The last walk back home...

By Aditya in Stories » Short
Updated 16:41 IST Jun 05, 2017

Sanjeev looked out of the window and saw PXR cinema, “ten more minutes, fifteen at max for the stop, I should not sleep” he reminded himself. Cool breeze caressed his face and the next moment he was in deep slumber. The double bell woke him up with a start, he looked outside, the ICBI ATM was slowly moving back, he rushed to the front door and requested the driver to stop. The driver returned a dirty look and barely slowed down for Sanjeev to trot off the bus.   

The bus accelerated away leaving behind a mix of dust and smoke. The road at 1:40 AM was empty, an occasional car and bike sped past. The guard at the ATM was struggling to keep his head straight. Sanjeev walked along the road, slowly picking pace. The roadside was littered with vegetable and other waste left by the hawkers . The municipal workers would clear it in the next morning, till then it would enjoy the night breeze, he smiled sarcastically. He turned right on the sub-street leaving the main road behind.

Sanjeev had a tough day at work. His presentation was good, but the client had asked for further customization and the deadline could not be extended. He had been working extra hours all week and his weekend was certainly going to go for a toss. Half a kilometer at max, before he reached his apartment. Exhausted, he wanted to shower and sleep.     

As he walked past the familiar line of shops, he saw a pack of stray dogs in the middle of the street at a distance. Some slept peaceful, other sniffing and playing along. His heart skipped a beat, his apartment was on the other side and he had to cross the pack. Sanjeev slowed his pace, he hated dogs, stray dogs in particular. I must walk past with indifference, he thought. Few drops of sweat ran down his neck.

The sound of his shoe heels alerted the dogs, those sleeping woke up and looked in his direction, while the other stopped playing. All of them looked in his direction. Sanjeev slowed down. Nisha was not home, he would have called her, a lift on her scooter would have been better than this late night walk. His heart was beating faster, he kept moving ahead slowly. Just then one of the dogs started howling, instantly other followed. Sanjeev could sense a slight tremble, he was unsure of what to do.

“You useless creatures, this is my area, I have been living here since I was a kid, don’t you know me? Aren’t you supposed to know everyone by the smell, I belong here.” He thought, angry and scared at the same time.

Now he was barely few feet away, he could see the gate to his apartment building, he felt like making a run. He could beat them to the gate he thought. He looked around and thought of picking up a stone to scare them away. Even before he could bend, one of the dogs started growling. Another one barked. Sanjeev was sweating profusely. He somehow conjured enough strength and waved at the dogs to shoo them away. Other dogs joined the barking and took a few steps ahead. Just then one of the dogs with a black coat turned furious, his canines visible and growling like mad.

Suddenly all the dogs charged at full speed their nails making a peculiar sound on the tar road. Sanjeev gave a loud scream, instinctively he grabbed the bag and made a run to the gate as if there was no tomorrow. He threw open the gate and instantly folded it back, sweating and trembling like anything. As he dropped the lock in place, he could see the pack running in the other direction chasing intruders. Lily was sitting on the steps licking her coat and watching the chase. There was enough competition within the pack and intruders were so not required.

Sanjeev climbed the stairs and opened the latch to his two bedroom apartment. He dropped the laptop bag on the sofa and looked out of the window. After a brief show of aggression the pack had returned and sat panting in the middle of the street just like before. Sanjeev stretched on the sofa took out the laptop and typed,

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Sunanda Kesavadas 30-Jul-2017 18:15

Nice. Anyone who has ever walked past stray dogs at night will relate to the fear (I have many times). They seem to taunt us, don't they?