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|That night I was shivering, completely soaked even after taking shelter under the huge banyan tree. I guess my soul was about to depart when suddenly a warm hand touched my forehead. When I looked up, tears started flowing down my cheeks. My eyes were talking as my lips had turned blue from being soaked in the rain for so long. She stood there calmly with the most beautiful and angelic face I had ever seen. It seemed as if an angel had descended down to take me with her and relieve me of my anguish. When she opened her mouth to speak, I was brought back to reality. She asked" my child, what are doing here all wet? Where do you live? Where is your home? Where are your parents?" I became numb but by what I did the very next moment, I ended up surprising myself. She was standing so close to me that I could feel the warmth of her body. Seeing her as my only hope there, I caught hold of her feet and started crying loudly. "Please take me with you. I have no one and nowhere to go. My parents died when I was seven. Since then I have been living off the streets and I am very cold." Before I could finish, she hugged me so tight as if I was her own lost child whom she had found miraculously. She held my hand and said' my precious one, every child is special to god. You are not alone, from this day onwards I am your mother." And 20 years ago today I had found a home. She taught me that it is not necessary to be related by blood for receiving and giving love, sometimes beautiful relationships develop with pure strangers.|
|Life is pretty.. With all its ups n downs, it still looks beautiful ..Accept it, no matter how much you try to avoid, there WILL be good times with equal share of bad times.. There will be smiles with cries.. There will be a 'forever' and a 'never'.. You cant avoid any of these.. |
But are you sure you can smile through all of them? No matter how much you try to put up a fake brave smile, there will always be sum1 or the other who will catch you immediately.. Watch you laugh for no reason and then, when you turn around, will watch you wipe that tiny tear rolling out of your moist eye.. But still, you are questioned by a face with all the possibilities of breaking you down then and there..
It's very easy to run away, from the same problems you take home.. From the same people you are afraid to confront , from the same desires you are afraid to STAND UP for!!.. So afraid, that you are ready to let go of every special thing in your life just because of your inability to say the truth.. Hiding in the shadows of those who support your coward act is easy.. But what is difficult is when people ask you to face it.. Standing within the shade of cowardice, its easy to forget that yes, you can also be wrong.. And slowly, it creeps onto you.. It prompts people to laugh.. Soo, are the fake, convincing shadows of d coward world so appealing that you have forgotten that its all just an illusion and the truth is out there.. Under the sun.. Why are you so scared of the sun?? Are you so disturbed that you need a fake smile to prove that you are happy??.. Don't you know that even if you get sunburn, it's the reality.. Don't you want to be at peace with your inner self and accept that yes, this is what I deserve.. Life is much easier after facing the fears.. Who knows, maybe the people who are prompting you to come out are the same people who can help heal your burns.. Honesty hurts..But that is the real deal.. Hmm, no wonder its not accepted or followed.. TRUTH IS UGLY... people are materialistic and that is why lie is so attractive.. So much so that it's the source of our happiness.. If you ARE happy then, why are you still thinking about the past and going back into it.. Isn't it a personal decision to behave as if it never existed?! You start hating people who throw reality at you, hmm, maybe the thought that you will have to face the grueling sun scares you and that is why you hide!!!!
Life is pretty.. GOOD pretty.. For me... I am under the sun.. And its fun because its all real. Very difficult but so is life, so this fight is worth it! ...
|02 Jan, 2009 “ Mah Baby, Puchkin |
Puchkin is seven months old today. She has started calling me 'UmmMuaa' “ mother. I feel great joy today!!! It's indescribable. And here's Puchkin's picture, does she recognize herself? Puchkin baby, do you?
11 Feb, 2009 “ They'll Get Us
I don't think it is possible for us to escape now “ Puchkin, I have sent back to my parent's place. Ram and me are struggling to stay awake and not panic. We cannot go out, they will track us down - there is surely no sign of a reprieve “ we are losing our energy levels rapidly. Hope someone can help us. It is getting dark and now soon we will lose connection “ the jammers will be activated. 2by2 - 666 - enter the dragon “ use 3 kicks.
STATUTORY NOTE: Credible evidence is the first step to persecution “ evidence of inciting or derogatory or inflammatory entries will be treated as punishable offense. This journal has now been shut down, categorization: 'anti-state activism' “ the bloggers have been in custody since Feb 11, 2010.
Swamy currently in France, studying at the PINSEAD had just received Maya's blog-update; he was subscribed. This last post on the feed jolted him, what had she written about? He had been more shocked by the fact that Maya was now married and even had a kid “ they were in touch even a few months back and she had never mentioned. On checking he found all her posts including the puzzle she'd written had been removed now. Was the puzzle some hint or was it to mislead the police? Was there this new form of a info-crime regime in India since he had left two years back “ he wondered.
A search on Yoga “ the new search-bot, revealed that actually the links had been preserved in the virtual cache to keep the network from collapsing inward, MadSense had to use it day in and day out - the network had to be maintained intact else the very survival of the POOPLE network, was at risk.
Loud music along with glittering lights and beats of the tabla greeted him as he logged into the virtual teleconference room. He found her and she answered: "Ah! So you have been very busy eh? Did I succeed in fooling you?" and then a loud giggle.
Maya had been really miffed at Swamy for not having called in lately and used this as a ploy to spook him out of his wits “ all her entries were misleading! Maya was working as Lead Geek in the rival social network of blogs called Da Journal and casually remarked that she had hacked into POOPLE.
He understood the code now - the number 2by2 was the server grid and 666 was the power to arrive at the data node of her blog in the network, dragon the pass-code and 3 kicks the trident like logo of the POOPLE social network - we treasure the whole world's information.
Puchki was Maya's sister's baby!
|From a doctor's diary |
Balu has been in love with trains ever since he was a little boy.
During summer vacations when his cousins retire to the cooler confines of the house and play board games, waiting for the hot afternoon to ease off, Balu purposefully strides out to the ground in front of his house. There, under the blazing sun, he draws up a huge rectangle on the hard earth with his big toe. Standing on one corner of the rectangle, with great pomp and ceremony, he proclaims himself to be a certain train, say the Mangalore-Madras Mail, and starts running.
Balu the train, eases out of the platform slowly, gradually picking up speed, accelerating gracefully and very soon is shrieking past minor stations and sundry level crossings, deep gorges, and dry riverbeds, dilapidated temple tanks and bustling market places, oblivious to the verdant countryside flashing past. He runs and runs, to the consternation of the elders in the house, and slows down only when the next ˜station' approaches.
But Balu is one of those lucky ones who can escape the scorching summers of Kerala every year, by going up the mountains. His paternal grandparents live near the famous south Indian hill resort of Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills in the Western Ghats, in the beautiful valley near Lovedale.
Lovedale has a tiny little station and Balu, ever the train enthusiast, spends most of the day there, watching the trains go by. Very soon, he becomes the close friend and confidante of the station master, following him around as the elderly gentleman goes about his daily chores.
One day, he finds his friend, the stationmaster, in a depressed mood. He has been transferred to a remote station, somewhere in the plains.
Young Balu is sympathetic: "To which station have you been transferred?" he asks.
"Some godforsaken place," says the stationmaster. "A place called Dasampatti. I don't even know where on the earth this wretched place is."
The ten-year old does not miss a beat. "Oh! Dasampatti!" he says with absolute certainty, "comes between Samalpatti and Doddampatti. In the Salem-Jolarpet sector."
"The stationmaster almost died of shock." Balu told me with a wicked smile when he first told me the story during one of our initial sessions.
We have given him a room overlooking the valley. It is a nice view but I wonder whether he notices. He eats little, sleeps little and speaks not at all which worries us.
It has been thirty years and the trains continue to run in his mind, shrieking past minor stations and sundry level crossings, deep gorges, and dry riverbeds, dilapidated temple tanks and bustling market places...
|When the Universe Conspires! |
Ajay saw her for the first time in a train on his way to Khandala. He couldn't take his eyes off her. There she was like an angel, in the midst of all that chaos that typifies rail travel in India. He wanted to keep looking at her oblivious of the fact that there were other people around. But the aisle was crowded, and all he could manage were a few glimpses.
Soon came the Khandala station, and he so desperately wanted her to get down there with him. But she sat there lost in her thoughts. Sadly he got down and was beginning to move towards the station gate when it hit him. The train had started so he just dropped his luggage and ran towards the compartment door from where he had exited. People standing at the door thought he wanted to board the train and he saw hands reaching out towards him. He ran alongside the train for what seemed an eternity, at a speed which was much beyond what he deemed were his physical limits. But then he got to see what he wanted to and dropped the chase. The occupant of seat 34 according to that barely legible reservation chart beside the compartment door was F22 Priya J
Many months had gone by and many work related trips along that route were taken, but he had never seen her again. The train journey to Pune was no longer a time to take a nap. Instead, his eyes remained wide open and searching, through countless reservation charts and train compartments. He was eligible for air travel - business class, but then in matters of the heart which he had hopelessly lost in that dingy train, there is no room for logic. There were times when Ajay really scolded himself for his behavior. It seemed silly, stupid, crazy whatever. But he didn't care. So be it. Should he have gone and talked to her at that time? But what would he have said!?
Finally the day came when he was headed to Pune for his final client presentation. Henceforth, he would have no periodic excuse to go that route. But as fate would have it, excessive rains meant the trains that day got cancelled & the highways were also blocked. Since he had to make it on the same day, he decided to fly down. On his way to the airport, Ajay decided that he should take this as some kind of a ˜sign', and take her out of his mind.
He boarded the flight and switched on his laptop to fine tune the presentation. As he was working on what his recommendations would be, he heard the airhostess say ˜Apple or Lemon juice'. Ajay looked at her, and after about 2 seconds during which his face would have shown a multitude of emotions including disbelief and happiness, he said ˜Lemon juice please!Priya'.
|I was rushing through the corridors when I almost tripped over a book lying on the floor. It was a brown hardback notebook and there was no name. So I stuffed it into my bag and went to class. |
Later, at home, I opened it onto the first page:
"January 26th, 2008
Being a woman must be interesting--what with their curvaceous figures, and strange minds...
But even as they flit past me everyday and everywhere, I only think of her...long, cascading hair, shining in the morning light--her lilting laugh...damn, I just got goose bumps...
Why do you DO this to me?
As any eye can see
And here I am
On bended knee
And here I'll stay eternally
Waiting for you--
Forever--in my heart you'll be
For you alone
Who has the key..."
...And that's how it went: random views on life, poetry on girl/s...and NO NAME.
So I decided to use it to get chicks.
Okay, ACTUALLY, there was this one girl in particular. She was in my class, but REALLY smart and so beyond me for that reason, if nothing else.
Also, she was bloody GORGEOUS.
Anyway, as it happened, I found the book just before the holidays, so I made a plan:
I decided to place an anonymous, typed poem everyday in her mailbox at dawn. By the third day, at least, she'd come out in person out of curiosity, and I--from a safe distance, and with binoculars--would watch her reaction.
She began to come out by the second day itself. She would fish eagerly into the mailbox, and literally DEVOUR them. Her face would light up and she would smile so prettily, my heart used to start hammering.
...Once she was out so early she almost caught me, too.
After the holidays were over, I decided to toy with her a bit and just push one through her locker vents every few days.
About a month into the new term, I finally mustered up enough guts to pass a poem in class.
She looked so excited on receiving it I felt like shouting, "IT'S ME!" but kept my mouth shut.
She quickly scribbled a reply and passed it:
"PLEASE!!! Meet me at five at the mermaid fountain...and wear a flower!"
I smiled triumphantly and sighed. AT LAST...
By five I was sitting by the fountain with a daisy in my buttonhole.
Finally--I caught sight of her, ten yards away. Our eyes met simultaneously and she rushed towards me. I leaped to my feet.
"Hi," she said breathlessly, "James, right?"
I was so happy I could only stare.
"So YOU'RE the one who's been sending me poetry?"
"I'd like my journal back, James."
My mouth dropped open.
For two minutes, neither of us spoke.
"WHAT?!" I gurgled at last. "Are you...?"
"No, just enlightened," she replied, patting my shoulder good-naturedly as she walked away, clutching it to her chest.
|To Strike a Chord |
She led her frail husband to the chair, where he settled himself comfortably. Tucking a bib under his chin, she placed his lunch on a stool before him. His hand began a jittery voyage from the plate to his mouth. She started steadying him, but he shrank away from her, as if she were a stranger. Her vision blurred with tears. Suddenly, he smiled angelically at her. Her infinite anxieties seemed to vanish miraculously and she collected herself.
"Now, eat slowly. I'll tell you a story." Thus saying, she browsed through the enviable collection of books of their home library.
"Let's read ˜The Discovery of the Vatika Cave' by Shaumik Roy." There was no response. Her husband was engrossed in noisily slurping his soup.
She began reading. It was a journal recording the experiences of a thirty year old scientist Shaumik, who got separated from his friends in the thick jungles of Khoopla, where they had gone for a camp. Night fell and they failed to trace him. A week later, rescue operations were still going on.
In the meantime, Shaumik took shelter in a cave. It was a wild animal's deserted home. During the daytime, he went around in circles, searching for his friends, but in vain. By day four, he had exhausted his supply of food and water.
As she read aloud, her husband alternated between listening in rapt attention and clumsily eating his meal.
"One evening, a giant lizard entered my cave," she continued reading. "I was terrified and climbed up the uneven rocks which formed the inner portion. On reaching the top, I was surprised to find a small opening, through which I crawled. It led to another small cave with stone inscriptions on it's walls. It never struck me then, that I had just discovered an eleventh century cave of the Liqu tribes. I slept there and by the next morning, the lizard had disappeared."
She stole a look at her husband. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling. She read on. "It was raining heavily. I dug a big hole in the ground with a sharp rock and placed my raincoat in it. After two hours, I had collected enough drinking water. Thankfully, I had a huge supply of match boxes containing sticks, with which I could light fire for warmth and for roasting small animals for food."
Finally, on the tenth day, a search team found him. Later, archaeologists visited the site and Shaumik became a hero overnight with the discovery of the cave, which was named ˜Vatika'.
"Did you like the story?" She enquired, shutting the book.
"I think I know someone by that name-Shaumik. An old friend, maybe?" He screwed his forehead in concentration.
She looked expectantly at him. Were the medicines he was being administered for Alzheimer's, finally doing their job?
As she led him out for a walk, his name ˜Shaumik Roy' gleamed like gold on their door-plate.
|Rock as a genre, or rather as a fountain of madness has its own existential justifications as its appeal. I have followed the head bangers like a shadow does to its object on a bright sunlight. Its not because I love it “ neither do I so intensely hate it. The variety of justifications that people find in this genre is phenomenal. People cry, when they need solace; people howl when sadness exceeds sadness and rock exactly does that without any inhibitions and that is something that pulls several percent of rock devotees to its folds. |
However I am not here to discuss the origin or influence of rock here, nor its difference from other music genres.
I have known him for several decades now. When I had met him first- he was just one of us- crew cut “ bold framed spectacles “ and most importantly very polite. Within a few days it was evident, he had found a close friend, which developed into a mutual friendship that almost bordered with what urbanites call homosexuality.
Rock had its own plans to seep into their lives in such complex circuit diagrams, that its true motives and goals were hard to be deciphered. The other guy developed an interest in playing the guitar and slowly started picking up the chords. As the bottom strings slowly started replacing their conversations with unpolished twangs, my good friend looked at him with tolerance and encouragement.
It was just a matter time that the newfound evening's conversation was joined by another voice “ the noise of untrained drum beatings.
The duo started weaving sincere dreams of forming a band. Years passed by “ practice “ life “ practice “ life. And then a time came by, when the guitar and the guitarist left, never to come back and never an apology for a dream that was not just his.
Silence is one thing that can never be associated with rock. Yet I see this frenzied drummer, silent; as silent as the depth, of the oceans day in and day out, playing his beats and perfecting them with an envious zeal. Yet what curse he lives by! Silence- its an ally to mystery. Certainly both happen in silence, the sense of loss and the beatings of the drum.
|Who's He? |
Mia had barely returned home after her journey, when she desperately started hunting for something in the drawers of what was her desk till last year. On my asking what she was rummaging, she would hastily reply- "Nothing". Ultimately she gave up what seemed to be a Herculean task. Being her younger sister, I found it difficult to fathom that she was withholding something from me. I always believed that she shared everything with me- to the minutest detail.
But I was wrong. Her diary understood her the best! And I only discovered this when I unearthed it from under a heap of her old books the very next day, while she was out with friends. It was the most colorful and classy spiral-bound book I'd ever seen. The fact that its cover was so eye- catching aroused my curiosity. I opened it and read every word! When Mia reached home, she saw it lying on top of the desk. Pokerfaced, I pretended as though I had nothing to do with it.
But she very well knew that I did. That very night, opportunely for us, our parents went for a wedding, which both of us plainly declined to attend. That was when Mia had promised to answer all my questions related to her entries. What intrigued me most were her innumerable references to a ˜Him' in her writings. Chuckling when I asked her who ˜He' is, she replied; "I'll answer that last."
"Okay," I told her, "then how come I never knew that you wrote a diary?" To that she said, "I was always unsure whether you would ever understand or like what I wrote. I even wanted to tell Mom and Dad about this." Taken aback, I exclaimed- "What! You'll tell them about ˜Him' too?"
"Of course. In fact they already know who ˜He' is and love him- you do too. It's not like I have to introduce ˜Him' to you." I was getting more and more restless- "Alright, Mimi. I'll be honest. I'm only ten- almost eight years younger than you. I cannot understand most of what you write. What I could guess after reading your entries was that most of it is poetry- because it rhymes." By that time, Mia was in splits.
"Oh, how could I even expect you to know? Well, the ˜Him' in my poems is God. One always refers to Him with a capital H. You'll probably learn this at school in a year or two." After this, she told me why she was hassled when she couldn't find the diary. On returning to University after the break, one of her professor's publisher friends wanted to create a compilation of spiritual poems written by teenagers.
Today, ten years later, Mia is an established writer-poet. Needless to say, her work got noticed right after those poems got published. And I still struggle to understand her profound work!
|How Maria Let One Go |
Hari waited - pretending, drifting through Nancy Friday's secret garden. Vikram put on his gym shoes and left without a word. After five minutes, Hari locked the door and pulled out his room mate's diary from under the mattress.
Vikram's entries for 1994 were neat and precise.
Jun 9 “ Hari introduced me to Maria. Pretty girl but cold. Meeting her tomorrow “ to work on Hari's College Senate election campaign.
Jun 10 “ Met Maria at the library. Ice maiden thawed. I think she likes me.
Jun 17 “ Met Maria under the banyan tree in front of her hostel. We talked. She laughs a lot.
Hari muttered aloud, "A***hole! No wonder I lost the elections."
Jun 21 “ Maria is very free with me. But maintains two feet distance.
Jun 28 - Told her that I am off to Bombay for a month's industrial training. She seemed disappointed? Or sad? I'll feel happy if she is sad.
Jul 1 “ Feeling miserable. No Maria to talk to.
Aug 10 “I am back. But now Maria's gone on a tour.
Sep 5 “ Heard that Maria's back.
Sep 6 “ Where's Maria? Is she avoiding me?
Sep 7 “ Is she actually avoiding me?
Sep 8 “ She is ACTUALLY avoiding me.
Sep 9 “ Got to forget her. Can't let down my self-esteem.
Sep 10 “ Self-esteem is intact.
Sep 11 “ MARIA IS BACK. The earlier info I got was wrong.
Sep 15 “ Finally met Maria. She's looking prettier. She says that she has picked up some great sleeveless cotton blouses.
Sep 16 “ The sleeveless tops look amazing on her. Bare arms in Kerala are uncommon, with or without the fuzz.
Sep 17 “ We have been meeting on three consecutive days.
Sep 18 “ Are we falling in love? I am!
Sep 19 “ It's past midnight. I can't sleep. I think I am madly in love.
Sep 23 “ We met. We chatted. We watched the sunset.
Sep 25 “ Maria loves watching the sun set.
No further entries, mercifully, on sunsets, Hari thought.
Nov 11 “ Today, under the cover of darkness, I reached out for her hand and confessed my feelings. She didn't say anything. She didn't pull her hand back either.
Nov 19 “ I think Hari is reading my diary. No more entries!
Hari patiently flipped through. He struck gold on Dec 22th.
Dec 22 “ Maria's going abroad to study. She says that she'll miss me terribly. She said something about passing clouds too. Didn't quite comprehend that.
Dec 25 “ Have to move on. Can't let down my self-esteem.
There was a knock on the door. Hari put the diary back and opened the door.
Vikram enquired, "Why is the door locked? Jerking off on Nancy Friday?"
"Of course not!" Hari protested, "Hey, let's get drunk tonight. The booze is on me."
Vikram's eyes briefly glazed over. Hari was a good friend, but he had to stop reading other people's diaries.
|The â€˜Journal' |
The Chief Editor of the â€˜Journal' took himself and the journal very seriously. He suffered from chronic peptic ulcers and his shoulders stooped. After all, he carried on his shoulders the responsibility to give weighty advice to the heads of states, censure religious Leaders, recommend new policies for sports and advocate Tax reforms to the Government.
He thought the â€˜Journal' was a great newspaper.
Others thought it was unreadable.
The paper was losing its readers to the rival newspaper, which gave the same news in a more flamboyant way.
The Chairman of the Board had made it clear to all the employees that the circulation had to increase for the â€˜Journal' to survive.
"Make the â€˜Journal' more colorful." He had thundered at the meeting with the Editors.
At this, the Chief Editor's ulcers got better of him and he collapsed. He was hospitalized for a month and they did not allow him to read any newspapers.
When he was released from the hospital and went back to work, he read the headlines in the Journal and almost had a heart-attack.
He sent for his assistant Editor, who had edited the paper in his absence.
The Assistant Editor, a cheerful young man, breezed into his cabin, whistling a tune.
"Hi, Bwana." He said.
The Chief Editor disliked everything about this. He resented â€˜Hi', the absence of â€˜Sir', and especially being called â€˜Bwana', as though he was some African tribal chief.
"What have you done to the â€˜Journal'?" The Chief Editor spluttered. "What are those headlines?"
The Assistant Editor read the headlines aloud.
"Why, Boss, this is simple English. "UFO sighted in Mumbai suburb", "Bollywood star found in a sleazy bar with call-girl", "Mahant dips in the Temple Fund and buys BMW", "Politicians buy inferior weapons for Armed Forces to line their pockets".
"You put this stuff on the front page? Have you no shame?"
"Shame? Why, I was not found in the sleazy bar. I didn't dip in the temple fund. I didn't buy inferior weaponry. Why I should be ashamed?" the Assistant Editor was frankly puzzled.
"My dear man", said the Chief Editor with heavy sarcasm, "you have turned this fine, respected paper into a rag, not fit to wipe your aâ€”e with. You have sent the great journalistic traditions of this paper flying through the window and resorted to yellow journalism."
"Well, we were told to make the paper colorful, right? So, what is your problem, Chief? The circulation is increased, the readers are happy, the Board is happy, the Chairman is happy."
The Chief Editor was livid with rage.
"Out, out! You are sacked" he shouted.
The Assistant Editor silently produced the letter, signed by the Chairman, offering to make him the Chief Editor of the â€˜Journal' for three years.
"I have not accepted it yet, because I want you to retire honorably, Sir."
The Chief Editor realized that the Assistant Editor had called him â€˜Sir' for the first time.
|The Panwallah's Legacy |
CIRCA 2008. Ashok Charan Tiwari jingled the last few coins in his pocket. He cursed and kicked a pebble as he waited for the bus. The bank had rejected his application for a loan and that meant his only means of survival was at stake again.
He opened shop at 8 am and there were his regulars, a pack of wills, banarasi 120, banarasi katha, special mava, sada mava. His body moved mechanically, a couple paid cash and the rest were written down in his little green book as IOU's.
His father, Ram Charan Tiwari had inherited the shop and the clientele in the 70's from his grandfather and later passed it on to him in the 90's. The city had changed colors over the years but his customers were loyal, ranging from businessmen to college kids. As a kid he had been fascinated by the entire process just watching his dad sing and cater to the customers all day. Life had been good to him too until last week when the society management had told him that the old building was to be demolished and rebuilt. This meant paying a huge amount to get his shop up and running again.
He closed shop at 11pm and took the bus back home. He stared blankly at the parcel in his hand, the hotelier next door had packed goodies for his family. Next day he was back to the grind, making pan and mixing mava's.
A month passed by and he had to pack the stuff from his shop and get ready for demolition. Some of the junk owned by his grandpa had been untouched for years and he fingered them fondly before he threw them in a box. He would sort these out when he was home, there sure were a lot of books similar to his green one.
Ajay eyed the address on the envelope and wondered what it could be. Strange he thought he never knew a plaintiff by the name of Ashok Charan Tiwari, but the court was demanding a payment of Rs. 32678.33 as the repayment of principal and interest owed. He called his travel agent and booked a flight from Bahrain to Mumbai.
Somewhere in London Pratibha sat sipping high tea and reading the litigation notice sent to her. Apparently the old man had chewed a pan too many and she would have to pay up for it.
Amritha's eyes moistened as she remembered her childhood days, she would often run errands for her uncles fetching them cigarettes and pan. The panwallah had been a kind soul, sometimes laying some sweet gulkand on her palms, on other afternoons he would give her a piece of mint asking her to recite twinkle twinkle for him. Damn! these gas prices had made traveling a pain, she decided to mail a check and an apology.
|The romantic shopper |
He had the furtive look of a shopper not entirely comfortable
about where he was. Well, an exclusive women's lingerie store with an all-female staff can be a bit unnerving for most men.
I was at Victoria's Secret in 34E and 57 St in New York, blowing up the last of my holiday money at a great 25% off sale. That's where I spotted the nervous shopper.
Within seconds of the man hesitantly pushing open the big glass door, I guessed what must have driven him here. It was February 13th! One day before Valentine's Day! Definitely a high-stress day for thousands of males trying to do the right thing with their lady loves.
Was it a gentle hint from the woman in his life that had landed him here at a lingerie store? Or a bold burst of imagination to do something other than order the usual dozen red roses?
"Er!er", he began as the sales assistant stepped forward. "I'm looking for something good. With er, lots of lace!" he gulped nervously. He looked about 50, balding, a tummy held back with a firm belt. Hmmm! the spirit of romance was alive here! Or was it the extensive media hype for what must be the one great festival celebrated all over the world?
The shop assistant, quite used to blubbering male shoppers, asked very matter-of-factly: "Would you have an idea of the cup size?"
"Er size?? No it really doesn't m-m-matter. Just something with lots of l-l-lace," he stammered. The lady looked surprised to say the least. "We can't do exchanges on Sale items, Sir. Would you like to check, and come back later?" she suggested.
"Oh no!" he exclaimed. "Tell you whatâ€”just give me a couple of your widest sizes!in red perhaps? But lace please, lots of lace".
And then he was gone, his purchase tucked neatly away in his lap top bag.
And I may have forgotten all about this incident in my melee of holiday experiences!except that I saw the romantic shopper again.
He was right outside the glitzy shoe store next door. Looking very intensely at a pair of red high-heeled shoes this time! There was an expression on his face that almost said, how I long to have those shoes for myself. What a queer fellow, I thought, walking past him.
Oh my GOD!
And that's when the penny dropped!
|A DYSPHORIC DOG'S JOURNAL |
They brought me home 7 years back when I was only a few days old. I could barely see the world outside from where I lay and was suffocated inside something that I later figured was a Shopper's Stop plastic bag! Taking advantage of my small size my breeders had stuffed me into it and delivered me as a parcel to my new owners. That laid the foundation of my hatred towards everything that's made of plastic. Not to forget sofas, shoes,beanbags, mobile phones, socks-you name it and I hate it! And have chewed them as my innocent revenge!
Just when I was recovering from the plastic bag trauma, they baptised me BONZY. Now what's Bonzy? Not only does it sound like lazy, snoozy and woozy it's a whimper when compared to the roar of a Tiger, Rocky and Daniel! I would have contented with even a Bruno if I had any choice in the matter!
Then one afternoon, I heard my new owners talk about someone called a VET! Now I am a Pet but what animal is a VET? I wondered while pretending to take a snooze. I didn't have to wait too long and soon found myself on a table with a muzzle around my nose and a leash around my neck and a prickly thing being shoved into my rear.
The prick-prick-howl-howl sessions continued and even today we trek down occasionally to get my nails clipped or ear wax removed. But that was the day I began to abhor- Muzzle, Leash, Vet and that wretched pointy thing they call Injection!
Next in my long list of Things-I-Hate is a BATH. This fortnightly scrub-scrub-rub-rub leaves me wet and wailing. Here's my plea I am NOT a cleanliness freak and that I like my wax, ticks and an occasional roll in the mud. But IS ANYONE LISTENING?
And what's with those training sessions? Bonzy Stay. Bonzy Heel, Bonzy Watch, Bonzy Fetch, Bonzy Sit, Bonzy shake hands! And all this for a meagre biscuit or paltry toast crumbs? Give me a break! Wonder why doesn't anyone ever say Bonzy sleep or Bonzy Play??!
My life has only been a series of such misadventures but that's soon going to change! I have a plan. After that puggy-baby has made it big on television, by fetching socks, ties and fishnets and by following that kid everywhere I hear there are big opportunities for dogs in Bollywood and Hollywood and if dogs have their way then even Doggywood!.
So Cherry (my mate next door who is also bereaved of living a dog's life) and I have decided to elope! As for my screen name, it is going to be the- BIG B!! And mind you, B is Brruno with a double "R" (numerology- you guessed it right!). So everyone out there- BEWARE OF BRRUNO! Did someone say -Life as delicious as a Big FAT Bone!? Slurrrrpp..You bet!
|Indiscriminate Shopping |
"The picture looms before my eyes.
Its uncanny, the likeness to me.
Say its true, my darling,
This child belongs to me."
The piece of paper lies on my lap. Its yellow like his teeth were. Its part of a book he writes on. The sickness has made him crazy for he is writing poetry now.
The words swim before my eyes.
How did he get to see her? I had sent her so far away.
And he calls me his darling. This man, with his wild eyes and long yellow hair and yellow teeth and pink skin and fat belly, who took me on that train and then later made me his wife, calls me his darling. I wonder when his outlook changed towards me. That night I was just a slut, a brown slut, free for the picking. I had snivelled and sobbed in a corner and he had picked me up, put me in his car, brought me home and wed me. Given me a Christian name too, Mary.
And then he had gone overseas. I had my baby quietly, and sent her off with my uncle. Far away to our home in Midnapur. So far away from Delhi it was.
"She is so beautiful, my heir
I want her back, my daughter fair
Give her to me, I beg
I am on life's last leg."
Sick. He made me sick with his fawning. I had not made her mine. I had given her up. The milk had dried in my breast, forming a hard painful lump.
She would never be his.
His pale blue eyes were pleading as he lay on the bed. I was sitting on the ground as I always did. I had to pretend to be the dutiful wife. I would have to do the last rites as well. He had no one else with him.
His hand reaches out, he wants his journal back.
I prop him up. Hand him the book.
I have written something in there for him.
I turn to open the windows. There is a loud thud.
Maybe he has dropped the book. Maybe he is dead.
I will check after a while.
I open the windows and let the air in. My hair flies open, black and gray wings flap around my face.
The pages of the journal flap around too now, like little yellow birds.
My paper lies on the bed; the lines are an angry red.
"She was never yours,
this gardener's child.
A mixed breed, he,
the rules defied.
The likeness you see
Is pure deceit
Requires no receipt."
A deathly pallor fills the room.
I had dealt with him. Now I would deal with my uncle.
|QUESTIONS NOT WORTH ASKING |
"Don't give in, keep fighting" is what his father would have said. That's what he always said.
As he walked towards the counselor's office, he felt proud of himself. Thinking about suicide was one thing, but actually going through with that? He would rather seek help. Wasn't that the right thing to do?
He thought back on his first scribble in his notebook, earlier this morning!
"All my life, I have believed that suicide is something that losers resort to. How weak one would have to be, to actually kill oneself!to shorten life that could ultimately become a happy one? Because, I also believe that it balances out eventually, the good and bad."
Ok, so he was depressed!but weren't there millions who were too? At least that's what his colleague Sheetal said every time she sensed he was low.
He admitted to himself rather reluctantly, that is was getting more serious by the day, the dark thoughts, the dilemmas!contemplating suicide himself, never mind his thoughts on the subject!he had almost attempted!twice!but then, here he was, walking for that appointment he'd fixed two days ago.
He hurriedly removed images of those attempts from his mind, and concentrated on what he's written in the little black notebook he'd bought yesterday. Reiterating his opinion in his diary was quite a moral booster.
The meeting with the counselor was decent enough. He wasn't feeling particularly bright but then, he didn't expect it to work like magic within an hour, did he? She asked him all about his family, well, family that once was and life and love.
With every answer, he searched her face anxiously for emotion!what would he find? Pity, indifference, mockery, sympathy!how was she taking it? What did she perceive of him? Truth be told, he was somewhat relieved when it was over.
As he was about to leave, she asked softly "A, do you have friends?"
"!Of course, everyone does" he said with a smile.
"No, not just people you hang out with. I mean real "friends".
"I don't understand", he said, somewhat irritated.
"Think about the number of friends in your life, wherein you can drop in to see them unannounced, at any time of night or day. No questions, no conditions. "That" kind of friendship! OK? And let me know when you come back next week." She explained gently.
That night, he walked alone, oblivious to the pouring rain. He quietly took out the notebook that had lifted his spirits only this morning. He stared at the blank pages of the diary he'd started hoping it symbolized new beginnings as well.
Just as the rain was beginning to soak his bones and he began to shiver, he finally scribbled in it again.
"How many people, really?"
That, was the night his words got washed in the rain.
That, was the night, he stopped fighting.
|Mosquito Beware |
They call me bloodthirsty. I ask you, can I help it if I am? I am a mosquito; what do you expect? I can't stay alive on fruits and vegetables, like some creatures. I have to target juicy, live animals, for nourishment.
The other night, I came across a likely looking meal, snoring away. Unfortunately, there was a mosquito net between us. I peeped through one of the holes for a closer look and discovered either that the hole was larger than I thought, or I was an extremely small mosquito. I felt that, with a little bit of pushing and wriggling, I should be able to squeeze my way in and have a feast. I was right. Seconds later, the peaceful snoring gave way to a muttered curse against all mosquitoes, some brisk scratching where I had left my mark, and then silence. So, again I zoomed in, launched another attack, and was treated to a bellow of rage, much foul language which I shan't repeat here, and loud smacks as the gentleman inside the net slapped himself, hoping to squash me.
"Shut up stupid, I'm trying to sleep", said his wife from the bed alongside his.
"My name is not â€˜Stupid', roared the man who seemed as ready to slap his wife as he was me.
"Alright, shut up stupid mister Rama-kumara-mangalam, and let me sleep. Is that better?" enquired the wife of the man with the name that seemed to go on and on and on.
"Yes, I think so", he replied, sounding a little confused, and also rather sleepy. Soon he was snoring again, giving me the opportunity to get on with my dinner.
Again he woke up furious, and started smiting his body loudly, as a wrestler does, to impress the audience and intimidate his opponent.
"Not again . . ." exclaimed the exasperated wife. "Why don't you light your torch and finish him off? He can't escape from inside the net."
"That's what you think", I said to myself, as I attempted to get out the same way as I had got in. But I had had too much dinner and my tummy was so big, I couldn't fit through any of the holes in the mosquito net. Also, I was so heavy, I found it difficult to fly. Luckily, mister what's-his-name had to get out of bed to find his torch, so I piggy backed on him and got out that way.
After my escape, I recalled a note I'd made in my journal, about my mother warning me as a child, never to be greedy. Cheekily, I'd asked why.
"Because you could get into a bloody awful mess", was the tart reply.
Now I realise she wasn't using strong language. She was only being matter of fact about what happens to greedy mosquitoes when they end up getting squashed.
|Patanbori is a town which is around 150 km from Nagpur and a long way away from Bombay. This not being a lesson in geography is in fact a story of pigs, two of them, living here. It was a moderately hot but extremely humid day. As I sat sweating profligately in a tea shop, my eyes wandered to a garbage dump right in the middle of the street and where the protagonists were. |
The two pigs could easily be described in one word. Disgusting. I always have an irresistible desire to kick these pigs into the nearest gutter. I restrain on the account that the kicking would involve touching them. These two pigs, Fanny and Molly, were having a feast on the garbage dump. Reliable sources informed me that this garbage dump was the equivalent of a five star hotel in the pig community. The chances of tapeworm, remarkably low. The food was evidently excellent, as both made noises which attested to it. The fact that it killed my appetite and my desire to live is secondary.
Halfway through the meal, Molly decided that she had to go and in this garbage dump, the rule was that if you left your meal half finished you were banished forever. Now, Molly certainly didn't want that but the call of nature was too strident. Thankfully for her, the rules of hygiene and health amongst the pigs are very liberal. So she decided to answer her call and she took her time.
Meanwhile, Fanny the curious one discovered this pile that Molly was so charitably donating. Whether Fanny found this to be better tasting or more nutritious than the fare being served at the dump, is something that experts will debate about for years. In any case anything fresh out of the oven is always preferable to something served cold. Revenge being the only exception. Fanny went for it, hammer and tongs. It was gross but riveting. I just couldn't take my eyes off this beautiful pastoral scene.
Molly finished and Fanny found much to her disgust that all the good stuff was gone. She searched a little but all she found was garbage. Despite having the IQ of a pig, Fanny realized that Molly was in some way responsible for the disappearance of her Ambrosia. Fanny was furious. She vented her frustration by biting Molly in nearest available location, her rear end. Molly gave a shriek, a sound which filled me with immense joy and delight. Fanny bit her again, this time on Molly's thigh. Molly decided that screaming again might give her some short term relief from the pain, but running away would solve the problem in the longer term. She did both with great aplomb.
Though the finale amused me to no end, I felt a little sad. Not because Fanny had bit the hand which had fed her, but because Molly had left her meal unfinished, this meant that she could never enter the garbage dump again.
|WHO BETRAYED? |
The train was going at full steam. I had boarded it at 9 PM at Lucknow. Suddenly, at 11.10 PM, the man in the upper seat fell down. He was dead. He might have been dead for sometime. I saw a red diary in the dead man's hand. It had some entries made. I began to read it.
It was on May 11, 2005 that I had received a call from Sameer.
He had asked me, "Are you ready to fulfill your promise?"
"I will." I had casually said.
"Sangeeta has completed her post graduation in management. Let us formalize her relationship with Sangram." Sameer threw a bombshell.
"What? What are you saying?" I was flabbergasted.
"Come on, don't back out on your promise" Sameer had rebuked me.
"Sameer, I do not remember any such promise I had made to you ever." I was clarifying.
"Take out your diary of 1977. Read the entry on 04 November 1977? Have you forgotten that one rupee note I had given you", Sameer had thundered.
"Sameer, I have not read what you had written. Wasn't that one Rupee a joke?" I calmly replied.
"You are a liar. My wife had rightly told me that you had already fixed up your son's marriage with some IAS officer's daughter, Anita." Sameer had accused me.
"I have not fixed Sangram's marriage as yet. But I know he has a friend called, Anita." I clarified.
"So, that is it." Sameer had banged the phone so saying.
I searched for my diary of vintage 1977. I located it after a great effort. Saw the entry on 04 November 1977. It was the day I had received the telegram from home informing me on the birth of Sangram.
It read, "I, Major Rajwinder Singh and my friend, Major Sameer Singh, hereby solemnly affirm on oath that on completion of their education, Sangram and Sangeeta would be tied into a nuptial knot. We would firmly stand by it."
To say the least, although I had signed, yet I had not read it. Sameer had covered it with his hand, when I had signed. Thereafter, I had forgotten about it.
Same day, on May 2005, I spoke to Sangram. He told me, "I know Sangeeta as a friend but I can not marry her."
I pleaded with him, "I had made a written promise to her father".
"Kindly, do not emotionally blackmail me? I love Anita", he gave a shut up call.
And three years later, today on August 31, 2008, I hear of this suicide by Sangeeta. She had refused to marry anyone after Sangram had been married to Anita. Finally, she had taken her life. She had left a note behind, "I have been betrayed by -----"
Who betrayed her? Had Sangram rejected her? How would I face Sameer when I meet him now--------------?
The note in the diary had abruptly ended. I now waited for the police to come.
WORDS COUNT: 497
|It was the 14th of February. It was one of the rare days when Death could wake up late. After all, she got only two days off in the whole year. Today and the 24th of August. She could thank two of her predecessors for the leeway. The first one was in 1572 when overwork drove the then Death, Odin, to go on a wild rampage in France resulting in the death of thousands of people. Odin was relieved of his duty, condemned to an asylum. They said that handling both the Norse gods and the portfolio of Death had pushed Odin over the edge. The Pantheon decided to make Death an exclusive and full time job. Ankou took over his role and continued successfully till 1928 when the Pantheon refused to let him go on a date on Valentine's Day. His lady love Valkyrie miffed by this took a vow of eternal celibacy. Ankou seemed to take this in his stride but the next year he lost it and ended up landing in Chicago killing six gangsters, which the Pantheon didn't mind, but also a mechanic, which the Gods certainly did. Ankou was asked to go but the Pantheon also decided to give 14th of February off. |
This year Death was spending the day alone. She pulled back the curtains to see a heavy and grey sky. An ideal day for her to be working, but since she wasn't she tried reading a book. She couldn't keep her mind on it and shut it with a bang. She admitted feeling a little lonely. She wished her friends would land up but all had work to do. Feeling hungry, she decided to make some lunch. Her larder had nothing but mouldy bread. She decided to eat it anyway and went to the refrigerator to take out some Peanut Butter. Much to her joy she found a tub of chocolate icecream there. She felt a little cheery, dumped the bread in a trash can and took the icecream to bed.
She switched on the television to while away time. She kept flicking channels till she finally stumbled on the movie, Life is Beautiful. The movie was about an Italian Jew Guido who with his son Joshua is interred in concentration camp. In order to maintain his sanity and to keep his son's spirits up, Guido pretends that the entire camp is just a game to win a battle tank. The camp is finally liberated by American troops and Joshua is reunited with his mother. Guido, however, doesn't make it, as just before the camp is liberated he is taken away and shot by a guard. Even here he manages to make his son laugh one last time before he dies.
Death loved the poignancy of the tale. She wiped a silent tear when the movie ended.
Death had to admit, she was a sucker for happy endings.
|The Heisenberg-Wells dilemma |
Dr Chawla's diarly entry for 21 April 2115:
Doctors Narlikar, Fukuoka and Gribbin are working on my dilemma. I came out of the transporter at 9.30 am and there was no one in Laboratory 2. I noticed the new picture on the wall. "What happened to the old one of the solar system?" I had wondered. I slid my fingers over my skin suit, checking for eyes, nose, hands and legs. Yes, everything was intact. But something was wrong. It had been a mistake to volunteer for the Transporter experiment. An hour later, through the sliding doors came three familiar scientists looking tense. I had not moved from my mark inside the Transporter, lest I lose a few vital molecules. "Congratulations, dear friend, you have succeeded." They spoke slowly as if speaking to a child. "Then why so glum," I asked. Dr Fukuoka, who liked to sport his mad-scientist garb of long grey hair and goatee, said: "Good, you can understand. Yes, you got transported from Laboratory A in block 1 to Laboratory B in block 2. It was brave of you to try and compensate for the time factor discrepancy." Dr Gribbin interrupted: "No Tomiko, they over compensated. Dr Chawla, you were brought forward by 24 hours." I jumped in: "The future? So, we not only have a Transporter, we also have a Time Machine." Dr Gribbin said: "Not quite." I said: "You don't mean to tell me there was a fly in there too with me." Our Indian colleague Dr Narlikar cut in: "You must be prepared for the paradox!" The scientist paused at the sound of a knock on door.
Dr Chawla's diary entry for 21 April 2115:
I walked into Laboratory B anxious. My colleagues were with my quantum clone who had emerged from the Transporter. Dr Narlikar was talking to him rather gently. "Hello," said I to the clone who looked at me in stunned silence. I said: "Dr Narlikar was trying to say that the Transporter made a slight error. It did indeed transport you to Laboratory B in the future, but there was an exaggeration of the information at the quantum level." My clone said: "So we now have a Transporter, a time machine, and a cloning device. You can send me back right?" Dr Gribbin said: "Till you appeared this morning, the Transporter experiment had been a failure. Dr Chawla, you have arrived in a dimension where the Transporter never worked. Yesterday, we had dissuaded our Dr Chawla from getting into the machine," he said pointing to me. The clone said: "So, what dimension is this, where am I?" I said: "Our calculations indicate that you came from the other side of the universe from a single star system."
Dr Chawla's diary entry for 21 April 2115, 22.35:
!. my eyes moved to the strange picture on the wall of Laboratory 2. It was a picture of a binary star sytem orbited by six planets.
|He was standing outside a shop gazing at the comic books. He knew he could never afford to buy them. |
Suddenly, he heard a car screech to a halt behind him. He turned around. He saw a Jaguar. He was impressed. Obviously the car had stopped, not for the comics but for the swanky restaurant next door. No one came in a Jag to buy comic books. He turned back. He heard a tinkling voice telling the driver that she would be back in a couple of hours. The reflection on the glass made him turn around.
She was not too tall. Short even. She wore a beautiful pink top, which, like Goldilocks' bed, was neither too long nor too short. Accompanying the top, was a pair of blue jeans. She was a stunner. He had expected her to walk to the restaurant but she came towards the comic book shop. His eyes followed her. Just as she was about to enter the store, she seemed to notice him. She passed her hand through the hair. There was a tattoo of a scythe on her upper arm, part hidden by her shirt. She smiled shyly and walked in.
He was left with his mouth open. He gulped. Felt an attack coming, looked around for his pump. He discovered he didn't have the pump on him. He became frantic, the attack intensified. He felt as if
someone was sitting on his chest. He looked around, the street was empty. His heart beat increased to keep the supply of oxygen to the brain. The oxygen ran out, his knees buckled and eyes darkened.
Madness said, "Death. You are just too cruel."
Death looked up from her journal of the Dead, laughed and said in her tinkling voice. "I know. I took his breath away and he died."
|The Journal of India |
I am peaceful , minding my business, toiling to make ends meet. Tolerant and dormant watching the world go by, I am India. This is my journal.
My children, dark and vibrant lived on the plains and worshiped my rivers and my hills. Songs they sang and like children were happy and playful.
The pages turn and the fire worshiping herdsmen came and drove my dark children from the fertile plain. The nomads settled and became me. Long eons passed and they wrote sublime songs alive today.
Slowly the page turns and the bearded ones from the desert came with sword and fire, they ranted and raved and then settled beside the nomads. Long they sat beside each other becoming more and more alike.
The pages turn more quickly and surel, the traders came, beefy and blue eyed, greedy and arrogant. Proud of their Son, Father and Holy ghost, they trampled on my beliefs as I watched tolerant of the child.
The pages flicker faster and faster, streams of thoughts, ages old, come in new guises. A frail man enters and the beefeaters live. They did not mingle or stay like the others. But they left me in a muddle in hands of thieves.
My children now fight, as I gasp for breath beneath their combined weight. My mountains melt and my rivers run amok.
The pages flicker and the journal is nearing its end.
|A JOURNEY |
I screamed for the ice-candy and my mother dragged me inside the train just like any other luggage. But then suddenly my cries were silenced as they entered. They were all dressed in Sarees, gaudy make-up, bangles, and big bindis on their foreheads. I was hiding behind my mother still managing to have their glimpse. Seeing them I was having goose flesh. That was my first encounter with them â€“ an unforgettable one.
It was my fifth year in school- the teacher's day program. I was chosen to be Cinderella, dressed in a beautiful frock. I felt so beautiful. It was night and I did not take off that frock, my mother started shouting and then seeing my obstinacy laughed and said, "Do you wish to be a girl?" She laughed but that question kept haunting me everyday and every night, DO I WISH TO BE A GIRL? For her it was part of a child's play, for me it was my true self.
It was one night when my mom and dad were out to attend a function. I went to bed after my dinner but I was restless. Suddenly I got up and went straight to mom's room, opened her wardrobe and took out her beautiful red saree then wrapped it around just the way she does. And there I stood staring at myself in the mirror; my soul has been craving for this and then several thoughts rising in my mind like a tide when I was interrupted with the slamming of the door. There stood my mother as if seen her worst nightmare turn to reality. She caught me by my hair and dragged straight to the garden where she undressed me, tied me to a tree. She then went inside and came out with the jar of sugar and threw it all over and around me. I lied there naked whole night screaming, the sugar drew red ants from all corners of the garden they crawled slowly up my body!the pain was immense I gradually fell unconscious! Early morning the milkmaid saw me and washed my body. I ran away before my parents could actually kill me. I had no idea where to go but still I began my expedition to be my real self.
I asked myself why people like me are not accepted just because we have rejected manhood in this male-dominated society and just because we are willing to face all hardships but cannot be what we are not.
I was sleeping on a bench outside Mumbai Railway Station when they arrived and woke me up. They recognised me even when I was not dressed like them, I looked at their faces and I realised I was one amongst them.
Who I am? Just " a woman trapped in the body of a man."
|Writing A Book. |
It was almost midnight and Manju was sitting at the study table totally engrossed in writing something. It was her diary. A daily journal she had resumed after many years. She went through some of the previous entries.
14 Jan: Today is the day kites are flown. The day known as Makar Sankranti. Ajay Uncle had been invited for dinner today. Ravish said he would be late from office so I had all of one hour with uncle before Ravish returned. I showed him the stories I had written. I had emailed them to Shivani in the USA. She had said that these stories showed immense promise and that I must flesh them out. Uncle was of the same opinion. There were tears in his eyes after he read one of them from beginning to end. "These stories are too good bitiya," he said, "you must promise me that you will go all out to finish an anthology. This is Booker Prize material." When Ravish came home Ajay Uncle mentioned it to him too. "Oh Uncle, I didn't know that there was a genius hidden in the house," said Ravish with a laugh, "I will also encourage her to write. And since we don't have any kids now I am sure she will be able to do justice to the project." I was so happy. Like the kites which flew high in the air I also flew high. I had felt so suffocated after marriage. If money and comforts were the criteria then Ravish was a good husband. Just the type my parents wanted. But not the type I wanted. But I was weak and I had said yes to the marriage.
20 Feb: Ravish showed the first printouts to Jayasree, the editor at the publishing firm. She said that there was a bestseller hidden in these stories. I am so happy. I have to write two more and there will be enough for a book. I have got down to the task with renewed energy.
28 Feb: Jayasree rang up. She said that she liked the stories a lot. And that she and Ravish had spent hours discussing the depth and beauty of these stories. And then she said that I must be proud of being the wife of such a talented husband. A dark fear enveloped me, "What do you mean?" I asked her. "Oh, I was just wondering how Ravish manages to handle such a punishing work schedule and then write these lovely stories. He told me that you help him out with the typing. You must really love him." I didn't cry that night. I was angry from within. But calm. And determined.
01 March: I called the police. I told them that Ravish had accidentally killed himself while cleaning his gun. They believed me. The post mortem also supported my claim. Don't ask me how I did it. Jayasree, the editor, is my best friend now. My book releases tomorrow. So happy.
|Martyr to a Cause |
This is going to be a very unusual journal because I have to condense my whole life in as few words as possible. Paper and pencil are luxuries of civilization which WE do not normally have but I have managed to get a scrap of paper and a stub of a pencil. Sharpening the pencil was no problem. We have plenty of sharp knives in addition to other, more deadly arsenal.
Who are WE? We are a select group of the Elite Corps â€“ "Soldiers of Liberation" on a Mission - a mission that will end in my own death tomorrow.
Why am I writing this? Because I hope that somebody will read it some time, somewhere and will realize that I was a normal, carefree girl once. The Fates conspired against me and the circumstances forced me to become a suicide bomber.
Today is the last day of my life.
Tomorrow, I would be dead, along with a number of innocent people, when I detonate the bomb around my waist.
Isn't it a sin to kill innocent people?
However, we are told that the Cause requires sacrifices. This is the only way our ethnicity will be recognized and respected by the world.
My destiny was decided the day my parents were blown up by a landmine.
I was a bright schoolgirl, hardly fourteen years old.
I cannot describe the anguish and the rage that I felt. I had nowhere to go, nobody to turn to. Our area was ravaged by ethnic conflict for a long time and almost all my relatives had vanished in the â€˜cleansing'.
That was when I was recruited into the Liberation Army.
The intensive training that we, a handful of boys and girls, underwent over the next four years has turned us into what we are today â€“ superb killing machines.
However, even the mind-numbing psychological battering and brain-washing did not kill that tiny spark of conscious within me.
My mind still asks the question "Why"?
I did not want any of this when I was fourteen and had just started reading Mills and Boone.
I had dreams but now they would remain unfulfilled forever.
I had blushed when I had imagined my lover putting his arms around me, whispering sweet nothings as he kissed me. I had been titillated by the idea of suckling my baby at my breast. I wanted to have children.
Why these simple pleasures were denied to me, when other girls get them so easily?
Why I had to be the â€˜Chosen One' for the task of assassinating a political leader?
Tomorrow I will ask these questions to my Creator when I come face to face with him.
However, as the Supreme Commander told us, the Cause is everything.
"Concentrate on the goal. Do not waver. The lives of your comrades depend upon the successful completion of the mission."
I cannot let my comrades down. I have to accomplish the mission.
|The Arriving |
Day 7, 12 month
I celebrate birthday today. Mommy and daddy made 7 candles on my cake. Frends came for the party. Sound box has not been working three days. I miss my kiddie jolly time show.
Day 10, 12 month
The sky turned black today like magic. Mommy was drying clothes when it became all like a sunset. Aunty neybor was shouting for her son. The wind blew loud. Mommy and I went inside and were safe. Daddy came home late. He was broken on road.
Day 20, 12 month
I did not go to school today. There has been no school since day day before yesterday. I did not find my journal since yesterday. Very happy that I found it. I showed it to mommy and she was happy. Mommy cry very much for a week. We have not seen daddy for a week. I am missing daddy a lot.
Day 21, 12 month
I am scared today. There was no good morning, but I saw flash lights in black sky everywhere. Like light coming from the top, but golden in colour with boom sound. Me and mommy not going out of the house. Neybor aunty saying it was not safe. We give aunty yummy green rice and she give us sweet water.
Day 26, 12 month
Mummy and me living alone in house. Night big animals come and break houses. Neybor aunty s house also broke. It was holding her and she was flying with the animal. But mummy closed my eyes. I am very scared. Mummy talking to God many times.
Day 35, 12 month
I see little animals come out of big animals. Little animals come and go. They keep ugly things on the floor that give out light and make holes in the ground. Mommy saying not to look at lights. We are very very hungry. Even no water. Mommy and me sleep holding tight. That make me happy.
Day 40, 12 month
I sleep all the day and tummy pains. We have no food. I see outside window for lactons but I see only little animals. Little animals look ugly. They have only 2 legs. They also have longer hands with 5 fingers. We have only three. When I asked mommy she says that they come from land of gods and demons in the red sky. They have one mouth, nose and holes with skin all around on side of the head. Mommy told me that little animals have evil eyes. They have white eyes with black balls inside. Mommy said that our eyes are fully white. Mommy says white is good but as little animals have black they are bad and are killers.
Day 1, 13 month
Mommy went out today. We have no food. Mommy went out in the morning. It is night now. Mommy not come back yet. Little animal making fire everywhere. There is fire till all I see. Fire close to house. . I am scared.........
|06.30 pm: Kharagpur: Hostel TV Room: Star Plus is blaring out the new Idea 'Education for All' Ad with Abishek Bacchan. |
07.30 pm: Hiten and his friends meet for the forthcoming inter-hostel product design competition. They dabble with 'Idea Ad'.
08.30 pm: Two electronics undergrads team up and a blueprint of the mobile protocol and device specifics are prepared. The rest scout for patents, pros and cons.
00.30 am: The device's been designed with features to transmit black-board writings embedded with voice. Smooth!
24 hours later: Hiten and Co. have won Silver for their entry!
48 hours later: VCs have been contacted and a b-plan has been prepared for the social entrepreneurship contest at Bangalore.
06.30 pm: Ahmedabad: Hostel Common Room: Newspapers of all kinds scattered all over the place. Neha takes up TOI.
07.30 pm: Neha scouts for more information on 'Teach India' campaign. 2 hours
08.30 pm: calls up her batch mates. Meet at the cafeteria. Animated but sensible talk.
00.30 am: Plan drawn to pull a few student societies on campus and enroll them for 'Teach India'.
24 hours later: 200 students sign up thanks to hi-tech online enrollment
48 hours later: Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kozikhode & Co. follow suit.
The same day,
09.00 pm: Neha calls up Hiten:"Hi Hitu, miss you a lot. A lot of things are happening here. You've heard of 'Teach India'..."
10.00 pm: Both Hiten and Neha are blushing and are in awe of each other. Hiten:"You got the man-power, I think a week of tinkering with mobile sets and FPGAs will get us the hardware here. Ring a bell?". A big smile draws up on here face.
12.00 pm: It dosn't require an IIT grad and an IIM grad to figure and chart out a plan from here. But then, what harm if you have both in the team?
1 year later: Epilogue: Literacy levels in a district named Midnapore (West Bengal) increase by 20%. Earl Nightingale has said - "Everything begins with an idea."
|The Treasure |
During the long summer holidays, the favorite pastime of my brother and me was to hunt the â€˜Treasure' which was supposed to be hidden in our sprawling â€˜wada'. Our great-great-grandfather was said to have carried a part of the treasure of Nanasaheb Peshwa, in whose employ he was, when he fled Cawnpore after the 1857 mutiny.
Four generations had tried in vain to find the treasure, so it was now regarded as â€˜cold trail' by adults.
That day, we poked in every nook and cranny of the basement but found nothing. Leaving alone the occupied floors, we climbed up to the attic and ransacked the contents of large chests and wardrobes.
One chest was full of account-books and literary aspirations of my great-aunts either in Marathi or in English.
We tossed away the former and laughed at the latter. Then we came across a slim volume written in the â€˜Modi' script.
Though we recognized the script, we could not read it. The volume was falling to pieces and rats had chewed a corner.
However, it had roused the long dormant suspicion that maybe it was a key to the treasure, though we could not find any map in it.
We hid the volume in our own bedroom and swore each other to secrecy.
For the next month, we suddenly showed an interest in learning â€˜Modi' which puzzled our parents no end but they indulged us by buying a guide to the Modi script.
At the end of the month, both of us could read the volume fluently and discovered that it was a journal kept by one â€˜Gangadhar Vishnu' i.e. our great-great-grandpa, during his flight from Cawnpore to Nepal in 1857.
The entries in the journal were terse though not cryptic.
One entry was about how their party was saved from thugs by a timely tip from an old retainer. One entry was about crossing the Karnali River. Another was about bathing in the hot-water springs of â€˜TaptPani'. (modern Tatopani?)
He had occupied a house near â€˜TaptPani' and given clear directions to it.
The most tantalizing sentence was that whosoever of his descendants visited that remote house and worshipped the idol of Lakshmi in the prayer-room, would become prosperous beyond measure if they carried away the â€˜shaligrams' around the base of the idol, which miraculously would turn into gems of rare beauty.
There was no mention of any â€˜treasure'.
That summer was the only romantic and relaxed period of our lives.
Our achievements in academic careers in later years took both of us to settle in two different continents â€“ he in USA and I in Australia â€“ but it also left us very little time to pursue the journal's directive.
Both of us are prosperous in our own rights now, but whenever we meet, invariably the subject of the journal comes up and we wonder whether we should invest in a trip to Nepal.
I am sure we will do it some day.
|CRIMSON JOURNAL |
IT looks like a kidney bean. My little baby. Suffocated by the very thing that should have given it life. IT rests nameless and unseen in the villous glob of blood, as though having experienced enough of this world IT does not want to be noticed by it. IT appears content, bathed in the warm bath of mother's blood. I am envious of this undeliverable, for so many pass a lifetime without showing their true mettle, while this one took a decision and achieved it â€“ I will never be born to never be forgotten!
My uterus has become a volcano, spurting venom instead of sustenance, a crater of red-hot lava. The colour takes me back to the day of my wedding night; I was wearing a sari, deep red. Suniel bought me here, to our home, for the first time. Before I even soaked in the vinyl furniture and linoleum floor he flung me on this hard bed, furiously, attacking me with unprovoked rage. Shocked I sobbed to keep my eyes from rolling back into the comfortable solace of its dark sockets. Petrified I drew blood to put some feeling into my helpless extremes. Afterwards, I lay like a corpse numbed by the horror of unmitigated violence, while he wept, I love you; and then did it again. Over and over. The laughter of new hope and the tinkling of a grand feast were already memories of some past. The crimson thread that tied us broke within hours. It's promise too late.
My howls never left these walls, but - my family did, don't want to disturb newlywed's; my career did, you are taking too many sick leaves; my friends did, why do you never return our calls; IT did, why did Daddy kick me so hard?
IT knew I had no answer. IT knew I would never wish IT away. However, it happened; this time too my insides slit like they were torn then.
Nevertheless, now is different. The crimson thread is of my own being, broken within six weeks: it's promise â€“ keep IT safe, IT's all I have â€“ too early?
Now is different because I shed no tears, like I did on that night when I learnt that the price for love is eventually loss. This time IT wept beforehand, just at the thought of me.
Now is different because IT knows me better than anyone else, IT has seen me from within while they have only seen me from without. Taking wombly time IT has studied confidentialities that even I am not privy to. So IT does not answer when I plead to IT silently, take me with you!
Instead it places my secret desires in front of me. With an invisible hand IT inks my collective dreams, for I had stopped dreaming in fear of what I might see. Finally, I unearth the answer concealed: hope has no words.
IT is my crimson journal.
|The Credit Entry |
Balwinder's staff knew that that his personal journal contained particulars of his current account transactions. Today, his new accountant Satish was on leave. As usual, during lunch, Balwinder brought home his diary for updating it.
He telephoned his bank manager.
"Sharma, I'm Balwinder Chawla."
"Hello! Mr. Chawla!"
"Yesterday, my accountant Satish intimated that today afternoon, I would be withdrawing fifty thousand."
"Yes, he did."
"An hour ago, I gave Motwani a cheque of twenty thousand. Did he withdraw the money?"
Sharma checked. "Yes."
"Then I shall withdraw only thirty thousand. And!"
Just then, the doorbell rang. Balwinder's wife Anjali, opening the door, shrieked. Two men, guns in hands, entered and immediately gagged her. They motioned to Balwinder to continue with his conversation and also to tell the person on the other side not to contact him again.
"!And! Mr. Chawla?" Sharma was disturbed. He had heard the scream.
"I'm!uh! sending my new driver Babloo to withdraw the money. And!uh!don't phone me now." A profusely sweating Balwinder finished the call.
Sharma was worried. Balwinder had ended his conversation very strangely.
One intruder neared. "Where's the fifty thousand cheque?"
"Somu! What are you doing here?" Balwinder shouted. "And why is Satish with you? What's the meaning of all this?"
Somu was his former accountant. One day, Balwinder having discovered that he was a drug addict, had fired him.
"Satish is my friend. He informed me about the withdrawal intimation." Somu smiled at the other man. "I need the money badly. Haven't had drugs for two days."
At that point, there was a knock on the door. The unsuspecting driver was immediately overpowered, gagged and tied to a pillar. In the meanwhile, Balwinder quickly wrote something in his diary.
"The cheque!" Somu shouted.
"There's not enough balance," Balwinder stated simply.
Satish noticed the diary. He scanned through it's contents.
â€˜28/08/08: Closing Balance: 55,000/-
29/08/08: To Motwani : 20,000/-
29/08/08: By Cash : 20,000/-'
"He's lying. His current balance says fifty five thousand."
"Don't fool us. Give me the cheque!" Somu barked at Balwinder.
"Why are you committing a crime for such a small sum? Police will nab you," Balwinder finished writing, but the cheque was snatched from him and he was gagged. He and Anjali were tied to the bed-post.
The counter-clerk walked in.
"Sir, Gracia Enterprises has a balance of thirty five thousand and there's a self-withdrawal for fifty!"
Sharma telephoned Balwinder. There was no response.
"Issue the bearer a token." Convinced that Balwinder was in trouble, he informed the police.
Making Somu and Satish confess to their plans was easy. Balwinder and the others were freed; their statements recorded.
"I looked properly. He had the balance. It was written in his diary," Satish was repeatedly telling an enraged Somu.
Balwinder hid a smile. Luckily, he had the presence of mind to write a false credit entry of twenty thousand and mislead Satish! The diary had saved him.
|These fiery shutters |
They are my speaking voice
They house a million times other
The fallen nothings
And the little kids who formed words into pastries
They don't cry, and they don't laugh
Like my lost children who departed to tree branches
And shooed the monkeys from their own home
If you want to hunt me down
I am sleeping in the ground, but I am not dead
But if you dig me up, I will die
I doubt that will stop you
My name is acid on your tongue
I feel myself sinking
Falling,falling into my dead children's curse
The dirt made of ashes and strong-willed fairies is stuck in my nails
The nails that clawed your daughters many faces
And the walls built on restless graves
Am I a matyr, a fallen angel, someone's dear
I am so many things in my account
I am ashamed only of the shadows who assign themselves to me
They found me through the fiery shutters
Where I lay now, dead, but never rotting away
|Suzan Ellison could have jolly well been a movie star and not a specialist on ancient Indian scriptures, the inspector thought, glancing at her passport photograph. The Indian archeological society had asked for the services of this indologist from the London Museum when they struck upon a vault of ancient scrolls. From what he gathered from her colleagues, she seemed to be a strange woman lost in a world of her own. It seemed, she almost expected Indians to perform elaborate vedic rituals, roam around on chariots, speak Sanskrit, settle disputes with bows and arrows and be able to grant a boon or at least cast a curse. |
The police inspector picked up her journals and rifled through her copious notes. She appeared to be a methodical person. Occasionally her characteristic slanted long hand pencil scribbles and doodles would record her stray thoughts and personal remarks. But that was rare. He flipped through the pages with routine boredom and figured that she was working on scriptures that dealt with the sacred ritual of calling upon the Gods for Immaculate Conception. It looked like that a few days back, Suzan discovered the long lost mantra in the freshly excavated scriptures. Her obvious excitement had made her scribbles almost illegible. She abruptly became secretive. Her margin notes suddenly changed from fully cursive hand to secret codes and signs so complicated the inspector did not even try to decipher.
He continued to flip through the pages till he reached the last entry in the journal. It was written at around 10:00 P.M. the previous night. She seemed torn between her rational mind and the fascinating promise of the mantra. She finally appeared to have succumbed to the temptation and decided testing the mantra the following dawn.
Suddenly the thought of a remote possibility made the inspector shudder. He summoned all his courage and adjusted his cap. Taking care not to look at the scorched tent he started writing his report. In the column for probable cause of death he quickly scribbled "accidental explosion of cooking gas cylinder."
He had never seen anything like it. There was something odd about the fire. The ground was singed to the core within a tiny circle around Suzan's tent. It seemed the demonic intensity of the blaze had obliterated everything including Suzan within seconds, yet leaving the grass around unscathed. The rage and precision of the inferno was almost divine. He breathed a silent prayer.
As he cycled back to the police station lines from the epic Mahabharata haunted him!
"The impatient curiosity of youth made Kunti test the efficacy of the mantra by repeating it and invoking the Sun, whom she saw shining in the heavens. The Sun God approached Kunti with ardent, soul-scorching admiration!.. "
!the mistake had been repeated!.
|THE JOURNAL CASE |
All ninth standard students at the Saint Mary's High School were expected to maintain 3 journals---one each for Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Of the three subjects, the Biology teacher, Mr. Samuel, was known to be a strict disciplinarian. If the journal was incomplete, the child would usually get a severe thrashing from Samuel. Every student knew this; in fact, Samuel was nicknamed â€˜Hitler' by the student faculty.
One day, a student Dinesh had not completed his journal. As usual, Samuel's anger knew no bounds. Samuel was already under stress, because his father had passed away recently, and his son was studying for the board exams. On that day, Samuel outdid himself. He thrashed Dinesh with his hands, with a ruler and with a cane. He pushed him against the wall, and pulled his hair and banged his head. By the end of the beating, Dinesh had become unconscious and had started bleeding profusely. Dinesh was immediately taken to hospital, where a scan showed internal injuries. Dinesh's condition was critical, and the doctors advised immediate surgery. During surgery, Dinesh breathed his last.
Dinesh's parents were shell shocked and grief stricken. They were inconsolable. Samuel was taken into police custody, the case was registered as an accident, and he was released. After a month, Dinesh's father, Sadanand Shetty, decided to file a case against Samuel and the police for not taking proper action.
The media were already into this case, and it had already received a lot of publicity. With the help of a good lawyer, Mr. Shetty filed a case. The case came up for hearing. The prosecution put up plenty of witnesses---students, peons, other teachers, students who were previous victims of Samuel's violence, and the medical reports of Dinesh were introduced as evidence. The court found Samuel guilty, and awarded him life imprisonment. Since the case had started because of an incomplete journal, it became popular as â€˜the journal case'. Overnight, hundreds of such cases were filed across the country by parents against various schools and many violent teachers. Parents and social organizations also launched agitations all over the nation. The law ministry and Parliament had to take note of this agitation and the cases, and soon, a law was framed, making corporal punishments in school illegal, and punishable with a five year jail term for grievous injuries, and life imprisonment for causing death or disability. In this way, the case which started from an incomplete journal and ended with Dinesh's death paved the way for a law which saw to it that in the future, students could not be physically abused by teachers anywhere in the country.
|A Prison Diary |
'On the first night of my sentence in HMP Belmarsh a well-meaning prisoner approached me in "the cage" - the big, communal cell where they put each day's new arrivals from the Old Bailey until the initial formalities such as strip-searching, finger-printing and cell allocation are completed. This was the warning he whispered :
"You're a tall poppy so don't let them put you in a peter on the wing 'cos if you get the least bit lairy with any of the big faces they'll snooker yer 'amsteads or give yer a servin' with claret. So take the cucumbers! For Gawd's sake take the cucumbers!"
'Disadvantaged by my Eton and Oxford education I was unable to translate this advice, which was just as well for I would have been scared stiff if I had understood it.
'What my informant was saying was that as a high profile prisoner (tall poppy), if I was allocated a cell (peter) on one of the prison landings (wings) the hard men (big faces) might knock out my teeth with a billiard ball (hampstead Heath - teeth) or beat me into a bloody pulp (serving the claret) were I to get slightly uppity (lairy) with them.
'The punch line of rhyming slang horticultural advice about cucumbers was a reference to numbers. "Taking the numbers" means applying under rule 43 to be segregated in isolation for your own protection as a vulnerable prisoner.
'Applications for Rule 43 protection are made by jailed police officers, prison officers, and sex offenders. My adviser evidently felt that any passing Cabinet Minister would be wise to take the same precaution.'
I refused the cucumbers.
Am missing my fragrant wife. These prisoners don't half pong. (Oh lord, see how quickly I drop into the vernacular).
Note to self - must compile dictionary of prison slang. I hope no-one beats me to it.
Dropped my soap in the shower today. I don't think anyone noticed. Or maybe no-one fancies me. Oh what have I done to deserve this? Oh that's right, I've lied my arse off all my life.
My son will be visiting me soon. That's nice. Still missing Mary, though now I can't remember why.
Chap in the next cell tells me he's a big fan and has asked if I would like to come round to his place and play with his collection of lard. Am sorely tempted.
I have heard from Mr Big. It is not good news. Apparently he's a Kurd.
Don't know how much more of this I can take. Contemplated suicide for a while there, but decided there's not much money in it. Still, only another 207 weeks to go.
My God! What style, what vocabulary, what wonderful experiences Jeffery Archer has. How can I write a journal like this?
I will have to do something to go to jail. I hope our Mumbai jails are equally bad.
|The Last Entry. |
26th August-11.35 pm.
'Death be not proud'...I come to thee willingly...
Her pen poised on the paper, she hears the omniscient shuffling gait of death as it ascends the stairs to her doorstep. It hovers around, flitting about restlessly, its cold and clammy tentacles reaching out to her, grabbing at her. She feels no fear as she closes the journal one final time. There is nothing more to be written, nothing more to be said.
The floor is littered with balls of crumpled paper, each an unsuccessful
attempt to squeeze in months of agonising pain and suffering; in a few short sentences. Her hands trembling ever so slightly, she kneels down onto the floor and picks up the crumpled papers, one by one and stuffs them into the overflowing waste paper basket. Her heart pounds at her chest, willing to be released from a fate that it will inevitably face. Death, though welcome, is not so easy to embrace.
Scent from candles that she had painstakingly saved over the years for that special occasion, prevades the room. The flames twist, turn and torment, their shadows performing a dance of death on the bare walls. She walks around the room, adjusting a curtain here, straightening a magazine there. Death frowns, questioning her motives. Is she losing her nerve, having second thoughts?
Hugging her knees, she sits on the floor, her head resting on the sofa. Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out the letter and reads it for the last time. Unbearable pain engulfs her once again. She lies in a heap on the floor, heaving sobs wreaking her tormented soul.
Now, firm in her resolve, she walks to the bathroom. Plugging the drain, she runs the bath, checking the temperature with the back of her hand. She smiles at the irony of it. As if it mattered now. Removing her clothes, she piles them up neatly into the laundry basket.
She is ready. Immersed in the bath tub full of warm water, she closes her eyes, running her finger on the edge of the sharp razor blade. It is now or never. With a quick flick of the wrist, she slits first one and then the other wrist. Spurts of blood spray the tiles, turning the water crimson.
As life pulsates out of her, she hears the phone ring, hears his voice on the answering machine.
"Nethra, I don't know what to say...it's just that...I have been thinking and I would like to give our marriage a second chance. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?"
Her eyes open wide in surprise. A joyous smile appears on her face for a split second, only to be replaced by horror. Her mouth opens, screaming a silent no...as she tries to stem the life flowing out of her; her eyes pleading, begging as she looks at death.
Death sympathizes. He takes her in his comforting embrace, never to let her go.
|DATELESS DIARY OF A STRAY DOG |
Â· These humans are crazy
Â· These humans are crazy â€“ hey! I said that before, but what the hell, nothing's changed since yesterday
Â· Okay, I'll qualify that statement. I'll give you a small example. The Municipal Corporation, in all its wisdom, has decreed that they'll fine dog-owners (I hate that term) Rs 500/- every time their poor wee doggy takes a dump in the open. Hahahaha! Where does that leave me & my ilk? Who'll they fine? The whole world is our toilet! I told you â€“ these humans are crazy.
Â· I passed by the Parliament house today. I met an old friend. He tells me that humans are elected by their fellow humans at great expense for the privilege of getting into that place. And what do they do in there? Fight like us! Go figure!
But my pal gave me some useful info too. These are the dicks who're dithering about the stray dog issue. They can't decide if they want to kill us or castrate us. So it's fine by me if they keep fighting.
Â· I got a bit of my own back against the humans today. You know that hot Doberman bitch in the Yellow Bungalow on Cumballa hill? I've had the hots for her from a long time. Today it all fell in place. She was alone at home. She was in heat and I happened to pass by. Boy o boy, she was a pawful!
But the real fun will begin later. You see, she's a thoroughbred and her owners have spent more than 20K to have her mated with an equally pedigreed Doberman pinscher stud â€“ a service I had rendered free!
I swear, I'll give up peeing on electric poles just to see the expression on their faces when the pups I fathered will pop out ! hee hee, I can be a real dog sometimes.
Â· Lousy day. It's been raining men & women. (Who coined that bullshit about cats & dogs?) I had to abandon that cosy basement in the abandoned house â€“ it's full of water. It'll be days till I get something as comfortable. Wonder where's Maneka now? We're alive alright, but what about Food? Shelter? Bah, Humbugs!
Â· Today was much better. No I still haven't eaten - its three days now, but I got back at that kid. He's the leader of a gang of snot-nosed bastards. Who says that only dogs hunt in packs? This gang has made my life miserable for long. Today I got him alone.
As a bonus, he was riding a bicycle. I chased him into a blind alley. The little prick panicked and tried to jump over me with his piddly bike. No prizes for guessing â€“ he came a cropper.
As I bit into the cycle tyre, the thought flashed through my mind,
"Ahh! the simple pleasures that make life worth living"
|The Case |
"Yours-- a love marriage?"
Sukanya had come well prepared but the question unsettled her.
"How is that related to the case?" she asked.
"Find a new lawyer," came the reply.
Sukanya was reminded of her position. She had already heard, "The man is obnoxious. Though a bachelor, he has girlfriends all over the country, including the wives of some rich and famous. But he is a damn smart lawyer. Only two souls can bring Raja out of the foxhole without a single scratch. One is Balaji Bhagwan; the other -- Barrister Balaji."
Sukanya had traveled from Hyderabad to Delhi to meet him.
"My father selected him but I had seen Raja couple of times before marriage," she replied.
"He kept you happy?"
"If not, why am I here?" she retorted.
" OK, tell me about the case."
"Didn't you read my file? "
" I did but I want to hear it from you."
"Well," Sukanya started in a shaky voice, "I guess, recently he was under pressure regarding some financial deals."
"He stole money. But how much?"
"See, few crores for an IAS officer is norm in India."
" Papers say, he has swindled few hundred crore, Mrs. Setty."
"That's plain lie."
"Then, tell me the truth."
"Well, Mr. Balaji, I don't say Raja is absolutely innocent. He has his drawbacks. But he is a dreamer. Conviction will shatter his dream."
"Yes. He was accumulating money to float a political party. After NTR, Andhra never had a good CM. The state needs his planning efficiency."
"Hmmmm!."â€”a prolonged sigh escaped Balaji's lips.
"I get, he is good in husbandly duty. Must have given you enough pleasure to extract such loyalty."
"Pardon! My husband is accused of financial fraud. But does it give you the right to insult me?" The obscene remark made Sukanya forget her position.
"I just said it jokingly."
"Sorry, Mr. Barrister, I really don't enjoy black humor."
"But you used to."
Slowly, like a slow-moving figure from a silent movie, the lawyer got up and brought out a diary from a bookshelf.
" Read this." His finger pointed to a dog-eared page.
Yellowed with age though, Sukanya recognized her writing immediately.
" The day of decision has come. Have to choose between Balu and Raja. My sixth-sense says, Balu loves me but what can I do? However bright he may be, he is just a lawyer. He can't give me the comfort I am grown up with. Surely I will miss his humor but I can always have him as a friend."
" Who the hell are you? How the hell is this in your possession?" Sukanya was trembling in rage.
" The day, you had promised me eternal friendship, I had lifted it from your study."
Balaji had removed his sunglasses. From the frame of a sturdy middle-aged face, Sukanya recognized the eyes of a candidate she had dated a couple of times before marriage.
|THE MOLE IN THE MIRROR |
Driving recklessly when he reached home, he was totally relaxed. This fast music really worked wonders. Dropping the family at the airport and waving them off he heaved a sigh of freedom. He adored his wife and only kid, but the feeling of being alone was.. awesome.
Tapping everything, which came his way he was enjoying the peace. He was smelling, gulping and inhaling!freedom. Roaming around in his briefs he was a free bird. The ding-dong sound of the bell he didn't like a bit, wrapping a towel around he reluctantly opened the door. Their maid was standing.
â€˜Madam told me to cook for you in the evenings,' taking her shawl off she went to kitchen.
Not bad!! Not bad at all!!! After few drinks, his gaze was following her every moment. The cleavage, her swaying hips and ebony color, she was a treat to his eyes. Why did he miss her all these days? With clinking sound of cubes in the glass, his imaginations started become wild and colorful.
â€˜Don't sweat, we will order something from outside,' encircling her waist with his arms he whispered in her ears. Taken aback she turned but it was too late. The beast was at loose now. The kill was over and he was sane again.
His only child, he adored her. That day he came home early, and went to her room to play with her. She was there holding a small one-year baby in her arms, and eating a biscuit, one bite she and one bite baby. Amongst the Paper boats and planes they were sitting and some torn pages of a journal were floating in the room. He was mad, snatched the dirty baby out of her hands, he slapped the little one shouting..
â€˜Are you mad, these dirty people can kill you with their infections. Maya ! Maya!! Can't you see Angel playing with this dirt?' Wife came and took the frightened girl to her room. The little one was crying when she entered and picked her up calmly, threw a sarcastic glance to her master and showed the right cheek to him, where amidst the mark of fingers, a small black mole was sobbing.
â€˜Now you know and now it won't let you sleep' laughing bitterly she held her in her arms and left.
Stunned he looked in the mirror, black mole on right cheek was laughing and pages of a journal were fluttering in the room in running AC.
|The Gift of a Father |
I finished the last entry and stretched. I was tired and glad to be done with this diary of mine. It was ready now â€“ my gift for Mini's sixteenth birthday. The gift of a father, albeit only in writing. I flipped through what I had written
May 15 He was what dreams are made of and he cares for me. What more can a girl want? I don't care that he is rich, smart or heir to a business empire.
July 20 we seem to live and move in our own world. The outside world seems so unreal.
Sept.1 A visit to the doctor has confirmed my suspicions. I want to keep the secret to myself a little longer.
Sept.20 Reality in the form of his grandfather's illness has intruded on our dreams.
Oct 3 I have decided to break away from him. I am not the right person to be his wife. I will not fit in that world and he should marry his grandfather's choice and take care of the family firm. My baby will be my secret always.
Now all that remained was to make sure Mini found it lying somewhere. She was a romantic and would delight in such a story. I loved her dearly and been hard put to answer her questions about her absent father. And she was naive and trusting enough not to notice that the entries were in fresh ink . Getting a diary seventeen years old had not been an easy task but I had access to the props in the studio and had called in some favours.
Well what would you have me do? The world may say I am not a good woman but I am a good mother. And my Mini needs a memory to be proud of. So I cannot share my sordid story with her. Of how I had trusted and loved and had been betrayed. Of how my bitterness had taken me down the dark and dingy by-lanes of the movie world. Of how I had traded my self-respect for the break of a life-time. And of having no clue as to the father when I found myself pregnant. It did not matter that I put that kind of life behind me and worked hard to achieve success. Or that I had never given my daughter a reason to feel ashamed of her mother.
And so my made-up story romantic and so far from the truth. All that remains is to make sure she sees my diary. I watched Mini walk in. Faded T-shirt and patched up jeans! Who would think that she was the daughter of a famous star!! I called out, "Mini sweetheart, will you fetch my glasses and my personal telephone book from my bedroom. It should be lying somewhere there." And I continued under my breath, "Happy Birthday sweetheart!"
|You only live twice |
I was late for office again through no fault of mine. How am I to tell my boss that the city's transport is unreliable? He does not want to listen because he does not have to commute.
As it is, he has a knife in me ever since I fled his inner office when he tried to fondle me and refused to work there any longer. How long the presence of colleagues in the outer office can save me? Is my job safe? I cannot afford to lose this job. Meager though the salary is, it is my lifeline.
Rajiv was supposed to come from his native place today but he did not come. He only phoned to tell me that he has extended his leave and will be coming fifteen days later.
I am dying with worry here. Will his parents approve me as a â€˜bahu', especially since we belong to different castes and different communities?
The poem that I had sent for editorial review was rejected. Oh, well! I suppose one more rejection of my poems should not matter. I DO have confidence in me, don't I?
The landlady has given me a week's notice to vacate the room. She has been asking for higher rent from the last month but how could I afford it? Why can't she understand that inflation eats into my salary too? Where will I go? Finding this room was difficult enough. I am depressed.
I could not go to the office today. I received Rajiv's wedding-card in the post yesterday and I am just not able to take it.
I cried the whole night. How could he do such a thing? My heart is breaking. I am deeply depressed. I cannot sleep.
I will have to take a sleeping pill.
Today also I could not go to office.
My boss sent the notice to terminate my services with peon, because I was absent for two days.
I do not see any way out of the situation. In the evening, my father phoned from my native place. He asked me to send more money every month for my brother's education.
What am I to do?
One of my own poems is haunting me now:
"You only live twice,
Once when you are born,
And once when you die,
The life in between is just drudgery."
I did not go out, I did not eat anything. Depression has me in its stranglehold. I cannot fight it anymore.
Nobody phoned me. Nobody talked with me.
Only my landlady asked, "Are you not going out to search for accommodation?"
It is night and the bottle of sleeping pills beckons.
How wonderful will it be, not to have to worry about anything! No more the soul-killing job, no grief over Rajiv's betrayal, no searching for accommodation, no rejection slips, no demands from parents for money!
Peace, at last!
|Reliable Sources! |
The day Ashish lost his job at the management consultancy he had a party. Booze flowed, music boomed; when the evening ended, his living room was liberally littered with bottles and plastic. "Great party, pity there was no other guest," he told the walls, "that's b***** downsizing for you." His boss's voice buzzed in his head, "These are difficult times ! We're downsizing !we'll have project-based consultants instead !" Unsteadily he punched the table, then wobbled over to his laptop.
"I'm free, I can make the world the way I want it," he thought with a sudden spurt of coherence. He logged on to his blog and started typing furiously, barely able to keep up with his alcohol-fired imagination. "Exciting times ahead for the safety-pin sector: PokUmee and Co is valued at $500 million, and PinWin Ltd, its main rival, at $700 million. Norwegian safety-pin tycoon Pete Priksen is rumoured to buy PokUmee on his next visit and make it the Asian hub of his global empire. PinWin is taking another route â€“ a JV with Japanese giant Nippon Needles." With that last thought, he slumped and began snoring.
The next day, he chuckled as he read it. "That's an idea, a new career in fiction," he thought wryly. He dressed and left the building just as he would for work everyday, clutching his laptop and waving cheerfully to the inquisitive old lady who always peered out of the ground floor apartment.
He headed however to the coffee shop with a wi-fi connection, and concentrated on his web journal, adding some salacious-sounding details to his drunken blog entry. That morning he had woken up feeling utterly bereft. A pounding headache had not helped. But the familiar motions of checking email, surfing the Net and writing â€˜business reports' over endless streams of coffee gave him a sense of comfort. He remained hunched over his laptop all day in a way one snuggles under a warm blanket on a winter morning. This became his new routine.
Two weeks later, he was browsing news sites at the now-familiar coffee shop when he suddenly blinked. He refreshed the page, but the headline still read the same: "Pete Priksen to visit India, buy PokUmee". Reading further, he noted the journalist mentioned it was "probable", not definite.
His eyes widened as, scrolling down, he saw a hyperlink to a report from his former company. The introduction read: "Changes expected in the safety-pin business. PokUmee and Co. is currently valued at $500 million. Reliable sources suggest Mr Priksen is likely to bid for it, and could meet the Indian prime minister to ensure government support for his planned acquisition."
Ashish jumped, and called an old colleague. "Hey boss, I just read this report. Real exciting stuff ! Who the hell wrote it?" he asked.
"Yup, the whole industry is talking about it. We got to know from this new consultant who came in after you ! He did some great research, really has well-connected sources !"
|THE JOURNAL. |
Call it a fixation, obsession, mania, syndrome or phobia, the journal has been running in our family for three generations.
My grandfather started it all. He was a fighter pilot of the R.I.A.F during World War II. As a kid I used to enjoy listening to his exploits. Sitting in his lap was a great pleasure. Listening to all those events from his journal I used to imagine myself in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft soaring high. As I grew heavy for his lap, I got tired of his tales. His journal is still preserved carefully.
Next, it was my father. He inherited many things from his dad, particularly his fancy for the Armed Forces and writing the journal. He spent 2 hours every night writing his journal. He carried it with him whenever he went out of station.
Once I tried to peek at it. He got furious and said that it was "private'. He reprimanded even my mother for the same offence.
My mother also kept a journal from her wedding day just to obey my dad. She mainly wrote daily expenses and a few lines occasionally.
Our family was no great shakes. My grandfather was shot down over Berlin. He spent 3 years as a POW. The handsome pension kept him and his vanity going. My father joined the Army and got struck as a Lt Colonel. I was a mediocre student.
"Why write a diary or journal, when there is nothing to write home about?" I asked my dad. Besides giving a long lecture, he ordered me to maintain a journal from the age of 18. I also asked why he was calling a diary a journal.
"Your grandfather called it so." He said. Discipline prevailed and brooked no dissent in our house.
Even my paternal aunt showed her journal to dad to win his favour.
I desperately wanted to get out of the two logjams; joining the Armed Forces and keeping a journal. My dad literally dragged me to the Academy and put me in the Navy. As if that was not bad enough, he reminded me to start the journal on the 18th birthday.
Writing the journal added one more to the many difficult chores in the Academy and incensed me.
I filled the pages of my â€˜journal' whenever possible writing whatever came to mind or pleased me. Dutifully, I showed it to my dad during the breaks between the terms. When promoted to Midshipman, our training officer ordered us to submit our journal weekly. He set great store by it. This arduous task of writing professional and personal journals irritated me.
I've been bearing this burden of writing my journal for long. In the bargain I inadvertently picked up a few writing skills. I wanted to put them to test. The first contest I found was about a journal.
When will I get deliverance from this cursed journal?
There is water everywhere. Our hut is sitting over a high patch of wet mound. Most of the villagers with their livestock have already moved in with us. Kamakshi's cow has just given birth to a calf, Basanti .Her Bapu has brought the calf and tied her with the bamboo of the makeshift tent. It can't even stand properly but wants to prance about and is throwing its leg around. I wish I could go and play with it.
I also wish this rain stops. In the night Ramu kaka came and told us we should move away from here as the water may rise really high in the night. He has arranged for a boat but ammi is old and refusing to move. "I will die here only" she is adamant. Bapu can't leave her behind.
"So let us all die here" angry Bapu said and went inside the hut. Ma is sitting with her head between her knees. There is nothing to cook. Kamakshi's cow's milk won't suffice for twenty two people. Without food even she won't give milk.
Today is 26th. Yesterday I have sent Mamu a letter in a corked bottle. I have told him of our condition here. I just hope the cork of the bottle doesn't open. The water is flowing with such rage. I am sure the currents will carry the bottle to mamu. Thank god mamu fought with ma to send me to school or how would have I written the letter? Who would know we are stranded here?
There is a helicopter whirring over.
"Kamakshi, come here" Both of us were shouting and waving ma's only red dhoti left with us but the helicopter went away.
Water has risen. It will reach our hut soon. Mamu send us food or take us away. We will all die otherwise. Ammi is lying without moving and ma is looking so pale too. My stomach is also gurgling. I saw the helicopter. Why didn't you send us food? You can recognize me. I will wave ma's red dhoti again. Kamakshi says I should write more but I don't have anymore paper." Guddu.
The water is up to my knees. There was a snake too but kamakshi's father killed it with a bamboo stick. Please god let my letter reach Mamu. Once he knows we are in this condition he will do something. He knows so many people in Delhi.
I am not able to open my eyes. I am afraid I might fall in water. But there is whirring again. "Helicopter; Helicopter" I call kamakshi but she is not getting up. They are throwing packets. Mamu has received my letter. We will have food today. Ma get up, bapu get up there is food.
Someone has thrown a ladder from the helicopter. Get up bapu, ma, kamakshi;
Mamu has sent help.
|Ashok, Special Investigator in Mumbai looked at the case file, the facts. The landlord reported on 15th March, 2008 at about 10AM that Dhiren had not come out of his room for his breakfast. |
The police found no signs of any struggle or break-ins from the sole window or any suicide notes. A young person of 30 just died on his bed. The room was well organized, the personal belongings recovered and stored with the police were a digital camera, a laptop, a cellphone and a very old diary.
Autopsy reports returned nothing unusual. Dhiren died, just like that at around 9 PM on 14th March. Ashok was puzzled, he then picked up the diary, maybe this had something that would reveal what happened. He flipped open the diary and started reading from the beginning.
Today, I met her online. A lovely girl, I think she is my types.
She is a beautiful watermark, on every moment of my life.
I met her in person today, she is such an innocent and sweet girl. I am so much in love with her.
For some strange reason, we seem connected.
From the time, we have met,
Our life is filled with hope and is "love affected".
I wish I could dazzle you with the aurora borealis.
To make your life, heaven on earth and bliss totalis.
She has not been in contact for a long time now, not sure what is wrong, I feel so miserable.
I beg you to break the silence, and do your part.
As I wait everyday, amidst the ruins of my heart.
Thorns of seperation, leave scars in my heart.
The fall from clouds of your love, tears me apart.
I have been having terrible nightmares. Since the day I discovered the truth about her, I am shattered. I never used to have dreams and now each night is filled with terrible nightmares. The days I can manage to not think about it, but my dreams are beyond my
I woke up startled. A child was crying somewhere, no wait, it was a miserable cat, as if nightmares weren't enough. I tossed and turned but could not sleep. Gradually I slipped into a dream that I was dead, I woke up again, startled, anxious. I could see a corpse and some ghosts.
Not sure what was happening, I asked who they were. They welcomed me to their world. I did not want to die, was there any way I could go back? They all said, it was useless, people who tried to be undead, were left stranded.
I still wanted to leave a message to the world, I was not a coward. This was not my doing.
Ashok was jolted out of his intriguing study of the diary, if Dhiren had died on 14th, at 9 PM. How was he possibly reading the last entry dated ... and timed ... and he turned white with fear!!!
|Life's complexities are weirder than humans can comprehend, and sometimes things that you dread are the best for you. |
A letter that he found in the old pile of his college life, a life that was on the verge of being forgotten, in the corner were he seldom visited in his room. He needed his notes that day a simple micro economics paper.
She worked at his mom's office, part-time and a student of Economics as well.
He happily had granted her wish.
It was in his drawer, in a stale brown image that spoke of its age. It was not meant to be there though.
It was his mother who had left it hoping Abhishek would give it a look.
It was written for the most Mean and Meaningful person in her life, along four page examination paper. It was written to him four years back, funnily she was not known for her writing ever. It was her hand writing that caught his eye, and he some how had this tremendous urge of taking the trip that he so did not want to.
The trip down the memory lane via the letter route.
The letter was subtle, meant to be read between lines, a letter that was meant to be deciphered like a women's heart.
The letter spoke of the ups and downs of their interaction over time, and what it meant.
Was Abhishek 's egotistic attitude really mean, or had she crossed the line between ego and self esteem. He started reading, and for a while had this churning feeling in his stomach, a flash back to the hunky dory days, when every thing in life had this honeymoon effect painted on. But the honey moon effects are not meant to last.
Then his eyes were blur, today they were wide open and knew some how what happened was best at least for him, but why were they feeling moist today.
Was she married today? Or was her engagement called off?Was he the reason why it was called off in the first place, was he really the mean guy, or just another person whose self esteem was ravaged.
"Are those you notes in your hand can i have a look , noted the young girl "
No just piece of examination paper for which had not taken good notes he replied,hence i flunked, but the beauty is , is made me take good notes and hence today you can use them.
He gave her his economics notes, while his life's class test was flying in shreds near the dust bin. It had made him aware that the semesters are there to be taken, and the test was important but just another wake up call before , that prepare you for the big thing, Life,
Life's complexities are much more weird than humans can comprehend, and sometime things that you dread are the best for you.
|The Andaman Journal |
When we started on a routine tour of Andaman to collect routine data for our project, little did we know how bizarre the entries in our routine scientific journal would be.
Flew into Port Blair.
I simply do not know what to think, what to write. We are stranded here on this god-forsaken island and do not know whether we will be rescued or perish here. It seems so hopeless.
Early in the morning, motor-launch brought us here and we climbed the hillock for our observations.
We were intently recording data when we heard a sound like a clap of thunder. Puzzled, we looked up into the cloudless blue sky. Slowly we turned around.
The devastation that we met our eyes as we looked towards the shore, was unbelievable. Coconut trees had crashed, the sand was laid bare for a great distance and a white line of foam and debris was receding towards the distant, calm horizon.
Our motor launch had vanished.
"Wh-what happened?" Arun stammered.
"Looks like a tidal wave." said Vijay.
"My God, we are marooned" said Arun as realization hit us.
We had planned to return to Port Blair by evening, so, all we had was a large, transparent-plastic jar of water and a few sandwiches.
This tiny, uninhabited island does not have fresh water.
Throughout the day, we tried to find a solution to our predicament while we gathered the fallen coconuts. For lunch we had sandwiches but our dinner consisted of coconut-flesh and coconut-water. (Thank God for the Swiss Army knife that I carried.)
"I wish we were smokers. Then we would have at least a lighter with us." I said wistfully.
We had nothing to light a fire with. No convex lens, no flint, not even a matchbox.
I tried to get a spark by rubbing two dry sticks together. It didn't work.
Twilight brought out myriads of fireflies, signaling for a mate.
I had a brainwave. Suppose, we collect a whole lot of fireflies in the empty jar of water and used them to send an SOS signal to the main island?
The light generated by a jarful of fireflies was enough to write the journal, but will it be seen from main island?
We wrapped and unwrapped a shawl around the jar in a steady pattern and hoped that the rescuers would see it.
We hardly slept, thanks to the mosquitoes. Breakfast was again coconut-flesh washed down with coconut-water.
"Those good to eat?" Arun asked as he emptied the jar of fireflies.
"Do you fancy frog-legs?" Vijay said pointing to some tree-frogs.
I shuddered. I am a vegetarian.
The day was spent in trying to find anything edible. I wish scientists were given survival-training.
We again caught fireflies.
The night was spent in signaling with the fireflies.
The rescuers arrived today morning. They HAD seen our signal.
We are reading about tsunami in the hospital while recuperating
|My auxiliary memory |
~ Sometimes we can write a page and it wouldn't amount to a sentence and sometimes a sentence can speak volumes ~
I had always had a five year plan for everything in life. Five years to graduate from school and land a job, five years to move up the corporate ladder and tie the knot with Abe. Another five and we would have kids. The pages were alive and full, of dates and schedules. Today was the 23rd and according to the yellowed moth eaten pages it would be Joella's birthday today. I still remember jotting the entry down several years ago. She had been a five year plan and she looked perfect with little feet and hands, blonde hair and blue eyed, waiting to come out of the picture and start cooing.
Our house had been just cozy for the three of us and then Isaac arrived and surprised us. There had been no entry in my diary about him. He had been a contrast to Joella's blonde haired blue eyed look, with dark hair and green eyes. Isaac's arrival threw our lives in a merry hustle bustle and suddenly my diary with its dates and schedules didn't matter after all. Our family had been perfect and complete.
Sometimes old habits die hard and sometimes we wish habits had not changed. "Hurry up and get dressed" were my last words to Joella and Isaac sixty years ago as I woke them up and got them dressed to be sent away to Holland by the train out of Cologne. Joella and Isaac never made it past the next year. The last I heard, they were being transported to the extermination camps in Poland. Many said they died on route due to extreme heat while others said they were gassed. My babies died alone and probably hungry along with thousands of others that fateful day.
Today as the world prepares to remember the holocaust and celebrate its survivors and watch the commemoration of a poignant train journey that will end, as it did those 60 years ago, at Auschwitz, my 87 year old hands bake a birthday cake for Joella. Isaac, with his dark brown hair and green eyes exists in my memories alone, his pages in my diary are blank and will remain blank forever.
|Susan entered the police station, carrying a journal. She asked to see the senior most official and was soon ushered into the police commissioner's office. "How can I help you, Madam?" he asked. "Sir", she said "I have made a most shocking discovery. When cleaning my home, I came across a journal which my husband, Darren maintains. Out of curiosity, I glanced through it, and found that there are as many as ten entries about murders that he has committed. Or so he has written. I got so scared that I have immediately rushed and come here." |
The commissioner was both amused and interested. He took the journal and browsed through it. There were many entries, about various thoughts, musings and actions of the writer, but, there were pages, with dates and timings, where the writer had written "Today, I killed Prakash" or "Today, Rohini died at my hands". These murder entries were short, with no description, explanation or rationale given. "Is this your husband's handwriting?" the commissioner asked. "Yes', unfortunately it is." she said. "Did I do the right thing?" she asked. "You did the correct thing" said the commissioner "I'll make a copy this journal for myself, so that you can return the original, for, if you husband finds it missing, he might suspect you, and you might be in danger. I shall immediately start my investigations"
The commissioner put a few men on the case, and soon discovered that on the dates mentioned, there were unsolved murders in the police files, corresponding to the entries. In many cases, the sex or names of the victims too matched. Confronted with such strong evidence, the commissioner ordered Darren's arrest. Darren was shocked and pleaded complete innocence and ignorance. He was refused bail, and soon, his case came up for hearing in court. The prosecution produced the journal as evidence, and had three handwriting experts testify that it was Darren's handwriting. Darren, on his part maintained that he was innocent, and had nothing to do with the journal.
The circumstantial evidence was too strong, and the court awarded Darren the death penalty.
Susan met him in jail, a day before his death penalty. "Why and how did you do such a thing?" he asked. "Well, I don't love you, but I do love your money. I'm in love with someone else. So, my lover and I got hold of a calligrapher and made him write the journal in your handwriting, after getting some details about unsolved cases from the police files. Bye, Darren, and thanks for the money."
Darren laughed devilishly "I always suspected you. I know about your affair, for I had hired a detective to watch you. I was planning to divorce you, anyway. By the way, I had changed my will a few months ago, donating all that I posses to charity. Sorry, poor girl, you will have to earn your living, or remain poor after my death. Bye".
|Straight On Til Morning |
Life takes some strange turns. The car's parked by the side of the road, it's after midnight, but the moon is so bright and full that I almost don't need the dome-light to write this. I've just exited Las Vegas, and I'm headed north on a barren stretch of highway. The only things moving are the night-creatures â€“ tarantulas, lizards, and moths. The road is endless. ClichÃ©, but true. Nevada is the only state I know (and I've been through all of them) where you can bottom out the speedometer and not see another car for fifty miles.
I love Nevada. I love the vastness of it, the emptiness. And man, the desert â€“ a moonscape, with life. Sometimes, I like to just drive slow down a two-lane through a desert, because I'm always rewarded with glimpses of a primitive life that most people never see. A coyote, loping along by the road, a hawk hunting, a tarantula making its clumsy way across the blacktop. I've never hit anything. In my nearly thirty years of driving, I've never hit anything. I like to brag that in a state where jackrabbits outnumber people a hundred to one, I've yet to bag a roadkill. I hope I never do.
I love animals â€“ it's part of the reason why I chose to set up housekeeping in this godforsaken state. Sagebrush and cactus, sand and scrub. Roadrunners dart across the two-lane strip of civilization. Did you know that roadrunners have a "solar panel" between their wings? Cold mornings demand that they soak in the sun to charge their solar panels and make them able to run fast. I guess it's their equivalent of our coffee.
Back to the present. I'm still not sure why I left Vegas. Part of it was all that neon. Night is like day on the Strip, and since my apartment was above a shop on the Strip, I didn't sleep much. The noise, the parties, the absolute Sodom and Gomorrah of it all just pushed me over the edge, I guess.
So, I have everything I care about jammed into this station wagon. And I'm headed north, to a quieter-but-still-Nevada place, where I can breathe and think. I've done some pretty shrewd investing, so I can afford to be a little extravagant in my purchases. I won't suffer financially while I'm shopping for a good place to die.
I'm glad I don't have relatives that care about me. I hate loose ends.
Nevada is a good place to check out, whether you're checking it out or just cashing in your chips.
Yeah, I think this stretch of road is as good as anywhere to plant my will. Whoever finds it will be ridiculously rich. And if no one finds it, I won't care. How can dust care?