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almost - khwahish khan

A loud thud woke me up from the deep slumber I found myself in. I squinted my eyes open to find a girl in a black robe sitting in front of me, a long scythe in one hand while her other hand adjusted her robe.

“Oh well, you’re awake,” she said in a hoarse voice.

“Who are you?” I voiced, sitting up straight.

“Wait a minute, how did you get in?” I asked and she laughed. A laugh that raised goosebumps all over my body.

“I am Akira and I have come to take your soul,” she informed me, rather formally. To this, I laughed.

“It’s a Monday morning, please stop messing around and leave my apartment.”

“Look, I know I have come early but the fact that you can see me proves that today is in fact the day you are going to die.”

I rubbed my face in annoyance.

“So you mean to say you’re the grim reaper?” I questioned.

“I’m a what?” she questioned back.

“A grim reaper, the mythic figure that comes to collect souls.”

“Yes, I am the one to collect souls,” she answered, adding, “Is that what you humans call us? Grim reapers? A rather pessimistic term.”

“It’s not like your job is all sunshine and roses,” I stated, getting up.

“So what you’re saying is that I am going to die right at this given moment,” I asked.

“Well, no. You see, I came a bit early cause I misread one contract. The journey back home is way too long, so I thought I would drop by early.”

“Unbelievable,” I said under my breath and made my way to the bathroom.

I had to head to work today and considering my track record, I really couldn’t afford to be late. After I was ready for work, I found the grim reaper examining my living room.

“I am going to head to work now, I guess I’ll see you when I die,” I stated before heading towards the door.

“Wow, you really aren’t bothered by the fact that you are going to die today. Rather peculiar,” she claimed.

“I have nothing to live for,” I answered.

“I am going to be at your heels today because I don’t know my way around town and I recognize only your accident spot,” she claimed.

“Aren’t you a little misinformed for a grim reaper?”

“Aren’t you a little morbid for a human?”

“Fair enough.”

The streets of Bandra were fairly busy today, typical for a late Monday morning.

“I didn’t expect this place to be so crowded,” she complained.

“Welcome to Bombay,” I stated sarcastically.

“So grim reaper –” I began to speak but she cut me off.

“Akira, my name is Akira.”

“Uh,” I fumbled.

“Um yeah, Akira. Aren’t grim reapers supposed to be males?”

“Humans and their stereotypes,” she huffed and banged her scythe on the sidewalk. While looking at her reaction, a bike almost crashed into me.

Hey, watch out! Yahan bike kaun chalata hai?! [Who drives a bike here?!]” I screamed.

“Almost,” I heard Akira whisper.

“What?” I asked, catching my breath.

“You almost died.”

“Yes, yes I did,” I exhaled.

It was an odd morning comparatively for further along my walk I was the subject of many such minor accidents and every time I saved myself, Akira’s face grew grim.

“Why can’t you take the bus?” she asked.

“Because I have no money,”

Just as I was going to rant all my economic fallacies to her, I tripped on my shoelace and fell next to a big rock.

“Oh my God! Can't you die already? It's embarrassing!” she screamed.

“How is it embarrassing?” I asked, dusting my clothes.

“It’s an Underworld thing.”

“So you mean to say I am going to hell.”

“I don’t know, maybe.”

At last I reached my office in one piece, located at the back of the famous Hill Road market. As soon as I reached my floor, I was bombarded by the helpers warning me about how angry my boss was. I was summoned to his office as soon as I came into his view. Was scolded no sooner than I placed one foot inside his cabin. From the corner of my eye, I could see Akira walk around the office and loom over people’s desks.

Kabir, look at me! You are fired!

That caught my attention.

I voiced out words of apologies but to no avail. I walked out and then down the building stairs with Akira at my feet.

“What happened?” she asked.

“I am fired,” I said in a defeated voice, "How will I pay rent now?"

I trailed off.

Wait a second,” I exclaimed, stopping in my tracks.

I am going to die today!” I screamed in joy.

I danced my way down the stairs, humming my favorite song.

“I am going to treat myself at Karachi,” I thought to myself as I made my way towards the famous chaat joint.

“Kabir!” I heard someone call out.

I turned around to see Adnan running towards me.

“Wait, you aren’t Adnan?” Akira asked.

“No, I’m Kabir.”

“Oh. Oh,” she whispered, as I saw a bus run over Adnan.


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