Vinita sniffed the smell of burnt cloth and casually dismissed it as emanating from the neighbour’s window. It was quite common for them to leave a dish unattended on the gas burner ending it up charred. Yet again, she shrugged as she dug herself back into the book that she was deeply engrossed in.
It wasn’t always that Vinita gets so intensely immersed in reading. The events of the previous evening had set her thoughts wandering and she had decided that being profoundly gripped in the book was the only way she could keep her mind away from thinking about what had happened.
The screams were what startled Vinita and she saw the entire room engulfed in fire. She was surrounded by an inferno all around and even the doorway leading her to out of her house was fully on fire leaving her no chance to run out.
He was a handsome young guy, almost her age, Vinita had presumed by his looks. It had been almost a month that she would find him waiting for her opposite the road when she would be leaving for her office every morning.
Vinita had noticed him from the very first day that he had been waiting for her across the street. However, her instincts advised her to ignore him which she did. However, she could sense that he was following in the same bus which she had boarded.
She knew that he would not dare to harm her in the crowded bus but was still anxiously waiting for her stop to arrive. Once out of the bus, Vinita glanced behind and saw that the boy had alighted too. Speeding up her pace, she almost sprinted towards her office and heaved a sigh of relief once inside the glass door of the building. Once she was inside the safe confines, she peeped out once to see if the boy was still there and sure he was there, standing at a fair distance, staring at the door, as if anxiously waiting for her to come out again.
Once busy with her work, the morning incident was completely forgotten, but Vinita was scared of her wits as soon as she stepped out of her office in the evening and saw the boy standing at exactly the same place where she had seen him standing in the morning.
Vinita was more than relieved when a colleague called out to her and they walked together towards the bus-stop. Luckily for her, she did not have to wait long for her bus to arrive, and though crowded, she decided to get in rather than waiting for the next one. Vinita had a doubt that the boy too had boarded the bus and her doubts were confirmed when she saw him getting down after her at her stop.
Having taught basic self-defence by her parents since her childhood, Vinita was confident that she would be able to handle any situation and retaliate and hence she didn’t bother to mention the incident to anyone else.
The next day too, the boy was there in the morning as if waiting for her and he was there in the evening too, till she would get back into her home. And he was there for the whole month too. He would always keep a fair distance from her and never tried to approach her all these days, but Vinita was sure that he had understood that she had been noticing him too.
A month long stalking was intimidating enough for Vinita and she had decided to end it all that evening, though it had been absolutely harmless so far. She was waiting for the opportune moment and she decided it was it when she got off the bus to reach home, perhaps because she found it much safer for the confrontation nearer to her house.
Vinita just stopped in her steps, turned back and started walking towards the boy who too had stopped in his stead on seeing her stopping and turning back. She had at least presumed that he would be shocked, taken aback, but as she reached him, she realised that he was the least surprised, as he was expecting this.
Staring straight into his eyes and with a no-nonsense attitude, Vinita told him to stop following her henceforth. She had expected the boy to retaliate, say something in his defence or at least be scared or ashamed and walk away, but she was astonished that he did nothing.
As Vinita kept firing her guns on him, the boy just stood there keeping his gaze fixed on her. Once she was satisfied that she had given him a piece of her mind, more than what he could take, she just walked away. Once in front of her house, she turned once to see and the boy was still standing there as if transfixed.
The fire had engulfed the whole building and it was too late for any of the fire-fighters to get in too. Vinita could still hear the screams of people all around, people screaming for others to run out but she had realised that the doorway was completely consumed by fire and the staircase had also fallen off.
As Vinita just stood there petrified, she saw someone jumping inside from one of the windows. In the scorching light of the fire all around, she could recognise the boy whom she had been watching since the last one month.
He came towards her, held her tight and hugged her. Vinita was in no position to move away and for some strange reason she didn’t feel like doing it too. The only thing she could do was to ask him why he came up, and as she did, he pressed his lips over hers and kissed her once.
Regaining her sanities, Vinita jerked herself away and asked him what was wrong with him. The boy just smiled and replied that he loved her a lot and that he was going to die for her. Her eyes widened and tears starting falling down as if instinctively. She could not stop herself from crying out loud.
As Vinita kept crying, he just picked her up, carrying her in his arms and jumped out of the window of her fifth floor house. His eyes were still open as he landed on his back with her on top of him. His open eyes were still staring at her as he lay there in his lifeless form.