Short Story: Guilt

Grrrrrrr!!!! Renu woke up with a start. It was 5.45 am, her usual time to wake up and yet something felt unusual today; something curdled up inside her today.

Last night she slept thinking a lot about Madhuji. Every morning Renu would witness Madhuji and the two men at the corner side bench. They were boisterous, crass and would openly comment on how she looked. Her guilt of being a mutant spectator, was making her restless. She was sure to confront those assholes today.

‘Lady in red! Wow aaj toh Neon, Aaj toh aap hot lag rahe ho!’ were just some of the subtle ‘compliments’ they gave Madhuji. Renu would try hard to keep her anger subdued until one day she walked up to Madhuji.

“How can you tolerate these comments Mam, you are an elder person!”, Renu confronted Madhuji. But before she realized her mistake, Madhuji walked away. Renu didn’t mean to comment on her age, but I guess her instincts took over today. Embarrassed and furious, she confronted the men as well.

“Don’t you have any shame, sitting here at a public place, commenting on a woman, and making jokes about it!”

One of the men, slightly older than the other signaled his friend to leave and on his way out, asked Renu to recollect the joke that offended her. To her own surprise, Renu could barely recollect the joke. Still enraged, and now embarrassed Renu walked back home, completely zoned out. Disappointed with how things played out, she wanted to give them a piece of her mind. But those men had shut her up.

For almost a week, Renu could barely wake up for her walk. But tired of being inside all day, she stepped this time for an evening stroll in the nearby market. She spotted Madhuji and subconsciously Renu followed her. Madhuji, unaware of her, strolled around the market, purchasing regular groceries, barely speaking to anyone. She then walked home, still oblivious about her follower. Renu was consumed with a vortex of emotions, that really emerged from her guilt. She paced much faster than she ever did before.

In a small dingy lane, Madhuji entered an old building that had a dark stairway. Climbing the stairs, Renu followed ensuring that she wasn’t obvious. Madhuji rang the bell on the house of the 4th floor, while Renu meekly climbed, to ensure Madhuji did not notice yet. Her heart sank, when the door opened. It was the man from the corner block who cracked the crass jokes with his ally, every morning. He was the accomplice, the annoying one whose unruly laughter would infuriate Renu to the core.

When he opened the door, he embraced Madhuji, and asked her if she bought his favorite snack from the shop. Madhuji smiled and entered the house. Renu was numb. Not because of the mystery that unfolded in these few minutes, in that dark stairway, but because she couldn’t meet eyes with Madhuji, who was now smiling back at her.

This was a short story attempt long time ago, but something that tugs me in a wierd way. Hit up the comments button, and let me know what you think about this. Cheers!

36 thoughts on “Short Story: Guilt”

  1. This is a bit baffling. It is indeed an interesting story. Madhujii was being benevolent towards men who were teasing her. Perhaps Renu was mistaken in assuming they meant any ill will. It is a question of how we look at things. And I assume the man was someone close to Madhuji.

    1. Yes the men were related to Madhuji. Renu was right in reacting initially but the end is where it is revealed that the men were related to Madhuji.
      Thank you for the feedback.

    1. Thank you Shail. You guessed it right, the man and Madhuji were husband n wife and the other man was their retarded son. It was an attempt by the parents to normalize the child, perhaps not morally correct but a desperate attempt.

  2. I think Renu did the right thing by confronting Madhuji as well as the men. Being a spectator & not being aware of the relationship between Madhuji & the men, Renu felt the comments inappropriate & she intervened which is actually the right thing to do in such a situation. She could have handled the situation in a better way by not feeling guilty. I loved the story.

  3. It was a very interesting story and I was really amazed with the end. For sure we smetmes make assumptions about people but I think Renu was not aware of the reality to judge… which anyone wld have done in Renus place

  4. This just goes to show that there’s always more than what meets the eye. Maybe Madhiji knew them well enough. But I dom’t know why she kept quiet and took all their taunts!

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback Shweta!
      In the end I have tried to provide a hint that the woman and the men were related, which is why she took the taunts.

  5. Oh, reading this story, I never expected this ending to it. There are so many questions left unanswered or left to the imagination of us readers. I loved this unique style of writing.

    Also, the other thing is perception. Reading from Renu’s point of view, I was infuriated with the men and Madhu too. But with this ending, it just forces me to think from their point of view too.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback Amritha. You rightly interpreted the layers, that I was building up in the story.

    1. Sir, thank you for your feedback but I tried to keep the climax for the reader to interpret. However it is not completely an open ending. Happy to discuss further if needed.

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