Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A hit and run case

It was drizzling heavily and the sky was dark being a new moon day.Ananthu felt he should have left for home much earlier.The rain showed no sign of abatement rather it looked a heavy down pour was soon to follow.The wind was strong.He had told his wife he would be back early in the evening and would not stay for the cocktail party after the conference at a far off beach resort in the East coast road.She had wanted him to accompany her to her cousin’s place for a birthday party.But he could leave only very late but earlier than others.
He could not see even short distance ahead and the lights from the oncoming lorries were blinding.He did not want to stay for the cocktails but could not refuse when his senior boss insisted that he stay back when his colleagues failed to persuade him.He didn’t want to drink much.. The music was loud,, someone was dancing and the atmosphere very cheerful.But once he started drinking,he did not know when to stop.Not that he became totally drunk but he was tired and feeling tipsy after the day long deliberations and the head was heavy
After some distance the traffic thinned down when the rain became heavier.Despite the wiper in feverish action ,he had to squint his eyes to keep himself on the highway.He was passing thro some villages possibly as he saw the dim lights from the scattered hurricane lamps from yonder .He wished he had not started driving in such an unfavourable weather.
It was then he heard something hit his bumper. He got out and saw a white figure under the tire.It was dark and raining heavily he could not make out. But it was motionless, possibly dead. He became terribly afraid that he had killed someone.His heart beat so fast that he thought it would busrt. He was scared bonestiff and his immediate reaction was to run away from the scene,.If he were smart he would have got down and gone to help whoever was hit. Instead the coward in him made him run away.He backed the car a little and drove fast straight for a few miles till his heart calmed down.
He was afraid to go back.He knew hit and run case is far more serious than hitting.He did not go home as he was afraid police would be after him.he was not in a frame of mind to analyse. He took a room in a small hotel in a suburb and never stirred out for two days.He was afarid of calling his wife as his mobile would be traced.He never thought rationally that there were no one around at that time.He thought his life was ruined and that he cannot avoid jail.It was misearable staying in that dingy room watching TV for news about the accident.The papers also carried no news item. Still the burden of his sin weighed heavily on him. He pleaded to God to forgive him for not helping the injured person in After two days he decided to go home and tell his wife what all had happened before surrendering to the police.
When he went home late in the evening after it was dark, Ananthu found his wife lying down with face swollen with crying and worry.The house was in disarray and the children quiet in their rooms. When she saw him haggard in his two day old dress, she was greatly surprised and hugged him sobbing at the same time without a word.
After what appeared etenity she asked”What happened and where had you gone without informing? Do you know the amount of worry and suspense you had put us all into? We even lodged a complaint with police that you were missing.I was afaid you were involved in some road accident as that highway is notorious for.”
Ananthu narrated what had happened and his apprehension that victim’s people would be after the police to trace him.He said “I just came to inform you before going to police and surrender telling that I had hit a person in the darkenss of the night and did not stop to give him aid. I cannot bear the guilt anymore.It is making me sleepless and mad”
It was then Ananthu’s wife broke into laughter.This irritated him.
“What is there to laugh about? I had committed a blunder by hitting and running.I will set it right by surrendering”
She replied “Do you know that very night we had the police do extensive verification for any possible accident on the highway after you left the conference hall? It was found there was only one accident during the rain when a life was lost due to careless driving”
“Did I ot tell you? Whose life was it? Was the victim a man or a woman? Ananthu asked
Ananthu’s wife roared again with laughter and said it was that of a white calf.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rich man's legacy

He was a very wealthy man and had all the material things that one could aspire for. Yet he was a sad man burdened with a young son who was a polio affected cripple and mentally retarded to add to the misery. He needed constant assistance and supervision even for basic chores. He was given to tantrums and needless howling for no reason. The old man’s wife had passed away some eight years back. He had of course many relatives and friends who visited him regularly. He knew that they were all there lured only by the sumptuous feasts thrown in, costly gifts given and their desire to be seen with the famous and rich. They seldom visited the son who remained in his secluded room engrossed in his own world of fantasy. Even the very few who went to the boy’s room did so very visibly to the wealthy man.
There was a distant relation of his thro his wife who was in difficult financial circumstances. He and his family used to visit frequently when the rich man’s wife was alive and mostly when he was away at his work. They were very good people who empathized with his late wife and were genuinely attached to the hapless boy. Very shy by nature and apprehensive that they would be mistaken for some ulterior motive for their frequent visits, they reduced their trips considerably after the demise of the lady. The old man thought with the passing away of his wife, possibly the bond had weakened. But they still visited the son at least once a month. The boy also from what the father had seen enjoyed their company and was very quiet during their visits.
The paid servants were impersonal, distant and sometimes rude to the cripple when the man was away. He even suspected that they beat the young boy whenever he was adamant or defiant. For this reason he never stirred out except on urgent business. His poor health was bothering him and the constant worry told upon his weak heart that had already suffered an attack. He feared his days were numbered and wanted some security for the son.
When he broached this subject to a few relatives of his who frequented his house and claimed intimacy with him, he was appalled at their suggestion that he be put in a well equipped home for the disabled and to give the home a rich donation. They assured that they would keep an eye on the boy and his well-being though they kept silent on their expectations in his legacy. He disliked their artificial tone of concern and the fake warmth for the boy. He distrusted them totally.
It was then he approached the poor relative of his wife and his family and begged them to stay permanently in the house with him and his son. He told them of his sleepless nights troubled by the thought of boy’s future after he passed away. He assured them that they would be paid each month a good amount for their help and to compensate for shifting from another town leaving the earlier job. The relative explained that they are agreeable to this only out of affection and memory for the lady relative and their genuine liking of the boy. He refused to accept any payment and also made the stipulation that he would continue to work as before and that he would find a new job soon in this town. His wife and he would take care of the boy as if he were their own son for their entire life. This was agreed upon and soon they moved in. The arrangement worked well and he could witness a welcome change in the boy. He was well clad always, trim and was seen playing with the other children at home. He was no more sulking or morose. The boy also grew better in health in a short period.
It was then tragedy struck. The wealthy man could not survive a massive attack despite medical attention. After the obsequies were over, the lawyer spoke to the assembled relatives who were eager and curious to know how the rich man left his legacy. The lawyer who did not see the poor relation in the crowd had him brought. His wife was not present. He said his client had not bequeathed any money for any of them present. He had willed away his wealth after the son’s death to charitable institutions and hospitals. He has appointed his relative who is residing in the house as the trustee. The income from his wealth would be spent for household and other expenses at his sole discretion. His client was confident that the interests and the well being of the boy were safe in his hands. Fully aware that the relative would not touch a penny out of the income for his personal use, he had directed certain amount to be paid to him monthly for taking care of his son.
What the lawyer did not reveal then at the express wish of his client was the legacy of a sizable fortune in favour of the wife of the relative. It was this lady not connected thro blood who has been showering all her affection on the boy without any expectation. Knowing their nature well he had left twenty five percent of his wealth to her and her children. This fact would also be revealed to the lady and her husband only at the appropriate time by the lawyer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The unknown benefactor

Selvi lived in one of those dingy flats for the low income grroup.When her husband was alive he managed to get one from Housing Board for rental.The tenement had gone from bad to worse with no maintenance and utter carelessness of occupants.It was a dreary place where only the poor lived.The sign of poverty was writ large on the building.She lived there with her three daughters and one son.The eldest was just fourteen with the youngest son at six. The children were studying in the corporation school.It was a life of misery and want after her husband died suddenly in an accident.
She worked in a nearby large white bungalow the whole day helping them in all work including cooking.It was a tiresome and back breaking job but she preferred this place as it was close to her house and they paid her generously what she would have earned if she had worked in two or three houses.The only snag was the landlady was a hard taskmaster besides being a perfectionist freak.She would accept nothing slovenly or half done.Selvi had to labour hard to please her and she was not easily pleased.While sweeping or swiping the floor she would stand beside her and ensure that she moved the furniture to clean the area underneath.At the end of the day she would check the clothes washed for any dirt or stain still remaining and reprimand her for carelessness. .She never spoke to her warmly and was always strict and formal.She knew Selvi’s poor circumstances but besides giving new clothes to the entire family on Deepavali, she never gave anything extra.She seemed a heartless woman devoid of any compassion for the less fortunately placed.
One day when the landlady entered the kitchen she found Selvi lying on the floor and the milk boiling over on the oven.The lady lost her temper and nudged her in anger.When she did not move ,she got worried and sprinkled some water on her face.She came to know that she had not taken food for two days and whatever left over she was allowed to carry was hardly adequate for her four children.But she showed no sign of compassion and left the room abruptly after saying “Be alert.I don’t want any major fire accident due to your carelessness.No point in giving everything to your children.Since you are working you must also have a share of whatever you have..Anyway take some rice and sambhar and eat it.” Selvi was deeply hurt at her insensitive manner and didn’t feel like eating in that house.But she had to eat to avoid the wretched dizziness make her faint again
It was one day later when she returned home she found a big bag by her door.She called her daughter and asked her who brought it and why it was left there.The girl denied any knowledge and said it was left by some old man informing that it was for Selvi’s house. Wondering who could have done this, she examined the contents.It had essential provisons for a week to run the kitchen.She was surprised at this God given gift that she needed most when there was not a grain in her house.She was tossed between the thoughts whether to keep it aside till she knew who placed the bag there or feed the hungry children.Her motherly instincts prevailed and she made a good meal for the happy children.
The landlady continued to be merciless in extracting the day’s work that made Selvi hate her from the bottom of the heart.She did not ask for money or things but just craved for a kind word of comfort or appreciation.Several times she toyed with the idea of leaving the job but restrained herself when she thought of gloomier alternatives.It was in these circumstances when she found the same bag of provisions kept by her door in the next week, she lost her cool.She called her eldest daughter and shouted at her “ I don’t want to hear any lies from you.Tell me who bring this bag every week?Do you have any boy friend or do you talk to any male in this block?”
The sobbing girl replied “Amma ,I promise I don’t know who brought this bag..I have neither a boy friend nor do I talk to anybody. How could you suspect me?”
Selvi was not mollified”Who do you think would leave a bag with provisions worth hundreds of riupees without any consideration?You do not want to see your sisters and brother starving and you were lured to get into bad ways to get these” she charged mindlessly
The girl started crying loudly. Selvi decided to unravel the mystery herself .She waited next week hidden behind the door..In the evening when it was dusk an old man brought the bag and left it.She caught him and asked why and at whose behest he was leaving this bag every week.He replied”Madam,I do not know.I am from Shanmugham stores and have been instructed by the owner to keep at this time every week this bag full of provisions.
Selvi was not satisfied and asked him to take them back if he cannot tell at whose behest these supplies are being made.He replied that he was not supposed to divulge and from what he had heard it was the lady of the white bungalow who had instructed the shopowner to supply each week without fail and send the bill to her.
Selvi was rendered speechless at the kindness of the lady who she thought was devoid of any signs of compassion. As she entered the house next day wanting to thank her profusely, she found her standing at the front door with anger on her face and exploding”Do you know what the time is now?You are supposed to be here by 7am.It is already 7.10am.I cannot tolerate such irresponsible behaviour from you anymore.I am not prepared to listen to your excuses also. “
Selvi did not get upset and instead smiled to herself knowing tthat behind the rough exterior there lay a golden heart and a warm benefactor ..

Monday, September 21, 2009

Madhavan and the ghost

Madhavan Namboodiri in his early forties was a pious man given to religious ways and spiritual pursuits. A great devotee of Guruvayurappan, he remained a bachelor much to the chagrin of his aged mother and sister. He worked in a clerical position in a central government office in Kerala for many years. With some reorganization in the department, the setup in Kerala was wound up and he was transferred to some nondescript town in Chattisgarh.He didn’t make much fuss and quietly accepted the transfer. It was a small town and he had no friends there. When he reached the place early one morning a colleague by name Mohanti had come to receive him. All his possessions were a medium sized box, bedding and a shoulder bag.
He was given the option to choose one of the two accommodations available. One was close to bazaar in a thickly populated area. The other one was slightly away but closer to a temple. It was in a secluded spot with houses scattered in the area. Madhavan chose the latter for the quiet surroundings and the proximity to the temple. There was a kitchen that suited him as he cooked his own food.
The colleague looked hesitant to proceed further. Madhavan asked him “Why what is the problem? This is a small independent house. I can pursue my religious and spiritual activities unhampered. The rent is also much lower though an independent house. I prefer this.”
Mohanti said, ” I understand your reasons. Do you know why the rent is low though the house is independent? “
“Tell me whatever be the reason” he replied
Mohanti in hushed tone whispered, “People say this house is haunted and visited by a ghost. That is why this remains unoccupied for long. You are new to the place and alone. Secondly this house is very old and dilapidated by long disuse. I would advise you to choose the other one till you find a good place.”
“Please do not worry. I am not afraid of ghosts. I can tackle them when they appear” Madhavan replied with a smile.
Madhavan moved in after the house was cleaned. In the evening he lit the lamp before the picture of Guruvayurappan and prayed for sometime. The night passed off peacefully with no incident. Mohanti when he heard of this heaved a sigh of relief.
The next day Madhavan retired to bed after the usual prayers of recitation of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam and Spartan dinner. It was around twelve he woke up with an uneasy feeling of heaviness on the chest. He sat up and drank water. He felt better. When he lied down, he felt some heavy object pressing him as if someone was sitting on him. He knew that this had nothing to do with his body and was inclined to agree with Mohanti.But Madhavan was a brave man not easily ruffled. He sat up and recited Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.The heaviness left immediately. He went on reciting the sloka till 2am.When he went to bed again there was no such recurrence. He did not mention this to Mohanti.But this continued in the subsequent days too. He prayed with greater fervour to his God to free him from this unwelcome attention by the strange nocturnal visitor. Madhavan had to sit up and continue with recitation till 2am.His sleep was disturbed but he hoped that ‘it’ would give up harassing him.
It was on the fifth day when he lied down to sleep at 2am, the heaviness and choking feeling came with greater force. He felt he was being crushed by unbearable weight. He could not even sit up. He cried repeatedly “Oh Guruvayurappa! Why are you putting me through all this hardship? I leave it in your hands”
Whether it was in answer to his prayer or not, he felt the pressure fade away. He could discern yonder in the room near the door a form white in colour signaling him with its hand to follow him. When he sat still stupefied at the apparition, it continued to beckon him frantically to get up and follow it
Madhavan got up uttering the name ‘Narayana, Narayana’ repeatedly even as he followed it. When he came out of the house behind it, he saw it vanished abruptly to his great surprise. He simultaneously heard a great rumbling sound behind him and witnessed as he turned the house collapsing completely into rubbles.
He was shocked beyond words unable to realize the full impact of the incident. It was bizarre and supernatural. What was the form that beckoned him out apparently to save him? Was it the one who sat on his chest causing unbearable physical and mental strain? Could it be a messenger of God whom he had been incessantly praying coming to his succour? Was it a ghost as mentioned by Mohanti unrelated to the incident and the collapse a coincidence?
He had no answer and would leave it to you to unravel.

What I got for my wedding anniversary

Our wedding anniversary fell on a Monday.I decided to surprise my husband Naresh working at Pondicherry by paying a visit to him instead of his coming down to Chennai.It was Saturday.He normally leaves for Chennai at 3pm and I will be there by 10am. I thought we can spend three days in a hotel as we had done a couple of times earlier.In case he wished to spend the weekend at Chennai I was ready to return along with him ..As I was driving my car with my two children, I was lost in the thought of this incomparable man who had all the good qualities that any young woman would wish for.When I met him ten years ago at the University, he was my senior.A very handsome,tall and muscular man , he had the gift of the gab and abundant sense of humour.Many women were falling for him then.An intelligent guy ,he impressed me at the first meeting so much that it turned out to be a case of love at first sight.After two years of serious friendship, we married.We both had good jobs and life was very pleasant.
It was then he was promoted and posted out of Chennai as per his company’s norms.I was a lecturer in a college and could not leave the job.We had some financial and social commitments that we both had to necessarily stay apart.But he managed to come on alternate weekends and our wonderful married life of love and affection continued.We had two children who doted on their father and he in turn showered his affection on them with gifts on each visit and outings to various eateries , parks and places of entertainment.We thus stayed apart for almost eight years.He always came to Chennai instead of my going as he said he was staying with his office colleagues. The two daughters were excited at the prospect of meeting their father and a stay in a hotel
When I reached Pondicherry around 11am, I gave a ring to his office to tell that we are in town and would soon be meeting him at his office.I visualised the immense surprise and joy he would be in at the prospect of meeting us .It was a bit of a shock for me when I heard the operator telling that he had not come to office that day.Though I had not visited him at his place of residence as he was staying with some colleagues,I had a vague memory of his address.When I asked the operator to give the correct door number, she asked me to wait and gave me the full address.
I was a little worried whether he had fallen sick.When I reached the place, I found it to be an apartment in a posh area.When I pressed the bell with my two children in tow, a young lady of my age opened the door.She was strikingly fetching to look at.Two young children were playing behind on the floor.When I asked about Naresh, I could see a trace of bewilderment and confusion.She asked me to come inside.I explained who I was and the object of my visit having been told that he had not attended office.Meanwhile one of her children cried and I turned to see on the wall behind a photo of Naresh with the lady and the two kids.Shocked as I was, I went near.It was unmistakably Naresh.I could see the deception clearly.I was trembling in fear with a sense of anger,shame and being cheated.
The young lady’s face became grim,taut and agitated.But she maintained her calm.I could see she sized up the situation rather quickly.
She said softly ”I think we both have been deceived.I am sorry for you and me too.He has gone out to buy some medicine and is planning to go to Chennai.I never knew he was coming to you people.He had told me that he lost his wife and two children in Tsunami when they were all in a beach resort.The truth seems different.Wait,I hear him coming.”
When Naresh saw me along with children standing by the lady,his face went pale with horror and he stood petrified without uttering one word shifting his eyes from me to her and back repeatedly.He knew he was caught red handed and had no answer.
After a while, he tried to smile and said “Hello, you never told me you are coming.You knew I was coming to Chennai”
His sentence was cut short by the lady ”Stop it,you filthy cheater.You are a cheapster and a dirty liar.You have no understanding of the sanctity of marriage and even when your loving wife and children were alive , you had the temerity to bluff they were dead all in love for this body of mine.Fie upon you.I would never like to set my eyes on you.”
When he turned his face towards me,I said”You had ruined the life of this young person let alone me.Why did you do that.If you had uncontrollable urge, you could have gone to a whore.Why spoil the life of an innocent young one by uttering a lie.Aren’t you ashamed to stand before us?.”
He had the temerity to interject and say ”Yes,I agree there has been a mistake committed by me. I should have been frank and told the truth.What do you want me to do ,now?Having two wives, is it an unpardonable crime?.’
The other lady interrupted to say ”There is nothing that you should do.It is for us to take action.We have to decide on three things
Firstly to hand you over to the police complaining that you have cheated us and committed a bigamy.You will be behind bars.I will not shed a tear for you.If my sister here agrees, this is what I would prefer.You deserve no sympathy
Secondly, whether you are handed over to police or not, you are out of my life for ever.My sister too I hope would not condone your deception.
The thrid is if my sister agrees with me we would like to go to a lawyer to extract from you all your wealth and income after a proper divorce.
I was touched by the fairness and firmness in her statements and could not but agree.I watched her with admiration as she went to the telephone to ring for police.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A jobless stranger at work

It was a big bungalow with the building far from the gate. It was guarded by a security man. The house did not appear to have been occupied by many occupants. No children were seen playing around in the lawn. There were no women appearing to live in the house. Occasionally some cars used to come only to go back soon. There was no specific time; it could be mid day or late nights. The gate remained always locked. Some new buildings were coming up in the posh area.
A fat man in white Kurta pyjama walking on the long verandah noticed a man sitting on the culvert on the opposite side of the road. The man had a few days stub on his face. His shirt was dirty and frayed at the collar. The fat man wondered why he was sitting there doing nothing. When he came out to the verandah after some time, he saw the same man still loitering there. He was seen frequenting a tea shop nearby. In the days that followed, he found this man always there. His suspicions were aroused as he thought he could be a burglar reconnoitering the area. It was not a very comfortable thought. He asked the durwan about the stranger who confirmed that he too saw him for the last one week but he seemed harmless. May be he came daily along with someone working in the new building that was coming up.
He asked the durwan to call him. When he came, the fat man asked “What are you doing here daily? I have been seeing you for a week doing nothing except sitting on the culvert or sipping tea in the teashop. What brings you here?” He replied in very deferential tone “Saheb, I come here daily hoping to get some work in the new buildings. I am a plumber and electrician but have no work for a fortnight. The tea shop owner is from my village and I take my food there.”
The fat man though not fully pleased with the answer told him that was fine though he felt he was wasting his time here. The stranger replied “I agree, Saheb, but will give it a try for a few more days. I think I will succeed in getting what I want.” He became stress-free when the stranger was not seen from the next day.
It was past noon a few days later, the fat man noticed that no stranger was visible on the culvert. He became a little relaxed and talked to some one on his mobile. In a few minutes a black sedan came and the gate was opened to allow the car inside. The fat man came down to receive the visitor. When the door did not open and the glass was drawn down by a few centimeters, the fat man spoke in hushed tone “Hurry up, I don’t see any stranger outside the gate. Be quick to unload the stuff and get away fast.”
The door opened and the driver came out with a dazed look. There was fear in his eyes. The fat man shouted “You fool, what has happened to you? Carry the stuff quickly to the first floor. I will kill you if you play any dirty tricks.” When the driver looked behind his shoulder, the stranger in tatters accompanied by three armed men in police uniform stepped out. “Your game is up and my job is completed. Yes, your suspicions were well founded. I had tips about the goings on here and I intercepted the car today. There are several police vans outside at the street corner. Do not attempt any tricks.” The constables promptly hand cuffed the fat man. The driver took them to the first floor along with the packets in the car. When the entire stack of contraband stuff was seized, the Superintendent of Police in frayed collar smiled happily.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The value of trust

I was transferred to Kolkata (Calcutta those days) all of a sudden sometime in September in early Seventies. My first priority was to find a flat around LakeMarket area that South Indians generally preferred. It was very difficult to get one in the middle of the year. I was losing patience as a week went by with little progress. Luckily the broker rang up the next day asking me to meet immediately the land lady of a certain house near the market.
The Bengali lady in her early sixties, short and plump, chewing pan, with a prominent red bindi on her forehead and with a smile on her charming face evoked instant respect. Wife of a Zamindar, she knew only Bengali and a little of Hindi. After ascertaining that I am a Madrasi with a small family, she was willing to give me the flat. I told her that I could not afford more than Rs.300 against Rs.350 she demanded with one month’s advance. I pleaded with her to reduce the rent as I had some family commitments. She said many were willing to pay more than the amount she demanded from me and asked me to confirm my willingness latest by next day.
The other tenants in the building whom I met told me that she was a difficult woman. Abusive and loud mouthed she would shout if she saw litter on the stair case. She would also keep asking for increase in rent. Though the picture portrayed was a bit scary I decided to finalize the flat on her terms.
When I went the next evening and said that I was agreeable to her demand, she broke into a laughter. She told me another Madrasi had come seeking the flat at a higher rent and that she refused telling that she had already given her word to me. She said that she valued the promises she made and that mutual trust was very important for her. I was touched by her gesture and gave her Rs. 700 towards a month’s rent and advance...She smiled again and said that I seemed a simple person with a scared look. She wanted me to see the flat first and tell her whether I wished some additional facilities. She promised to have the flat painted within two days and readily agreed for some minor improvements.

When I asked her about lease agreement, she said that my word was good enough for her and that she didn't need any. Flabbergasted I was hesitant to ask for a receipt for the amount paid by me. When I stood up to take leave of her, she thrust a hundred rupee note into my pocket saying that since I had mentioned about some family it was enough for me pay Rs.300 now and when I got a raise in salary I can pay her more. She said that she was particular about a good tenant and money was secondary to her. She found me to be a soft and good natured person and that she decided in my favour the previous day itself but wanted to make sure that I was keen on the flat.
How different she was from the picture painted by the other tenants who I subsequently learnt were paying a paltry rents for years but fighting frequently with her on some petty issues... She became very close to my wife and never failed to drop in for a few minutes daily bringing often rasagollas and sandesh for the children. A very pious and orthodox lady, she would not eat anything in our house. I heard that she neither went to her village nor talked to her husband for years as she could not forgive him for his liaison with a woman of another caste. When I was transferred after eight years, she was very unhappy and cried.
When we returned to Kolkata after three years, we went to pay our respects to her. Her son received us and said that his mom was no more. Soon after we left Kolkata, his papa had come from village wishing to patch up the differences with her. She would have nothing of it. Trust is one quality she valued most and could never reconcile to his betrayal. His dad went back heart broken and soon passed away. His mom though angry with him could not bear the loss. She too followed him in a few months. Till her last days, he said, she used to be talking frequently about us all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The saviour

The inner road was desolate and the road dark.Pramila quickened her steps to reach the brightly lit main road fast.The main road was some distance away.She could see two people following her.As she crossed to the other side , she could see that one was a neatly clad middle aged around fifty and the other in early twenties..The youngster was abridging the gap with her by hastening his step.She wished she were nearer the middle aged guy whom she felt would be reliable and safer to walk with than the younger man in his jeans and gaudy striped shirt.She stopped and turned back waiting for the middle aged man who was a little behind to join. Just then a Maruti Omni came and stopped by the older man and he got into it.
Pramila was now scared as only the young man was behind her.She started praying to God and wished some other passers by would appear.It was then the Maruti van came very close to her and in a jiffy before she realised what was happening she was pulled in and the vehicle sped away.She was immediately gagged and blindfolded.Her hands and legs were tied and she could from the odour of the alchohol and the physical proximity sense the presence of two men on either side of her.
After what looked liked an eternity, the vehicle stopped and she was dragged to the first floor and pushed on a bed.There was silence for a while therafter.She could not scream or see. Her hands were tied tight and she could do nothing with her teeth.The bed was soft.She was terrified at the likely harm that can befall her.She was an unmarried young woman of 23 years working in a private company.She was always afraid of that long stretch of dimly lit road and left office early.As ill luck would have it she was held up this day and others had left.
It was then she heard a creak of the door and sound of footsteps approaching the bed.Someone came and sat close by her side and caressed her hair gently.The stench of liquor assailed her nose.She tried to sit up but was pushed down with a ssssh.The man’s fingers stroked her cheeks and touched her lips.He then in a soft voice said “ I am sorry for you but I need you badly.I have been watching you for months and desired you.It was made possible only today.You can either make it a pleasurable experience if you do not resist or make it a struggle.The outcome in any case would be the same.Be smart and realise that there is no help nearby for you to access.My men are outside.I will give you good money and have you dropped near your residence within an hour if you quietly cooperate.”
She shook her head and tried to shout through her gagged mouth.Like a cat playing with a mouse, he ignored her muted pleas and started gradually disrobing her. He kept on talking in his soft voice telling her not to be afraid, that he would be gentle and that she would soon be free to go home.As his face came near hers to kiss her, she could not bear the stench and started getting the feeling of throwing up.Unmindful he went about his task of removing her upper garments and she could feel his fingers stroking her at inappropriate places. Bound as she was, she could do little to stop his advances and was aware that she would be ruined in a matter of few minutes.It was then she prayed intensely to God to save her from this ignominy.
Even as she gave up her struggle, as if in answer to her prayer, the door was pushed open.She could hear noises of booted steps and the odorous man being pulled away from her bare body.She could hear hard slaps on someone and orders from somebody to fasten the man’s hands.She did not know whether the men who had come were saviours or rivals and she was too afraid and shocked to undersatnd the happenings.
She could feel a strong hand remove the blindfold and untie the rope on her hands. She saw a young police man throwing a couple of bedsheets on her for covering and heard him tell her ”You are safe now.Lucky that we could come in the nick of time before any damage could be done.Lucky also the police control car was in the vicinity of the place of abduction.It was all possible thanks to a good Samaritan who noted down the van number and gave promptly 100 the information.It was his quick action and our being closeby helped in saving you.He is waiting outside.Dress yourself well as we stand outside.”
Once she was ready, he came in again and said “Please inform your home on my mobile.You must come with us along with the young man to the police station and give a written statement while we detain this scoundrel and his accomplices in our custody.It will be over in thirty minutes.Please obllige.”
As she came out of the room she saw to her amazement and surprise the young man, whom she feared and instead preferred the middle aged man, sitting on a chair.The policeman said ”He is your saviour.But for him you would have been ruined and possibly sold to a brothel in a distant state.”
Pramila realised her fooliishness in judging people in haste by appearance even as she folded her hands in namaste to the young man in etrnal gratitude..

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The call on the mobile

I met Ranjana for the first time in college canteen.I had collected two plateful of various items as I was famished and was sitting in a table near the counter.I was about to start eating when I heard her shrill voice in anger.She was questioning how the canteen people can tell her that there were no items left when it was not the time for closure.They were pleading their helplessness.I went to her and bluffed that I had bought dishes for my friend also who had failed to turn up. She looked at me suspiciously.I gave her a charming smile and asked her to join me without fuss.She readily agreed.
Her long dark hair draped over her shoulders and her brown eyes were simply captivating.She was good looking and pleasant.It was a case of love at first sight. We became inseparable, intimate and spent together most of the times.We were waiting for the course to be completed before marrying. It so happened that we could not do that as I had to go abroad to pursue my studies. We maintained contact initially through flow of emails but this dried up in course of time.
When I came after two years I learnt she had married Vivek, a close buddy of mine.I came to know of this only when I went to his house once.He didn’t know that we were lovers though he knew we studied together .She hadn’t also told him about our friendship.The old embers of our love was still burning and I could see it from her eyes but we reconciled to the destiny and maintained a distance from each other. He was in the Army Head Quarters and I used to visit him often till he was posted to the front. She moved to Meerut immediately where her parents were living. Again I lost touch with him and Ranjana.
It was after a year that I was proceeding to Meerut in car. It was winter and the day was short. As I was nearing Meerut the mobile phone rang up. I did not want to answer while driving in the dark.It rang again and again. I stopped the car at the side of the road.I could not make out who the person was from the number
When I answered the ring with a hello, the voice was clear.”Naresh, Vivek here.I am glad I could remember your number.I need an urgent help from you.”
I was confused and asked “Which Vivek?”
“You buddhu, It is Ranjana’s husband.Don’t waste time.Go straight to Ranjana’s house.She needs you there immediately.Go and help her.Do you have her address.Here it is” he said
“What is the sort of help she may need? I will be there for about a fortnight on some work.If it is urgent, why don’t you come yourself?” I asked
“Huh, huh, I know I would very much like to. But placed as I am I cannot come.She may not tell you the nature of help she may need.You know she is very shy.It is here you must tell her that I had spoken to you and that I was very particular that you should help..She may not believe you.”
“What do I do then? How can I prove her that you spoke to me? She may not like my visiting her in your absence.”
“That is no problem. I think she will welcome you.But you tell her of two instances which only we two know to prove that I had spoken to you”” he said
“Why don’t you ring her up yourself and tell her that I will be coming?” I rebutted
“I cannot for some reasons.Please do not ask much questions.I have no time.Please tell her of the first kiss I planted on her in Chandigarh rose garden and about the bracelet I left when I was there on the last occasion for her birthday in the Godrej shelf without her knowledge to surprsie her in the next birthday.She might not have seen.I have hidden it in a sari of hers.Tell her that I want her to be with you and not remain alone till I return. She may refuse.Please cajole her and make her agree.I will be beholden to you” He said
Then the line was disconnected abruptly .I tried to dial him again.But the received call was missing .I was surprised.I had no number of his.She will not believe me.
It was around 8-30pm that I rang her bell.She was surprised to see me.She looked wan, pulled down and rather plain in her nightie.She reeled off many questions. ”Naresh, how come you are here? How did you know I am living here? What brought you here?”
I said “Patience, Please give me a cup of tea and biscuits.I will tell you in detail.”
When she laid the tea and snacks on the centre table I said”In fact I myself had any idea of visiting you or did I know your address.It was enroute here Vivek rang up and asked me to meet you.”
Even before completing she spoke in a shrieking voice with disbelief ”Vivek spoke to you on your way here,you say?”
“Yes,Ranjana.He was speaking for about fifteen minutes and wanted me to help you.He didn’t say what is the nature of help but that I should remain with you till he returns.Are you depressed or what because he is out of station? I really do not understand” I said

“What crap you are talkng, Naresh? You want me to belive your cock and bull story.”she replied in caustic tone.
“He knew that and asked me to tell you about the two things.Your first kiss at rose garden in chandigarh and the bracelet in the godrej shelf for your birthday” I replied
“Naresh, Stop it.Vivek is dead and gone eight months ago.You tell me that he spoke to you and ask me to believe you.”
I was shocked and there was a creeping fear passing thro my backbone.I suggested that we go and check the shelf..We went up and found hidden in a sari that she rarely wore the box with the new bracelet.She was astounded and broke down crying “Vivek, how can you do this to me?”
It look long time for me to console her as she placed her head on my shoulders crying inconsolably and make her believe about Vivek’s desire that I should be by her side in his place.
The old embers started coming to life again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vishal's kindness

Vishal Gupta was one of the fortunate few born with a silver spoon in the mouth. Blessed with a good natured wife and intelligent children, he had nothing much to wish for. He was walking in the narrow pathway of the large municipal park one evening. He was late that day and it was getting dark. Except for very few old people spending their time on the benches, the park was desolate. The lighting was also not adequate with lamp posts far from each other. But Gupta followed religiously the daily regimen of forty five minutes walk prescribed by his doctor to keep his weak heart in good condition.
Suddenly out of no where a man emerged from the bushes. He was a strong built man but his eyes were sunk and cheeks hollow betraying his indigent condition. He simply stood opposite Vishal Gupta with his threatening physique but pleading eyes.Vishal said in annoyed tone “What is your problem? Why are you standing in my way preventing me to proceed further?"

He replied in a tremulous voice “I want some money immediately. Give me the money you have. I think you can afford it”.
Gupta being timid by nature was afraid to argue with him considering there were none around to help. He normally carried a small amount with him for any emergency. He took his purse and gave it to him meekly. The man opened purse and counted six fifty rupee notes. He kept one fifty rupee note with him and returned the purse with the balance He left hastily after saying “This is adequate for my needs. I am sorry for taking this money like this. I do not know any other way. Please excuse me.”
Gupta was intrigued at the strange behaviour of the man. His curiosity thus aroused, he followed the man at a safe distance. After passing thro several lanes he reached a hut. He heard the man crying and telling loudly to his wife that he had become a despicable thief and robber taking away money from someone without earning it.

His wife was consoling him saying “What other alternative we had to save the starving children. They have not taken a morsel since two days and are weeping continuously. No one around here is willing to help. I am also not comfortable with this way. I will not ask you to do it again, I swear upon God.”
Gupta heard the man beating his head with his hands and sobbing in remorse. When he entered the dimly lit hut, the man was startled and started crying saying” Oh God, police have come to take me.”
Gupta patted him on his shoulder and asked him to calm down telling there is no policeman. He told the man who was shying away from him “Don’t be afraid. No harm will come to you. When you took only fifty rupees from the purse and returned the balance, I realized you are no thief and that circumstances must have forced you to take this cranky step. My impression is vindicated by the feeling of guilt shown by you. I have forgiven you already. I have now seen your pitiable condition. You can work if you are willing as a gardener in my house from tomorrow.”
He thrust the balance money in the hands of the incredulous man standing before him with folded hands. The man and his wife fell at the feet of Gupta clasping his legs. The bewildered children too followed suit by falling on the ground before him. The man mumbled “Sir, you have saved us from falling into a life of wickedness and misery. You are our saviour and we are beholden to you.”
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile-Mother Teresa

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The evil influence

I was sitting in the park watching the children play on the slides and swings.The weather was pleasant. A young man of about thirty came and sat by my side in the vacant bench. Idid not pick any conversation with him engrossed as I was with the children.When I turned, I saw him staring at me.To make matters comfortable I smiled at him..He returned the smile with an unusual grin and then said “Sir, if you can spare me some time I wish to get some matter of doubt cleared. I will not take much of your time,”
I had nothing in particular to attend to and agreed to listen to him
He asked “Do I look a normal person? People consider me slightly insane.Even in the office where I was working; they terminated my services without assigning any reason.But I overheard them telling my wife when we went to collect the final payment,that the job was still open when I became normal. I am normal already .Can a normal person become normal again,Sir.What a crazy thing they are telling?.But my wife did not protest and quietly accepted the payment.Luckily she is working as a teacher and the loss of job has not affected us much.She is afraid to leave me alone in the house as if I am a baby and locks the kitchen door .I am unable to make coffee for myself and the one left in flask doesn’t taste good.Sir tell me whether I am not normal?”
I kept quiet for sometime.He spoke English fluently, was well dressed and gave no outward indication of any abnormality.Yet the incidents he narrated showed him in odd light.
I told him “Please proceed.You were talking about some matter of doubt.”
He continued “I forgot to mention one thing.My wife is very talented.She is extremely beautiful and when we go out for walk to the park all heads turn to look back.That makes me uneasy and I stare at them in return.My wife tells me that I should not be suspicious and react in public like that.She threatened she would stop comng out with me if I behaved like that. .Sir, am I wrong in my getting upset, if someone stares at my wife deliberately with wrong intentions.She does not understand that I am doing this only to protect her but she is very good person.I love her most in the world and would not allow any harm to come to her.”
He stopped for a while and looked at me.I told him I was listening and asked him to continue.
“There were two incidents that made my wife very angry with me.Even the neighbours in my colony came to fight with me.There is a dog in the colony that always comes and sits opposite my flat.Oflate it barks at me whenever it sees me.It remains quiet even if the hawkers come or the children throw stones at it.Day before yesterday when I was sitting in the verandah,it started barking at me continuously.My wife was away.I asked it to remain quiet.It did not pay any heed but barked more ferociously.I lost my temper and with a big stone I threatened to hit it. Sir, I must tell you one thing here.Of late I find someone else takes over me often when I least expect.That person is evil minded, I am sure.He must have taken possession of me and hit the dog with the stone.When the dog was hurt badly and cried in pain all came running.The person who took possession of me vanished leaving me facing the angry neighbours.It was sad to know the dog died later in the evening.My wife was greatly upset and was crying the whole night.This was a small matter.There was one incident today.I wish to tell you in detail.With that my story would come to an end and you will have to clarify my doubt.
I asked him”Tell me quickly.It is getting late.People are leaving the park.”
“Today after noon my wife had come earlier from school.I had gone to the nearby shop to drink a coke.When I came back, I saw the treasurer of the colony talking smilingly to my wife in a pleasant manner.She was also laughing.When I entered both stopped smiling and the treasurer’s face became tight.I could see fear in the eyes of my wife. She knew that I never liked the treasurer for he always took undue interest in her and would ask her for payment of monthly maintenance instead of me.I don’t know what took possession of me.Suddenly I flew into a rage.I was not the normal person I am.My wife got scared. She had told me that whenever the evil person took over me,,I twich my left eyes several times.She must have seen the twitching..She pleaded with me to calm down and requested him to leave immdiately.I blocked his way.I asked him “How dare you come to my house when I was not here?”
He said in a trembling tone “I came to collect the overdue maintenance and your wife was talking about the new Year prgramme.It is hardly three minutes and you came.I was not aware you had gone out.”
It was then this eveil person took possession of me.I never knew where he was waiting.I lost my cool and discarded my normal courteous behaviourI shouted at him “I know your dirty intensions.I have been watching you cast your lustful eyes often on her.and you will pay today the price for it.”
The evil iperson in me took a wooden stool and hit him hard on his head.My wife’s scream brought the neighbours.They overpowered me.The injury was not serious.I heard they were trying to make me go out of the colony.They didn’t say where I should go.My wife was crying.I became normal when the wicked man left me soon there after and I came away unnoticed to the park.Now tell me whether I am not normal or not?”
I looked around.It was getting dark.The crowd had thinned down.I told him “I see you are normal.I haven’t seen you when the evil person is in possession of you.The best thing would be to consult a doctor.”
The moment I said this, I saw his left eye started twitching. Scared I took to my heels as fast as my legs would carry..

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Was it a mistaken identity?

Saranya generally bought her provisions and vegetables from the local Indian stores. Infact she went to the store twice a week to get fresh vegetables. Being new to US the Gujarati owner helped her in telling what things are best available from where.It was less than six months she came to this small town in Massachusette. Ravi had provided her with a car for her to move about without depending on him. The afternoons invariabally saw her moving to the local mall, Target, Wallmart, Home Depot and the county library. She could take countless number of books though she was a slow reader.She liked the place very much.. Ravi was very affectionate and loving husband. The newly married life seemed to be all hunkydory.. On the weekends especially the long ones they invariabally went to nearby picnic spots. Ravi’s brother who was also married around the same time was living in Newyork. They had visited her place about a fortnight back.
Life went on smoothly till one afternoon she went to the Indian stores. There were hardly any customers in the stores except one person at the far end. When she had picked up her purchases and proceeded to cash counter for making payment the Gujarati owner looked at her a little longer than usual.
He said,”You are like my daughter in age; Forgive me if I ask you one personal question. You seem to have been newly married because I am seeing you only since last few months. Is your husband nice and affectionate to you?”
“Why do you ask, Uncle? He is a very loving and caring person.We are extremely happy” She replied
“In that case I am happy too” he said
“You would not have asked the question without some reason.Pray, tell me why you were prompted to ask me such a question.Please be frank.”she asked
He tried to avoid replying but when she persisted , he said ”I have seen you and your husband many times as both of you come to the store frequently.A few days back I saw him come with another young Indian lady of your age with his arm around her shoulders.Shocked as I was I watched him carefully from the corner of my eyes.She did not look like a friend from the way they stood close to each other almost touching ,jabbing the chest,holding the hands,,lot of meaningless giggles and what not. .I disliked him from that very moment.I wanted to check with you.I would advise you to keep a careful watch.I would not wish my daughter to be in your position.”
“Could there be any mistake in identity of my husband?” she asked
“I am hundred percent sure as my nose on my face.He is the culprit.I am sure”he repled.

She became worried.She could never imagine Ravi doing such things.He is from a very decent family.Nevertheless she decided to watch his movements.When he went to office, she opened his cupboard and searched all the dresses.She saw his personal papers and literalyy scanned his diary microscopically for names and numbers.When he went to bathroom ,she checked his mobile.She overheard his conversations.She smelt him for any new perfume.She rang him up at the office at odd intervals that he admonished her for disiturbing.She checked the duration of time for reaching home since he left office.All seemed perfect.There was nothing to indicate anything fishy.She had become irritable and frigid in the evenings.She picked up quarrel for no reason.
Ravi asked her one day”Hey Saranya, What has happened to you? You have changed a lot suddenly.What is bothering you? Are you bored in the house? Shall I install TV connection for 24 hour Indian programmes? Tell me frankly.”
She would not tell anything.She said there was nothing wrong except that she had some personal discomfort and that she would be fine in a few days..She tried since then not to exhibit her irascbility and decided to wait for something to happen.
It was a week later Ravi’s brother Ramesh had to come on urgent official work for a week..His wife Sujata also insisted that she would come along having nothing much to do at home.They drove the distance in their car.There was a return to the fun and frolic when the two brothers joined.The sisters-in-law were also very happy.There was Krishna Jayanthi the next day.Saranya wanted to buy butter, gur and some flour to make some special preparations.All of them went to Indian stores..Ramesh was taking on his mobile outside the store.When Ravi, Saranya and Sujata entered the stores, there was some brightness in the eyes of the owner.When they were picking up the groceries,the Gujarati owner came silently near Saranya and whispered in her ears “This is the girl with whom I saw your husband.I am definite about it”
Saranya could not suppress her laughter and called Ramesh, Ravi and Sujata to come atonce. .When the Gujarati owner saw the two brothers, he almost fainted and said with a sheepish grin ” I bet you both look identical,.a photocopy,I should say” He looked at Saranya and said sorry
He didn’t know that Ravi and Ramesh were identical twins and that Ramesh had visited the store with Sujata on the earlier visit.Saranya asked Ravi to remove forthwith his mustache, change his hair style and the spectacle frame to distinguish him from his brother.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gates of Heaven

Amudha Patti (grandma) as she was known is a frail old woman past her eighties.Her vison had gone dim and hearing impaired.Her limbs had grown so weak that she needed a walker to go to the toilet.Otherwise she was mostly in her bed.There were no major ailments and it appeared to her that her end was not anywhere near.But oflate she was falling sick frequently with minor ailments like cough,cold fever,wheezing, and making her dependent on others.She lay there most of the time watching the white ceiling and the revolving fan.Loneliness enveloped her as the body became weak rendering her immobile.With all her handicaps she was in no position to divert her mind to TV or music.
As she lay there she pondered over her past life.A smile visited her face as she thought of her younger days when she had like a queen ruled her house consisting of her soft natured husband who was a leading advocate and their seven sons and two daughters.Her writ prevailed over the house and none questioned her.It was affluent days with no want.She was kind to her daughters-in-law but firm never allowing them to claim any intimacy.There were many servants,two cooks in the sprawling house.The front hall had always many juniors and clients with non stop supply of coffee and refreshments.There was then happiness, the patter of small grandchildren, laughter, love and joy in the small world around her.It all looked like a distant dream.
Today she lay in a small room at the rear of an apartment.She lived with her second son as all the others were living abroad.Even the two daughters were in cities in Northern India.Both son and daughter-in-law were mostly away at work.They had no children.She kept the food on the table and coffee in a flask.There was none to assist the old woman.It was silence and monotony all through the day.Even when they returned home, they never talked to her much..The daughter-in-law used to frown and make faces at the stench that emanated from toilet.Amudha Patti never heard her comments anyway but knew she was not happy.It is the boredom and loneliness that killed her.She saw no purpose in living and wished that God would take her to heavens.The failing heath, neglect, emotional stress and concealed mental abuse in the dusk of her life made her depressed and yearn for deliverance.She was constantly praying to God
One Sunday when she was telling her daughter-in-law that she hoped that God would take her soon to heavens, she asked tauntingly with sarcasm “Amma do you think the gates of heaven are kept open for you to enter at your will? How can you be so sure that you will go to heaven? Do you have the key for it by any chance?
Amudha kept quiet and that night prayed intensely to God “ Hare Krishna , don’t ditch me on any count.Please take me to your feet.I do not wish to live anymore.I have no guts to put an end to my life.I totally depend on you for deliverance.”She went on praying amidst cries for His grace till she dozed away to sleep.This went on for three days pushing the poor woman to extreme misery and dejection.
It was on fourth day she had a dream in which Lord Krishna appeared and assured her “Patti, do not worry.I have heard your prayers.The gates of heaven will be open for you and you will have the key before long.Trust me and have no worry.”
The lady woke up with a start and was greatly surprised and relieved by the assurance of God. .Peace and calm descended on her face at what she believd to be God’s message to her.
It was past 7am and when the son and daughter-in-law did not hear the lady getting up, they went in to find her in eternal sleep.The daughter-in-law saw her clutched right hand.Surprised she opened the fingers to find a key to her great amazement and wonder.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A daughter's quest

Sharmila was restless.Her daughter Anita kept on asking when they would be able to see grandma. She goaded her husband Ravi to drive faster.
He grumbled “The road is kutcha, dusty and uneven.I cannot drive faster.It is just forty miles away and we should be there in an hour or slightly longer.”
“I know but you will not understand my agony and the suspense I am going through.” She wailed
It was only in the morning that the news was broken by her dad.Her parents had kept it a secret for twenty seven years.Even in the morning it would not have come to light but for the inadvertent blurting by her uncle.Not knowing that Sharmila had come the previous night, he asked his elder brother as he entered the house “Where is your adopted daughter?”Her dad signalled him to remain silent with an ‘sshh’ by placing his finger on his mouth.Sharmila who was in the adjacent room heard them clearly and saw her dad’s gesture.She was confused and shocked.She straightaway accosted her dad with the question”Is it true that I am an adopted daughter? If so why have you withheld this information all these years?”
The shock and the shifty eyes of her mom gave away the bitter truth.She said” I don’t want any explanation.It is enough if you tell me in what circumstances I was adopted and who are my biological parents.”
Cornered her dad admitted that hse was adopted.He said “Frankly we do not know who your dad is?You were left outside our compound by some woman stealthily unwilling to be found out.We heard your crying and came out to see your mother fleeing.We ran behind her and fetched her comforting her that she need have no fear and that we would look after you as our child as we had no children of our own.We only stipulated that she should not claim yu later.She readily agreed as the child was born out of wedlock.We gave her adequate money.She leftthe place.”
Sharmila asked “What is her name? Did she never come again to see me?”
“Her name she said was Singaram.Yes, we have seen her many times standing outside th compound watching you go to school or playing in the garden.True to her word, she made no attempt to speak to you.We used to see her wiping tears from her eyes in joy” .” her dad explained.
“Where does she live? Do you have any idea” Sharmila asked
“She lives in some village……. near Kanchipuram about fifty miles away from here.But she ivery indigent and we pay afew hundreds whenever we see her.She has stopped coming after you were married and left this place”her mom intervened to say.
When the car reached the village, Anita jumped with joy and cried”We will be seeing grandma soon.We will take her with us.She will tell me stories”
Ravi asked a few people about the whereabout of the woman named Singaram.They didn’t know till one old man directed them to a hut in the corner of a lane.When the walked the distance they found twowomen in their fifties talking to each other.Ravi asked them whether they knew any Singaram living there.
One of the woman spoke”Why do ou want to know? Who are you people? You seem to be rich”.
The other woman kept quiet but was keenly watching Sharmila and Anita without turning her head.
Ravi said ”We came to ask her about her daughter’
The woman who spoke to them kept silent and turned to the other.The woman who was keeping mum till then broke her silence as if in a hurry and said “Yes, Singaram used to live here.About three months back she left the place without giving any reason or the place she was going to. She simply vanished.But she seemed normal and happy.”
Ravi put his hand on sobbing Sharmila’s shoulder as he dragged her towards the car and said”There is no point in lingering here.We will try another time. We will find her some how.”
When the car left the other woman asked “Singaram, why did you speak like that.The beautufl lady is your daughter and the child your grand daughter.Didn’t you know that? What a foolish woman, you are?”
Singaram said.” I knew.But I do not want to rob her pleasure.Let her mom remain unknown.It is good for everyone.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Madhuvanthi's home

It was a small town in Northern India. It was already dusk getting dark and there was a mild drizzle. Madhuvanthi with her two year old girl in her arms knocked the door of a nondescript house twice.She was around twenty­­-seven and looked younger for her age.There was no response.She knocked again a little forcefully. She worried that this not going to be as smooth as she expected.It took long time for the door to open. She saw the tall figure of the man with an unshaven face and drooping mustache looking at her quizzically as if wondering why she was there.
“What do you want? Why have you come here?” he asked in a voice bereft of emotion.There was no warmth in his tone nor any smile in his face.It was wooden.
“I have your grand daughter with me here.I have no place to go.”
“Yes, I heard that Vinod had been killed in the skirmish at the border.The sarkar should have given you enough money.Go to your folks.Why do you come here when you have not cared to visit us all these four years?”
“It is not my fault that Vinod kept away from you for his own grouse.I have no one in my side.She is your grand daughter after all.”
He looked straight in her eyes and said in measured and icy tone that cut her heart rapier like,”You are not wanted here. He married you against our wishes and from that day we had washed our hands off him.The girl in your arm is nobody to us.You say she is my grand daughter.Who knows ?”
She was shocked to see Vinod’s mother keeping mum at this blasphemous and vieled accusation.She hung her head in shame and cried inconsolably even as the little girl tried to wipe the tears off her cheeks. She became numb at this cruel barb and searched for words to answer.He will neither understand nor accept if she had said that she was always advising Vinod to patch up with his parents and forgive their anger in throwing him out.He would not listen and swear that he would have no truck with them.He always said that he loved only one in that family and it was his younger brother.
“I have no place to go.I am young and cannot stay alone without harm coming to me.I have this girl who is your grand daughter.I swear upon that.Please allow me to stay here.I will be a slave in this house,please; I beg you, do not throw me out. I will contribute a portion of my pension.Please permit me to reside here.I want my child to grow in the comfort and security of a home.”
“No,”he bellowed.”You have no place here.Get out before I throw you out of the compound.I don’t care what happens to you or your ill- gotten child.”The woman by his side with stony face did not budge her little finger.
“Stop this nonsense.I have been hearing all your blabber all this time to see what extent you both are cruel and depraved.I will not let down my bhabbi and the child.I know Vinod meant no illwill for you both till you treated him shabbily.What he did was right and I would have done the same” roared Viren, the younger brother of Vinod.
The old man shouted back”Will you dare talk against our wishes? I will throw you also out without a penny.Do remember that.Mind your business and get back”
“To hell with your money.If Bhabi is willing I will marry her , as is our custom, and take care of both for life.We are walking out of this wretched place once and for all.You keep your wealth with you..’
Dazed as she was Madhuvanthi clasped the extended hand of Viren and moved towards the gate even as the old couple were rendered speechless at the sudden turn of events.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The lonely walk in the dark

The bus should have left at 3pm and Mani would have reached the stop for his village by 6pm.His village was about four kilometres away.One had to walk as there were only two trips by a private bus in the morning and evening.The wretched bus he travelled in had developed snag enroute and they had to wait interminably till a kindly truck driver who was also a mechanic helped in starting the bus.It was already 9pm by the time the bus started.He got down at his stop around 11.30pm.It was drizzlng slightly with lightning and thunder adding to the sullen mood.It was pitch dark and he could see no one around.He was afraid to linger in that desolate place but was also afraid of proceeding to his village.The kutcha road passed thro a burial ground.Mani was a tall fellow and heavily built but strangely had a timid heart.He was scared even of cockroaches and lizards and often sought the help of his wife to drive them away.He wished he had not left his place and wanted to return to the security of his home and his wife.But the bus had sped away leaving him no choice but to trudge along to his village.
It was very dark and the frequent lightnings enabled him to move along.The drizzle had stopped but it was windy and cold also.He started singing some film songs but became silent when he felt the noise would attract someone.He wanted to cover the distance fast.After three kilomtres there was a village and from there it was easier to walk as the road was better.He started praying to get over the fear.He seemed to get bolder when he thought he heard some footsteps behind him.He had been told as a young boy not to look back if he thought a ghost was behind him.He was afraid to turn but increased the pace.His heart beat fast as if it would burst.To his dismay he heard the steps also had quickened.He heard them distinctly.He knew he was close to the burial ground and could see the embers from a buring body with smell of odious smoke assailing his nose.Fear gripped him.He had to keep moving but the legs would not.They had become leaden by fear.
He sat down on a culvert and listened keenly.He heard the approaching footsteps.He was expecting a ghost though he had doubts as ghosts do not walk on the road making thuds.he was confused and his throat became dry.It was then a dim figure appeared before him with a plaintive voice of a female ‘Ayya, I am afraid to walk alone in the road.I have to go the next village.I was waiting near the bus stop for someone to proceed this way.When I saw you,you were ahead of me by good distance.I was trying to abridge the gap and you were walking fast.Can I accompany you up to the next village.” She was a middle aged woman with a bundle on her head.
Mani thanked God for His mercy and walked the way to his village chatting with her merrily and boasting that he used to while young visit burial grounds at dead of night and was never afraid of ghosts in his life.The sky had cleared,the drizzle had completely stopped and he neared the village.. It was still dark but not so pitch dark and he could see silhouttes of the trees..He asked her to which street in the village she belonged and who her husband was.When there was no response, he repeated the question.Still there was no reply.He turned to look and found no one by his side.There was no trace of any woman or a bundle on her head.It was then he realised that he had crossed the burial ground.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lalitha’s smartness

The train was speeding along towards Warangal.Dinner was expected to be served anytime.Lalitha was restless as she looked at the young girl aged six in the opposite lower berth.She was fairskinned and charming to look at.There was an undescribable fear in her eyes.She kept sobbing all the time. She had boarded the compartment at Vijayawada along with a man of around fortyfive.The man’s rugged features, the dark skin and the bushy muschtach did not give Lalitha a good impression.It was evident the girl did not belong to him.He was now and then chidng the girl in an unintelligble lingo and pulled her closer to him.She kept moving away from him.He kept a constant vigil on her.Lalitha felt that the girl could have been drugged a little as her eyes looked drowsy.
.Unable to suppress her uneasiness, she asked the man where he was bound for.He pretended he had not heard her.When he looked at her after sometime,she repeated the question a bit louder.He mumbled something in what seemed a dialect of Hindi. This only confirmed her suspicion.She was waiting for an opportunity to talk to the girl.It soon presented itself when he went to the toilet when he saw the girl asleep with her eyes closed.The moment he left Lalitha touched the girl and she woke up promptly.She asked her in Tamil who she was ,why she was crying and who the man was.She blinked.She tried in Hindi to which also she gave a blank face.She tried Telugu as she boarded at Vijayawada.It had no effect.Finally in smattering Malayalam she repeated the questions.There was a faint trace of smile in her face.She asked her whether she knew the man and she shook her head vigourously to indicate a no.Meanwhile the man came and looked at the sitting girl in obvious conversation with Lalitha.He pinched the girl hard,pulled her close to him and made her forcibly lie down with the face turned away .The girl let a muffled shriek and cried in pain..Lalitha decided she must do something to save her.
Meanwhile dinner arrived .Aftersometime when everyone had retired by 10 30pm Lalitha looked at the young girl sleeping unaware of the great harm awaiting her.The man was sitting by the window with the head turned outside but keeping a vigilant eye on the girl.Lalitha switched off the light and lied down to sleep.
Around 11 15 pm everyone heard a loud scream from Lalitha that the man in the opposite berth touched her at inappropriate place and tried to molest her.All the passengers crowded and rained blows on the shocked man.Lalitha started weeping.The ladies in the adjacent cabins came around her to comfort her.A couple of Railway policemen soon appeared and took custody of the man.
When he turned to look at the girl, Lalitha said”I have a strong suspicion this man is kidnapping the young girl.She is from Kerala and the man speaks some strange North Indian dialect.Please do not allow the girl to be taken by him”
One of the policemen replied ”Do not worry.We will restore the girl to her parents in due course after interrogating him.You need have no fear about the safety of the girl.”
At the next station when the policemen took away the man along with the girl, Lalitha heaved a sigh of relief happy that she could save the girl from the clutches of a wicked man.
It was then a passenger in the midle berth asked her “Did he really touch and try to molest you?”
Lalitha smiled and replied ”No, I could think of no other way to save the girl.I was not sure how many of the passengers would have taken the initiative.The man would have got down with the girl at the next station..I had to act fast.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Adhi's misfortune

Adhi is a cycle mechanic working in a small shop in the bazaar area. He had his mother and a younger sister to take care of. His mother worked as a domestic help in a few houses. His sister Shanthi thirteen years old was studying in a government school. The owner had closed the shop for a day as he had to leave the city. Many days he had asked Adhi to take care of the shop without closing it. This time for reasons not known to Adhi he preferred to shut the shop.
Adhi with nothing else to do went out with a friend to see a cinema. As they were nearing the cinema hall, they saw a huge crowd belonging to some political parties squatting on the middle of a busy thoroughfare and raising slogans against the government. The entire traffic had come to a standstill with long line of buses and cars waiting for the squatters to give way. There were passersby on both sides of the road. The shouting became louder and the angry agitators were compelling the shops to down the shutters. The jostling of the agitators was so heavy that Adhi and his friend were pushed inside the crowd. It was then somewhere a chappal flew followed by stones hither and thither at the buses and cars. Someone attempted to burn a bus.
The police who were silent witnesses till then swooped into action. As soon as they whisked away the leaders, the crowd became restive and violent. The police resorted to a mild lathi charge and bundled the agitators in the waiting vans.Adhi found himself pushed into a van despite his protestations that he was an innocent passerby. He was charged with pelting stones at the bus and police and also attempting to burn a bus. All his pleadings were of little avail. Many were let out the next day. But Adhi became an under trial and was confined in prison.
Months passed with no sign of the case coming up before court. His mother and sister wailed at their misfortune and sought the help of the cycle owner. As ill luck would have it, he was a sympathizer of the party in opposition and had no political clout to get his release. He could only help the family financially initially for a few months. There were hundreds of such under trials languishing in the jail for periods more than what they would have spent had they been sentenced. The system is such that the mountain load of pending cases in arrears would take years to be cleared by courts that are manned with heavy shortage of judges. Neither the infrastructure nor the wherewithal to handle such large number of cases all over the country is just not there.
Meanwhile Adhi’s mother fell sick by working in more houses than what she could to augment the reduced income. His sister Shanthi a bright girl discontinued her studies and helped her mom. The family was ruined for no fault of theirs in the insensitive environment they lived. There are countless such Adhis, perhaps several thousands, suffering for the crimes they did not commit or not proved. If they are let off finally without the charges being proved as it happens in most cases, there is no compensation whatsoever for the loss and pain suffered. The unfortunate victims are left only to curse their fate and reconcile themselves to the cruelty inflicted.
Adhi’s sister lost her education, his mother lost her health, their debts increased and Adhi came out a broken man both in spirit and strength. Who should be held responsible and what system should be in place to prevent such hardships to the innocent who are invariably poor people? The rich however as every one knows do not spend time in jails

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A token of love

My daughter was studying in class II in a primary school close by to my house. My wife brought her daily from the school in the after noon. Whenever it was a holiday for me or if I were at home I invariably went to the school instead of my wife to fetch the young girl. It may be three or four times a month. When she saw me at the gate she would come running with a large smile in her face. I always took a Cadbury’s chocolate that I handed over to her. She would in turn give me her bag, snack box and water bottle. This became almost a ritual with her always expecting a chocolate from me. She saw in this happy routine the love and affection that I had for her. The piece of chocolate acted as a medium to demonstrate my warmth and fondness for the little girl. Even when she grew to be a college going girl, she often reminisced with fond memories of this habit of mine.
Years flew by. She got married and went abroad. In due course she became a mother of two children. It was then that I suffered a massive heart attack.Luckly I was in good care of doctors within an hour. But the condition became worse and was put in Intensive Care Unit. My daughter took the next available flight to come to India. Luckily things stabilized meanwhile though I continued to remain in the ICU. When my wife told me that our daughter would be coming to see me that day, I expressed a wish which she complied with immediately.
When my daughter came into the ICU in the evening during the visiting hours, I could see from her eyes that she had cried. There was a look of anxiety and worry writ large on her face. Her attempt to smile was a feeble grin. She was possibly told that I was still critical but out of immediate threat. She held my hand and told me not to worry and that I would soon be well and back home. I signaled to her to take out a thing from under my pillow .She took out the neatly wrapped packet in colour paper. When she opened and saw a cake of Cadbury’s chocolate, she wept with surprise and delight. I could see a large smile on her face. The chocolate to her represented her dad’s love and support for her.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Coffee-a new perspective

Got this in an email and I wish to share with all. You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen.
She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see.""Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After plling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the sameadversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently... The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain... When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things areat their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying. May we all be COFFEE .