Saturday, 26 June 2010

The ever expanding city...

Chunee lived with Prahlad on a big, empty ground surrounded by apartment buildings somewhere in Jogeshwari East, Mumbai.

When Chunee came from her village many years ago, there had been empty grounds all around her, there were plenty of green fields and lots of cattle sheds.

The smell of the buffaloes, the clinking of the milk pails, and the milkmen in their yellowing white dhotis had reminded her of home.

But now, there were no green fields and the cattle sheds were wedged between concrete buildings so tall, that Chunee had to strain to see the tops of them.

The ground that she lived on seemed to have been forgotten for some reason, in the building frenzy.

Chunee did not miss her village all the time. But she did miss having a bath everyday. In the village, she could walk into the river any time she wanted, whenever she was feeling hot and dusty, she would splash around to her heart’s content. But here she was able to have a bath only once a week.

Prahlad had to fetch buckets of water from the well near the tea stall. The tea stall owner had become the unofficial owner of the well and even though Prahlad paid two rupees for every bucket of water he took, the self-proclaimed owner would stare disapprovingly at him whenever he took a bucket too many.

The little boy Gottya, who worked at the tea stall would help Prahlad lug the buckets to and fro while bathing times on Sunday mornings became a big event. Even twenty buckets of water could not give Chunee the pleasure she had had splashing in the river back home.

Every Sunday, after the bath, Prahlad would take Chunee to the South Indian temple in Matunga. It was a long walk, but they earned a lot of money on that day because the temple was crowded with devotees, and each one of them gave something to Prahlad and Chunee.

Chunee would be decked in all her finery and everyone would turn to look at her. She was so beautiful. Chunee would stare back with smiling, crinkled eyes.

Chunee loved to go to the temple. The lane outside smelt of flowers and incense; the women were dressed in brilliant colors and the children laughed happily at her. The roads were not too crowded on Sunday and it was a pleasant walk for Prahlad and Chunee.

On weekdays, Prahlad would eat his breakfast late at the tea stall. Chunee would wait till he was ready. Then they would start walking on their regular rounds, past the cattle sheds, crossing the busy highway, crossing the railway tracks to the more affluent western side of the suburb, Andheri, where there were many small South Indian eateries whose owners always had a little something to offer Prahlad and Chunee.

Chunee hated to cross the highway with its roaring trucks and cars that never seemed to stop.

Some days they met Mona and her keeper, Santosh. It did not happen too often, but some times, they would be called together for a wedding party or a film shoot. Mona lived far away in Mira Road and hence Chunee was happy whenever they did meet. Mona and Chunee could talk to each other all day.

Mona was Chunee’s daughter, born to her in the village many years ago. Chunee and Mona had come to the city together, but had been separated when they came here because they worked different rounds.

Chunee had another daughter, Hanno, who lived further away in Kurla, whom Chunee had never seen again after they came to the city.

One day, Chunee and Mona crossed each other near the crowded Andheri station. It was more than a year since they had seen each other. They were on opposite sides of the road, but oblivious to the traffic around them they stopped in the middle of the road and called out to each other.

The traffic policeman glared at Prahlad and Santosh, who goaded both the females to move ahead. The cars piled up around them, the drivers honking furiously. But Chunee and Mona did not hear the noises around them or even feel the prod of Prahlad’s and Santosh’s sticks. They just continued to stand still and look at each other.

Suddenly, a large red bus with an impatient, irate bus driver nudged Chunee on her back and moved forward. Chunee, shaken out of her stillness and hurt by the weight of the bus moved back a step. Across the road, Santosh too nudged Mona again, and she reluctantly but with a lingering glance at Chunee, moved away. Prahlad skillfully guided Chunee through the traffic, ignoring the abuse of the drivers around him. With great patience brought her back home.

That night, Prahlad lay awake hearing Chunee moan for Mona. Her eyes were shut, probably she was asleep after her long walk and the injury on her back must have been hurting, but Prahlad thought perhaps she was dreaming of her daughter Mona and the village to which she belonged.

Prahlad wondered if he should walk to Chunee’s side of the ground and stroke her, but he lay where he was, listening to her soft crying. Again he thought of their silent walk back home and felt a little proud that he had managed to bring her back without any further accidents, she had been so distressed that day.

After a few minutes, he picked up his thin mattress and sheet and walked up to her. He stroked her gently and murmured softly into her ear. Chunee moaned back.

Prahlad was a kind mahout. He had often told his owner, Khan-saab that Chunee, Mona and Hanno needed male mates but Khan-saab had stopped bringing elephants to Mumbai.

It was too expensive to transport them and too expensive to keep them. The three females he had brought years ago were still paying their keep, but it was certainly not worth its while to invest more money in animals, what with the new rules and regulations.

Anyway, where on earth would the elephants mate in Mumbai? There was no place big enough for that in the vicinity. Open grounds no longer existed, and they were lucky they still had place for the three elephants in the city.

Prahlad shrugged helplessly in the dark as he thought about Chunee and her daughters and their longing for their loved ones.

Then he thought of his own wife back home in the village and wondered if she too moaned for him like that in the dark. He laughed at himself and his fancies, as he remembered his silent Lalli going about her work at home and the fields, and sighing softly he turned to go to sleep.

When Chunee woke up the next day, she was still a little sad. Every time she met Mona, she was sad for days, missing Hanno and her village.

But today, Prahlad fetched buckets of water and gave her a bath even though it was not a Sunday. Chunee sprayed water on him with her trunk and tried to be cheerful for his sake.

Prahlad, soaking wet, laughed, and threw yet another mug of water at Chunee’s back. The little boy Gottya came running towards them with a fresh bucket of water, and sprayed by Chunee, he too laughed. It was definitely a sight to watch.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The astrologer.....

Every night Janshetram had the same routine, he used to get out of the mill and enter the beer bar to drink the regrets in his life. He used to drink to forget, to drown the past into the bottles of alcohols.

He was a mill worker and earned a modest salary to feed his family, but his drinking habit took over the human in him and turned him into a monster his wife and kids had to face every night.

Every night he used to take the same dark road back home and at the corner of the street saw the astrologer. The astrologer had long brown hair and overgrown facial hair. Unlike other astrologers, he carried no stuff, no stones, and no parrots. The astrologer just sat there quietly, doing nothing, saying nothing.

He just had one board off front which read ‘All your problems solved. Astrological consultation just Rs 5’

‘He is a obviously fake,’ Janshetram used to think, but something in that astrologer made him glance at that corner regularly.

One day totally drunk, he glanced at the fat lady sitting in front of the astrologer. Out of curiosity, he stepped closer to listen to them, “You obviously are going to get freed of all your worries,” said the astrologer gazing at the palm of the fat lady.

“But my love life is a mess,” she replied, “My husband doesn’t love me anymore.”

‘Try reducing your weight a bit,’ thought Janshetram.

“Do one thing; know the Shiv temple on the top of the hill? Every Monday go there and while enchanting the Shiv Mantra, circle around the temple 15 times,” the astrologer said, “You will find your love life returning in a month.”

“Thank you baba,” she touched his feet.

“Remember, if you begin this vrat (the task to please God) you should not stop in between for anything or God will curse you.”

‘Obviously a fake,’ thought Janshetram and gazed at the astrologer.

“Yes, my son,” asked the Astrologer, “Do you want to consult?”

“You are a fake,” said Janshetram, “You do not know anything. If you are really so great can you tell me my past?”

The astrologer gazed at him for a moment.

“See,” Janshetram shouted, “Not upto the task are you?”

“I will,” said the astrologer, “I will definitely. But I will tell you the day you come to me sober.”

“Yeah right,” laughed Janshetram sarcastically and left.

Then he walked the same road stumbling on the road side poles and reached his house.

His wife was dutifully waiting for him with a hot food plate, she was rubbing the bruise from the last night while heating the food.

But today her husband was quiet, she did not understand. He did not pull her hair, he did not beat her. He quietly sat down in the kitchen waiting for food. She was surprised to see the change, as she never had a peaceful night in last three years.

The next day Janshetram did his work promptly while his attention was somewhere else… he was thinking all the time about the astrologer.

That evening, he did not visit the bar. The path suddenly seemed bright, the roads all lit.

The astrologer sat there, as quiet as always.

“I was waiting for you,” the astrologer said.

“If you tell me my past correctly, I will give you Rs100, right now” said Janshetram.

“I know you earn modest wages, son, I will not take a single penny from you,” the astrologer smiled and gazed at the palm.

“You came to the big city three years ago,” began the astrologer, “You come from a small village in Parvachi region of Rajasthan. Your family is your mother whom you cannot face, as you are ashamed of going there because of the deed you did three years back.”

The old thoughts came back to Janshetram, the friendship, the plot and the long run.

“You have been betrayed in your life by someone, someone very close to you. You had to run away from yourself, but now it is time to stop. Don’t run anymore for your betrayer is dead.”

Janshetram was impressed but he did not wish to accept defeat yet, “This is all very general, tell me something specific.”

“Fine, you have robbed, robbed God himself.”

The words hit hard, Janshetram pulled back his hand.

“You and your friend robbed the gold crown in the temple of your village, but your robbery was foiled by the priest who rang the alarm. You had to flee the village in total darkness and fell into a well while your friend ran away with the loot. You have not seen your village and your friend since.”

Janshetram sat stunned; all the past events came back to him. His jobless times, his plan to rob the temple, rob the very people of the village for not letting him into the temple. He came from a lower caste and was not allowed to enter the temple, tired of this, he and his friend, Shirmith, decided to punish the Priest by robbing the crown and then frame him for the robbery.

Unfortunately for him, things went haywire. The alarm was raised, he and Shirmith were chased by the villagers, while running he accidently fell into a deep dry well where he waited in the dark for three days, Shirmith did not return for him.

Then after three days he ran, ran forever leaving his life behind. He was haunted by the villagers’ cries for three years; he was haunted by the sense of loneliness for three years.

Every night he tried to drown these very voices into the numerous bottles of alcohol.

“Do you believe in me now… Son? So I may give you a closure in your fear and regret?” the astrologer asked.

“Yes, baba,” cried Janshetram.

“Your friend was caught soon after you fell into the well. He was taken to the village and the crown was reinstalled in the temple. The villagers condemned him to leave the village immediately. Your friend has received his calling, he is beyond our reach. Your mother is waiting for you son, no one knows of your involvement in the robbery. The damage is done, you have a life ahead of you son, bury the ghost of the past, and go back to your village. Lead a peaceful life.”

That night, Janshetram did not stumble on the way home. He suddenly realized how beautiful his wife looked. He ate the hot food with pleasure; his life would stay beautiful for days to come now. What a relief.


That night, the astrologer went to his hut in the outskirts of the city and started packing his stuff.

“Are you leaving again?” asked his elderly neighbour.

“Yes Chacha, I have to make a final pilgrimage to Ambarnath.”

“Son, you have been to many pilgrimages, Dehu, Alandi and Kashi to find peace, yet you did not get it in any at those places. Now your life is well settled in this city, you can always go and pray in any temple here. Why are you wasting your youth in chasing peace?”

“Chacha, I have taken many pilgrimages, but today I am truly at peace. This is my last journey towards moksha and have to leave”.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The awakening....

When Mr. Raghu opened his eyes, he discovered himself engulfed in a sea of darkness. A deep dark pitch that spread from nowhere to nowhere, the likes he had never seen before.

He could hardly espy where he was, in what part of what. At the beginning, middle or end. At home or in some strange land. He could neither find out whether he was sitting, standing or lying down. He only realized that he was somewhere – somewhere in a lightless realm, trodden by mistake or by misfortune. A realm where the Sun had never risen.

He felt hard done by, that such a thing should even happen to him. A man whom everybody greeted with esteem and awe.

Being the head of a huge corporation and the destiny of hundreds, it was surely a misfortune to rot in the dark like this.

But that was a different thing. The most urgent of all was to find out where he was and what he was done in for. Was it his new apartment that he had recently built and furnished in an exaggerated fashion, amassing his life’s earnings?

Where were then, his wife and sons, relatives and especially his men, whom he had tended so scrupulously? Had they all departed for a holiday, leaving him alone in the dark? It seemed, as if, all were unconcerned.

Or, was it his office with all lights gone out all on a sudden? If yes, where were his office fellows? Why was it so silent? He tried hard to feel their presence and discern their very faces. He wished to pull the calling bell and call a peon.

But ah! Such an attempt was futile, for nothing was visible except his memories that were fresh and vivid. Everything else seemed to be drowned by an overwhelming wave of shadow.

‘Where am I?’ he yelled out aloud in exasperation. But he heard nothing except his rebounded interrogation- ‘w-h-e-r-e .. a-m .. I ??

He repeated his query again and again and always got the same response.
Instead of being afraid, he kicked up a fuss.

‘Who put me in such an invisible void where I cannot see my dear ones, my house or my office? Who could it be?’ he shouted.

Glimpses of images he had read in the Upanishads and in eighteen Puranas stood like living forms in front of him. ‘Was this the Hell I was brought to redeem my sins?

But I’ve not committed any such relentless crime for which Hell is the due.’
His soliloquy was broken by a horselaugh.

By then, the darkness had crystallized into a shadowy form. It stood somewhere yards away, throwing a cold sneer at him all the while. The image of Yamraaj- the god of death, resurrected in his mind. Was it he who brought me to this hell?

‘Who are you?’ he asked the shadowy form sternly and with the authority he used to maintain in his office. He thought the form might be scared of his harsh command as did his subordinates, but instead, the shadow laughed at him.

A loud hearty laugh that rang repetitively. And then his voice turned into a stern callousness.

‘How dare you ask me such a question?’ the shadow retorted back audaciously.’ Don’t you know who I am?’

The imperious utterance of the shadow not only startled Mr. Raghu but also made him irritated. None in his office had ever dared to reply to him with such impudence. His fist was clenched unconsciously to plant a heavy slap on the shadow’s cheek, to teach him, once for all, how to talk with a boss.

But considering his situation he was in at the moment, he thought it to be foolish. He relaxed for a moment and said ‘Why should I ask if I knew you?’

‘Well, then take It.’ the shadow retorted solemnly. ‘I am the one you are.’

‘What?’ croaked Mr. Raghu, listening such a vague and ambiguous statement, ‘If that is that, how come you are away in the dark and not in me?’ he amused and tried to make fun of the shadow’s audacity to think itself akin to his being.

‘I’m always with you, fool, deep within you. Can’t you discern me?’ the shadow’s voice was poignant and sharp, as if, he were in a deep inner turmoil.

‘Don’t upbraid me. I’m sure I can’t discern you.’ pleaded Raghuji with inflected seriousness.

‘How can a blind see his self? That’s the real plight. You’ve made yourself blind. That is what you have caused to me. You have never tried to bring light to me. In fact, you have no time, no zeal, and no need to heed to me.’

Raghu was deeply wounded. Never in his life had he realized that there was such an irrational being that could implicate him. He had enjoyed unlimited power and prestige as the General Manager of the Corporation and earned money that one could only dream of.

He had shown the way and regulated the lives of numerous employees, just at the point of his fingers. And yet, he was blind! But, how…how was that?

‘You are blind because you are away from the light from your own self. You are blind because you are very near to what you are not. You are obsessed with those illusive ghosts that misled you every moment.’ a taunting jeer rang in his ear.

‘Stop your prattle’ commanded Mr. Raghu impatiently, ‘and tell me why I am here.’

‘Where else would have you been with all your sins?’ the shadow mocked at his very face. The dominant figure of Mr. Raghu got shrunken inwardly.

‘I’ve not done any sin. I’ve not done any wrong knowingly.’ Raghu pleaded like a convict in the dock desperate to extricate himself.

‘Were you not haughty? Were you not boastful of your position?’

‘Of course, I was. But that’s not a sin.’ he said confidently.

‘That’s not a virtue either’ came the sharp rejoinder from the dark, ‘Your vanity had led many to their dooms. You were not what you projected to be. That was a temporary act assigned to you and you fancied, as if, you were that. You fell victim to your own ego. You entered into the kingdom of vice. And a vice is a sin.’

‘That wasn’t as much as a murder.’

‘Didn’t you ill-treat many?’ inquired the shadow firmly.

‘Yes, I did. And I was right because they deserved it. They committed blunders and so they paid for them.’

‘Didn’t you commit any in the whole span given to you?’

‘May be, may be…. To err is human.’ He admitted falteringly.

‘To forgive, then, is divine. Did you punish yourself?’


‘That’s why you’re here. You were an unjust judge and you must receive your lesson.’

It was still hazy outside. The morning had not clearly dawned, yet a bedlam of twitters had already started in the old peepal.

Mr Jairaj hustled on his usual walk to complete an early round. As he neared the dusky grove, he saw a figure sail leisurely down the opposite. He looked so sober and quiet that he couldn’t help greeting him from a distance.

The other slowed a bit to fold his hands and utter a deep ‘namaskar’. It was a voice-grand and clear, free from the cliché clattered callousness- and one that seemed to spring out of his heart.

Mr Jairaj looked up to have a clear view of the man, and lo, in sheer disbelief and awe, he squinted at what he saw. In his front halted Mr Raghu to ask about his well being. His eyes seemed to stretch far more wider and alert, such as a deep slumber and a freshening dream can bestow. And a ripple of unruffled placidity swept over his countenance. His hands still rested half-folded over his chest.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

the last wish....

“Darling, what’s wrong?!” Mrs. Walke shrieked. Mr. Walke was coughing violently; his coughs, penetrating through the cold morning air. His mouth foamed vigorously, and within moments, he was lying senseless on the wooden floor of his dining room. Dawn had just approached. The clock struck four, indicating that it was ‘3’ in the morning. The Sun was slowly emerging, while Mr. Walke’s Sun had set.

“Oh, mother!” Mrs. Walke cried out, “Please come and see!” Her mother-in-law had been sleeping; it was not met that a woman of her age would be awakened so early in the morning. She slowly came out of her room, signalling a big yawn. Her age had taken a toll on her body, and it was natural that her body would shiver after confronting the cold winter air.

On seeing her son lying lifeless on the floor, she was stunned. She let a cry of disbelief, and collapsed beside her son.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself lying on a white bed. Beside her, a machine beeped loudly, flashing some kind of a graph. A white coated man with a stethoscope was standing next to her bed. “Thank God she’s back!” He exclaimed.

On hearing the good news, her daughter-in-law arrived. The doctor looked at her, then approached her, and whispered something into her ears, then left. Mrs. Walke sat on the stool beside her mother-in-law’s bed. “Mom! Thank God you’re back! You’ve been lying unconscious for five days now! The doctor said you’ve passed over to coma, but I’m thankful you’re back!”

The old lady asked, “Kishore! Where is he?”

Mrs. Walke began to weep. She threw herself on the bed, and began to sob loudly, as if, to gain attention. The old lady consoled her, and then looking in her eyes, she asked, “What happened to him?”

“Kishore’s gone!” Mrs. Walke continued to sob.

The old mother had a weak mentality. After hearing her son’s death, she could not even react. All she could do was look lost. She stared at her daughter-in-law for some time, before fainting again. She awoke in the evening. Mrs. Walke was still sitting beside her.

Acting strong, she asked, “What is the date today?”

“Eighteenth June,” she replied with a sorrow tune.

“And for how many days exactly am I here?”


“So, Kishore died on the thirteenth?” She could no longer hold back her tears. She wailed, so terribly, that the entire hospital was shaken by her cries. It was quite natural. She had lost her only son.

After some condolences, Mrs. Walke stepped out of her room. The old lady looked lost. She gazed up at the ceiling, ignoring everything that was going around. All she could think of was Kishore. She could envision Kishore’s image appearing and disappearing in a moment’s notice. She flashed back on his past, as she remembered the tiny Kishore when she gave birth to her. Slowly, she imagined Kishore growing up. She remembered all the special moments in her child’s life, both painful and serene. She saw him grow up, and finally marry her dear daughter-in-law, who was like an angel to her. Finally, she imagined his dead face, and the sight mad tears roll down her wizened cheeks. She loved her son dearly; her son meant the world to her. His loss was the greatest trauma of her life. She did not feel as terrible when she lost her dear husband.

“Mrs. Walke?” Someone knocked on the door, which disturbed her thoughts, and drew her attention. She stared at the door. A nurse was standing there with an envelope in her hand.

“Yes?” The old lady answered.

“I have a letter for you. Someone dropped it off at the patients’ letterbox. It’s addressed to you. Sorry, I don’t know the addressee as we aren’t supposed to breach upon our patients’ privacy.”

The old lady looked stunned. “A letter, in here?” she thought. She turned to the nurse, “Thank you. You may leave.”

She saw the post seal on the paper. It was stamped on 17th June, which was yesterday. She quickly tore open the envelope, and took out the piece of paper. The letter was written on a sheet which was of poor quality. The handwriting seemed familiar. It read—

“17th June, 2009.
Dear Mrs. Bina Walke,

I sincerely apologize for not providing my address, because I, myself, am not aware of it. I’m sorry to disturb you during this time, when you are grieving over your son’s death, but this letter is regarding him. No, this is not a testament, but this is mainly a letter to make you aware about the mysteries surrounding your son’s death. Those secrets will be revealed in this letter.

Your son was murdered! His death was unnatural, although the autopsy revealed he died of suffocation. I guess you may be wondering how exactly such a healthy person could suffocate, and that too, in a winter morning while having breakfast. Well, his windpipe may have been blocked due to entrance of food particles, but that is not the case. Yes, he did die by suffocation, but he was suffocated intentionally by someone very dear to him.

Your dear daughter-in-law, your angel Mini, is the reason behind your son’s death. She murdered him, by feeding him peanut butter and toast. And you know how allergic he is to peanuts. As soon as the toast entered his mouth, his neck had swollen, preventing air flow, and thus choking him. It was not an accident, and it was done intentionally. She buttered his toast with peanuts deliberately, in order to get rid of him. That bitch murdered him, only because he knew dark secrets about her. She had an extramarital affair with her husband’s best friend—Varun. She betrayed him. Kishore thought of divorcing his wife due to mental treachery, but he could not do so, as it would upset you.

Now, after I’ve revealed the reason for his death, I will disclose some personal details about him, which might be beneficial to you. After all, people should not dwell on the past. He has written a will, as he feared his end was near, in order to distribute all his properties. The will is held by his lawyer—Mrs. Govindita. You will receive further information from her.

You may be wondering how I know such details about him, but the fact is, he, himself, provided me with such knowledge. This was his last wish—‘Not to punish his wife by giving this letter to the police. Let her live her life.’

Your loving son,

The old lady was startled by the name of the addressee. She could not help but stare at this piece of paper. It was her son that sent her the letter. “But how? How can he send it after he died?” She thought. She knew that even if she thought for years, her answers would remain unanswered. The handwriting was similar to Kishore’s, and this style of writing was Kishore’s trademark. So, it must have been him.

After some more days, she was discharged from the hospital. Within a month of Kishore’s death, Mini married Varun, and they lived a happy life together. Kishore’s mother was helpless in interfering; she could not show the letter to the police, as they would not believe her, and because then, her action would be against Kishore’s last wish.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

And the rest is .... story..

There was madness in the crowd…

‘Kill him! Kill him!’

My heart cringed.

‘No, please! Don’t! He’s done nothing wrong’.

‘Lady, you ok?’

I looked at the man talking to me. I suddenly realized that it was merely my imagination. The market was bustling, but no one was shouting, no one was even looking at me.

‘Yes, I’m… I’m fine’, I replied.

I began walking again. I crossed the fruits and vegetable sellers and on, till I saw the familiar bridge.

I began to walk faster, too fast perhaps, for I was now attracting attention. But I couldn’t slow down. Any minute could be the dreaded one. The bridge loomed nearer. Right underneath it, was what I was looking for. The ticket counter.

‘A ticket to Dehradun please.’

The man at the counter looked at me and smiled through his crooked teeth. ‘Traveling alone Miss?’ His bloody lustful smile! If I had the time I would have given him a piece of my mind. But I couldn’t attract attention, not now.

‘Yes, can you hurry up?’ I replied, trying not to sound irritated. He handed me the ticket.

I checked the time on the ticket. It said 11.40. I checked my said 11.30.
10 minutes! Please God…please…let these 10 minutes go by real quick.

I walked to the platform where the train was already awaiting the passengers. People were rushing about in a frenzy. I turned to the little boy standing beside me.

‘Ritesh, whatever happens, remember you’ve never seen me before. You don’t know who I am or where I live. Get on this train and get down at Dehradun. Forget everything, ok?’

He nodded in agreement. I handed the ticket to him.

He turned to leave.

‘Ritesh!’, I called back.

He turned. ‘Thank you’.

He smiled… the most beautiful I’d ever seen. And then with a wave, he boarded the train.

A few seconds later, the engine began to hum, a whistle sounded and the train began to move out of the station. I sat down on a bench.

Even before I had a chance to gather my thoughts, someone spoke.

‘Excuse me, are you Ms Shurika?’

‘Yes?’, I replied. How did this guy know my name? And then it hit me. The game was up.

‘We need to interrogate you Miss. Perhaps we can walk over to your apartment and discuss matters?’


Post Script:

I didn’t know much about Ritesh… not then, not now.

All I know is that he worked as a small time help in several places and managed to gather food for sustenance.

That day, as I walked back to my flat after my shopping, Ritesh was helping me carry my shopping bags. On reaching home I asked him to wait, I was about to wrap up some excess food I had lying in my fridge and give it to him.

But when I walked in, there was my drunken brother… too drunk to make head or toe of me. But he didn’t forget his purpose of being in my flat. Money.

It started with pleading, then blackmailing and then finally it turned violent. I was being repeatedly struck. A silent spectator was witnessing all of it.

But silent, not for long. With my hand being twisted and my face being struck, I couldn’t gather much strength to stop the outburst.

And then I heard it. Metal meeting bone. The clang of metal and the crack of the skull. And when I turned around, there was the vase, lying innocently on the floor and Ritesh standing beside it with an assuring, comforting smile.

And the rest… is story..

Monday, 7 June 2010

The feeling of being made for each other....

Aarti and Sahadeo were school time sweethearts. The feeling of being made for each other had struck them when they were still in grade nine at school. What sparked as a bond of friendship soon turned them to be the best of mates. It took them five long years to realize that their friendship had sweetly ripened to love. They tied the knot and vowed to stay together for ever. Aarti worked at a child care and Sahadeo was a cop. Life felt like a never ending romantic novel, with each chapter adding loads of love to their lives.

One fine afternoon, Aarti was driving back home from work. She was stuck in traffic at one of the busiest intersections of the city. Just then her mobile buzzed. It was her sister Sally on the phone. Aarti soon got indulged in Sally’s narration of her shopping spree while she was on a trip to Melbourne. Lost in Sally’s chit-chat, Aarti lost track of the traffic. She jumped a red light and failed to note a road train coming from her left. Her car was smashed like a toy and was dragged for fifty meters before the road train came to a halt. Her last memory was of the time of the impact.

After staying in comma for ten long days, Aarti finally opened her eyes. Sahadeo was delighted to see the love of his life regain senses. Their joy of making it through the deadly experience didn’t last for long. Though Aarti had successfully defeated death but destiny stole her eye-sight in return for her life. After a year of agony, Aarti was finally back to normal life. It took her a while to get used to doing things without being able to see them. Sahadeo helped her at every step. He encouraged her to focus on her other senses. Aarti gradually learned to recognize things by her touch.

Months of hard-work paid off, Aarti felt confident and decided to get back to her work. Sahadeo and Aarti worked on the opposite ends of the city. Every morning Sahadeo used to drive her to work before going to work and would pick her from her workplace after finishing work. This continued for two months before Sahadeo gave up. It had been too demanding for him to drive across the city in the morning as well as the evenings. He suggested that Aarti should start going to work by bus.

Aarti was hesitant and anxious at the start. Sahadeo offered to help. He patiently accompanied Aarti every morning and evening from home to work and back home. He made sure Aarti soon grew familiar with all the drivers and the stops to help her when she would travel on her own. Sahadeo her soul-mate had been her best-friend, her companion through the tough times and now he was her trainer. After a month’s practice and loving reassurances from Sahadeo, Aarti felt confident enough to travel to work on her own.

The door opened and Aarti stepped with a white stick. Feeling her way she climbed the stairs of the bus and finally made it to the seat the driver had told her was empty. Seating herself, she gently placed her handbag in her lap. She could feel her fingers tremble with anxiety. She was glad at her achievement so far and was hopeful she’ll be able to find her way to work soon. Everything went according to the plan. Every morning Sahadeo dropped her at the bust stop and picked her from the stop in the evening. Days moved on. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday even Thursday passed uneventful.

It was Friday morning. As Aarti made her way towards the bus door she heard the bus-driver exclaim, “You must be proud, how lucky you are.” Not sure whether the driver was speaking to her, Aarti wondered why a bus-driver would call a blind woman lucky. She couldn’t hold back her curiosity and asked the driver, “Why would you think I am lucky?” The bus driver replied, “Every morning, when you get down from the bus there is a cop in uniform who watches you from a distance. Makes sure you get down well and make your way across the road safely. Once you cross the road and enter the building, he flies a kiss your way and salutes with love beaming in his eyes.”