Friday, October 28, 2011

Parrot talk

Shankar had just returned after a week’s tour. The wretched 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 neighbor. 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 marketing job required his constant touring.

He suddenly heard the parrot talking, ‘’Sweetie, come closer”. He could not believe his ears when he heard for second time for he had never heard the parrot speak such words. He went near and said “Hello, Ranga” .It repeated clearly “Sweetie, come near”. He was utterly confused and asked the bird to repeat .To his horror it said “Close the door”. This repetition went 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. Where she is and what does she do in his absence, he was wondering. He decided to find out if there is any secret liaison going on with someone in his absence. 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 the three wheeler outside.Menaka came inside with several bags in her hands and smiled at him.”When did you come? Did I keep you waiting for long? Just a couple of minutes .I will make coffee for you” she said with a bright 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.

Bewildered at his strange behavior, she said “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 it blurted “Sweetie, come close” again and again. After a while it said “Close the door”. Shankar turned to her and asked “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. Why close the door?”. He would not stop and shook her shoulders hard with his hands and asked her “Tell me the truth whatever it is”

On hearing this wild accusation, Menaka broke into an uncontrollable laughter with tears coming out of her eyes.

“What is there to laugh about? Do not avoid the question by this laugh act” he shouted.

She asked him to wait for a few seconds and ran out of the apartment to fetch a five year old boy from the adjacent flat.”Arjun, talk to the parrot. Uncle wants to see how the parrot talks” she said to the young boy.

The boy ran near the parrot and said “Sweetie, come close” only to be answered back by the bird with same words.

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 seriously 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 your partner. 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.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I found the shelter and food

! sank down on my knees in the dock I was standing when the foreman of the jury said ‘found guilty of murder’ The rest about the judge condemning me to life imprisonment is all bizarre except the wicked smile on the face of the accuser when I was led out of court room by policemen. I will just narrate what happened on that fateful evening for you to decide for yourself on my innocence or otherwise.

I was new to that city where I came in search of a job just the day before. I needed a place to stay and a job for my food. I walked in and out of many doors of business establishments with little luck till I found rest to my tired limbs on a bench in a park. I found a middle aged man sitting with a morose face and muttering to himself. I could see he was tormented by some worry.

Though I was in no better condition; I tried to bring cheer by saying “The day is beautiful and the sun is setting in its crimson glory. Cheer up, my friend, and lighten your heart by sharing with me what is bothering you”

“I lost my wife two days back and her memories keep oppressing me” he said

"I am extremely sorry. Was she ailing?” I asked

"No, she died of an accident. I will tell you more. Can you come with me to my house on the other side of the road? I need your small help” he replied

It was a large house with a portico. He took me inside through a large hall that was dimly lit. I was seated in a chair by the small dining table. He brought from the fridge a small can of coke. He said “I need your help in carrying that large box to my car. It is too heavy for me. I have to deliver it today. I will get the car to the portico. I will be back in a shortwhile.Please make yourself comfortable” he said before he left to bring the car.

The air was stale and some weird smell assailed my nose. The dining area was also dimly lit.I was not comfortable with the thought of being alone in an unknown house of a stranger. My throat was dry. I sipped the coke. As I moved my leg,I found something sticky under my shoes. I bent down to notice thick blood leaving a trail to the box. I moved gingerly towards it and opened the lid.Lo, there was a body of a young woman with several stab wounds and a knife sticking out. She must have been dead. I closed the lid immediately and returned to the same chair.

I wished to run away from the scene when I heard the car drawing to a halt in the portico. The man straddled in and said “Sorry for keeping you waiting”

I asked “You said your wife met with an accident. Was she run over by vehicle or had a big fall? How did she die?”

His face suddenly became red with anger. His eyes bulged out as he shouted “Why do you ask such a question?”

"Nothing. You said it was an accident. So I wished to know how” I replied calmly though shaken by his sudden rage.

“Did you open the box? I see your slimy trail of blood towards the box. Answer yes or no. Still you ask me whether she was run over or had a fall. I will kill you if you do not tell me the truth” he shouted like a mad man.

I looked around to find a way to escape .Luckily the door was ajar. I made a quick bolt to the door and ran as fast as legs could carry with the angry man in hot pursuit. My heart was pounding with fear and my knees became weak. Lucky I thought when I ran into the arms of the two policemen standing a little yonder.

The fact that I trespassed into a private building (he denied having invited me or met in the park), the blood in the sole of my shoe, the trail left near the box and my finger prints on the box and on the furniture did me in to conclude that I stabbed her for money and concealed it by putting her in a box in the absence of her husband away on work. It was a cruel murder by a cunning husband foisted on me whose only foolishness lay in unwittingly trying to help a stranger but it was an iron-clad case to the police against me with no extenuating circumstance or alibi.

It is a mean irony that I have now found the shelter and the food I was looking for.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The mysterious caller

Anasuya was having tea with her friend Sujata and chatting as they do almost daily. The latter, a friendly lady, lived in the opposite apartment. Anasuya had started living in this place since six months after her marriage with Akhil.She had not taken up a job since coming to the city busy as she was with a long honeymoon and settling down in a new place. The phone rang.

”Hello, yes this is Anasuya.Who is calling?” said Anasuya.There was some silence.”Why do you give me a ring daily without telling who you are and what do you want? I will be constrained to report to police if you trouble me again” she said before slamming the receiver.

She wiped the perspiration on her forehead in the AC hall and sat down with a visible worry lines on her face.”What is that? From whom is the call?”asked Sujata.

The phone rang again.Anasuya ignored it till the ring died away after some time.”I really don’t know but this guy has been pestering me since a fortnight and the calls have become more frequent. He wouldn’t tell who he is but seems to know everything about me. That makes me scary” said Anasuya

Knowing well that Anasuya is extremely fetching, Sujata asked “Is the guy flirting? Is he showing any romantic interest in you? Could it be someone you knew before marriage, a colleague or class mate?”

“Flirting….not very much but he did say once that we meet and get to know each other better. I shouted at him and slammed the receiver even as he was giggling at the other end. I don’t think I know this guy through his voice seems familiar” Anasuya replied

“You said that he knew everything about you. What do you mean by that?” asked Sujata.

“He knows what and where I had studied, where I worked, who my people are and even more minute details. I wondered whether it could be any relative of mine or someone known to my family. But I don’t see anyone like that” Anasuya said.”One more thing comes to my mind about his having said he is an IIT and IIM product and very well employed with a huge pay packet. I said who cares and asked him to desist ringing”

“Did you confide to your hubby? You seem to have no ex boyfriends. Why not tell him and seek the help of police?”asked Sujata

“I did tell him and sought his help to put an end to this nuisance. He simply laughed and said it must be some cranky fellow telephoning from different public booths. He said the best thing is not to respond but put the receiver down and the guy will give up after sometime. I do that always but when that guy tells me something that he is not expected to know, I get curious and ask him how he knew”

“Tell me like what” asked Sujata

“Like, that I looked best in the yellow Bengali cotton sari or that he was fascinated by the intricately embroidered salwar suit with sequined patchwork that I wore that day. He knew what I wear each day. Don’t you feel it unnerving to be in the constant gaze of an unseen stranger? My hubby doesn’t seem to realize the mental tension that I go through” said Anasuya

“Okay, tell me when you had your bath and wore this blue salwar today? Early in the morning or leisurely after seeing your hubby off?” asked Sujata

“I was lazy today, Suji, after watching a late night movie in the TV.I usually take bath on getting up but today I had my shower and change of my dress only after seeing off my hubby” Anasuya replied.

It was then the phone rang. Sujata immediately told her friend “Do not disconnect if the call is from the guy. Talk to him and ask him what you are wearing today since he seemed to know everything”. She nodded her head

“Hey, I told you not to disturb but you persist. Since you profess to know everything about me, tell me what dress I am wearing now. This should call your bluff.”

There was a long silence and the call was disconnected.Anasuya waited for some time. She got only a call from Akhil and after pleasantries he was asking whether the guy troubled her today.

When she told Sujata, she said “I now know for certain who the unknown caller is. You may be in for a shock but it is a fact. Shall I tell you?”

“Yes, go ahead” replied Anasuya

“The mysterious caller is your hubby.Is he a suspicious type? Is he possessive and insecure that you are very beautiful compared to his plain look? Be frank” I have a feeling he keeps testing you Sujata said

Anasuya kept silent for long. When prodded she said “Yes, I think so. He will always be monitoring whom I talk to when we go to parties. I felt his stare from behind always. He is suspicious alright but has not accused me. I have caught him reading my diary and scanning my mobile when I go to bathroom or kitchen”

“I am so sorry. He needs counseling, I think. Confront him this evening and gently suggest that he needs professional help. But be firm. I hope everything will work out well’ Sujata consoled her

Friday, October 21, 2011

How Akila was humbled?

It was a hot summer afternoon. The sun was blazing and weather was oppressive with not a leaf moving. There was the scheduled power cut for an hour. Akila had kept the front door open for some breeze and light. She wanted to get an inverter soon to escape this daily ordeal. It was then she heard the loud voice “Water melon, water melon” at a distance in her building complex.Akila knew the fruit seller would come soon come to her. She decided to buy two fruits, have them cut to small pieces and keep them in the fridge. This sweet and succulent fruit is a great thirst quencher that she loved.

The fruit seller Roja is a slightly built woman of about 35 years with three kids studying in a school. She toiled hard in the hot sun to supplement the meager income of her husband. She kept changing the fruits depending on the season.Akila liked to buy from her for three reasons. She always brought good stuff from the whole sale market. She sold at reasonable prices keeping a small margin for her .Her prices were fixed and uniform for all and she never allowed the buyers to negotiate the price Lastly Akila has been buying from her for the last three years and had taken a liking for her. She gave away her old clothes to her periodically.

When Roja came perspiring heavily,Akila rushed to get her a glass of cool water.Akila then chose a big water melon and asked her “How much for this?”.She weighed the fruit and said 95 rupees.

“It is costly .I will pay only 80 rupees” said Akila

“Amma, you know my prices are fixed. If you want a fruit at lower price, choose a smaller size. Take this and you need to pay only 75 rupees” she replied with certain brusqueness in her voice.

“No, I will not pay more than 85 rupees for the fruit I have chosen. You cannot always have the way you want it” said Akila

“Amma, I am sorry. I am in a hurry. I need to go to different houses and cannot waste my time bargaining with you. My price is fixed. Take it or leave it” Roja said with finality.

Akila got angry at the tone of Roja’s voice and felt she was insensitive to the kindness shown to her. As it was dark with power cut,she fished out with difficulty a one hundred rupee note from her bag and gave the money without one word. The woman returned the balance saying” please do not get upset. I am poor and cannot afford to lose the small amount I am earning.”

Akila closed the door abruptly and went inside without answering her. She was still seething in anger. The power cut only aggravated her bad mood. She thought though pettily to herself why should she give all her old clothes only to this woman. She could as well give to other needy people. If she can be strict with me, I can also be. How can she forget that on many days she had given the poor woman food? If she were a bit grateful, she could have at least explained softly her inability to reduce the price instead of being curt.Akila decided that she would henceforth go and get her fruit requirements from the big departmental stores.

It was 7pm in the evening and she was watching TV. She heard someone calling “Amma, amma”.When she opened the door, she found Roja standing. A thought struck Akila’s mind immediately that she had come to express her regret for the rudeness exhibited in the afternoon.

“You bargained hard for five rupees but handed over 500 rupee note mistakenly for 100 rupee note. Lucky that I kept the money you gave in my small purse that I keep within my blouse. The money that I got from others I kept in a big bag that I keep in my hip. Take this five hundred rupee note and give me 100 rupees” Roja said with a smile on her face.

Akila was rendered speechless at the honesty and fair-mindedness of this poor woman who could have as well retained the money. But it is not in her character. Honesty, Akila realized, is not dependent on one’s station in life but on the values imbedded.Akila felt humbled and ashamed when she thought of her own petty thoughts.Roja in her mind stood tall compared to her. Akila gave her 150 rupees saying that she should not refuse and that this was a small token of her appreciation for her honesty.

Friday, October 14, 2011

55 W fiction

1. Welcome
He had not seen his grandparents in India. He has seen them only in mom’s photo album. He was happy to see them in all smiles along with his eldest sister welcoming him. Where are his parents and other siblings, he wondered? He looked down to see them all crying in the hall at his home

2. Despicable

It was dark and raining. She was again missing in the night. It happened frequently. Despite the vigil she gives the slip, a dirty slut.It is frustrating to stir out in dark to find her engaged in despicable act somewhere. He decided to throw her out. He found her near a puddle with another dog.

3. Birthday gift

Arun madly in love with Agnes was in wonderful relationship with her.Oflate he felt she was cold and distant. May be she was busy with work. Tomorrow is his birthday. He opened with excitement the packet from Agnes. She hasn’t forgotten. Obviously she is in love. Inside a tiny box was his ring.

4. Cost of a wink
Immigration over, he got his baggage quickly. Avoiding eye contact and heart pounding he passed through green channel. She was standing a little away smiling at him. What a stunning beauty, twenty-eight at most. He returned her smile with a faint wink. She came over and whispered “Please come aside and open your boxes”

5. Pride

Lata entered the restaurant with her friends
“Get us masala dosa and coffee” she told the server.
Lingering he asked “Do you recognize me,?”
She betrayed no sign of recognition.
“Balu from RKM School, Chennai” he said
“Sorry, I don’t remember” she replied
Another server brought them the food.
Embarrassment avoided, she saved her pride

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A regrettable mistake

Nandita was happy that the seminar ended one day earlier than scheduled. She could rush back to Bangalore by the late evening flight to be present for her wedding anniversary the next day. She kept the news of the change in programme a secret to spring a surprise on her hubby Sanjeev.She hurriedly bought a couple of richly embroidered Lucknowi kurta for him and a box of assorted sweets from Bengali Market on her way to airport. It would be 11pm by the time she reached her home. She was all excited. She had the key to her apartment.

She literally ran from the taxi to the door and inserted the key to open it unsuccessfully without noise. What she beheld was something she was least prepared for. Sanjeev’s distant cousin Neelam clad in a nighty and a towel draped casually around her shoulders came into the hall direct from a shower. She could not believe what she saw. What the hell is she doing here at this time when she was not at home thought Nandita.Her mind raced back to the tidbit that Sanjeev had told about how they very much wished to marry but their plan was foiled by objections from both sides. She suspected that both of them were still nursing their fondness for each other. She was now seething in anger

“How come you returned early, Nandita? Sanju told me that you were expected only late tomorrow night” said Neelam

“Shocked, is it? You did not expect me at this late hour, I think. Did I upset your plan?”Nandita spewed venom in her words.

Bewildered and not understanding her, Neelam asked “What? What are you telling? Why should I be shocked, Nandita?”

“I am telling nothing that you did not know. Don’t act innocent” said Nandita and without uttering one more word she ran to Sanjeev’s bedroom and opened the door that was just closed. She found him seated before computer amidst some office files and typing feverishly. The bed had not been slept. He was evidently busy with office work.

Mollified to some extent but still uneasy, she sat down on the bed

Sanjeev got up and came near her to wrap her in his arms. He said “Honey, I am extremely happy you have come in time for the anniversary. I knew you would make it. I have some surprises for you for tomorrow. By the way, did you see Neelam and her hubby? They came late in the evening from Tirupati just to say a hello thinking you would also be there. They are bound for Delhi tomorrow morning. I requested them to stay here overnight instead of in a hotel. I got Pizza from Dominoes.”

Struck with remorse at her rude behavior on false assumptions, Nandita said “Wait a minute” and rushed to the hall followed by Sanjeev.”Neelam, please come out” she called knocking the door. There was no response. After a few minutes, the door opened and her hubby said that she was in bathroom and asked them to wait.

She must have been crying and gone to wash her face. As soon as she emerged Nandita hugged her and said “Neelam, please forgive me. I was a fool and gone crazy. I made hasty assumptions without hearing you and hurt you with my rude words. Will you please pardon me?”

Confused Sanjeev asked “What happened, Nandita? I asked you whether you had met Neelu and without answering you came rushing here”

Then Neelam said with a smile”Sanju, it is a matter between two women and nothing that concerned you. Just a minor misunderstanding happily resolved, isn’t it Nandita?”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Caesar's sacrifice

Aditi had to leave for work early in the morning. She had skipped her usual morning walk with Caesar. When she came back home only at 7pm, Caesar pulled her towards the door. She decided to take him for a walk though it was dark. She generally walked along a park in the adjacent road that houses big bungalows with deep drive ways and big iron gates .The avenue with big trees on both sides with very few street lights was generally desolate except for the occasional car whizzing past. During mornings however it was a hub of activity with many men and women walking or jogging in the park. It wore now a gloomy look on this new moon night and she wanted to hurry back home. Caesar however lingered and ran to the trees to stand on three legs or sniffing at everything he came across. She pulled the leash and said “Hurry up, Caesar”

She noticed an Innova van coming slowly behind on her side of the kerb that was not wide for her to move away from the road. She hastened her speed taking big strides. She panicked when she saw the van slowly nearing her. She started running towards the main road that was still a furlong away. She felt an outstretched hand from the van grab her arm pulling her inside the open doors of the big van. She screamed 'Caesar' only once when the dog pounced upon the outstretched hand and clawed its teeth deep into the flesh. The grip loosened Aditi ran as fast as her legs could carry. She turned to see Caesar not leaving its hold despite someone hitting it from inside. The van had stopped. The bitten man was screaming in pain.

Aditi was still shivering in fear even when she was inside her apartment complex. Worried about the dog, she could muster a few men to accompany her equipped with a torch. She found Caesar lying battered on head and soaked in blood. Evidently the evil men had hit the dog with a handle bar. The dog was not dead by then. When Aditi went on her knees to lift the dog, it whimpered in pain and snuggled closer to her. With the dog’s gaze from his soulful eyes fixed on her, Caesar let out cries even as tears flooded on Aditi’s cheeks. Even as someone suggested carrying him to a vet immediately, the canine’s head fell down.Aditi’s shrill shriek “Caesar” was heard far and wide with lights coming up in the various windows of nearby buildings.She cried inconsolably at the supreme sacrifice of Caesar to protect her from harm.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog-Mark Twain

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kokila’s presence of mind

It was 8.30pm.Kokila had just put her child to sleep. She switched off the TV after she saw the news of a young woman killed in the lift by the lift operator. It was scary and upset her. She took an unfinished novel to read reclined in her bed. But her mind would not rest on the book and the image of the murdered woman resisting the attack came before her mind. Kokila’s husband Navin had gone on tour for a couple of days. She always retired to bed early whenever Navin was away. She felt lonelier today as the family in the opposite apartment had gone on a pilgrimage. The two apartments at the first floor were also locked as one was vacant and the family in the other had gone for a wedding. People lived in the two apartments on the ground floor. The watchman at the gate had taken leave for ten days.

It was then the door bell rang. Startled she went and peeped through the peephole. It was Kartik, a colleague of Navin, with what looked an official packet in his hand. She hesitated for a second but then opened the door.

“Navin has gone on tour” she said hoping he would leave after giving the packet if he had come to deliver it.

“I know and that is why I have come” he said with a foolish smile even as he closed the door behind him.

Kokila was scared and knew she had made a mistake. But she did not want to betray her fear and pretended to be normal and asked him to be seated.

“I am famished. Get something to eat” he said in a rough tone. He was a muscular and heavily built man with huge biceps. He smelled of alcohol. She decided to play safe and quickly went in to make two oothappams (pan cakes).He was sitting in the sofa and was watching her with a leering look. She knew his intentions were not honourable.Infact when she met him twice in office parties, she had taken an instant dislike for him.

When she handed over the plate, he deliberately brushed his hairy hand with hers. The smirk in his face was unmistakable. He quickly gobbled up the food, let out a loud belch and said “Thank you. The hunger of my belly is over. Now I expect you to be a reasonable girl and not turn foolish. I have always liked you. That hubby of yours never invited me to the house. Tonight my long last wish is going to be fulfilled”

When she turned towards the telephone, he said “Sorry, I have removed the plug and your mobile that you had foolishly left on the dining table is with me. Do not resist. It will be over in 30 minutes and I will go away. I have come determined to possess you dead or alive. Don’t get hurt. Be a smart girl” he said even as he was rotating the scarf in his hand as the kids do with skipping rope. His intent was clear.

Kokila sized up the situation in a trice. The thought of the murdered woman in the lift came to her mind. She said “Okay. But I need a shower. I am stinking. Give me a few minutes. I will be back. But you must leave after you are done with.”

Kartik was elated as he did not expect her to succumb to his threat so easily. He said “Okay. Come quick. I cannot wait for long. Remember, no tricks. I am a ruthless person.”

He heard initially the running water in the bathroom and then the drone of hair dryer. In a few minutes, the door opened. She looked fresh in her new white overall and a large turkey towel on her hand. To his utter disbelief and surprise, she gave him one big coquettish smile and beckoned him to her saying “Come give me a big bear hug”

“What a lovely bitch”he thought to himself and rushed headlong towards her with extended arms. Even as he wrapped tightly her cool body, he felt a warm sensation in the stomach. Startled, he shrank back to see a long and big chef’s knife imbedded in his belly with blood running from the deep wound. He pulled it out only to witness blood gushing out as if from a hose. He lost his balance and felt down. He became scared at the sight of blood and felt weak. He looked at her and venomously cursed “What have you done, you common whore?”He tried to get up clutching at his stomach but could not.

She grabbed the sleeping child and ran towards the door and then the steps to the ground floor. She knocked frantically at both doors. The inmates came out and soon Kartik was in the custody of police.

“The willow which bends to the tempest often escapes better than the oak which resists it and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those loftier-Sir Walter Scott

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sequel to nagging question

This is a sequel to the story nagging question

This has been sent by Jyoti of .Many readers had asked the answer for the nagging question.This is a better ending to my story.
The sequel

The question however nagged Madhavan no less. He tried avoiding the topic with his wife. The past few incidents reported in newspapers regarding single women travelling alone in trains has as it is created a phobia against Railways in India. He was happy that he was around to avoid something bad that was about to happen to Divya.

God has strange ways of making people meet. Though Madhavan was thankful to God for Divya and the happiness they shared, he was also concerned about a similar incident that could be waiting to happen to someone else. Or who knows, may have already happened to someone else and it was all hushed up.

It was all but coincidence that particular day there was an article in the newspaper related to this. Madhavan looked up from the newspaper and asked Divya, “Do you remember when you got up to go the toilet that day in the station?”

“Yes? “ She answered with a questioning look.

“Did anyone approach you with a free sample of perfume or scent on a small piece of tissue?” he continued.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I regret not buying that bottle from him. It was such a lovely scent. I only whiffed it for a second, as I was in a hurry to go to the toilet. When I came out, he was already gone. Why do you ask?” She replied.

He handed the newspaper to her and pointed out the article, the person in the picture was the same guy she had met at the station. He had been arrested for attempted rape of a 20-year-old girl, who was travelling alone. He was caught when an elderly woman got suspicious of his activities outside the ladies toilet and called in the security.

Divya had had a narrow escape. She hugged Madhavan with tears in her eyes. They were tears of joy, for discovering the answer to her nagging question and tears of gratitude to God for sending an angel to save her.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sindhu's surprise

The Logan International airport was buzzing with activity. I had checked in and was waiting for security clearance. I had two hours before me. I saw an Indian young woman in her early twenties sitting across me. She was sobbing gently wiping the tears frequently. From a slip pasted on her box, I could see she was also bound for Chennai. Her slightly dusky appearance and the features indicated she was from my state. She was charming with a well chiseled face. From the shining gold bangles and chain she was wearing, I deduced she must have been newly married. Something was obviously amiss. I felt I should help her in case she needed any.

I went near her and said “I am Gopal bound for Chennai. I work here. I see that something is bothering you and that you are alone. I get a feeling you are new to this country. If there is anything you need, please ask me freely. Do you speak Tamil?”

“Thanks. I am Sindhu. Yes I am somewhat new. I came here three months back and am returning to my place after some unfortunate developments. Yes I am a Tamilian”she replied

Showing the coffee shop opposite to our seats, I said “Let us go and have some French fries and coffee. I am hungry”

While we were having coffee, I said “I am not inquisitive but you were crying a while ago. I hope there is no serious problem. You do not have to answer if it is personal. I work for Fidelity since two years after my post graduation here. I am going for a fortnight to see my parents. Do you live in Chennai? My parents live in Besant Nagar.”

She kept quiet for some time. I did not prompt her waiting for her to open up.

She asked “What is your seat number. Mine is 16A”

“Wow! What a happy coincidence. Mine is 16B. It is a two seat arrangement normally reserved for women with small kids as they have a bassinet facility” I replied with obvious happiness.

She smiled and said “Wow. We would be seated side by side. It is a long story. I will tell you in the plane. Let us go as we are due for security check already”

That was the first time I was sitting so close to a young woman. The gentle perfume was subdued but still I could feel the fragrance. I don’t know why but I was elated to be by her side. As the plane settled on its long journey to London Heathrow, she asked “Are you in a mood to listen to a depressing story?”

When I said I am all ears, she started telling how she was deceived by a rake who had already married two American women who left him soon and now living in with a big Cuban woman five years older to him.” We got his reference from a matrimonial column. The relative to whom a request was made to enquire did not check thoroughly. While I am a BTech from IIT, he is not even a postgraduate and doing odd jobs living off on that Cuban woman. He gave false information about him. His intention was to ditch the Cuban woman and attach himself to me as I am in a good job having been transferred by my company to US. He is a cruel and coarse guy given to violent temper and lying. When I sized up the situation I moved to a separate apartment with the help of colleagues but he started pestering me. I threatened police action to keep him at bay, sought a transfer back to India and plan to file papers for divorce. That is the gist of my American experience.”

“I have heard of such instances of even well educated men doing such things. It happens despite the best care for no one can find all details about the individuals’ character. Where do you live in Chennai?” I asked

“Adyar. Do you live with your wife here in US?” she asked

“No, I am not yet married. My parents want me to see a few young ladies they have selected. Personally I would like to put off my wedding for a year. I hope to persuade my parents to agree. They do not mind even my choosing my own partner provided she is from India preferably a Tamilian” I said with a smile.

“Do you have anyone in view?”she asked

“Not till I reached the airport this evening” I said with a mischievous smile.

Bewildered she looked at me and said “I don’t get it. What is it you are telling?” she asked

“Even I didn’t know till recently. Let us eat the dinner and resume our conversation” I said with a smile.

When I took the dinner plate from the air hostess and gave it to Sindhu, my hands brushed against hers. She pulled back immediately not before making an eye contact with me .After dinner we did not pursue the same subject. She dozed off in a while. When she woke up with a start when there was turbulence in the air, she found herself resting her head on my shoulders and that I had covered her with a blanket. Embarrassed she shrank back; when I said “It is ok. Sleep for some more time”

“No, the sleep has gone. Tell me more about the change in your mind after reaching airport. Did you meet any friend of yours?” she said

“I met none except you” I said with a loud guffaw as heads turned towards me. I continued saying “I have found one and am willing to wait till her problem is sorted out.”

In utter disbelief and shyness she lowered her head. I said “I wish to introduce you to my parents soonest and hope to spend the fortnight happily in the company of my new find and friend” and held her fingers in mine throughout the flight.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The unspoken love

Deepak was scrutinizing the day’s mail stacked on his office table early in the morning. He was puzzled to see a small envelope in office stationery with the words “Personal, for your eyes only” typed in bold. He quickly opened to see a typed short unsigned letter.

You may not know my deepest love for you for I have never expressed it. The sole motivation for my coming to office daily is to see your irresistibly charming face. I want to be bound together with you and lead a life of eternal bliss. Won’t you open your eyes and see for yourself your love-struck admirer

Deepak a handsome young executive was aware that he was the object of adoring eyes not only in office but elsewhere too. He had no girl friend in particular that could be called romantic. He was sure that this must be from someone in the office as the envelope bore office logo and address. There were three young women in his small office.

Lavanya, a charming, chubby but petite one is married with a small child. Her husband worked in Singapore and came twice a year for a short holiday. Though she was friendly and spoke animatedly with him, he could not discern any romantic inclinations from her side. But then she found innumerable reasons to come frequently to his cabin and linger for a while.

Ipsita, secretary to the Managing Director smiled at him always but was taciturn. Conscious of her position and privy to all important decisions, she never spoke much for fear people may ask her questions. Deepak always took care not to embarrass her and for this reason she dropped in to his cabin for an occasional tea whenever MD was away. She was a single, tall very attractive but had no fiancé to his knowledge. Here again there was never an oblique suggestion of any amorous interest in him.

But Lalita was a different. A bubbly extrovert, she was a flirt, not with him alone but with everyone including courier and pizza boys who came to deliver. She was in the accounts department and reported to him. Knowing her well, she is not the type to write secretive letters. If she were in love she would have told him openly and even take the bull by the horns by hugging him on the spot. But he had heard that some young man frequently came to the office and took her in his bullet after office hours.

He was actually curious to find out who out of this three would have written this love note. It was unmistakably for him for his name was typed legibly both on the envelope and the paper inside. It was then his colleague Pinto entered his cabin. He was in the marketing wing and was mostly outside the office except in the morning hours and sometimes in the evenings. They were good friends. But strangely he never mingled with the lady staff. He was formal with them most of the times but curt occasionally with Lalita especially. The girls had even complained obliquely about him to Deepak who consoled them saying he was an enigma to him too.

Pinto asked him “Hey Deepu, why are you wearing a worried look on your otherwise charming face? What happened? What is that paper on your hand?”

“I am not worried but only surprised. Just have a look at this confidential note and tell me who could have written this to me” said Deepak

Pinto glanced at it and then said with a mischievous smile “Whoever has written is shy of telling you directly on your face of their love and would probably wish you to find from their body language. You are a smart chap and should be able to unravel the mystery of your ardent lover very soon. I give you two days time and in case you fail, I will help you find.”

The next day he showed Lavanya the note and said “I know it cannot be you. I am just checking with all the three lady staff” She just smiled and said she did not write.

Ipsita’s response with a big smile when she saw the letter was ”Deepak, you could have shown me this note a month earlier. It is late now. My parents have finalized a match already. Bad luck”

“For whom?”Deepak asked with a grin

“Me of course” she said and vanished

Lalita said “Sorry, my dear. I have a fiancé already as you might have known. I would have readily upgraded for you but I have gone too far with that guy”

Next day when Pinto came, he plunged directly into the subject. Deepak narrated his conversation with the three ladies.
Pinto then said with a roguish smile “Think out of box. If it is not from a lady in the office, can it be from somebody else?”He left abruptly saying “Have your answer ready. I will be back in a few minutes”

It was then it struck Deepak like a sledge hammer blow that though Pinto seemed a normal guy, he often smiled roguishly without provocation and spoke in a soft voice, and simpered whenever he greeted him in the mornings. He had seen that he never befriended any girl or spoke of any one. There was an effeminate side to his personality and often talked holding Deepak’s hands of his great affection for him. Now he realized the bitter truth and developed an instant dislike for him.

When Pinto entered, Deepak threw the letter on his face and said “it is you. I hate you. You find your quarry elsewhere” and dismissed him telling “I am sorry Pinto, I am busy and have some urgent work to attend to.”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The nagging question

Divya was waiting at the Central station for boarding her train to Coimbatore. She had come an hour earlier. She found seated by her side a young man in his late twenties reading an English magazine. He looked handsome with dark curly hair parted at the centre. The thin rimless specs that rested on his aquiline nose added to his charm. She glanced towards him now and then but he never seemed to take note of her. She glanced at her watch and found it had stopped.

“Mister, can you please tell me the time?” she asked him shaking her watch vigorously.

“20.10.Has your watch stopped or what?” he asked.

She giggled and said “Thanks. Why would I ask if it were running?”

“I am Madhavan bound for Coimbatore. Who knows you might have asked me just to pick up a conversation” he said with a mischievous grin.

“Chee, chee.Why should I pick up conversation with a stranger? I am Divya waiting for my train to the same place” she replied.

When he exploded into laughter she too joined him. After a few pleasantries he asked her “Would you mind having tea and some snacks at the restaurant? I am famished and we have an hour more”

She readily agreed. He ordered samosa, sandwiches and tea. As they were waiting, she excused herself leaving her small suit case with him . When she came back, he found him waiting with the snacks and tea. They ate together. She learnt he was an Income Tax officer working at Coimbatore and in turn had informed him that she was an officer in a national bank.

As they were eating she felt suddenly groggy with a tugging pain in her head and blacked out.

It was early morning. She heard noises of people around. She found that she was in a berth in AC two tier compartment. The train had reached Coimbatore. She quickly looked for her hand bag. It was lying under her pillow. Except for the missing cash of a few thousands all were intact. She looked for her suitcase. It was missing.

She realized she was conned. She didn’t know what to do as most of the passengers were getting down. She came to the gate to get down. There she found Madhavan waiting for her with her suitcase in his hand.

“Good morning, Divya. Could you sleep well? What happened? You passed out suddenly yesterday. I gtot worried.. I saw from your hand bag your ticket with coach and seat number. I did not want to leave you in that state in the station. I had no time to go to the police. I was also not comfortable leaving a young lady in their custody in the night. So I decided to put you in the train .Luckily I was in the next cabin. I took the precaution to remove the money from your bag and keep your suitcase with me. Here they are. Please have them checked” he said with a smile.

She thanked him profusely and said “I did not know what happened after I ate the stuff along with you. I do not remember a single bit. But for your presence of mind and help I would have been in serious trouble. I have no words to express my gratitude. Thanks a bunch for safeguarding my money and the suitcase.”

“Never mind. All is well that ends well. My car would be waiting. I can drop you at your place on my way” he said

“Thanks. I would rather take a three wheeler. I do not know how to thank you for being such a good Samaritan” she said as she gave her card.

“I can understand your apprehension in travelling with unknown stranger in a car. But I have no intention to leave you here without ensuring you reach safely to your home. I will accompany you in your three-wheeler with my car behind. Here is my card” he said.

It was a big bungalow where the three wheeler stopped. She invited him for a coffee to which he readily agreed. As she related the incident, her parents were very pleased with him and enquired about his parents, where he stayed, matrimonial status and such like as old people are wont to. To make things short suffice it to say they were happily married in six months time.

One Sunday morning when she was sitting in the balcony of their house sipping tea with Madhavan, she remembered the question that had always foxed her without an answer. She looked at the innocent face of her husband reading a news paper. The thought crossed to her mind that he had also taken the same refreshments that day in the station with no ill effect and how she alone conked out. Could it be someone at the restaurant, she wondered? No, it cannot be she concluded.

Divya asked him the question the umpteenth time.

“Whoever did it I thank him from the bottom of my heart for fetching me such a beautiful wife. Do you suspect me?” was his smiling answer as always. She dared not accuse him for he was such a beloved husband.