Taking a cycle rickshaw to reach there is her daily travel. Tasleema is like other girls of Delhi who live here for studies. With heart full dreams for future, struggle is inevitable. She was one of the passengers of Rajasthan express, three years ago.
Her parents live back home in Rajasthan. Earning his bread from a government job in Power Development Department, Muhammad Ishaaq never forgets to send monthly expenses of Tasleema. She saw her mother, Moomina last time when her second cousin was marrying. A concrete house on a small patch of land is her parents’ house. A cot placed outside house relieves her grand-mother from back ache. Sometimes it helps to leave dry chillies under scorching heat of sun.
Tasleema was at friends flat since afternoon and now returned through metro railway. She thought to go by rickshaw but couldn’t find any. It was 10 pm. It is better to walk today. Her feet moved to cover a mile journey. Shop shutters are down. Occasionally a car drives on her side of lane. Holding her heavy rucksack she could feel tired. She stopped to take a breath. Calm down. Rest a minute. And then continue…
As she ceased her movement, looked back: she found a dog behind her. A white colour dog. Velvety. Black eyes. Gazing her. As if dog met an old friend. He was at a some distance away from her. Tasleema continued to walk but looked back after a moment. She found the dog following her. She didn’t stop. Walking. Walking. Walking.
To reach the windowless place she has to cross the road and go to other side. She looked to both ends of road. From left to right and found no vehicle. Followed next was a diagonal crossing to other side of road. To her surprise the dog too crossed over. Dog was maintaining a distance. If she stops he stops too. If she changes direction he changes too.
Some meters away from windowless place Tasleema looked behind. She found dog. She started to feel something unusual. Why this dog follows me?
A steep staircase in the dark corridor of double storey flats takes Tasleema to her room. She stepped on staircase and again looked behind. She couldn’t find anyone. Dog was not there. He has left. She was curious to know where he vanished. She walked back through same path again. But disappointment of dog’s sudden disappearance resulted in adding to her curiosity.
After returning back to room she felt tense. The five minute relation between Tasleema and dog had broken. They didn’t communicate with each other. She couldn’t hug him. She couldn’t touch him. He couldn’t lick her cheeks. She felt desolate. Dejected. Whole night she thought about what she lived in those five minutes.
Next morning she left from her room to go to college. She took the same road. After walking a minute she found a white dog lying alongside road. She went closer to explore the dog. It was same dog who followed her last night. Dog was dead!
[The above story is a fiction piece.]