Saturday, September 24, 2011

A journey not made

Amrita wished to visit the Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayur for a long time. She had a vow to discharge. She had heard her friends speak about the enchanting idol and the serene atmosphere of devotion that pervades there. She had booked the tickets for the family a fortnight in advance. They had not gone on any vacation for more than two years due to some reason or the other. She had a small plan to visit a few scenic spots if possible before they returned to Bangalore. Her husband Ananth despite a busy schedule gave in to her pleas and had taken three days leave. The kids were in raptures. She started packing for the trip without forgetting to take her traditional dresses both for her and family for the visit to Kerala temples that had some regulations.

It was the day prior to the departure by plane to Cochin. It was 11 am and the telephone rang. It was Ananth who told her in a flustered tone “Look Amrit, I got a phone call from the senior home where my grandpa’s brother is staying that he had taken seriously ill and admitted to a hospital at Vellore. They rang me up as I am the nearest kin as per their records. It seems that he had expressed a desire to meet me. I am going by car after lunch and will let you know after reaching.”

“Oh, oh, what about our trip slated for tomorrow. The plane leaves early in the morning at 8 am. We are all packed up and ready. Will you be back by evening?”Amrita asked anxiously.

“I will give a ring from there. You know he has no children or any other relative. Let us pray he stabilizes by evening. Wait for my call from Vellore”Ananth replied

“I am always unlucky. After two long years after much imploring you had agreed. You always pleaded inability blaming your office. Now you have to go to see an ailing relative who is 85 years old. Agreed that you have to go and see him but what prevents you from assuring me that you will be back in the evening?” she replied.

“Don’t be foolish. How can I assure you when I do not know how sick he is?” he shot back

“What is it you are going to do by being present there after you have met him? He must be under doctors’ care and they would give him the treatment needed. Your grand pa’s brother is not poor and has money for best treatment. If there is a need, we can always return. I wish to go to Guruvayur temple tomorrow as per schedule. I want you back in the night” she told in raised voice.

“You are being unreasonable. Would you do it if it were your grandfather? At any rate I cannot promise anything until I meet the doctors. Keep praying and wait for my call. I am in a hurry”he said as he disconnected the call.

The kids were sorely disappointed. Amrita could not console the kids. She was angry with her husband and was even sore with his old relative for spoiling the plan. But she was still hoping that her husband would return by 10pm at least. Instead she got a call from him around 10.30 pm.She heard him telling “My grandfather is really sick and in intensive care. The doctors are not sanguine about the outcome of their efforts to save him and wished me to stay back for the night. I am sorry, Amrit, but there is no way out. Please cancel the tickets immediately and also inform the tourist car chap. I will call you in the morning.”

“I knew that this is what would happen. Stay there as long as you wish” she said and slammed the phone down. The phone rang again and again but she just ignored.

In the morning around 8am Ananth called and said “By god’s grace chinna thatha is stable .I would leave Vellore after meeting the senior doctor. I am sure you would have cancelled the tickets. God willing, we will go next week.”

“I knew this is what you would say. I am making no plan. Do what you wish” she replied and hung the phone.

As she was watching the TV around 9 am, there was flash news under breaking news about the crash of the morning plane from Bangalore to Cochin and that the authorities feared heavy casualities.She was shocked with disbelief as this was the plane she should have taken with her family. She was dazed for a while before she rang up Ananth to convey the news.

“I am sorry Ananth for being rude to you. It is all Lord Krishna’s grace that made us escape this tragedy. His ways are mysterious and He had shown His grace through the sickness of thatha (grandpa).If you are planning to visit Vellore tomorrow, I too wish to accompany you. Our grandpa is in a way instrumental for our well being today.”

“…Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower……
William Cowper

Friday, September 23, 2011

The retribution

Shuklaji, a second rung politician in his spotless white clothes and bushy moustache was surrounded by his sidekicks. The day’s newspaper was lying before him. He was fretting and fuming in anger as he saw the screaming headlines. He knew who it was who made his life miserable with his investigative journalism and relentless exposure of all his misdeeds. The rascal, whistle blower as he called himself, was again at it splashing every detail of his latest forcible occupation of someone’s house in a central locality and dispossessing the timid owner of his only asset by threat, intimidation and assault. Shuklaji’s steady rise from the poster-pasting days to the present senior position in the hierarchy is marked by unabashed crime and violence. The reporter was targeting him with his exposes almost on a daily basis even when Shuklaji had done no harm personally to him. The top party honchos were not pleased with the negative publicity and pulled him up for his avariciousness and the brazen manner he went about in his misdeeds. They wanted him to square up the matter with the journalist so that party’s name is not sullied.

Shuklaji sent his emissary to the reporter with a packet of huge money to buy his silence. Although living in ordinary circumstances, the reporter refused to succumb to the blandishments and sent the emissary away. When he was threatened with dire consequences if he did not refrain from his exposes, the reporter reportedly smiled and dared him to. All the efforts of Shuklaji to bring the foolish man around had failed. Today’s article was the last straw. The politician decided to put a permanent end to what he perceived as a menace and threat to his freedom and political future.

The politician had chosen an ordinary car with a changed number plate and was waiting on the road in the car with his sidekick outside the reporter’s home. A short while later the young reporter emerged with his wife and child and was starting his scooter.Shuklaji hailed a shoe shine boy who was in the road platform and asked him “Will you do me a small help? I will give you 100 rupees. Just take this small packet to the person who is getting ready with his scooter and hand it over to him. If he asks who had given the packet, tell him someone whom you didn’t know. Come and tell me that you have given and another hundred rupee note awaits you.”

When the boy agreed, he collected a packet from his sidekick and handed over the boy along with a hundred rupee note urging him to hurry up before the man on the scooter left.

When the boy ran with the packet to the reporter and narrated what he was told, the reporter told the boy that he did not want it .He said “Take it back fast to the person who gave you and hand it over to him whether he wants it or not. Do it immediately before he leaves.”

As Shuklaji and his sidekick were waiting for the boy to return to report the successful accomplishment, the boy returned unseen from the other side of the car. After keeping the packet silently inside the car through the open window, the boy ran away afraid that the man would take back the hundred rupee note he had given.

A few minutes later the entire traffic on the road came to standstill when they heard a loud explosion from inside a car with people scurrying hither and thither for safety.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The clock struck 4.She could hardly sleep the whole night. It is exactly one year since her daughter of ten years had passed away after a brief viral fever. Her thoughts kept haunting her the whole night as she lay restless in the bed. Her husband put his arm over her and gently patting her he said “Honey, you must try to get some sleep. There is no point in hurting yourself like this. You have the school to attend to. Close your eyes and sleep.” As she snuggled closer to him, she slowly wafted into sleep even as he kept on patting her.

In the morning when she entered class six, she saw this new girl in the front row. She was not in uniform but in a nice blue denim skirt and a white top with polka dots of blue colour.The girl around 11 years was extremely fetching with a twinkle in the corner of her eyes.Sunita asked her ‘What is your name? You seem a new entrant.”

“Yes, Ma’m.I joined today.Sunaina is my name” she replied

Sunita stood dazed in disbelief. Her daughter was also Sunaina.”Will you repeat your name please?” she said.

“Sunaina, Madam” the girl replied in soft voice.

Even as she started the lessons, she could not take her eyes off the new girl who kept smiling at her. There was a strange sensation of peace in Sunita and she felt light in heart after the sleepless night. As the class ended, the girls left their note books on Sunita’s table with their homework done. She took the note books home as she is wont to for correction.

She was thinking about the new girl and could not but compare her with her daughter who would have also been 11.What a coincidence not only in their names being the same but also the smile in their faces. Suddenly she rummaged through the books to see whether the new girl had also left her note book as she had a vague memory of the girl walking up to her table along with others at the end of class. She could easily find the one as it had no cover like the notebooks of other girls. Wondering what she could have written as she had no homework to do, she opened the page to read. She found this written boldly and in beautiful handwriting.

“Dear Mom,
I am the sweet and protective angel come to be with you always. Do not grieve if you do not see me but take heart that I am always there beside you and watching you.
With love,

Sunita had goose bumps as she read the lines and rushed to open the door for her husband who had just returned from office. Seeing her flustered and in a bewildered state, he asked her “Sunita, what happened? You seem agitated. Are you keeping well?”

“You will be amazed. One new girl of our Sunaina’s age joined my class today. Beautiful and smiling, she bears a close resemblance to our daughter. When I was going through home work note books, I found this note from her. Please see. I will fetch the note book” she said as she hurried to get the note book.

“I see a blank page, Sunita.I don’t see anything written on it. Are you imagining? Are you feeling well?”he asked with concern.

She snatched the note book from his hands and saw the note clearly. ”Have you become blind or what? It is as clear and prominent as your nose on your face” she said angrily.

He saw again and said “Change your dress. Let us go to doctor. You need a tranquilizer to soothe your nerves. You need some rest also.I will have a wash and change the dress. Meanwhile get ready”

She saw the note again and again and started crying inconsolably. She felt a tiny hand on her shoulders gently patting her. Sunita was certain about what was written.

The next day reached the school a few minutes earlier than usual. When she entered the class, she could not see Sunaina to her great disappointment. After the class she went to the school office and asked “Any information about the new girl Sunaina who had joined my class yesterday”She hasn’t turned up today.”

“No, Sunita madam. No girl joined the school or your class yesterday. What are you talking about?” asked the clerk in the office.

As she stood dazed,Sunita again felt the soft hands of a child on her shoulders

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

55 W fiction

1. Loyalty
As they were tying the knot at a temple, she asked “I have left my home behind forever. Will you be true and ever with me?”
”Why doubt me? Cheer up. Let us go to our hotel room after dinner and have fun” he said shutting the thought of his wife and child at home.

2. Talisman
He paid Rs.500 to the famous tantric for an unfailing talisman to attract woman. He came out and tried it on a young woman waiting at bus stop. Lo, she smiled at him and came near. He smiled back not seeing the talisman she also had in hand and trying on him. Talisman seemed working.

3. The will
He hated his dad who made his wayward son’s life miserable. He threw him out when he was into drugs and whores. He didn’t attend dad’s funeral or lawyer’s office. Why go and get disappointed, he thought. Lawyer read the secret will “……If my son is not present, entire wealth should go to charity…..”

4. The report card
The boy stood trembling with poor report card.
“Come near” his dad called. Mom’s face was grim.
Boy sobbed fearing worst punishment.
“Very poor show. It is a shame on you” dad said as he took the cane.
”Don’t cry. It is over. Do better next time” he smilingly said as he broke the cane

5. Pets
LKG admission in prestigious school was going on..
The four year old in pony tail and pinafore stood before Principal
“Name three pets” she was told
“Cat, dog and…” she lingered for a while before she said “daddy”.
All broke into laughter and the girl was admitted with parents beaming with smile

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A tryst in bus to Vellore

Gayatri could not get a seat in the Volvo bus at Koyambedu but settled for what she was told a 2x2 deluxe bus. There was hardly enough leg space and the seats were not wide. She would not have normally taken such a bus but her father insisted that she be at Vellore in the night itself without fail. She knew why the urgency in her dad’s tone. It must be another bride seeing ceremony the next day. She was fed up with this rigmarole of a man coming with his parents and sometimes with sisters too, having coffee with spicy snacks and asking a few inane questions before taking leave and never to get back. She had neither the heart to refuse her parents requests nor the grit to tell them that she will choose her own man.

The bus was yet to start waiting for passengers and would reach Vellore only around midnight. She was not worried as her younger brother would be waiting at the bus stand. She settled down with her iPad.

She turned when she heard a deep voice “Can I get in? The window seat is mine”. He was a tall, handsome guy with neatly trimmed wavy hair, a bit darkish with a faint of smile that made him very attractive. But she was irritated at his stressing about the window seat being his when she was already seated in her aisle seat. She got up and stood in the pathway. While trying to put his box in the loft, he pushed her bag to a corner.

Gayatri was furious and said in an acerbic tone”Why do you push my bag? You can as well put your box in the empty space. Keep my bag where it belonged”

With sarcasm in his tone, he said “Are spaces in the loft also reserved like seats? Mine wouldn’t fit in there. Your bag can still be seen”

“That is none of my concern. You can keep your box wherever you like without disturbing mine. If you are particular about specific place, you should have come much earlier and not on the eleventh hour disturbing others like a bull in china shop” Gayatri exploded.

He didn’t lose his cool and told her smilingly “Don’t lose your temper. Your bag will remain where it was.”

He sat quiet for a few minutes in his seat and said “Excuse me. I will get a bottle of water”

She frowned her face and again got up to give him way.

He came back with two bottles of water and two packets of biscuits.”You don’t have to get up. I will squeeze in” he said.

“No, I would prefer to move. Please wait” she said. He pulled a long face and waited.

After a while offering the bottle of water and biscuit packet he said “Have this water and biscuits”

“Thank you. I don’t need” she curtly said

He kept quiet for some time and then asked “Did I offend you in anyway? You seem to be displeased”

“No. Why should I be pleased or displeased with a stranger in the bus?” she replied

He kept silent with an obvious hurt in his face at the snub he received and started watching the video in the bus. He lost interest in a while and turned to look at Gayatri.When she turned, he smiled at her and asked “Are you living in Chennai?”

She just said “Hmmm”

“Me too. I have some work at Vellore tomorrow and hope to catch the 5pm bus back “he informed unsolicited

“Hmm” was her reply again.

“It is okay if you don’t wish to answer. I have been seeing right from the beginning a tinge of impoliteness in your tone when there is no cause for it. It is regrettable all the more as you seem educated and possibly well employed” he said softly with certain seriousness in his tone.

Gayatri stared at him but did not reply. He turned his face away and closed his eyes to catch a few winks.

It was 2.45pm next day.Gayatris house was filled with a few relatives. The aroma of cashew nuts fried in ghee wafted in the air along with that of cardamom and saffron. Gayatri was decked in a beautiful sari with some elegant jewelry adding to her charm. The air was fragrant with jasmine. Gayatris father was standing in the portico awaiting the young man. Her mom was giving the final touches to Gayatris make up.

Her dad rushed in to announce the arrival.Gayatri stayed inside with her twin sister Savitri waiting for her to be called. After a few minutes she was called to the drawing hall. She got a thousand watts shock when she saw the young man who travelled in the bus with her. She feared this bride-seeing trip would also be a certain failure.

The young man smiled at Gayatri and showing a seat opposite him said ” Please be seated here. I hope no spaces are reserved here.”

Everyone looked at him with surprise not knowing what he meant.

“I hope your anger has subsided” he said with a loud guffaw.

Gayatri said “I am sorry. I didn’t know”

Never mind. I hope your sister Savitri will not be like you. If your parents do not mind, I wish to have her hand.

There was a deafening silence among those assembled.Gayatri stood up deeply hurt and started walking inside.

“Hey, Gayatri, do not go away. I was just kidding. Honestly I like you and your petulant ways” he said laughing

There was a loud peal of laughter when Savitri said ”In any case I would have rejected him. I dislike presumptuous guys”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Serial killer at large

The city was abuzz with the spine chilling stories of gory killings in different parts mostly in the night. Some daytime murders in secluded spots were reported. There was a uniform pattern behind the killings and the instrument used was the same. The victims were mostly young men. Old men, women and children were spared by the killer. The description of this serial killer was all hearsay as no one has seen him and the victims were too dead to throw light on.Rumours were afloat that he killed with a blunt instrument on the head.. But no evidence was found in the vicinity. The newspapers were screaming with headlines reporting the ghastly slaughters and asking for immediate action by the police. The police were not found wanting in response and many patrol teams were doing the rounds in different parts of the city at nights. It was nearly a month and more than 15 killings had taken place with the killer still eluding the police. There was a reward of rupees one lakh to anyone helping in nabbing the culprit.

Ravi was broke. He had no job. The last rupee was spent long back and he needed money badly. This was a godsend opportunity. He was a hefty and strong fellow and can tackle anyone on one to one basis. He ventured out in his spotless blue jeans and cream khurta looking carefully on all sides n for any suspicious character. It was dark and drizzling with the atmosphere somewhat creepy. The night seemed perfect for the killer to come out of his den to get his prey. Ravi leisurely walked but with alertness as the road lined with big trees was deserted with not a single soul. It was three days since an incident was reported and whole city was waiting with bated breath for the next murder and hoped the police would catch the killer. Police were also on tenterhooks setting up barricades at all intersections for the cars to stop. They even checked individuals who looked suspicious sparing the well dressed office goers.

Ravi saw a few police patrol cars whizzing past. This road was still desolate and dim with lights few and far between. Ravi had made sure that he was well armed when he went out since the day murder started happening. Still there was a slight tinge of fear as the killer managed to kill 15 unwary and unsuspecting victims. But he was well prepared for a skirmish if necessary and confident that he cannot be taken by surprise. Nevertheless he ran his hand on his side to feel the security of weapon he had hidden to be used if necessary.

It was then he saw in the darkness a well built tall man enter from a side road. There were none within sight. He felt his heart was pounding hard and that he was perspiring. There was a strange feeling of tingling in his hands and legs. He did not panic though and kept his hand on the weapon. When the man neared, he found him in Khaki uniform of the police. He was sporting a long and bushy mustache as policemen are wont to.

Ravi heaved a sigh of relief when the khaki clad man asked in a stentorian voice ”Hey, what are you doing in this road at this hour? Don’t you know that a mad killer is on prowl and that people do not stir out after dusk and if they do, they go in groups?”

Ravi laughed loudly and said “I am fully aware. In fact I am on the prowl to catch him to help you inept police people.”

“You seem a reckless guy. I would call you a foolish and rash guy to come like this alone without even a walking stick in your hand to confront a known serial killer. The moment he sees you he will make a mince meat of you” the khaki clad man said

“Don’t assume things. I have a weapon to protect myself. Why should I fear now when you are there by my side” Ravi said

“That is true. Not a single patrol car is seen for nearly 30 minutes. I think one jeep is coming behind us. Don’t you see?”asked the khaki man

Ravi turned behind to see the jeep when he felt a sledge hammer blow fall on his head. Thousand stars exploded before he felt he was floating in darkness and all was quiet thereafter.

The headlines in the paper next day screamed ”Killer active again. Sixteenth victim. Is police sleeping?”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Onam greetings


പൂകളും പുഞ്ചിരിയും നിറഞ്ഞ പൊന്നോണ ആശംസഗല്‍
wishing you beautiful onam with flowers and smile

warm regards


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A tribute to a teacher

An old post I am repeating though a bit delayed for the Teachers day

I was in class 8 I think when I had Mr.Govindarajan (we called him GR Sir) for my class teacher. From my sieve like memory I clearly remember that he was short and frail with a small physical frame and unkempt hair and appeared much older than his early fifties. But I cannot forget the twinkle in his kindly eyes and the ever present mischievous smile in his face that belied the initial impression one got of him. His witty and lively classes, however drab the subjects were, made him very popular amongst the boys in the school. Despite his bubbly humour and warmth, there was a certain aloofness inhibiting any intimacy or liberties. He knew well how to instill and inspire confidence in his pupils and in making them believe that they can achieve whatever goal they had set for themselves. He never derided even the weak students and took trouble to explain the lessons again and again. He used to devote invariably the last 10 minutes of his class to kindle the interest of the boys in general subjects and expand their mental horizon. There was some innate charm about him and his teaching method that we wouldn’t have willingly foregone his classes. A wise master, he inspired awe in his abilities and earned the respect of one and all including his peers. He had surprisingly a soft trait in that he could not be harsh even on impish and roguish boys when occasions demanded it. When any boy complained of slightest physical discomfort, he never looked askance but sent him home immediately for rest.

For reasons not known to me, he took a special liking for me possibly because I lived very close to his house. He used to give me small errands occasionally like getting chalk pieces from the office. It was one day when he entered the class unusually late by a few minutes; he looked distinctly fatigued and distraught.

He called me near him and whispered ”Partha, I went to hospital this morning to admit my aged mother who is suffering from acute Asthma. It was an emergency and I am coming directly from there after she stabilized. You know my house. Can you please collect the lunch from my wife? Tell her that I was held up and couldn’t come home. Also tell her that doctors are attending on my mother and that I would be going to hospital directly from the school.”

I virtually ran to his house that was close to school. It was a small two room side portion, dark and dingy. After I conveyed the message I was waiting for the lady to pack the lunch. I could see in the dark and bare hall a small boy of my age huddled on a mat. When he saw me, he tried to get up but could not. He made some unintelligible guttural noises that brought his mother scurrying to his side. She said “Lie down quietly and I will come in a minute to you after sending lunch to appa”
I blurted foolishly “Aunty is he not well? He is not getting up and is making strange sounds.”

She turned to me attempting to hide a tear and said before going to kitchen” Yes, he is very unwell and cannot walk on his own. He cannot speak and is not a normal child.”

It struck me then that he was not only polio affected but also mentally retarded. What a cruel punishment to have befallen on the excellent and loving teacher who never betrayed even in an unguarded moment the piteous and depressing scene at home. An aged sick mother frequently on bouts of asthma, an abnormal child with no future, a small decrepit home and low emoluments is a deadly combination that no ordinary person can withstand. I wondered how this man’s devotion to his duty and amiable disposition remained unshaken by such extreme personal disappointments. My esteem for him grew boundless when I remembered his natural dignity, infectious warmth of spirit and willingness to walk the extra mile to teach the slow children till they understood. He never allowed his private grief to intrude in the call of his duty.

Education for him is something more than book learning. For him it is an initiation of the young and eager minds into the wonders of the world and life where time and money played little part at personal level. The memory of such a great but simple teacher of the past abides like a perfume even after the lapse of long years. Such rich contentment and serene detachment are no common possessions of ordinary mortals.