The River

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Haridwar 5th July 2009 147 Part One: The First Look

A slight way off the road, in Rishikesh, a set of stairs ran down to a secluded Ghat, waiting for us like an old man waits for wanderers, hoping that they have a few moments to spare. We did have those few moments to spare, and so we stepped away from the planned route, and went down the ghat. She was there, at the bottom of those stairs; one look at her majestic charm, and I knew why people respected The Ganga, and loved her so.

As was customary at all ghats, a few steps separated us from the gushing river below. Each step I took, the river seemed to sigh back, as if nothing pleased her more than having me beside her – like old friends catching up after a long time.

My friends joined me; an old man sat and lit a beedi while observing us; my friends took about a zillion pictures of each other, of me, and of the river – but I was so mesmerized by the indefinable attraction the river held, that I failed to notice most of it.

The silt from the river had been deposited on the steps, and the places the river had visited were all marked out; like familiar footprints on wet sand.

Soon, it was time for us to leave for Harki Pauri, another ghat on the banks of the Ganges. I didn’t want to leave this new friend so soon, but as my old friend put it very rightly, the more time I spent there, the more I’d want to linger on.

With one final look at the river, we left, while the murmur of the river followed us. I wanted to return, and desperately cling on to a few more moments, and was looking for an excuse to run back. In a flash, I had the excuse. I wanted the name of the ghat we had visited, and since I didn’t remember it, I had to turn back.

Telling my friends to carry on (of course, with a bit of resistance from their side), I turned back and ran to the ghat. Down the steps, almost slipping, I dipped one hand quickly into the ice-cold water, and a smile escaped my lips.

In my haste, I had failed to notice the old man sitting there, still smoking his beedi. He was observing me, and had seen the smile on my face that reflected the strange calm spreading inside me. He took a long drag of the beedi, exhaled, and said, “Haan beta, ek ajeeb sa sukoon milta hai.”

P. S. The name of the ghat was Sri Vishwanath Ghat, and it had been inaugurated in August, 1947. I knew this all along.

Part Two: The Last Look

Haridwar 5th July 2009 176 Harki Pauri is one of the most famous ghats of Haridwar. Thousands throng this place daily, and during the peak hour of the Aarti, it becomes almost impossible to see anything but human figures all around.

It was at Harki Pauri that I met the Holy Ganga again. I knew I was in love the moment I saw the river. Little green leaf-baskets, each of them decorated with rose petals, marigold petals, a single lotus, and one diya, floated downstream, gently rocking along rhythmically, dancing to the waves caused by the river’s flow.

One step down, two steps down, and the water welcomed my toes. I groped around in the murky water, and with my friend’s help, finally managed to go down two steps, and was knee-deep in the water.My feet were numb with cold, my jeans were soaked with the river, and I was standing in a strong current, and yet I knew I never wanted to get out.

Nightfall was coming, and we had to make our way back to the hotel. By this time, it seemed every one of us had somehow been infused with that intoxicating something this river held in great quantities. As one, we all sat down on the stairs leading down to the ghat, to catch the last few glimpses of the river before we left.

Finally, we got up to leave. The narrow lanes back to the bridge leading to the auto stand allowed a few flashes of the river I’d begun to adore. Between the buildings, through cracks in the walls, I could see her flowing beyond. A few final steps over the bridge, and we had reached the rickshaw stand. It really was time to say goodbye.

As the rickshaw slowly navigated the streets of Haridwar, the night life on the banks of Ganga greeted us from afar. Soon, however, these few sights were all behind us, and I had already begun to miss her.

We came across a bridge, a surprise the little town had sprung up for me. The river gushed on from below, and even over the hubbub of traffic, and the crinkle of the rickshaw chain, I could hear the river whispering three magical words to me. “Come back soon.”

I know I will.

A Little Change…

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted something here, and I could see just how much you guys have missed me in the meantime. Thanks to everyone who’s been following this blog. Although I don’t have any stories to put up out here, I still wanted to come by and tell you that I haven’t crawled under a rock somewhere and died… I’m still alive and kicking!

This post is a bit different… instead of a story, I’m putting up some random photos that I’ve taken a while back, of my favorite subject there is – Delhi. I hope you like the photos here. There will be some more shots coming out here, along with some short stories too… haven’t really decided that just yet. For the time being though, enjoy the pics.

  

Taken at Chandni Chowk. A man lighting his kerosene lamp to prepare for the oncoming night. Business as usual.

 

 

Coffee Home at Connaught Place, New Delhi

 

Two eagles in the backdrop of a cloudy day. It rained soon after this, much to the relief of Delhi. I wonder what the eagles thought, though…

 

One of the many, many hawkers on the streets of Chandni Chowk. So preoccupied was he with his evening cup of tea, that he didn’t even seem to notice me taking this picture of his.

 

Connect the Pigeon Dots? Oh well, it’s already been done by that wire up there… a little inside story about this particular photo, I got a nice little drop of “blessing” from my beautiful models right after taking this picture, much to the amusement of all my classmates! I think somewhere, there’s a picture of me posing with a little white blob on the my jacket sleeve as well…

More stories and/or photos to come in future. In the meantime, you can head over to my Flickr account to see

some more pics that I’ve taken. That page would be (hopefully) updated quite frequently too.

Cheers to all.

… and she said, “I’m all yours.”

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The school bell rang, and finally the moment she had been waiting for had arrived. She was free from school, and she couldn't wait to be back home. To be with the one she had been thinking of, for so long.

“Have a nice weekend!”

“You too!”

“I’ll drop by at your place around five, ok?”

“Sure thing. It’s gonna be so much fun, you guys spending the night over.”

“We’ll stay up all night long!”

The conversations amongst her classmates surrounded her, yet she seemed far away from it all. She was lost the her own thoughts, lost in the memories of the long hours she had spent in the company of her one true love.

She got on the bus, and sat at her favorite window seat. She wished with all her will that the bus would start moving soon. Her impatience paid off in the end; the bus jerked to life, and slowly trundled off in the direction of her house. She felt excited at the thought of someone waiting for her. Her thoughts wandered back into the memories of the countless kisses they had shared, the warm feeling she got every time, the subtle high she experienced from it all.

The bus stopped in front of her house, and she hopped off it. In seconds, she ran into her room and locked the door. In the semi – darkness, she whispered, “I’m ready, my love.”

Cautiously, she took out the stock of ground marijuana she kept in her closet. Her lovestruck eyes lit with delight, as she took the drugs and rolled up a joint. With trembling hands, she lit one end of the joint, and kissed the other end. The warmth of the kiss travelled all over her senses; she took a deep drag, and whispered in the silence, “I’m all yours.”

***

Been busy almost the whole week, which is why there was a delay in the story. Wish I had a bit more time to work on this, it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to be. Still, I wanted to post something here, and so, here it is. Tried to take into account the many requests of a love story, but I don’t think this one quite qualifies to be a part of that category.

Image Courtesy fa73

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The Lake Lady

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Gulshan was a typical ‘US Return’, as they called him in the little village of Shantinagar. He had come over for spending the summer, but most of it had been a bust. There wasn’t really anyone with whom he could spend time. His cousins were just so different from him, and they all were at the age where acceptance is hard to give out, yet they were all seeking for it.

He wasn’t really accepted in the inner circles of his cousins, so consequently he spent a lot of time browsing around the crumbling village that Shantinagar was. The older side of the town always had a wonderful new surprise waiting for him, and equipped with his father’s camera, he found that he did have a good time in that bit of the village; the one place in the whole village that seemed to be his own.

It was at this eastern end of the village, that he had stumbled upon the green murky pond. He remembered the wonderful ponds that were there at the perfectly manicured parks back home. A part of him, thus, had expected something along those lines as he drew closer to the murky pond. He was in for a shock, though. The steps leading down to the pond were broken and worn. The whole pond seemed green, unlike the pristine blue clear watered ponds that he was used to. However, it didn’t seem that the water was that dirty. One look at it, and he knew that this little body of water was a world of its own.

“It used to be much more beautiful than this before,” said a soft voice behind him, “the water was clearer, and you could see the fishes zooming around in the water.”

He turned around, and saw a beautiful teenage girl sitting a few steps behind him. She was wearing a simple white dress that seemed to glow amber in the setting sun. Her face glowed as the dying sunlight played its charm on it just before saying goodbye, and even the breeze seemed to smile at her beauty. She was covered from head to toe, and just her face was visible. She sat there, smiling slightly, while he just stood there gaping at her.

The smile eventually turned into a small laugh, and he knew she was waiting for him to stop staring and say something.

“Hi, I’m Gulshan. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you sitting there, I wanted to get a good look at the pond, and get a few shots before the sun went down.”

“I know who you are, I’ve heard about you. You’re Ranabir Babu’s nephew. My name’s Chhaya. I hope you’re enjoying the village life?” she said, with the same teasing smile from before.

“I don’t know how to say this, I’ve seen everyone is quite sensitive about the ‘precious’ little village of yours!”

“I promise, I’ll try my best not to judge you,” she answered. “So, what is it that you cannot say to everyone, that you’re so desperately want to say?”

“My vacation blows. I’m doing nothing here, I feel so completely out of place, and I miss my friends back home,” he thought aloud, and realized for the first time how much he missed everything back at home.

“Don’t worry, you’ll see them soon enough. Life’s very long, you’ll see,” she said, with that radiant smile again, the one that glowed amber with the sun, and he smiled along with her, in those final minutes of the day.

~~~~~

He was back to the pond the next day, and saw her sitting there again. Once more, he couldn’t help but keep admiring her beauty from the moment he had seen her, until she noticed of course. After that, he had a very hard time not to keep looking at her, lest she understand what was going on in his heart. He really didn’t want to scare her away…

“You know, there was a time when this pond was much more than that. It was a lake, a proper sized one too. See the other side of that ditch, where the fields are, with the buffaloes? That’s where the lake used to stretch to. I was a little girl when I first saw it. I’ve been hoping ever since, that someday, the pond would once more become a lake,” she said, with a faraway, wistful look on her face.

“Wow, you can hardly see till that side from here. Some sight it would have been too, in those days,” he wondered aloud, trying to imagine how wonderful the lake would have looked, in those last few beautiful rays of the sunlight, with Chhaya sitting on the bank, reflected in the clear water.

He couldn’t help but look at Chhaya once more, and this time, he didn’t really care that she had noticed. A tiny smile formed at the edge of her lips, and she asked him without looking at him, “What?”

“You’re Beautiful,” he smiled back.

~~~~~

They met almost every day after that, at that same spot. He would come to the lake, at that very specific twilight hour, and find her sitting there in the beautiful orange sunlight. He would rush every day to her, armed with the camera, and together they would sit there, and take many pictures. The gnarled branches, the birds, the pond, and the dilapidated huts they could see behind the fields, the lazy buffaloes.

He had brought a bouquet of flowers for her, but for a strange reason, he felt nervous giving them to her. He really wanted her to like him, and the flowers too. He had picked them out himself, spending two hours in the hot sun, choosing the best ones in the whole village that he could find.

When she gave it to her though, she couldn’t stop laughing. “Oh, I love the flowers! Sorry, but it’s just that – look around, Gulshan. I’m surrounded by the most beautiful flowers,” she said, with that familiar, beautiful smile back on her face.

“Wow, you’re right! How come I never noticed them before here?” he asked, although he knew the answer to that very well. In truth, he hadn’t noticed much around the place. It wasn’t really easy to focus on your surroundings when there’s as beautiful a girl as Chhaya in front of you.

“I got you a gift too, you know,” she said to him, with a hint of a blush on her face.

“You did? What is it? Where is it?”

“Well, it’s actually a silly little poem that I had written last night.”

“I want to hear it! Go on, recite it. I promise you I’ll like it,” he said, eager to hear the poem.

“Ok, but don’t laugh. Here goes.

“The hillside looking like an artist’s palette

The colors, the hue, the green, the blue

A freshly laundered day awaits

Two lovers walk, first steps in the dew

Hand in hand, heart to heart

They walk away from the eyes of the world

The look, the touch, the sweet promise

A gift of love, the flowers she yearned….

“I know it’s not much, and I know it’s a very silly, stupid poem. It’s ok if you don’t like it, really, Gulshan!’

“Are you kidding me? That’s one of the sweetest poems I’ve heard in a long time now,” he said, with all honestly. He really hadn’t expected her to have written a poem for him. “Although, there’s one little thing; how did you know that I was going to bring you flowers today?”

“I didn’t. I just hoped,” she said, locking her eyes into his, and smiling while the sun set behind them

~~~~~

It was his last evening in the village. He had never thought that there could be anything here that would make him want to stay on so much, as Chhaya. He knew that he wanted to stay here forever, to be able to meet her every day on the bank of the lake. He knew that he wanted to stay over forever, so that he could share the little joys of his life with her for the rest of his life. He knew that he wanted to stay on, so that someday, he could go up to her and say…

“I love you, Chhaya.”

“What?”

“I said I love you,” he said again, “and I really mean it. All I want to do is stay with you, right here next to the lake. We can have a house right here, and live on forever.”

“Go on,” urged Chhaya, with a look on her face that said that she had been waiting to hear these words for a long time now.

“We would live in this village, right here. I won’t leave. I’ll work at the fields, whatever it takes, to be with you. And someday, I’ll see the pond become a lake, sitting right here, with you. I love you, Chhaya.”

“Say it one more time, Gulshan,” she said, with that same hungry look from before.

“I love you.”

“Oh, it’s been so long since anyone has said those words to me. Gulshan, you’re so wonderful. Of course I love you too. I’ve been waiting so long, for someone to tell me those words again, so many years I’ve spent waiting for someone like you, on these tired, old and worn out steps.”

“Chhaya, are you alright? You seem a little weird. Should I not have said it? Was it too early?”

“No, no. You’re wonderful, Gulshan. You just reminded me so much of my fiancé.”

“Your fiancé? You were about to be married, to another man?”

“A long time ago, yes,” Chhaya said, with a tired look on her face. A look that didn’t suit her at all, and made her look mysteriously old.

“Were you ever planning on telling me this, Chhaya? What happened to him?” demanded Gulshan.

Chhaya turned around and faced him, and said, “He killed me. He threw me into that lake. I drowned that day.”

Gulshan couldn’t speak for a few moments. Then, his senses came back to him, and he laughed, “You’re winding me up right? This is a joke, right?” he said, wanting his brain to believe that he wasn’t scared by what he was hearing.

“No, Gulshan. I’m not joking. I was killed by the man I loved, the man who I was set to be married to. 213 years ago it happened. We had an argument, and he pushed me into the lake. I couldn’t swim, so I drowned.”

“213 years ago? How can that be? You’re standing here, right in front of me! Are you telling me that you’re a ghost, Chhaya?”

“I don’t know what I am, Gulshan. I really don’t know what I am; but I do know that now, we are in love, and we shall be happy together, won’t we?”

And she took her hand, and gently touched his cheeks – only now, her hands were not the same beautiful hands that Gulshan had seen for so many days. Now, they looked deathly white, and bloated, as though they had been underwater for days. When the hand touched his cheek, he could feel the cold, clammy wetness of the fingertips right to his bones.

Gulshan turned and ran back to the village, screaming like a madman.

~~~~~

Mahesh wanted a Love Story.

Sowmi wanted a Poem.

And I wanted to write a Ghost Story.

Another long one, I hope you guys had the patience to read it through. The second ghost story I’ve written ever; the first one was written back in 1993. I hope this was a better attempt at it.

Image Courtesy goodonpaper

The One That Flew Away

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The first time Randhir had heard about Michael Painter, it was from Shaina’s mouth. The same mouth she had kissed him with, so many times. Shaina was dead now, before Randhir had the chance of meeting Michael Painter.

The first time they met, it was in the disused basement of Randhir’s little house. Michael was tied to a chair, unconscious, while Randhir waited for him to wake up. Randhir had quit smoking a year back, when he met Shaina, but some old habits just don’t die.

Quite like some memories. And some people.

Michael stirred a bit, and Randhir slapped him on the face. “Wake up, Michael. You’re late already. There’s much to talk about.”

Michael wasn’t scared actually. He hardly ever was. He opened his eyes, and looked around. The crumbling shelves, the old guitars, and in the corner stood the untouched canvas.

“You know, my name says I should be a painter. I’m not though. I’m an engineer by profession. Can you lend me a cigarette?” Michael’s raspy voice broke the silence that had crept in.

Randhir slapped him again. Michael smiled.

“You’re a fucking murderer. You killed my girlfriend. Why?” spat Randhir.

Michael was still laughing. He gazed longingly at the cigarette that was hanging from Randhir’s hand. After a long time, he said, “You should have seen her with me. She wasn’t as happy with you as she was with me. So what if it lasted just one night. Most people don’t experience all that in a lifetime, what she experienced with me in that one night.”

Randhir didn’t want to believe that. He didn’t want to hear the words that Michael was saying, because he knew that it could be true. Shania had said those things herself.

~~~~~

The party had started late, and by the time they came out of the pub, the streets were quite empty. That’s the way Randhir liked the roads to be, for what better way to impress a girl than to take her for a quick spin in a fancy car?

Shaina Naazneen was no ordinary girl though. She had the glitter in her eyes, the one that comes when you dream about making it big. She wanted to be a movie star, and she had run away from her home to the city to realize that dream. She had escaped her village, the boundaries of her old life, and even her old name. Now, in the city where no one knew her, she was known as Shaina Naazneen.

She was a dancer at a popular bar in the heart of the city. That’s when she met Randhir Jaiswal, a straightforward Chartered Accountant, decently handsome, and a perfect blend of all those things that made Shaina’s heart skip a few beats when she saw him. Right then, she decided that she had to take Randhir to bed with her.

When Randhir saw her, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He felt like he was in love, with the way she moved, the rhythmic taps of her feet. He wanted to hold her in his arms, and keep looking at her forever. But that doesn’t happen ever. The music stopped, and she disappeared behind the curtains.

Randhir had had quite a few drinks for that night; he was, after all, out to celebrate. That’s why, in his half-drunken state, he didn’t quite realize who it was walking towards him, till she was right in front of him.

Hi, I’m Shaina,” she had said, with a beautiful smile.

Randhir Jaiswal, Chartered Accountant,” was all that he could manage to mumble in the wake of that dazzling smile.

~~~~~

“I was born with the name of Michael Painter. I loved painting since I was a child, but I always wanted to make something much more tangible. That’s why I became an engineer,” said Michael into the silence.

“What makes you think that I’m even remotely interested in what you want or do not want?” asked Randhir.

“I just thought you’d want to know a little bit about your girlfriend’s murderer. I think I assumed too much.”

Randhir just stared at the face that had gone silent again. ‘I’m looking at a murderer, a cold blooded murderer, right now,’ he thought.

“Why’d you do it? Why did you kill her? Why the fuck, were you acting like the devil?” he fired at him, before he could stop himself.

He allowed himself a small smile, and then he spoke. “Why do I do it? Because it’s essential, to keep the men – and women – in line. Why did I kill her? Because, you know just as well as I do, that she deserved it. Why was I acting like the devil? Oh, I’m not. I’m just a regular guy who thinks that sins should not go unpunished. And what greater sin is there, other than infidelity?”

“You coerced her into being unfaithful. You seduced her, you got her into bed! Now you’re saying that you killed her for those very things? You have the audacity to term it as your own brand of justice – what sort of justice is this?”

“I never asked her to come to bed with me. I was just testing her. She failed the test, and so she paid the price.”

Randhir couldn’t believe the power with which Michael held his stare. He couldn’t believe that the man who had killed the woman he loved, could look him in the eye and talk about it so confidently. Yet, that was exactly what Michael was doing.

“I loved her,” whispered Randhir.

~~~~~

“Go to hell, Randhir. I can’t believe you can be this insensitive. All these days, I’ve just been nothing more than a small town girl for you?”

That’s not what I meant. Would you please, stop misconstruing everything I’m saying?”

Well then, what exactly did you mean when you said that I’d understand, since I come from a small town? You think I’m just as narrow minded as the fools that I’ve left behind in the village?”

Shaina, that’s not at all what I meant. Why are you screaming, we just made love, for god’s sake!”

Oh, so now I can’t even speak my mind when I want? Really, Randhir, go to hell!”

Shaina! Please, relax, would you? We love each other, don’t we?”

I don’t! What the hell made you think that? I thought you knew that, I thought you knew I’m just in it for this!”

Shaina, what? You mean, you’re just in it for the sex?”

Yes, Randhir. I told you, I’m not like the other narrow minded village girls. I’ve got this one life, and I intend to live it just the way I want to! I won’t let you, or anyone else, run it for me, you hear?”

Randhir couldn’t stand any of it anymore. He jumped out of bed, flung her clothes at her, and bellowed, “Get out! Get out of my house right now, you bloody whore! Get out, and don’t ever dare to set foot in here again!”

Fine! I don’t even want to stay with you anymore. You’re no better than the shallow folks I left back home when I came here. Michael Painter is so much better than you.”

Michael who?”

Michael Painter. He’s the guy I’m sleeping with on the side. Satisfied?”

She stormed out of the door, and at the moment, he was happy that she had left his life.

~~~~~

“She came to me that day, telling me that she had dumped you. It was at that moment that I knew she had failed the test. I decided that the time for her punishment had come close. She had always wanted to fly. That night, I pushed her off the roof. Ironic, isn’t it – she had to die, living the very wish that she wanted since she was a little child.”

“It was just a fight. We could have solved this one. I know we could have, if only we had talked it over, things would have been alright.”

“No Randhir, things wouldn’t have fallen into place. She really didn’t love you anymore, she just wanted to sleep with you. That was the extent of it. I’m sorry you had to find out like this. Now you see, why I think she really deserved what she got? She lied to you, she played with you.”

A little bit of sense came back to Randhir, and he looked back at the man who murdered Shaina. “That still didn’t give you the right to kill her! You had no right to kill her! Who do you think you are?”

“I know I didn’t have the right to kill her. You remember the gun you found in my jacket? There are two bullets in there. Those bullets are meant for me. Now you understand, Randhir, why I called you to meet up? If anyone has the right to take a life here, it’s you Randhir – you alone.”

Randhir got up, and walked to the jacket that had fallen to the floor. He bent down and picked it up, and found that the left side was unnaturally heavy. He removed the black pistol from the pocket, and felt the cold gun in his hand.

Slowly, Randhir walked back to the place where Michael was sitting. He turned around to face the man he had brought to the room and tied to the chair. He loathed this man sitting there, and he loathed the girl because of whom this man was sitting here. The hatred seemed to shine on his face, for Michael recognized it and smiled at it.

“Look into my eyes Randhir. You will hate me, I know that, but when you look into my eyes, you will know that this is exactly how I wanted things to turn out between us. This is exactly why, there was no need for you to tie me to this chair.”

With the heavy gun in his hand, Randhir found that he couldn’t talk. All he wanted to do was to rid all the people who were involved in the incidents that had happened in the last few months. This man was the last link to that episode.

Randhir looked into Michael’s eyes, and knew that he wasn’t lying about anything that he had said. But behind the honesty, he saw something else in Michael’s eyes. Something that was brought out by the last words that Michael said. “I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.”

Randhir aimed the gun on Michael’s forehead, and Michael braced himself for the two shots that were coming his way. A shadow of that scared smile still remained on his face.

***

This post is my attempt at a series that Annie started – Grey Shades. This one was actually brought about because of two reasons. Firstly, Annie wanted me to write something related to Infidelity, and that’s something that I’ve never really been comfortable to approach. Secondly, someone commented that they wanted a murder story from me again. I tried to combine the two, and this was the result. I hope it was acceptable.

Apologies for the length of the post, as well as the strong language used. I really couldn’t make the story what it is without either.

Image Courtesy Auraelius

The Entertainer

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The shower was one place where she just couldn’t resist singing. Her melodious voice danced over the notes, with the flowing water keeping the rhythm. Her voice obeyed her every command, and the song itself seemed to bring life into the world. It was a wonderful way to start a wonderful evening.

All except…

“Would you cut out your singing and hurry up? You’re making both of us late!” screamed Anuradha from the other side of the door.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m almost done. Give me two more minutes,” said Samaira, while her reflection looked at her accusingly.

‘I should be an Entertainer. I’m supposed to charm people with my voice. Why doesn’t anyone get that?’

The evening was slowly turning into the night, and she was ready to take on the world. With the song still singing itself in her head and her heart, she walked to the Prakash Photo Studio. She needed some glamour shots for work, and Prakash (as it was fondly called in that locality) was the one place to get them from.

She spent an hour at Prakash. When the shots were done, she looked at them. The gentle hint of Kohl in her eyes, the black waves of her hair, the heart shaped face, they all told her that she was, indeed, beautiful.

‘I should be an Entertainer. I’m supposed to charm people with my beauty, with the ladylike grace that I possess. I wish someone else would see that for a change.’

On the street, she heard the sound of ghungrus coming from the local Dance School. She remembered how she used to go there as a child. The long hours she spent, dancing to the wonderful music. She remembered how wonderful and free she felt at that time, to move like she wanted to.

‘I should be an Entertainer. I’m supposed to charm people with my graceful movements, and the gentle taps of the ghungrus on my feet. I wish I could have that stage, once, where people would appreciate that in me.’

She reached her “Office”, her place of work, and met Greg. She didn’t know Greg’s real name, and he didn’t know hers. In the “Office”, she was Sam.

“Sam, your client’s waiting for you upstairs. He’s a Russian man, with big bucks, lots of it. Make sure you entertain him well tonight.”

She looked into the mirror, and the reflection spoke to her.

‘I am an Entertainer. I charm people with my body, and the things I do with it. In here, I’m Sam, and I fuck for a small fee.’

***

Image Courtesy pericomart(busy.. excuse me)

A Brand New Family

74 comments

A little over a year into her marriage, and Rupal had exceeded all her expectations towards herself – she had actually become a wonderful cook. The Pulao and the Shahi Paneer were giving out the most mouth watering aroma, and she should have been proud of herself.

Only, she wasn’t. It’s not easy to be proud of yourself, when you’re all alone at home, waiting for a husband who’s late. It was the third successive night that she’d been waiting for Himanshu to turn up, but he said he was held up at work for yet another day. She knew it was for the best, and yet she didn’t like it one bit. The fact that all her efforts at making the exquisite dinner were slowly turning cold was something she didn’t want to come to terms with so easily.

She heard the key turning in the lock. A moment later, Himanshu’s voice boomed in from the corridor, “Honey, I’m home!”

“You’re late again! Why do they have to make you work so hard?” she asked him the moment he came within her line of sight. Her arms were crossed over her tummy, always a bad sign.

“Sweetheart, I told you on the phone. You know the VP, if he wants a meeting, he wants it now! I’m sorry it took so much time,” said Himanshu.

Rupal wasn’t impressed by what she was hearing. Something inside her was not ready to accept the things that Himanshu was saying to her at that moment.

“Is it too much to ask for a husband to be back home at a decent hour, so that we can have a proper meal together at the end of the day? You know how hectic my days are, and you know how much I look forward to the dinners that we share.”

“I know honey, but this was something  I couldn’t avoid. I’m sure you understand…”

“Oh sure! You would always expect me to be the one who’s understanding, right? As if it’s never going to be your job to try to understand what I want, ever!”

Two fat droplets of tears formed at the edge of her eyelids, and she couldn’t stop them from rolling down her cheeks. Himanshu, noticing this, rushed forward and held her tightly in her arms.

“What is it sweetie? What do you want? You know all you have to do is tell me, and I’ll do anything to make sure that you have it.”

He could feel her heart beating against his, could feel her wonderful warmth in his arms. And then she looked up at him, and said, “I just want the three of us to be together, and happy, and to love each other, forever.”

“The three of us?” asked Himanshu, noticing her smile mingled with the two fat tears rolling down her cheeks for the first time.

***

Image Courtesy H Images

The Storyman

61 comments

It was the first time that Sachin and Samarth were out in the real world. They called it a vacation, although what they really wanted was an adventure.

They hadn’t found any. After two days of hiking, and travelling to remote places of India, still they found nothing.

So when they saw the makeshift highway pub, neither of them could wait to be inside, and get comfortable with a cold beer.

“We don’t really need adventures, do we Sachin?”

“Nope. We need beer.”

“Cold beer!” said Samarth, and they were inside the dingy pub, catering to its highway people, and emanating the highway smells.

“And anyway, this was an adventure of sorts for us too, wasn’t it? I mean, think about it. We did something new, and in a way, that’s an adventure as well. Who said anything about an adventure being thrilling and chilling?” said Sachin, with a fake-cheery voice that he knew was cheering him up more than Samarth.

“Two beers”, ordered Samarth, as they sat down on the bar stools and waited for the beer to come to them. They didn’t know what else was coming along with those two innocent beers though.

The barman handed them two chilled bottles of beer, and bent down to speak to them.

“I heard you guys. You’re looking for adventure? At this young age? You guys must be mad!” said he, with the most serious eyes that any man could possess.

“Why’s that?” the boys asked.

“Look behind you boy, you see that man there? You know which man I’m talking about. The one with that great big scar running down his face? Legend has it…”

“I’m sorry, did you say, ‘legend’ has it?” interrupted Sachin.

“Yes, boy! Listen closely, and don’t interrupt me when I’m talking!” said the barman, and then continued in the same manner, “Legend has it that he has seen adventure. Not just once, but many times over in his life. They call him the Storyman, and I can’t tell you the stories that I’ve heard from him.”

“Why not?” asked Sachin, acting his usual curious self that he always was.

“Because it chills me, down to the very bones! Now, if you want an adventure, he’s the man you should talk to,” said the barman, and left to attend to business.

“You think we should go talk to him, Sam?”

Samarth couldn’t make up his mind. He thought it over for a moment. Thoughts such as ‘this might be dangerous’ and ‘never trust strangers’ kept chasing each other inside his head. Finally, he came to the decision.

“We’re out here, looking for adventure. We can’t really turn back, now that we’ve almost found it. We’ll just go and talk to him, that’s all.”

And so they went. The man’s face was half hidden in the shadows of the dim light of the bar, and as they neared, they could see his face in better relief. The candle on the wall cast deep shadows on his face, and they could clearly see the two eyes gleaming at them, and the scar that the barman had told them about. It looked eerie, and now that they stood near this man, they knew that the barman wasn’t lying when he had told them that ‘legend has it.’

The man didn’t speak, but gestured for them to sit in the two empty seats that seemed to have been waiting specially for them. They sat, down, and the man in front of them spoke.

“Good evening boys. As you’ve been told, I am the Storyman.” said the Storyman.

The boys couldn’t speak. They could almost reach out and touch the adventure that seemed to tease them at just an arm’s distance away, but at the same time, they didn’t want to reach out to the adventure. For the first time, the two brothers were scared.

The Storyman continued, “I can see that you boys want a taste of adventure. I’ll tell you a story. It’s a very special story too, for it is about my first adventure. There were two of us, just as there are two of you right now. It was a long time ago, and the two of us were carefree, and just like you, wanted to be out in the real world, having one adventure after another. We were young and restless, and so we left the safety of our village and ventured away.

“I don’t know yet how we managed it, but we found our way into the docks of Bombay. There was a ship leaving port at the time. We thought to ourselves, what greater adventure can there be, apart from an adventure out on the sea? So, the two of us made our way stealthily into the ship, and soon we were off to unknown lands beyond the shores of our village.

“But we weren’t lucky. Soon after we set sail, the ship was caught in a violent sea storm. Oh the sea storm! Boys, you should see it once, the majestic power it holds, the ease and grace with which it tosses an iron vessel around on the sea – the power of it was undeniable. The storm showed no mercy. The ten foot waves caught the curious fools that we were, and almost launched us away into the ocean. My friend held on to my hand, and he told me that he wouldn’t let go, come what may. He said he would pull me back into the safety of the ship, and all I had to do was to hold on to his hand. He was a brave one, with a mighty heart.

“A second wave crashed down on me, and I was pulled away from the ship, and into the sea. I don’t know about my friend, but I lost consciousness in mid air, and I don’t remember hitting the ocean.

“When I came to, I found myself on a barren island, with no trees or birds or animals of any kind. There was only salt water behind me, a sheet of sand under me, and harsh black rocks ahead of me. As i raised my head, I could see that there was nothing but the harsh black rocks all around me. I was hurt, and I was hungry. I felt as though I hadn’t had anything to eat for two days and two nights, and I knew if I didn’t get something to eat soon, I would surely die.

“That’s when I saw a figure nearby. It was my friend, lying on the beach, under the evening sun. He was hurt, and he was bleeding profusely from his arms. There was nothing I could do to save him; the sea would claim him.

“But, I was hungry. I knew that it was either the sea that would claim him – or it would be me.”

“Are you saying that you killed your own friend?” asked Sachin.

An odd smile spread on the Storyman’s face. “Yes, I killed him. Like I said, I needed food that day.”

He seemed to want to go on, but Samarth and Sachin didn’t let him. With cries of “monster” and “murderer”, they launched themselves at him. Hearing the commotion, the barman rushed over and pulled them away from the Storyman.

“Oi! What on earth do you boys think you’re doing?”

“This man is a monster! He killed his own friend! How do we know that he won’t harm us?” asked Sachin, looking at the barman.

Sam was looking at the gleeful face of the Storyman, and he knew he had missed something. At that moment, the barman spoke up.

“Yeah, yeah, I know all about his story. The one where he kills his friend. Well, I am that friend! Sure, we met the terrible storm that night, but we never fell into the sea. We reached the shores of Madagascar, spent a great few weeks there, and came back to Bombay on the same ship.”

“What? But then, why would the Storyman tell us that story?” asked a bewildered Sachin.

“Because, that’s his job. That is why we call him the Storyman! Now, boys, if you don’t mind, I’ll be going back behind the counter. Anymore fistfights you want, you take them outside the pub, you hear?” and still muttering darkly about the boys scaring good customers away, the barman walked back to the bar.

The Storyman was still smirking. Sachin somehow couldn’t digest the fact that he was actually so gullible, while Samarth kept looking at the Storyman.

“Let me ask you something. If that story was made up, then how come the bad guy won? How come the good friend, who had saved the bad guy’s life on a previous occasion, be killed by the very man he had saved?”

The eyes were still twinkling, as the Storyman said, “Because, boys, I’m a Storyman, not a Saint!”

***

Image Courtesy mikebaird

Krishnendu

44 comments

I still remember the chilly dampness that had crept into the station that day. It was like the weather wanted to give that special scary effect to everything that had happened in the little village. My office was in a mess, as usual – only two things on my desk were where they were supposed to be; a cup of coffee that was growing steadily colder, and a name plate that identified who I was.

Detective Tarun Bhattacharjee

I like almost all the things that occupy my desk space. Almost all of them, with the exception of the case file that lay open in front of me that cold day. I had had a lot of experience in homicide, but never had I seen a case like this. The cold precision, and the unashamed open-and-shut nature of the case gave me the chills. It almost made the steady pour of hailstones outside feel warm. I wanted to linger on with the cup of coffee as long as I could. I wanted to delay the interrogation with Krishnendu for as long as possible.

I remembered the cold eyes of Krishnendu, as they had scanned my face from behind the matted hair. I wasn't too keen to meet those eyes in a hurry again.

Finally, the last drop of coffee was gone, and there were no more excuses for me to stay away from the interrogation room. I got up, stretched, and with a few slow steps, was standing in front of the metal door separating me from Krishnendu.

The door opened, and one more time, I saw those cold purposeful eyes of Krishnendu looking at me; almost as though he could see right through me. It was hard to believe that he was twenty six years old. There was something innocently curious and boyish about his face, almost as though everything that he had done, he did just to quench that curiosity.

"Good evening, Krishnendu," I said, as I entered the room. The eyes still followed me, from the door, to the table where he sat watching me.

"Good evening, Sir," he said with a hissing whisper, barely moving his lips. The chill from outside seemed to have found a place in that interrogation room, precisely at the moment he had opened his mouth. He noticed my reaction upon hearing his voice, and the edges of his lips twitched into a smile as he peered inquisitively into my face.

"Cold day this one. I wonder how long that hailstorm's going to last. I like hail, wish I could see it once," he added. "Do you think that's possible, Sir?" he asked me with a sneer.

I couldn't answer somehow. There was not much left for me to do in the interrogation room. He had confessed to everything that he had been accused of, and the preliminary interrogation had revealed that he wasn't lying. What left of me was to go into his mind, and figure out why he did whatever he did.

I took the seat that was waiting for me opposite to those cold cruel eyes; a misfit in that boyish face. The eyes stared at me, a sense of evil power resonating from them. I found that I couldn't look for too long into them.

"4th August, 2008. Interrogation of Krishnendu Saha, accused for 11 counts of murder. Round 2. Time, 7:42 PM. Presiding officer, Detective Tarun Bhattacharjee."

I paused for a moment, and chanced a look at Krishnendu. His stare had become fixed, but he wasn't looking at me anymore. He seemed to be able to see outside the room, right through the stone walls. I didn't mind really.

"Well, Krishnendu. You've pleaded guilty the murder of Shailendra Saha, and 10 other boys from the village. Is that correct?"

"Yes."

I looked up, searching for a slightest bit of remorse on his face. There was none. I continued with the interrogation.

"It was 1992 when Shailendra was killed, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

"That means you were ten at that time."

This time, there was a slight pause before he answered in the affirmative. Something moved in his voice though, something had changed. I wasn't in a position to let my emotions show however, so I asked what needed to be known. We knew the when and how. It's the why we were looking for. It's the why, for which I was sitting in this room.

"Why did you kill him, Krishnendu?" I asked, praying that my voice stayed calm.

Again, he didn't answer immediately. It was some time before he said, with a slightly warmer whisper, "He raped my little sister. She was six at that time; his only niece. When she squirmed, he choked her so she wouldn't make a sound. He didn't release her. By the end of it all, she was dead." Apart from that slightly warmer voice, there was no other display of emotion on his face. No tears stained his face, no lines of anger formed on his un-wrinkled, boyish face.

A few minutes of silence, I had to give him that. I knew this story, his lawyer had gotten it out of him too. However, I had to continue the questioning.

"That was in the year 1992. After that, you waited for 6 years before you committed another murder, is that correct?"

"Yes."

"Why did you commit that murder? I don't think there was any need of revenge this time."

No one had bothered to ask him this question. As long as he had pleaded guilty, who cares why he murdered all those people? I, however, couldn't stop myself from asking that question though.

The cold voice was back. "It's addictive."

I felt a cold sweat on the back of my neck. Suddenly, I wished I hadn't asked that question. However, I still had one more thing to ask him, but it wasn't easy anymore. He was looking right at me, with those eyes.

"Your father has been missing since 1993 Where is he, Krishnendu?"

~~~~~

The day was hot, sultry. All he wanted to do was just get a quick dip in the river, but he knew he had to sneak in there, so that he could avoid his father. He came to the river bank, clad only in his towel. Taking it off, he plunged into the cool water. How wonderful it felt, the river flowing slowly, talking to him. The river knew his secrets, almost all of them.

The buffalo was also in the river, but he didn't mind. He had given her a bath many a times, and she knew him quite well. He wasn't scared of her. In fact, he was one of the very few people in the world the buffalo adored. He could get her to come inside the house when no one else could, he could get her to stay in the shed on rainy days. He could get her to calm down on stormy nights. They were quite fond of each other actually.

He hadn't seen his father come from the other side though, but his father had seen his towel lying there on the ground. His father knew that he had sneaked out, and gone into the river, even after he had been explicitly told not to go there. Furious, his father pulled him out of the river.

He got a beating that day, right in front of his buffalo friend, and his river friend. They couldn't do anything about it, except watch him being beaten up. Finally, when his father was satisfied with the punishment he had handed out, he let Krishnendu go.

Krishnendu picked up the moist towel from the ground, and with a whisper said to the River and the Buffalo, "Don't worry about him. I'll be back tomorrow."

***

Image Courtesy egvvnd

God has a Sense of Humor

34 comments

He had never thought that this would be the way that he'd return home, sitting in a fancy chauffer driven sedan. Especially considering the fact that it was not at all the way he had left the place – with just a bag full of old clothes on his back, and a heart heavy with memories.

"God really does have a sense of humor," he thought to himself, and once more it felt to him as though the cheers of the crowd followed him.

It was his second act as a standup comic, the first time in his old city – and by God, had the city grown! The people still were the same; well, almost. Some people do change an awful lot over the span of seven years after all.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening. I stand here in front of you, not to show you my wit tonight, but God's sense of humor. I never thought he possessed one, and by golly, was I surprised!"

His opening lines still rang clear in his ears, the applause and laughter still beating on his eardrums. It felt so different in the smooth silence of the car, right after the tremendous cheers he faced back at the auditorium.

"When I left this city, I had promised myself that I'd never come back, and I'm sure God heard that. I think that's why he's made this city what it is now, raising it from the dumps to the beautiful metropolis we know today – all while I was gone. He made me miss it all, and I think that was just for kicks! Something like, God's way of saying 'Haha, Gotcha!' "

He had left in rags. He had left a broken man, feeling as though he had been deceived by a good friend. He had left with a ragged bag on his shoulders and a torn Rs. 100 note in his pocket. He had left nothing behind, for everything that he had owned had been lost or taken away from him. He was nothing more than an exile that day, boarding the last train, never to return.

No food, no shelter, no clothing, that was his condition that chilly winter day. Food, clothing and shelter, the three basic needs of all men. The three basic necessities, without which no man can ever survive.

"Well, the Big Man Up There has a funny system for that too. For nine months, he gives us food through a tube, delivered right into our tummies – no hassles of chewing or swallowing even! He gives us a wonderful home, warm and cozy, that doubles up as a Jacuzzi all the time we're in there. And the best part, we don't even need clothes in there. We can walk around buck naked, and still not care about it, or be one bit uncomfortable. And just when we start to get comfortable, (which I think happens around the ninth month of our stay), we're pushed through a tube, and out into the world, and forced to worry about things like digestion, and breathing, and jobs, and who's got better clothes, or better cars, and loan installment payments for all the things we couldn't afford but wanted anyway. Well, what kind of a system is that, really?"

He had never been free from the memories. It had always gnawed at his mind, calling out to him. Like that old friend, who's been half forgotten, and you're curious about how that friend is doing these days, and what he's been up to all these days.

"You can drop me off there. My house is just around the corner, I can walk the rest of the way," he said and stepped out of the car. The evening smoke and the constant shrieks of the cars on the road greeted him.

He recognized the little restaurant where he used to eat, every night for three years before he fled; the park where he used to go for his after dinner smoke, every night, without fail. This night too, he took out one of his favourite cigarettes. As he lit it, a stranger approached him.

"Excuse me, do you have a light?" he asked with a smile. He was a stranger, and yet he recognized him.

The cigarette was lit, and the man walked away. He smiled at the city, and the city embraced him back. It was good to be back home.

This time, there were no jokes by the Big Man Up There.

~~~~~

Been away from the Blogging world for a while now, haven't been in touch with writing even, what with the exams going on and all. They got over today, so I had to write something – couldn't wait, like always. This one might have come off a bit sloppy and/or rusty, apologies for that. I wanted to finish the post as soon as possible.

Nice to see a steady string of visitors even in my absence, thanks so much for that!

Thanks to Juhi for the "This blog Measures up" award.

 I'd like to pass on the award to Arv, Harshita, Isha, Siya, and Jagjit.

Hoping to write more soon, see you guys around J

***

Image Courtesy baratunde

The Friend Circle

72 comments

"If only I had a gun," thought Ali. "Maybe, if I could blast a bullet in my head, it'd help to stop the pounding." He laughed at the absurdity of the thought almost immediately though, as real life took a grip on him again.

He had never thought that he could fight with Raman the way he did. He never thought that he was capable of saying the things that he did, to Raman; his best friend since childhood.

He wanted to say a lot of things to him; that he hadn't really meant any of the things he had said to Raman when they fought. That he still was his best friend, in spite of everything. Most importantly, he wanted Raman to know that he did not want him to "die and go to hell" as he had told him to.

Ali had tried calling Raman quite a few times, but he had had no luck. He was very hopeful thus, when finally the phone rang. He picked up the phone hastily, only to see that it wasn't Raman, but Kalpana who was calling him.

"Kay. I thought it was Raman," said Ali the moment he picked up the call. "More than thinking, I was actually hoping it was him."

"He still hasn't called?" asked Kay. It was evident that she was worried about the friendship between the two of them.

"Not yet. I tried calling him a bunch of times, but he's not picking up the phone. How am I supposed to make up with him, when he won't answer my calls?"

"Have you tried visiting his place?"

"Last time I went there, he wasn't home. The door was locked, and Mrs. Dixit didn't know where he was either," said Ali.

It was getting insane. He had never felt worse in his entire life. There were very few people who mattered to him where he was. One of them was missing, while the other one was on the phone with him, trying to convince him that things would turn out fine.

"Kay, you don't think he's taken everything that I said to him seriously, has he?"

"I don't think so Ali. It's Raman, our Raman. More than that, it's you guys we're talking about here. I'm sure you guys are gonna figure this out soon. The both of you just need some time to cool down, that's all," said Kay.

"I'm cool now. I am a little worried about Raman. He's not gonna do anything stupid, is he?"

"Nah, he's a mature rational guy. I wouldn't worry about him much. He'd turn up alright, probably with a couple of bottle of beers for the two of you. Who knows?"

"Yeah, with Raman, you never really know," said Ali, as the doorbell rang.

He looked through the peephole, and saw it was Raman, standing just outside the door. Relieved, he quickly told Kay about him.

"He's here Kay; I'll go talk it out with him."

"Yeah, you do that. Then you give me a call and let me know what happened, okay? Don't worry now kid, you guys are alright," said Kay. A click and she hung up.

Ali unlatched the door to find Raman standing with a gun in his hand. He raised it. The bullet made a small coin-sized hole dead center of Ali's forehead, and he crumpled to the floor.

***

Image Courtesy robinn.

A Sucky Day Smiles

60 comments

Morning 6:30 AM, the alarm clock screams into his ears. With a jerk, he was pulled unwillingly from the wonderful dream that he was enjoying. It starred his darling angel after all, and he had the front row seats to it – but sadly, life had something else in store for him.

A sucky day awaited him.

The after sleep grogginess accompanied him as he got out of the bed, and that's when he got the first taste of the sucky day that was waiting for him. No water in the early morning, his whiny dog whining, while he was in the loo trying to make do with the little water that he had, and a little cockroach in his breakfast. All in all, by the time he was getting out of the house, he wasn't really in the best of his moods.

The Day chuckled gently.

Reaching college, he found that the first class was that of his least favourite teacher. It's said that teachers are fair, but he was sure that his professor hated him, for some reason. Thus, it wasn't a surprise that he had to endure a ten minute diatribe about time management, all because he was ten minutes late. He was so irritated that he couldn't even spot the subtle irony of the situation.

The Day kept smirking at him.

Wading through one boring class after another, he almost fell asleep in the class. The sleep in the class however, is never as comfortable or as desirable as the one he knew he could have enjoyed had he stayed at home. He fought valiantly to keep his eyes open, but his mind just wouldn't listen to him. Finally, mind won over body, and his head slid on the desk. Before he knew it, he was sleeping, right in the middle of the class. As luck would have it – since it was a sucky day for him – the professor noticed. The professor, already on a short temper, having shouted at him for being late, was quick to throw him out of the class.

"Don't come to my classes for the next four days now!" he screamed, as he slouched away, thinking who he had offended to deserve all this.

And a little laugh escaped from the Day's mouth, but he was quick to stifle it. He didn't want him to hear it after all.

After the grueling day, it was finally the time to go back home. It was at this time that his Darling Angel called up, and she seemed quite bugged about something too. She was mad at him, for not having called him up the whole day. He tried to tell her how his day had gone by, but she wasn't ready to listen to his excuses. They fought, and by the time he hung up, he was quite pissed off with life. His troubles were far from over, when he found that because of the pointless argument, he had missed the bus, which meant that he would have to wait for twenty minutes for the next bus to come along.

The Day couldn't help but laugh out loud when it saw the irritation in his eyes, especially as he wondered what happened to him all through the day. The Day was somewhat satisfied to see that he still couldn't figure it out.

Finally, he reached home, and threw his bag into the far corner as always. Accompanied by that strong cup of coffee that he needed in order to sort out his messed up nerves, he ventured out into the virtual world. As he did so, he paused for a moment, steeling himself for the adversities that he felt sure he would feel there as well.

The Day smiled at him, and this time, it was quite a genuine smile.

As he logged on to his blog, he saw the wonderful comments that his readers had left for him. Readers from all over the country, and some even from across the borders. Readers who all told him a common thing – "thank you for bringing us into the wonderful world that you weave, all with just a few words."

And so, he was finally able to smile along with the Day.

~~~~~


Bloggers Unite hosts the Blog Reader Appreciation Day today, and in keeping with that event, this post was my way to say Thank You to the many readers I've acquired over the last few months. I've never been a serious blogger, but when I saw the wonderful appreciation that has come my way, all thanks to you guys, it's made me stick to the blog a lot more than I used to in the past.

Thanks to all of you J.

Just another point, this post is somewhat a mix between truth and fiction. Which is what, however, is not really important… yet.

Cheers to all of you!

***

Image Courtesy roy²

Holy Land

42 comments

"You know, I was wondering something for a while now," she said suddenly, while he was driving.

"Hmm?" he said, taking a little bit of time to focus on what she was saying. It happens that you get lost in your own thoughts when you're out on the road in the middle of the night, and she understood that. She waited for him to get back to what she was saying before continuing.

"It's been four years we've been together, and two months since we got married, and we've never talked about God, have we?" she asked him.

He hadn't expected this topic while they were out on the road like this, but he had always admired the unpredictability of her thoughts. "No, we haven't. Is that what you were thinking all this while?"

"Yeah. Don't ask me why I started thinking about it though," she said with a smile. He answered back with his smile, and said, "I'm not asking."

"So, what's your take on God?" she pressed.

He didn't answer immediately. He had never really thought about this, never imagined that someone would actually pose this question to him someday. He didn't have an answer ready with him, and so he took some time to form the answer in his head.

"I'm not sure about God. I did believe in God as a kid, especially during the festivals, but as I grew up, I wasn't too sure about the existence of a supreme being," he said.

"So you've become an atheist?" she asked.

"No, not really. More like an agnostic. I don't say there is no God, I just question that theory. I've never had convincing proof for it actually. If I do, who knows, maybe I'd start believing"

It was her turn to become silent now while she looked out the window, lost in her own thoughts. After about a minute, he interrupted her thoughts, and said "What's your take on the subject? Aren't you going to tell me that?"

"Well, I've always believed in God. Ever since I was a little girl, ever since I went to the temple for the first time. Call me crazy, but I've always felt someone there has been waiting for me, every time," she said, a smile lighting up her face.

"Wow, that's sweet," he said, "and just so you know, I don't think you're crazy to believe in that stuff."

"Doesn't your sister believe in God?" she asked.

"Oh yes, she does. She's a devout believer. She thinks that all our lives are in His hands, that everything is His will."

"Well, what if she's right with that train of thought? What if there really is a God somewhere, and He's actually got a big plan for all of us? What if this drive, this conversation, it's all a part of His plan?"

Before he could answer to that, the car stalled with a small lurch. He pulled to the side of the road, put the blinkers on, and wondered out loud, "Was this in the plan as well?"

"Oh ,come on now!" she exclaimed on hearing that. She knew he was joking, but thought it to be a nice opportunity to seize the moment and use it to her advantage. "You're not actually going to blame this on God now are you? I thought you had your doubts about his existence. Convenient, eh?"

"I was kidding. I thought you would understand, sweetheart," he said, with a swift smile before he got out to see what the trouble with the car was.

"I'd have to take care of this trouble now, I don't think Divine Intervention's really going to help us out here," he continued once he was outside. "It's the skills of the Automobile Engineer you've got as a husband that's going to get us out of this one!"

"Maybe it would be your skills that would get us out of here," she said, stepping out of the car herself, "but that doesn't really prove anything. It doesn't prove that God does not exist."

"Well, it doesn't prove that he does either. Which brings us back to the doubts that I had about Him in the first place," he said as he tinkered around under the hood.

"I wonder if that's done it," he said to her, "go in and turn on the ignition; see if it works now"

She went inside and turned the key, and the engine throbbed to life. She could see his smile in the headlights, and he saw her smile when he got back into the car a moment later. Soon, they were back on the road.

"So, why did we have that conversation there, out of the blue like that?" he asked her, as they sped over the familiar road leading back to the city.

"Just like that, I've been wondering about it for some time now. Just thought of bringing it up tonight, that's all," she said.

Up ahead, they could see a little temple, with a candle still burning in the dead of the night. "Let's stop over for a moment over there, please? I'd really like that," she said, turning to him.

"Now? It's getting kinda late, don't you think? We have to get back home."

"I won't be long. Just a little while. Five minutes at max."

He stopped the car, but he still didn't understand the urgency. "Why do you have to visit the temple now, in the middle of the night?"

"Because, when we were stuck there, I prayed to God to help us out. Right before turning the ignition, I prayed. I dunno, feels as if it worked because of that."

He smiled, unlocked the car doors, but said nothing. "You want to come too?" she asked him.

"Sure, why not. Although, I'm still not sure. One incident like that can't change the way I think," he said, and took off his shoes before entering the Holy Land.

She smiled into the night, and welcomed the scent of the incense that was burning, waiting for her to pay a visit in the dead of that night.

~~~~~

I've been away from the blogging world for the last few days, which is why there's been this delay in the post. I'll still be away for a few more days, but I couldn't resist popping in and posting this one. I hope I can come back quickly though. Hope to see you guys soon.

***

Image Courtesy Snap-shooter!

Coffee House Silence

55 comments

On a perfect March evening, when the wind was just right, he walked into that familiar café, hopeful. In the corner, the 'reason' for his visit sat quietly, propped against a wall as always. A book in one hand, and a coffee mug in the other, she seemed lost in her own little world. He sat down on the same table that he used to sit on, from which he could have a clear view of her. He wasn't too near, yet not too far away from her.

Out of the corner of her eyes, she noticed that he had walked in. Somehow, it seemed that the wonderful weather seemed to follow him inside as he walked in, and cheered the aromatic surroundings a little bit more. She smiled quietly to herself for a nanosecond, and the world missed it.

He kept throwing glances at her, a bit afraid that she might notice him. At the same time, a part of him secretly wished that she would notice that fact, that he was shooting those glances at her. He kept thinking about the many days that he would wait for her to look up from the book that she always used to carry with her. He remembered the time that he played a game with her, where he kept guessing the color of her eyes – until the time that she looked up and he saw that he had been right all along.

She used to keep looking at him out of the corner of her eyes. Her eyes would follow him every time that he got up for a refill of coffee; every time he would come back to his seat after paying the bill and check if he had left anything at his seat. She would keep looking at him, until the very last moment, when his eyes would sweep the café one last time before he left. That's when her nerve would fail her, and she would avert her eyes.

This day was different though. This time, he wasn't the first one to decide to leave. He stayed on, till the time that she looked at him. He stayed on, till he had the nerve to look into her eyes. As luck would have it, she also looked up at the same time. That's how their eyes met.

"And that's how their story began," said the narrator, with a twinkle in his eyes.

~~~~~~

There was a purposeful difference in the style of this story, and that change was brought about to avoid the stereotype which I noticed was creeping up in my posts. Now I'm curious to find out what everyone thinks about it J

***

Image Courtesy hiromy

The Truth

50 comments

This story has been inspired by a post written by Shruti. You can find the post here. I hope I've done justice to the situation here, and I hope that things turn out great for that family.

~~~~~

His mother looked into the mirror, and wondered how she would ever tell her son that he wasn't her flesh and blood, that he was adopted. She wondered how she would look into his eyes, and would admit the fact, that she hadn't carried him in her womb for nine months. She loved him, as anyone would love their own child. Still, a splinter in her mind caused her to wonder if that love was enough, if her love would be considered second hand.

She walked into his room, and saw that the little boy was getting ready to go somewhere. She couldn't ask where he was going. She somehow wanted him to stay, wished that he would say something to make the whole matter easier. Something like that silent hug of his, which always made things so much easy for her, without the need of even a single word.

He was having trouble with his shoes. Even at the age of 11, it amused her sometimes that he had trouble with mundane things like this, when he could solve complex math problems in seconds. Standing at the door to his room, she smiled while he tried the shoe on for the umpteenth time, without the slightest sign of impatience or frustration.

She knew she had to tell him something. She knew the time had come. She knew if she hid this from him any longer, there was a chance that he would hear about it from somewhere else. She knew that for him, it could prove to be disastrous. She told herself over and over again, that it was best if it was her who told him the truth.

She wondered how she would bring up the subject. She wondered if he would want to go out, as he was planning to, after he heard the truth a few moments later. Time was running out though, she had to find the right words any moment now; he almost had his shoes on.

He tied the laces, and stood up in front of her, a big smile spreading on his face. "I did it finally!" he said. "I'll be back soon, just going out with a few friends."

"Ashmit…" his mother began.

"Yes, Ma?"

Her courage failed her at the last moment, leaving her at a time she needed it the most. She couldn't look into his eyes,  and as she said to him "Don't be too late," she rushed off to the kitchen, lest he see the tears in her eyes.

***

Image Courtesy carf

That Damned Shortcut: Part 2

44 comments

This post is the second chapter in the story of how a shortcut affected the peace of mind of five college kids. In case you haven't read the first part, Click Here. Cheers...

~~~~~

While Siddharth got busy making sure she was not hurt, Ira, Amit and Parul looked around to see what had caused her to faint.

Amit was the first one to notice what was a bobbing lantern coming at them through the banana trees. Scared to death, he merely pointed his finger towards it.

From among the banana trees, out came the bobbing lantern. It was held by the most ancient arm that anyone from that group had seen in all their lives. The five of them sat petrified in the car, while the figure moved slowly towards them. Although they couldn’t see the face, they could feel the unseen eyes of the black figure on them. A few feet away, the figure stopped, and they got a glimpse. It looked like a man, wrapped in a black blanket, a hood hiding his head from view. The lantern, swinging from his hand, cast deep shadows on whatever bit of face they could see of him. His face was wrinkled to the extent that it seemed pieces of it would be falling off. All this however was left unnoticed, once they spotted the moon shaped scar on his left cheek, and the two sunken circles where they knew the watchful eyes rested.

“Do all of you see a man there, who’s easily 200 years old?” whispered Amit into the silence. Ira shushed him without looking at him. Parul, who was trying to revive Minisha, left her on the floor of the car and sat petrified at the appearance of this man.

“We have to get out of here. Amit, start the damn car!” said Siddharth in the palpable silence.

“Sid, the car’s not starting. You think I’d be here if I could help it?” said Amit in the bravest voice he could summon.

“Be quiet you two, no need to attract attention,” whispered Ira.

“Ira, look around!  There’s no one else here, I think we’ve got all the attention possible,” said Amit.

“What if he wants to harm us?” asked Ira, a strangled whisper being all that she could come up with.

“Ghosts don’t want to hurt anyone, unless they’ve done the ghosts some harm. I read it somewhere,” Sid spoke from the backseat.

“Shut Up!” said Ira and Amit together, turning back at Siddharth, half angry, half scared witless.

They never thought that there would come a day when they would start believing in ghosts.

The man moved forward. Slowly, he came towards the car, the lantern still bobbing eerily in his hand. They waited with bated breath, wondering what would happen. He stopped right in front of Amit’s window, his cold breath fogging the window, even though the weather outside hadn’t been that cold. The man stood there for a full minute, then a long bony finger emerged from beneath the depths of the black blanket. He rapped the window thrice, and pointed back along the road. Again, he rapped the window, and again he pointed back the way they had come.

 The moon decided to show up for the night, and threw light upon the true terror that had spread in that little car. Amit turned the ignition, and this time there was a feeble lurch in the car, and a faint gurgling sound came from the engine. One more time the blanketed man rapped the window, and pointed.

“Come on, don’t give up on me now. I don’t wanna die here, not tonight, not in a stupid Banana Plantation!” Amit almost screamed at the car.

And voila! The engine suddenly throbbed to life. Sweet relief shone on Amit’s face, as he put the car in reverse to get out of there. The figure, seeing that they were fleeing the scene, followed them with outstretched arms.

“Get the hell outta here Amit! Pedal to the metal!” screamed Siddharth from the back seat.  The tyres screamed, but Amit relentlessly pushed the car to its limit, till the road from where they had started was visible again. They turned on to the busy street, stopped the car under one of the many burning streetlamps, the wonderful light washing over their white, scared faces.

“What. Was. That?” Asked Ira in the stunned silence.

“What the heck was that dark thing moving towards us in the darkness? Was I dreaming?” asked Minisha, having finally come back to her senses. Parul still couldn’t talk, while Amit had beads of sweat sticking to his head.

“Never again, am I going to take that sort of a shortcut. I’ve had enough of Ghosts for this lifetime!” vowed Amit, and they headed down the well lit road back home.

***

The man on the road finally removed the blanket that he had put on to scare the kids. He had a smile on his face, as he remembered how as kids, his gang of friends used to scare innocent travelers back at home.

“Felt good to do that after such a long time. I’ve still got it,” said the old man to himself, and walked back home, laughing as he thought about the scared faces of the poor kids.

~~~~~

This is a story that has been co-authored by Isha Chawla, and the first part of the story can be found on her blog... although I'm assuming that you came out here from her blog itself!

100 Truths

40 comments

This is my first step towards writing about me. It wasn't the most preferred one, but I chose it 'coz it seemed quite easy. Once I got to doing it though, it was a different experience altogether.

I've been tagged before this too, but I've never really had the patience to do one of those things. This time however, it was different, with three reasons for me to do this tag.

  1. I had quite a few requests from people to write something about myself, and 100 Truths about me seemed a good place to start.
  2. I couldn't think of anything to write on, no inspirations for stories come to my mind, and yet I wanted to write something today.
  3. It was high time I did one of the many tags that I've been tagged with!

Thanks to Isha for tagging me with this one. More about-me posts to follow soon… make do with this one till that time :P


1. Last drink: Wonderful Home-brewed Red Tea…
2. Last phone call : Didiya, and she's left a zillion things here as always :D
3. Last text message: Sherii.
4. Last song you listened to: Waterloo Sunset by Def Leppard… aah, the memories…
5. Last time you cried: A long, long time ago…

HAVE YOU EVER...
6. Dated someone twice: Nope… don't even see the point of it.
7.Been cheated on? Hmm, that's an interesting question… and I think I'd have to go with yeah…
8. Kissed someone & regretted it? For a while, till a friend was kind enough to tell me that you shouldn't regret something that made you smile ;)
9. Lost someone special? Yup!
10. Been depressed? Yup!
11. Been drunk and threw up? Yup! And the last time was shit scary too… read a little more about it here :D

LIST FOUR FAVORITE COLORS:
12. Black
13. Red
14. Blue
15. All shades of grey.

FIRSTS :
15. Made new friends: Of course… although, I'd like to meet someone who hasn't… that might be fun!
16. Fallen out of love: Yup…
17. Laughed until you cried: Oh Yes!!
18. Met someone who changed you: Somewhat yes…
19. Found out who your true friends were: Yeah, and in very weird circumstances
20. Found out someone was talking about you: Yeah, again in very weird circumstances

HAVE YOU:
21. Kissed anyone on your friend's list: Nope
22. How many people on your friends list do you know in real life: If you're talking about the Follower's list on Blogger, then it'd be 4. If you're talking about the people on the various social networking sites, then almost all of them… one or two might be there who I haven't met…
23. How many kids do you want to have: Depends…
24. Do you have any pets: Not yet.
25. Do you want to change your name: Nope… again, I'd like to meet someone who wants to
J
26. What did you do for your last birthday: The birthday was spent with family, and the next day when I went out with friends, got lost at India Gate. How that happened is something I still wonder about sometimes :P
27.What time did you wake up today: 8.15 a.m.
28. What were you doing at midnight last night: Going to the canteen to have dinner, since I'd overslept and missed it at the mess…
29. Name something you CANNOT wait for: Writing.
30. Last time you saw your father: Back in February…
31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life: Surprisingly, nothing… I'm not saying that I've had a perfect life, but then again a perfect life would be very, very boring.
32. Most visited web page:I think it's a tie between Technicolor Collage, Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, and Google Reader… and DeviantART's close behind too
J

WHAT'S YOUR:
33. Name: Arnab Majumdar
34. Nicknames: Joy, Toy & Tidda (courtesy my hostel mates), Skeletor (courtesy my grad college buddies), Baby Dinosaur (thanks to the office guys)
35. Zodiac sign: Libra
36. Male or female or transgender: Male
37. Elementary: The Mother's International School
38. School: The Mother's International School
39. Colleges: Graduation – Maharaja Surajmal Institute
Post graduation – CMS, IILM, Greater Noida
40.Hair color: Black
41. Long or short: Short
42. Height: 5'9"
43. Do you have a crush on someone? Yup…
44. Ever been in love? Once.
45. Piercings? Nope.
46. Tattoos? Nope.
47. Righty or lefty: Righty
48. First surgery: Thankfully, none yet… almost had one though…
49. First piercing: Never had any, won't have any either
50. First best friend: Surojeet.
51. First sport you loved: Cricket
52. First pet: My Grandma's dog, Phelaram Chakravertty a.k.a. Phelu
53. First vacation: Life started as a vacation… I was born in Jaipur, went off to Shillong, and finally reached "home" in Delhi when I was almost three
J

54. First concert: Ma's concert of Robindro Shongeet
55. First crush: Do Celebrity Crushes count?? That would be, Sonali Bendre back in 1994 :D

RIGHT NOW:
56. Eating: Hulli Gulli Corn Puffs
57. Drinking: Red Tea… again!
58. I'm about to: Browse through my music collection yet again…
59. Listening to: The rain outside.
60. Waiting for: An inspiration for another story…

YOUR FUTURE
61. Want kids? Depends…
62. Want to get married? Not for another 7 years at least…
63. Careers in mind? Market Research, Advertising and Sales Promotion, and sometimes, even writing professionally
J



WHICH IS BETTER WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX?
64. Lips or eyes: Eyes.
65. Hugs or kisses: Kisses.
66. Shorter or taller: Shorter.
67. Older or Younger: Younger
68. Romantic or spontaneous: Romantically Spontaneous.
69. Nice stomach or nice arms: Nice Stomach
70. Sensitive or loud: Both…?
71. Hook-up or relationship: Relationship.
72. Trouble maker or hesitant: Trouble maker.

HAVE YOU EVER : 
73. Kissed a stranger: Nope.
74. Lost glasses/contacts: Nope… lost my sunglasses though, would that count?
76. Broken someone's heart: Yeah, I did…
77. Had your own heart broken: Yup…
78. Been arrested: Almost.
79. Turned someone down: Yeah…
80. Cried when someone died: Yes, although it was a long time ago…
81. Liked a friend that is a girl? Yes
J

DO YOU BELIEVE IN:
81. Yourself: Oh Yes!
82. Miracles: Absolutely.
83. God: I'm spiritual, but not religious… got that from Orkut :D
84. Love at first sight: Nah…
85. Heaven: Oh Yes!
86. Santa Claus: Not since 1992, and I wasn't even that disappointed…
87. Kiss on the first date? It Depends…
88. Angels: Yeah!
89. Devils: Hell Yeah!

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY:
90. Is there one person you want to be with right now? Nah…
91. Had more than one boyfriend/girlfriend at one time? Nope.
92. Wanted to kill someone ever? Yes, and it's not funny.
93. Among you blog mates, whom would you like to kiss? No one…
J

94. Committed a blunder and regretted later? Blunders, loads of them. Regrets, very, very few!
95. Wanted to steal your friend's boyfriend / girlfriend? Never.


ASSOCIATE WITH SOMETHING YOU WEAR:
96. White: Tantra T-shirt with the map of Delhi on it.
97. Black: Tantra T-shirt with a hand print on it.
98. Red: My Santa Claus Jacket :D
99. Pink: Thank God I don't have any pink clothes!!
100. Posting this as 100 Truths? Wasn't easy, but yes!

And now, I tag all those who comment on this. Let's see who those brave folks are :D