The Nightmare

The Nightmare

The post-lunch hour saw few passenger footfalls inside the local.  The breeze blowing into her hair, she wondered if her wordsmithing had gone out with the wind. Writer’s block was heavily weighing on her and she did not have the luxury of wading into it. She absorbed each word of the Margaret Mitchell novel as she read it. 

Avni looked up from the book and saw something. A diary lay on the seat. A careless commuter must have left it behind, she surmised. Nay, a commuter in a hurry. Mumbaikars are always on their heels.

She opened the pages to search for an address or phone number but Avni could find no trail to the owner.

The newly found property lay on her writing table.  She had dived into the contents of the diary and had come out drenched in admiration for the writer. The writer had lost his/her writing and Avni had found it. Are finders the keepers?  This was not the time for her conscience to sprout. The story in the diary had no title but an interesting plot. Avni could tweak the plot and take credit.

Avni’s soul was sore with the pinpricks of anger, doubt, and self-pity.

Should or should not she steal the plot? Shakespeare’s Hamlet played in her mind.

Sleep had eluded her that night. The calm of the night had raised a tsunami in her. In addition, the prognosis was destruction and mayhem.  She put off the lights and tried to sleep.

The auditorium resonated with the sound of applause. Her heartbeats echoed in her ears. There was a broad grin on her face. She was awarded The Booker’s Trophy.

She held it in her hands. It was heavy. She had not anticipated it. The trophy started to slip. She held it tightly. A voice from the audience shattered the celebratory halo. Her anxious eyes tried to search in the direction of the voice. A faceless figure emerged to climb the dais. Each step of the unknown figure sent tremors in her body. The strange hands yanked the trophy and Avni’s grip loosened. The trophy was gone. In addition, with it, it took away her honour, name and self-respect. The audience booed her. The original writer had accused Avni of plagiarism. Avni could not make eye contact with the faceless figure. She felt the Earth would split and swallow her.

Avni woke up bathed in sweat. It was a nightmare. 

A WhatsApp message was circulating about the lost diary on the local train. 

Avni opened the diary. The words seemed to dissipate into particles of sand. She gave a title to the story, “After all, tomorrow is another day”. 

The incubating rays peeped through the curtains. She will not wait for tomorrow. She will meet the author of the diary and hand over the property to the rightful owner. She was just a custodian for a brief period.

Avni boarded the local train.
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