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Imagination unlimited

If seeing is believing, then reading is perhaps accepting!! Geeta Ramanujam writes, “While I have seen people from all walks of life get trained as storytellers in the past 15 years, it was wonderful to read the first story written by an MBA student after I conducted a brief workshop on storytelling at IIM, Bangalore. Nothing can be more gratifying for a teacher than watching her students come out with flying colours. Maybe the lush greenery and the peaceful environment too play a role in learning, but nonetheless, the result is there for everyone to see.The story has all the ingredients to make communication a success : twists and turns in the plot, high drama, smooth flow of ideas.”

The culmination of this workshop is the story given below which is not only very interesting, but also reflects the importance of communication with a little twist and turn.

My first attempt at writing a short story by Suhas Vijayakumar (original story reproduced here)

It was a bright and sunny day, partly cloudy, pleasant wind; the sort of a day when you feel life is awesome!

Vipin was having the same thoughts as he sped down the highway in his brand new Mercedes, windows rolled down, he was softly whistling to himself. It would be a 3 hour drive through a forest before he reached where he was going, and after a traffic jam in Bangalore when he set off, he was actually looking forward to being the only traveller on that rarely traversed highway through the jungle. He shut the windows down, taking in the calm loneliness of the place, and put on some soft music on the sound system.

Sadly, that was the end of whatever relaxation he was going to get that day. The music was drowned out by a big ‘SCREECH!’.

Vipin slammed his brakes and pulled the steering wheel with all his strength, struggling to gain control as the car started spinning. The car came to a crunching halt when it crashed sideways into a tree. His heart pounding against his chest, he realized he was still alive as the car had crashed into the tree on the passenger’s side. He finally mustered enough courage to look up. He felt relieved to have missed the thing that was standing in the middle of the road.

As his vision got clearer, it dawned on him that the thing in the middle of the road was actually a young woman, and she appeared to be waving her arms and shouting something at him! Slowly he got out of the car, one step at a time as his body finally seemed to be recovering from the shock.

As he got close to the girl, he heard himself roar at the girl “What the is wrong with you?!!, You could have died! Screw it, I almost died!!! What’s wrong with you?!!! Are you crazy?!” His face was now just inches from the girl’s, raining spit on her as he struggled to stop shaking. Only when he saw the tears in the girl’s eye, he somehow calmed down, feeling a bit guilty for making her cry, he felt like a complete idiot.

The girl looked up at him and said in a trembling voice “I’m sorry… but that was the only way to stop you! (She took some more deep breaths; she appeared to be in shock herself!). There is a bridge up ahead after twenty meters, it’s completely collapsed due to the rain the day before yesterday and the speed with which you were going, you would have crashed into the river and washed away in the flooded river… You could have… died!” she burst into some more tears.

Vipin looked at her properly now. Slowly realizing how lucky he was to be alive, his anger turned into confusion and his thoughts turned to those of gratitude. He looked the girl in the eye, taking in her appearance. It struck him that she was quiet beautiful, she appeared to be dressed in a casual jeans and a T. The ends of her jeans seemed to be ripped at the knee, and there seemed to be a big stain of what appeared to be blood on the left sleeves of her T shirt. There also seemed to be a big gash on her forehead.

“Please. Don’t. Cry” Vipin stammered, trying to catch his breath. The girl looked up at him, slowly gaining control over herself again. “Thank you so much for saving me! And sorry for shouting at you!” he mumbled, wiping blood off his forehead. There seemed to be a big gash on his forehead as well. He ripped his jacket and used it to tie it around the gash in an attempt to stop the flow.

“I’m sorry, but that was the only way I could think of to stop you before it was too late!” she stammered, wiping away her tears.

“I am sorry for shouting at you without thinking”, Vipin said, looking at her feet. He still felt guilty for making her cry despite her saving his life. “But you seem to be hurt too! What happened?” He looked her in the eye now, curious. “You seem to be badly hurt as well, what happened?” he asked again, more confident now.

“My car went over the broken bridge yesterday…” she said. She had stopped crying now, but had a look of suffering deep anguish as she said do. “I was lucky to be alive; it’s all thanks to wearing my seatbelt… the car washed away in the flooding river and hit some fallen trees by the bank a kilometre from here. I lost consciousness due to the concussion. When I came to, it was pitch black. I stayed on the river bank till sunrise and slowly found a way back to the road” She shuddered for a moment as she recounted everything. “I had just come here when I saw you speeding down the road… I knew I had to stop you quickly before you went too far to avoid going over the bridge…

Throwing myself in the middle of the road was the only thing I could think of in my desperation… I am so sorry” she said again, shivering…

“You don’t have to tell me sorry again”, Vipin said, “You just saved my life, I owe you big time”.. “Are you Ok now? You seem to be in a very bad condition looking at your wounds”

“Have a look at the bridge and you will realize for yourself why I have so many injuries!” she said, walking away towards the bridge.

It took Vipin a couple of seconds before he could follow her. His body was still frozen by the shock of the crash. He slowly followed her till the beginning of a narrow, thin bridge, just wide enough to let a single car through. It had completely collapsed around the halfway mark. As Vipin stood on the edge and looked down, he couldn’t believe the force with which the flooded river was gushing some 50 feet under him. The thought of what would have happened if the girl hadn’t stopped him, albeit the crash into the tree , made him shake with dread. There was no way he would have survived that fall!

“You are lucky to be alive you know!”, he told her in a slow voice. She looked at him and said “It’s a miracle that I survived!”. “Lets go back to the car…”, Vipin said as he gladly stepped away from the edge and started walking back towards the car. The girl slowly followed behind him. He checked the car, it seemed to be in a sufficiently good condition, except that the passenger side door seemed to be stuck. “Its good to drive, we can make it to a nearby hospital… please get inside the car” he told the girl and went to clear some broken branches in front of the car.

When he looked up, she was already in the passenger’s seat of the car. He wondered how she could have got in, perhaps from the driver’s side of the car… He was relieved when the car started as he turned the ignition key. Smiling, he said to the girl,

“These Mercedes cars are so dependable, even after a crash, its runs smooth as butter!”. She smiled back at him, but didn’t say anything.

Slowly turning the car around, he started driving out of the forest, in the same direction as he had arrived. It was still a bright and cheerful day, and slowly, he relaxed. Despite the injuries, things were back in control again. He would take both of them to a hospital in the nearest town and they would be treated for their injuries. Smiling, he looked at the girl. She seemed to be looking at something she was holding in her hand. Tears in her eyes..

“Hey!” he said, “are you Ok?”. She looked up at him, tears still in her eyes, “Its just that.. you know… when you almost die and make it out of it, you begin to think…” She wiped away a tear from her eye, and showed him what she was clutching in her hand. It turned out to be a ring. “This was the ring my boyfriend gave me when he proposed to me a month ago…” tears welled up in her eyes. “We broke up last week. I found out that he was cheating on me..” She sobbed even harder now. Vipin was feeling very sad for her. He wanted to comfort her, but didn’t find the right words…

“Look!” , he said, “ you seem to be a very nice girl, and you are very pretty!. I am sure you will find somebody a lot better. If he was cheating on you, then its good that you broke up with him”. Trying to make a friendly face, he said “This might sound clichéd, but you know what, there are lots of fish in the ocean! I am sure you will find someone who is a lot more faithful and awesome!”

She smiled at him. “Thanks”, she said. “That’s very nice of you, trying to cheer me up!”

“Hey! You saved my life, that’s the least I can do!” Vipin smiled back at her.

She looked down at the ring for some time, and then picked it up and held it towards Vipin . “Please take this!” she said. “It has bad memories for me, but I am giving it to you in the hope that you will find someone lovely to give it to!” She smiled, and nudged the ring towards him. “Please take it!”

A stunned but grateful Vipin, slowly took the ring. It seemed to be made of gold with a small but bright diamond fixed in it. “Classic proposal ring!” he thought to himself.

“Thanks” , he said gratefully, not only did this girl save his life, she also gave him this awesome ring! He couldn’t help feeling overwhelmingly grateful towards her.

She smiled at him and said “Another kilometre later, there is a diversion which gets us to the nearest town!, Please watch out for it!”

And true to her word, a kilometre later, there was indeed a road, and half an hour later, Vipin found himself in a town, and going by the street-signs, he reached the town hospital. He got out slowly, trying not to move too much as to open the wound on his head again. When he finally got out, he was surprised to see she had already climbed down from the car. “Man! This girl is really quick!” He thought to himself.

Slowly, both of them made it to the emergency room and were rushed to the doctors.

In half anhour, Vipin was tested for broken bones, cleaned for his wounds and all bound in bandages. The Doctors told him that he was lucky to have made it with only small injuries and that he would be fit and raring to do anything he wanted by another month. “What about the girl who came with me? She seemed to be having more serious injuries than me! Is she Ok doctor?” Vipin asked.

“What Girl are you talking about Mr.Vipin?” the doctor stared at him, surprised.

“The one who came with me in the car, she was with me as far as the emergency room!” Vipin told the doctor in an annoyed voice. “What was this doctor playing at?!” Vipin wondered.

“There was no one with you Mr.Vipin. You came by yourself. I think you are still in shock and hallucinating because of the injections! Please take some rest!” with that, the doctor walked out of the room before Vipin could ask him anymore questions.

Stunned, Vipin looked around, and found a newspaper on the table by his bed. He flipped through the pages, it was full of news about the rain storm on the day before and the havoc it has caused. There was even a story about a terrible accident on the bridge, with the victim drowned after the crash. This lit up Vipin’s interest. He scanned the paper even more until he came to the obituary column; he was stunned even more when he saw the photo there. He began shaking uncontrollably as he realized it was the same girl who had saved him from going over the bridge.

“In loving memory of Manasi” it read… “My dearest Manasi, I am heartbroken to lose you. We broke up over a misunderstanding last week. I was planning to meet you to clear things up and prove my innocence about the rumours, but you have left me forever now. I am so gut wrenched that I was not there for you when you went over the bridge. I do not know what to do anymore. Love you always – Saurabh”

Vipin was paralyzed with shock. It was ten more minutes before he could get his body moving again. He did not know what to believe anymore. Slowly, he put his fingers inside his pocket and pulled it out. There it was, the ring the girl had given him. Her tears and her smile were all Vipin could think of as he stared at that beautiful ring…

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