Last things first…


She carefully tucked her hair in the helmet, jumped on the bike and kick started it. Dressed in an ill-fitted sweat shirt and faded jeans it was hard to tell it was a girl who was riding the bike. She rolled the throttle a couple of times and raced through the traffic, dodging cars. On the highway, she checked the speedometer; she didn’t want any police cars tailing her. She could feel the corners of her eyes being pulled back by the forceful wind she was cutting through. Normally her lips would be stretched in a smile as well but today was different.

The barrage was in sight now. She pulled the handle bars and slowed down the bike, bringing it to a halt under a tree. Some strands of hair had come lose during the ride and were tickling the nape of her neck as they swayed with the light breeze. She went over to the bridge above the barrage and leaned against the side wall. The gates were closed and a few local boys were having their everyday diving ritual. The youngest among them who was around fourteen was quick to notice a spectator. He rushed up the stairs and chose the highest spot on the wall which was built in a staircase fashion, gradually descending into the water. Pulling his shalwar up to his chest he launched himself in a somersault dive. There was a huge splash as he dropped into the water from a height of about 20 feet.

She often wondered what it was like to drop into the water and plunge deep in its depth shutting out the world above. She did that a thousand times at home but her pool was eerily quiet, or rather her house was. Rivers must be different, she thought, because they had their stories to tell. Centuries old stories that hid way down in their beds.

She shook her thoughts away. She wasn’t here today for the usual. Today was different. She freed her hair from the dusty helmet she never bothered wearing. Today she was here to end her life.

She felt there was nothing more that life could bring her. At 24, Laila had had a college degree, several distinctions, boyfriends she couldn’t count, a bike and a car she didn’t drive much. She had a closet full of clothes she never wore, had taken drugs, visited the goal for drunken charge which was more scandalous because she was a girl, and her father’s daughter. So there wasn’t anything left for her to do. It would be so easy. She had planned it all out.

She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice the police vans. They headed down to the bank of the river and started talking to the locals. A couple of men wearing safety jackets along with the local boys dove into the water. After half an hour of searching, two of them came up with a moldy log which was tied to a rope. The log was brought back to the bank and it was then that she noticed it was a dead body.

“Poor girl! They say she used to work for some Big Sahib. She was raped and murdered by him. The police have been on this case for long now,” said a woman who was standing next to her. Laila hadn’t noticed when she had come.

“Who did she work for?” Laila asked.

“She worked for Meeran Shah, the business tycoon,” she replied.

It wasn’t a shock for her. She had just found another reason to hate him. She hadn’t raised enough hell in the life of the man who happened to be her father. To bring justice to the girl who was unlikely to get it the right way; Laila Shah decided she was staying alive.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

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36 thoughts on “Last things first…

  1. Habiba, I like the way you told this – with your main character’s penchant for doing daring and traditionally male-centric activities leading to her finding out a dark secret about her father.

  2. Thanks for incorporating the prompts into your earlier story so you can hang out on the speakeasy! I’d love to know what she does next to make her dad’s life hell!

  3. This certainly could be expanded into quite the tale. I enjoyed the reference to the river, how the bike gave her freedom and ultimately that she chose to stay alive- to defy her father.

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