November 28, 2011

Almost Famous

Visible to the world for exactly two minutes and thirty seconds. She would slip back to anonymity for the next 12 hours or so.She had just completed her segment on the weather updates. The same thing she had done for the last five years with the popular news channel DNTV 24/7. Her life revolved around rains in Mumbai to the sunshine in Nevada.

Nobody ever saw her hanging out with friends or ever heard of her family. She just came did her job and went back. Damini Mathur, 31,dressed in a grey suit with a black turtleneck top, and sharp pointed black shoes, looked every bit a news anchor material- a job which she pinned for but never made the cut. Ever since she first saw Salma Sultan on Doordarshan news – she had wanted to be a newsreader, be famous one day just like her.

That night she headed back from the studios in her modest metallic black Maruti Alto. It started to drizzle heavily and then quickly intensified into heavy rain. The roads were dark, empty and with a near zero visibility she drove on gingerly. The FM music switched on in the background kept her calm. The drive from office in Okhla Industrial Estate to her residence wasn’t all that far or difficult. However, soon the rain intensified and lashed the windshield furiously making it difficult to drive.

She was about 5 kilometers away from her home when the visibility levels became zero. The rain had blinded the windshield of the car. She stopped the car. Suddenly the FM switched off. She tried tuning into other stations but the antenna caught on to nothing.

There was an eerie duality in the scene – silence and noise coexisted in the form of rain and fear. The headlights were on, but they could only see water and darkness ahead – an abridged hope. 

The wheels could only feel the chilling water and the dying heat of the engine. The cold outside the door and heater inside the car fought a constant battle. The calmness in her, and the calamity outside, struggled to break –in to each other’s defenses.

Just as this battle was raging on, there was a tap on the door. She pretended to not hear it the first time. A few seconds later the tap got louder. The windows were rolled up and she strained her eyes to check if the door lock was up. She was trembling, shivering with cold and fear accelerated the pulse. The car heater had probably lost its battle with the cold outside. But she held on.

Her neck was taut with tension and her fist-clenched stiff. She was looking right ahead without blinking her eyes. A blink could lose her advantage of the vigil. The car air conditioner got switched on, the temperature in the car plummeted to 15C – yet the knob was on red, indicating the heater was on. 

As she sat upright in the car trying not to scream, her breathing got heavier and every now and then her feet muscles started to cramp. She decided to start the car and brave the rain. The ignition made a muted sound and announced its dysfucntionality.

There was a warm air blowing on her neck. The pulse flickered like a dying bulb. The sweat turned cold. The rear-view mirror looked at her knowingly. But she avoided looking back. The eerie silence returned to haunt her, however, this time not alone. She sensed someone in the back seat of the car.

As a flash of lightning contrasted the tinted window glass,a  warm palm placed on her right shoulder triggered a shock wave through her body.

That’s all she recalled the next day. 

She sat up in her bed watching the news as usual before going to work. The coffee machine indicated that her double shot espresso was ready to glide down her throat. As she walked up slowly to get her cuppa, she glanced over the running ticker of her news channel, which read –

“Breaking news – weather claims a weather girl’s life”

Gyanban Thoughts - sometimes being famous is not by design.There are so many lives spent chasing the eternal fame but it keeps escaping them.The film industry is one such example where scores of lives go unnnoticed.A close second would be television,where we see so many people but hardly ever notice them.So many news anchors hog our attention but barring a few, rarely we remember any of them or even their names leave alone remembering the support staff like the folks who give us the weather forecast for example.This short story is dedicated to them.The alternate title for this was Weather or not but I opted for Almost Famous owing to the connection it made to the story.


  1. Terrific read. Looking forward to the email updates. The site looks great, too! :-)

  2. Back here, because the "Write to Gyanban" link on top goes to the GMail sign in page.

    Just wanted to tell you that your Disclaimer 81. is such a fun read - comments were not enabled on that page.


  3. @Vidya - Thanks for appreciating the story and the blog. Write to gyanban is intended for users/viewers to use their email to drop a note -hence the link to a comment box is disabled.
    Regarding D81 - true comments are not enabled - never thought anybody would read it ! :-) But thanks for dropping by and I will enable comments on that page too !

  4. Yet another of your signature posts, complete with the twist in the tale. Keep them coming...

  5. My heart was beating so loud! That was such a spooky read.

  6. It was nice GB, however, you have done much better than this:-) Your thrillers in the past have been better! Honest comment, i just said what i felt!

  7. I kept hoping when the warm hand touched her that it was someone she knew. But was chilled after the last line. Good spoof.

  8. @Roshmi - Thanks a lot - will keep trying.

    @Purba - Was thinking of extending...but the story ended itself.

    @Sudeshna - noted - will try to do my best.

    @KayEM - welcome to gyanban - yes but the story pushed itself to end with a twist rather than an emotinal angle.Thanks for appreciating.

  9. Wow that was a chilling story. not everyone can write horror so convincingly. You've done it! Good job.

  10. Thank you for sharing this, locking the door is very important.
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  11. What a story, this is why I always make sure to check the locks at all times. Thanks.
    security companies

  12. Great story and lovely narration....the details were detailed n chilling...well done GB!!!!


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