Sunday, July 31, 2011
His face illumined happily at son’s voice.
“Enough of your being alone. Come let’s go.”
“Has your wife agreed?”
“We were concerned and came to this decision jointly” said the son
His heart swelled in pride at the thought of grandchildren.
The son’s face became grim as the car stopped at old age home.
The child was crying in bed
“Mummy, don’t go” she wailed
She gave Tylenol as she felt her shivering and warm.
“Don’t worry. Will be back from party soon. Nanny is here” she said as she left hurriedly.
“Nanny, Where are you? Am feeling like throwing up. Please come
Nanny was snoring in her bed
3. Stolen kiss
She was beautiful and smiling at him from the corner in the theatre. No one was around. Unable to resist, he approached her with adrenalin running high. Her parted lips were still inviting. He planted a stealthy kiss but the wretched bell rang. He reluctantly went into hall looking again at the tempting wall poster
4. Blood thirsty
He wrote to her in his blood “I love you”
“Wow, write more and longer” she replied
He wrote more and asked “Are you happy?”
“Yes. I like the smell of your blood. Keep them coming” she replied
“I am willing to die for your love” he wrote
“This is what I want” she replied
5. Bertha after me
“I am scared of Bertha. She is after us” he told his sweetheart.
She said “Me too.”
“She will catch us wherever we are. I pray she stops pursuing us” he said.
“Let us hide in the basement for the night and move elsewhere tomorrow.
Next morning TV blared typhoon Bertha changed course
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The passersby invariably took pity on this miserable man and dropped coins on the spread towel. There were no trees to give him shade and he sat on the edge of the platform taking care not to impede the flowing traffic of pedestrians. He generally came early there and left when the sun went down on the sky. Who brought him there and where he went after the evening are unknown. They are also not of material consequence to the story. Suffice it to say rain or shine, he was seated day in and day out waiting for the munificence of the kind hearted people to keep his hunger at bay.
This day an older beggar sat by his side. He had no serious disability to evoke the sympathy of the people except that he had only one leg but had a crutch to support him when he walked. But amongst beggars there seemed no competition and the blind youngster did not mind the company. In fact he conversed with the older man making the long squatting on the hot sun less burdensome. Coins were falling at regular intervals on the young man’s towel while the older guy was not that lucky. No one ever dropped any coin on his towel. Where the coins rolled or fell out of the blind man’s towel and they were many , the older man silently took them and kept with him. He did not take however what fell on the towel. Oblivious of the deceit the young man enjoyed the older man’s company.
A kindly woman dropped a twenty rupee note out of extreme compassion but did not feel necessary to tell the young beggar of the fact. She assumed that he would as was his wont collect the contributions by feeling the towel with his hand. As soon as she walked away after lingering for a few seconds, the elder beggar quietly lifted the note and put it securely in his pocket.
“I could smell from the fragrance of flowers that a woman was standing by my side but could hear no noise of coin falling” said the blind man.
“Yes, I also observed her standing before you and opening her bag but on second thoughts walked away without giving anything. May be she had no change” the older man said.
That evening when the day was over, the older beggar asked him to wait. He fetched two packets of lemon rice and gave him one to eat.
Surprised the blind one asked the other guy why this generosity.
“You are like my younger brother. I have no one to look after. Whatever I earn I can spend. I will take care of you always. You do not have to worry. I intend to spend the rest of my life along with you. It suits me well” replied the older fellow.
The young beggar innocently said “I am touched by your affection a thing I have never received. We can even share whatever is given to me. You don’t seem to get much. People take pity on me because of my blindness.”
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
She knew she had made a mistake. But he looked decent in his well pressed clothes and the smug smile in his face made him look attractive. The initial irritability softened as she asked him gently ”You could have rung the bell. What is it you want?”
“Sorry madam, I should have done it and stood outside waiting for you” he said politely
“Never mind, tell me the purpose of your visit” she asked
“I heard that you wanted a driver for your car. I am now on the lookout for a job as my previous employer got transferred” he replied even as he surveyed the rich furniture in the hall and the well kept showcase with some finest curios. Affluence was strikingly seen everywhere. If only he had a bit of luck, he was thinking, when her voice brought him to attention
“Who told you we were looking for a driver and how did you get the address?”she asked with some suspicion as she had talked to Ravi only a couple of days back that she needed a driver.
“The drivers meet once a while at a tourist operator’s office. Someone told me though I do not know how he got the information. I can give some good references. I have an aged mother to look after and a younger sister to be married off” he replied
She liked his appearance and the soft way he spoke. She felt he would make a good driver for her and be the envy of her friends who came with aged drivers with thick glasses and bent figures. She started wondering why husbands prefer old men while choosing drivers for spouses.
“Madam, please help me get this job. You will have no room for complaint” he pleaded even as he glanced around. For the first time she didn’t like his roving eyes.
The aroma of coffee from the filter filled the room. She had not yet taken. She did not want to miss a good driver and wanted to question him further
“Please wait. I will be back soon from the kitchen” she said
She prepared a cup of coffee and went to the adjoining room wherefrom she could see him through an opening in the well curtained window.
The young man thought what an easy target she was and how easily she fell for his talk. She also looked very good. He was thanking his stars for his good luck. There were none in the floor. He must handle this tactfully and help himself, he thought.
As he neared the show case, he saw on the mantle a Rado watch. He quickly pocketed it and looked around. He heard her talking to someone on phone. He filched an iPhone that was tempting to ignore besides some silver pieces. Meanwhile he heard a rustle and he quickly moved to the place where he was standing.
She came with a cup of coffee and a large smile in her face. She looked very fascinating. He felt his heart pounding faster and adrenaline rushing through his veins as she handed him the cup and her fingers brushed his.
“Please sit down and drink the coffee first. You can tell me later about yourself, how much you expect and whether you would come out of station if need be” she said.
He now sincerely felt how nice it would have been if he had known driving really and started fantasizing taking her on long trips. He felt sorry for her now and how she would be hurt very soon. But compassion has never been his virtue and he turned into a wild animal when hapless women came under his control.
As he was drinking his coffee, she said “Just a minute. I will be back very soon” and left the room. He went to the front door and locked it. He felt very happy that the job is rendered so easy. No one would hear. He sat waiting for her. Five minutes went by and she wasn’t seen. He stood up to go inside but felt he could not stand. Something amiss, he thought. He sat down
Ten minutes later Rohini came into the hall and saw the crumpled figure on the sofa. She smiled and rang up for the security at the gate. Thanks to her foresight in watching him steal the things through the curtained window, she could save herself. But she had to beat him in his own game without arousing any suspicion and she did it with aplomb. The coffee helped her accomplish it.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
“Hey auto, will you come up to Santhoshapuram? We are in a hurry” Jayaram heard a gruff and a bit incoherent voice behind him.
“Where, Sir” he asked
“Santoshapuram” the man said in a raised voice
“Santhome, is it”
“Are you deaf or what? Santoshapuram near Tambaram” he shouted at the top of voice
“Don’t get angry, sir. I am hard of hearing since childhood” he replied
“It’s alright.. Take us double quick: the man said
“It is quite far, Sir. I am to hand over the vehicle by midnight” he said obviously uncomfortable with their looks. One of them had a tight T-shirt that showed his bulging muscles over a lungi that was folded in half. The other wore a dark red khurta over faded jeans. They sported long mustache that highlighted their evil faces and their big smoke- stained teeth.
Unmindful of his disinclination, they pushed their way into the vehicle and said in a threatening voice ‘Be a good boy. Don’t get into any trouble. We are not in good mood.. We know your meter is rigged. Nevertheless we will pay you double the fare. Start immediately”
Jayaram didn’t want any trouble but needed the sizable money he expected from the long trip . He quietly started the vehicle. They asked him twice some innocuous question but he pretended not to have heard them till they tapped his shoulder and raised their voices. Satisfied that the driver was hard of hearing, the two men commenced conversing with each other in silent tone. Jayaram sharpened his ears to catch their conversation.
The T-shirt man said”We have to keep the boy hidden may be for two days. By that time the boss will decide what to do. It all depends upon the boy’s parents. If they quietly pay the money, he may not harm the boy. But one can never be sure with boss. He can be tricky and most cruel too. He has given deadline by 1pm tomorrow morning to pay up and have the boy alive.”
The khurta guy said “I feel bad for the five year old kid. He has been crying all the time and had not taken a morsel of food. We brought him from the playground blindfolded. He wouldn’t know where he is holed up. Why kill him?”
“Shut up. It is none of our business. You seem to have taken a liking for the boy. If the boy is lucky you drop him back at Valmiki nagar.Don‘t open your mouth before boss. He may even kill you” admonished the T-shirt.
“Let us buy some idlies on the way .The boy may be hungry” said the khurta chap
“No time to waste. Let us get bun in the tea shop near the house. It is nearing 12.Let us stop the auto at the beginning of the street and walk up to the house. It is drizzling but never mind” said the T-shirt
When they reached the street, it was raining heavily. Instead of stopping at the beginning of the road, they got down before a small tiled house at the end of the road. They paid him 400 rupees and asked him “Are you happy?”
Jayaram said”What? What did you say? You want me to wait?”
Assured that the driver did not hear their conversations, the T shirt laughed and said “Nothing .I said have a safe trip back”
Jayaram swung into action once he came to the main road by calling the police. By 2am the young child was rescued and the men including the boss were in custody. When the parents came to the police station to take the child, he overheard them asking the inspector of police “Where is the honest auto driver? We wish to meet him and thank him profusely. We would also reward him handsomely for saving us the huge ransom of one crore demanded. We would even make him a owner of a fleet of autos instead of being a driver. But for his honesty and the smart ruse of pretending to be deaf, we would not have got back our child alive.”
Jayaram could not believe what he heard but remembered that good acts have their own rewards.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Balan was lying one afternoon on Kala’s lap with both of them cuddling amorously in her hut. Their friendship was recent and started on a tiff at a ration shop.Balan tried to jump the queue one day for procuring rations for someone known to him. While all the others kept mum, Kala who was at the end of the line had the temerity to question. He was not accustomed to anyone confronting him and he looked at her with astonishment. She was about 35, well built and attractive. Instead of getting angry, he smiled at her. He got her rations too out of turn and thus became their friendship.Kala’s husband, a painter by profession and a chronic alcoholic and a sickly person, beat her mercilessly under the influence of liquor. He could not keep her happy and she detested him hating his very presence in the house. Balan became an infatuated slave of her pandering to all her needs and smothered her with money and love. Most afternoons when he had no compelling work, he spent with her.
One afternoon when they were in a happy frame of mind, she casually mentioned ‘My husband is suspecting us. May be some neighbours must have squealed about our meetings and intimacy. I wish to marry you and be ever with you unafraid of others mouths.It is not possible as long as this wretch is alive.”
Inebriated with her warm and passionate kisses, he asked her ”Tell me clearly. Do you want him out of our way permanently. Promise that you will marry me then.”
“I wish to be with you all my life. You have made my life very happy and I am unable to be without you even for a day. Only this man is a hindrance in our way. I don’t know what you will do but please see that you don’t get me into any trouble” she said
“Forget it. This man is a small fry. I have eliminated prominent people with ease. Don’t worry. I have lot of clout. We will soon elope from this place after the deed is done. Give me a week’s time. He will be permanently out of your way. Be assured no danger will come to you” he said.
“Thanks. I have one request. Avoid coming here for a month or two after the event so that no one would connect you with his disappearance. After two months we can move to another nearby place quietly.I would be missing you a lot during the intervening days but cannot be helped “she replied.
Two months later Balan in dark glasses and a beard came to Kala’s hut to find it locked. He came on successive days to find the house closed. He enquired discreetly with a woman selling flowers nearby whether the locked hut was available for rent.
She said “One Kala was living there. People say her husband ran away deserting her. She was not happy with him though. People here gossip that she went with her secret lover about a month and half back. No one knows where she had gone. She was secretive, it seems.”
“Secret lover?” he expressed surprise.
“Actually she was having affairs with two men. One man, a plumber I hear, was about 45 and a long time lover whom she met regularly at his place. The other fellow was a younger man and I heard he was a dreaded rowdy. He was a recent acquisition of hers. But people talk that she ditched this younger guy for the older man. Why do you ask all these?” the flower woman asked
“Just curiosity. Why would she leave a younger guy for an older man? It surprises me” he said
“True, I heard the younger fellow was a hooligan and she was afraid of him. Don’t know what happened to her husband. People talk many things. But this woman was a wicked woman and a slut” she said in contempt
Balan smiled at her and said “You are so helpful. Give me flowers for 25 rupees for the Vinayagar temple” and casually added “Any idea where she lives now? I would come to you daily and buy flowers. Where is your hut?”
The flower girl smiled back at him coquettishly and said “I heard they are at Kuppanchavadi.Do come daily. I will keep flowers especially for you. My hut is at the end of the road. I live with my mom who is away at work most afternoons.”
“Thanks .We will become friends. I will be back after a week. I have some urgent work to do. Let me go now. Can you please give the flowers at the temple? I am in a hurry” he said
Balan started walking towards Kuppanchavadi.He had some scores to settle..
Thursday, July 7, 2011
“Do not feel lost and lonely. It happens to all at some stage in life. I know losing a partner of forty years is no small thing. But one has to move on with life, Naren.Cheer up and go out to meet friends and relatives. Get books from the library or play a game or two of Sudoku or chess online. Learn to keep your mind engaged” said Arvind to his friend.
“I do try to divert my mind but am unable to forget her. Forty years, to be exact thirty nine years, eight months and twenty one days we lived together sharing joys and sorrows. Every little thing in this house brings back her memory. These six months of being without her is real hell. I wish Vimla had not died” bemoaned Naren
“You are selfish. Don’t you remember the pain and suffering she was undergoing in her last days? Death was a great relief for her. She must be really happy now relieved of pain” said Arvind.
Naren asked “Do you sincerely believe that she would be free of pain and be happy. I do not mind my suffering here without her if only I knew she was cheerful”
“It is easy. Why don’t you talk to her through a planchette or gazing at the mirror in the twilight hours? Just once to know that she is happy and free from pain. Promise me that you would not use this device more than once” warned Arvind
“How do I do it? I mean talking to her thro a mirror” asked Naren
“Don’t know much. But I have heard like this. Listen carefully.
On the day you wish to talk to her eat only fruits and vegetables. Avoid coffee. Do this exercise in the evening as the sun sets. Remove all metals from your body, rings, watches and chains. Disconnect phones and remove battery from clocks. Close the door of your room. No one else should be present. It should be absolute silence. Sit in a comfortable position before a very clean and big mirror. Switch off the lights after lighting a fragrant candle kept by side of mirror. Be in physical contact with something of your wife that she liked best say a sari or a necklace. Keep it on your lap. Keep her photo before you. You can even play a soft music that she liked. Think of some happy moments with her and start expecting her to appear before you. The mirror may become hazy and clouded. Do not be worried. It is a sign that you have established contact. Keep gazing at the mirror. You may hear some indistinct unusual noises in the back ground. Place your finger on the mirror as it feels a tingle. This means she is ready for communicating with you. Do not be afraid as her image appears in the mirror unclear initially but getting sharper and clearer. This experience will not last beyond one or two minutes. Do not ask questions abruptly. Greet her and express your love for her. Once she replies, you can converse. Please be positive. Sometimes there will be noises making the conversation difficult. Sometimes you may even feel the sensation of her touch. Strain your ears to listen intently. I hope this should be adequate. Will meet you after two days to know the outcome of your effort” explained Arvind.
Two days later, when Arvind met Naren he found him exultant and in high spirit.
Naren started telling “Arvind, I have been waiting for you to share my experiences. I saw her and spoke to her. She is fine and totally free from pain. Initially for a few minutes nothing was clear and it was noisy with eerie sounds. It became crystal clear later. I told her I miss her very much. She said she too missed me a lot but that we can never be together until my time comes.She said she is happy though the people there are looking different”
“How is it different?” asked Arvind
“It was not clear. She said that it was something like we are in a strange land but that she got used to it. They are all nice but not so friendly when others like me call her. She told me she had to take permission and that she cannot speak for long. She told me that we can hopefully meet once I depart this world but warned me not to do anything foolish. People who commit suicides go elsewhere. I am praying that my end would come soon” Naren replied.
“Don’t be silly. Forget about all these since you know she is happy and get on with your life” advised Arvind
Two days later Arvind rushed to Naren’s place when he got a call from his son. He was waiting at the gate. He said on seeing me “Uncle, something strange has happened last night and I find my dad dead sitting on a chair with a mirror before him and a burnt candle. The lights were switched off and there was the fragrance of burnt incense stick.Something weird, I could not know why. The doctor said it was a cardiac arrest.”
When Arvind entered his room, he saw Naren with a peaceful and contented face obviously an indication that he has joined his wife.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
“Is your day over?”he asked
“Allow me to walk with you up to the lab. My day is over and will take the bus back home. I live in Adyar” he said giving more information than asked for.
When she turned, she let out a loud exclamation of joy and said “Wow, isn’t it Saketh? What are you doing here? I heard you were somewhere in the North at Delhi or somewhere.”
Saketh explained briefly the purpose of his visit.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
It was dark and drizzling. There were a few people waiting for the bus. One young girl who was also waiting asked Selvam who stopped the vehicle by her side expectantly “How much would you demand for taking me to Adyar circle?”
“100Rs. ma’am” he said politely
“That is too much, I can pay 70Rs.Please come” she said
“Petrol prices have gone up, ma’am.One cannot afford at 70Rs.Make it 90Rs” he said
“No, I cannot also afford. Maximum I can pay Rs80.That is reasonable. I would have normally waited for the bus but my baby would be waiting at the crèche” she pleaded.
Selvam did not agree thinking due to urgency she would relent after a few minutes. It was a war of nerves and his experience showed that passengers often blink their eyes first under pressure.
It was then a white Maruti Omni screeched to a halt close to the young woman. The sliding door opened and a young man pulled her inside. She screamed and resisted. The other waiting passengers in the bus stand were standing numb in shock at this brazen audacity.Selvam who was a little away in the front turned to see she was almost dragged inside the car. She was wailing loud asking for help.
Her words that her baby was waiting in crèche came to Selvam’s mind. He knew he had no time but to rush to her help. Without a second thought and unmindful of the consequences and in a split second he drove his auto in front of the vehicle and collided head on with Omni that was about to start. Nothing mattered to him then save rescuing the woman from the ruffians. The front wheel of the auto got entangled under the bonnet and the car could not move. The three young men jumped out of the vehicle and tried to escape. One was caught by the passengers. The other two managed to give the slip.
The auto was freed from the car and luckily except for a dent on the bumper of the front wheel there was no serious damage, He offered to take the trembling lady in his auto to her place that was readily accepted. She thanked him profusely for saving her and at the end of journey offered him Rs100 but he took only Rs.80. It is another matter that she could arrange a loan through her husband from his bank for buying an auto and that she gave him a tidy sum as a token of gratitude.
The ways of life are strange indeed. We never know from where the much needed help would come to us. Surprisingly they come sometimes from totally unexpected quarters from people whom we ignore, haggle with, or even fight. In this case there was mutual help from two people who wrangled over ten rupees.