Thursday, September 22, 2022

A flirt in a bookshop


The name board read, 'Ruchi's bookshop'. It was a small book store with couple of rows of book racks.

It was manned by a young lady. The store looked empty with no one around.

As Karan approached the attractive-looking assistant at the counter, she looked at him from head to foot with a playful smile.

Puzzled at her strange behaviour, he stood silent for a few seconds, when she asked, "What can I do for you?"

"Do you have a copy of Fairy Tale by Stephen King?'

“Yes, we do have," she lingered with her smile returning on her face and added "If you do not mind, I have a proposition to make."

Karan looked at her quizzically with his eye brows raised.

"It is simple.  If you give me a hug and a smooch, I will give you the book free as a complimentary copy.”

Shocked as he was, Karan couldn’t believe his ears.” Did I hear you correctly?” he asked meekly.

“Yes, you will give a peck after a hug and get the desired book free.”

When he stood silent dazed at her audacious reply, she said,” Have no fears. No hidden camera. It is just I am in a crazy mood.”

He looked around unbelievingly at the empty store. The prospect of thrill overcame his natural discretion as he nodded his head slightly.

“Come behind the shelf there. It is safer there,” the assistant said with a mischievous smile,

Excited, he went along with her as she held his hand.

He looked both sides of the aisle and seeing none, he gave her a slight hug and bent down as his hands brought her face close to his.

Unexpectedly, a young lady emerged then from behind the next shelf coughing loudly. Taken aback he withdrew instantly, even as the assistant spoke to her, “Anu, you lost the wager with very little effort on my part. The guy fell hook, line and sinker at the first suggestion of a hug and smooch for a free copy. Thank God for His small mercy before it became too late for you to mend.” Baffled at the sudden appearance of Anusha, his date of about a few months, Karan looked at his furious friend and the cunning assistant of the store.

“Fie on you, Karan, you double timer. When you told me last evening, you were going to this bookshop in the morning, I rushed here much before you came as I wished to surprise you with the book you mentioned yesterday. It was then my best friend Ruchi, who owns the shop, suggested to me 'Let us test him for his loyalty to you," spoke Anusha angrily.,

Continuing her tirade, she said," Even as I said no to her, she laid a wager. She was pretty sure you will fall. But I was damn sure that you will not let me down and yet you fell so cheaply and miserably for a paltry book. Get lost forever from my life” she shouted in anger and started crying.

Karan laughed loudly and said, “Anusha, listen carefully before you let your imagination run wild. It is your best friend Ruchi who had tricked us both. When she spoke yesterday of a plan to play a prank on you, she had only mentioned it is on her best friend without mentioning your name. I swear upon god that I never knew you were the best friend she spoke about. Ruchi is actually my cousin. I agreed when she said, “Let us enact a drama to see how sensitive and rash my friend is in judging her boyfriend. She warned me that her friend would be watching from behind and overhearing us and that I should play my part well. Finally, we both were made to look like fools.”

As Ruchi was laughing uproariously, both Anusha and Karan pounced on her and said in chorus “You wily brat, we never thought you would play your naughty joke on both of us,” with Anusha adding with a contrived anger “You have to give  a complimentary copy to each of us  as a compensation.”


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Monday, September 12, 2022

" Sweetie come closer..."


Shankar had just returned after a fortnight’s tour, a day earlier than scheduled. The wretched marketing job took him away for almost 20 days in a month. His wife Menaka was away at the market and had left the keys with the neighbour. It was hot and the fan did not give any relief. He reclined on an easy chair with a bottle of chilled coke. He never liked being away from his young wife for so many days but his job required his constant touring.

He suddenly heard his pet parrot talking, ‘’Sweetie, come closer”. He could not believe his ears when he heard the parrot utter for the second time the same words for he had never taught or heard earlier the parrot speak such words. He went near and said “Hello, Ranga” in his familiar tone only to hear again “Sweetie, come near”. He was utterly confused and asked the bird to repeat. To his horror it said “Close the door”. This repetition continued for a while till the bird refused to talk by remaining silent.

In his rage, he shook the cage violently till the bird screeched in fear. His mind started imagining all sorts of scenarios and he perspired a lot. Who it could be  and what she does in his absence, racked his mind but he could not find an answer. He decided to find out if there is any secret liaison going on with someone else in his absence. But she is so guileless and utterly simple that he could not associate any treachery with her. But the parrot does not lie. It repeats what it hears.

He heard a three-wheeler stop outside. Menaka came inside with several bags in her hands and smiled at him. “what a surprise! You were supposed to come only tomorrow. Did I keep you waiting for long? Just a couple of minutes. I will make coffee for you in a trice,” she said with a happy smile in her face.

"I don’t need coffee. Come here. I wish to ask you some questions. I don’t really know what is happening in our house in my absence. I want a truthful answer from you” Shankar said in a serious tone with an angry face..

Bewildered at his strange behavior, she asked “What are you talking about? I cannot make out what you are alluding at. Are you well? Is anything bothering you? Please tell me.”

“Yes, lots of things are bothering me. Come and listen to the parrot” he said as he dragged her towards the bird.

As soon as they approached the cage, the bird blurted “Sweetie, come close” again and again. After a while it said “Close the door”. Shankar turned to her and asked her  “What is all this nonsense of Sweetie coming close and closing the door. Who is calling you Sweetie? I have never spoken to you like that. And why close the door?”. He could not stop at that  and shook her shoulders hard with his hands and asked her “Tell me the truth whatever it is”

On hearing this wild accusation, Menaka was stunned with disbelief in her eyes even as tears started coming out of her eyes.

“Do not avoid the question by this crying act” he shouted.

It was then a knock on the door was heard. Shankar rushed to open the door expectantly for an answer to the riddle, only to find Arjun,an eight-year-old boy, from the adjacent flat standing.

Menaka’s face suddenly glowed when she asked the boy, “Arjun, talk to the parrot. Uncle wants to see how the parrot talks”

The boy ran near the parrot and said “Sweetie, come close” only to be answered back by the bird with same words. The boy repeated again only to be replied the same way to the mirth of the little boy.

Shankar felt foolish but still asked “What about the door,"?

Menaka asked Arjun “Tell uncle what aunty asks you to do after you enter the house”

“You always say close the door and never leave it open” the boy replied

Menaka looked at Shankar with derision and said “You have gone down in my esteem by several notches. I never knew that you so hastily jump to absurd conclusions. It shows how little trust you have in me. Do I ever doubt your integrity when you are away for three weeks in a month? Do remember that relationships are killed by suspicion.“ She rushed out of the hall into the bedroom breaking into uncontainable sobs. He followed her hit by great remorse.

The last thing heard from Shankar’s house was that he had given away the parrot to Arjun.