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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

TITLE: The White Charade
By joy clarkson


The white car turned the corner at break-neck speed with a screech of tyres. The two young men inside guffawed as people walking on the road jumped to the side, in a reflex action of safety. A dog scooted out of the path of that speeding machine saving itself by a hair’s breadth. This remote village seemed to have been shaken out of a stupor, as some people came out and others peeked through barred windows and half-open doors. It took exactly five seconds for the cacophony to erupt. Abuses, opinions, comments, observations, laughter, dog-barks all vying to be heard one above the other. And as suddenly as it started it stopped, and the village returned to its torpid life.

Two weeks later, the car drove through the village again, and there was a middle-aged woman beside the young man who was driving. They didn’t seem to be in a hurry as they drove along surveying the houses and the occupants who were curiously and unashamedly staring at them. This time however the vehicle failed to draw much attention and except for a few children who ran along side grinning at the occupants, there was no stir. And then they were gone. Sitting inside the car, Bibi looked back at the receding village and said to the young man at the wheel, “Darsheel, it’s perfect for what I have in mind.”

It wasn’t long before Bibi, Darsheel and the white car became a common sight in the village. So why would two slick, sophisticated and obviously rich people come to this god-forsaken village? That was soon revealed when Bibi took a small place on rent and set up an employment agency for domestic help called, Mercy Domestic Solutions ( MDS). She also had a small training centre, where she taught the girls and women, who had registered with her, how to speak, behave and how to handle house work in a city. The first batch of workers was ready in three months, and they were taken away to a city very far from their homes. But there was no apprehension as Bibi and Darsheel were a constant presence in the village and they had earned the trust of the people.

Soon money began to pour into the homes of those who had gone out. The poor sleepy hamlet was fast becoming a busy place as proper stone houses replaced the mud huts and shops and other small businesses mushroomed. By this time Bibi and Darsheel had left the village after having appointed a local boy named Gulaba, whom they had trained, to carry on the work. Once every month Darsheel would visit to check on the work and deliver the cash to the families. Bicycles had been replaced with scooters or motorbikes and the village even boasted of two cars! They were progressing very fast in material terms and the simple folk were not as apathetic as they used to be. They had established a link with the outside world through their people, and knew a lot more about where the rest of the world was going and they liked what they heard…

Morning was breaking and the silence of slumber was broken by the chirping of birds and sounds of human activity, as the village slowly stirred to life. But today’s awakening was not to be a slow surfacing to consciousness as the roar of jeeps shattered the pastoral quietude. In a moment there were policemen crawling all over the place. A loud banging on Gulaba’s door brought a bleary-eyed youngster out. “Are you the Manager of Mercy Domestic Solutions?” they asked him. “Yes Sir, I am,” said a flustered Gulaba, “What’s wrong …why are you handcuffing me? What have I done…” his queries were cut short as a constable dealt him a blow on his calves, with a baton.

At the Police Station, based on Gulaba’s statement and those of the families whose children were employed by MDS, enquiries were underway for a white car that fit the description and carried the number plate of the one that was used by Bibi. “What has happened?” asked an old villager. “Don’t pretend old one, from where has all this wealth come from? Your grandfather didn’t leave it to you…your children are sex workers in the city,” sneered a constable.

Just then another picks the ringing phone and shouts out, “Sir! They’ve found Bibi and Darsheel and the car…..it’s a white Charade.”

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This article has been read 473 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvette Roelofse08/21/08
This is a great piece about an all too common problem. I loved the way you took the topic, and made it your own. Very unique and culturally rich.
Anita van der Elst08/21/08
I had to go on-line & find a picture of the Charade! Great story telling. I was suspicious of those people from the beginning.
Jan Ackerson 08/22/08
Well done--I knew something was up, but I wasn't sure what it was. Good job building tension.

I'd have liked to know these two people better, maybe through more dialogue, and more "showing" than "telling".

Loved the ending!
Patty Wysong08/25/08
I'm embarrassed to admit to being in the dark--but I know it's me. LoL I'll have to do some research to understand the significance, but I DID enjoy the story.
Marlene Austin08/26/08
Unique slant on the topic. I had never heard of a car named the Charade. Thanks for new info. :)