Highly Commended Story - Misha
“Misha” by Ananya Aloke, Home-schooling, India, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Ananya Aloke is a homeschooling student of ninth grade. Her hobbies include writing, drawing and reading novels. Her interest in story-writing started with reading and discussing Harry Potter with her bookworm younger brother. Since childhood stories had attracted her but 'Harry Potter and the Philosoper's Stone' was the first novel she read at the age of eleven. She was and is still fascinated by it. Presently she hopes to be a writer or a teacher when she grows up.
For three days now I have been sitting and waiting for the storm to end. And for two nights now, I have not gone to bed. I am sitting for most of the night and watching the rain. Watching and waiting. The electricity has been cut off. I paint something in the dim candlelight, then walk around the room and watch it from different angles. Finally, my eyes stop at the window. Perhaps today... I push away the uncertainty. No, today I will go.
I don’t know why the rain affects me without actually interesting me at all. No, rain must not and does not really interest me. People say rain pitter-patters on the roof. Pitter-patter must be a sound, so I, a deaf and dumb man, cannot have anything to do with it. But yesterday afternoon, I got bored in my room. Picking up the umbrella, I made my way up the dark stairs with the rusty iron banister. Coming out at the terrace of our run-down four-storey building, I watched what could never be seen from the windows of our first floor apartment.
The mulberry tree in the garden has become lush. And so have the trees in the cemetery. Once I thought I saw her walking around the street with a blue umbrella. Or I dreamed. The town has been so paralyzed for the last two days; I have not been able to go out anywhere...
At two in the morning, I extend my hand out of the window and let it get wet. People say her name is Misha.
People also say it is sweet. It must be. I have been trying to write it in calligraphy in the free-time. I have loads of time to waste since losing the job of a cashier in a nearby restaurant. Losing that job would have worried me a lot had not another though occupied my mind. Misha.
I was still working in the restaurant when Misha had come to ask for work and stopped before me. I had quickly passed her the menu. She was staring at me; I raised my hand to my mouth and ears and flicked it. She grinned and made some gestures in the exact fashion that close relatives of deaf people talk to them. That evening, I had come home to shut myself in the room. It was a very warm evening and I was very happy and very sad. But that had been five months ago, in the warmest of weathers.
I draw back from the window when a strange darkness envelopes me. My thoughts are seized. A pair of dark brown eyes is staring at me through that darkness. I raise my hand to my head, starting to lean back...
At about four, two rough hands shake me very hard. Then cold water is splashed over me. I sit upright on the floor, shivering. For that one moment, I am almost sure whom I will now see. But of course, it is not her. It is my mother, her terrified expression and her rapidly-moving hands forming gestures –‘how are you now? What has happened?’
I raise my hand, nod, and point at the door. Don’t worry, mom. Its’ okay. Leave me.
But she does not leave me. Tightening her hands on my wrist when I get up, she tries to help me to the bed. I realize how she must have felt coming into my room and finding me unconscious on the floor. Only Mom and I are left for each other. I am embarrassed. And irritated. My efforts to shake her off and get away from the bed are of no use. Mom grabs my arm, her free hand again moving. –Are you mad? Go to sleep now. I am getting angry. Her hand feels cold against my clammy, feverish body.
I again try to fight her. SLAP! She hits me on the cheek.
My heart seems to stop for a mili-second. This woman is my mother and she does not even know what I feel. The strain that I have been silently bearing for three days now. I burst out sobbing. Mom gets confused and tries to comfort me. Then leaving me on the bed, she runs back to her room. I press my head in my pillow, my eyes still wet and my throat hurting.
Mom returns to give me paracetemol. I am tired of thinking and waiting. I don’t try to stop her. She sits by me for a while, before returning.
Slowly, I begin to sink into deep sleep remembering all the days when I and Misha were becoming friends and wandering around the streets and gardens. I have seen her last three days ago before the storm and the cloud-burst that followed. At seven in the morning, when the rain has stopped, I wake up and go up to the window.
I slap my hands to the mouth. It is Misha. I open the window and try to make gestures –how did you come here?
She smiles broadly and answers in gestures. In my excitement, I ask her to wait and run out to open the main door. Within a minute I have reached the same point where Misha was standing. But she is not there. Mom comes out and drags me back...
It has not been raining since morning now. It is late afternoon. Life is taking its course. The road is becoming dry in the now brightening sun. I am going to Misha’s house. At the third knock, the deaf man, who is Misha’s father, opens the door and greets me. He looks sad but I ignore it. I ask him how Misha is. He says nothing for a moment and then moves his hands slowly.
I grasp hold of the table’s edge to stop myself from fainting again. Misha had taken ill ten days ago and suddenly died yesterday morning... who had been standing outside my window today?