Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The button

Inspector Khanna was in a corner of Green garden bar leisurely sipping whisky diluted with water. There was nothing to give away that he was a policeman. He looked a sturdy body builder in his blue jeans and T shirt that scarcely concealed his slightly protruding tummy. The sense of urgency and anxiety in his face could be seen through the façade of calm as his eyes repeatedly flitted between the entrance to the bar and  inside. The Commissioner wanted the case cracked within  two days and from his tone he could feel the pressure on him from very top source.
The headlines of dailies and the TV channels were already screaming loud about the fifth rape within a month and the total lack of safety on the roads for women after dusk. It looked as though in public eye the police were either complicit by their indifference or indirectly responsible for the occurrence of every assault on women. A young woman in mid twenties was dragged two days before into a moving vehicle around 8pm in a busy thoroughfare and gang raped by three individuals before dropping her around 1 am in the outskirts of the city. A PCR van noticed the unconscious woman on the road and admitted her in a hospital. Gang rape was confirmed by the hospital
Normally after initial media attention and the frenzy it created, such news fades away from public memory when another important or titillating news claims precedence. But in this case the highly qualified and working woman happened to be politically connected. The woman could not give much lead as it was dark in the vehicle except three young men between 25 and  30 were involved and that one who raped her first had a button on one ear. She could not remember their faces or the make of the car but said it was a big one as they raped her in the rear seat. Police had announced a reward of five lakhs from her parents for a clue that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators
Khanna had received a call from an unknown informant to come to Green garden bar at 9 pm and that he would help him in identifying the rogues. The bar was busy with many tables occupied. It was 9pm and there was no semblance of the informant. Khanna had given him details of what he would be wearing. He looked around lazily. He saw some couples, some girls in different groups, three young men at another corner and an old man with loud voice demanding immediate attention. These were besides three plain clothes men whom Khanna had asked to occupy vantage points. They were armed.
It was nearing 930 p.m. Khanna was restless and wondered whether the call was a hoax. After 15 minutes he asked the waiter to bring his bill. After a couple of minutes the waiter went first  to the three men to give their bill and then came to Khanna with his bill.
When Khanna opened the folder, he saw a slip “The three men in black, orange T shirt and one in kurta at the other corner are your quarry” The waiter had left the table in the meanwhile. As Khanna stood up, his men also stood at different tables. As Khanna closed in with his hand on his hip towards the three young men, they took out their revolvers and shot at random to scare him away. But Khanna’s men unnoticed by them shot them dead. Two were shot in chest and the third got shot at his jaw ripping the ear and smashing the face and head.Everyone had seen the three started firing first.
Khanna beamed with satisfaction and told the customers who were huddled in a corner “All is over. It is safe now. Carry on.” After his men took the bodies in an ambulance to hospital, he left the scene happily having accomplished his mission of nabbing the three wanted culprits, dead or alive.
After everyone had left the restaurant, the waiter took the button from his pocket and wore it on his ear.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The mysterious power

I was sitting in the park a little away from my apartment watching the children play merrily and the cacophonous noise they created. Some youngsters were jogging while some oldies ambled along on what they considered a walk. A candy man was seen making large sugar candies cotton like in red color crowded by eager children. I could see amid the bushes young things in love snuggled close to each other. I enjoy this evening time watching everyone happy. True some urchins or beggars come to me seeking alms but they never return disappointed. I do not like company and prefer solitude. I choose vacant benches.
As I was munching Brittania Good day biscuits enjoying music in my iPhone, a slightly built old man in a white pajama and ochre colored kurta came and sat by my side. There were strings of beads, tulsi, rudhraksha on his neck and sandal was applied on his forehead. I moved slightly to make him sit comfortable. He smiled at me and said to no one in particular that weather is fine. I nodded my head and proffered the biscuit packet.
“Do you live here? I come to the park daily and haven’t seen you so far” I asked
“I am a nomad and never stay in one place. You can say peripatetic: he replied
“What do you do for living?”
“Should anyone do anything for living? Breathing is involuntary till one’s hour comes” he said with an impish smile.
“Very true. Still one gets hungry and need a place to sleep” I said
He looked upward and said “He takes care of everything. Would you like to have some mysterious power?”he asked
“What power? What do I do with it?”
“You see, no one knows when his/her time has come. I hereby vest in you the power to know one day earlier or even lesser time  when a person’s end will come. You have just to look at his eyes intently and the answer will come in your mind. Do not divulge to others  this power of yours lest it stops working”
“Why should I know? If God has willed that it remains a secret, so be it” I said
“True. But you can help in little ways to reduce the immensity of the blow. You should not however tell the other person what you know. You are desisted from using it for making money. It will not work for you. I have transferred the power already to you” he said and walked away  briskly.
Two days my neighbour’s father from adjacent apartment met me and asked for 15G form for IT purposes as I generally have spare copies. Involuntarily I looked at his eyes intently of course and was shocked by the realization that he had only two days to live.
“What are you seeing?” he asked
“I thought your left eye is slightly reddish in color.”
“Could be as it was itching”
“Ok uncle. I will get the form from post office and give you. Please do not stir out” I said. I was feeling uneasy thereafter and could not sleep well. I wished I had not the power given to me or it did not work.
On the second day as I was having my dinner, my wife came running and said in a shocked tone “our neighbour’s dad had a sudden massive attack and expired 30 minutes back even before medical help could reach. He was hale and hearty with no complaints.”
When I looked at her blankly without emotion, she asked “Did you hear what I told you?”
“Yes, it is sad and shocking news” I said. I could see a trace of worry in her face.
I started looking for the man in ochre kurta to take back the power. He was not seen. The burden of power was sitting heavily on me and I was afraid of looking at the eyes of others. My son asked me one day “What is wrong with you? You are not looking at the eyes when talking to us and turn your head sideways. People may mistake you”. I mumbled that it is nothing and may be a new habit to be got rid off.
The next day as I was in the park looking for the man,a young girl of my building complex came running to me and said “Grandpa, where is the biscuit you usually give me?”As I gave her a couple of them, I chanced to see her eyes and was stunned to see that her time was just two hours. I gave her the entire packet and was about to ask where her mom was when she came running looking for the girl.
“Please take the child home immediately” I said with certain urgency in my tone,
“Why uncle? We came only a few minutes back” she replied.
Impatiently I shouted “Don’t argue with me. When I say take her home, please do what I tell you”. She gave me a strange and hurt look as she took the child along with her.
Next day morning as I was having my shave, my wife came silently behind me and said "Sad news again. You know Lalitha, the good looking and curly haired lady on the fifth floor. Her young daughter got electrocuted last evening when she meddled with some electric plug. Lalitha is inconsolable. Shall we go and meet them?”
“No, you please go” I said.My wife looked at me somewhat strangely.
That evening as I was sitting with a heavy heart in the park, the ochre kurta man suddenly appeared before me .I recounted the two sad incidents and pleaded with him to take back the power. He said “No need. It will not bother you anymore, I am sure” he said and left abruptly even as I was thanking him.
Little did I notice that he looked intently with his power  at my eyes before he replied as he did.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The romance in the library

As he was skimming through a book in the library, he heard some books falling from the rack and turned around to see a young woman standing on a short stool and reaching for a book on the top shelf. He rushed to her side, collected the books lying on the floor and kept them on the top shelf.
“Thank you so much. I could have myself collected and kept them” she said softly.
“No chance of that without your triggering another rain of books. You are two inches short of reaching the top shelf. I am Sohan by the way” he smiled
She wrinkled her nose and said “That is rather a mean remark. I come here regularly and take my books without any hassle. Today someone had replaced the books haphazardly. Anyway, I am Shalini.”
“Sorry, I was just kidding. Point out the book I will get it for you” he said. He was a tall, muscular guy in jeans and T-shirt. He looked handsome. She was not really short and was fetching in her jeans and kurti.
She pointed out a brown covered book and when he took it out unluckily the adjacent book fell down. She could not suppress her glee and had her mouth covered with her palms. He made faces at her
“Thank you. Do you now agree that it is not the height but the shabby stacking of books the reason? Readers do not replace properly”
“Hmm, are you studying or researching, Miss Shalini?
“Call me Shalu.Yes; I am doing research that is nearing completion. I come here on Tuesdays and Fridays. What do you do?
“Some freelancing professional. I come frequently here but from now on will try to make it on Tuesdays and Fridays” he said with a mischievous wink.
Thus began their friendship and they visited the library almost five days a week and spent long time talking under the shade of a big tree outside and having coffee in the restaurant. It soon graduated to love that grew in its intensity steadily. The weekends looked long and dreary. Except at the library, she never met him outside. She had kept their love away from her parents and wished to divulge only when she got a job after getting her doctorate. She was waiting for a call to defend her thesis. She wanted a year more to marry. Meanwhile he was pressing her for immediate marriage. Though she inwardly yearned for him she did not allow him to get fresh with her beyond holding hand or giving a hug. He wanted more and pressurized her to come out with him to spend a couple of days in some resort. She refused emphatically and told him to keep within boundaries if he really wanted her.
But there was a still a nagging doubt about him as Sohan never spoke about his job or for whom he was working in detail. He must be doing well as he came in car and was always well dressed and had expensive tastes from the brands he was using. He did not share his mobile number with her though he had one. He met her only in the library. Something secretive about him and his job that put her ill at ease.Shalu tried many time to probe but he smiled away.
There was one another thing that bothered her since the day before. It was a Friday. He did not turn up. She felt miserable with head ache and went to Coffee day. After she ordered a regular coffee, she saw unseen by them, Sohan and a very charming tall lady. They were chatting warmly and Sohan was seen laughing frequently. He had never laughed like this when with her. Just a smile and occasionally a pat on her shoulder or a hug. This lady was totally on a different league and looked from her mannerisms and the clipped talk a no-nonsense lady. Shalini felt utterly cheated and left quietly without being seen
She stopped visiting library for a week and spent time crying in her room cursing her luck and his betrayal. Even her mom was concerned. When she went to Library to refer to some important subject, the lady assistant smiled at her and said “Your friend is coming daily and enquiring about you. Did you not communicate with him? It seems he wants to convey some urgent message” and gave Shalu an envelope.
Hi Shalu, Where had you been? I am visiting library daily only to find you missing. I wish to tell you some recent developments.. Can we meet this Friday at 10 am in the library? This is crucial. Sohan
What a cheek he has to ask her to meet him for breaking the news of his leaving her with his new found attraction, she thought. She could not suppress her tears at being ditched. Seeing her pale face, the library assistant asked with concern “Is everything ok?”Shalini nodded her head and hurried back home. She did not stir out on Friday or Saturday and was confined to her room
It was 11 am Monday morning. She was getting ready to go to library when there was a ring on her mobile. It was from the assistant in the library.”Sorry to disturb you madam. I am Stella from the library. One lady has come here and asked for you. She wants to meet you urgently and prefers the library instead of your home. Can you please come?”
“Who did she say she is? Anyway I will be there in 15 minutes.”
When she entered the library, Stella took her to a room inside. There the lady whom she saw with Sohan at Coffee Day was waiting for her.
After Stella left the room, she said “I am Mekala from Police. We have received complaints that one handsome man in stolen car has been cheating young women telling he was well employed and luring them into marriage. He would often elope with woman, enter into a fake marriage and after a few months desert her taking herr money and jewel. Many of them were hesitant to lodge a complaint. A young woman came forward last week and lodged a complaint. Since he looked decent, I wished to make sure of his real character. I befriended him and met him at a restaurant. I found him slippery and never gave any details about him. He started making advances and I played along telling that we would meet again.. Then I heard about his frequent visits to library and came to know about you from Stella. I will arrest him immediately on the woman’s complaint and may need your statement to strengthen the case. Stay away from him. He is a rogue and ruined a few girls and left them in lurch. I am sure you being an educated woman would not have gone too far.”
Stella came in and said Sohan was in the hall searching for Shalini.Mekala rushed out to nab him. When Shalini came out after a while, she saw him in hand cuffs with venom in his eyes. When he saw her, he swore at her calling her a bitch when one of the plainclothesman with Mekala gave him a hard whack. Shalini shuddered at the thought of how close she was to her certain doom.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bandipur mystery

Mohan, a taxi driver, was returning back from Ooty to Mysore through Bandipur National Park known for its elephant and tiger reserve. Though he had travelled many times in this picturesque route studded with variety of trees and had come across elephants, spotted deer, monkeys, different birds like peacock and eagles, the journey never staled. This day he had not seen the usual tourist traffic possibly because of forecast of heavy rain. There was however no rain and the weather was humid. He was in the middle of forest and it was slightly dark .His bladder was full and stopped to relieve himself.
As he was drinking water from a Bisleri bottle, a dark skinny figure clad only around the waist appeared before him. He had matted hair and long beard. The eyes were deep with a faraway look. He did not utter a word but looked at him and the bottle. Mohan opened the car and took out another bottle with cool water and gave it to him saying “Please drink. The weather is highly humid”
He hesitated for a while looking at him intently before he accepted. He drank the whole bottle in one go. Mohan felt pity for him and gave him another bottle saying “You keep it with you. You seem to be very thirsty. Have you taken any food? Here are two plantains.”
In what appeared as a smile, he bared his yellow teeth and nodded his head in satisfaction. When Mohan turned to reach his car, the man said “Just one minute” and looked around on the ground for something. He picked an old horse shoe and cleaned it with his cloth. Holding in his palms, he closed his eyes and mumbled something for a couple of minutes. As Mohan was getting impatient, he opened his eyes and gave him the horseshoe and said “Keep it carefully. It will grant you two wishes if you hold it between two palms” Before Mohan could ask anything he had just vanished as abruptly as he came.
He was amused and started driving back to Mysore. Suddenly he had the urge to try his luck. He has been dreaming to own car for tourist taxi purposes hut had no money. Who knows if the bearded man were a siddha with some occult powers, he thought to himself. He stopped the vehicle and ensured no one was around. He stood facing East side and held the horse shoe in his palms after cleaning it. He closed his eyes repeated his wish “I want a crore of rupees” twice. Nothing happened and no one appeared before him. He looked around and there was no semblance of money or a clue.
Disappointed he drove the car cursing his luck and his unrealized dream. He would have driven for about 30 minutes on the desolate road. To his great surprise, he found a suit case on the left side of the road a little ahead. The car screeched  to a halt there and he opened the box to find wads of 1000 rupee notes. He could not believe his luck and gratefully remembered the siddha purusha. He hid the money by spreading it in the boot of the car and covered it with bed sheet. He threw the box away and was in cloud nine as he drove the car thinking of what model and how many cars to buy. The dream is now within his reach and his life would be changed. He can now find a good girl and marry.
A little while later he found the road  blocked by a barricade by the policemen. When he stopped the car one policeman ordered him to open the trunk. They were checking cars that carried freebies, liquor bottles and also cash for distribution as elections were close by. When they found the money and questioned him its source he mumbled horse shoe, siddha and the wish. They slapped him and took him to the lockup in the nearby police station. Some other policemen came and questioned him further. Much to their annoyance,he could not tell them more than he saw the suit case and took the money. He could not explain why he threw the suitcase. They tortured him to make him sing. His talking about the man who granted him wish infuriated them. They beat him blue and left him hungry without even water for hours. He never knew when he would be let out or sent to jail. The whole body ached with bruises all over.
He looked around. There were no windows save a small opening at the top of wall that was high with no means for an escape. As he was feeling bad at the adverse turn of circumstances, he felt the small horseshoe in his hip pocket. He took it out and kept in his palms. As he surveyed the situation, he knew there was no away to get out unless he was a monkey. A few minutes later the locked door to the lockup opened and a policeman with an inspector entered. To their great shock, the driver was not to be seen. They looked up at the ventilator 14 feet high. No one can jump that high and it was physically impossible. Trace alerts were sent
Tourists driving along Bandipur forest have been observing of late a monkey with a horseshoe in its palms looking curiously at every passerby.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The wait at the railway station

I was waiting at the small railway station. It was cool with big trees lined along the station. I have been here for more than two hours. Three passenger trains stop either way at this wayside station for two minutes or so. The next train was expected in an hour. There were no other passengers seen on the only platform. A couple of cattle were seen chewing the cud at the far end. One man was sleeping a little yonder, must be a beggar. There was no waiting room. I was feeling hungry and opened the packet that my niece had given me. The aroma of pan cakes (dosa) with chili powder smeared on them triggered my appetite further. I had come to a village that was a few miles away from station. There was no water with me. I remembered a small shop outside the station but was hesitant to go leaving my luggage behind. I looked around. It was only then I spotted a young boy of about ten years watching me from the entrance gate. His curly hair needed a cut. He had good features, dark and skinny and his eyes were glued on me. He came running instantly when I called him.”Can you get me a water bottle from the shop outside?” I requested him proffering a twenty rupee note. In a trice he brought it. When I opened the box I found many pancakes and turned to look at the boy to find he had receded to his corner. I called him again.
“Have these two dosas. Do you live in the vicinity? Are you studying?”
He started eating with relish and replied “Yes, I live close to station with my uncle. I am not studying.”
“How come at this young age you are not attending school. Are there no schools nearby? There is one of course a few kilometers away from where I came.”
He kept quiet for some time. I prodded him for an answer giving him one more dosa.That did the trick.
“I am an orphan and living with my father’s cousin. My aunt has not taken kindly to my coming to live with them. She stopped me from school and make me help her in the chores. They have two cows and I take the milk to distribute to customers. I also take care of the animals, cleaning the shed, washing them and such like.”
“That is totally cruel. Why don’t you tell your uncle?”
“I did and got beating from both for complaining ungratefully when they were giving a shelter and food. I stopped asking and reconciled to my fate. I thought of running away but am afraid.”
“Would you like to come with me to the city? I will take care of you. I have a girl younger than you to play with. You can go to the best school. I will come next month. Decide in the meanwhile. I will talk to your uncle then. It is late this time”
“Thank you, uncle.When will you come? Please come soon. I wish to attend school”. I saw his eyes were moist.
Meanwhile the train entered the station with much noise. Soon after there was some activity and from no where a few passengers appeared and one or two got down from the train. The station master in his white uniform and with red and green flags came running towards me, may be because I was the only well dressed guy from the city.
“I failed to meet you earlier as I was held up elsewhere. Which village are you coming from? I have seen you coming to this place earlier occasions too.
“I came to meet my niece in Vaidhyanathapuram village for day.I haven’t met you also earlier” 
Meanwhile I saw the boy standing at the entrance to the station. I turned to station master and asked him ”Do you see that young boy yonder? Do you know him and his background by any chance?”
“Why, did he give any trouble to you/”he asked anxiously
“No, not at all, I just wished to know”
“He is my son, Mahalingam by name. A very intelligent boy, he is a topper in his class. He is multi-talented. With his prodigious memory, he can recite some chapters from Bhagavat Gita and Narayaneeyam.He can mimic actors like Rajini, Salman Khan and even talk like Amitabh Bachan.He takes part in all histrionic activities in school. He plays chess very well. Very obedient boy but given to pranks he plays on gullible people. Strangers often come to me and complain about him to my embarrassment. That is the only flaw. What did he tell you?”
I said “Nothing special”
There was a long whistle and the train started moving even as the station master waved his green flag. I turned towards the entrance and saw the boy putting his tongue out with thumb on his nose and waving his fingers at me. I could not suppress my smile.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Empowerment of women

This post confines to women in India
If more than fifty percent of population comprising of women have not obtained their rightful share and empowerment in social, political and cultural spheres, it speaks poorly of the country. What the growing women’s movement seeks is not a favour but a legitimate right. If the demand by others for reservation is on the basis of percentage of their population and the plea that they have been oppressed and suppressed in the past, it applies with greater force in the case of women. Sadly this movement is limited to the educated class amongst women and mostly in urban areas. It has not made any dent in the rural areas where the plight of women is at its worst.
The awareness to their inalienable right of equality with men and what it can do to change their lives is not extensive. The equality we talk about is not confined to social sphere but extends to political, economic, educational areas too with a larger participation consistent with the size of their population. A few sops here and there would not help much.
As a first step it is only their political empowerment that would usher the desired changes in innumerable areas where there is presently gender discrimination and inequality. The opening of white and blue collared jobs reserved for men till now to a few educated womenfolk does not signify things have been set right. India still ranks low among nations in the gender gap index. Indian women figure unfavorably in several parameters like literacy, mortality, child mortality, jobs, and comparable wages with men, sex ratio, post and prenatal care and their place in society. It would be naïve to expect men alone  to bring about the much needed changes. The key lies only in their political empowerment where they would have an equal say if not more in guiding their destinies.
The promise to bring about a Women’s representation Act would ever remain unfulfilled unless pressure is brought upon the political class. The legislatures should be filled by women say 33% at least to start with. This should not become a political farce with family members of the existing political class replacing the men. The presence of large number of women legislators drawn from ordinary families in rural and smaller towns would bring greater sensitivity to the women’s issues..
This political empowerment of women alone would transform the society from its patriarchal nature to one of gender neutral social order. We should strive for an order when the women are able to feel that all laws of the country are equal and that they enjoy all the options that men have.. While the percentage of girls up to school level is almost equal to those of boys, surprisingly the ratio drops down significantly at higher levels of learning.  . Equal presence in the educational institutions and employment is the first prerequisite towards empowerment and economic independence. What are the existing social and financial barriers that prevent this happening?
Women’s movement should not be content only with dowry deaths, domestic violence against women, immoral traffic, female feticide and such like matters but should transcend to the vital areas like the way society looks upon women. This movement should spread across the entire country to tap their hidden strength. Sadly the women’s movement is isolated to small pockets of influential women and is not representative in character of the wider cross section. The composition of the movement should be inclusive of all strata of society, all religions, literate and illiterate and all income groups. They can enlist the support of willing men to organize and spread the message.

 Where women’s issues are concerned, they should speak in one voice cutting across all party affiliations as otherwise the movement would suffer 

Festival of Words – International Women’s Day 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

55 Word Fiction

His pride,others'envy
Being a cynosure of all eyes, even married men covet me.
They bend backwards to win me.
Many come eagerly to have me only to get rejected ruthlessly.
Finally I settle for the best, his pride and others' envy.
But I will surely desert him if he doesn't deserve me
I am Wimbledon men’s cup

He was rejected. This was his 15th interview
Disappointed he bought four packets of rat poison
Declined dinner, lay on bed and was watching ceiling aimlessly
Mom came and asked “Why are you morose?
You will get next time, don’t worry. Did you get what I asked you?
Yes, kept four packets on table.

The wink                                                                      
We were waiting for coffee at Coffee Day.
I saw a man winking at my wife
“Do you know him?”
“No” even as he winked again
“Tell me truth.”
When she affirmed, I grabbed his collar
He winked at me and pushed my hands
When I was about to hit, he repeatedly twitched his eyelashes 
Write Tribe Festival of Words 3 - Day 6 -55W Fiction

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The young man’s impulse

“Vasu, please hurry to the hospital. The blood bank wants six units of blood that your grandpa would need for his heart surgery. There was a call last evening. Find out whether any of your friends are willing to donate. I will be going to hospital after the chores in the house. Do not wait for me” his mother was loudly telling from the kitchen
Vasu knew she was very much tensed about her dad’s health. Grandpa was staying with them after grandma’s demise a few years back. A disciplinarian with traditional values grandpa was generally critical of Vasu’s carefree and leisurely ways. There were constant clashes when mom would intervene and tell her dad to leave Vasu alone. Vasu generally kept away from grandpa..
When Vasu reached the grandpa’s cabin, he saw his uncle talking to the chief cardiologist. He waited till the doctor left. It transpired that on second thoughts the doctor would not recommend surgery keeping in mind  some new development in his health and would instead try medication for some months.
His uncle told Vasu “I do not see the need for blood. You may go to blood bank and cancel your appointment for their drawing your blood. You may come here thereafter and relieve me so I could go home.”
When Vasu went to the blood bank and had the appointment cancelled, he saw an old woman in conversation with the nurse in charge. She did not look affluent and appeared drawn from lower middle class. The nurse said “Your husband would need minimum eight units of blood. His blood group is also not the common variety. Kindly arrange to bring some donors of any blood group. Otherwise you may have to buy the blood and this may be costlier than others.”’
"I have only a daughter who herself is not well off. I do not know anyone who would be willing to give blood. I asked some of my neighbours but they are reluctant..I do not have much money to buy. I really do not know where to go for help” she started sobbing.
Vasu who had never experienced any difficulty in life was moved at the pitiable plight of the old woman. He went on an impulse to her and said “Patti (grandma), do not worry. I will give my blood right now. I came to give my blood for my grandpa. What if, if the blood is not for him but for another grandpa?”
He asked the nurse to draw the blood. To her surprise Vasu’s blood group matched the old man’s unusual group. After the formalities and blood was drawn he took leave of them. He rushed to his uncle but did not tell him why he was held up.
The story did not end there. The next day the same elderly nurse at the blood bank was surprised to see in the morning Vasu standing before her with seven friends of his and asking her to draw blood from them on the account of the old woman for whom he had given blood the previous day. All the youngsters in fine health were beaming with smile at the new experience of donating their blood.
She said” I have seen people bringing relatives and friends to donate blood for their patients. This is the first time I see a young man bringing with him a gang of his friends to give blood for someone whom he does not know, whom he has not seen and whom he may not meet. I am so happy with you. Your mom is indeed blessed to have a son like you. I will tell the old woman when she comes here. You have wiped the tears off her eyes.”
"The purpose of life is not to be happy: but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all" Leo Rosten  Festival of Words Day 5–  an inspiring story

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How much to trust?

When a father asks his child who is standing on a book shelf to jump in his arms, it does unhesitatingly. It has a complete trust in his dad and a belief that he will come to no harm .That kind of trust is never possible in this cynical world where we believe that we are vulnerable when we trust someone. But without some trust can the world move on? Do we not walk on the road peacefully trusting that other vehicle users of road follow the rules? Do we not send young children out to play believing no one will take them away? Can there be love and joy without some basic trust in human goodness?
When we go to a doctor and get some medicines prescribed, we trust his judgment implicitly and take the medicines. Likewise when we buy medicines from chemists, we believe that they are not duplicates or fakes. We do not weigh the packets bought at grocery store. In our day to day transactions we trust people to a large extent as otherwise life would become unhappy. There may be disappointments on a few occasions no doubt but we should learn to live with it and not distrust everyone. Someone put it ‘You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.”
Trust is based on the belief that others have confidence in you and your ability and will not take unfair advantage of you. It is the ability to create relationships with others based on mutual respect and caring. Good friends never betray your trust.
 Uncongenial atmosphere of hate or lack of love, divorced parents, emotional and physical abuse, broken relationship, death of close relative, chronic illness and low self esteem could all lead to lack of trust and suspicion. Getting over this is not easy without constant practice and motivation from others. I would put a strong faith in God as the first step. This belief that He would take care of your troubles would gradually reduce the mistrust and enable you to ‘let go’ the hurts and disappointments. Mingling and living with positive minded people would provide the healing environment. Overcoming unwanted fears, developing self esteem in one’s capabilities and building trusting relationships after due care would be the way to go about to get over this malaise.
This is written for WriteTribe Festival of Words Day 3 - Prompt Free write.

Monday, March 3, 2014

An appealing temple blog

This post has been written as a part of Festival of words at Write tribe. The prompt for today, show some blog love
It would be rather difficult and unfair to choose one or two among the many that I like. Lest I miss today’s assignment I have chosen one blog for its uniqueness of its theme. South India abounds in temples big and small, some with hoary past built by kings and emperors of the Pallava, Chozha and Chera dynasties. Many of them are renowned pilgrimage centres.But the blog covers unknown temples difficult to access containing equally great idols of gods and goddesses and beautiful architecture.
Chitra Manohar of My Pilgrimage-
( has taken much pains to travel to all the nooks and corners of the country  to visit the temples. The posts containing all salient details of the temple, about their specialties are accompanied by beautiful pictures of the temples. Though I belong to this part of the country I came to know of many temples thanks to her blog. She has a jewelry blog also

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The kiss in public

Kiss her in public, I will give you money
I cannot do publicly
Take it or leave it
Hmm…will she like it?
Don’t bother. She would not mind.
Why this strange condition?
To ensure you stop asking me for money again
Okay, I need money badly
He produced an ugly looking damp frog to kiss

This 55 word story was written as a response to Write Tribe Festival of Words 3 - 9 Sentence Fiction

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The interview

Roopa Ghosh wound through the crowded roads in a three wheeler. She had just 30 minutes to reach Chittaranjan Park for her appointment at 4pm.Had she known the previous day she would have been well prepared. It was only when she reached her office at 2 pm, she found a slip on her desk from the Editor. It read
”Mr. Nakul Goswami, the celebrated author, has agreed to give an interview at 4PM today. Meet him at 24, RT road, CR Park sharp at the appointed time. Carry slips of paper for questions and answers as he is deaf-mute. His latest book Doubting God has already become a best seller for the year and a heated topic for discussion in literary circles. Can I have your report day after tomorrow? I wish to carry it in this weekend edition. Cheers, Som”
She knew this book was popular and much in demand though it is in her shelfari under books to be read. She quickly ran thro Wikipedia and the net to know about the man, his background and his literary output. She read some rave reviews and jotted down some points in her diary. There was a tinge of envy when she found he was just 34 and already famous as a writer with a few more books in the pipeline and possibly already wealthy. She looked at the mirror, had a small touch up, applied lipstick and sprayed gentle perfume. She did not want to look like a sun beaten reporter with a disheveled hair.
She rang the bell a minute before 4pm and was ushered into the study where Nakul Goswami was waiting for her. She greeted him with folded hands and he reciprocated by extending his arm. She shook his hands warmly. Both smiled at each other without a word. There was a twinkle in his eyes and looked younger for his age and was very handsome. The hair was slightly receding but it only enhanced his charm. He sat opposite to her at the mahogany table in the spacious well furnished air conditioned room. They kept silent for a few moments when Roopa scribbled her question in a slip.
“I am Roopa Ghosh from Bharat Times. I am fortunate to meet a celebrated author for the first time. I visualized a serious looking person and am pleasantly surprised to see a young man who has achieved so much within this young age. I have read enough about you though I must confess I have not read your latest book Doubting God.I will do within the next two days. My interview will not be about the book but more about you, your life and motivations” She handed over the slip and kept the bunch of slips on the table under a paper weight.
He read it and laughed aloud. He wrote”You have a sweet name and an apt one too. I was actually looking for a middle aged guy with three days stubble and not a young lady. Before we start tell me what will you have, tea or fruit juice?” and gave the slip.
She signaled a no with a wave of her hand but he ignored her and rang the bell.”I appreciate your honesty in telling that you have not read my book. Tell me about you before we proceed with the interview. How long are you with this daily? You look in your early twenties. Where are your parents? What is your goal in life?”
“I am not that young and am 27.I live in Motibagh with my parents. My dad is government official.I did graduation in English literature and have a degree in Journalism. I am with this daily for nearly two years and wish to be a writer like you. Can I now start asking you questions?”
“Wow! We are birds of the same feather, a writer and a budding writer. We are both Bengalis too, he he. Okay, shoot your questions”
‘Born in a Bengali family where Maa Kali is held in great reverence, the title of your book Doubting God is intriguing. Are you not a believer?”
“Good question. My mother is a very pious lady doing all pujas and observing rituals. My dad is also a devotee but not very demonstrative. Much to my mom’s disappointment, I am an agnostic. I don’t interfere with her beliefs and gladly eat the sweet prasad she makes. May be when I grow old I may change or may not. I do not discuss this with others though the book is about an agnostic converted later by his lover. I am sure you must be a great devotee of Goddess Durga.”
“Yes, I am very pious and pray twice daily. Now coming to your writing, you are already an icon among the youngsters after the release of this best seller. What were the motivations of taking up such a theme? Can I say that it sounds like autobiographical after knowing your beliefs?”
“It is simply like this. I do not know whether god exists or not. I am not sure like others. So when I write a book this unsureness about god unconsciously reflected in the story. It is a theme that is known to me and has been discussed in the novel. As in all novels there is a woman in it and inevitably a romance. I wished to give a happy ending and made the agnostic succumb to her persuasions.Ofcourse she could not prove the existence of god but he found it comforting to agree with his beloved. Please note he is not an atheist who refuses to believe in god but only professes his lack of knowledge about existence of God”
“Do you mean an agnostic is a cowardly or a weak atheist vulnerable to romantic persuasions?”
“Haha, I think love is a powerful emotion. Won’t you agree?”
“I have no idea. I have had no lover” she laughed and he joined her
Meanwhile the help brought a tray full of sandesh, rosgollla and singharas with tea
They talked for quite some time through the slips of course about the initial difficulties in publishing a book, the disappointments of rejections, the unexpected break and finally when the book is out the tremendous response from readers. They talked about the publishers who rejected initially making a beeline with new offers and about the fame and wealth that followed.
“Do you have any plans to write a novel?” he asked
“I wish to but do not know how to start it. My mind gets blank”
“Make a story line for some 15 chapters and bring it to me. We shall discuss and refine them. You can then start writing. I am willing to help you” he said
“I am touched by your kindness. I will consider it seriously. Thanks for the interview. It is nearing 7pm.I must rush back” she wrote in the slip
He came up to the door, shook hands with her lingering a tad longer than usual and profusely thanked her.
On the second day a messenger brought an envelope containing a draft of the interview and a small note from the Editor.
“Dear Mr. Nakul Goswami,
Please see the draft enclosed. It is excellently written by Roopa. If you wish to modify, you can make the corrections. My office boy will come to collect tomorrow.
Incidentally Roopa is all praise for you and thanks you for the courtesy shown to her. She was telling me about her plans to meet you soon though she did not reveal the purpose. I do not know whether you had observed as she did not use sign language. She is also a deaf-mute. But she is one of our best sub editors.
With best wishes and regards, Som