Sunday, October 7, 2012

In the blink of an eye

Elated to announce that this post won the Gold Batom at the October 2012 BAT 32! 
This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 32; the thirty-second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'An Untold Story'
“Your name?”
“Yogesh Kamlakar”  
“Address? Phone number? Given to Constable Kadam?”
“Mmm.. Yes Sir, I don’t want any trouble Sir”.
“What did you see? State it clearly.” 
“He was speeding Sir. On his bike. Didn’t stop at the signal. Swerved. Got onto the footpath, hit the man. They started fighting Sir. That man tried to interrupt but .. ” He says, pointing to the injured man being tended to by medical personnel in the ambulance. 
“Who took out the hockey stick?”
“I don’t know Sir.” 
“If I find out you are lying, I’ll come after you. What about the tube light, where did that come from?”
“I really don’t know Sir, I told you whatever I know, please can I go?” 
“Hmm. You can go for now. We’ll call you if we need anything else.”

***

“Your name?”
“Geeta Iyer, I stay in that building. See that white tower? Up on the 15th floor. I saw everything and came running down when it happened. I saw it from the start itself when he.. ” Her glance falls on the blotched stains of red interspersed with broken glass and tree twigs all around her on the pavement and she inadvertently shudders. 
“Just answer my questions. No need to talk more than that.”
Silence. 
“Who started tahe fight?”
“Don’t know but the pedestrian was at fault. He walked into oncoming traffic. How can you blame that biker?” She says shaking her head, looking over at the ambulance, her face clearly displaying compassion for the good-looking man. 
“That’s the biker?”
“Then what? He’s the biker. Poor guy.”
“Then who are they?” Inspector Sinha asks pointing to the patchy white sheet covered twin bodies laid out neatly side by side on one end of the road. 
“That one is the man who walked into traffic. The other is the guy who tried to help the biker. Don’t blame the biker Sir, it wasn’t his fault.” 
“Hmm.”

***

“Your name?”
“Dr. Pradhan, MGM hospital. I have already supplied my credentials to the officer in charge.”
“What are your findings Doctor?”
“I cannot state with certainty yet, we will have to take him to the hospital. He needs to be checked out.”
“I am not talking about the one alive. He will live. And he will have to answer.”
“The biker died of blunt force trauma. “ Dr. Pradhan says pointing to the body on the left. 
“How do you know he’s the biker?” Inspector Sinha questions, curious if bodies could tell you that.
“That’s what your men told me. I assumed they found out about it from the people who saw it go down.” 
“Hmm. Please proceed”. Inspector Sinha says noncommittally. 
“Either from the hockey stick or from falling on the road. I found traces of cement and tar on his head wound but that could have been from the earlier scuffles too. Or from the fall, he wasn’t even wearing a helmet. Hard to tell yet.”
“Hmm. And the other?” Asks the Inspector. 
Several high pitched wails start out to his right, unnerving him momentarily. A quick glance confirms that its someone who knows at least one of the victims. Police personnel never brought the families to the crime scenes, there was too much gory stuff there to get over in a lifetime. Images of crime scenes could haunt them forever. Official procedures mandated that family be taken to the hospital. Which meant, someone here had to know the family to have called them. And he had to find out who that was.

“Stab wound to his chest. With a piece of glass. Some of it is still in him. He bled out almost instantly. Poor guy, caught in the middle of it. No wonder there aren’t any good samaritans left anymore” continues Dr. Pradhan as Inspector Sinha starts scratching his beard. A couple of constables try to console the stricken family members, a few more attempt to contain the spilling crowd. 
“I need to take the pedestrian to the hospital. I want to make sure he doesn’t have any concussions.” says Dr. Pradhan.
“I am not done with his statement yet.”
“You’ll have to do that at the hospital.”
Inspector Sinha waves an irritated hand at him. 

***

“Your name?”
“Mohan Dixit. I’m his brother” He says, amidst sniffles, pointing to the sheet on the right, unable to look, desperately trying to hold himself together. Daylight gives way to dusk. Sinha worries about the impending night, it would slow down the investigation. So far, after talking to eighteen different witnesses, they weren’t anywhere close to confirming which of the three was the biker, which one the pedestrian and which one the good samaritan. He offers Mohan a glass of water. 
“Is that his bike?” Sinha asks.
“No Sir, he didn’t have one.”
Well, Sinha thinks, that narrows it down a bit.  
“But he always travelled pillion with his friends. Sometimes they lent him his bike too, though Dad disapproved. I don’t know all of Manish’s friends Sir. I wish I knew, I wish..” His eyes are consumed by sadness as his body is racked by sobs. 
Sinha sighs. Back to square one. 
Mohan’s eyes fall on a broken part of a hockey stick lying to one side, the head of the stick now a dark reddish brown. His breath catches as Inspector Sinha senses the realization hitting Mohan. Dried blood.
“Is that? Is that how?.. I will not leave that sonofabitch alive, how did he..” yells Mohan, anger pulsating through his veins, his muscles bulging as he strides toward the ambulance. Sinha struggles to pull him back just as two more constables come in to help. 
“You have to calm down. We don’t know that he killed your brother. Let us do our job and we will find out and let you know. Contain yourself, don’t make me arrest you for assault. Your family has enough on their mind right now.” Warns Sinha. He understands the pain Mohan is going through. The depressed mind simply wants a physical entity to blame and in Mohan’s eyes the only survivor is to blame. But Sinha can’t let emotions distract him now. He has to be insensitive to do his job right. 

***

“Is the traffic police responsible for this mishap? Have they been lax in monitoring the traffic?” 
Media vans descend on the scene like a pack of vultures and quick-to-place-blame journalists shove microphones into the faces of those they identify as the top cops associated with the investigation and stricken onlookers. Photographers click pictures from various angles incessantly. It is going to be a long night, thinks Sinha, as he proceeds to talk to the next eyewitness on his list. He has always known that they are not dependable, but of a group of forty-three people who saw the whole thing go down, he hopes some of their stories would add up and help them construct a sequence of events. 

***

Its late into the night when Sinha and his men wind up from the crime scene and move to the hospital. Glass pieces, twigs, the hockey stick and other possible tools of destruction are carefully bagged to be preserved as evidence. The crowd has trickled down to nothing. The media has moved on to juicier pastures. Municipality sweepers are asked to remove the broken glass, tree twigs and wash the area down. A few constables stay behind to supervise the wrap up activities. Tomorrow it would be business as usual, the road as heavily populated as always, traffic just as jammed as ever.  Its 5AM by the time a vague picture starts forming and the police start building a chronology. 

In a brief time span of 15 minutes, a minor brush-off has occurred, two men have exchanged verbal vilifications, got into a fist fight and come to blows. Of a group of more than 43 men and women, just one single soul has attempted to break up the fight, getting embroiled in it himself. Sinha wishes more had intervened as a group and kept them apart. 

What really transpired between the men might forever remain an untold story, thinks Sinha, but his entire being screams that this was an event that could have been completely avoided. If only the men had chosen to step back from the brush off, if only they had decided to lodge an FIR with the police instead of trying to handle it themselves. It was yet another incident of road rage, adding to the recent statistics of road rages alarmingly on the rise, one that has ended in two casualties, a man severely scarred for life, witnesses left to deal with nightmares and horrid images of the fight, and heart-stricken families left to mourn their losses for a long time to come. Why have humans become so intolerant of each other, thinks Sinha, as he walks towards the lobby for a cup of coffee so he can keep going. Its going to be a long day. 
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: Gayathri Kannan, Participation Count: 03
I would love to hear your views!

70 comments:

  1. Good one Deepa! Managed to maintain the clarity of the conversation despite not mentioning 'Sinha said' and the likes.

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    1. He he thanks! I am trying I am trying! Though I do see myself going back to my usual style with the whole band-baja-baarat! Bring out the verbs, adverbs, adjectives everything!

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  2. i loved the idea. was expecting a mystery kind of ending. Where- the culprit is revealed at last. hmhm... I think the ending was poignant. Cheers.

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    1. I do wish to write a decent mystery piece one day! Hopefully sometime soon!

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  3. Deepa - normally, I hate long stories but I wish this was longer. No expectations set at all since the story ended before it started!

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    1. :( Usually my posts end up being extra long and I have known people who get put off by long ones. That plus, in a conversation with another good friend, a co-blogger also helped with some constructive criticism around the length of the post - so I thought let me try restricting the length of my posts. I initially started off with a full narrative in the past tense then scrapped the whole thing and redid it mostly with dialogues. But the end result was already 1500 words long, and I felt I shouldn't go more. Maybe I should have! Trying to get to that crisp fiction where I leave an impact, the meaning is conveyed and the length is just right!

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    2. So, it solely depends on the story. In a story where more conversations are used, you read it with ease without realizing that you have read a great deal. However, in stories where you have more of description/narration/explanation, you get bored. That is where the length matters. I hope I made sense :)

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    3. Makes perfect sense! Dialogues fasten the pace a lot so it doesn't feel like you're reading too much! But I guess we can't do with too much of dialogue either! Need to find that balance!

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  4. Good one Deepa! And so relevant ! I actually witnesses two men going at each other with blows in the middle of the road . Thought of calling a policeman, but there wasn't a single one on the entire stretch. So, like everyone else didn't bother to intervene.. It's a sad state though!

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    1. Road rage is very much on the rise and human tolerance on the decline! The case of Kurla's pregnant nurse who got battered by a MOTHER and her teenage daughter because she raised her voice against a brush in with the son really heckled me. It is so sad that we are no longer respectful of others.

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  5. Good plot and very well narrated. Yes, if we could follow simple rules in life - so much of pain would be avoided!!

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  6. That was impeccable, Deepa. Like others, I was also expecting a different ending. But, you have aptly portrayed the situation of a witness trapped in an unpleasant police interrogation..sic
    A well written piece..:)
    ATB!

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    1. Thank you Panchali! Much as we berate the cops and the system, they too are definitely doing a tough job!

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  7. very well written.... from different perspectives... all the best

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  8. A Lot of conversations .. and I know how it works .. in such situations a lot of TALK is required and only then things become clearer who is right or wrong . ALthough I have been and seen how police works in our country .. everyone is a criminal and they see all with the same eye..


    lovely write up

    Bikram's

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    1. Thanks Bikram. "Been and seen how police works" - Been?

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  9. for me it was a long story but since it was gripping it took all my attention..lovely read
    All the best for BAT

    I am here
    http://odizzey.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/an-untold-story/

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    1. Thanks Odyzz. Definitely getting conflicting reviews here! It was too long for some and ended before it started for others even though it was 1500+ words :( I am trying to work towards a concise crisp fiction!

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    2. Aah!! its not a matter to worry ..me a moron who is sometimes doesn't feel like sticking on the screen for long..else your job is fantabulous.. :)

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    3. oops..an error in typing * who sometimes

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    4. Thank you Odyzz :) But then there are quite a few readers (me included) who wouldn't like sticking to the screen for long! A good story ought to cater to all kinds - maybe? Maybe not. A novel on the other hand is OK even if gets really long! Just trying to find that balance to see what clicks and what doesn't!

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  10. very well written deepa! I feel these kinds of stories are very difficult to write. Constructing so many identities and slowly revealing the plot. You've done great justice and managed to add a message too! Kudos!

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  11. I would say the best entry I have read so far ....

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    1. Wow, that completely made my day! Thanks much Amit!

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  12. a different take on the plot, but I have the same complaint as every one else, I wanted to read more...:)

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    1. :) Thank you Chips, am experimenting different styles to see what makes a story more readable! Guess dialogues fasten the pace of the story a lot so that even with a lot of words it doesn't feel like you're reading too much! I guess I need to find a balance!

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  13. @ DEEPA

    I think it was too long in the beginning, where witness details are not important where you could have just labeled them as witness 1 and 2 and so forth. Over all nice write up Deepa :) it could have been better if you had written a short intro from a journalist point of view of an incident to cut the story short and to the point. HARRY :) PS Like I said nicely written.

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    1. See :( That's where I am getting all conflicting kind of feedback. I guess I will have to experiment some more to understand what clicks and what doesn't! Thanks for your feedback Harry! Do keep coming back!

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    2. Oh, by the way, was trying to make those witnesses more human and gave some background about them so the reader could probably connect with them more!

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    3. @ Deepa

      Sometimes I find too much details tedious. I don't think you can please everybody all the time but if yoy can please most at most of the time it's good enough. And for me this was good. I do like the way you write, It's honest and from the heart and you can't ask more then that from any writer or the blogger. So keep writting. :) If people say that you need to write more, then you need to say to them that it's not a book, it's only an article. The only thing I like is everything short and sweet. If you can say same thing using only three words then don't use four that's my moto. Have a nice day.

      HARRY

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    4. Thank you Harry :) The funny thing is, sometimes my posts tend to get overly long! And I have a tough time trying to restrict word count :) So if they say its ending too soon and they wanted to read more, sometimes it helps! The sad part is I haven't been successful in figuring out which kind of posts are good as short posts and which ones work as long ones :)

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  14. How incisive and brutal can you accept comments to be?

    Quick question: Is this how REAL investigation actually happens (I'm looking for factual info, not 'creatively constructed' ones?) I've never been to a CSI - I've never been questioned, I'm not related to police peoples; so I don't know.

    I love the thought behind the story.

    Just in case you might have missed out, here's where my entry is:
    http://unknownshri.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/between-death-and-afterlife/
    [You can bash me up back and blue, I'm up for it]

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    1. I am going to say start at about 30% of brutal and then keep going from there! If you completely trash me, then I would need time to recover :)
      I honestly have no idea on how REAL investigations happen! This one is from an Indian angle, but only based on my limited knowledge from TV and movies! I did go through your entry too and left a comment there! I guess this is your first time here, do keep coming by and keep those comments coming! :) Critic ones most welcome!

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    2. Thanks for the welcome. Will surely keep dropping in.

      'Brutal' and 'incisive', were words that just flowed from your narrative. :P

      Anyway, allow me to share what shd be about 30%, as requested by you:

      1. Your title: The whole incident 'people having a tiff and then something going wrong', can't happen in the 'blink of an eye'. This is a third person narrative - so, I don't know for whom this happened in the 'blink of an eye'. As I reader, I take a bit over 3 mins to read this - so even for me, this didn't happen in the blink of the eye. The story and a title had a mismatch, they don't go together. A 'title' is what I remember the whole tale by, so it needs to be very powerful.

      2. If I ain't incorrect, you were the one who asked the question in the Indific workshop, about dropping 'he saids, she saids or they saids'. Until seeing that query, I hadn't thot about it. In the course of my net surfing, I learnt a couple of interesting things on this. I'll not bore you with all that, but let me just share my musings in the context of this story. I think, at least to start off with, the writer needs to use "he said" or "she said" or "they said " (say, first two lines). Merely to help the reader, so that it's easy to follow the conversation from there on (gender-wise, mood-wise, context-wise etc.). As I finished reading the first two snippets, I had trouble imagining the mood of the situation or who was talking or how they were talking. Or simply put, I wasn't 'absorbed' into the narrative. Ofc, that might be a personal thing. But think about it.

      This is the first piece I read by you. So, I read it without any biases or prejudices. Most importantly, I read it without knowing who 'Deepa' is. So, my perspectives on the story are very different than quite many out here.

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    3. 1. No one pointed that one out but I have always known about it. I suck at titles. In my defense, this particular one - I was thinking more along the lines of how life can change in the blink of an eye. That's all it took for the accident to actually happen right? Yes, everything in the post was about what happened after the accident, but the root cause, the actual accident, happened in an instant, just like that. But yes, I admit, I have to get better at titling my stories.

      2. Yes, I am the one who asked the question. And because of that, I was actually trying to experiment with different styles. Maybe a few more stories of mine might show that experimentation with different styles and dialogues, so it could get a little confusing initially as I try and learn. For this particular one, I was going for curt questions, abrupt reactions and wary witnesses as the case is usually is. As we've seen/heard of police interrogations, there isn't much time they award the witness - its usually a very curt conversation, which is why I tried this. Also, if I have to start with he said/she said and then eliminate then, those would have to be longer conversation, these ones were hardly a few to-and-fros. But yes, I'll have to see how your suggestion works out - initially starting with he said, she said and then eliminating those.

      Thank you for your honest unbiased feedback!

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    4. Correction: No one, so far, pointed that out until you

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  15. Very well narrated :) Brings how the day to day road rage incidents and if they could be handled more maturely....

    ATB for BAT!!

    Do read my entry : http://ponderingtwo.blogspot.in/2012/10/love-torn.html

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    1. Thanks much Hetal! I keep thinking I want to attend or be a fly on the wall for a REAL investigation, hopefully some day!

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  16. you’re a great professional for writing it, congrats.

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  17. Hey that was really good... super!!!

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    1. Thank you Siddhesh! Do come by again!

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  18. Thanks for the comment on my blog. I'm a lazy blogger. Tend to write the shortest posts but I don't mind a long read if it is as good and 'unpredictable' as yours. You've written it with flair.
    Lovely :)

    ❤Not Just My Allegories❤

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    1. :) Thanks much for the really sweet comment Anisha!

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  19. Interesting narrated from multiple perspectives.

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    1. Its an honest attempt! Hope I was able to justice to the plot!

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  20. Wonderful narration. A gripping post. Thanks for your suggestions on my post. They really helped :-)

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    1. Thanks Ash, I am glad I could help!

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  21. The style of narration was very interesting and done very well Deepa. And the message makes a lot of sense in today;s scenario. And good to know that the policeman is a man with some conscience and care for the society....And yes, it was a little long but I thought after some time it was too much of dialogues! But thats a totally individual perspective. SOme might have actually enjoyed that way of narration. Overall very good piece.

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    1. Yeah :( Scroll up for other comments! Its so confusing and conflicting for me too, but every individual comment is definitely helpful and gives me a peek into the reader's mind! I do strongly believe that policemen are honest humans too basically, many of whom have probably gone down the wrong path, simply because it exists and also due to other factors like low income, kids education, wanting a better life and the such. If the law were more firm, order would be in a better shape too!

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  22. Deepa, I loved the way you have narrated a story keeping the backdrop of the theme in mind. It is very close to reality and quite ironically we don't get to know the "untold story" when such instances take place.
    I liked the narration of the story in dialogues. Frankly speaking, I wouldn't have finished reading it if hadn't been gripping till end. :) A story which left me introspecting morally!

    All the Best for BAT 32 :)

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    1. Thank you so much Megha! Have been getting so many conflicting comments on the whole dialogue piece! Yes, its true, in some of these accident scenarios, I do believe that whatever investigation happens, we ultimately never do get to know the real picture :( Some part of it always remains untold :(

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  23. Detective work right? An enjoyable read and at the same time containing good messages and all. All the best fr BAT

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    1. Tried :) I don't know how good or bad it turned out to be! Thanks much!

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  24. very well written...loved the clairity in conversation...plot was never lost
    ATB for BAT :)

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    1. Thank you Karan, glad I could do justice to the style!

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  25. Very nice post Deepa. I think I have started to come to your blog with high expectations.

    The choice of subject was very interesting. You even gave out a message to everyone. I firmly believe 99% of the fights on the road can be avoided simply by saying sorry. People just want to hear a sorry!!! But we choose to bring out the ego and fight.

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    1. Thank you Kshitij! Hope Kaleidoscope never disappoints you! I believe the same too, not just fights on the road, any fights in general can be avoided. But humanity now had reduced tolerance. We end up venting our frustrations on whomsoever we see - whether the topic be related or not!

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  26. i liked the way the plot was narrated... as TF mentioned, from multiple POVs. For once, i didnt realise i was reading a long post, it kept me engrossed... crisp writing, very typical Deepa-style! :P

    On a lighter note, let me help Sinha here :P
    He can check the registration number of the bike and identify the biker among the 3... that leaves him with the other two! :P

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    1. :) Thanks Apala! Getting conflicting views about the length of the post, but its always good to get in peoples' perspectives! Helps to decide on further posts :) I'll keep you in mind the next time I think of detective stuff :) Nice work though!

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  27. Very interesting buildup. Loved how the story progressed.

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  28. First of congrats for writing an interesting post. I like stories where it progresses with conversations as well as narration. Also road rage is something i am a bit worried about. If it were me, I would have ran:)

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    1. Thanks Ghazala! I know :( With the way even good samaritans get bashed up for trying to help, I don't know if I would blame people for not interfering! I might do the same myself! Just wish law and order had more power and the ability to be on time to avert disasters!

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  29. One of the things that happen on a daily basis on the Indian roads..... well narrated.
    We are still to tackle the "police harassment" situation that the common man endures who are ready to help.

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    1. Thank you Haddock. Yes, things are slowly moving in that direction. Like the recent change which said that helpful bystanders will not need to go to the police station for their statements but the police would come to their residence to take statements and stuff like that. I don't know the particulars but I know something was being worked upon in that angle. But yes, we need a lot more.

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  30. Ah, I loved the premise...three men, who is who? And the POV style was excellent for it. To be frank, the first half of the story was great. In fact, it had real potential. But that's the problem. It ended without any effect. The build up was strong and then it fizzled out. Maybe you could rewrite it...and give a terrific ending worth of the intro...then I'd love it!

    Speaking of which, do check out this short story of mine...it might be of interest :)

    http://laptopdiary.blogspot.in/2013/05/mr-mrs-sampath.html

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