Handbrakes By Muskan Gupta

Handbrakes by Muskan Gupta - presented by Peaceful Writers International

My family stopped at a roadside tea stall. In nineteen years of my existence, I could never get myself to like tea. So, I stayed in the car. The hills were a majestic view. It looked as if someone had painted the brown elevated lands with a big brush dipped in green. I won't disregard the fact that the curvy roads on hills make me nauseous every time. But nature has healing powers. I could hear the wind flowing, the river rushing and… a baby crying.

They left Tanu beside me. I adore babies, but… from a distance. They look cute when I am the farthest from them. Even though my mother knew, that I find toddlers like her extra-annoying, she deliberately left me there with her in anticipation, that I and my small cousin will become friends. All that baby monster did was cry, sleep, and pull my hair. I am Nineteen and she was not even nineteen months; how was I supposed to bond with her?

I wasn't going to give up on the beauty outside my window for the sake of pacifying her. 

I resumed staring outside the window. The green in the leaves was purer than the green in city leaves. The clouds were in peculiarly-pretty shapes and I even discovered that the hills were moving. Hah! They were moving! 

Only to get disappointed, when I realized, that it was me who was in motion. I thought I had witnessed something stupendous like the hills moving… till my subconscious screamed… IT WAS THE CAR MOVING!

Oh, My Lord! I was terrorized. I hurriedly turned and saw Tanu laughing in her baby-monstrous giggles. She did something with the car. I couldn't understand what to do next. The fence at the edge of the cliff was wooden and old. The car would definitely puncture through its worn-out planks. 

For a girl like me who was absolutely ignorant about cars, I got scared even more. And when I saw death about four hundred meters away, my skin became colder than ever. 

The car was speeding gradually. I had no time. It was just a matter of a few seconds when the car would fly over the fences. The slope kept becoming steeper at the road's ends. 

Now, I hated babies even more. 

I looked at my family with weeping eyes. The aroma of tea had made them forget about their two daughters. I wished someone told them "Hey, Isha and Tanu are going to fall into a 3000-foot deep valley, not to mention, without parachutes." 

The driver was busy chatting on his phone with his back turned to us. It felt like the world turned against us. 

Somehow the driver saw us. Death was two hundred and fifty meters away. 

He came running from the back, shouting and alerting everyone around him, which made me question myself 'why was I mute all the time?'. 

The intensity of the shock had silenced the fighter in me. 

He came and clung to the window. I grabbed Tanu and handed her to the driver outside. 

I could see my doomed fate less than a hundred meters away. The car was double the speed it began with. I could hear every single voice in the scene so clearly. The wheels of the car, forcing motion against the road, the footsteps of people running behind the car, the fear in the bustling noise and the river. 

I have always heard that people who die with incomplete desires are more liable to turn into ghosts. I didn't want to become one. But I had a thousand things planned for myself and I realized, in the next moment all those things will never get checked off my to-do list. I would never be able to travel to see the Northern Lights or write my first book or wear that favourite dress again…

This realization stabbed my heart. My life flashbacked in front of my eyes. I was drugged by the seductiveness of all my good memories returning to me. I felt my body becoming as light as a feather… I was ready to greet the dark silence after the crash. The peace in it was captivating me and I gave in. 

A sharp pitched voice broke my half-conscious state "Madamji hand-brake!!"

I actively stretched out my right hand, grabbed the handle fixed between the front seats, I pulled it with every ounce of energy left in my body. I went flying in the front hitting my knee on the back of the passenger seat. The tires' screeching echoed in the valley. 

The car stopped.

I was breathless, trying to figure out why I didn't pull the hand-brake earlier. 

My family came running to me. They pulled me out of the car. They hugged me tight enough to choke me. I glanced into every pair of eyes present in that crowd. Their eyes were brimming with fear and concern. I decided I would learn to drive when I return to Delhi.

Tanu was still giggling. 

 - Muskan Gupta

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  1. woah,,, awesome experience..
    same pinch writer, even I don't like tea and doing babysitting. Though they looks cute but more while sleeping.