This Mellow Autumn!

Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash

And we’ll meet by the river in the golden hour

How can someone be so pretty yet so empty?

Filled with autumn hues,

elusive fragrances and

misty promises in their eyes,

like a lonely river flowing incessantly

sparkling little waves

Yet so doomed?

The poet thought sitting on the old wooden bench by the river. His eyes followed the woman who was now walking towards the gate of the park. She comes here almost every day, with her little puppy. She takes a long walk around the park and then she sits on a bench watching the sunset when her little companion sits besides her. Most of the time, she sits there gazing at the horizon; other times, she takes out a book and reads a few pages.

Arfa, her name is Arfa. The Poet heard it the other day when she was introducing herself to someone over the phone. She talked for almost an hour. Towards the end of the conversation, she started to weep. The Poet wanted to go and talk to her, console her, maybe start a friendship. Maybe something more than that. After disconnecting the call, she rose and holding the belt she left with her dog. The Poet did not get a chance to approach her. Maybe he could not gather the courage to go to her and talk to her.

He returned to his bench and picked up the little notebook, thinking of finishing the half-written poem.

How can someone be so quiet and still be so chaotic?

Like the opulent waves of the ocean

She is complete in herself.

Smiles and tears

Sand and foam

Love and rage

Within and without

She remains the enigma she is…


It’s been more than two weeks. The relationship between Arfa and The Poet has not been changed. She comes, he stares, she leaves, he sulks.

It’s time. She’ll be here any minute now. The Poet looks at his wrist watch. Today, he has come all prepared and ready. Ready to make a move finally. He has worn his best shirt and the pair of blue jeans. He left the notebook at home today. Knowingly. Instead, today he has brought his iPad. Also, on his way he also bought some flowers.

As expected, Arfa came. Today, in a red knee-length dress and matching shoes. Her hair falls to her waist. To his sheer surprise, today Arfa did not go her usual bench. She came straight to him.

“Why?” She asked him in a serious tone. Her face was all red. Was it the heat of the last summer or rage or her makeup? He could not decide. But the look on her eyes was devoid of any expression.

His face went pale. He did not expect anything like that.

“Wh..what?” His voice trembled.

“Why do you follow me? Are you stalking me?”

“What?..N..No, No.” He was surprised yet apologetic.

“Then what is your problem? I see you sitting here, on this bench and staring at me.”

The Poet remained silent. For a moment an awkward silence filled the evening air of the last summer. The confrontation was about to erupt like a volcano Arfa’s dog started to bark which distracted her attention from the Poet to the dog. She turned and looked back. The dog was nowhere to seen. His barking started to become louder and more frequent.

“It’s coming from that direction.” The Poet pointed his finger towards the north.

Both of them ran towards the direction. The dog was stuck in the boundary fence. Two little boys found that interesting for some reason and instead of saving him, tried to tease by throwing pebbles at him. The boys fled the place once they saw the Poet and Arfa coming towards them.

Arfa started crying seeing her little dog like that. The Poet carefully took him out from the fence. The little pet was injured badly and could not stand. They took him to the vet. After two days of treatment and care, the dog was all right again. And the girl became friends with the Poet in the process.

That’s how it started.


Frailty, thy name is woman!

She can smell Jasmine through the open window.

“It’s midnight, I guess.” She sighs and lies down on the cold floor. She tries to close her eyes and dream about something beautiful. The pretty little things that are waiting for her outside these walls. The moonlight, the zephyr, the susurrating dry leaves, the silently falling jasmines, the freedom of being out there, being out there chasing her dreams and everything in between.

She can hear a bird singing somewhere. Is it singing really? How do we make our opinions when we don’t have the littlest idea about things and lives? Maybe she has lost her babies and she’s just crying to fill the darkening silence? Who knows?

She felt warm teardrops rolling down her cheeks. “It’s time I break this prison on my own.” Arfa thinks. She stands up with much efforts and stands leaning on the window. It’s been many days since she has eaten a proper meal.

The Poet is just a shadow for her now.

He roams around the house all day and comes to the secret room underneath the living room once in a while to check on her—whether she is alive or dead.

She has been his prisoner for almost a year now. It all started when Arfa wanted to resume her studies a few months after their wedding. The Poet won’t allow her to leave home, let alone go out to the university and study with other guys. Arfa was shocked. Why in the world someone will restrict their loved one to get some more qualification and earn more? She tried to convince him. There were fights and arguments, altercations between them for quite some time. Both of them did not have anyone who they could entrust to share the problem and find a way that works for both of them.

“Who would take care of me, Arfa? How can you think of leaving me alone at home?” He would ask.

His arguments became bitter each time.

“What it is that you want to achieve? I’m The Poet. Everyone in this city knows my name. Your only purpose now should be to serve me with all your heart, with all your being. You are my love and I don’t think you should look the other way.”

At first, Arfa was just surprised at The Poet’s words. But then, she realized that it’s the way he is, she can’t do anything to change that, to change his mindset. She made a big mistake by marrying him. The things went terribly bad when one day she tried to sneak out of the house to go to the university to fill out the admisson form. The Poet saw her from the terrace. He came down the stairs within a few seconds and took hold of her in the front porch.

“What do you think you are going, sweetheart?” She looked into his eyes. The crimson color of his eyes terrified her for a moment. His face was sweating, she could see his veins on the neck. He was drunk. She tried to free herself from his arms.

“Let me go. People will see.”

“People will see? Ok, let them see. Let them see what kind of a woman you are. Sneaking out and cheating your husband? You should be ashamed of yourself.”

He threw her on the ground. She looked at him with an untamable gaze. “Are you out of your mind? Am I the one who is cheating?” She rose up.

“You are the one who promised me a peaceful life. I can live my life the way I want. You promised me you’ll never say no for anything. Remember that? Do you remember?”

Something hit her all of a sudden on the back of her neck.

When Arfa opened her eyes, she was laying on the cold floor of a dark room. The Poet was sitting on a chair three to four feet from her, looking at her.

“Where am I? Where am I? Why my hands and feet are tied?” Anyone could guess the sound of fear in her voice. She tried to get rid of the chains. It broke the gloomy silence in the darkness.

The Poet did not respond.

“Tell me, you asshole. Where am I? Why are you doing this? Let me out of this hell-hole.” Now her voice was breaking with fear. She was crying.

“No. From now on, you won’t go anywhere. You’ll be under my supervision, day and night, morning and afternoon. I love you, sweetheart and I won’t let you go anywhere. I’ll keep you safe.”

“Safe? From what? Are you losing your mind? Untie me. NOW.”

He hit her on the face. “Stop yelling, bitch.”

She fell onto the ground. Her lips were injured. She tasted blood.

“Please, untie me. I’ll be here with you, honey. Please. I’ll never leave you again.”

“Do you promise?” His voice was hoarse.

“Yes, yes, I…I promise.” She knew he could not see her face in this dark. So, she took the chance to play along with him.

Finally, after an hour and half, he untied her feet. “You’ll have to suffer through it. I’ll bring you food once each day, you’ll get everything you want except your phone. But, you can’t go out of this room.”

She thought at first that it was just an elusive game of a mad Poet. He will be sober the next day and all these will come to an end. And she was right. But, next day when she was out of that dark room and resting on her own comfy bed, a thought struck her. “Why there was a dark room under the living room and why didn’t he ever mention about that?” The more she thought, the more confused she became.

She searched the house when The Poet was out for one evening attending a college annual function as a Guest of Honor. She looked up the wall of the house. Of course, he has installed cctv in every room of the house to keep a tab on her every minute of the day whether he’s there in the house or not. She took the vacuum cleaner and went from room to room.

She entered the study and glanced over the door and the walls. No, there was no CCTV camera in this room. A smile touched her lips for a moment and vanished.

In the study, she searched his shelves, lockers, and every drawer. No, nothing was there. Tired, she stood by the door and glanced over the room for the last time. Ah, she missed a drawer. The bottom drawer of his wooden table where he keeps all his notebooks and other stationeries. The drawer was locked. She started searching the key. Under the fat files, books, under the carpet, under the lamp, behind the book-self, and the drawers which were unlocked. Suddenly she remembered, he used to keep his keys inside a box that was designed like a book. Where is that box? Yes, she could remember. He gave her the box a few days ago to keep it somewhere safe so that it doesn’t get lost. She only kept it in the locker of their cupboard. She got the key and opened the drawer in a hurry. It was time, The Poet will reach home. She saw some passport-size photos of girls and some newspaper cuttings in the drawer. Outside, she could hear the car approaching. Anxious, she hid everything under her jacket and left in a hurry. She went into her room and locked the door from inside. She took out the newspaper cuttings and photos from under her jacket and hid in her cupboard.

She heard the footsteps approaching. Before he knocked on the door, Arfa opened it. He sat on her bed and untying his neck-tie, he asked,

“How are you feeling now, baby?”

“Much better. Fever is down now.”

“Okay, I’m going to have some rest now. It’s been a long day.”

“Are you going to sleep in your room?”

She asked him, fearfully. The Poet was not sober.

“I had dinner with Henry. He’s a great guy. Have you met him?”

“What?” A shivering ran through her vein. “No.”

He looked at her with his bursting eyes. Seeing her so tamed and weak in a long time, he felt satisfied. He chuckled.

Arfa was feeling a thousand emotions at the same time. But most of all, she wanted The Poet out of her room as she was feeling unsafe.

“Do you want me to take you to your room?” She asked after a few seconds of pause.

“Why? Why do you want me to go out of your room? What is the secret?” The Poet’s voice was becoming unclear.

“Nothing. It’s just that I’m feeling like fever again and I want to sleep in my bed.”

“Oh, oh… I’m so so sorry my dear. I’ll go. I love you.” He stands up with his unhinged legs and walks out towards his room.

She locked her door again. Took a deep breath. It felt like she saved herself from a lightening. Her legs were still quivering like a lonely leaf in moonlight night.


Back to Darkness

Arfa is not the same woman anymore. She looks different, she acts differently, she speaks differently. She’s sick. Living in the dark room for ages, she has lost sense of life, sense of time. All she knows is how to stay alive in the darkest place, and how to keep breathing when darkness tries to strangle you in the night.

She woke up startled. The Poet was knocking at the door. Non-stop. The worst is about to happen, she thought. She unlocks the door carefully, a sharp thing hit her on the head. She falls to the ground, senseless. Once she regains her consciousness, Arfa found herself in the dark room again. Only this time, her hands were not chained to the pole. She searched for something on the ground all around her. Her hand touched a candle and a matchbox by the pole. She lighted the candle. To her horror, everywhere she saw the photos and newspaper pieces scattered like trash.

The door creaked. The Poet approached her.

“Aren’t you the James Bond, honey? Were you trying to frame me?” He grabbed her hair and pulled back.

“No, I was not.”

“Then what was it? Did you call anyone? Did you tell it to your brother? Because I don’t give a shit if your brother is a cop or a zombified dead-alive. Tell me. Speak you bitch.”

Arfa shrieked as he tightened his grip.

“No, I don’t know. The file was just there lying on your study table. I just wanted to know about you. The man beyond the famous name, The Poet, you know. It was just that. I did not know … I did not know that….”

“What? That I was a killer? That I killed two of my wives in last two years?” His eyes turned red and murderous. He let go of her hair and rose up.

“Wh..what? What are you saying, honey?” Her voice was shaking.

He opened his mouth intending to say something and stopped, chuckling. “Are you trying to make me confess of a crime I did not commit? Did you call the police? Tell me the truth. NOW.”

“No, I did not try anything. I did not know any of it. I promise. Just let me go. I’ll go away and never come back. Please.” Arfa started bellowing.

“Shut up, shut up. Shhh….” He grabbed her mouth this time so that she can’t scream.

After getting out from the dark room, Arfa did not try to run or escape from her husband. It was the only condition. Whatever the reason it is, she won’t step outside the house anymore. He set up CCTV cameras all over the place. Her phone was shattered and her freedom to talk to anyone else was also taken away from her. No visitors were allowed to their house. Arfa had a cousin brother who lives somewhere in the coast. He works in the lighthouse. So he never comes to visit her. Neither calls her. So, it was not much of a worry to the poet. For other visitors like his agent or his fans, she just have to act as a happy housewife. So that was it. She was imprisoned in her own house.

She takes a deep breath. It was after midnight when she heard unlocking the front door and then the sound of the car departing. Now she’ll be alone for a few hours. Since last few weeks, he goes out every night for few hours and comes back in the morning. She doesn’t know where. Maybe he’s seeing someone. Planting another trap. Is he planning to kill her like the other girls, the girls before her?

That night, after he left her room Arfa took out the file from her cupboard. She got goosebumps when she read the headlines. And the photos? They were pictures of dead bodies. The headlines said that her husband was a suspect of these murders. A 26-year old who worked as a waitress and the another one who was a teacher in a nearby pre-school. The file also had some maps marked with red and blue and a journal. The journal revealed every little detail of the murder mystery. She was trembling with horror. The Poet, her husband was not just an abuser, he was a killer.

………………………………. ………………….. …………………..

Autumn comes with a mellow smile

She rose up and went towards the door which is always locked except the time he comes inside and sexually abuse her, rapes her, or plays with her mind. She strikes the door with the chair like she always does. One. Two. Three. And bang. It was open. The door opened which surprised her. She could not believe it. He might have forgot to lock the door today. She was all alone in the house now, holding her head with both of her hands, leaning against the wall trying to figure out what to do with this freedom that miraculously opened up to her. “It’s time.” She murmurs. All of a sudden, she took a decision. Ignoring the CCTV cameras everywhere, she stormed in to his study. Taking the iron rod that was standing by the bookshelf, she started to strike the monitoring system with all her energy. Then she broke the cameras one by one into pieces.

She went to the washroom, cleaned her up and dressed in her old black jeans and jacket. She put on her shoes and took out the pistol from the poet’s secret drawer under his bed. Outside, she could hear the screeching of the car tires. Yeah, he’s back. She hurriedly moves towards the main door and shot it open. She saw the car’s headlights coming towards her. She fired the pistol twice directing to the car. The car stopped from a few gauge from her. He opened the car door and walks out, holding his hands up in a surrender position.

“I’ll shoot you. Stay where you are.” Arfa said in a stiff voice.

“Arfa, I’m your husband. can’t shoot me. love me. Take your gun down, honey.” He tried to move forward intending to snatch the gun from her.

“Hey stop. You are not my husband anymore, you shithead. I don’t love you anymore. Let me go and don’t ever follow me.” Her voice was filled with determination and hatred for him.

“Why are you doing this? I love you. I’ll never hurt you anymore. Please hand me the gun over.”

“No. You call yourself a Poet. You are nothing but a psycho. You trap girls by writing whatever crap you write. You know what? You are nothing but a narcissistic sadist…” She could see fury and fear in his eyes. He jumped over her and a fire was shot. Something in their front porch was hit. He snatched the gun from her hand and stuck it to her forehead.

“Stop it there, Mister.” The police announced.

They arrested the poet.

Arfa sat relieved on the stairs of the front door. It was almost dawn. She stared at the police cars departing till the blinking and wailing of the sirens were faded in the turn of the road.

The sun rose with a rosy hue. She looked around the messy yard. She rose and took a walk around the misty yard covered with dried leaves and dust. The morning sunrays touched her cheeks and hair like a lover. A familiar fragrance flew in with the calm breeze from somewhere.


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