Friday, June 29, 2012


The last repeat story

“Ravi, what you are doing is not right. You have been running around with Vinita when you are already engaged to Sarala.It is not fair once you have committed to marry someone else. Even though you are not yet married to Sarala, it is plain cheating. You must move away from Vinita for the good of both” said his friend Ram.

Ravi laughed and replied “Oh don’t be such a prude. My marriage is slated only three months hence. How does it matter to Sarala what I do till then. Vinita and I like each other. How does it bother you?’

“Didn’t you tell me that you had assured Vinita that you will marry her? She is trusting you and giving herself to you in the hope of both getting married. I would not approve of this” said Ram

Ravi with an impish smile said “Forget it. It is all common in love and if she is foolish she will have to pay the price.”


“Sarala, you have been dating Mohan for almost three years and had gone very intimate with him going out with him now and then to holiday spots. How can you ditch him and settle for Ravi? Is it not a clear betrayal?” asked her friend.”

”Tell me what am I do when this Mohan is virtually a pauper and lives on his meagre monthly salary. He keeps counting money even when he takes me out to cheap joints. No doubt he keeps me happy. But I cannot imagine a life of want when all I need is luxury and a foolish husband who will shower money on me and allow me to do what pleases me most. Ravi is garishly rich with huge business interests and property. I will nevertheless be intimate with Mohan as hitherto though I may not marry him” replied Sarala

“You are not only an untrue lover but also a likely cheater.Fie on you” said her friend.


“Vinita” called her roommate Sharanya.”I hear you are getting married to Ravi and that both of you are already going steady and intimate. Is it true?’

“Yeah, he is madly in love with me and has promised to marry me within three or four months. You know I need someone in the circumstances I am placed.”

Sharanya asked her “Did you not tell him that you tested positive for HIV? How can you spoil a young man’s life? What you are doing is totally unethical and dishonest.”

“He never asked me. Why should I volunteer information that would take him away from me?” said Vinita


In life God has His own mysterious ways to punish the wicked. None can cheat Him. People think they are clever only to be overtaken by revenge from unexpected quarters.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The curse of beauty

From July you can expect new stories.Till then please bear with repeats of old stories that you might have missed reading

It was a very crowded hall. I was standing in a corner watching the people. Some were moving past me staring at me at the same time and a few scurrying along without noticing me. I always curse myself for the beauty that god has endowed me with. The pity is I have heard people say that I am a knock down gorgeous woman and would figure above nine in a scale of one to ten..You can put me in late twenties with a figure that is sure to win hands down a Miss World contest.. The sharp chiseled features with a nose that could make Cleopatra jealous and eyes that could mesmerize even a sage were my bane..

I hate being stared at and all the waking hours people ogle at me with covetous eyes. I am aware that extreme good looks can isolate people and make them objects of envy of women and adoration of men. There is also the tendency for people when they look at the beautiful women to assume they are proud, arrogant and selfish which I am not. Be that as it may, let me recount the incident that happened today.

I noticed this handsome young man giving me all his undivided attention. He was not moving as others did after a furtive glance or a cold stare. He stood transfixed like a statue at a distance from me eyeing me all the time. I averted his gaze but could sense his deep eyes groping on me. No doubt he was very attractive, tall, muscular and dusky with dark hair that curled and fell on his face. I don’t know how to describe his pointed but curious look though I felt inwardly flattered. I didn’t like his eyes grazing on my midriff that remained carelessly uncovered by the sari that I wore.

When some people seemed to notice his standing for a long time at the same place, he moved to another area a few feet away without averting his gaze. I feared whether his intentions were honest but felt the comfort of the constant crowd around me...When the crowd started thinning, he came closer and walked around me though he made no advances. May be he was a silent admirer of beauty as I saw from my sideward glance his taking pictures of me surreptitiously on his mobile. I didn’t object as I am used to this annoyance.

I don’t know how long I was standing lost in my thoughts. The hall was practically empty except for a few moving fast engrossed in their own preoccupations. It was then this young man made bold to approach me and audaciously stroke my bare midriff and thereafter kiss his hands. I was dumbstruck at his impetuosity though to be honest I felt happy and even had half a mind to hug him.

It was then I heard the security shouting at him “Keep off the statues. Don’t you see the board warning you not to touch the articles under display in the museum?”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Right attitude

Arjun was a 11 year old boy studying in class five. A puny boy with a round face, he always wore a pleasant smile on his face. Though a bright kid in the class, he was seated in the last bench. One may ask what is wrong with that except that this boy was affected with polio in one leg and used a crutch to walk. Though amiable in disposition, the other students never mixed with him. When all the others were playing, Arjun would be sitting on the bench alone watching them play or reading a book. Some of the mean students hurt him by calling him names like one legged horse, a halt or a crutchy. Some even derived sadistic pleasure by dislodging his crutch as they walked to make him trip. Arjun never lost his cool on such occasions and made light of them by laughing along with them.

The class teacher one day asked, “Arjun, why don’t you sit in the first bench.You are short and not visible.”

Arjun said, “Sir, I would like to sit in the last bench as it is convinient to keep the crutch against the wall away from the legs of others. I can see the black board clearly.”

The teacher had a look of worrry but remained silent though not satsified with the reply. There was an annual sports meet falling within a week and names were invited from the willing participants for events like running race, long jump, high jump, marathon race, lemon and spoon race, musical chairs, obstacle race and sack race. The boys huddled in groups, discussed amongst themselves and filled the forms with the events they wished to participate. Arjun was sitting alone in the last bench. No one came near him or invited him to join.

In the last hour of the day the teacher collected the forms as each student went to his table. When Arjun as the last boy limped his way with his crutch and handed over his form, the class broke into laughter.The teacher was angry and hit the table with the ruler and asking”What is there to laugh about, you silly boys?”

When Arjun gave his form the teacher put his arms around the boy and told him in kind tone”Dear boy, it is not compulsory for all to participate in the sports. If you wish, you can watch the events along with others.”

Arjun replied,”No, Sir. I wish to be like anybody else a normal person and I have given my name for the sack race. My friends will all be handicapped with their legs tied in the sack.God has already endowed me with a handicap. I think sir we are all evenly placed.Please permit me to join.”

The teacher rubbed his eyes with his handkerchief as he accepted the form. There was a pin drop silence in the class.

It was the sports day and sack race was the last event.The entire school was there watching the event. They knew Arjun was particpating in the event.Fifteen boys along with Arjun ran the race. No special handicap was given to Arjun even though he took the help of his crutch. The whole crowd watched with bated breath Arjun leading the pack unafraid of his falling down. As he breasted the tape the whole crowd gave a standing ovation and the thunderous applause took along time to die down. As the Principal rose from his chair and went near Arjun to pat him on his shoulders, there was again a deafening applause.

“How do you feel Arjun on winning the race?”asked the Principal.

“I feel normal like any other boy and happy to be part of this meet” replied Arjun. All his class mates thronged around him and shouted “hip hip hooray Arjun.”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Miracle of Makkan Chor

I am repeating a story as my mind is blank

Sukanya was no ordinary girl. Just ten years, she was very much different from others. It all happened suddenly when on a visit to her grandmother she was gifted with a doll of Sri Krishna. It was a two feet high, doll of Krishna in blue colour standing with a flute in hand and a cow behind. With His bewitching smile and handsome features, He caught the fancy of the little girl. Her grandmother narrated to her, the story of Meera Bai and her unflinching devotion to the Lord despite the trials and tribulations she faced. The story made a deep impact on the girl and transformed her completely. She no longer went to play with her friends in the colony. She spent all the time other than school hours with the doll, dressing it up, making flower garlands, talking to it, singing bhajans and doing puja.She was a soft spoken girl with a sweet voice and a very beautiful face.

Her parents were upset initially with her constant attention to the doll to the detriment of her studies, play and other chores. While the mother understood the girl’s love for the doll and her sincere devotion to the Lord, her father was adamant that the doll be kept in the loft out of reach of the girl. She cried so inconsolably that after her mom’s persuasion he relented subject to the condition that she spent only an hour in the morning and evening and went to play, do her homework like before. She put a stipulation that her mom should provide her with a small cup of butter for her Lord. This was agreed to without fuss. She knew that Krishna loved butter being a makkan chor. The doll was kept in the puja room and not a day passed without Sukanya doing the soul stirring Bhajans, puja and offering of butter to the lord. The parents too saw no harm in her devotion, as it did not clash with her studies, play and other chores

One day when she had finished the puja, she found the butter had been scooped as if by fingers. With surprise and glee, she asked her mom to witness the strange happening. When her mom looked at the cup and then at her fingers, Sukanya denied amidst sobs that she had not touched the butter. While they didn’t know what could have caused it, they decided to keep quiet. When this phenomenon happened in the successive three days, her mom told her husband about the strange occurrence. The father called the girl and told her sternly that he would stop all the puja if she did not come out with the truth. With this veiled accusation as if she had taken the butter, the girl denied her hand vehemently. But the dad was not convinced and said, “I have not come across any incident of God taking the Prasad offered to him. May be Sukanya is not aware that she was unconsciously handling the butter. I think there is something fishy about the whole thing.” Sukanya was deeply hurt but did not respond unwilling to provoke him.

The next day the dad stayed at home to get into the bottom of the matter. When the girl was doing the puja, he surreptitiously came down without the knowledge of the girl and his wife who was busy in the kitchen. Now and then, he saw through a narrow opening of the puja room door, the girl singing softly with her eyes closed. When the song was over and the puja seemed to end, he peeped again through the opening. What he saw astounded him. He saw a boy of ten years bluish in colour with yellow silk around his waist, a peacock feather on his head and a flute in hand stooping down to the cup and taking the butter. When the boy turned his gaze towards the opening in the door, the dad instantly fell unconscious.

Hearing the commotion both Sukanya and her mom came running towards him.” Appa, Please open your eyes. What happened? Why did you faint?” asked Sukanya. When the man blabbered about the blue boy, his flute and the feather, her mother gave him water to drink and asked him to be calm. She said “What boy and where is he? The front door is locked. There is no one here.

Sukanya also hasn’t seen anyone. Are you day dreaming?”
He said, “No, I saw him distinctly. I have never seen such a beautiful face and the eyes were red in colour of unparalleled beauty. He stooped down and took the butter. See the cup yourself if you do not trust me.” When they saw the cup, they found the butter has been removed with two tiny fingers"

Sukanya with tears welled up in her eyes shouted in elation and happiness “Kanna, Krishna, Govinda, Navneeth chora, how lucky I am that you have heard my prayers and had come to stand by my side. How unlucky I was to keep my eyes closed when you stood near me and ate the butter? Why did you not your bells make some noise?”

The parents embraced the girl who was in rapture and delight and smothered her with kisses.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Literary Jewels

I have the good fortune to know Ms Amritbir Kaur for the last four years. She is a lecturer in English by profession. She writes poetry both in English and Punjabi has published an anthology of poems titled Pages of life. Currently she is translating Khuswant Singh's 'Sunset Club'. She writes for news papers and her articles have appeared in Speaking tree of Times of India

She is owning and editing an online magazine The Literary Jewels ( This magazine though deals mainly with literary and writing activities covers other forms of creative effort. It provides a platform for budding and aspiring writers.Amritbir Kaur also offers various other services like book reviews, publishing of books, and preparation of magazines.

She has two other blogs Guru Mehar-The Blessing of God and Photography

She has very graciously published one of my stories Sulochana’s delight in her latest issue April-June 2012 (pages 13&14) Please go through the entire magazine and give feed back to the editor at

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Ghosts, Kali Ma and an agnostic

I got goosebumps when I read this old story written in 2009 this morning when some one had commented

I was newly married then living in Calcutta with my wife. Life was pleasant as my wife managed well within my limited income. We agreed on most matters except on one. She was a very pious lady doing her daily puja without fail like lighting the lamp before an array of gods’ pictures, burning incense and chanting slokas.

I was an agnostic but never said anything against her beliefs. She visited Kali temple weekly once and on many occasions I would accompany her. While she went in to pray, I indulged myself to a cup of adhrak chai outside the temple. She tried initially to make me enter the temple and offer my prayers but gave up after my adamant response.

It was one night around 12-30am she woke me up and asked me to see through the narrow opening of our window at the sweet shop across the road. From the third floor the view was uninterrupted. We saw a strange thing happening on the terrace of the sweetmeat shop.

There were about a dozen short what appeared as young boys dancing, jumping and precariously hanging at the edges as monkeys alone can do. Many of the acrobatic postures were just humanly impossible. There was only moonlight and we could see only the dark silhouettes. The figures were short, agile, nimble footed, bigger than monkeys but smaller than men. They had no tails. This dancing and prancing about went on for about two hours with me and my wife watching in wonderment.

We pinched each other repeatedly amidst laughter to make sure we were not dreaming Then around 2-30am they all faded away and soon the open terrace was empty. We discussed amongst ourselves the various possibilities but decided to check in the morning.

Early in the morning when the shop opened around 6-30am, we went there and found the man in charge. We were known to him as we regularly bought our sweets from the shop. When we recounted the happenings of the previous night and asked him whether any work men were staying in the building. He expressed disbelief saying the shop remained closed, nobody stayed in the building and there was no stair case to the terrace. There was no way anyone can climb there let alone dance about. He dismissed our story more as a figment of our imagination and went about busy selling sandesh, rasgollahs and the customers.

On our way back my wife asked me whether I would now believe that there were some supernatural things that cannot be explained rationally in scientific terms. She added that we were hundred percent sure of what we saw while the shop owner dismissed our story as mere imagination. She urged me to have faith in what our elders and the religious texts said. I kept mum without arguing with her

I had written the examinations for probationary officers in three banks. The results of two had come out and I had not made the grade.I was very depressed and worried about the likely outcome in the last one, the biggest nationalized bank. My wife advised me not to lose heart and instead pray to Ma Kali sincerely along with her. But my ego prevented me from agreeing.

The next morning when she went to the temple, she requested me to come inside. I declined telling her that I would have my regular chai.She persuaded me to accompany her at least inside the temple more as a concession to her than under belief. I could not refuse my beloved wife and went inside.

I stood near the stone where the goats were sacrificed and watched Ma Kali in all her majesty and divinity. Though associated with death and destruction, She exuded at once compassion with anger in her awe inspiring face. I saw the multitude of the devotees praying with utmost faith to Her for Her blessings. Involuntarily my hands went up folded in obeisance to the Goddess even as my wife stood before me amazed and in delight at the transformation that has been wrought in me. She nudged me and said “Pray to Kali Ma for her grace and success in your bank examination. She will surely listen to you compassionate as She is.”

I muttered with tears in my eyes ”Kali Ma, kindly excuse me for my foolishness and give me total devotion to you” The joy in my wife grew boundless as she virtually pushed me closer to the deity for Her darshan. What a transformation She has brought about in one who came to mock but remained to pray.

It is an interesting tidbit that I got a registered letter a week later from the bank about my selection as a probationary officer sending my wife into raptures

"My child, you need not know much in order to please Me.
Only Love Me dearly.
Speak to me, as you would talk to your mother,
if she had taken you in her arms."

Friday, June 15, 2012

The new setup

It was a relaxed Sunday morning. Manju had made pongal with gothsu that her hubby Sekar loved..She took extra care to make it tasty with fried cashew nuts thrown in with liberal dose of ghee. With piping hot filtered coffee in the pot she called him to eat. He was still in his night dress, unshaven face and morning paper in hand.

."Why so early in the morning." he grumbled

"It's 9.30 already. Come on and have it before it gets cold" she said

He ate with relish and helped himself couple of times more."You cook well really," he said? He was silent for a long time before she asked him what was bothering him so much."Presidential elections or the declining rupee" she asked with a giggle.

"No, something more serious.I really dunno how to break the news to you" he said

“What? Have you been superseded in office or did not get the raise you were expecting. I don't see any other reason for you to be gluml though I have been observing that you are distant and lost in thoughts. You hardly smile these days."

Frankly I am in a quandary. Good that you started the topic. I admit you are a nice and loving person. I have nothing against you specifically but my heart is for an exciting life. It is so dull here seeing the same things. Brace yourself, I need a change and I cannot continue in this environment"

"What crap are you talking? We are married 11 years and I am 33 and you 37 .True we don't have kids but it has never bothered us" Manju said

True, I may be failing you but I don’t derive happiness by just being here. Life is bland and honestly it is very mechanical with no thrill even when we are close to each other. Please excuse me and allow me to choose the life that I wish to"

“It is okay although shocking especially when our wedding anniversary falls in less than a week. Who is it and how long this liaison is going on?"

I promise I have not been unfaithful to you so far but cannot tell you anymore at this juncture. That is why I am telling you and leaving on tour for couple of days now. I will explain in detail after I return.”

“You don't have to move out..I will myself leave by tomorrow. My head is reeling now and I need to be left alone"

“Let me tell you one thing. This houset would be yours always. Have no doubt about it"

Thanks for the consideration. I know how to take care of myself. You will be doing me a great favour if you vacate from my presence immediately."

"Surely, I never thought things would get resolved so easily as I was expecting you to throw tantrums. I will meet you soon when things would become clearer for you" he said as he walked out whistling his favorite tune.

Manju could not believe that Sekar would do such a thing. He was always decent, considerate and a very loving and passionate husband. Something is wrong, either the new woman is a seductress or she herself has been derelict as a wife. She could not sleep the whole night. She stayed away from office for a week and invited her sister to be with her..She readily came.Manju herself is a very charming person and was elected as Miss College years back. She was a vivacious and pleasant type. Both sisters could think of no legitimate reason for this development.

It was the second day a big truck came with brand new furniture for the drawing hall, living room, bed rooms and patio. The carpets were new and rich. A home TV of giant size with wall TVs for bedrooms. The cutlery and China were brand new and glittering..It was as if the whole house is being made anew.

Manju said “There must be some mistake. We had not ordered these"

"Madam,the address is correct. We have been instructed to arrange these in proper places and remove the old furniture and beds. We have been asked to take an acknowledgement from one Ms Manju."

Manju turned to her sister and said angrily “What is all this? Is he adding insult to injury? Why should he exchange everything for new when he has deserted me?"

"May be he has plans to drive you out of this place and live with his new found love” said her sister.

“Let them do what they want but do not sign anything” she added

The whole house took on a new complexion. The next day the same men came and changed the curtains, brought a new stove, a big double door fridge,mixie,food processor cutlery and China etc.Even the front patio was not left out with new garden chairs, flower pots and plants decorated the place.The house was turned new and gleaming.

The next day a big bouquet of dark maroon roses came with a card signed with no name but just "to my love"Manju kept it aside with disdain even as her sister was wondering at it and keeping it on the flower vase. It was then Manju's sister saw tears from her eyes. She put her arm around her and said softly.”Please do not cry,Manju..I am with you. The worst thing is that you may have to leave this place. You can stay with me as long as you like. Be brave and do not buckle under fear"

Manju was not pacified."Don't you know today is my wedding day and see how miserable I am" she said as she sobbed

The bell rang then. .There was a man from French Loafs with three big packets, containing a large cake, a large size pizza and some other delicacies.

The grief turned into disbelief and an uncertain wonder. Is Sekar playing any prank, a thought came to Manju's mind? She then heard a car draw up in the portico and Sekar came running inside shouting "Manju,Happy Wedding Anniversary. I am glad I am in time" and hugged her tightly much to her embarrassment with her sister grinning. As he put a nice pearl necklace around her neck, he gave her a smooch and asked" Has the environment changed now totally. Do you like them? This is what I wanted.All new things except my dear Manju.Did I scare you my darling. I wished to spring a surprise on you?"

Manju's sister discreetly left the hall leaving the happy couple to themselves

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The cruel cycle

A repeat of an old story

He was not even 12 years old. There was the innocence of the baby in his eyes that were at once distant and vacant. He had brought the provisions from the local grocery stores. He was in shorts with a tight and torn T shirt that he had outgrown. It was very hot and the sun was blazing mercilessly. As I gave him the money, I asked him to wait. I gave him a glass of cool buttermilk to drink even as I asked him his name. Santosh was surprised and hesitant as he was not accustomed to people talking kindly to him. He became free from the next trips he came to deliver groceries and I could see the trace of smile and recognition in his face.

I learned that he was one among the seven boys who had come to Chennai from a Southern village. They stay in one room that is actually a shed covered by asbestos sheets with no fan on the first floor of the shop owner’s house. They were drawn from owner’s village or nearby ones from poor families. Some remittance is made monthly to the parents. They pass off as relatives of the owner but they are really child workers.

I asked one day Santosh to tell me what his daily routine was.

“We get up at four am start filling the various items of groceries in 250gms, 500 gms and one kilo packets up to 6am.We then have our bath and gruel made of broken rice before we go to the shop that is opened at 7am.We work up to 12 noon delivering goods at various homes in cycle or working in the shop. We then have our lunch of sambar rice or lemon rice or tomato rice sent from owner’s home and rest up to 1pm.There are not many people coming to shop then.”

“Is the food adequate? Are there any vegetables along with rice? I ask

“They give enough rice. Vegetables are put in sambhar.Once a week they send briyani.We cannot complain. We will get beaten if we are late in getting up or complain that we are not well. If we are very sick, we are taken to local government ESI hospital” he replied

How long do you work? Do you get weekly holiday?” I ask

“I am here for the last one year. Sunday afternoons we do not work. The shop closes daily at 10pm but we remain there till 1030 pm cleaning the premises before we return home for dinner at 11pm”he said

“You would hardly be sleeping even for four hours. Is there TV in your room though you do not have time watch it?”

“No TV. Once a month the owner sends us to see cinema’

“How much your parents get each month?” I asked

“I do not know. May be Rs500 after adjusting for food and lodging” said the boy.

How cruel I thought to extract unconscionably heavy work for almost 18 hours a day in conditions that cannot be termed human. I was disgusted with our legal system and the grossly inadequate enforcement machinery in tackling child labour especially when the parents of the victims are wiling accomplices to the cruelty. But the acute poverty in villages blunts the finer sentiments.

“What class you have studied? What is your aim in life?” I asked

Pat came the reply.”Class four. In ten years I will set up a similar shop elsewhere and bring boys like my owner from my village to help me become a successful and rich businessman.”

“Where will you get the money for starting the new business” I asked

“My owner would advance some money for setting up the shop when we become 25 years. We would repay him over a period of time. Many boys who worked earlier have set up their own shops and are thriving well” he said

It was downright child labour alright but I could not fail to discern a kindly heart behind at the way the owner makes prototypes of successful businessmen like himself. He probably makes them undergo the same hardships that he went through when he was young. The cycle would go on. I was in a quandary whether to condemn or praise him.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fond memories

Rajan had taken over recently as Secretary at the central government and had moved from Gujarat to Delhi. He had been busy going through the files on a ticklish issue that had come up in Parliament. The minister was to make a statement in the parliament. The issue had occupied centre stage with media, both visual and print, seized of the matter and discussing it animatedly. As he was perusing the files he found a note where the issue had been brilliantly analyzed threadbare bringing out the several aspects in proper perspective. That note was from a lower level officer.Rajan very much impressed. He asked about the officer to the Additional Secretary and the Joint Secretaries who were with him. They gave a good account of him. Curious Rajan had him called to his room not only to see him but also get a point clarified.

A lean man but with bright eyes stood before him. Clad in white in half shirt and pant he appeared to be in his late forties like him.

“I have just now read the note you had prepared. It is excellent and shows your intimate grasp of the subject. I need a clarification on one point” Rajan said and asked him his doubt.

The Under Secretary in his squeaky voice instantly clarified the issue and showed some very relevant correspondence on the subject. Rajan noticed a large circular pinkish mole on his forearm. Highly satisfied with the explanation, Rajan asked him “What is your name and how long are you in this ministry?”

“I am Ganesh and working in this ministry since five years. Earlier I was in Commerce ministry” he said.

Rajan thereafter continued the discussions with his senior officers and got busy with other matters.

It was in the evening as he was returning home in his car, the face of the Under Secretary, the large mole and his squeaky voice came to his mind. He was taken back to his younger days at Kumbakonam.Rajan’s father was a brief less lawyer and struggling to make both ends to meet. Life was hard.Rajan was studying in Town high school and his best friend was one Ganesu.The latter was very bright and always topped the class. These two were inseparable and very fond of each other.Rajan had frequently visited Ganesu’s home and was treated to delicious snacks. He remembered Ganesu’s mom and on one Deepavali occasion she had gifted him with a new shirt.Ganesu had chubby face and long hair. But this Ganesh whom Rajan saw in the morning was baldish and thin. But the mole was unmistakable. He wondered how come he, a school topper, is still ordinary position while he had cleared the IAS examination. Doubts assailed his mind as there was no sign of recognition in his face. True he had become very fat and totally bald. He had thick glasses too.

It so happened within a week Ganesh had gone to Secretary’s room with some files he had asked for. Without revealing who he was, Rajan asked him where he belonged to, where he studied and about his family. From his reply it turned out to be the same school mate of Rajan. It transpired that Ganesh had one son who had settled down in US at New York. Meanwhile some visitors entered the room and the Secretary got busy.

It was after a couple of months the Additional Secretary called Ganesh to his room and asked him whether he was interested in a World Bank posting at New York. Surprised at the turn of luck,Ganesh was dumbfounded. Seeing him startled, the Additional Secretary said “I myself was not aware of this till I saw Secretary’s nomination of your name. I am sure he is very much impressed with you. Do you know him by any chance?”

“Though his face is familiar, I am unable to place him. Frankly I do not remember whether we had met in my younger days” he said.

Six months later, Rajan was talking to the Additional secretary “Do you remember the Under Secretary with a mole in his hand who has gone to World Bank? Though he doesn’t remember me, he was my class mate in school days. His mom was kind to me. We were not well off then. I have taken food in his house countless number of times. She had given me a shirt too for Deepavali.”

The Additional Secretary was touched to see the Secretary taking out his specs to wipe the moisture from his eyes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A good Samaritan

I was travelling by two tier AC sleeper to Bangalore by the night mail. I had the upper berth. I had come earlier to the station and settled myself in the lower berth waiting for the other passengers to come and the train to start. A heavily built man in his forties sweating profusely and smelling with body odour came in and sat in the opposite lower berth. He grinned at me revealing his paan stained teeth and asked “Are you in lower berth?”Somehow I took an instant dislike for him but said “No, mine is the upper berth”“That is what I thought. I saw a lady’s name in the chart” he said with a giggle that was unnecessary.

I ignored him and started looking around. There was just ten minutes for the train to depart and most of the berths had been occupied except the one I was sitting. Suddenly a young lady in her late twenties entered the coach and came rushing looking at the numbers of the seats. She stopped near me and said “This must be mine.”

The stocky man who was watching her said unsolicited”Yes, madam.His is the upper berth.”

I said”Yes, this is yours. I will go up after the train starts”

“It does not matter. I just wanted to make sure. I am also a late sleeper” she replied me with a smile

When she moved near the window the stocky man who was sitting by the aisle side also moved near the window in his berth. It looked a bit crude to me. She was a beautiful woman, slim with short hair that was curly and well chiseled features. The man tried to make conversation with her telling her that Chennai was extremely hot and asking her where she was bound for. She did not encourage any conversation by an imperceptible nod to his questions. She turned her face towards me and smiled at me before asking whether the bed roll man had taken orders. I replied that I hadn’t noticed and went near the entrance gate to find him. He brought her the roll and she thanked me profusely. We were then making small chat. She belonged to Bangalore and lived in Bannergata road. She spoke English with a convent accent and smiled often showing her sparkling teeth. I didn’t know whether she was single or married and if it were the latter, her man is indeed a very lucky bloke. I wished she were single.

I did not fail to notice that the stocky uncouth guy was staring her all the time and averted his gaze only when she turned his side. But she rarely did. The train had gathered speed and it was time to switch off the lights. I went up but could not sleep. She stretched herself in the lower berth. The stodgy guy who was in the other lower berth turned his face towards her side and kept on looking at her. I was watching him from my berth. As I was slowly dozing into sleep, I heard a rustle and saw her sit up. I bent my head towards her and asked her of any problem. The stout guy was pretending to sleep. She said by turning towards his side ”I don’t know whether it was by mistake. But his legs touched mine twice”

I said”OK, if you wish you can come up and I will occupy your berth”

She accepted the offer with alacrity saying “Thank you so much. You are so kind”

When we both got down the next morning at Cantonment station, she gave me a slip of paper with her address and asked me “You must come home this Sunday for lunch. I will be waiting for you and I wish to build on this friendship”

My joy knew no bounds at my luck .I promised her that I would be there sharp at 1pm.She extended her hands and warmly shook mine and said “ I am Sadhana and work in a bank”

I replied ”I am Sampat working in ITcompany.I am so happy I met you. I look forward to meeting you”

The next Sunday as I was driving to her house, I was fantasizing at the possibility of her falling in love with me and our life together. I was sort of sure that she was drawn to me.

As I rang the bell, she opened the door. She was in Salwar Kameez in her dazzling best.”I knew you wouldn’t fail me. Since early morning, you were in my thoughts”

I was in cloud nine as she took me to the living room. A young handsome man in jeans was sitting with a baby in arms and a kid of four by his side. She said “Meet my hubby Abhinav.The baby is Aditi and the boy is Sharath.”“Abhi, this is the good Samaritan who helped me from the lecherous eyes of a monster that night in the train. You were in doubt whether he would come. But he has kept his word”

Though disappointed, I was glad I found a good family to be friend with.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Sheela's spirit was at its nadir. She couldn't face her life any more as for everything went against her. She had left her home for her lover despite her parents’ pleas. He turned out to be a rogue, a many times married man hooking gullible women to matrimony with his charm and great physique and deserting them after robbing them of their money. An ordinary graduate he had tricked her by his glib talk and suave manner into believing that he was a professional in a MNC.His bluff was called when in a restaurant she overheard one of his buddies asking him " What, a new catch,eh?" A short investigation by her with help from private detective landed him into police. But she was not prepared for the endless legal proceedings that needed her presence at the court and the unwanted media publicity. She was fed up being bracketed with his other victims of different backgrounds. She wished to get away from it all.

Her ego prevented her from going back to her parents. The thought that she lost her virginity to a crook hurt her most. She changed the job and came to a new city hoping to find peace but it was not to be. The story of her being a victim of deception by a rascal had reached her new office ahead of her. The atmosphere was stifling. The easy informality of the male colleagues and sneer of female colleagues irked her. She avoided them and kept aloof. Life was boring and empty but she still took it in her stride. The last straw was when they splashed in the visual and printed media the news of jail sentence that was given to him with juicy details of his escapades and the women he deceived. She wanted to put an end to her life. She could take it no more.

It was past 6pm and darkness was slowly creeping. There were still people in the Ganesh temple on the top of the hill. She did not go to the shrine to pray and seek forgiveness of the god for the act she was contemplating. She was standing by the railing in the space abutting deep fall. As she looked down it no longer seemed scary but beckoning. She saw a couple and a man in the area. She can afford to wait for no one would be expecting her. She thought of her loving parents with whom she had stopped contact consciously. The couple had drifted away and the young man was still there looking at the other side. She wanted him away but minutes crept by with the man still there.

She turned as she felt someone standing close to her.”I can sense your crazy idea. This is no solution” he said softly. He looked tall for her petite figure. The unruly hair on his head and the blue denim he was wearing gave him a ruggedness that she liked.

“What crazy idea? Leave me alone” she replied

“You know it. I am not leaving this place till you vacate it. Come down and share with me your problem, if you wish to. May be I have some better alternative. This place is always there for you to return. Not today” he said in a voice that was gentle but persuasive.

As they reached down, he asked “Care to have some snacks? I am very hungry. You can tell as we eat”

Seated in a corner with a large onion rava masala dosa, she unwound herself and narrated her predicament in a gist. She could never imagine she will tell her personal issues to an utter stranger but yet she did compelled by an unseen spell as it were.

“Lucky I could meet you. I am Raghav, a professional counselor and trained psychiatrist. I have my office on the main road. I can understand your deep hurt and disappointment and the way people behave. Remember one thing, you were a victim of deceit. Your intentions were honest. No blame attaches to you. It is a bad dream best forgotten. Luckily you could find out with in a couple of months and you acted intelligently” he explained.

There was some flicker of relief and her face brightened up.”Do you think I have a future with this blot on me?”

“What crap? What blot are you talking about?”he said with some irascibility.

“Would any man marry me if he knew the back ground? Would you yourself if you knew someone like this? Do not preach’ she said with a shrill tone.

“Why not? I would consider myself as fortunate” he replied with a loud guffaw. He added with a smile. ”For you information I am a single looking for petite young and charming lady”

“Chee, chee “ she said and smiled

They met regularly thereafter and the friendship grew into love. When they decided to marry he took her home for her to meet his parents. She found them affable and warm. As the mom put her hand around Sheela’s shoulder with affection she asked with utter credulity ”Raghav, is this the girl whom your dad’s friend asked you to keep your eyes on?”

When Sheela turned to look at Raghav, there was a sheepish grin that cloaked another deception.But Sheela was happy this time.