Monday, October 28, 2013

Free consultation

You can call me a counselor, a shrink, a psychiatrist or even an agony aunt. It is up to you and will not affect me. I am not one of those who have big consulting rooms with flashy boards and upholstered furniture. I don’t flaunt my degrees to impress my clients and attract them. Instead I seek them where they are and who are mostly abandoned by family and society. They live their own lives in a cocooned corner of drugs, alcohol or whore houses. It is easy to spot them and you don’t need any special skill.
I leave my home at 9 am in the morning to go on my daily rounds to the park, mall, bars, drug hide outs, red light areas and isolated places even funeral homes. In what I consider a social work, I don’t need well-cut suits and expensive leather bags. I am content with my rather old blue serge jacket and slightly faded jeans. I do not pay much attention to my looks and I am aware the long hair needs a cut. My work is important to me and not my appearance. I cast my look across the places I visit. I can invariably find the individual(s) who need my professional help.
I was in a large grocery store where I found this middle aged man with bloodshot eyes filling the basket with half a dozen bottles each of whiskey and beer, vodka besides I think rum and tequila. There was also a lone bottle of wine. You don’t need any further proof of this man’s addiction to liquers.No one buys so much unless he is a alcoholic. I gently approached him and smiled at him. He returned the smile but continued to look for some other variety. I coughed slightly and when he turned I said “liquor is harmful and it is difficult to break the habit. Not so much at one go.”
He ignored me. I considered it my societal responsibility to wean him away from this weakness.
“If you can spend 30 minutes with me, I can cure you of this dependence without any obligation for I consider this as my duty to society” I said softly.
He looked at me contemptuously and bawled out “What shit are you taking? Get lost before I lose my temper”
Even as I was saying “Do not get upset. I am aware it takes long time to break the habit”, he punched my nose hard with blood oozing out. In a short while the security led me out with a warning not to harass customers. I do not get disheartened by such violent rages or failures in my attempts. I keep looking for the next client.
With a band aid on my bloody nose, I happened to see a zombie sitting on a bench and smoking what I was certain hash. I went closer and as I feared, his eyes had a vacant look and his cheeks were shrunk. He was oblivious of my presence close by his side or my salutation. It was evident he was hooked to drugs. I could sense a sweaty smell of one who had no shower for a week or more. He moved away from me. I do not give up easily and followed him.
“Leave me alone. Why are you stalking me? I have no money with me” he said with some irritability
“Cool down, I have gone through this hell but could shake it off though with difficulty” I said gently.
“What do you want? What are you talking about?”
“Let us sit down for a while. But tell me what are you into, Ice, LSD, cannabis, opium or ecstasy or any such stuff? I have done all these. I know you get high, into a world of heaven if you have a female partner to boot. I have come to save you from the hell you are sliding into.”
“You wish to save me, yes by all means. I have been without a job for four months and need one immediately. Can you fix it? My wife and child are starving” he said
“I have heard this refrain countless times. Come on, let us go and sit on the bench over there” I said in persuasive manner.
The man pushed me down and started hitting me with such ferocity for a weakling like him. Soon a crowd gathered to save me with a policeman also joining. After hearing him and despite my protestations that I was trying to help him, the police took me to the station and look at the irony, searched me to see whether I carried any drugs. After confining me for the whole day they sent me away with a warning not to harass people with my help.
I was disillusioned and remained at my place for two days. Then on the evening of third day I went round the bazaar area around 8pm. It is not far from the red light area and was busy with people. I saw a good looking well built young woman standing under a lamp post. She wore jasmine on her head and the large bindi went well with her round face. She looked decent. I wondered why she was standing there like ‘other’ women. I wished to check whether she needed my help despite the warning from police.
“Why are you standing here alone at this hour?”I asked
She did not answer. When I repeated the question she said “I am waiting for my man”
I assumed she stuck to one person unlike others and said “Glad that you are sticking to one man unlike others of your type. Even then it is a vice. Better get married to him instead of standing here daily’
She let out a shriek saying ayyo when a two wheeler with a man and a girl of 6 years with a bottle of coke screeched to a halt before us.
“What happened?” he asked
“This idiot thinks I am a woman of shady character waiting for some customer.”
Soon there was a crowd and some manhandling and I was taken to the police station. They did not let me go home this time.
Someone came next day and talked to me about the incidents. When I told him in detail that I am a counselor doing social work voluntarily in saving people caught in vices, he laughed aloud. He asked me lots of questions and had my blood sample taken.
I overheard that man telling the inspector “That smelly guy needs a shrink as he is slightly deranged and suffers from hallucination that he is a doctor. May be he also requires de-addiction and some medication for an acquired ailment.”
Now I am in a mental hospital and the fun of it is doctors are treating me. I laugh at them but revel at the opportunity to help the large number of inmates here. The moral I learnt is never do anything free as you are mistaken for a fake.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soul Mates

Tomorrow is their wedding anniversary. Unknown to Sundar, Sita bought a few books at Landmark. She also got a pen set while daughter was skimming through a pictorial book.
She saw at cash counter Sundar standing with a big box of art materials and card to surprise her. Both exchanged loving glances and sheepish smiles.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Cowering in much shame when disrobed -9
her cringing  appeal went in vain-8
elders mum, husbands silent-7
her hands went up to Lord-6
her robe grew long-4
rogue fell limp-3
to her-2

This is the story of Draupadhi married to Pandava brothers
who went through untold suffering for a princess
and whose unalterable faith in Lord Krishna
enabled her overcome  many times.
The efficacy of total surrender to God is conveyed here.

The rain 
The grey clouds in mournful darkish sky (9)
swaying branches in blowing wind (8)
flapping birds seeking safe nooks (7)
people rushing to home(6)
kids playing in joy(5)
blinding lightning(4)
loud thunder(3)

Living in a tropical city,Chennai,rain has always held
my fascination.It is much looked forward in a state that is mostly
rain fed for its water and agriculture.

These were written for

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My last day there

It is my lot to work in the minister’s secretariat. I have had no problem with his predecessors as I was not intrusive. Trouble started with this new minister who had shady past.
Last week a businessman was in his room. I had to go in to announce the arrival of some media personnel just as a suitcase was being delivered. His face turned red.
Today he was with his lady officer specifically forbidding anyone inside. Unexpectedly his wife came and barged in without my permission. When I heard the shocked scream, I knew it was my last day there.

Written as a part of 100 words on Saturday 7 at Write Tribe. The prompt being I knew it was my last day there.

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blissful ignorance

Ranjan is a loving husband and an affectionate father to his two children. He invariably spent quality time with his wife Sunita and children whenever he was in Delhi, his head quarters. He enjoyed taking them to top class eating places, cultural programmes, picnic spots, watching TV with them or playing board games on holidays.
Being a vice president of marketing, his job took him on tour of a day or two for more than fifteen days a month. A jovial and handsome personality with a gift of the gab, he was given to amoral tendencies when away from home. He had kept this weakness of his unknown to his wife or colleagues. He had come to Mumbai from Delhi in the morning for a long meeting that day. He had booked his flight the next day evening.  One even suspected whether he arranged his flights in such a manner to have a long day free. After a discreet call from his mobile the next day morning, Priya arrived at his room by 10am. She had come a few times earlier. Ranjan took a special liking for her who was in her early thirties but maintained a trim figure. A very passionate lover she gave him pleasure more than the money’s worth. They spent the whole day enjoying each other’s company. When it was nearing 3pm she readied herself to leave.  
She saw on the table a box containing an attractive Freshwater cultured pearl strand and Bracelet set and let out a cry ‘wow’. Pretty, a heart-shaped clasp in sterling silver accent, each piece is an ideal gift for a young woman. Ranjan was in such a satisfied and happy frame of mind that he readily offered it to her without a second thought as his memento for the company given. She was so overwhelmed with this unexpected gift she smothered him with kisses and hugs and reluctantly left. He had bought this set to surprise his wife but decided to buy something else in lieu.
He made a call to his old buddy Saxena whom he had not met for almost five years after the latter’s marriage. Ranjan agreed to meet him at his office around 4 PM on his way to airport. Saxena had put on lot of flab and was very obese for his age. After the initial pleasantries, Saxena sighed and said “I envy you. You still maintain a handsome figure and look a lot younger than your age. I could see you are enjoying your life to the brim.” Ranjan nodded his head in affirmative.
Saxena continued,” You are already in a senior management position at this young age. You have a pretty and loving wife and two children .What more does one want in life than a loving wife who can give her time and company to her husband when he returns home after a heavy day?"
“Why, what is the matter with you? You have told me that you have an attractive and talented wife though I haven’t met her.”Ranjan knew they had no children but felt this did not in any way affect the bond of love between the couple.
Saxena said “True, she is beautiful. How does it help? We lead a humdrum life devoid of love and affection. We respect each other and appear happily married. She is frigid and gets stiff whenever I approach her that even our occasional physical relations are mechanical. I am no doubt fat and clumsy for the slim and energetic woman that she is. I get out of breath even on slightest exertion. I come home tired most of the days after hard day’s work in a famished condition and after a heavy dinner doze off to sleep. She watches serials or keeps chatting with her friends on mobile or on internet."
“What does she do in the afternoons” Ranjan asked.
 He replied “No idea may be she is visiting her friends or attending kitty parties. I think she also helps blind students reading lessons. But she makes it a point to be back by 6pm when I return from office. She is otherwise very loving and ensures that I am well fed. She does not bother me with petty household problems. Perhaps she is missing children.”
Ranjan sympathized with him and suggested that he consult a doctor to reduce his weight and increase his zest for life. He took leave of him promising to visit him at his house next time.
 When Saxena reached home at 6-15 he found his wife listening to music and in a happy mood. She came rushing towards him and hugged him. The maid brought tea and snacks. As he settled his heavy body on the easy chair, she came close to him and snuggled.
“How was the day? Could you read the lessons to the students at the blind home? How was the baby shower at your friend’s place?” he asked.
 “I had a very enjoyable day after a long time at my friend’s place. Look at this set. I got this for a steal. Do you think this will give me a lift?” she replied producing the open box containing the cultured pearl set.
“Wow, how gorgeous you would look in them” he said as he kissed her hand.
'Ignorance indeed is bliss', she thought to herself.

Written as a part of Write over the weekend an initiative for bloggers byBlogadda.
The theme is 'Ignorance is indeed a bliss,he/she thought to himself/herself'

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Rangan was busy with urgent report. His toddler son came crying saying “Daddy, daddy, come with me quickly”. He ignored the boy and continued with his work.
The boy raised the volume of crying and said “Daddy, listen to me”
“Idiot, don’t you see I am busy? If you don’t go out, I will beat you blue”
“Daddy, please come with me now itself”
Rangan gave a whack and the child stood wailing at the door telling ‘Mom has fainted in kitchen and gas is burning big. I am afraid for mom.”
“You fool, why didn’t you tell me quickly?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Who did it?

“Amma, I don’t want to take ordinary graduation course. I wish to do engineering in computer science. I have topped the school and my admission letter has been received. We have only to pay the fees by month end” pleaded Janaki
“. Don’t I know you are very smart? I am also feeling frustrated that our financial circumstances do not permit us to do what we wish. Where can your dad go for the astronomical fee that we have to pay? Be understanding, my dear child. God willing, you can succeed in any line” said Lalitha
Aware that her dad held a small position with monthly income hardly adequate to make both ends meet, Janaki quietly started moving to her room, when her mom said “Come with me to the temple. I am sure goddess will listen to our prayers.”
“No, amma.I am not coming. Please allow me to stay at home”
“It is alright.I will be back in 30 minutes. Switch off the cooker after three whistles.”
It is not a big temple but had several sanctums for Kothandaramar, the presiding deity, His consort Janakavalii, Anjaneyar and some minor deities. Lalitha visited the temple daily at 11am.She spent longer time praying before the goddess .It was not crowded except on weekends or festive days. She would pour out to the goddess her disappointments, grievances, her wishes and even share the little joys as one would do to one’s bosom friend. Once done, it would lighten her heart immediately.
This day she pleaded with Goddess her helplessness and deep disappointment in not being able to meet with legitimate aspiration of her only daughter. It was not that she expected Goddess to fulfill her desire by a miracle but only to salve her troubled mind. Once done with moist eyes she turned to go back home.
It was then she heard a voice” Can you help me get up, young lady. I feel giddy” It was from an old lady of about 80 seated against a pillar. She was well dressed in traditional nine yards with some jewelry and seemed affluent.Lalita saw her almost daily but never spoken to her. She rushed to her side, held her in arms and slowly lifted her up.”Patti (grandma) how can you go alone? Can I drop you in your home in auto?”
“That is not necessary. Take me to the entrance. I am fine now”
As both came out Lalitha asked “Are you far from temple? How will you go? I can safely escort you. Do not feel obligated”
The old woman smiled as a big car drew near the entrance and a driver held her hand towards the car. Before getting in, she said “You are so sweet and lovable. What is your good name? We will meet daily here“
In a week they became close to each other but Lalitha never discussed her personal matters. One day as they came out of temple, the old woman expressed a desire to visit Lalitha’s house that day itself if it was on ground floor. Lalitha felt shy of taking her to her small portion on the side of a house. It was three roomed portion with a small hall, smaller bedroom and very small kitchen. The hall did the duty of drawing room living room and dining space. The house was faded in colour and dark. She could not refuse as the old lady directed the driver to take them to Lalitha’s place.
Lalitha hurriedly put a stool for the lady to sit and brought a glass of cool water. The old lady could see poverty writ large in the house. She drank the full glass of water and seemed pleased. She saw a young girl of around 18, lean and emaciated.
The old lady asked the girl “Are you Lalitha’s daughter? What is your name? Where are you studying?”
“I am Janaki.I have finished 12th and topped the school. I don’t know what I will be doing.”
“What a funny answer. Have you applied in any engineering or medical college? If you are good at studies they would be willing to offer you a seat”
“I have received admission for BTech in computer engineering from XYZ college.Amma wants me join ordinary graduation course in a nearby college.”
“Lalitha, what is this your daughter telling? When is the last date for payment?”
“True Patti. The last date is month end but we cannot afford even ordinary graduation course. She can succeed in life even without an engineering degree if god wills it”
“I understand your difficult position. Let Kothandaramar and Janakavalli bless her” Patti said before she took leave of them.
Patti was not seen the next day and succeeding week. Lalitha got concerned and asked the temple manager whether he knew why patti was not visiting.He said that the old lady had fever initially, then a stroke and is bed ridden. I do not think she will be coming”
“Mama (uncle), do you know where she lives? I wish to go and meet her” He gave her the address. When she went straight from temple to the place that was closeby, she found a very large bungalow sitting deep inside a large ground. The gate was guarded by security.
As she was standing hesitantly near the gate, the security asked her what she wanted. She said” I came to meet the old lady whom I meet daily at the temple since she has not been coming for a few days”
The security took her name and came out with a young lady of her age.”Patti has had a stroke. She cannot speak and her left side is paralysed.She is mentally alert. Her eyes brightened when I mentioned Lalitha from the temple. You can just see her for a couple of minutes.”
As she entered the room, Patti made an effort to smile and with eyes beckoned her near her. Lalitha could hardly control the tears flowing from her eyes even as she caressed patti’s arms. Patti asked with her right hand by sign why she had not brought her daughter”
“Patti, I will surely bring her tomorrow. I will pray for your recovery to the goddess. I want you back at the temple daily as before” Lalitha said
Lalitha could discern tears from patti’s eyes even as she was led out of the room.
The next day when Lalitha went with her daughter, she saw dozens of cars inside and outside the house. She knew something was amiss when the security approached her and conveyed the demise of the old lady the previous night.
Crying inconsolably Lalitha returned home with her daughter when a courier boy was waiting with a letter for Janaki.It was from XYZ College informing her about receipt of fees in full for four years as also the college bus charges from a benefactor who wished t to be unknown and that she can join the college on the scheduled date. She would also be entitled to some scholarship

Lalitha wailed aloud with tears at the thought of the kind soul that had bestowed this bounty on her daughter out of great compassion.Whether the happy denouement was due to Lalitha’s daily prayers to goddess or the generosity of the old lady is beyond the purview of this story.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The anthill

(A weird story.Don't look for logic)
The sky was overcast and it was windy too.Vanamali went to the window overlooking the backyard to close it. He saw his wife Vasuki standing about five feet away from a big anthill at the corner of their fenced compound. She was looking at the anthill intently. A newly married, he wondered why she went near it. He had seen some neighbourhood ladies coming and pouring milk inside it on some special occasions. But this day was no such one. He rarely went to backyard much less near the anthill. He suspected some snakes were inside it. When he wanted to have it removed years back, his mother had dissuaded him saying that it was there since his grandfather’s days and that no harm would come to anyone. She also warned him that if it is removed there would be a curse with no progeny in the family He was still scared and was wondering why his wife had gone there.
Vasuki was tall, very slim and lithe in her movements. She had long hair coming up to hips and walked very gracefully like an accomplished dancer. Extremely fair she had narrow but long eyes that were very black. She looked beautiful even from distance. He called her “Vasuki, why you are standing near the anthill? It is getting dark. Come away” She was so engrossed, he had to repeat before she turned and looked at him with a weird expression.
“Don’t you know snakes are inside it? Infact I would have shifted long back but for this being ancestral house”
“What if, the snakes do not harm anyone unless they see a threat?” she replied
He did not pursue the subject but was a trifle intrigued at her response. A week later on a Sunday afternoon; they were watching TV in the living room. A strange smell assailed his nose and he turned to look around. He saw a cobra inside the hall with its raised hood staring at them. Immediately he jumped up on the sofa and cried out to her to do likewise. He turned to find a stick or something long to beat it. Holding his hand and dissuading him from such foolish thing she said ”Don’t panic. Just stay put. I will handle this”
She stood where she was a few feet away from the cobra and looked at it intently even as it stared at her. Though for a few minutes, it looked like eternity before the reptile slithered its way out through the door. Dumbstruck at her unflustered reaction and unaware why the snake receded as if commanded, he asked her “Aren’t you afraid of snakes? How do you know by staring at  it, the cobra would go back?”
She did not reply but looked at him with a smile in her face. He felt some strange fear creeping him but continued watching the TV for a while before switching it off. He asked her to come out for walk but she declined. He went out pondering over the incidents. He was ill at ease and not comfortable.
That night as they were in bed, she snuggled close to him, put her arm around him and leg on his and brought her face close to his. He saw her glistening dark narrow eyes with a twinkle close to him when a chill went through his spine. He pushed her away but she was in no mood to let him go and enwrapped his body to bring it closer. He let out a shrill ‘No’ and moved away as if in front of danger.
“What is it? We are hardly married for six months. Why are you doing it to me? I have been seeing you behaving strangely since a few days  and looking at me as if I am a weird person” she asked.
He kept quiet for a while and when prodded for an answer, he said “Nothing like that, I am tired today.”
She turned to the other side while he too turned. This went on for a few days and there was no discussion on this. She cooked the food, he went to office, watched TV and everything was done in routine. There was no quarrel but the intimacy was absent. In the nights when they slept in the same bed, he was like a scared animal keeping his distance away.
One night he suddenly woke up and found Vasuki looking at his face intently from close quarters. The glassy black eyes that flitted from one side to the other reminded him of the cobra. As he tried to get up, she pushed him down and kissed him on his lips. A shudder passed through him even as his body shivered.”Be quiet. Why are you like this? Am I not your wife? Hug me and kiss me. It has been several days since we had been intimate”
“No, leave me alone. I beg of you. I am scared” he cried like a child.
“I think you need to see a shrink. Something is bothering you and you are not open” she said looking at him with contempt as she left the room with a pillow in hand.
The next day Vanamali during lunch time asked Ashok, his close buddy, “Do you believe it is possible for a snake to take human form?”
That friend was shocked at such a stupid question and asked him “What has gone wrong with you? Have you been seeing some Vittalacharya’s films?” Vanamali gave a wry smile and did not pursue the conversation.
The next day around 11 am someone came rushing to Ashok and said “Have you heard the tragic news? Our colleague Vanamali was bitten by a cobra last night and had died”
It hit like a sledge hammer as Ashok recalled the question Vanamali had asked the day before. He rushed to Vanamali’s house. There was a small crowd of neighbours. Someone said “It is unusual for a cobra to bite on his lips. There were two distinct marks. The cobra must have crept to the bed. Normally the snake bites the legs. I think Vanamali has beaten the snake dead before he passed out. The cobra was lying there dead with blood all over”
“What about his wife? Where is she? She must know what had happened” asked Ashok
“No, she is not seen. The neighbours say they saw her even late at night at the back yard. But she had vanished. It looks strange. The police are expected any moment”
Ashok was in a quandary whether the dead cobra could be Vasuki.A shudder passed through his spine too..

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The sleight of hand

(I enter my old story for the contest Sound-expressions)
It was dusk and getting dark. I was standing on the bridge over the river watching the gurgling water and enjoying with a tinge of sadness the fading skyline. The park in the distance with dazzling lights and varied plants and flowers looked alluring. A boat was seen swiftly moving down the river splashing water along. I had no interest to rush home as my wife was away at her parent’s place. She was expecting.
I heard a soft voice by my  side ”Sir, sorry to disturb you. Are you inclined to see a little magic?”
Startled I turned around to see a middle aged man in a much worn out jeans and a faded T-shirt with a coat that had seen much decay. His face was slightly long but there was a twinkle in his eyes suggesting a pleasant personality behind. He wore a Hawaii chappal that must have been in long use.
I asked him “What do you want?” even as I put my hand in my trouser pocket looking for small change.
He smiled at me saying ”Please don’t bother. I am not a beggar seeking alms. I just wished to show you a magic if you are in a mood to witness.”
Feeling bad that I had hurt him I said “Why not? I would love to see your trick”
“Good. Give me a ten rupee note. I will transform it into a beautiful butterfly” he said with a faint wink of his eye.
Intrigued as I was as how he can change a tenner into a butterfly, I played along and proffered a ten rupee note watching his movements carefully. I thought I heard a sweet humming tone and as my attention was distracted for not more than a second, he produced a multi hued butterfly in his hands with the tenner vanishing in thin air. The insect fluttered its multi colored wings as he handed it over to me. I was bemused and totally taken by surprise by the sleight of his dexterous hands.
I asked him “Where is the ten rupee note?”
“It is in your hands, sir in the form of butterfly” he replied with a smile.
As I sheepishly smiled back at my naivette, he said he can transform a 100 rupee note into a 500 rupee one. I thought he did produce a butterfly as promised for a tenner and why not trust him for a 500 rupee note that surely would be in my hands.. Greed overpowered my caution. I parted with a hundred rupee note.
But this time I decided I would be extremely careful in focusing all my attention on him. As he took the 100 rupee note and asked me to watch carefully, I heard for a second a hissing sound of a viper by my feet and involuntarily I jumped to see nothing near my feet. Meanwhile he held in his hand a crackling new 500 hundred rupee note. I took it with eagerness and turned it several times. When I asked him whether he can change one more hundred rupee note, he declined saying “It is my promise to my guru that I would not use this magic for profiteering or for personal benefit”
I walked back home happily thinking of my good fortune. I rang up my wife and told her of my good luck.
It was three days later when I met my good friend at Adyar and related to him about the man transforming a tenner to a butterfly, he interrupted me and asked whether I got a 500 rupee note fin lieu of a hundred. Surprised I asked him whether he had spoken to my wife, he chuckled and said “You are a sucker. That fellow has been cheating all gullible folks like you. The 500 rupee note you have is a counterfeit one. Go to bank and check it”
It was then that I remembered the sounds of the tune and the hiss and became aware he was a ventriloquist too besides being a magician.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Friday, October 11, 2013


green yellow,orange
ripening fruits, varied hues
an enchanting  fall

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The interview

(It is a bland story with no big twist)
The large door was pushed open by a security as I entered the imposing building. I had an appointment for interview with MD for staff officer’s position for the CEO. It was a middle rung position that carried enormous clout and influence from what I learnt from insiders. I had an impressive profile with a   famed B school diploma and experience in leading companies in the industry. I was taken to a large room where five others were waiting.
 I had a cursory look at them. One was short and stodgy in an ill fitting suit with buttons at the waist waiting to burst. Another one with two days stubble, a long side burn with disheveled hair looked like a zombie. There was another that stood out by his height a six foot plus something, a vacant look and lean like a scare crow giving the impression of getting blown away by a strong wind. The fourth seemed to be a character, highly tense biting his nails nonstop and twitching his lips, possibly worried about the interview. The fifth seemed a bit of a rival with a smart face but dressed horribly in a hurting yellow shirt, a tie that was askew in his collar and a trouser that could have been two inches longer. I am tall, curly hair, square jaw, sharp features and a mix of Hrithik, Salman and Ranbir all rolled into one and in a smart suit. A popular dude attracting females like ants to treacle, I had a way to push myself ahead of others in the work place.
Across the room there was a small table with one young lady in mid twenties seated in a chair and two other young things standing by her side. The lady in the chair was strikingly charming but there was an air of insolence by the way she turned and looked around. A clerk from HR she must be checking perhaps who had all turned up with the names in a list in her hand. I was the last to be called by her.
“Your name?” she asked
“Sandip, Sandip Saxena” I said
“Where is your profile, I mean CV?”
“I had sent it when applying. I haven’t brought it”
“Oh, should you not carry it when attending interview? If they ask a question about the profile, where will you refer?” she asked with certain irritability
“I had not thought about it”
“You seem to have a casual air about this interview and are not adequately prepared” she said
My temper rose as I heard muffled giggles from other guys and a stony look from the two girls. I thought to myself why this bitch from a lowly position in HR is making snide remarks. I quickly controlled my anger and put on a charming smile before saying “I hope you wouldn’t send me back. As for questions from the interviewer, I can handle him. Leave it to me and not be concerned”
“Far from it. Why should I be concerned when in fact you should really be about your gaffe?”
“Measure your words, Miss.As a reception clerk I would expect of you better civility in dealing with people” I said curtly and returned to my seat. The girls by her side were gaping at me, when the young lady left the place insouciantly with a leer in her face.
After about 30 minutes, the girl who came to announce the commencement of interview said the MD was busy elsewhere and that CEO would meet the candidates. One by one they were called in an interval of about 15 minutes and the candidates left by another exit. I was squirming in my seat waiting for my turn. I rued my forgetfulness to bring the CV and was seething in anger at the taunt by that young woman.
I was the last to be interviewed and was not sanguine about the outcome. I wished it ended fast. When I was called in, as you would have rightly guessed, it was the young lady, who was at the desk screening candidates’ papers, who was at CEO’s chair. I was shocked and started perspiring. As I wiped my face and neck with hanky, she said in pleasing voice “Mr.Sandip, please take your seat. Make yourself comfortable”
As she signaled someone, a glass of cool water was placed before me. She patiently waited for me to drink the water before she asked “Shall we start?”
“In your resume on page 2 you have mentioned about role responsibilities and in the second line you had mentioned…”she stopped with a mischievous smile in her face.
“What did I say?” I asked
“You should know better” she answered with a smile that did not fade.
“Sorry Madam. As I had mentioned I forgot to bring the resume” I replied with my face down
She let out a loud guffaw and said “it does not matter”
After many searching questions and answers about the various aspects of my work experience, she asked “how soon can you join? I need quickly someone to assist me, someone who is not forgetful but alert. Nothing uncivil I suppose in my expectations”
As I smiled rather foolishly, she extended her hand and said “I will give you a fortnight. I look forward to a  happy and fruitful association with you”
“Sorry Madam, I was indiscreet talking about incivility. Kindly excuse me” I said
“No, it was your anger that clinched the position in your favour.I hate timid guys” she remarked and accompanied me  up to the foyer as a gesture of goodwill.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Different smiles

With an alcoholic husband Muthu, Muniyamma worked in four houses to send her daughter Sunita to a good school. She did not want her to live miserably like her in a hut. Muthu beat Muniyamma every once in a while and took away her money. Even kerosene for the lamp for daughter was scarce

Sunita came home beaming with a laptop given as prize for being first.  Unusually smiling, Muniyamma showed it proudly to neighbours, Sunita reminded her that it needed electricity and net. Muniyamma’s smile disappeared instantly. Muthu smiled wondering how much money it will fetch for his booze

Written as a part of 100 words on Saturday at Write Tribe. The prompt being every once in a while.
100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The El Dorado

That was the last local. There were very few passengers in the train. Ravi had an hour’s journey to make. He chose a corner of the compartment to snatch some sleep. At the next station someone had boarded the train and came straight to the corner Ravi had chosen. There were four or five scattered passengers towards the other end.
“Lucky I could get into this train. I am told this is the last one”, he said
Ravi just nodded as he did not like this interruption to his sleep. But the fat man had other ideas possibly wished to chat during the entire journey.
“Do you take this last train daily? Are you working somewhere?” he asked.
“Yes, I work in an IT company and usually take the earlier train. I was held up today”
“Good. I know IT companies pay very well for the hard work you put in and work only five days. You must be married and living with your family”
Ravi did not respond and looked out at the passing lights and cars.
“I am sorry if I had asked you personal questions. I cannot resist asking as I have one qualified younger sister to be married.”
“It is okay. I am single and living alone.”
“Where do you live? I am in Egmore”
“I am also in Egmore” Ravi said with a smile
“I live in the first floor of the house adjacent to Hotel Simha.It is close to railway station”
“Won’t you  be disturbing your land lord going at this late hour?”
“No, there is separate staircase and entrance on the side. He may not even know when I come or go.”
“Being alone how do you spend time?”
I have my desktop, laptop, iPad, a small TV, DVD and musical instruments. I enjoy myself with these” said Ravi
“It is surprising we haven’t met so far. Any way please excuse me, I have an urgent call to make. Nice to meet you” said the fat guy
Ravi closed his eyes relieved that he had been let off by the bore so soon.
A short while later the fat guy dialed some number and talked almost in a whisper. Ravi thought he was considerate to him thinking he was asleep.
“Pandi, listen carefully. I am travelling in train and cannot talk loudly. One guy is beside me sleeping. I mentioned to you about that house in Ekattuthangal.I went to that area to inspect as there was some complaint about signal being weak. I assumed it was that house” and stopped talking turning to Ravi’s side. Finding Ravi sleeping he continued in very low voice”There was none in that house as no one answered the bell. I went to the rear side to see whether anyone was there. Finding none and curiosity overcoming caution, I gently pushed the door. To my great surprise it opened and the house bore no semblance of occupation.”
Ravi pretending to be asleep strained his ears to listen as the telephonic talk became intriguing.
“I am telling the truth, Pandi.It is no reel (imaginary falsehood).I gingerly walked in inspecting each room. They must be rich with all floors carpeted, top class furniture, curios etc.I was careful not to touch anything. Are you listening, Pandi? Here comes the important part. I swear you will not believe what I am going to tell you”
 Ravi could not contain his curiosity and strained every nerve to catch the conversation.
The fat man continued on the phone.”I went inside one large bedroom. There were three Godrej Almirahs.I suddenly panicked. What if someone comes and catches me in the house, I wondered. I would be branded a thief and handed over to police. Then I thought having come this far why not see a little more. I tried to open one almirah.It did not open. Then I tried the other. That too did not budge. When I tried the third, lo, it opened. In my amazement I opened the locker door and that was also unlocked. Believe me, there were wads and wads of currency notes may be running into several lakhs or crores in higher denomination. Must be ill gotten money stashed away, I presumed. I just took two wads .I had an apprehension it could be counterfeit as otherwise who would leave it unsecured. I closed the doors and left them as it was wiping the handles of any finger print. Without telling the source, I had two notes from the bundle checked by my bank friend. He said they are genuine.”
He turned to Ravi’s side and found him snoring mildly.”Pandi, listen carefully. Tomorrow sharp at 7am we will be there. As you come from the main road it is Third Street to left. There is a post box opposite the cream colored house. There are vacant plots on both sides. The fence is green shrubbery. Bring a sturdy bag with you. We should not be greedy and take a small portion each time.Good, so you will be there at 7 am sharp tomorrow.”
He saw Ravi in slumber and nudged him when the train reached Egmore station. Both got down and went their separate ways.
Ravi set the alarum at 5am and left in his motorbike by 530 next morning to Ekattuthangal to steal a march over the fat man and his accomplice .The directions were so clear, he thought, if the job were done smoothly, he would be rich. He was there by 6 am but could find no house with vacant plots on either side or one with a green fence and a post box opposite. Could it be 2nd street or 4th street? He roamed hither and thither till he finally gave up his hunt.
When he returned home disappointed and climbed the stairs tiredly, he found to his shock the door ajar and every little thing in his place taken away.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rupa's grandma

Grandma was dying. The family physician who had come to examine her called Rupa aside and said
“Sorry, Rupa, your grandma’s final hour has come. It is a matter of days, one or two at the most. Pick up courage and do not break down. Take heart that you have been taking care of her single handed all these years. But send word to your uncle. If you need any help, you can call me” said the kind and elderly doctor.
“Thank you doctor for coming. I am really scared. I am afraid I will be a destitute without her. She is the only person in the world who is kind to me” she said and started weeping.
“Do not worry as long as I am there. I will send someone to help you. But your uncle will surely come to take possession of this house” he said as he patted her comfortingly.
She hurried to grandma’s room and sat by her side caressing her arm.
“What does he say? the old lady asked feebly
“It is just old age and extreme exhaustion, grandma.I will get you some horlicks. You will feel better”
“Not now, a little later. I wish to tell you something. Come closer. Listen carefully”
Rupa snuggled closer to grandma putting her arm around her body.
“Rupa, I don’t need our doctor to tell me that my end is near. My only regret and worry is that I am leaving you alone unsettled in this wide world.Eversince your parents died in a train accident, I have been bringing you up. They were both young when they died. My daughter was such an affectionate and good person. Luckily you have imbibed all her good traits. Your uncle was all right initially and was very fond of you. He changed after his marriage and went to live separately. Your aunt never took a liking for both of us and weaned her husband away from you. They rarely visit me as you know. Luckily I have a roof and some pension from government that I could take care of you” she stopped as she started coughing
“Grandma, take rest. We can talk later. Sleep for a while. I will be here by your side”
“No, I must finish telling you now itself. Give me some water.” She continued after sipping the water
“The first thing your aunt would do after I die is to throw you out of this house. She will not allow you to take anything. My son is henpecked and would not protest. I have spoken to the doctor. Go to him. He will do the needful. You are qualified and can take up a job. Find a good man of your choice and marry him.”Grandma could not continue talking.
“How sweet of you to be so concerned grandma. I can take care of myself .Do not worry. My only regret is I will miss you” she said as tears flowed from her eyes
“Do not cry, my dear. It makes me sad. I wish to die seeing you in smile. One second, lest I forget” she said as she took from under the pillow a hand bag that was dirty looking and old with sides in shreds.”Keep it with you safely in your box as a memento. Do not part with it or tell that I gave you. In case she finds it out and asks tell her it is yours. Let me sleep for a while. Do not go away. Hold my hand” she said as she closed her eyes.
That was the last she spoke. A week later, her aunt said “We are planning to sell this house. Make your own arrangements after the ceremonies are over.”Her uncle who was standing beside her did not interrupt her.
Rupa said” I can go now itself and will attend the ceremonies of grandma daily. Give me 30 minutes to have a wash and take my things. They are only my daily wear clothes”
“Where will you go? I don’t want others to blame us that we drove you out”
“I expected this and have taken a room in our doctor’s house till such time I get a regular place. Thanks for the concern. I will be here in 30 minutes” Rupa said as she went to her room.
As she came to the hall with a small box and carry bag, her aunt said rather curtly “Open them and show us what you are taking”
Rupa could not suppress her tears at the humiliation but opened the box and bag to empty the contents.”What is that dirty dog eared bag? Whose is that?”
“It is mine. You can have a look”
“Take it away. Who would touch that stinking bag? Has your grandma given you anything?”
“Yes in plenty” Rupa replied
“What is that? Show me. I suspected something like that”
“Nothing tangible. Only her affection”
“Take her abundant affection with you and get lost” said her aunt in a dismissive way.
The doctor and his wife welcomed Rupa warmly. After some pleasantries, he asked whether grandma had given her anything.
“Nothing except a bag, a memento as she called. But that is my prized possession”
“Can I have a look?”asked the doctor.
He opened the tattered bag and found to his disappointment that it was empty.
The doctor’s wife wished to see and as she carefully ran her fingers, she shouted “There is something here. “
They tore the thick inner lining and found a small key with a note.”My dear Rupa. Go to ABC bank with doctor. This key is for the locker with a number on it. You are a nominee. I have bequeathed this large portion of my jewels for you. I have kept some in the house lest they become suspicious and harass you. Take doctor’s help. You will have enough to live comfortably. Take up  a job.Blessings.Grandma”
Doctor’s wife put her arm around Rupa and comforted her as she started crying uncontrollably thinking of her grandma’s concern and kindness.