Saturday, September 29, 2012

The lure of chocolate

I was playing on the road outside my house with my friend Shanthi who lived next door. We were skipping rope and playing hopping game (pandi) on an aero plane figure. We study in the same school in class three. My mom has permitted me to play with Shanthi only opposite our houses and not elsewhere. Only my grandma was at home. My mom would return from work only at 6pm and dad later in the night.
Today Shanthi had brought a 5 star chocolate. She gave me a small portion and was sucking the bigger part. You know how much I love chocolates but felt shy to ask her for more. When I was looking at her longingly, she asked “Do you want some more?”
I said “No, you have already sucked it.”
“Never mind. I will give you from the other end”
I declined saying mom will be angry. It was then an uncle who was smoking cigarette at the opposite pan shop of Balan Nair came to me and offered me a piece of the same chocolate.”Have it. I saw you watching your friend eat”
“I don’t want. My mom has told me not to take anything from strangers” At that point of time Shanthi was called by someone from her house and she went away.
The uncle said “No harm, I have a girl of your age in my home a few houses away from here. If you come with me, you can play with her and also get a box full of these chocolates. I work in a chocolate company”
“No, mom has said that I can play only here. I do not want your chocolate”
“It is okay if you don’t wish to come. Have this chocolate that I have already bought for you” he said
I could not resist the temptation and took it from him. As I opened the wrapper and ate it, it was so yummy and delicious that I felt like having more. When he saw me relishing he said “Do you like it? You do not have to play with the girl. Just collect the box of chocolates and run back to your home. My house is just 100 yards away. It will not take even five minutes to be back”
When I went to his place, there was no girl. It was one room at the terrace. He said “The girl must have gone down. She will come very soon” He opened a box a, took some candies and gave me telling that chocolates seemed exhausted. He sat on the cot very close to me and patted my head. He smelled bad. I wished to run away from the place and got up. But he would not let me go and held my hand tightly and said “Don’t go. The girl will be here soon. I will get you a big box of chocolates. Be a good girl. Do not cry.”
His hands started feeling all over me and he dragged me closer to him. I got scared. I remembered my mom telling me not to allow strangers even teachers  of any gender to touch and particularly some places. I realized he must be a wicked man and started crying loudly.
“If you raise noise, I will kill you .Be quiet and you can go home in a few minutes” he threatened and pushed me down on the cot and fell over me. When I screamed he hit me hard and covered my mouth with his hands and tore my clothes. Soon he was trying to hurt me and I cried in pain. When he let go his hand, I bit him hard and screamed loud. I was fainting in fear
It was then I heard the door being knocked hard from outside and voices asking the man to open. But the man would not move away from me and continued to hurt me. I screamed louder and louder repeatedly. The people outside breaking the door open rushed in and pulled the brute away from me. They beat him blue, tied his hands with a towel and dragged him away to the police station.
Shanthi’s mom and Shanthi who were with them covered me with her duppata and rushed me to a hospital nearby. In a short while my parents were also there. It was my friend Shanthi who saved me. When she came out of her home and did not find me outside or in my home, she alerted her mom. Seeing them frantically searching for me, Balan Nair gave them the tip that he saw the loafer Raju talking to me and also informed where he lived. That timely clue brought them to the scene of crime to save me in the nick of time before much damage could be done.
My parents shifted soon  to another locality and put me in a new school. About a year later when I met Shanthi in a temple where I had gone with my mom, she told me that someone had fatally stabbed Balan Nair out of enmity a few months after we left the locality. I could guess who it could be.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

.Kothandam’s menu

A repeat that I hope you will enjoy
When I was young I worked in a government office for a short period. I cannot forget one jolly person whom I had the good fortune to know. Kothandapani or Kothandam as he was called was a young man in his early twenties. He was tall guy, had a twinkle on his eyes, a broad forehead with a red vertical line and a loud voice. Clad always in a white dhoti and white shirt, he could keep his audience spellbound with his witty views on all men and matters. There would be no rancour when he cut his detractors to size with his rapier like jovial remarks that would leave no gaping wounds. He would hug them soon after and get along as if nothing happened. Wherever he was there was good cheer and laughter.
When he entered the office in the morning Naidu would greet him
“Good morning Kothandam, you seem to be in a happy frame of mind”
“Yes, why not? After a hearty heavy meal cycling all the way was tiresome but the mood is happy. Would you like to know the morning menu?” he would reply
“We are all ears” a few voices would be heard.
“It is nothing special. The usual South Indian fare. Morkuzhambu with ladies finger, beans usili, poosanikkai puli koottu, lemon rasam and thayir(curd) with mango pickles. The rasam was so delicious I had an extra helping in a cup” he would say.
This would leave all the listeners drooling with their mouths wide open.
“Do you people make so many items daily? Looks like a kalyana (wedding) meal” Hanumantha rao would comment
“My mom is fond of making good food and my dad is a gourmet appreciating her culinary abilities”Kothandam would reply
It is a daily refrain with Kothandam detailing different menus taking care not to repeat the same item on successive days in the week. This would start the day in the office on a bright note with large smile writ on everyone’s face.
Kothandam was a good person and helping by nature. He would offer his help to his colleagues when they had heavy backlogs to clear. He was a fast worker and had time to spare. I know of many occasions when he had come to office on Sundays to help his colleagues in their work. He would be the first person to donate blood if a member of colleague’s family needed blood. He was liked by all though there were one or two who did not find his loud conversations in the morning amusing.
What was intriguing me was when everyone during lunch time opened their lunch boxes to eat, Kothandam would not eat anything. He would have a glass of cool water telling others that he was not feeling hungry. Gradually I became close to him and started playing a skittle in chess during lunch break. He never spoke much about his family or invited me to his home.
It so happened that one evening I had some work to attend to in the area where he lived. I accompanied him in my cycle on his way back. When we neared his house, he bid me good bye.
I asked him jocularly “Won’t you invite me to your house and offer me a cup of tea? I have never been to your place although we are close friends.”
The colour in his face changed abruptly. He was quiet for a few seconds and then said
“Can I take you another time?I will make my home presentable and be ready to entertain you” he replied
“Don’t be formal. A friend’s place is like my own abode. I do not mind in whatever condition it is” I said
“Okay then but you will be in for some shock. I haven’t told you about my family. You can see for yourself” he replied.
It was a two roomed side portion in a small house. It was dark and dingy with stale smell emanating. There was no furniture. Poverty was writ large in the house. The walls had never seen a colour wash for decades. In the front room lay his dad on a bench afflicted by paralytic stroke and unable to communicate. I saw his mother, who dragged her feet afflicted by arthritis as she walked, frail and emaciated with shrunken cheeks.
Kothandam said to her as if justifying my visit”He is my office friend, Partha.He expressed a desire to visit our home”
He went in and brought a glass of cool water. It was then a young girl entered the house. She was tall but looked skinny although good looking. He introduced her as his elder sister working as an assistant in a private company. It was their meager salaries that kept the fire in the hearth burning. He said his mom was suffering from asthma too and needed constant medication. His sister was to be married but they had no money or savings.
It struck me like a sledge hammer how this young man could possess such a pleasant and affable disposition despite the deadly combination of a dad struck with paralysis, a mom with frequent asthmatic bouts and an unmarried sister waiting to be married for want of money. He never allowed his private sufferings to affect his infectious spirit of warmth and helping nature. He indulged himself to the merriment of others in a fantasy world of opulence when he described the morning menu while what he actually took was a bowl of rice soaked in water and diluted butter milk. He went up in my esteem by several notches. Such men are rare indeed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Ambuja wore a worried look when she brought her young and beautiful daughter of 20 to the clinic
The doc came out with grim face from the examination room.
“12 weeks” he said
“Oh my god, I never allowed her alone without one of us.A sweet young innocent thing she hardly knows anything. Never allowed her to see even adult movies. .How did it happen?”
“How would I know? With dogs around the bitch is never safe is an old adage.
“But she had no boy friend or dated any one, I am sure”
“That is what you have been told by her. I am sure you are not tailing behind her whenever she goes out”
“Oh my god. She is in the final year of college and cannot afford to have a baby. It will ruin and shatter the reputation of our family. You must do something. Please, I beg of you, doctor” cried the woman
“OK, send her in. I will have a word with her”
After a few minutes with the doctor, the girl came out and sent her mom inside.
“I have talked to her. Brace yourself to hear the news. It is your neighbour’s son. They have been in love and meeting whenever chance presented. They never expected this outcome. He is keen to marry her. He has finished his final management course. I know their family as they are my patients too” the doctor said.
“That wily Shakunthala? I know she has always been jealous of me and our wealth. It is a ploy by her to grab it through her son courting my only daughter.No; I do not want this baby. You must terminate it at any cost” she pleaded.
“It is illegal. Even if I do on some medical grounds I would need the consent of the young man. Talk to your neighbor and come along with them and your daughter. We will find some way out” said the doctor. He also added “I will also talk to them. I don’t think Shakunthala is after your wealth for they are very rich by themselves. May be, she is jealous because you have a beautiful and talented daughter. She has no girl and only a son.
The next evening both the mothers with their two children came to the clinic with basketful of fruits.
“Doctor, we had a frank discussion.Shakunthala’s son and my girl are in deep love. We thought over the tricky situation and consulted our husbands too. They would make a perfect pair and our families too are compatible socially. We would like to get them engaged very soon” Ambuja said with a smile with Shakunthala joining her.
“Congratulations! All your worry is gone. When is the marriage?”asked the doctor
“That will be soon but only after the baby hassle is solved. They are yet to settle down in a career and have a plan to go on a long honeymoon. They do not want the baby.’
“Let me hear from all of you that the marriage has been agreed upon and there is no going back” the doctor said
All of them said in chorus that marriage is final and non negotiable.
The doctor broke into a loud laughter to the great confusion of the two ladies.
“What is there to laugh about, doctor” asked Shakunthala.
“You two moms must excuse me for being a part of a drama enacted by your children. They were both afraid to break the news of their being in deep love knowing the distrust that you both had for each other. I know both the young things well and you two too. So I agreed on the condition that I cannot compromise the ethical requirements of my profession of being truthful to the patient who is a major. They just wanted to instill a sense of urgency and hence came up with the ploy of her being preggy.I did not examine her and told you what she asked me to tell you.”
Looking at Ambuja he added”Though I deceived you with a false statement, I never examined your daughter or lied to her. As they say all is well that ends well”

Monday, September 24, 2012

The boy with pride

Satwant was in a slight hurry to reach home from the  Pizza hut on the main road. He found the shortcut of the narrow and dark lane deserted. Normally he would have avoided it in the evenings for its desolate nature and foul stench but he took it today. Half way through one man in faded jeans, dirty T shirt emerged from the darkness and accosted him with a growl voice,”Gimme your wallet, if you wish to go home safe”

Satwant had lot of money in his wallet and hence hesitated. Without a warning the vagabond pulled out a gun and shot him in the belly and ran away with the wallet. As Satwant lay on the ground bleeding, he thought of his wife and children waiting for him. He wished to surprise them with pizza, cakes and ice cream. The packets lay by his side. Blood was draining out and he was slowly lapsing into drowsiness. No one passed through that road and he was slowly dying uncared for. He had no strength even to reach his mobile that lay a little away from him. Being dark a couple of passersby who went that way did not stop taking him to be a drunk. His mind turned to God.

As luck would have it, a 10 year old rag picker who came along the road saw the well dressed Satwant lying on his side. The boy reached him and called ‘Sir, why are you lying here? It is dirty”. When there was no response, the boy touched him and tried to turn him when he saw the stream of blood. The boy ran to the main road and brought a policeman. In a few minutes Satwant was rushed to a hospital in a patrol car along with the young boy.

He was rushed to the emergency and the doctors operated upon him and could save his life as he was brought in the nick of time. The policeman who waited along with the boy left after they were told the injured man though critical was out of danger.

The next day morning at 9am the boy in his dirty clothes was at the reception. The nurse at the desk recognized him and called him to ask what brought him there. The boy replied “I came to enquire the about the person operated last night”

“Are you related to him?”

“No, I found him lying in a lane after being shot and with help of police brought him here. Just came to check whether he is fine” the boy replied

“Good boy.Wait.Let me check” and she dialed some number.”He is fine and recovering well and taken to his room”

“Thanks. Would you mind my checking for a few days daily about him?”She smiled at him.

It became a daily practice for the boy to come at 9am sharp and for the nurse at the desk giving him the feedback. One day she said “I mentioned about your daily visit to the patient’s wife and the patient would like to see you. Would you go and meet him now?”

The boy hesitated looking at his dirty clothes and bare uncovered legs.”Why do you hesitate when you have been showing such concern daily? Please come. I will take you. He would be happy to see his savior” she prompted

When the boy entered the spacious private room, Satwant called him “Come here. Do not be afraid. If I am alive today, it is because of your prompt help. I am indebted to you for life”

The boy just smiled and said “It was good luck that I passed through that lane that day. I do not go there in the evenings”

“How lucky it turned out for me” Satwant said and turned towards his wife. She opened her handbag and took out two thousand rupees. When she gave it to him, the boy said “I do not need it. I just did what was a normal duty to a fellow being. Thank you” and started walking out

“Hey, come back. At least tell me where you live” shouted Satwant

“No, sir.I do not need anything “and walked out proudly

The nurse who took the boy looked at the small chap in utter disbelief and asked “Why did you refuse?”

“I am no beggar to take money for nothing though I am a rag picker. Thanks for all the help” he said and walked away without turning back. He did not come to hospital thereafter.

Satwant after he was discharged and normal could not trace the boy around the lane despite strenuous efforts.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A tryst with spirit

Inspired by a story I have heard decades back when I went to Chottanikkara,Kerala

Govindan, a young man of 21, was learning Sanskrit, Vedas, Sastraic rituals from Kesavan Vadhyar, a learned pundit who was also a tantric, well versed in astrology. The pundit was a strict person not given to unnecessary talk. He had forbidden his family members particularly his young daughter to pass through the front patio where the classes were held.Govindan had seen her a few times and found her very charming.

Govindan was intelligent and with his prodigious memory, he used to stun his teacher with his flawless recitation of Vedas and slokas.

He had to walk about two miles from his village to the teacher’s place. The road passed through a lonely and long stretch covered by shrubs and trees on both sides. He found one day a young girl of about 17 or 18 waiting at the beginning of the wood for someone to come along. Presumably she was afraid to walk alone through the shady and deserted path. This became a regular feature with both reaching the spot around the same time. If she were delayed, he would wait for her. He got to know of her as Vijaya from his village and became friendly that over a period blossomed into love. He cursed the weekends as he would miss her company.

One day when he was slightly delayed the pundit asked him in a stern voice “I have been seeing your coming late frequently. Are you not able to start early from home to be in time?”

When Govindan did not answer, the teacher got annoyed and said “Why are you silent? I cannot wait to commence the classes for your sake”

It was then one of his class mates blurted out “Govindan is escorting a girl from his village and gets delayed if she is late”

“What is all this nonsense I hear? Who is that girl? Is she related to you? Are your parents aware of your accompanying a girl daily?” he asked angrily.

Trembling in fear and feeling embarrassed, he replied in low voice “She is from my village and afraid of walking in the lonely road alone. Her name is Vijaya and follows me daily.”

“For a young student given to study of Vedas, to hobnob with young girl is highly deplorable. Let me see the girl tomorrow” he said

The next day Kesavan Vadhyar was waiting at the gate when he saw Govindan accompanied by Vijaya coming at a distance. His eyebrows shrunk and face became red in anger but he maintained his calm.When Govindan entered the class, he bellowed “Go and wash your legs and hands and come to my room alone”.

“I have seen Vijaya and with my tantric powers could find out that she is possessed by an evil spirit out to harm you. You must get out of its clutches by stopping coming with her. Wear the amulet that I will give on your right hand. She cannot harm you as long as it is there. Never take it out. You should not wait for her and if she is there already stop talking to her and ignore her completely. She will persist and ask you why. If you are determined in your silence, she will stop coming with you and go after someone else. Do you understand the seriousness of the matter? Follow my instructions for your well being” he said and tied an amulet after chanting some mantras.

That news reached Govindan’s parents same evening from one of the students who had eavesdropped the conversation. Strangely Govindan’s dad did not speak about it to him even when the young man feared his dad’s wrath.

It was 9.30 pm .Govindan could not sleep with his mind torn by day’s events. He then heard his dad’s voice clearly in the stillness of the night .He was speaking to Govindan’s mother in their bed room.”That girl Vijaya is a very nice girl, studious, well behaved and efficient in work. Her father met me two days back and wished Govindan’s hands for her. I promised I would talk to you and revert. That Kesavan Vadhyar has some ulterior plan. He wants Govindan for his daughter because our son is not only handsome but very intelligent. So the cunning man has scared our boy by concocting some story of a spirit having possessed Vijaya.I have heard that both Govindan and Vijaya are friendly and I suspect are in love with each other.I wish to help them”

“I have seen that girl a few times at the temple. She will be a good match for our Govindan” his mom replied

Govindan could hardly believe his ears and could not sleep that night elated at the pleasant outcome

Next day morning his dad called him and said “Govinda,you may stop attending Kesavan Vadhyar’s classes. I will admit you in another patasala (school) in the same area. I have some nice plans for you. I will tell you at the appropriate time.”

Govindan was in cloud nine and restless wanting to break the news to Vijaya at the earliest.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vanamala’s vexation

Vanamala is a new face in Kollywood much in demand and sought after by upcoming heroes for the pictures they do. The public also took a great liking for her as she gave the feel of the girl next door with her dimpled smile and sparkling teeth. She was medium in height, slim and delivered her dialogue with perfect clarity. In the five years this village girl turned film star could acquire an independent bungalow and a couple of swanky cars. But the climb up the rungs to stardom had not been easy without its price. From the innocent belle she had become street smart and learnt to take the compromises frequently made in her stride. She brought her parents to live with her. The first floor of the house was exclusively for her with two entrances and restricted only to those whom she allowed.

She hardly stayed here as she was mostly outdoor on shooting at various locales. She had an elderly manager recommended by a hero close to her to assist her. Having established herself as one of the few leading heroines with mass appeal, the compulsions of initial adjustments needed were now no longer there. She commanded respect from co-workers and the producers. Even her small whims were instantly complied without demur. Her life despite the busy schedule seemed to her meaningless and lonely. Marriage was unthinkable at least immediately if one were to continue in the field. She had everything but life seemed dull and empty. .She could and did have the company of men but what she yearned was for real love and committed companionship. But this was not to be. She gradually started drowning her dejection by drinking. She was always lost in thoughts of her care free village days and her boy friend. She sent someone to find about his whereabouts only to learn he had left the village five years back.

Life in village was simple. Wants were less and she could run around the village freely with abandon. She could not forget Jagan, her soul mate and secret lover. She used to go frequently to the nearby forest under the ploy of plucking tamarind fruit but actually to meet him there. They would spend time cuddling each other, talking of their dreams, promising to marry and about their lives together thereafter. He went to the adjacent town to learn car driving to take up a job. He often brought her small trinkets like bangles, ear rings and talcum powder. These escapades to forest were the only bright moments for her in an otherwise placid life.

It was then fate took her to Chennai in the form of distant relative who supplied extras to the studios without telling her parents his real intention. The rest is history. She had amply rewarded the relative with money for the initial help after she became rich and famous and now forgotten him too. She was resting watching some Malayalam movie as she had no call sheets for three days. It was then her manager announced that he had shortlisted three persons for driver’s job for her car as the earlier driver had left..

“Ok, send them one by one “she said

The first two were alright and had proper credentials. But they were past middle age. She preferred a young man. When the third was ushered in, her heart stopped beating for a moment. It was the long lost Jagan in trim white uniform well built, muscular and clean shaven.

“Hey Jagan, what a surprise? I have been searching for you for all these years and had given up hope.” She exclaimed with joy

“I never knew it was you, Madam. I am happy to see you well placed in life”

“Cut out the madam business.You are appointed. I need a reliable and trusted person to be with me and help. I will pay you whatever you require. You can stay in one of the apartments at the rear of the bungalow. Except when I am on shooting, I may need you all the time. I still remember fondly the wonderful time in the forest years back” she smiled as she said this.

"Thanks madam. I will stay where I am and report for duty early in the morning and leave at night”

“Why, are you married or what?”

“Yes madam, I have a small baby too”

She kept quiet for a few minutes and then said “It does not matter. You can be here as long as I want and then go back home” and in a whisper said “I want the old days of our friendship back. I have no one whom I can call my own. I want you. Money is no matter. I will pay you any amount .Sky is the limit. But I need your companionship. It will be discreet. No one comes here without my permission. This can be our love nest”

He kept quiet looking at her hungry and lustful eyes when she said “Come at 7am tomorrow. I wish to go to Kanchipuram temple to thank the god for my luck in tracing you”

When he bowed his head , she said “You don’t have to do this when we are alone”

The next day morning. It was past 730 am.Vanamala was pacing in her bed room eagerly waiting for Jagan.He had not turned up. It was then the security brought a sealed envelope. She opened it hurriedly and read


I still have lots of affection for the village girl Vanamala that I knew of and not the one I saw yesterday. I am hurt at your evaluation of me. I have not changed as you have. I am happy with my wife and baby and would not do or want anything to take away that joy. I decline the job offered to me


She tore the letter into pieces and fell on her bed crying hysterically.


Monday, September 10, 2012


Raju, a marketing executive was frantically looking for a small apartment. He did not like working men's hostels that go under the name of 'mansions' though they bear no relation to the word. He never liked the ambience, the noise even at unearthly hours and litter of beer bottles outside each door and the foul smell.Where ever he went on hearing about a vacant apartment or one with a To Let board, the owners turned him away saying the accommodation is for small family. There is a resistance to letting out to singles. It is almost three months since he has been hunting.

In most places he visited, he found the same young lady in her twenties also approaching the owners. Either she had preceded or followed him. The result must have been the same for both as she always came with along face. He had heard that it was more difficult for single ladies to get accommodation in apartments or working hostels. Many work in far away IT offices on the outskirts and may be in shifts.

One Sunday afternoon as he came out of an apartment after rejection on ground of being single, he saw the lady climbing up the stairs to the apartment. He smiled at her and wished her good luck. She smiled back and said “Thanks though I am sure the outcome would be the same”

He said “Who knows?” and smiled back.

He was sipping a coke at the pan shop on the road and he saw her coming out soon with the same long face. He called her “Hey, come here and tell me what happened? What is your name by the way?”

When she came near him, he offered her a coke and said “You don’t have to tell .I know the answer. I have been trying for quite some months and lost hopes.”

“Me too. I am Lochana.But I need a place immediately. I am in a distant relative’s place and they have indicated clearly that I leave their house. Frankly I don’t know where to go and what to do. I cannot resign and go back to my village”

“Oh, oh.I am sorry but no solution seems to be in sight unless we lie to them we are married and spouse is expected shortly. But then they will ask after a month or two where the spouse is and throw us out when the bluff is known. Hey, I have one weird idea. If you agree we may succeed and our problem will be solved. Why not we pose as married couple and live in the separate rooms. I promise you no harm will come to you.I am in marketing and will be away for about 15 days a month. Some days I may return late in night. But you will have no cause to worry, I promise.”He then told her about his job, family and other details.

Lochana said”Wow, What a brilliant idea? I agree and it is no big deal” she replied and gave all details about her. They shook hands and exchanged mobile numbers.

Within a week they had occupied a two bed roomed beautiful apartment. She made early morning coffee if she got up earlier. They had cereals bread and fruits for breakfast. On holidays a caterer supplied them food. The landlady took a liking for her, non interfering and everything went fine. In fact the close proximity and the outing to restaurants and movies brought them together for tender feelings to blossom.

One Sunday as he was coming down the side staircase to get some magazines, he heard a booming voice from inside landlords ground floor space”Raju, how come you are here? I know you are in Chennai. When I met your parents two months back at the village they were talking about you.”

Raju was shocked. It was Kodandam uncle of his village, a kind hearted man but given to much talking.

“Uncle, I am a tenant here. Glad to meet you. How is your health?”

"How come you are a tenant here.Kalyani, my niece, who is here, told me that a young couple is residing here. Your mom did not mention about your marriage. Is it a love marriage?”He giggled and added “where is your wife? Let me come up to your place and bless you both now that I am here”

“Uncle, she has gone to her mother’s place and will return in the evening only.”Luckily Lochana had gone to work.

“Oh.oh.I am leaving for Mumbai in a shortwhile.I will visit you both next time. My best wishes to you.” he said

Raju went out and did not return till in the evening.

In the night, he recounted what had happened and said “I am sure Kodandam uncle would talk to my mother someday and the cat would be out of the bag”

Lochana sat silent a bit worried but spoke later with a sparkle in her eyes”Raju, you are imaginative and always come up with bright ideas. Think of one even out of box thinking”

Raju let out a guffaw and said “I can think of only one and if I tell you, you will beat me”

“Hey, don’t be a meek one. Come out boldly. I am open for any good and attractive ideas” she winked

“Eureka, the only option is to legitimize our tenancy agreement with landlord’s requirements. I am all willing. What about you?”

She extended her hand and said “Accepted. It is a deal” only to be surprised by the tight hug she got in return from him.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pooja’s baby

Pramod got Pooja admitted in the hospital at the first sign of labour pain. It turned out to be a false pain and the gynecologist advised her to stay as she may deliver the child in a day. Pramod came around 8pm to stay in the hospital visitor’s lounge.

It was around 4 am she thought. Pramod was by her side. A nurse came with a bundle of white sheet along with the head nurse. Their faces were grim. When Pooja tried to raise her head in eagerness to see the baby, the head nurse said it is a boy and weighed nine pounds. She did not come forward to show the baby. Pramod stood up as Pooja beckoned the nurse near.

It was then the head nurse said” This baby is not normal as babies generally are though all limbs are normal. Brace yourself”

What Pooja and Pramod saw was a hideous baby with a large egg shaped head .The eyes were unusually small but very close to each other. The nose was beak shaped that flared big at the nostrils. The mouth was very wide and forehead narrow. The ears were protruding and disproportionately large for the head. Both of them gasped at the monstrosity shown as their baby.

“No, there must have been a serious mistake. This cannot be ours. There is obviously some goof up. Please check again” exclaimed Pramod. Both Pooja and Pramod were good looking couple.

The head nurse replied “We also felt the baby is so different from you two but there cannot be any mistake as in the last four hours this is the only baby born and it is yours beyond any doubt. We are sorry for you” and asked her colleague to leave the baby in the bassinet near the cot. The junior nurse said before she left that if the baby cried, she can nurse it.

Pramod saw tears trickling from Pooja’s eyes.”Do not worry. We will leave it somewhere outside a church or destitute home.”

“No, it is our baby and not a destitute. I cannot agree to discard it” she sobbed

“This is a freak. It cannot be rectified even by doctors and will grow uglier in the years to come. I am not sure whether he will be a normal baby or dull” he said with anguish

“Still it is our biological child. We must accept him. Thank god he is not blind. But I shudder at the thought of all visitors to our house look at him with contempt and commiserate with us.”

The baby cried and the nurse rushed in to leave it by Pooja’s side. The maternal instinct overpowered her revulsion as she nestled the baby close to her. Pramod turned his face and walked out. She ran her hands tenderly on the innocent young baby that smiled at her. The smile looked queer and for a moment sent a shudder. But she soon over came and kissed its head softly.It seemed that baby was after all not as ugly as she initially felt.

Pramod came in and said in peremptory tone “I have come to a decision. I just want your approval for giving it in adoption to some poor family along with some hefty amount. Our own maid who is childless will gladly take.”

“No, they will take the child for the sake of money and neglect it. They may even starve it or kill it. I cannot agree under any circumstances.” she said even when she was distracted by the giggle of the babe.

“You have to make a choice, either me or the baby. I cannot have him in my house” he told her emphatically

She let out a loud scream saying “No, I will not agree” and cried hoarsely.

It was then a nurse rushed in and came by Pooja’s side and asked her ‘Are you ok? Why did you scream? Why are you crying?”

Pooja turned to her side and not finding the baby asked the nurse “Where is my baby?”

The nurse laughed and said “What baby? Are you dreaming? The labour pain hasn’t even commenced. May be by this evening when the doctor gives an injection to hasten it” she said

Pooja blinked in happy bewilderment and asked “Where is my husband?”

“I have asked him to get the necessary medicines, rubber sheet and a few other items. He should be here any moment”