Saturday, July 28, 2012

Susan's realisation

Susan was on night shift in the current booking counter. It was 11pm and there were hardly any passengers in the counter at that time.. She was reading some magazine. The railway station was subdued .She could see the waiting hall where many passengers were waiting for their trains. Some were lying on the floor with their children and their boxes and baggage kept close around them. Some were dozing on the chairs. One or two were seem drying their hair with towels after a bath in the bath rooms. Some of the lights had been dimmed.

Susan heard a squeaky voice “Amma” and found a 16 year old girl standing before her with a child on her shoulders. She was dusky in colour with her hair disheveled. Susan did not fail to notice the cheap and faded plastic bangles on her wrists. Evidently poor she could discern from the dark circles around her eyes that she had not eaten proper food. The child in her arms moved a little and Susan saw a very fair hand of the child with a golden bangle.

Quickly alerted Susan asked “Where do you want to go?”

The girl looked behind her shoulders repeatedly and said hurriedly “Somewhere”

“Are you in any trouble? You don’t seem alright.You cannot even tell where you are going. You are too young to be a mother. What is the baby to you? Tell me freely. I will help you” said Susan taking pity on the young girl.

“Amma, The baby is in danger and must be saved. I will leave the child with you” Even before completing the sentence she looked back when she heard a ruffle of feet and a gruff and angry voice”Roja, what are you doing here? Auto is waiting”

Around 50, he looked a ruffian every inch with pan stained teeth and a deep scar on his cheek. When the young girl with the child turned to follow him, Susan called him.

“Who are you? She had come to buy a ticket and why do you take her? What is she to you/” asked Susan even as she signaled unnoticed to the railway police constable who was assigned to the booking counters.

“She is my daughter and I have come to take her. How does it matter to you? he said as he held Roja’s hand and started dragging her.

It was then the strong arm of the constable fell on his shoulder.”If she is your daughter whose child is this? She cannot the baby’s mother” he bellowed at the man

“The baby is my grandchild. What is wrong with that and why do you question me?” he said defiantly

“Because the baby cannot be your grandchild. She is very fair, dressed in good clothes and is having a gold bangle and a gold ring in her ears. You and your daughter look poor in tattered clothes. I think you have stolen the baby”
Susan intervened asking the cop to hold him while she talked to the girl in private. She took her inside to another room” Here is your last chance to come clean. Tell me without fear what happened. I will try to save you”

“He is in the habit of stealing small babies, rob the jewels, if any, on them and sell the kids for small amounts to others. They in turn sell them to childless couple, beggars who maim them for begging or to bad people” she confessed

“Do you do the stealing each time?”

“No, He employs another woman. This time she was not seen and he forced me to do it. I was unwilling because the young babies were always harmed.”

“Then why did you do it?”Susan asked

“Because he is my dad and I have three younger sisters with me in the house. He will beat us blue if we disobey him”

“Where is your mom?”

“She committed suicide three years back”

As the girl sobbed gently patting the baby that had woken up, Susan could not control tears from her eyes when she heard the girl telling her “Let me restore the child to her parents in the waiting hall before they wake up. My sisters and I are suffering. I do not want this innocent child to suffer”

Susan hugged the girl notwithstanding her dirty clothes and said “Do not worry. I will make arrangements for your safe custody. Come and see me after a week”

Then she got busy with her work and left the matter to be handled by the constable after pleading with him not to put the girl into any trouble. She started pressing her husband to find a foster home for the destitute girls.

It was after a week she had come to the railway station to see off her relative by the early morning train. As she was entering the station she noticed to her great shock the girl, the man and the police constable sipping tea at a tea stall and chatting animatedly with laughter.

It hit her like a sledge hammer that his being a dad, the four sisters and suicide of mom were all a concocted story and that she entered the booking counter room that day to avoid being seen by the parents of the child. It was a shocking realization that the threesome were part of a racket under her very nose..

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In the nick of time

It all happened suddenly in the Walmart.Shreya was struggling to push the trolley that had defective wheels with bags on both hands. It was then she heard a soft voice from behind “Would you mind my helping you up to your car?”. Without waiting for her answer he pushed the trolley to the car and helped in keeping the contents inside. He did not make any attempt to converse with her and left abruptly with a smile when she thanked him. His smiling face lingered in her mind even after she reached her home and the subsequent days too.

A week later she saw him on the same day and time and exchanged a hello. He walked with her in the aisles making small talk and then suggested a hot drinking chocolate. As they were sipping they agreed to meet regularly on this day. In three months time they were in love and matters moved fast to find Shravan moving in to Shreya’s apartment at Burlington. Both of them were in IT working in different offices and had plans to wed in six months time.

In a month’s time Shreya found to her concern certain angularities in Shravan.Generally jovial, he had bouts of low moods or fits of anger when he tended to avoid her. He was very particular that Shreya does not enter his room when he is not present. He kept his closet always under lock. He had mentioned that his parents separated and that he lived with his mom. He hardly spoke about his dad. His mom had passed away a couple of years back after what he said was an unhappy life. She did not evince much interest as she felt their memory affected him. She also kept away from his room as far as possible.

One day there was a call for him on the main line and she took the receiver to his room. He was in the bathroom. The door of his closet was slightly open. She could see some woman’s clothes on the shelf neatly folded and on the top a red coloured diary. She took the diary but placed it immediately as she heard the flush being pulled. She moved out of the room fast. She had failed to note the napkin she had on her shoulder had fallen down.

“Did you come to my room when I was in bath room?” he asked

“Yes, there was a call for you. I brought the receiver”

“Did you pry into my closet?”

“What are you talking about? Why should I pry? I did not even see in that direction”

He noticed the diary has been taken out as it was placed in a hurry differently. He did not talk about it. She could feel the change in his attitude towards her. He was no longer loving. She could see certain hostility in his eyes. She was suddenly afraid of him but did not reveal it. She tried to be normal but determined to find out more about the clothes and the diary.

The opportunity presented itself in three days when a friend of his from one of the neighboring houses came to take him urgently.Shravan who was busy rummaging his closet had no time to lock it and had to leave with him to his house.Shreya rushed to his room and found the closet open
She took the diary and rushed through its pages.

She was shocked to find pictures of young women one in each page with name, details of how he trapped them into friendship, how long he lived with them before killing them. With all of them he had relationship. The modus operandi was same binding them with nylon rope and stuffing them in a box and dropping in a deep river. She realized he was a psycho and that he carried against all young women his hate against his father who led a licentious life with many women to hurt his mom. She knew she was in great danger.

She wished to ring 911 but when she heard the front door opening she quickly dialed some number on her speed dial. He entered before she could talk .The phone was on by her side in the chair.

“So you are at your snooping business again. I knew and so came rushing. You will be the seventh woman to die in my hand today. I will wreak my vengeance as long as I live on all women on behalf of my mom who was wronged all her life. She spurs me to kill though dead through her clothes in my closet” he rattled on livid with anger as he took a nylon rope from the closet.

Shreya almost fainted in fear till she heard a faint police siren from afar. Soon the police broke open the door and came rushing in to watch Shravan busy tying her. He was overpowered and taken into custody along with the red diary.

Her friend Anupama whose number she had pressed put her hand around Shreya and assured her”All is well. Don’t fear. Lucky the phone was on and I could hear the conversation and telephoned 911 immediiately.It was a close shave, though”.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Very short stories

Tit for tat
The station was crowded and the train about to start.

"Do you have change for 1000 rupees?" asked the guy in jeans with a. suitcase on wheels"Let me see" the well dressed man said and took out his purse."Sorry, I can give only two 500 rupee notes"

"Okay, please give.iit is easier to change a 500 rupee note" he said as the notes were exchanged"Thank you" he said and hurried his way.

There was a satisfied grin on the face of jeans guy for palming off a fake note while the well dressed man was cursing elsewhere "Bastard,he thinks he cheated me and will soon realize the counterfeit 500s in his possession"


Ashok saw the beggar daily under the shade of a tree at the corner of his street. The beggar would invariably seek alms by making the coins in the tin container jingle..Ashok would just ignore and walk away. Still this ritual will take place daily.

One Sunday afternoon Ashok got down from a three wheeler at the corner. He had to pay 72 rupees but had only 100 rupee notes. The auto guy said he had no change as they always did to extract more. There were no shops nearby.Ashok in a quandary asked the auto driver how much he had. He extended a ten rupee note.Ashok had no option but to accept it

.It was then the beggar called "Ayya, I will give you change" and took notes in denominations of ten and five to give him 100 rupees. After disposing of the auto driver, Ashok gave the beggar ten rupees.

.He declined saying “I was just helping you seeing your predicament. If I take the money, it would be business"

Ashok was rendered speechless and felt small before the beggar's magnanimity.

Palani was waiting for his bus on route 37D.The frequency of the bus due to poor traffic was less in the afternoons and came once in 45 minutes. An old woman frail and weak was sitting at the bus stop on a bench with a crutch by her side.

She asked him" Son, will you tell me when 25Ebus comes. I cannot see or read. .Please also help me get into the bus as I cannot climb alone even with crutch."

"Do not worry, Patti. (Grandma) .I will surely help you"

It was hot and sultry with no bus in sight. There was no roof to offer shade..There were no other persons waiting.After 15 minutes two buses came one behind the other. You have guessed it right. The first one was 37 D his bus followed by 25E.Palani made no attempt to take his bus but signaled 25E to wait and carefully led the old woman to the entrance almost holding her in his arm. He lifted her bodily to get in with conductor's assistance. The old woman smiled at him as if to thank him.

Bus 37D had left and he continued to wait for another 45 minutes but was happy in his heart.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rohini's rage

Rohini heard the bell. Who could it be in the afternoon, she wondered, as she opened the door? A beaming Brinda stood before her with some books held close to her chest and asked “Aunty, the school closed today earlier. I thought if you are free will learn some trigonometry and French from you”

“Why not? Come in” she said to the 13 year old girl from the adjacent apartment. Her parents work with her mom returning only by 6pm.A warm and pleasant girl, she had endeared herself to Rohini.She helped her with her subjects whenever she sought her help. The girl too was above average.Brinda had a bigger physique for her age and looked almost 16.Though not fair complexioned, she had a beautiful face with long eyes. They spent time with the subjects interspersed with a break for tea and snacks. She left at 630 pm when Rakesh returned from the office. As Brinda was leaving, Rakesh patted her on her back and held her by one hand asking her “Why do you run away when I enter?”

“It is not like that. Mom would have come I am with aunty since 3-30. I have homework to finish” she said as she wriggled out of his hand. Rohini remembered that the girl avoided coming to her place when Rakesh was at home.

“Cute looking girl, Brinda has grown big, isn’t it?”he asked Rohini.

“Yes, she has grown a bigger girl. Don’t touch her. Didn’t you notice how uncomfortable she was when you held her hand or patted her on the back?”

“What are you blabbering? I have no bad intentions. I know her since she was a young kid’ he remonstrated.

“Still it is better to maintain a distance with girls beyond some age .Let me get you tea” she said

“I don’t need tea” he said brusquely

A fortnight later Rakesh had gone on tour and was to be back the next day.Rohini was feeling lonely when Brinda came around 4-30 pm and asked “Aunty, can you help me with my Calculus and a little of French?”

“By all means. Rakesh isn’t at home. He will return only tomorrow. You can come after your dinner and study till late night. You can sleep over here” suggested Rohini. The girl gladly agreed and ran away.

She came back at 7pm and both worked on the dining table in the living cum dining hall. They had cool mango shake around 9pm.They had revised what all she wanted by 11pm.She made the girl comfortable in the guest bed room adjacent to hers and went to her room. She read the unfinished novel for about 30 minutes before she dozed off to sleep

Around 1230am she heard some muffled voice repeatedly and some movement of chair. She got up quickly and without switching on the light rushed to the next room. What she saw shocked her beyond belief. In the night light she could see Rakesh sitting on his knees over the girl with one hand tightly shutting her mouth. The girl’s clothes were ripped open. The girl was still fighting him to throw him but was evidently losing the battle.

Rohini screamed’’Rakesh, what is this you are doing to the girl? Are you a brute? Come away from her this moment before I get wild” and pulled him away from the girl.

“Get lost and go to your room quietly. Otherwise I will kill you” he shouted back as he pushed her violently. She fell down and hurt her head on the door. When she saw the manic overpower the young girl, she managed to stand up and grab a baseball bat that was resting in one corner. Time was crucial and this was not the occasion to persuade him to get off from the girl. She steeled her mind and hit hard his both knees with the bat. She could hear the bones snap. He growled in pain and fell down. When he swayed his arms calling her a whore, she swayed the bat again like a mad woman in rage at his hands. The bat made contact and broke his bones. He fell down writhing in pain.

The girl mean while got up.Rohini told her.”By God’s grace I came in the nick of time before any damage could be done. Go and wash yourself and then wear the clothes. Be with me as I hand over this despicable wretch to the police for taking him to hospital” As Rakesh lay in pain unable to move, she with a steady tone asked for an ambulance and police help.

When the police came she said “I am Rohini wife of this scum. He was on tour and supposed to come in the morning. He had come earlier and entered the house with his key. When he saw the girl alone in the room, he attempted to molest her and would have succeeded. Providentially I woke up. When he refused to let go and was intent on violating her modesty, I took the law in my hand and incapacitated him. Otherwise the girl would have been ruined. “This was corroborated by Brinda whereupon Rakesh was taken into custody by police and taken in ambulance to hospital.

Whether Rohini was right in taking law into her own hands given the circumstances and gravity of the situation is for the law enforcing authorities to consider and readers meanwhile are left to conjecture the likely outcome

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prayer answered

It was dusk. The air was cool and the sky was turning darkish blue. There was no breeze, no rustling of leaves and everything was quiet. Even the birds had returned to their perches.Basanti was sitting in the comfortable chair in the front porch watching vacantly the empty road. She was 65 but looked older for her age what with the strict instructions on her diet and movements.

Sharath came by her side with a tray that had two cups of tea with Marie biscuits. As he sat down by her side after stroking her head, he could see a faint smile in her face. These days she hardly smiled and there was mostly pain in her face that she tried hard to conceal whenever he came by her side. He took the cup and gave it in her hand. “I think you will like this. I added tulsi, your favourite flavour.”He put his arm around her and said “Isn’t it very quiet this evening. May be it will rain in the night”

She smiled weakly and replied”Yes, unusually quiet. I don’t like it and am scared. I do not wish to leave you behind alone. You are yourself not boasting of a good health with your weak heart and arthritis. My only worry is you would refuse to go to Ananth at Germany. I know you are uncomfortable at his house with his German wife though she is a very nice person. This thought about you rankles my mind more than my physical discomfort.

“Don’t be silly. You are not leaving me behind. Banish such thoughts. It is getting chill. Let us go inside and watch your favourite serial of songs contest. Thanks to you I have also grown to like the young kids showing their amazing talent”

He led her carefully to her bed inside holding her arm and switched on the TV. The song of an old Lata number reverberated in the room and if one closed the eyes, one cannot distinguish the original from the copy.”This girl Ruchika is good and I think she will become famous one day” Basanti said.

"True, she has an awesome voice and a reach that is incredible” he replied and looked at her.

Her eyes were closed and suddenly a fear overcame him. He gently felt her forehead and relieved placed his hand on her palm. It was rather cold.”Basant”he called her softly and when she did not respond repeated. This time she opened her eyes and said “Do not worry. Close the kitchen, TV and doors and lie by my side.

He came back soon, sat by her side, and gently massaged her arms that always pained.”You are a blessing for me, so understanding and loving. The touch of your hands is soothing. I am very happy but feel sleepy. Put your arm over me when I sleep and your proximity gives me assurance. I pray to God that we should be together always” she said

“Do not worry. I will always be with you. Sleep now” he said as he stroked her hair. She fell asleep soon there after

It was 6.15 am. She heard noise of the newspaper being thrown into the porch. She turned and found her husband sleeping still. She wondered why as he usually got up at 5am,had his bath did some puja and boiled milk. He would always be at her side with a cup of tea at 7 am when she usually got up.

She thought he is also aging and must be tired. She dozed off again to be woken by shrill bell of the maid. She found him still sleeping and went to open the door.

When she came near him along with the maid, she called him gently. When there was no response she touched his forehead and found it lukewarm. She felt his palm and found it cold. Worried she shook him by his cheek when his head fell on his side. She let out a shriek that was heard over entire block even as she fell over his chest.

The maid rushed out brought the neighbours in the apartment complex. One of them a doctor examined them and pronounced them as no more. Evidently God had answered her prayers

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The choice

Kunal was happy with his accommodation in Chandigarh. The house owner Sethi and his wife Basanti were very warm and caring. He had chosen to stay with them as a paying guest for a month. They had no paying guest earlier but had agreed at the request of a common friend. Their hesitancy was understandable as Kunal was a young man of 27 years, handsome like a matinee idol and had a good job. One may wonder why these desirable attainments should pose a problem until one knew that the couple had three beautiful daughters who were all 22 being triplets. The girls were talented both in academics and sports.Sethi's concern was not that one of his daughters may fall in love with the young guy but what if all of them desired him simultaneously. The girls being a look alike Kunal would also find it difficult to choose. While Sethi was in two minds about having him,Basanti was neutral. The matter was however clinched by all the three girls pleading in chorus with their parents to take him as a paying guest.

If you thought the matter was resolved happily, you are mistaken. It was rather the beginning of the problem for all the three girls took an instant liking for the young man. Each one offered to clean his room or take breakfast to him or press his clothes with the attendant friction of choosing who will do what. The girls who were very close to each other till then were found at each other’s throat.The diplomatic young man was friendly with all with each one thinking he loved her the most. The guy loved the attention. His problem seemed bigger than that of girls as unlike them he had to choose one among the three with each one appearing better than the two. Their identical looks and equal talent made things worse.

One evening while Sethi was talking to him alone, he said “Kunal, I have observed that all my three daughters have taken a fancy for you and that you too are friendly with them. In the first instance, I would like to know whether you would like to marry any one of them and if so who the lucky girl is."

“Uncle, yes I would very much like to marry one of them but the problem is my inability to choose"

"I understand and I am also aware that all the three are fond of you. Since they look alike with similar attainments, you must make a choice by their traits Talk to each one of them casually, find their likes and dislikes and choose the one who is compatible with you. The alternative is to draw lots which may not be appropriate"

It was a Sunday.Ankita came early with morning tea and newspaper. "Good morning. I have been looking for you. Let me come to the point directly. What is it you like in me for you to fall for me? Please be frank as there should be no secret between us"

She was taken aback by this blunt question but recovered quickly."Do you want me to be candid? I am a great fan of Amir Khan and love his looks. I simply adore him and go gaga whenever I see him on TV. You have a close resemblance to him and I would consider you as his nearest approximation What more do I need?"

"Thank you for considering me as good looking as Amir. It is a great tribute. It is so sweet of you to be outspoken" Kunal said. Then they spent time talking about his latest TV show Satyameva jayathe and exchanged some pleasantries.

Around 9am Amruta came with a tray containing breakfast. She looked dazzling in her Patiala suit."Hey, Amrit, you look stunning. Are you going out anywhere?"

"Why do you ask? Is it because of the dress? I wore it only to show you. How do I look in this?"

"I told you that you are awesome. Tell me one thing truthfully. I know you love me immensely. What is the main thing that attracts you to me?"

"You want the truth, unadulterated truth (laughs) One day I peeped into your room as you came out of shower in your Turkey towel. I was amazed by the six packs like John Abraham,the ripping muscles glistening and the hairy chest. That day I decided you will be mine. You exude strength and stamina (winks)"

"Ha ha ha, thanks, you are no less trim with your workouts and jogging. What is the latest of John you saw? Come on, share with me the breakfast. Do you think I am a glutton?"

After some small talk, he went out to the bank. He was late for lunch .When he came; it was the turn of Anjana to bring the lunch to his room. She was in her jeans and T shirt."You are late for your lunch. Don’t you feel hungry? Please eat before it gets cold" she said

Thank you for your concern. Can I ask you one thing? Please do not be shy. Do you love me?"

She looked down at her toes keeping silent. When he nudged her with his fingers, she giggled and asked "Don't you know the answer, yourself?"

"I know that you love me sky high but would like to know why"

"It is easily answered. You are a good natured man, well mannered and had not taken any advantage of our fondness for you. You have been a gentleman, kind and compassionate by the way you talk to the less fortunate people like, the mali, servants, maid and driver. I have heard from them that you give alms to the needy every week. I wish to be married to a good man. Looks and physical features are secondary though you are a handsome man yourself"

Kunal extended his hand to her and said with a smile “You win. I was undecided till this moment. I like your attitude and the importance you give to being good and kind. Can I tell your father that I wish to marry you? Give me a hug if you say yes"

Needless to say they were talking to each other for long holding each other’s hands till they heard mom's shout “What is happening? Has Kunal finished his lunch?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The journey

After a hard day's work, i was returning home by the fast local. it would be 8pm by the time I reach home I decided to have my dinner from the roadside 'dhaba'.They make tasty food at affordable rates though many warned that they recycle the used oil till it gets exhausted. My parents were looking for suitable match for me and the photos of a few they sent did not enthuse me. Though not aiming at a drop down stunner, I was not prepared to settle for a plain looking Jane.

The train was crowded but I could manage a seat. Still the humidity, the hot breaths of passengers close to me, the body odour due to perspiration that assailed my nostrils made it very uncomfortable. It was while trying to take my handkerchief to cover my nose, I turned to my right and what I saw made my heart skip a beat. Such beauty, such perfection in creation is no sight for levity. I forgot the hand kerchief but adjusted my sitting posture to get an eyeful for the rest of the journey.

There was a faint smile at the corner of her mouth, the eyes twinkled, a stray strand of hair curled on her forehead that was glowing. She had a sleeveless and a thin yellow saree was draped carelessly over her chest and shoulder. I could see she was looking at me from the corner of her eyes without any attempt to hide the fact. This emboldened me to gaze at her uninterrupted except for short breaks to avoid other passengers frown upon my crude ogling. I had four more stations to go and wished that the train travelled slower and I wanted to feel her skin with a touch.

When the train stopped at the next station the passenger by my side stood up abruptly closing the glossy foreign fashion magazine that had her on the centre fold. My dreamy interlude came to a sudden end and the nauseating smell started assaulting my nose with a vengeance.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A deception?

It is hardly a month since I joined the company. After some initial training, I was assigned to the newly formed marketing support group reporting directly to the Chief. I had not met many in the office and was happy when the chief asked me to introduce myself and make a presentation on the new group in the seminar of all marketing executives the next week. I prepared well to make an impression

The conference hall was crowded. When my turn came I started with initial trepidation but grew confident when I saw the happy smile in my Chief’s face and the attentive listeners. When I paused at one point to change the image on the projector, I noticed a young guy staring at me intently. He was strikingly handsome in his dark maroon striped shirt with a yellow tie. He must be a tall man, slightly rugged and fair complexioned reminding me of Brad Pitt.I avoided his gaze and proceeded with my work. But there was something compelling that made me look at him again and again. He was literally staring at me as a tiger at its prey I felt my mind was losing its focus and sipped water.

When the presentation was over, there were some questions mostly seeking clarification but the ones from this guy were mischievous with intent to test my knowledge. Though irritated, I was equal to the task and on one occasion my chief came to my help. The guy kept quiet there after without diverting his attention from me.

During the buffet lunch in the hall, when I was standing in a corner alone, he came near me and asked with a smile “Did I upset you with my questions? They were actually intended to draw your attention to my presence”

I liked his audacity and dash and said “Not at all. It showed that you were attentive to the lecture. I was well prepared any way.’

“I am Girish, senior marketing executive and work in sixth floor” He added with a mischievous grin “Congratulations. You did extremely well. It looks that I may have to seek the help of MSG (marketing support group) rather frequently henceforth.I know you are Akila as you introduced yourself in the hall.”

“Thank you, Girish.I think they are assembling for the next session. We can meet later. I am in the third floor very near my Chief’s room”

“Would you consider it inappropriate if I sit by your side in the afternoon session? Seats are not earmarked, you know and you cannot anyway object” he said with a smile that made me involuntarily extend my hand’

“With pleasure, we can sit together” I said and hastily moved unable to resist his magnetic charm.

I chose a seat in the corner where there were not many participants and he came promptly to sit beside me. His proximity and the mix of mist perfume with his masculine odour were heady for me. I could hardly pay attention to the deliberations. His hand rubbed against mine and what I initially thought was inadvertent turned out to be by design as he never removed his hand. I chose to ignore the goose bumps and listened to his whispers. He was telling about himself and his XLRI days the very same institution where I too had studied. The three hour session went by so fast. He pressed my palm before getting up and said he looked forward to the pleasant days ahead.

Within a few months we were deeply in love with each other. He spent many afternoons in my cabin ostensibly to seek MSG’s help but really for love talk. We dated frequently and went to pictures and restaurants. He was telling once that his parents were status conscious being wealthy and that my humble circumstances in relation to them may prove a minor hurdle but was hopeful of his bringing them around. He hugged me once and said “Never fear. I will not let you down”.

A few months later he dropped into my cabin and said “Tomorrow evening there is a function at the Banquet hall in Taj Coramandel.I want you come in your best You can meet my parents there. Do not be put off by the high society females there. I will be there looking for you”

I have never gone to such social function of high society. I had a shower, put on the best sari I had and the expensive perfume he had gifted. I had a touch of lip gloss and a faint brush of color on my cheeks. I was hesitant when I entered the banquet hall and looked amidst the crowd for Girish.There was a big crowd of well to do people and ladies decked in finest jewelry and costly apparels. I glided carefully to the centre of the hall where there were many milling around.

When I saw Girish in richly embroidered cream Lucknowi achkan with a jasmine garland and a young woman of immense charm in a very costly sari studded with gold and zari, my heart stopped beating and legs became weak. I felt giddy and thought I may fall down.”What a cruel joke and treachery inviting me to his betrothal function. Never did he give an inkling of the deception he had in mind during all the intimacies he had with me” I thought and wanted to let out a scream. I saw him looking at me but made no attempt to come towards me.

I went away from them all with my hand on my sobbing mouth and wished to make a quick exit. But the wretch I am, everything went black and I was about to faint when two strong hands held me”Akila, are you ok.I am sorry. You would have been very rightly shocked. I should have told you beforehand.”

“You wretch, take your hands off me. I will scream if you touch me” I shouted at him

“What are you blabbering Akila? Here is orange juice. Have it. I will take you to my parents first to introduce you”

“Whatever for? Our relationship has ended. Go and marry the girl waiting there for you, you cheat”

Girish started laughing uncontrollably even as he said “That is Gautam, my twin brother. We are identical and I chose the same cream achkan for fun. What a foolish and sensitive girl you are”

He put his arms around me to the amusement of all assembled as he led me to his parents.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The seven year itch

I was bored. The TV was showing an old action movie Bad day at Blackrock with Spencer Tracy I liked the role of one handed stranger who was on a visit to a town that had a shady past and prone to violence if necessary to keep its past a secret. I love seeing the classic Westerns of the old. Then I watched the recorded Tennis match between Rafa and Djokovic at French Open. I was hungry but had no mind to cook. I ordered some Chinese food from Wang’s with instruction that it be delivered within 30 minutes.

It was then the phone rang. I took the extension line by the side of sofa

“Hello” I said when there was silence from the other side

“Hello.Sundar there?”That was a young woman’s voice with a convent accent.

“Yes, Sundar here. Who is it?”

“I am sorry. You don’t seem to be the Sundar I rang for.”

“How do you know?”

“His voice is youngish with a life in it”

“I am also young and not old as you seem to suggest”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean that way. He is 28 and a singer with an arresting voice”

“It is alright.I am Sundar Kumar though I cannot sing like your friend. You did not tell me who you are.”

“Ratna Pandey, Your voice is also good. I like the mix of husky and baritone in yours”

“Thank you,Ratna, not as sweet as yours. I am a bit unlucky I am not the Sundar you are looking for. What do you do for living?”

“I am a software engineer. Why unlucky? We have come to know each other now though by chance”

“One second. Let me switch on the AC.It is very hot here and sultry too”

“Yes Chennai is miserable unlike this place. I visit my parents once a month at least and will be there the next weekend”

“You must be in Bangalore”

“How did you know?”

"Where else these software engineers swarm to? Hahaha”

“Why the contempt for soft ware engineers I see in your laugh?”

“Far from it. I am also in IT with TCS”

“Same pinch. We are in same company.Then we can meet at our office when I come next”

“With pleasure. Are you single staying alone at Bangalore?”

“Yes. How about you?”

“Single for a few months though. My wife has gone to her parent’s place at Trichy”

“Oh, oh.married eh…It does not matter anyway. I have noted your number and will stay in touch’

“What is your number? We must meet over dinner this weekend”

“Sure. Will give the number when we meet. By the way congrats”

“Whatever for?”

“I surmise you are becoming a father in a few months”

“Okay. Here is my cell number. You can ring me there any time”
“Yes, that is the intention. Will smother you with phone calls.hehe, bye”

“Wow!Would love to be. Are you in a hurry? If you were in Chennai, we would have met right away”

I heard the abrupt click of phone being put down on the other end. I wondered why she disconnected. I went to the base phone on the other side of the hall to note down her number. I was shocked to see a Trichy number and remembered it was that of my wife’s sister with whom my wife was staying presently..