Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blessed are those who can give

“Ganesan, I welcome you to the department.Savitri madam has gone on maternity leave for six months. You handle the classes she was taking. I know it is for a short duration. Let us hope something comes up in six months time as we are expanding” said Gyanasagaram, the head of department for Mathematics

“Thank you, Sir. I pray that I would be able to continue here as a regular teacher. I need the job as I have a large family to support” I replied.

“I know that you have your mother and four siblings to take care of. Six months is a long time. Things can change for the better. Do not worry. God will find a way for you” he spoke in a comforting tone.

Thanks again, Sir. I need your blessings. I will give my heart and soul to the job” I added

Though the emoluments for a temporary teacher were paltry, the new income helped me in keeping the hearth at home warm. Gyanasagaram who was nearing 60 took a paternal interest in me and frequently enquired about my work and the support needed. He also complimented me that the feedback he got from the students and some of the parents was flattering and added that he had mentioned about my good work to both the Headmaster and correspondent.

My brothers were still in the school with the sister learning typing. My mother fell sick often needing treatment. I was struggling to make both ends meet with my meagre income. One day Gyanasagaram told me that he was coaching a few boys from another school and that he found it a burden. He asked me whether I can help him by taking tuition for these boys. I knew inwardly he was doing this to help me overcome my difficult circumstances but made it appear as if I was doing him a favour.I was touched by his kindness and could do nothing but hold his hands on my heart in deference as tears swelled in my eyes. The added income made things easy for me though the sense of guilt that I was depriving him of his income was pricking me.

The six months tenure was drawing to a close. It was then Gyanasagaram paid a surprise visit to my house. My mom was very sick and lay curled in bed. I had to take her to a doctor. The shelves in the kitchen were empty. Poverty was writ large on our faces and the house. The loss of job and the regular income were staring at me. School fees had to be paid. I was at my wits end. There was nothing to offer to my benefactor except a glass of water. He sized up the situation in no time. He did not speak much and left after a few minutes.

Three days later I was called by the Headmaster as soon as the school hours started. That was the last day. I knew I have been called to be informed that my tenure was over and that my services were no longer necessary. I found the school correspondent also seated with him.

“Good morning, Ganesan.We are sorry your tenure will be over from today.Savitri will be joining tomorrow. We are very happy at the sincerity and devotion you had shown in your work. Parents keep telling me how pleased their children are with you and your teaching. What is your future plan?”

With an attempt to restrain the tears, I said “I have no idea. I need this job most but I am aware my term has ended. I dread the forthcoming days.” Choked with emotion I could continue no more. The headmaster stood up and came near me. Patting me on my shoulders he said “Do not worry. You will continue to work with us hopefully on regular basis. Please attend the school as usual.”

Bewildered at the turn of events I looked at him in utter disbelief. The Headmaster smiled at me and said “Go to your benefactor and prostrate before him. Gyanasagaram has applied for voluntary retirement on personal grounds effective from tomorrow. I asked him for reasons. He did not tell anything except that he was comfortable with his well employed sons and that he can hang his boots without any inconvenience. He specifically requested me to employ you on regular basis. I personally feel that he took this decision impelled by a wish to help you. He used to come to me frequently pleading for one more regular teacher for his department to accommodate you. When I told him last week that the management had turned down the proposal, he submitted his papers two days later. He refused to withdraw despite our persuasion.”

I rushed to his house the same evening only to be told by his son “Dad had left with mom on a long pilgrimage. He wished that I should convey his felicitations to you on your extension in case you visited the house. I had never seen him happier than when he took his retirement.”

"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting."
~ Elizabeth Bibesco 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Clandestine meeting

It was past 12 in the night. It has been drizzling since evening.Sharmila sat comfortably in the taxi for this long drive to the palatial house on the outskirts of the city. The taxi driver was known to her and knew the place. She always employed him for these midnight visits. The person she was to meet is a prominent figure and took care to avoid any adverse publicity. He insisted that they meet only during late hours when the city slept. She visited him once or twice a month as he was very busy with state affairs and surrounded by countless secretaries and officials even at his residence

These meetings are known only to the two and very discreetly arranged especially when his wife was sent away on some pretext to another city. Sharmila did not like these nocturnal meetings and the secrecy that accompanied them. She was willing to meet him like any other in the day time at his private room. But he was not agreeable and insisted on the clandestine meetings.

Sharmila, hardly 25, was an attractive brunette, tall and with a golden skin that glowed. She knew that she was a head turner and made the hearts of young men flutter and smiled to herself with satisfaction at the admiration she received whenever she walked in the mall or public places.

“Can you please drive faster? I have an appointment at 1am and I cannot afford to be late even by a minute” she said to the driver

“It is drizzling Ma’m and the road is not good. Still I will be able to reach there in ten minutes, don’t worry” the driver assured.

She became silent, adjusted her hair, had quick touch up and applied on her face and neck Chloé fragrance from the tiny perfume bottle in her bag. As if they knew in advance, the gate was open and the taxi drove straight to the portico.

“Do wait. It will not take more than one hour” she told the driver as she quickly and silently walked in to take the stairs to the first floor. She gently knocked the door and lingered for a few seconds before she entered.

“Come in my child. You are on dot even when it is raining. Come and sit close to me, my dear” the politician said.

As she snuggled close to him with his arms wrapped around her, she started sobbing and telling “Grand pa, I hate this secrecy. It does not look good. Why don’t you make known to everybody our relationship? Why are you scared?”

“My sweet little girl, it is not so easy. There are many vested interests trying to oust me from this position. If a scandal were to break out that is the end. You know my wife. She is a termagant and will hit the roof if she knows our relationship. I cannot tell her that your late mom is an illegitimate daughter of mine. Please wait for an opportune moment. Stop crying. Take this wad of money and the other gifts” he said as he affectionately passed his hands over the head of his grandchild.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The telephone call

I was reading some spiritual book explaining the Karma theory that our past actions follow us like a shadow through the cycle of births and deaths. I took comfort in the thought that my omissions and commissions in this life can be attributed to the past and there was little that I could have done to avoid them. My mood lifted up when I found myself grinning at .escaping from the personal responsibility for my problems. It was then the phone rang.

“Hello, is it Sarvadaman’s house?” asked a male voice

“Yes, I am his father speaking” I said

“Sorry Sir, your son has been arrested by the police about 30 minutes back and taken to the station. I don’t know where. They would not give him time to telephone you or talk to anyone of us” the voice said.

I was confused and asked him “Any idea why he was arrested? Did he ask you to telephone me? Who are you, Sir?”

“No Sir, he did not ask .He was very perturbed and shaken. I am also working in Telecom department with him. I don’t know why he was picked. You know the intense probe that is going on.Infact no one knows that I am informing you.” the voice replied

“There is something wrong here. My son is a clean chap. I don’t think he is in any way connected with the wrong things happening.Infact we discuss the news daily and he is very much perturbed. By the way, what is your good name and how did you find my number?” I asked

“I am Mahesh Sharma. I checked the office telephone directory and found his name with residence number” he replied

I rang up my son’s mobile number. It was silent and was switched off. I became a little concerned.

“Thank you. Just for confirming that it is my son, can you give me details like how he looks like, to which state he belongs to and such like?”I asked

“He is a tall guy and not very fair or dark. Medium complexion I would say. He wears specs. Will this suffice?”he replied

I was a little worried now and started panicking. I said “Yes your description fits him. I will start right away to find his whereabouts. Thanks for informing. His wife and children would be greatly upset. Thank you again” I said before I continued as an afterthought “You didn’t say which state he hailed from”

“He is a Punjabi from Batinda, Sir” he replied

“Are you sure?”I persisted

“Hundred percent. He has partaken in many Punjabi dramas and programmes in our office” he said

“Thanks a bunch Sharmaji.My son is Sarvadhaman Swaminathan iyer, a Tamilian.I have heard my son telling me that his namesake had joined recently in the Ministry. Please try to find out his number as he may not be listed in the old telephone directory and inform his family” I said as I heaved a sigh of relief.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Ambujam mami knew almost everyone in that complex of more than six blocks of 16 houses each. She had the knack of befriending all with her pleasant conversation. Always well dressed, she was a picture of grace wearing always a smile in her face. She had a small family of husband and an office going daughter in her early 20s.Her husband who generally left in the mornings came late.Ambujam spent most of the time talking to one or the other in the lobbies, play area or in the pathway while she went for walk twice a day. Nothing happened in the complex without her knowledge. She knew which apartment had new tenants, which lady is in family way, where the kids are studying or working and which one had gone astray and which family is breaking up. The possession of this knowledge has fetched her albeit wrongly a label as a gossip. It is not her fault that she knew the happenings in the complex and that she shared the news with other friends. There were some occupants who avoided her like a plague.

Be that as it may, she had been noticing for the last few months a young man visiting the complex on his motorbike whenever she went out to visit her relatives during weekends. Clad in jeans and colorful shirts, he looked muscular and quite handsome. What intrigued mami was that Renuka of E block rushed out every time that young man came and was seen talking to him in a corner of the community hall..Renuka and Ambujam mami’s daughter Sumitra were close friends having studied together and living in the same complex. But she didn’t mention this to her daughter as she would get angry with her for her snooping trait. But mami relieved herself of the tension by telling a few other ladies. They also watched and confirmed her suspicion that Renuka was meeting him frequently without the knowledge of her parents. Mami even thought of bringing this to the notice of Renuka’s mom but dropped the idea as that lady was never warm with her

When mami went out to visit her relatives, Sumitra would invariably excuse herself pleading she needed rest. One Saturday when Ambujam mami was leaving, she saw Renuka in animated conversation with that young man .When she turned back to see her, she saw her pointing her hand at her and giggling with him. She could take no more of this nasty goings on and decided to tell her mom about the secret meetings.

The next Monday she took her close friend who lived in the opposite apartment with her and went to Renuka’s house. Luckily the young girl was not at home. Her mom welcomed them and said “A pleasant surprise your visit is. I know you as Sumitra’s mom but we have never mixed much. I am glad you came with your friend. Just a couple of minutes, I will get you some tea and biscuits.”

After the pleasantries Ambujam said “Actually I wanted to come earlier but was hesitant. I was not sure how you would react to the information that I wish to convey to you.”

“Why would I react? You can tell me freely without hesitation. I am actually eager to hear you” the lady said.

“You should not mistake me.Renuka is just like my daughter Sumitra.I am as much concerned about her as I am with my own daughter” Ambujam gently started broaching the subject.

“What about Renuka? Why should you be concerned with her? Did she do something for you to be upset with her?” she asked with a worried look.

“You are a mom like me. I just wanted to inform you that Renuka is meeting one young man near the community hall on weekends invariably and on some other occasions. They seem to talk enthusiastically. I do not know whether you are aware of this. I felt I should caution you about their secret liaison “she whispered to her.

“Frankly I am not aware. Let me check with Renuka.We are a liberal family and would not object to her choosing her own boy friend and eventually her partner. Since she hasn’t mentioned, let me find out” the lady said calmly.

It was then Renuka entered the house unexpectedly. Ambujam was taken aback and started to get up. The lady restrained her asking her “Please be seated. Let us ask Renuka in your presence. We will know the actual facts”

Renuka after hearing her mother turned towards Ambujam and said “Mami, hold your breath for the information that I am going to reveal may shock you. I would not have told you but for your bringing the matters to this head. That young man is coming to meet Sumitra.He is a common friend. They are great friends and have been dating for more than a year. He comes to meet Sumitra every weekend. He checks with me before going into your apartment whether you had left andt Sumitra is alone. He chats with me for a few minutes before going into your apartment for spending a couple of hours or taking her out. I learn they may tie the knot very soon.”

When Ambujam mami started fainting and was about to fall, the lady shouted “Renuka, get a glass of cool water and put the fan at high speed”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My writ runs here

I was having my leisurely lunch at the restaurant. It was then I saw my (ex) husband Sunil walking in alone and looking for a place to sit. I wished to avoid him and lowered my head hoping he would not see me. I lost myself in my thoughts about him and my life with him. Well educated, well employed and handsome, he was what many girls would dream to be married with. It was an arranged marriage and I did not have much occasion to know him well. After the initial euphoria, I could find a pronounced streak of selfishness, intolerance and lack of consideration for others in him. I thought being the only child of his parents, he had had no occasion to share with siblings as most do and expected whatever he wished had to be done without demur. I hoped things would turn better over a period of time since he was married. But when he started insisting that in all matters his wish alone would govern our lives, I resisted. It did not stop with issues where he was involved but even on matters relating to me like when I can visit my parents, talk to my people and friends. He would insist on my cooking a full meal even when we came late tired and I was in no mood to cook. He would expect me to accompany him to boring parties at his friends’ places even when I disliked some of them. Things became so intolerable that I felt I could breathe easier without him.
On one day when in anger he said “In this house my writ alone runs. Do as I ask you to do or find your own home to live”, I replied that I would be moving away.
“Get lost immediately. Don’t you ever dream of coming back here” he thundered in anger.
I left him then and there. He tried to talk to me after a month but I did not encourage as I was still nursing my anger. I must confess I missed him though I could not accept his boorish behavior. I had not looked for any other man. I started learning Japanese to kill the evening times.
I was woken up from my reverie when I heard his soft voice”Swapna, what a surprise? Can I sit here? I wish to talk to you”
“Why not, you are welcome” I replied
“How are you? You look a bit wan and reduced. Are you keeping well?” he asked
“I am fine. The stress perhaps could be the reason “I replied. I was inwardly happy that he was concerned about my health and waited to hear what he wished to say. I was wondering whether he was struck with remorse and had come to plead for my return to his home. If he sincerely expressed regret and promised to change his ways, I was mentally not averse to give one more try.
When he was keeping quiet for some time, I prodded him saying “You wished to tell me something.”
“Yes, er…..I don’t know how to begin and how you would react to what I am going to say” he replied.
“Why should you hesitate? You never bothered to pay heed to my feelings anytime and did things as you wished. Why this preamble? Tell me whatever you wanted to say and be done with it” I said
“I have personally nothing against you. You have difficulty in adjusting to my way of living and there was no possibility of our seeing eye to eye on most things. You thought it fit to move away” he said when I interrupted him saying “It is not a correct statement. You asked me to get lost if I cannot accept your condition that it is your writ that runs in the home. I always felt marriage is an arrangement between two equal partners.”
“Whatever be the reason we are now living separately and will have to formalize it by mutual agreement” he said
“Then go ahead and ask your lawyer to send the papers. What is there for you to talk to me? I have some urgent work. Can I go?” I said
“No, it is like this. You know Smitha who works as assistant manager in my department. We have been meeting for some time and she has tentatively agreed to marry me after our divorce papers are finalized. But she insists on her meeting you and knowing from you the reasons for separation. You can help me get on with my life by facilitating this marriage to materialize. Will you do this favour?” he pleaded in a soft tone that was unlike him.
Concealing my anger I said “You can send her anytime. I am getting late”
The next day when Smitha came home, I welcomed her and offered her a drink.
“I know you work in Sunil’s department. What is it you wanted to meet me for?” I asked
“Yes, he is my boss. I am aware that you and Sunil have separated. He wants me to marry him and pressuring me to agree. I wished to know in confidence why you moved away from him within a year of marriage. Your reply will have a bearing on my answer to him though I promise I will not divulge what you would be telling me. Please help me to decide” she spoke directly coming to the point.
“It is simple. Just make an intelligent guess why a woman would leave a well educated, well employed and handsome guy within a year” I said
The colour in her face turned and she said “I think I know”
“Exactly, he could not consummate the marriage despite doctors certifying him being normal. He would not admit” I said coolly
A fortnight later I heard she had resigned her job and left for some other station. My writ ran here

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I am not a devout person. I never went to temples nor made obeisance to god men. I am not an atheist though. I just felt there was some power much beyond us to keep the sun and moon to rise without fail, the planets not falling or colliding with each other and the seas kept restrained within their shores. But my acknowledgement of this power beyond did not however inhibit me from many distasteful things that I indulged in. You see I am a small fry in politics but with vaulting ambitions to make it big. I had the necessary mental makeup. I was ruthless, cunning, ambitious, and greedy. I had all the vices that a man in good health can possibly have. I had hitched myself to a rising star in a political party and was slowly growing in importance.
As ill luck would have it, the leader to whom I had linked my fortune and future had a serious setback when he was caught in a big murder case and put behind bars. Luckily I was out of the suspect list though I had a minor role as his sidekick. His fall from grace of the opportunistic higher-ups and my identification with him were threatening my future and even my livelihood. It was then I heard of this god man who was making headlines and attracting a huge following of thousands to his abode. I heard if one is lucky enough to get an audience with him, he had the panacea for all the troubles. Stories abounded about how he cured chronic ailments given up by doctors, restored broken family relationships by a mere benediction, secured high positions, wealth, victory in difficult tasks and what not. I too wished to meet him and have my doubts resolved whether I should change loyalties or stick with the one who has caught himself in deep trouble. A wrong move may hurt me and my future considerably. I needed a steady flow of money.
With much effort, I was ushered to his august presence in the incense filled room. Clad in ochre robe with magnetic eyes and a winsome smile, he evoked an instant awe. After I prostrated full length and made my obeisance, he said in a soft voice that was almost a whisper”I know your problems. Patience is a virtue that helps. Have this to protect you” he said as he handed over a small Ganesh idol in gold that he contrived out of thin air by just waving his hand.
Wonder struck I looked at the idol that was shining in my hand and was quickly assessing mentally its weight and value. As if he read my mind he said ‘Yes it is pure gold. If you need quick results within a fortnight you must spend a couple of lakhs for doing special puja and for the silver amulet. Tomorrow is most auspicious and we can have it done, if you so wish.”
The next moment I was sort of dismissed and led outside by his disciples as a new devotee with his family entered the room. My attempts to catch his eyes were futile as thereafter he totally ignored my presence.
The same night I mustered two and half lakhs rupees from a money lender at usurious rate. I knew how to tackle these men. The money given to the god man, I was asked to come the next day to collect the amulet. I could not meet the god man again but was given an amulet to wear by his office. I could not go home as I had some paid job to evict a recalcitrant tenant from a house in the neighboring town. There was a sense of confidence in my steps after I wore the amulet till a week later I was tipped by my friend to stay away and that police were visiting my house daily to nab me in connection with the murder. I was alarmed and involuntarily felt the amulet I was wearing on my right arm and also ran my fingers on the Ganesh idol that I carried always. Stung by a doubt at the adverse turn of events, I rushed to a goldsmith and found the Ganesh idol was made of cheap brass. I knew I was duped and rushed to the God man’s place only to find from a distance a large number of policemen standing outside.
It was then I felt an arm on my shoulder. Taken aback I turned to see the moneylender breathing on my neck with a policeman in tow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The encounter

“I have been watching you. You cannot overcome your bad mood by drowning yourself in liquor. What is bothering you? Since last night I have seen you turning on your bed without sleep and now you have started drinking heavily even early in the day” asked Selvi
Inspector Kesavan, his eyes bloodshot, turned towards her but did not reply.
“I know you have a problem. I hate this wretched profession of yours always hunting criminals but I cannot allow you to spoil your health. Please confide in me” pleaded Selvi..
“I killed a young man last evening cold bloodedly when he least expected. There was no fig leaf of a fight as justification as he was unarmed” replied Kesavan
“This is nothing unusual for you. You have killed innumerable persons ruthlessly calling them encounters. Why shed tears in this case?” Selvi asked
“In most cases we chase them and they attempt to defend themselves by shooting. Such encounters are justified as in self defense and the authorities are aware but gloss over such incidents” he said
“Why then this guilt now?”asked Selvi
“No, Selvi.This is different. If the man I had killed were the ruthless criminal involved in many murders, holdups, ransom and what not, I would have no regrets for killing him. He was a menace to society. But the man who tipped us had made a grievous mistake. It was a case of mistaken identity. The guy whom we killed is a small time criminal acting as recovery agent for private debts. There are no serious charges against him though the police were looking for him. It was the pathetic cry of this man’s wife whom I saw after the shooting that fills my heart with remorse. Hardly 25 she was in advanced stage of pregnancy. Her long and shrill wail on seeing the bullet ridden body of her husband is still ringing in my ears. I am unable to get over, Selvi” Kesavan was seen sobbing.
“Oh, oh, I feel so sorry for the poor woman” Selvi said.
“Actually we inveigled him out of the house by asking his confidant to warn him on mobile that police would be soon there to nab him and that he should escape. This fool misled us unwittingly though. The poor chap trusted his friend and came out of the house. We followed him till he was what we thought out of sight of his wife but never knew she was watching him leaving from the terrace. We surprised him and shot at him when he tried to run back and planted a gun in his hand” he said
“How sad” she remarked
“The woman had seen the cold blooded murder and screamed beating her chest and head. She is very young almost my younger sister’s age. It will take a long time for me to forget her face filled with horror and shock” he added
“Forget it as a bad dream. This is one of the hazards of the profession. Ask for a change to another department and be done with killing. I will also have peace of mind. You do not know how much tense I am daily till I see you back in home” Selvi said.
“I have already asked the departmental head for a transfer. I wish to help later that woman indirectly to salve my conscience. Where is Arjun?” he asked.
“Dad, I am here. I came in a few minutes ago and overheard the conversation between you two. The only saving grace in this sordid episode is that you had not killed him intentionally. There had been a mistake though you should have made doubly sure about the identity. Grieve not for it was not a deliberate act. But the wrong done to that young woman cannot be easily brushed aside. As your son I will make suitable amends for it after the furor dies down. I may even given her life time protection as atonement” said Arjun the 27 year old young man.
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Kesavan straightened his shoulders and looked at his grown up son with immense pride.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mandira,iPad and Bus ride

An urgent work cropped up at Bangalore and I did not have time to make any reservation. Luckily I could get a seat In the AC bus that was to leave in the next hour. I was hungry and tired. Grabbing some snack and a can of coke, I settled in a chair in the lounge. As I was finishing the coke, I heard “Bus for Bangalore now boarding.” I hurriedly dumped the bag in the receptacle over the allotted seat and settled in the window seat. The bus was to depart in the next five minutes and I was happy that my adjacent seat was unoccupied. There was no trace of any passenger. My happiness was however short lived when a young lady came and occupied the seat next to me. She was about 25, very charming in Jeans and a Khurta like top.

“Are you proceeding for Bangalore?” she asked softly

I nodded and asked “What about you? Do you live In Bangalore?”

“Yes” she said with a smile
After some pleasantries, I came to know that she was working In Bangalore and that she had come to Chennai on some official work. She did not give much detail about her. She was a bit reticent and answered in monosyllables.

I started playing Sudoku In my iPad to while away the time while the video in the bus was showing some Rajni film. She was watching it for a while and then closed her eyes possibly to catch some sleep. After some time I took my lappy and started working on some report I was to send.

“It is boring. Can I use your iPad to play some games if you are going to be busy with lappy?”I heard her ask me

“Why not? By all means play to your hearts content till the power lasts” I said as I gave her the iPad

She started playing Hangman, Mahjongg and various other games. I got busy with my work and after an hour put the lappy in the bag when the eyelids became heavy. Having had a busy day, I fell into sleep immediately

It was only at Krishnagiri that I got up and went to the rest room. She was holding the iPad tightly in her hands and was seen dozing with her eyes closed. Not wanting to disturb her I went back to sleep in an empty seat on the other side.

It was after the bus had left Hosur that I woke up with a start to find the lady missing from the seat. I panicked and asked the conductor where the lady was. He said she got down at Hosur hurriedly at the last moment as if on second thought. It was a new iPad and I cursed myself for leaving it in her custody and sleeping. I had not got even the name of the company where she worked while I had foolishly parted with the name of my company and my mobile number in the hope we may become friends. If she were working at Bangalore, why should she get down at Hosur? I was certain that she was a well dressed petty thief possibly filching things like this from unwary passengers.

The conductor and a few passengers commiserated with me at my plight and expressed their doubts whether any complaint with police would help. The bus was moving at great speed leaving me with no other option than to stay put. It was then my mobile rang. It was the lady who spoke.

“Sorry, Sir.I had to get down at Hosur as my parents live there. I work in Bangalore. You were fast asleep when the bus stopped at Hosur.I waited for sometime hoping you would wake up in the noise of the bus stand. When you did not, I left the iPad in your laptop bag. Forgive me for this liberty. Please open the lappy bag and see whether the iPad is there while I am on line. Lucky I had your number” she said.

I quickly checked to find my iPad safely in the bag and was struck with remorse at my hasty assumptions
“Thank you Miss….er I was a bit worried when I did not see you. It is a new iPad and I was very much upset. I am extremely sorry for some uncharitable assumptions ‘I said

“Mandira…..Miss Mandira. So you thought I was a thief” she replied as she laughed loudly and continued “Let us meet at Bangalore in the coming week. You owe me an apology.”

It is a different matter that this fortuitous incident developed into a friendship culminating eventually in our happy marriage.