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Once mute, Always a mute

By Umesh Chakraborty All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Drama

Chapter 1

Whatever we do, we have to face the consequence of our deeds-be it good or bad. Some learn this the easy way but some, they learn it the horrible way. Like we did.

It was a typical Monday evening. Like always, after class, I and my group went to our regular spot near the campus canteen to spend the evening chit-chatting, drinking tea and giving a few puffs at the cigarette. Our group included- Arnab, the moody one. Subhajit, who would fall in love with every beautiful girl, he came across, but would always get rejected in the most ridiculous manner. Sourov, the scared little cat, who would get scared by every little thing, though his physique might contradict this fact. And then there was me, what should I say about me except that I prefer silence. What happened to us was as intriguing to tell as it was to feel. Whatever happened to us was triggered by what we did that day. Being a big place, many students visited that place during the evening hours. So did the two girls, Shyanti and Aishawarya. Like always, Subhajit fell in love with Aishawarya, completely ignorant of the fact that Shyanti had a thing for him. That day, atlast Subhajit decided to ask Aishawarya out in his usual philistine way.

Subhajit- Yo, babe. Wanna go out with me sometime?

Aisha- why should I want to go out with you? Do I know you?

Subhajit- that’s why people hang out you know, to know each other.

Aisha- Don’t act smart. It doesn’t suit you. And I have a boyfriend rich enough to have your father work as his driver.

This was too much even for Subhajit. Angered by this insult, he slaps Aisha. Seeing this commotion we all rush to them to know what happened. After knowing, we drag Subhajit away to cool him. After a few minutes, Subhajit calm we see the other girl, Shyanti walk up to us and tells SJ that loving someone was not bad but his approach was bad. She then tells SJ her feelings about him. He just shouts that he is in no mood to date someone twice his weight. Tears forming in her eyes, she just walks away.

The next day, I didn’t see any of the guys in class. Later in the evening, when I went to our regular spot I found them sitting and discussing something. On asking I learnt that, they were planning to teach Aisha a behaviour lesson but did not tell me what they were going to do. They asked Shyanti to come to the new restaurant that opened a few days ago and also bring Aisha with her in the pretext that SJ wanted to apologize to her and also talk to Shyanti. I had a bad feeling about what they were going to do. Anyway, we gave the girls a head start. They wore their helmet which was very rare for them and handing me one was extremely extraordinary. We reached the spot earlier, and while, SJ and Arnab bought two glasses of tea. Things started to go wrong when they began talking, once the girls were there. When suddenly, Arnab lost his temper and threw his hot tea towards the girls. Resulting in one of the girls screaming loudly, being burnt in an extremely bad way by the tea. But it was not Aisha, it was Shyanti. Seeing this, Aisha ran away. Frearing that she might tell someone, Sourov started getting agitated and kept yelling to find her. So we started looking for the girl. After searching for 15 minutes, we found her. She was scared. I felt bad for her. I asked the guys not to hurt her, instead take Shyanti to the hospital and apologize for the wrong they did. No one was ready to back up and abruptly Arnab hit Aisha with a big stone. Blood starting gushing out of her head. She fell on the ground and did not move. Realising that the girl must be dead the guys started running towards their bike. Horrified by the incident I just put my jacket around the girl, not thinking of what might happen afterwards. The moment we neared the turning we saw a bike coming from behind and hit Shyanti as she tried to get up and struggled to look with all the tea burning her eyes. The man got down from the bike; scared thinking that he might have crushed the girl to death. Seeing this we just drove off to our hostel thinking that it was now his responsibility.

That night I couldn’t sleep and neither could they. My mind was in turmoil. When nothing happened in the next few days, we felt relieved. No one had seen us doing the crime, let alone suspect us.

But the horror began 3 months later, by when we thought that the matter was over. Well, actually it was over, except for the first week when students complained about the missing girls. We were afraid that if police complaint was registered, something would lead to other and we would get caught. But a few days later someone told us that the girls were found, but there was no direct contact of them. Tensed by the news, we got nervous. But again when nothing happened we thought we were lucky enough to come out of the incident unsuspected. Little did we know that we weren’t lucky, we were just being given time to realize our mistake and confess our deed. We had forgotten or in fact we chose to remain ignorant of the fact that people may forget but karma doesn’t, it just fucks you until your action is justified.

So, after 3 months, all of us except Sourov, who was bathing, were in my room studying for the upcoming exams. Suddenly, the door burst open with a loud bang, giving us a mini-heart attack. Sourov was standing there with an expressionless face, white as a sheet. Entering the room, he burst out crying. On being asked the reason, not a word came out of his mouth. Seeing him like this, we got a little panicky. After trying various methods to calm him and a hell lot of persuasion we managed to get him to talk. But just one word came out of his mouth- GHOST, and then he fell unconscious. Being the scared person that he is, everyone thought that it must have been something stupid that he mistook for a ghost plus the guilt of the past crime which multiplied and messed with his mind. After nearly 10 minutes of spraying water on his face and continuous shaking, got him come to his senses. Once conscious, he just said that he was really tired and wanted to sleep, so we took him to his room and let him sleep.

Once back in the room, intrigued by the turns of events, we started discussing about it, when out of nowhere Arnab suggests that we do planchette, thrilled by the ghost stuffs. We agreed, though reluctant. We decided to call Raktim, a friend of ours who was always interested in the nether world, also he was the only one amongst us who knew how to planchette. He was our next closest friend, so we thought it won’t be a problem to call him, as long we don’t tell him anything.

In the middle of the act, a loud crash came from one of the closets, scaring the three of us to death. Raktim slowly went towards the closet and opened it to reveal one of the partitions broken and all the belongings on it had fallen down. Seeing this, Raktim started to laugh, being scared by almost nothing. But the three of us were losing our minds, as it reminded of our crime and what Sourov had said earlier. Terrified, we made Raktim go away. Unable to think properly, we decided to call it a day, and went to our beds to catch a little sleep but kept the lights on; no one was willing to stay in the dark.

Very early the next day, I had a call from Sourov’s roommate. We hurried to his room and found him sitting very quietly in his bed staring into oblivion. Though the weather was quite pleasant that day, he was sweating profusely. As the early sunrays entered the room and fell on his face, his face started shining due to the perspiration and took a brownish hue and resembled the girl on whom the hot tea had fallen. When we tried to move him, he gave a loud scream. His roommate explained that yesterday after we had left him in his room, he had gone out again and returned after quite a long time, he was limping. He entered the room, got up on his bed and leaned on the back rest with a strange look on his face. Thinking not much at that time, they did not bother asking him anything, until this morning when they got up to find him in the exact same position as he was the previous night.

His leg had swollen unreasonably so we took him to the hospital, where he spoke his first full sentence in all this time-He wanted his parents, and then unexpectedly started crying. Seeing his pitiable condition SJ called his parents, who reached the hospital by evening and took him with them. His father thanked us for being with him in his bad time and went off in a taxi after exchanging the usual formal greetings. Once they were gone we decided to walk back to the hostel. It was the longest 15 minute walk of my life. We had nothing to talk, all immersed in their own thoughts. Nearing the hostel when none of us wanted to go inside and decided to keep walking, I told them about the sweat on Sourov’s face and how it reminded me of the girl. When Arnab slowly says that his broken leg reminded of the bike accident involved in that incident, to this SJ claims to have seen a bump on Sourov’s forehead in the exact position where the stone might have hit the other girl, Aisha. These different opinions again spooked us and silence fell upon us one more time.

We kept walking till after dark that day, all exhausted, we went to our room. At dinner time we were in no mood to eat, though hungry. So Arnab went to bring food for the rest of us. After he left, me and SJ hardly spoke, just waited for Arnab to return with our food. At one point we heard a loud crash and the noise of students shouting from near the stairs kept echoing. Yet, neither of us went out to see the reason of the commotion. Little later, raktim came to our room, all shaky and gasping for air. In between his gasps he was telling us something which was in the lines of- Arnab fell down from stairs. Hearing this, both of us ran to the stairs with raktim following us. When we reached the spot Arnab had already been taken to the hospital. So me, SJ and Raktim rushed to the hospital. In the hospital, we found Arnab all bandaged up in the head and plastered on the legs. On asking the doctors we found out that Arnab had suffered a badly broken leg, which might never heal, had a broken skull, and a burned face which he suffered when the hot food fell on his face. All this was too much for SJ; he rushed out of the hospital leaving me and Raktim with Arnab.

I called his father as quickly as possible, who made it obvious that he would be there within a couple of hours and take Arnab as soon as his condition improves. I agreed, having nothing more to add. After the call, I stayed there for half an hour more, all the while thinking what I would get to see once I returned to the hostel, what SJ might have done. When these thoughts overwhelmed me, and I could take no more, I asked raktim to stay there while I went back to the hostel to check on SJ, and promised to return early the next morning, if Arnab’s father hadn’t reached by then. Once in the hostel, I ran to my room to find SJ packing his stuffs. He was going home the next morning. I knew no amount of persuasion could have stopped him from going, and who is to blame? After all, we were all very scared. That night we kept discussing how wrong we were and that things might have been completely different if we had used our wits instead of our guts. All the while, I was getting more and more depressed for not opening my mouth at that time, for not stopping them from harming the girls. These thoughts kept bothering me the whole night.

In the morning, SJ had left for the airport, so I decided to check on Raktim. As I was about to call him, I saw him get down from an auto. He told me that as Arnab was getting better his father had decided to take him home. That afternoon, I decided to call Sourov and check on him. But instead his mother answered the phone, what she told me just blew my minds away. He had to be admitted in a psychological treatment facility, due to severe trauma. This news just wrecked my brains, how a failed proposal took such an ugly turn. With all the ongoings, and being up for more than a day, I decided to sleep, but couldn’t. My guilt kept haunting me in my nightmares. Being up again and feeling depressingly alone I decided to go home as well and tell my folks all about the incident and let them decided what to do. So, as I was about to pack, I had a call from Arnab’s father. He was crying, and between his sobs he told me that Arnab had slipped into a coma. I was dumbstruck that how this could have happened, wasn’t his condition improving? I started shivering and the phone slipped from my hands. As it touched the ground the screen cracked and scattered around my legs just like all of our lives had scattered due to the offence we committed. I don’t know how long I was standing there, when Raktim came. Seeing my condition he asked what had happened. No words could have expressed what had happened. But anyway, he, without waiting for my reply told me that SJ’s father had called him, finding my phone busy, and told him that SJ hadn’t yet reached home. It had been 5 hours since his flight had landed. With this, all my strength left my body and I fell on the bed. I told Raktim to leave me alone for some time, I had to pack. When he left, I decided there was no way I could take anymore and decided to end everything. I untied the rope with which we used to dry our clothes, knotted it to the fan, and mounted a chair. Moments before, tears zigzagged down my face. I recalled that cursed moment when I failed to put some tact into my friends; I recalled those happy-sad moments I shared with my friends and my parents, the love that I got from them. The mischiefs I did with my friends. The rebukes I received from my parents, which were very irritating at those times, but all the while those were their way to teach me manners so that I did not have to end up in this type of situation. I thought what might happen to them once I am gone. When suddenly the chair broke and I was hanging there wiggling like a fish taken out of the water. Slowly, I began losing, my consciousness. The last thing I remember, I had fallen down on the ground and something heavy crashed on my leg, might be the fan.

When I gained consciousness, I was in a hospital bed; my parents were sitting on a chair beside the bed. My mother was resting her head on father’s shoulder and he had his arm around her. They were holding hands. It was the best thing I saw after a long period of hopelessness. She was crying, he was assuring her that he would let nothing happen to me as long as he was there, he was suppressing his tears. When they realized I was in my senses, father called for the doctor. After examining for some time he announced that I was fine, just needed some rest. The doctor ushered them out of the room to let me sleep. A few seconds later, Raktim came in and told me that SJ was found, he was in an accident while going home from the airport. Both his legs had to be amputated and the injury he suffered on his head resulted in partial amnesia. With this he exited the room telling me that he will be outside while my parents return after having something to eat. He had a strange look on his face. Most probably wondering, how the four of us- Sourov, Arnav, SJ, and me, got into trouble one after the other. Had he known the reason, little would he have wanted to stay with me? I did not have the strength to think any further, so I decided to sleep. I was woken up the next morning, the four hours that I slept, felt like a few minutes. Once awake, my parents asked me how I was and who kept the jacket on the stool near the bed. On looking where she was pointing, I saw the jacket and instantly recognized it as the same one I had given to the girl 3 months earlier. A chill ran through me.

I tried a lot to tell them about the jacket, about the incident, but nothing came out of my mouth except for a few shrill sounds. Seeing this, mother started weeping. After running some tests, I was declared mute. The doctor explained that while hanging, the rope damaged my vocal chords.

Few days later, I am in my home, in my bed, writing this for my parents to decide the right thing to do.

I had talked to Raktim, he said he had seen two girls come into my room, while waiting for my parents to return. One of the girls had a fading burned mark on her face, the other had a scar on her forehead and was limping. I don’t know how this happened. Maybe the biker guy had helped them to the hospital. I just know this that the girls are doing alright, my friends are still alive, slowly getting better. Maybe one day I will meet the girls again, and express how wrong I was to having kept my mouth shut. For now, I know this much that if you see any misdeed, be brave enough to stop it. Or the guilt might start playing with your mind like, Sourov saw shadows and misinterpreted them as ghosts, like we thought the mere breaking of a closet partition as paranormal activity. Or you might end up like me-ONCE MUTE ALWAYS A MUTE.

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