Friday, December 24, 2010

A season for giving

The teller in the bank was surprised when he saw a tiny hand proffering a few soiled notes in denominations of one, five and ten.He looked at the figure.A young boy of ten years in much worn and tattered shirt held together by safety pin was looking at the teller with some anxiety. “Sir, can you please give me 20 five rupee coins in lieu of that”’the small voice queaked .

“Why do you need the five rupee coins.They are in short supply you know”said the teller curious to know the purpose.

“Tomorrow is Christmas.I want to give to the poor who assemble before the church” he said.

“You don’t yourself look well provided.A new shirt would do good for you” said the teller and continued”how did you get this money, by the way?”

“Sir, I had actually saved the money only for getting a new shirt.But there are many needy even without a shirt.My teacher told me yesterday that Christmas is for giving and sharing” he answered.

The teller was overcome with emotion at the lofty young mind before him.He wiped his eyes and said “I will add 20 more coins to your 20 as my share.Please distribute to the needy tomorrow at the church.One more thing, please meet me after lunch here at the bank.I have a small Christmas gift for you.I am impressed with you.What is your name?”

“Thank you, sir..Santosh is my name.I will come to you after lunch” he replied as he collected 40 five rupee coins

In the afternoon he was surprised to see the teller telling him “Though young you taught me the true message of Christmas.Thank you very much” and handed him a packet containing a new shirt and shorts.

May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with warmth and love. Christmas is the time of giving and sharing. It is the time of loving and forgiving.Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mangala’s tears

The dinner was over early today as Mangala’s husband was away on tour and expected only the next day.She was watching the TV with her children.The next day was Sunday and there was no school for Akash and Amrutha.It was nearing nine PM when she heard someone knock the door loudly though a bell was there.She peeped through the hole to find an elderly lady standing.She looked decent possibly from a middle class family.Mangala opened the door.The lady was past 75 in a clean sari with gold jewels on her hands, neck and ears.

When she did not say anything Mangala asked her “Patti (grandma), what do you want?”When she did not answer Mangala asked her again a little louder”Why are you silent? Whom do you want to see? What do you want?”

When she did not reply, she prompted her to talk by holding her hands.

The old woman said “I don’t know”

“Where are you living? What is your name? Whom do you want to meet? Please answer so I can help you” Mangala said.

“I don’t remember anything.I am hungry and very tired” she replied in feeble tone.

To Mangala she reminded her of her late mother and she felt some pity.She said “Please come. In.You can eat after washing your hands”She led her in and made her eat well.Meanwhile she rang up her husband and explained about this lady and her doubts that she must be stricken with Alzheimiers.When he suggested that she ring up the police,Mangala firmly rejected the idea telling that she would not like the old woman at the police station in the night.As he was returning next day, Mangala suggested she can spend the night in their house and they can together find a solution.He readily agreed to it.

Mangala’s attempts to find details failed as the old woman had lost her memory completely.She made her comfortable in a bed and left her to sleep.Mangala could not sleep for a long time .She was happy the old woman had come to her instead of falling into the hands of wicked men who would have readily slit her throat for the jewels she wore.

The next morning her son Akash was to leave around 8am for a cricket match he was playing.She hurried to make the breakfast.Akash’s friends who were also playing had come to accompany him.The boy was narrating to his buddies about the strange woman who could not remember her own name or where she lived.The boys out of curiosity peeped into the living room to see the old woman.One of the boys shouted “I know this patti.She lives close to my house.I see her almost daily there though I do not know her”

Mangala jumped in joy at the god sent opportunity to take her back to her place She requested the boy to accompany her along with old woman.Her house was in the adjacent street.As soon as the boy ran in to announce the arrival of the patti,the old lady asked Mangala why she brought her here.Meanwhile her son and daughter-in-law came rushing out and on seeing his mother he hugged her asking her”Why mom, why did you go away like this.We have been searching for you since last evening “. The lady continued to blink and asked Mangala “Who are these?Take me back with you? I don’t know them”

The son cried inconsolably.His wife ran into the house to fetch a picture of the old lady with her son and his family.It appeared that she was suffering from this Alzheimer since three years deteriorating progressively and this was the first time she went out on her own.

He thanked Mangala profusely and said”I am indebted to you for keeping her safely and bringing her back to us.I thank this little boy for showing my house.” As he led the lady into his house, the old woman clasped Mangala’s hands and cried”Do not leave me here.I don’t know them.Please take me with you.”

Mangala gently wrenched herself away and walked out with tears flowing from her eyes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The secret mission

There was a gentle knock at the door around 9 PM.Who could it be, he wondered? Vinay had no friends visiting him.No neighbours in this complex ever called on him. He opened the door to find a young woman in her mid twenties standing. He had seen her many times in the complex but had never spoken.She smiled at him and asked with certain hurry in her tone.”My telephone isn’t working.The cell phone is also not usable.Can I please make an urgent call to my mom who I understand is not well”

As she was talking to her mom, Vinay pretended to be reading a newspaper but was overhearing the conversation. She was quite an attractive woman, petite and had a sweet voice.He could feel her genuine concern for her mom and learn that she was feeling badly in not being by her side. After she disconnected, she thanked him profusely.He introduced himself and asked her to be seated when he went to get her coke.She saw as he opened the fridge it was bare except for the small bottle of coke.She could see from the sofa where she was seated, the kitchen that bore no evidence of any cooking.When they were talking she came to know that he had lost his job about six months back and the money he had saved was spent, a sizable chunk towards mother’s medical expenses and the balance on his food and rent.He owed rent and was pressurized to vacate.He was frantically looking for any job but nothing was forthcoming.She expressed her sympathy and her wish that he find a job soon.They met each other in the next few days several times exchanging small talk that gradually became longer.

He was turned away wherever he went for a job He was at the end of his tether and even toyed with the idea of taking his life away. It was at such a critical juncture that she came to him and asked him” Are you willing to do a job for me and if you accomplish this well, it may possibly open the gate for brighter future.But there is a condition.You should not ask much details but simply carry out the work entrusted to you without any demur. Do you have trust in me? If you trust me fully you must carry a packet to another city safely with you.This is a secret and important
assignment.You must not discuss with any one and you should not carry any other luggage.The man who would be meeting you at the airport would deliver you a box with new dresses and other essential things. He would take you to the place where you are to hand over the packet”

“How will I know the man at the airport”he asked?

“My man will identify you and utter the password that I would be giving you.He will take you to the destination.You should not ask any question what the packet contained and whom you were going to meet.Certain secrecy is necessary.If you trust me you can agree not otherwise. I will give you air ticket and also some money for the help .Be assured that at the end you would be happy that you did me this job”’ she said.

Vinay thought he cannot be in any worse situation than he was now and the lady seemed nice.Infact he had taken a great liking for her and often spent time thinking of her.She was paying some money too which he badly needed. He decided to agree notwithstanding a lurking doubt about the possibility of drugs or some secret documents exchanged on espionage activities.He told her”I need a break from this depressing atmosphere.I have full trust in you and am aware that you would not put me into any trouble.I am ready to start any time.”

She replied “You may leave two days later.I will hand over the packet to you this evening along with tickets and pasword.Please do not try to contact me till the packet is successfully delivered.”

Vinay carried nothing except the secured packaged box .It passed through Xray without problem as he feared.He was thinking of her and her mysterious ways during the journey and knew he was in love with her.He hoped that this could be the beginning of a closer relationship.

The man who received Vinay at the airport was curt as he gave him a box.He gave him 15 minutes to change his dress.There were a pair of nice suits with shirts and other garments.He was surprised at the way money was spent on him when he was a mere courier and a strange fear came over him whether he would turn to be the sacrificial goat.The car took them to a posh apartment.As he was waiting at the drawing room he started sweating despite the airconditioners..It took ten minutes and no one appeared.He felt some eyes were watching him though there was none.He wished she could have been a little more open.Suddenly he heard a door opening and saw a figure approaching him.He stood up involuntarily wonder struck in total amazement and surprise when he saw the person.
“Are you surprised, dear, seeing me here to receive you? Please open the box yourself and see the contents” said the lady he had met at his place.

When he opened, he found it to his utter surprise stuffed with scraps of waste paper and wondered why at all this secrecy.

She laughed and said “The whole assignment is a silly test to see whether you have implicit faith in me.I am glad you passed it admirably well.I thought you may back out.Lucky for me that you accepted”

“Why this test at all for me?” he asked with some eagerness

“I don’t know really.I had this strange desire to test you for I have lost my heart for you.I do not know how you feel towards me.But I want you to help me in looking after my vast business.If you like me as I do, we may spend the rest of our lives together.You will start a new life.That is the reason I requested you to discard everything from that wretched place” she said.

He extended his arms wide open for her to fall into for a long embrace.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The give away

Detective inspector Thomson looked gravely at the body of a 6 year old boy laid down by the pool.He looked at the young man, Shylesh and asked him “Can you please repeat for my benefit how this happened from the beginning to now.I will jot down the points as you keep talking."

"My wife Paru left this morning to a neighbouring town to attend an official meeting leaving the boy under my care.I did not go to work and stayed at home.We were sitting by the pool side.He was playing with the balls.One ball fell into the pool and he started asking for it.I told him that I would retrieve it later for him and that we better go inside.I took him along with me.I switched on the TV for him to watch a comic.I went to the adjacent room and was working on my computer.I did not notice the time till a call came from my wife asking me how her son was doing and whether he was giving me any trouble” he said

“Sorry for interruption.Did you say her son?”asked the inspector.

“Yes, it is her son by previous marriage.She got divorced.She had come to consult me for some ailment and we became friends.I was a single.We fell in love and married 8 months back” he answered

“Are you a medical doctor by profession?”asked the inspector.He nodded his head in affirmative.

“Pray proceed” said the inspector

“When she called,I felt bad working without being by the boy’s side.When I rushed to living room,I found the TV on but the boy was missing.I then went out and to my great shock and dismay found the boy floating on the water.He had obviously gone to retrieve the green ball”

“Did you say green ball? Did you not lock the doors as the padlock is high and he could not have opened by himself” queried the inspector.

“Yes.He was very particular about the green ball and insisted I get him that.I think he must have been impelled to try on his own when I was busy with the work.I am not sure whether I locked.Normally I do.Frankly I don’t remember.I feel guilty in not making sure” he replied

“It is ok.It happens.Did you not rush him to emergency when you took him out?”
“No, he was already dead.I have asked Paru to rush back.She is on her way.We will take her to a clinic nearby to obtain a death certificate for a formality.I am shattered what Paru would feel as she had left the boy in my care”Shylesh said

“Were you and the boy very close?” asked the inspector casually.

“Oh, he loved me so much .A very pleasant boy, he called me papa.I am numbed with shock”he said in a choking voice.

When they heard a car draw up, ”please allow me to talk to her first in private..Plesae do not talk to her about the incident till I am done with.You can hug her to comfort her and express your moral support but please be seated till I have finished talking to her” the inspector warned Shylesh and turned to his assistant and said “Dave, please be by the side of this gentleman”

Paru came running with swollen red eyes and wailing “Sanju, my dear Sanju, Where have you gone leaving me behind”. Shylesh put his arms around her and took her silently to the body of the boy.After allowing her to let out her emotions, the inspector led her to a separate room.Shylesh stayed behind.

“I am very sorry for you.But there are certain routine questions to be clarified.Would you mind answering me truthfully a few questions”the inspector asked.She agreed with a gentle nod.

The inspector softly said ”It may be an accident but still I would like to get it confirmed.How did you meet him?Did you know him earlier?How was his relationship with the boy?The pool was behind the living room and the boy had insisted earlier on retrieval of the ball that had fallen into it, may be by mistake.I am not sure..When your husband had said he would get it later, the boy was very particular in getting that ball.Still when he brought the boy inside the house, your hubby had not locked the door especially when he knew well that the boy was keen on the green ball.This sounds odd.Did he accept the boy whole heartedly when he married you?Please think carefully and reply”

“Did he say the boy wanted green ball? Did he mention specifically the colour?”asked Paru

“Yes, he repeated it many times to show the boy’s interest in getting the ball and his foolishly getting into water later.Why do you ask?” questioned the inspector

“I am confused.I do not know how I would answer this question”she sobbed.

The inspector gently prodded her.She said “Sanjay was colour blind” and closed her mouth with her sari and sobbed loudly

“Just two more questions, madam.I would not trouble you any more.First,did he know he was colour blind?Secondly When you said you had a boy by previous marriage,did your hubby welcome the news and not object?Please answer carefully” he asked

“Now that you are asking, I see things in a different perspective.He doesn’t know my son was colour blind.He was insistent that the boy be left with my parents.He did not want him with us.When I said I would marry him only if the boy was with me,he relented” she said

“Thanks .That clinches it.We will be taking him with us for further interrogation.The dial of suspicion clearly points to him.The truth will be out soon..My own hunch is he is not a good man.You made a bad choice,sister”

The police vehicle left soon with Shylesh in cuffs leaving a shattered Paru behind.Dave stayed back for the homicide people to come.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

55 Word fiction

Fire in belly
Why am I always running behind others for my success?
Don’t I have any other way to shine in life?
Those ahead hardly care for me pushing themselves to the front.
I am determined to succeed..
God has been kind to give me sturdy legs and hands.
I finally gave up track races and chose wrestling for profession.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The stranger

It was a dark night, the heavy rain had stopped but it was still drizzling outside making Ranjana’s gloomy mood murkier.She was alone in her apartment watching the desultory serial in the TV.Her mind was not on it though she had been watching this one regularly.She had neither appetite nor felt snoozy. All on a sudden the wretched electricty department shut down the power due to water logging somewhere. She wanted to light some candles but didn’t know readily where they were kept

In the dim light of a pencil torch that she always carried she saw a figure sitting on the sofa.From behind it looked very much like her dad.He was not there when the light was on but must have entered the room when the light had gone.The broad shoulders, the bald circular head and the way he was reclining on the sofa indicated unmistakably it was her dad.But it cannot be and must be some stranger.He stood up suddenly and walked up to the window to draw the curtains open for some moon light to enter from outside.His gait and the walk was her father’s and there was no doubt about it.She was afraid to go closer to him for this figure can only be a stranger.How can she be so sure that he was a stranger?There was no identical twin of his.

She recollected the big accident on the highway when she and her dad were returning from the mall.His dad was cruising along at 100 miles per hour on the fast lane when another vehicle going in the second lane swerved to the first lane without an indication.Her dad manouvered the car to avoid the other vehicle and hit the divider.She could see before she became unconscious of a gaping wound in the upper region of his body and blood gushing out.She saw him slump and there was no movement thereafter.She was sure he was dead and gone.There was no doubt about it.Who could this man then be ,she wondered.

Quietly she tiptoed to her room to ring for help.She ambled through the darkness as she was not willing to draw the attention of the man by the light from the torch.She could find her way to her room when she heard a loud cry “Ranjana” from the stranger.It was more like a wail in distress than calling her..She waited for a few moments more before ringing up.Repeatedly the stranger was uttering her name in anguish.Ranjana being alone was scared to attract his attention.She could not run out of the apartnent as he was sitting in the drawing hall.

Luckily the power was restored.She heard the stranger coming inside her room.She hid herself behind the curtains.His figure she noticed was bent and he was slouching as if beaten by care and worries.He slowly looked around the room,touched her bed ,ran his fingers on the pillow and slowly moved to the dresser. He saw her big photo in the frame and was continuously staring at it wiping his tears now and then.She saw him take it in his trembling hands and wiping the glass with his shirt.As he took the picture to his mouth to give her a kiss,he groaned aloud crying”Ranjana, why have you left me alone?I could have died in that accident.You were so young full of a promising future while my years were spent.How cruel God has been” He went on sobbing and she could not bear the agony of the stranger in distress.He must be really her dad revisiting her.She went near him, hugged him and comforted him with words”Don’t cry dad.I am very much by your side. I will join you when my days are over”

He did not seem to hear her voice or notice her presence.After a few minutes, she saw him switching off the lights and getting out of the apartment driving away.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Surprises galore



I woke up to the non-stop door bell.It was irritating early in the morning.I wanted to sleep a little more as it was a Sunday.I opened the door to see Kavitha, the maid.She had come earlier than usual.I asked her with some irritability,”Why are you so early today? You woke me up from my sleep”.She smiled and brought her hands hidden behind her back and gave me a small bouquet of roses and said “Happy Birthday”.I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity. I hugged her at the door itself to the amused smile of my neighbours taking their morning walk on the pathway.

“How do you know it is my birthday? Why did you spend your money on this when you seek loan from me every other day?” I asked her.

“How can I forget, amma.You are very special to me” she replied with a grin.

I was lost in thoughts about the good natured girl and her warm disposition.I was shaken from my reverie by her question.

“How are you celebrating today? Where is the master, Divya and Shankar?” she asked

“What celebration?” I said with some frustration.”Don’t you know that my husband has gone on tour.He said he would be returning today but didn’t tell at what time.Divya has gone on her college excursion and has promised to be here this morning.Shankar,I hope will come during the day from hostel.Only you remember my birthday and even gift me with roses.None else.They did not even greet me.But your gesture more than compensated for all their defaults” I said with a tinge of disappointment.

By 10 am all of them had come.Except what seemed a cursory happy birthday greeting and a tiny hug, there was no indication of any celebration or outing for lunch.They were in their rooms with husband busy on his mobile,Divya chatting with her friends on her lappy and Shankar in the basement presumably searching for something.It was 11.30 am and I was fed up with making a lunch at home even on my birthday.I felt shy of suggesting that we go out for eating and thought ”Don’t I for every birthday of their’s do shopping ahead getting them new dresses they would like,buy sweets,bake or order a big cake,get big costly greeting cards without their knowledge and even decorate the dining area for cutting the cake. How could they be so forgetful of all that I do. Forget the kids, what about hubby?” I was really upset and decided I would not cook come what may and atleast then they would remember their lapse in not giving me one free day from kitchen.

It was 12.30 PM.They would soon come asking for lunch.In frustration I went to the fridge and got some vegetables to cut.As soon as they heard the noise, all the three trooped in.They all asked in Chorus”What are you making for lunch?I hope the menu will be good.We are famished having been out of home for two days”

“I am not cooking anything special, not even the usual stuff.Am I a drudge working for the family?.I will make just rice.You can eat with curd” I replied with some bitterness in my tone..

It was then the door bell rang.Divya ran to open and soon came with a very large bouquet, a joyous assortment of garden fresh flowers.It was accompanied with packets of chocolates I expected them to hand it over to me but they quietly kept it on the dining table.

My husband said”I am famished.How long would it take for the rice to be ready?” How insensitive this man is totally oblivious to the sentiments needed for the occasion I thought. I suppressed my anger and asked him to wait for 5 more minutes.

There was another bell from the door.I was wondering who could it be when Shankar ran.He came back to my utter surprise with two large boxes of Pizza.My husband said “I don’t want your curd rice.I would prefer pizza.Hey Divya, open the box and see what pizza has been ordered by whoever it is.” .When the boxes were opened all of them saw two pizzas that were hot and steaming .The Pizzas were loaded with cruchy onions,crispy capsicum,juicy tomatoes, and jalapeno with a liberal sprinkling of exotic mexican herbs. Whoever had ordered had not forgotten the side dishes too .There were veg Mexican wraps, garlic breadsticks with two large bottles of coke.Meanwhile my hubby had quietly slipped away only to come back with a big parcel.

It then struck me there was a conspiracy of sorts.All the three took out the hidden cake, lit a candle and dragged me to the dining table.When I blew the candle they all sang happy birthday song.The bouquet was given by hubby with a flourish.Divya had opened the packet to display a gorgeous maroon coloured Mysore silk sari with a large zari border.
When my husband handed over the sari ceremoniously with a big bear hug,
Shankar let out the secret of the evening plan of a movie and a dinner at a famous restaurent.How foolish I was to think that my dear ones would ever forget my birthday.
Kavita who was a witness to the happenings was quietly smilimg at me.















Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who is my benefactor?

I was clad in my best sari to make a good impression at the interview that I was to attend that morning.I got this call after many of my applications failed to elicit any favourable response.I needed a job badly.The bus was crowded being office hour.I left home early to be a slightly before the time for interview.I could not get a seat and was standing by the side of seats earmarked for ladies.I could feel the heavy and warm breathing behind my neck.A young sweaty man was standing behind me too close to my comfort, that every time I shuffled my feet or moved my arms, my body came into contact with him.I pushed myself further towards the seats.He also moved closer narrowing the gap with his body almost touching my back.I squirmed unable to bear the sweaty stench and his contact.But there was little elbow room.When I turned to glare at him,he grinned showing his pan stained brown teeth.A rogue, his intentions were obviously not honest.I had a mind to get down from the bus at the next stop but the thought that I would be late deterred me.I moved a little forward and that scoundrel also moved in tandem.

It was then I heard a loud voice from the seat near me admonishing that man”Keep away from that girl.I have been watching you for a long time deliberately standing close to her.These are ladies seats.Go forward towards the exit.”It was from an old woman belonging to working class with a cane basket and shovel by her side.

He stared at her with hate as all the passengers turned their gaze s on him.None had come forward to help but when that old woman took cudgels there were murmurs of support.The old woman seeing him not moving away from the girl bellowed at him”Don’t you have a mother and sisters?Go away before I get angry?Hey conductor,are you blind and deaf or what ?Ask this crazy man to move forward”

Many passengers craned their necks while some stood up.The driver slowed down the bus at the next stop as the conductor inched forward towards the rascal..The young man dashed against that old woman as he hurried to get down.When the bus started with relief from everyone ,the old woman shouted “Ayyo, he has cut me with a blade.” I saw blood was coming and her sari was getting drenched.I asked the conductor to stop the bus.Without a second thought,I asked the old woman to get down along with me.I took a three wheeler and rushed her to the nearest hospital.The thought about the interview and that I would be late never occurred in my mind.I wanted to help my benefactor and not allow the blood to be drained from the deep cut.My sari was also much smeared in blood. After the dressing,I gave her some money and took leave of her with profuse thanks.

When I reached the venue for interview it was 11-30 am.I explained my predicament.The receptionist told me that my name was called and .the interviews were almost over.She said she would however check with the committee..Soon she came back to send me in.When I walked in all eyes were on my blood stained sari.They assured me not to worry and to relax.A glass of water was given.

Then the head of the committee asked me “What happened?”

I narrated briefly and expressed my regret at being late despite my starting very early.After a few questions on my experience and why I needed the job badly, the chief said”Actually there is only one vacancy.Since you had not come in time we had already finalised on the candidate.” He paused for a while looking at my crest fallen face with a smile..
When I stood up saying, “It is Ok, sir.I am unlucky”, he asked me why I was in a hurry to go and be seated.

Another member of the committee said with a smile on his face, ” We changed our mind to finalise as soon as we heard about the reason for your delay.We need people who are compassionate and who can understand the needs of others.You have demonstrated this trait in you amply. You are selected and can take the appointment letter, if you wait for 30 minutes.”

I had no words to express my gratitude except bow my head, even as I was wiping the tears of joy from my eyes.