Monday, April 22, 2013

Chetan's kitten

Chetan found the room comfortable. It was bright, well ventilated and had an attached bathroom. There was a small kitchenette too. He had a separate entrance though there was a connecting door. The landlord and his wife appeared decent. Their only condition when he told he was a bachelor was no alcohol should be consumed in the room or women brought for stay overnight. On the second day as he was leaving for office, one gentleman standing at the gate of a house on the other side of the road   smiled at him and asked “Are you a new tenant in number 12?”When he nodded in affirmative, he asked “I hope you found it peaceful in the night”
“Why do you ask? It was quite peaceful and I like the room”
“Good, I wish it continues to be so. I think the rent must be cheap” he replied with a smirk on his face
“Why, do you anticipate any problem? Yes, the rent is not high. It’s getting late. Will see you later, Sir”
“No, no.If you are fine, I am happy” he replied and hurried inside his house.
That night he was watching cricket match up to 11pm and then retired to bed. He could not sleep. It was not hot and the fan was in full speed. As he was recollecting the conversation had with the neighbour, he felt the fragrance of jasmine flowers in full bloom. It was unmistakable, in close quarter and definitely a lady. His heart beat fast and he switched on the light and sat on the chair opposite the computer table. There was another whiff that brushed past his nose that gave him goose bumps. He wiped his forehead and neck the perspiration. He was certain there was no jasmine plant outside.
“Is there anyone other than me in my room? If yes, please reveal yourself or change the pen on the table from the present vertical to horizontal position” he said
 It was quiet and the long silence was unnerving. When he repeated the question, the pen changed its position to horizontal. Fear gripped him but he was unwilling to wake up the land lord.
“Please reveal yourself. Who are you and why do you scare me? Is this what the neighbor meant this morning?”
After some silence, he heard some vague noises before a squeaky one came.”Strain your ears and listen carefully. I cannot show my form. But you can see my picture in the drawing room. I am their daughter and when my lover ditched me after long friendship and putting me in a difficult position, I had to end my life. My parents would not have told you. I was alone and feeling lonely. I am glad you have come. I will never harm you.Infact I have taken a liking for you and we can be friends”
With fear gone, he asked “Yes, I have seen your picture on the first day I came to meet your parents. You looked very beautiful. How I wish you were alive? How can I be friend with someone without form?”
“True, I have no form. But I can enter any lifeless body. Would you like to test my ability? There is a kitten moving here. It must be somewhere here. Find out and strangle it. I will enter and show it running”
“Really, that would be wonderful. He went to kitchenette. It was not there. But he found it under the cot .When he prodded it came running and jumped on his lap with a meow. He had not the heart  to kill it but she prompted him to do quickly. He closed his eyes hard and strangled the kitten. It became limp and lay dead when he left it on the floor. Within moments, the kitten came alive and jumped on his lap again and snuggled close to him. He took it in his both arms and kissed it. It in turn purred and rubbed its face against his.
They were playing with each other till the kitten spoke. “I agree it would be no fun to be friend with kitten. You must get a lifeless human female form and then I am yours permanently. We can go away somewhere and be happy”
“Where can I get a lifeless body of a young woman? If I kill someone I will be charged with murder” he said.
“Where is the murder and where is the body? I will be in her and we will be in love ever after.”
“True, it didn’t strike me. How can I find a good looking woman?”
“Have you seen Vinodhini, the maid working in landlord’s house? She is young like me and very beautiful with long hair and hazel eyes. You would like her. Call her tomorrow afternoon on some pretext when the old couple is asleep. I will be with you. We will accomplish the migration smoothly. Don’t be afraid, I am here to help you”
Next day, he brought her on some ruse and when the kitten cried”meow, meow” he was emboldened and grasped her neck and started strangling. She was a strong woman and let out loud screams twice before she became limp and fell on the floor.
The kitten came near her and went round her many times sniffing. But Vinodhini did not get up as was expected. Meanwhile there were thuds on the door with shouts “Open the door”.Chetan looked at the kitten helplessly as it ran under the cot.
Meanwhile the landlord and the neighbours broke open the door to witness Vinodhini lying on the floor. Someone found a dead kitten under the cot. The landlord felt for breath under Vinodhini’s nostril and found it feeble. She was not dead and the spirit could not enter as Chetan had not done his part of  job well. The spirit in the kitten flew away leaving Chetan to fend for himself.
All his pleas to the landlord that his dead daughter’s ghost was in the kitten were laughed at as the picture in the hall was that of landlady when she was young and they had no daughter.
TVs were blaring about the psycho’s strangling of a kitten and attempted assault on a young woman and her providential escape in the heart of city.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The cheeky burglar

I heard my mobile ping. It was 4 am.. My husband had not yet recovered fully from a viral fever that lasted a week. He was asleep. Half asleep I looked at my phone.
“Don’t make noise. I am in the ground floor and have entered your house" read the text.
I saw the number. It was my hubby's mobile.
"How did you get my hubby's mobile? He is sleeping by my side" I texted nervously.
"Did you not see that I am in your house? I borrowed his phone for a short while. Don’t wake him up. He seems unwell and I am fully armed.” said the reply I was numb with fear at the thought he had been to our bed room.. Another message came
"I warn you not to call police. I can harm you people and get away if I hear a police vehicle."
I saw my hubby snoring blissfully. I knew I should handle this manic carefully. I did not mind losing some money if he is after money.i was worried about another thing. I have been reading almost daily cases of assault on women. I did not know the intruder's age or his intentions. I started perspiring and did not wish to make the slightest noise lest my hubby awoke. He is an impulsive guy and given to rushing without a plan.
"What do you want?" I texted
"Nothing much. Please come down .I will tell you"
Oh my god, what a cheek. Surely a maniac on prowl is here. I took a base ball bat and slowly opened the adjacent room where my nine year old son was sleeping. He was asleep with his head covered by bed sheet as he does always. As I shut the door gently another text followed.
"Do not delay. Come down quick"
I replied "Unless you tell me what you need specifically, I cannot come"
"Don't be afraid. There is nothing to fear”
"I told you very clearly to tell me what you need.. If you don't tell within two minutes, I will ring up police come what may. "
One minute passed. The second minute was coming to an end. The text came promptly.
"I am hungry. I want Italian style Macaroni with cheese"
I rushed to my little son's bedroom and pulled the bed sheet to see him holding hubby's mobile and looking for a  message from me He is a mischievous boy given to pranks but it was the  Macaroni and cheese that  gave him away as he wanted it in the evening.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Daffodil Principle

This is a repeat of a forward by email in 2009 to me. I do not have the sender’s or site's details. But I wish to share with you as it has a great message for all of us
Several times my daughter Carolyn had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.'' I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.
"I will come next Tuesday", I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Nevertheless, I had given word. Though loath to make the journey, I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.
"Forget the daffodils, Carolyn. The road is invisible in these clouds and fog. There is nothing in the world, except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!"
My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother."
"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!"
"But first we're going to see the daffodils. It's just a few blocks," Carolyn said. Sensing my incredulity, she added, “Don’t worry, mother. I'll drive. I'm used to this."
Soon, we were sputtering our way through the grim mist. Only a desolate road in sight and a howling wind for company. I glowered at my otherwise sane and sensible Carolyn, who was so hell-bent on this daft venture.
"Carolyn," I said sternly, "Please turn around."
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read: "Daffodil Garden". We got out of the car, each taking a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight.
It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns: sweeping swathes of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each differently-colored variety was planted in large clusters such that each swirled and flowed like a river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn.
"Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, petitely sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking", was the caption in flowing, cursive letters. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
For me, that moment was a life-altering experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met; who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
The daffodil garden taught me one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and aspirations one step at a time -- often just one baby-step at a time - and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things, even change the world.
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago, and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual, plainspoken way. "Start today," she said.
She was right. It was so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration, instead of a cause for regret, was to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"
Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting...
Until your car is paid off...
Until you get a new home...
Until you organize the garage...
Until you declutter your desk...
Until you lose or gain weight...
Until summer/spring/winter/fall...
There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Don't be afraid that your life will end. Be afraid that it will never begin!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy birthday

Mathew, Mat for short, had gone to collect a large birthday cake from the confectioners. He saw a nine year old boy staring at the shelves inside through the glass door. As he came out after collecting the cake, he saw the boy still there watching inside.
"Hey, what are you looking at for quite some time?"
"Nothing, Sir" he replied
"Come on, tell me. You won't be looking at nothing for such a long time"
The boy hesitated for a while and then said “I was wondering whether I can get a bar of chocolate for my mom. It is her birthday and chocolates are her favourites.But I have only a five rupee coin."
"It is ok.I will get you a bar and also a small cake to celebrate her birthday" Mat said and bought a few bars of chocolates and a medium sized cake."Where do you live? You may drop these packets down. I will take you in my car. Hop in"
The car stopped before a small tenement."Won't you step in for a few minutes, Sir, to see my mom? It is a special day for her made brighter by you" the boy said.
To keep the boy in good humour, he readily agreed and entered the darkish room. The boy switched on the light and there was no one there. It was a single room tenement.
Suspecting the boy had played a ruse on him, Mat asked him “Where is your mom? I don't see anyone here"
“One minute, Sir”. He went to the other side of the room, stood up on a stool and lit a small candle. There was a picture of a young woman. He rubbed the glass with his shirt.”This is my mom. Today is her birthday. Can we open the packets before her and light a candle and sing a birthday song?” he innocently asked.
Mat could not stop his eyes from becoming moist.”Surely, who else is there? What about your dad? Any brother or sister?” he asked
“Dad is gone years even before mom. Mom died a few months before. There is no one else”
“Are you staying alone then? Where do you eat?” he asked with concern
“My dad’s brother lives with his family in the adjacent tenement. But they did not like my mom. I work in cycle repair shop and the master gives me food in the afternoon and some snacks in the evening.’
Mat opened the box and lit the candle on the cake. They both sang Happy Birthday song. He put the cake in boy’s mouth.
“Now, will you come with me to celebrate another birthday at my house and I will drop you back”
The car sped along to a big house. The door was opened by a young lady.”I have brought a young guest for your birthday” he said as he ushered the boy into the hall.
“What is your name, young chap?’ she asked smilingly.
“Hahaha, Bruce Lee? Show me your muscles” she asked
As the boy folded his hand to show a small bulge, she hugged him and kissed on his head.
“Hey Bruce, You be here watching the fish in the tank. We will be in a minute. You must help me set the cake and candles” Mat said
As they went to bed room, Mat told her “This boy is an orphan. I met him accidentally. He looks charming and well behaved. If you like, we can bring him up as our own. Mind you, only if you like. He will provide us a meaning and purpose to our lives.”
Bruce was in hilarious mood to the glee of the couple as he danced and sang to celebrate his two moms’ birthday on the same day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

God’s little ways

Amrita remembered her mom telling her when she was a child that God punishes in His own little ways whenever one sins. She never failed to stress that one may not be able to relate the punishment easily to the ethical lapse but if observed carefully one can see it invariably follows.
One day she came home from school with a long face. She had broken her slate. Her mom asked “What did you do?"
She kept silent for a while and when prodded admitted to her taking Anupam's eraser without his knowledge.
"Do return it tomorrow and say sorry. I will get a new slate” mom said
Another incident when she was in her teens came to her mind. As she was returning home, she fell down and had deep scratches on her legs and wrist. When she came crying, mom as usual asked her what she did that day, she could not lie when she saw her mom's kindly face and confessed that she copied in the test.
"Remember always that God is watching and would punish if we do wrong. Sometimes it is immediate and on some occasions delayed"
Her mom was gone years back but she never forgot the tiny incidents and mom’ message..
When the very big and expensive chandelier fell suddenly on the ground and broke into hundreds of pieces in the morning, she knew why. She should not have brought her male colleague home for late dinner last night when her husband was away on tour.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blessings to you

Savita graduated creditably five years back in English literature. Since then she has been trying hard to get a clerical job but has not been successful. Wherever there was an entrance test, she cleared them but got rejected at the interview stage. They do not assign any reason and only her name is not in the final list. She is smart with very good communication skill. It is not her fault that she is short, limped after a polio attack and had a flat wide nose. To make matters worse, the teeth were also not well aligned and showed prominently.
She needed a job badly. Her mom an elementary school teacher had retired. She often approached the recruiting agency and sought to meet the MD.The front desk people tried to  turn her away giving different reasons that he was busy or out of station or against dealing with candidates directly. But on this day she loudly persisted till someone from inside the office came to the reception and asked that Savita be sent inside to MD’s office after 10 minutes.
When she went in she found a 55 year old kindly looking man completely bald and dark in complexion in full suit. He just smiled at her and asked her to take her seat.
“I heard the commotion outside and had your file brought to me. I can understand your frustration in not finding a position despite your good credentials. I really do not know why you have been overlooked by many companies to whom we had referred your name amongst others. Tell me in brief about your family, what kind of job you are looking for and how much you are expecting. I can see you have no experience whatsoever”
Savita told about her being the only child of her mom with no father and after her retirement how the two were struggling unable to pay even the small rent. She added ”I have attended dozens of interviews and many companies held some entrance test. I always did well in them and yet when the interviews took place, I could discern a change in their attitude. To be born short and ugly is not my fault. My mom had no money to attend to my teeth. I need not be given a front office job but there is always some position in the inner office. I am at the end of my tether, sir.It was at the height of frustration and not knowing what to do, I created a scene in your office. I wished to give vent to my feelings though I was not sure if it would help. I am willing to do any clerical job at any salary that is applicable to the position. But I need one immediately. I am a quick learner and lack of experience should not matter. I would be indebted if you can find some position in any company” and wiped her eyes
In a choked voice the MD said “I understand. The world is cruel. Can you please wait for 15 minutes outside? I have some important work. I will call you. Don’t go away”
Exactly after 15 minutes, she was called in. He did not ask her to take her seat but asked to her to open an envelope lying on the table addressed to her name and read the contents. She could not believe her eyes when she noticed it was an appointment letter as a junior executive in this company and the salary was much beyond her expectations. It required her to join three days hence.
With tears welled up in her eyes, she proffered her hands to thank him.”Never mind. Take the other envelope on the table. It is an advance against your salary deductible in easy instalments.Buy some good dresses” he said
“Don’t take me amiss for not shaking hands to congratulate you. My right hand and right leg are artificial and I had undergone all the bitter experiences you had faced.It was then I started this company and my dad was a great support and encouragement. Since then I have helped countless number of differently abled boys and girls. Lucky you raised your voice and insisted on meeting me” he said and slowly stood up and ambled to her side.
“Go and share the good news with your mom. You will be working in my secretariat and gradually reduce my burden. Blessings to you” he said and bade her adieu.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Where will she go?

Malathi's husband had a transferable job and was posted once in three years to different cities. Invariably he left for the new place first, found an accommodation and then took her.Malathi had a grouse that in the choice of an apartment, he never paid enough attention to her comfort especially the size of kitchen, the space for keeping grocery, vessels, sink with water connection, power points for operating different gadgets etc.It was enough for him if the house had a good view and spacious living and bed rooms. The rest never entered in his radar.
Luckily this time she was very happy with the apartment he had chosen. It was in a housing complex and in first floor. It was spacious, granite tiled and the kitchen was perfect. The balcony gave a good view of the park with plenty of breeze. It had built in cup boards in all rooms. The kitchen was very comfortable. This was possibly the best house, she thought. The rent was also not much considering the going rates. Water was in plenty and the complex had security. In two days she had arranged everything but could not introduce herself to the ladies of her age in the complex as they were working.
It was a week later when she was working in the kitchen she found something strange. She had taken out the vegetable cutting board and the knife outside and kept them on the counter for cutting vegetables. When she came back fetching the vegetables from the fridge, she found the knife missing. Surprised she looked for it in the drawer where she kept knives. It was there. But she was certain she took it out as the knife was at the rear of the drawer and needed an effort to locate. The domestic help had gone long back. How could this happen, the wondered?
In the afternoon at 4pm she was watching TV in the living room after switching on the coffee maker and the aqua guard for filling the water. It generally took 15 minutes to fill up. When she went in she found the aqua guard container full to the brim and the switch switched off. Something really amiss and she went to all the rooms to see if anyone else is present. She looked beneath the bed, curtains, bathrooms and balcony. There was no evidence of any stranger. She was worried and even imagined she heard the rustling of clothes when someone walks close by. There was always a feeling of unseen presence of someone around her. She drew the curtains open and the balcony doors for she felt afraid to be alone.
In the night while they were in bed she broached the subject to her husband Madhavan Nair. He heard her patiently and finally said “You need good sleep and you are hallucinating letting your mind run wild. I will give you a tranquilizer and you should feel better. There is no such experience felt by me even though I sit late hours working. Please do not worry. I will be back by 6pm daily”
“May be you think I am imagining. Have you come across my telling such things earlier? Anyway I feel better with you around” she said and put her arm around him snuggling close to him. She felt fresh when she woke up. She made quick breakfast and lunch for her husband. When he was gone the maid came for work
“Have you worked in this apartment earlier?”Malathi asked her
“No, this remained locked for long time”
“Why, any idea?”
“I don’t know. I have heard others telling the owner wanted to come here and so kept it locked. Why do you ask, amma?”
“Just like that. Go and attend to your work” Malathi said
After she left, Malathi went to kitchen to see whether the maid had done all the work and left the place clean. She came to living room and started reading the daily about the rape of a young girl being locked up in police station. After sometime she heard the noise of running water. She went to the kitchen and found to her shock the tap open and water running. Just .a while ago she had checked. How it could open on its own, she wondered. She lingered in the kitchen and strained her ears to hear any sound. As she came out, she felt a tug at her sari and turned to see none except hear a muffled giggle.Malathi had goose bumps in fear and sweated profusely as she ran to the hall.
Madhavan Nair agreed that something strange was happening but did not wish to vacate considering the several advantages without exploring other options. The second day one Kesavan Namboothiri, a tantric, was brought home. He sat in the puja room lighted the lamps and put incense. He took out a small hand held rattle like drum that made loud noise. He requested Madhavan and Malathi to sit in the hall and that he would call at the appropriate time.
He started chanting some mantra amidst the brisk rattle noise and threw ashes now and then on a black cloth. In a while the couple heard him talking to someone.
“You must not stay here. You must quit and join your kindred spirits. I will help you. It is better for your liberation” There was silence and again they heard him “If you do not go on your own volition, I will drive you away. That will be painful. You are a young girl obviously wronged. Please go. I will help you reach the ethereal world”
This was followed by brisk chanting and louder rattle noise and more spraying of ashes.”I am glad you have agreed to quit. To show to the residents here that you are leaving, blow out the lamp as you leave after taking the red thread I am leaving on the lamp. That will protect you.”
The Namboothiri called the couple and asked them to open the front door and stand away from the passage. You can watch from the distance the lamp and the red thread and see the lamp go out with the thread missing”
As the rattle sounded amidst the chant of mantras the couple saw from safe distance the lamp that was burning brightly was put out all on a sudden by the spirit with the red thread missing. There was a squeaky howl of a young girl as it sped past.
Namboothiri cleaned the place and asked Malathi and Madhvan to have a shower and light the god’s lamps.”You will no more be troubled and the ghost of a girl who had committed suicide has been exorcised. She was an innocent playful   girl and liked the comfort of the maternal company here”
Malathi wiped the trickling tears from her eyes as Madhavan put his arm around to comfort her even as the thought where the young spirit would go tormented her..

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A new beginning

 Nandini highly qualified and employed in a multinational company worked from home. She was busy through the day talking to clients from different parts of the world according to their time zone. Her husband Sundar, a classmate in the business school, worked for another company in senior position. He came home late, tired and exhausted, and would hit the bed after a quick dinner and doze away before TV for a while with her. An introvert and a homebird, he liked to relax at home with beer bottle on weekends.Nandini, a gregarious and sociable person looked forward to weekends to go out, eat and watch movies or spend time in social parties. Married for five years, they had no children. Life turned out to be very mechanical with no love or warmth that she longed for. All her attempts to change him failed. But he was basically a good chap concerned about her.
One afternoon after a long conversation with a client in the Middle East, she kept the phone down when it tinkled again.
“Hey, Is it Nandini?I am Swapan your college mate..Rohini gave me your number. I have come on tour here”
“Wow, Swapan, I am so excited to hear your same robust voice. How have you been? Where do you work?
“I am in an American bank. I will be here for two days. Are you free? Why don’t you come to Coffee day near Hotel Samrat.I wish to meet you? You used to be a great beauty during college days. Are you working anywhere? I heard you are married. Come at 4pm.We can talk for two hours” he talked continuously
She smiled and remembered him as a handsome, gregarious, bright and flirty chap.”OK,I will be there at 4PM sharp
When she reached the hotel at 4, he was in the lounge waiting for her. He looked handsomer in his formal suit, a little chubbier but with the same twinkle in his eyes. He shook her hands warmly and led her to the table at a secluded corner without releasing her hand. He took off the coat and loosened the tie.
While she was lost in thoughts about how he professed his love for her and proposed to her when the college had ended and her turning him down saying they are yet to complete education and settle down in a career,she was broken from her reverie when she heard him tell “You have changed a lot and frankly I was not expecting this"
Shocked she asked him “Why, do I look older or fatter or wrinkled? You look much nicer and the boyish features of college days and the mustache have all disappeared." She added with a giggle "You look like Hrithik”
"Thanks, but you are vastly changed" he insisted
"Could be with five years of monotonous married life, I may no more look presentable" she said with a sigh
"Far from it, infact you look mature than when I saw you last but ravishingly more beautiful. This is whole truth and nothing but truth" he laughed
"Thank you. Are you married and how many kids?"
"No, I loved one girl but she declined me. I decided not to marry"
"Oh, oh, when did you meet her and why should any sensible girl reject you? Any colleague of yours?"
“You are not listening carefully. I said one girl and you know the only one" he let out a guffaw
Nandini's face became red with shyness. She slowly said “In retrospect I think I made a mistake then. Fate is cruel sometimes"
"Why, what happened? Aren’t you happy?" he asked. When she kept silent, he came adjacent to her, held her hands gently and prodded her to be open." You know I am your ardent well wisher. Tell me in detail"
Tears trickled from her eyes and slowly she narrated the humdrum life she was living with everything mechanical."There is hardly any laughter and he is busy always with work or tours. He doesn't object to my going out or spending. He is not a suspicious guy and really a good man but a poor husband. I hope you get the drift"
“Five years is a long period. If he has not kept you happy, why continue this façade? Call it quits and choose a life of your own. You will find one who will be too glad to marry you and keep you always happy” Swapan suggested.
“Swapan,I did consider it though you were nowhere in the picture. But Sundar is a kind hearted and good man. I did not have the heart to shatter him. May be after meeting you I think I should talk to him. Please give me some time.”
“Be sure I am always waiting for you. I will come next month. I can even shift permanently here. Please get it done fast”
That night she spoke to Sundar telling him that she found her life drab and wished to separate amicably. She stressed there was nothing against him but they were different by nature and that he can do little to make her life meaningful.
“I do not know whether you have any one in mind. I would beg of you to consider one suggestion. We both can live separately for two months. We will vacate this four bed roomed apartment. I will get you a 3 room apartment and a two room for myself in different buildings in the same complex. If at the end of two months you still feel the need to leave me, I will let you go. Give me a week for me to make arrangements” Sundar said
Exactly after a week, he took her to an apartment in the adjacent building. What she saw baffled her.He must have put an interior decorator to help in the arrangements. It had everything new from furniture to curtains. The modular kitchen, with dishwasher a big fridge and a washing machine, a treadmill for her to exercise, big TV in living room and smaller one in her bed room with music systems in both places all made up for good living. Nothing was left out including the utensils.
“Do you like it?” he asked
“Fabulous but why did you spend a fortune on this? How can you be sure this will be my permanent abode?”
“Never mind. I want you happy. You can move in tomorrow. I have taken holiday and arranged helpers”
“What about yours? Can I have a look at it? she asked
He took her to a small apartment of a single bedroom and hall.It was furnished in Spartan manner with basic things.”You have been miserly for your apartment but splurged on mine. Why did you do it?”
“Because I love you. Frankly I did not know that you were unhappy. It was a shock yesterday. But the decision would be purely yours as you are the one wanting to leave.
That night she was tossing in her bed thinking whether what she contemplated was right. Was it not possible by slight adjustment to make their lives happy? She put her arm over him but he was sound asleep.
The next day morning Sundar woke up to the aroma of coffee with Nandini standing before him fresh after a shower.”Good morning, there is a slight change in the plan. The helpers would move all our things to the three roomed apartment. You will surrender the smaller one and let out this one. We will try to make our lives happy in the new place”
Sundar jumped with joy and pulled her to the bed
Three months later Sundar asked her jokingly “Why did you change your mobile number after we moved here? Have you made any decision? How can I help you?”
“Yes, there is plenty to do. You need to take me to a doctor. I have nausea” she said with a happy and mischievous smile.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Nivedita’s engagement

Nivedita was reading the last few pages of the novel and hoped to complete it before the train reached her destination. She had an unusual feeling of being stared at by someone and looked up to find a gorgeous guy looking at her intently from two rows away. She lowered her eyes only to look up after a few seconds and found the guy gazing at her continuously. Though annoying initially it gave a pleasant feel. After a couple of times, he smiled at her with a faint wink. She now became upset and did not turn to his side. When a lady in the opposite seat stood up to get down at the approaching station, he jumped with alacrity to occupy the vacated seat. Though she relished his proximity, she kept looking at the pages of the book though her mind was full of him.
Whether by design or carelessness, the book fell from her hands only to be retrieved by the alert guy instantly and handed over to her with a slight bow. She said thanks and this opened the floodgate for small conversation till the end of journey. It so happened they travelled by the same train and compartment daily culminating in mutual love. They met on weekends, saw movies, ate at good restaurants and spent time in parks or malls. She had revealed to Sunil that she was a junior officer in a bank living with her parents and brothers.
“What do you do for living? You have never mentioned where you work?” she asked one day
“Will tell you in due time. There is no secrecy as such but would prefer to tell you when an occasion arises. Do not worry. I am highly qualified” Sunil replied
“I think I can make a good guess. Some intelligence or secret service in the government it must be. You look an attractive mix of Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery” she said with a smile
She tried in vain several times to ferret out the information till one day she threatened her parents would not agree to her marrying someone whose job was a mystery. He then agreed to reveal his profession on any day suitable at her home when her parents were there. It was agreed to meet the next Sunday.
Sunil was at her place sharp at 4pm.After introductions with parents and siblings were over, he wished to spend some time with her before the formal revelation. “Why do you make such a big drama as if you are a top functionary of an UN organization?” she asked him when they were alone in her room
“True I like to dramatize. I am thirsty having come in the hot sun. You haven’t offered me even a glass of coke” he said
“Oh, oh I am so sorry” she said as she hurriedly brought him some cool drink in a tall glass.
A few minutes after gulping it, he jumped and asked “What have you given me? My whole body is  shivering unbearably. Can you get me a big bed sheet without fuss?
When she handed over the bed sheet, he covered himself and was seen shaking all over. He soon covered himself fully head to foot much to the bewilderment of Nivedita. She asked him “Are you feeling better, at least a little? Should I call a doctor?”. To her horror she saw the bed sheet crumple on the sofa. She lifted it to see him totally vanished before her eyes. In fear she let out a scream and her parents and brothers rushed to her side.”What happened? Where is he?” they asked in unison. One of the brothers looked under the bed, behind the curtain. They stood totally perplexed when Sunil entered through the door with a loud laughter. Nivedita screamed again and this time in delight.
“Can you now guess my profession?” he asked her
“Not a magician. I am not going to marry a magician however great he may be” she said
“Sure you don’t have to for I am as you correctly guessed a secret service officer with magic as my pet hobby” He turned to her parents and said “If you all agree, I would like to put a ring on her finger”
He showed his bare hands, clapped twice and contrived to get a diamond ring out of thin air before putting it on her finger to the glee of all.
Nivedita examined the ring suspiciously  and pinched him hard and as he screamed in pain she said ”Just wanted to make sure whether you are real” followed by loud laughter.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The give away

I am no hard core criminal. I neither assault people nor touch my victims. I just pilfer whatever I can easily conceal in my pocket. The modus operandi is simple. I wear neatly pressed clothes and well polished shoes. My handsome face, curlish hair, my good height and soft speech give some respectability. I have a computer with CorelDraw facility and I make laminated identity cards to suit my purpose. One day I would be a census enumerator, another day market surveyor or a fund raiser for charitable causes, and some days I don ochre robes on behalf of fake religious institutions. I used to wonder at my own bewildering variety of disguises.
I choose the afternoons when the sun is severe for my work. Where I find many inmates in a house I move away quickly. Where the ladies or old men are alone and gullible enough to invite me to the living room for enumeration or survey, I take casually a quick look at the hall. Then with a sigh I take my kerchief for wiping the perspiration and make a request for a glass of cool water. When they are away to fetch it, I quickly pocket whatever is not prominent and what I can easily lay my hands on.. After pleasantries and a quick survey I make a fast move to another complex slightly away. If I am lucky in one house I usually stop the activity for the day. This was adequate for the day’s expense. You see, I am no greedy person.
Today being my birthday, I wore a blue jeans and a new   colorful T shirt with cream and brown stripes. But the first house I visited could not be considered ideal though the young lady was alone and credulous. But there was hardly anything of value in the hall save her cheap mobile .I try hard  not to leave empty handed and had to filch the cell phone. After drinking water, I left in a hurry after giving her some form to fill in and telling her that I would collect it the next day..
When I rang the bell at the next apartment that I visited in the adjacent street, an attractive young lady in her early thirties was talking on her mobile. When she saw me there was a look of surprise, may be attracted by my personality enhanced by my new clothes. She smiled at me, opened the grill door for me to enter and said “Just one second”. She talked for a couple of minutes more and concluded saying”OK,I have a visitor. I will talk to you later”.
The apartment looked rich with showcase brimming with all curios and costly clocks, crystal wares, ivory idols of gods and many other things. When I started with the usual refrain about a glass of water, she asked “Coke, Orange or Sprite?” I gave her my charming smile and said “Anything you offer me”
As she went in to bring the cool drink, I quickly pocketed a few things when the wretched mobile rang. It was not mine but the one I stole at the other house. It started singing in shrill and loud tone an old tune of RajKapoor in Shri 420  Mera jootha hai Japani,ye patloon Englishthani..”  Before I could remove it from my pocket to silence it, the lady came out smiling and said “What an old tune you have installed?”She saw the other mobile in my hand and said ‘You seem to have two”
I offered a weak explanation it was my wife’s and I had brought it for some minor repair. Meanwhile two burly security men of the complex entered.The lady’s smile faded and she asked the security not to allow me to escape.”Mister, I knew you are a fake. Your earlier visit was unfortunately to my friend’s flat. She was telling about you and your stealing her mobile. We never knew you would come here. Lucky for her and me, you came to my place and I rang her number to make sure you are the culprit. The mobile whose tune I knew gave you away. Give back the things you pocketed here. The security men would hold you till the police arrive to take you”
As I swore under my tongue “You bloody b***h”, she laughed hysterically at my sorry plight.