Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Phew!

This short-story will remind you of the first few stories of Graffiti - with the trademark of being strangely unexpected. Hope you enjoy.

11 am
I was on a bus, when suddenly it screeched to a halt. The last three hours had been tiresome, since the seat took all the happiness from my bottom. All the while, my long legs tried to find some space below the seats in front, but my knees didn't get a chance to make a perfect 180 degrees. In the past hours, I found my shelter in my newly purchased SLR camera worth 400 pounds(32k rupees), which diverted my mind from cursing the Megabus - UK's Intercity Cheap Travel Coaches for being so uncomfortable. But finally, the driver did apply brakes! Phew!

The legs found a reason to celebrate. Taking my lovely gadget with me, I climbed down the mini-stairs of the Mega-bus. It was the Manchester bus station.

"The bus will stay here for just 15 minutes. Please get back as soon as possible." The driver announced.

The sky-scrapers around attracted my attention and my fingers came into action to get that perfect 'click'. My legs heaved a sigh of relaxation and my neck got quite a few chances to exercise.

'Click, click, click.' The sound buzzed my ears and flashes pierced the foggy morning. The sexy gadget taught a tyro like me into how to be good at snapping great photographs, after all, it was just a matter of sleek observation and the right technique.

The camera searched around with the help of my eyes to find the things of its desire. The beauty of nature mesmerized me. My eyes looked around when someone beautiful called me. Yes, it was nature's call. My bladder needed a trash bin to purge out its trapped emotions. I rushed to the nearest loo, whose way turned out to be more complicated than Mahabharata's labyrinth.

11:10 am
I kept the camera over the flush and did the not-quite-describable-thing, being lost in thinking about what extraordinary I can snap in the loo(no pun intended!). Lost, with eyes wandering here and there, I came out, washed my hands and tried to retrace my path back to the bus.

11:12 am
My lost eyes found themselves back - fully functioning - after seeing an old lady holding her small grand-daughter's index finger and walking with her. The scene of both of them walking at the same pace moved this amateur photographer and I looked for my cam.

"Cam! Oh shit, cam!"
I exclaimed. My feet started moonwalk and then my body turned like a top to get to the long forgotten 'flush' as soon as possible.

11:13 am
Giving tough competition to Usain Bolt's speed record, slipping and skidding all throughout, I reached the loo, but alas everything that had been kept over that 'flush' was brushed off.

A wave of dread danced over my body, my eyes tried to come out of my skull and my heartbeat echoed in my hollow body. I searched around for a while but with no achievements on my side. I looked at my watch. It was 11:14 am.

11:14 am
I rushed towards the bus, hoping to stop it for sometime and then get along with the mission-search-my-cam. The knees which were fighting with boredom for the last three hours burnt more calories in those two minutes than the past three days. But, when things go wrong, it goes on and on. Oops! I forgot my way back.

11: 15 am
Gathering help from all around, from mothers to daughters, grandfathers to grandsons, I finally managed to reach the bus stop. I could see the bus just leaving the stand. I rushed towards it, when my eyes saw something which literally paralyzed my feet. I saw the person who was sitting by my side clicking my photo with my own camera.

Enervated, with no-one around to take hold of that decoy with my SLR, I lost control of my body, toppled and fell on the ground. My heart-thumping resonated with the ground and I could see my sweat bathing the asphalt road. My eyelids dropped down to let the grand view of my own struggle fade away and suddenly, my eyes opened.

7 am
What painted my retina was nothing short of a shock - a pleasant shock to be particular! I could hear my heart beating at the same pace, the pillow being completely sweat-laden and my eyes seeing a decade old fan running at a speed of slow-ballet dancer.

"Phew!" I exclaimed loudly and heaved a brassy outcry marking an abnormal yet the most comforting sigh of relief.
"What happened?" My roommate Sunny asked out of the blues.
"Phew! I had a nightmare! A real nightmare .... phew!" I exclaimed. I was happy as a clam.
"What was it?" He asked.
"Oh! You know, yesterday my Dad got me an SLR, and today I dreamt that someone has stolen it, gosh! It made my blood run cold. Huff!" I said spookily. I was still catching up with my breaths.

"Woah! An SLR cam, that's so cool dude!" Sunny said.
"Yes, it is! Anyway, tell me when did you reach here?"
"Oh! I got here just two minutes ago. Leave everything aside, come on, show me your cam first."
"Yes sure, it's awesome. I bet you'll love it."

I opened my cupboard and looked for my camera. Here and there. Hither and thither. Left to right. Top to bottom. This time my blood didn't run cold, rather it freezed!

P.S. Thanks for reading. This story is what is the essence of Graffiti - last line twists.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What's your dream?

We were friends, the kind of friends who can be called as best friends. We studied together, sat together in classes and even ate together on occasions. She made it clear to all our classmates that we were nothing more than 'best' friends - to prevent any kind of misunderstandings - but nevertheless we did share a special chemistry.

She was sincere, smart and beautiful; God bestowed her everything a girl could desire. While me, I was just a naive and immature kiddo', as she used to address me. Sitting by her side, I could not find anything more important than adoring her. She didn't notice it, and even if she noticed it, she didn't give it much attention. Perhaps, she had become used to such stares once in a while courtesy to her being only one of the few good-looking girls that my college(IIT Delhi) possessed.

She was a dreamer, with big ambitions for her small-yet-exceptionally-sharp brain. Small in comparison to the big-box-of-mud affixed over my neck by the Almighty and sharp which was quite evident by the streak of her academic achievements ranging from medals in International Olympiads to scholarships from foreign universities.

While, I was still struggling to find a place under my feet - to find my ambition for life. I often found myself busy finding my 'purpose of life' instead of studying before the examinations, thus letting mediocrity overshadow every aspect of my personality. God only knows how we managed to become best friends - it was due to our common interest in dramatics, I guess!

Once, we were sitting in the library and as always, she was helping me in fighting with books when Samarth, a batchmate of ours, came towards our table. He had been a good friend to her, and so to me.

"Hey Deeksha, can I borrow a minute from you? I want to talk about something in private." Samarth said.
"What's so private that you want to hide from Harsh? If you wish then say it in front of him or I am not interested to hear."
"Okay, please don't get angry. This may seem odd but if I don't commit it to you, I would become a maniac for sure. Deeksha, I like you, in fact, I love you. This feeling has captivated me ever since we first talked. I am crazy about you." He said shyly.

I didn't know why but I felt choked from inside, as though someone had cut my tongue and flushed my brain with chloroform. In a fit of blankness, I realized that I too was crazy about her - madly crazy - and I just could not afford to lose her.

"What's your dream?" Deeksha asked, in a serene tone, showing no particular reaction at all.
"Oh...yeah...obviously, my dream is to be with you always." He stammered nervously. I was dumbfounded seeing what she was upto.

"Samarth, I really respect your feelings for me. But you're not the kind of guy I would want in my life. I'm sorry." She said calmly. He didn't say a word and left the place.

"What? What was that?" I asked, puzzled.
"What?"
"How could you be so cool all throughout? And, how could you judge a guy with just one question? You're strange." I said.

"For me, a goal-less lover is the category I detest the most. I want somebody who is clear about his dream - his aim in life - because I believe that one can't understand what love means if one has not experienced it for himself - for his ambitions and his dreams. The kind of love which Samarth had for me would not last long, since it was mere infatuation. His only ambition was to get me and the day he succeeds in that, I would lose importance in his life because he will become dream-less and complacent with himself." She said.

I was lost in her words. Her every word did a silent work of crushing my dream of someday conveying my feelings to her. 'I was just a mediocre for her!' My inner voice yelled inside me.

Months went by, my fondness for her grew exponentially while my self-confidence plunged down, because in the meantime, she rejected four more proposals as they could not satisfy her ideology. The thought, 'I was not good enough for her!' pervaded my mind all the while.

Three months later
"Hey, I got selected for the International Photonics Conference to be held in Germany. I would be leaving on the next Sunday for two weeks. The best part is that the institute is funding me for the trip." She announced to a group of friends, me included in the group.

"Wow, cheers!" Everyone in the group reciprocated, but not me. I was definitely happy for her but inwardly I knew that I would miss her, miss her like hell. But, I was no-one to take more importance in her life than her dreams and her ambitions. 'Best friends' is a silly term to categorize the people who are important to you but not very special to you.

Time for her to go came soon. I went to the airport to see her off and bid her a goodbye hug with a tearful smile, which said more than what my words could. She seemed happy and smiled back in the usual way saying, "I'll miss you kiddo'."

"I'll miss you too." I managed to mumble.
"Promise me that you'll study hard." She said pulling my ears.

I promised her without reflecting on her words being completely lost in her eyes. How could she not notice that I like her? It had been more than five months of our friendship and it seemed like a lifetime of my fondness for her.

The two weeks passed like months and her thoughts clouded my mind all throughout. My feelings for her didn't know how to apply brakes. I was in love with her, though I knew that I had nothing in myself to complement even a trace of her talent, intelligence or beauty. I was a goal-less lover, after all!
She came back having rocked the international conference with her brilliant presentation on Quantum Optics. I was more than proud of her. The moment she reached the institute, she called me, "Hey kiddo', am back! I so much want to meet you."

"Hey, you know what I am so proud of you! I have so many stories to relate. I am in the library, trying to battle with the books but with no success on my side. Where are you? I'm waiting for you here. Come soon, otherwise I'll kill you!" I said in my seemingly excited voice.

Ten minutes later
"Hel..looooo!" She said and tapped my shoulders from behind.
"Hey! I missed you like hell." I exclaimed and hugged her heaving a great sigh of relief.
"I missed you too. You know what? I've realized something!" She said calmly.
"What?"
"That I love you." She whispered into my ears. I was flabbergasted. My feet started trembling. My heartbeat rose up. Sweat mixed with tears suddenly adorned my cheeks.

Taking a deep breath in, I gathered myself a little and could utter just one question, "What's your dream?"

"My dream," she whispered, "is to make you dream!"

P.S. This story is pure work of fiction, it bears no resemblance to anyone I know or you know. It has been written just to emphasize one thought that I had.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plans - 2

They say that an idea can change your life. I believe it. But for writing or music, you need to have many ideas at a time to change not the course of your life but to change the course of the river of your imagination.

Though I am feeling very lazy about writing stories these days, but thankfully ideas have not become a constituent of my laziness. Here are some ideas about stories to be crafted in due time -

  • Dhoondh(A ghost story) - A very short recount of a horrid situation with an innovative twist in the end. I'll make you frightened.
  • Hate Story - A couple fall in hate, after swimming in love for one and half year. The altercations take them to an end of their love-story and their begins a hate-story, which sees an abnormal beginninng for itself. A beginning or an end?
  • The Da Vinci Code - Da Vinci's lost notebook is found and scientists find a horrid calculation of the Doom's day, which comes out to be just 15 days after. The whole scientific and defense community is shaken with so less time and absolutely no idea how to avoid it. Finally, the Doom's Day does come but with a grand surprise! What's that surprise?
  • I dreamt of my death - An intriguing case of a person whose dreams in the morning hours always come true. One day, he dreams of a death. Will he be able to avoid it?
  • The Gossip - It starts with a coffee table gossip where girls recite their weird ordeals with their boyfriends, when exaggeration expert Kirti blurts out an extra-spicy story about her ex-boyfriend. But she didn't realize that she would get fascinated with the whole idea of the story she makes ...
  • When will we lose it? - A humourous ordeal of a sex-deprived couple trying to make out at every opportunity that their desperate lives offer to them. From lifts to libraries, from parks to departmental stores, they have tried it everywhere, but they have still not lost it. Will they lose it? But when?
  • Uff! - What if your newly purchased beloved gadget goes missing due to your own negligence? And still you can manage to feel relieved! But how?
  • What's your dream? - Story of two best friends - a 'simple' guy and a 'stud' girl - and his futile attraction for her, while she doesn't give him a shit in any way other than a friend! But still, time brings her to realize something. Something subtle!
  • The Story - It's the story of a story-teller who discloses his next story's plot to his friend but he could not convince his friend of the ending he fabricated. But then, life automatically gives him the perfect ending! What ending is it?
  • Sharmaji - Meet Sharmaji, the nosy conservative middle-aged office goers and his interactions with Raju Singh, a young Probationary Officer at SBI.
P.S. The list will be updated soon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

'Park'ing the butts!

It has been almost a year since I wrote something that delved into humour. The last bit was a short-novel called 'Oops!' which is now materializing in the form of a book. This is a small piece roving into the most loved genre of writing i.e. humour, which is inspired from a real-life ordeal of a very close friend of mine.

Prologue
People say that friends are those who can make you smile when you're sad and who can help you out when you're in trouble. But for Daksh, things were just the opposite. Perhaps, the things being totally opposite was what that made his life so interesting. Interesting, really? Well, we'll just see...

Friday night, 11'o clock. Chandigarh
"Guys, do you want to have some fun?" The sharp nasal voice broke the lull. A 200 pounds thick-skinned guy who looked more-or-less like a baby sumo proved to be its origin. His parents did not have a difficulty coining his name and gave him the most apt name - Sagar - which was good enough to describe his vastness.

"Fun! What kind of fun dude?" A petite man with face as round as a rugby-ball said with curiosity. His eyes twinkled.

"Shaan! Don't trust him. His ideas of fun are very weird. Don't you remember the last time we went to the cinema-hall? He emptied down his whole coke can on the adjacent seat before leaving." The gentleman in the white shirt said with concern. He was gentle - meek and gentle, to be precise. They called him Daksh(meaning expert). He really was an expert at getting nervous at nothing at all or doubting little-sumo's each and every idea of fun.

"Yeah, of course. Coke kissing the ass! It was really awesome, Sagar! I could laugh for hours just by remembering it." Shaan said with a mischievous smile making a begging-bowl on his face.

"See buddy! I've got fans." The sumo basked upon the glory of his destructively creative mind.

"Yeah sure, fans who would be hanged on the ceiling someday, that too for your mischief. Anyway, tell us your today's idea of fun." Daksh said trying to hide his visible curiosity behind the newly-formed wrinkles of his forehead.

"Not here! Come along to experience the fun." The baby-sumo smiled wickedly. He looked the cutest sumo ever.

"Where? What's the plan. At least, tell us something..." Shaan said with a little bit shaan.

"I've seen a park nearby today when I bunked the classes. Park - at night - doesn't it sound racy? Plus I've a surprise for you two that will be revealed when we get there. Daksh-y, you better stay at home...you know it will be dark and frightening. I don't want my friends to get a heart-attack before even getting married." Sagar carried on his slight-sarcasm.

11.30 pm. Just outside the park
"Dude, read this! You've seen the park already...didn't you read it?" Daksh pointed his pointed-fingers at the notice just outside the entry-gate of the park.

"What? Open only until 8 pm. Damn!" Shaan exclaimed.

"That's where the whole idea of fun lies. See, this park will be totally empty - devoid of people, light and the monotony of our hostels. And then I'll disclose the surprise." The sumo jumped in his prideful air.

"Screw you and your surprise. How will we get inside and what's the surety that there will not be any guards inside the park?"

"C'mon. What would a guard be doing inside a park? Guarding the trees or guarding the grass. I advised you to keep your ass off any adventure and you still are here...now you've no options other than following me. Now listen, we'll jump over the side-wall." Sagar took the lead.

"You go first." Daksh said consciously.

"I am not even sure whether you'll be able to cross it on your own!" Shaan hoaxed the Japanese-wrestling-master.

"Don't challenge me, you don't know. I have crossed higher walls than these." The Epitome of Roundness proclaimed. His round feet could not grasp the architecture of the wall.

"Should we help?" Daksh asked, this time with concern.

"Of course not." The two sets of hands at first prepared themselves upon hearing the first two words that struck the eardrums but the last word botched up all their preparedness.

Another try to make his cylindrical feet climb the summit produced a bizarre screech in the relatively silent surroundings. A Faux Pas.

"What was that? Did you hear that noise?" Shaan was curious.

"Dude, it's me! Don't laugh...please..." The duo looked up. Sagar's pant tore down at the perfect-most position, as if somebody had sliced it up with a knife along the butt-line. Despite the darkness, the big-sized bright white underwear peeping out of the pant made itself quite radiant around the wall. It seemed as if an overfed God was sitting on the wall with a 'misplaced' halo.

"Ok buddy, we won't laugh." Daksh said with a mischievous smile hidden.

"Ready one, two, three - go..." Shaan began the countdown - the countdown to...

"Hahahahahhahahahahaha......" The sound buzzed the surroundings for over a minute.

"I'll see you both. Just wait and watch." The God flushed his anger.

"Yeah, we are watching. But the sight is horrendous! Hahaha..." Daksh, for the first time, showed his adroitness in pulling someone's leg. And this time, that someone seemed none other than the God himself.

"Dude, you know what, you're shining!" Shaan put the toppings on the ongoing hoaxing.

The temporary God realised that until his halo is hidden, the bhaktas won't be relinquished. He took off his full-shirt and wrapped around the origin-of-the-halo thereby restricting the door to his Godliness.

He jumped down the other side and the other two followed without trying out any halo-genesis experiments.

11.45 pm, Inside the park
"What the fuck!" Daksh exclaimed. A slight precipitation suddenly appeared on his wrinkled forehead.

It had been just a few seconds since the trio landed their feet as well as butts in the unmanned territory, when something unexpected sprouted for them. In the moonlit darkness, Daksh noticed something strange.

"What's this? Didn't they get a better place to display this warning?" Shaan was puzzled.

"What's it guys?" The baby elephant said after finishing the inspection of the so-called racy place. The round eyes rounded around the warning which said 'Trespassers will be prosecuted'.

"Bloody dumbass! They're so dumb that they placed it inside the park. Had it been outside, at least my pant would have been spared." Sagar blurted out with disgust. Shaan chuckled and looked for Daksh to reciprocate but his eyes could not find him.

"Where is Daxy?" Shaan said and the four eyes hastened around the dark surroundings. There was no radiant halo present to illuminate it. The marathon of those eye-balls reached their finishing point simultaneously when they stared at the wall from where they jumped in. Someone was on top of it - someone who seemed to be an expert at wall-climbing - expert, he was.

"What happened to you? Where are you going Daxy?" Shaan shrieked.

"What? Do you guys still want to rove around the park? Didn't you read that warning? If yes, then I am sorry, I won't accompany you. I know you'll fall into trouble and make me a part of it."

"Hey man, you've already trespassed the boundary. You're no less a criminal than us. And even if you leave and we both fall into troubles, you will be the one who we'll revert to. There is no option left other than ... oops!" Sagar's long preaching encountered an abrupt full stop. The expert wall-climber fell off the wall. The duo rushed to him, being completely perplexed.

"Are you okay?" Sagar asked Daksh with concern.

"Sssshhh! There was a night-guard rambling along the corner of the road. Don't shout! By the way, my back hurts...awww...mummy!" Even his whisper sounded frightened.

The Laurel-Hardy pair gave the momentary back-broken body of Mr. Expert rest on their shoulders. They carried him along searching for a place to park their butts in that moonlit park.

"By the way, you could have jumped instead of falling." The high pitched nasal voice again exhibited its cacophony breaking the silence of the lulled park.

"Will you please whisper?" Daksh shouted as loud as he could in whisper.

"You can't stay-free if you whisper!" Shaan employed his imagination to fabricate a pun out of the delicate situation.

"Hahaha..." Sagar laughed quite freely, but this time in whisper. It even brought a slight curve which was just short of a smile in Mr. Expert's worrywart face.

"You didn't answer my question? Why did you fall down? Don't tell me that you got frightened seeing that night-guard."

"No dude, I was going to jump when suddenly some kind of reptile crossed my feet and gave me this backbreaking fall. Eh, it hurts!" Daksh looked embarrassed.

"Don't worry! We won't laugh." Sagar said.

"Ready, one-two-three go!" Shaan practiced his newly learnt numbers.

"Hahahaha ... this guy got frightened of a reptile ... hahaha ..." Sagar left no stones unturned to ridicule the Man-who-had-a-downfall. Shaan also didn't lag behind, he exercised his divine knowledge that laughter is the best medicine in a unique way by laughing in grunts.

"Aww...eeks!" Sagar's demonic laughter encountered a sudden speed-breaker. He started jumping on the way.

"Something crossed over my legs." Sagar exclaimed in horror. The two of them laughed their heads off.

"A reptile? Hahaha ... this guy got frightened of a reptile ... hahaha" Shaan broke his grunt-practice and burst into a wild laughter. Now they were well off the periphery and therefore could easily afford to stay free from whisper.

"It was not a reptile, rather a rubber band. I dropped a rubber band out of my pocket just to break his spell of ridicule. Hahaha...this guy got frightened of a rubber-band!" Daksh borrowed the newly invented style of mockery.

After walking with a living luggage on shouders, Sagar's fat eyes found a fat-bench - fat enough to let six fluffy-bundle-of-flesh take the most comforting-rest of their lifetime.

12.00 am - The Surprise
"Huff...finally this was the fun that we had been promised. A broken back, a boring park and wait a minute...what was the surprise that you were talking about?"

"Well, the surprise ... hmmm ... you remember it? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the surprise you've all been waiting for is none other than your very own Megha! Does it bring a tickle?"

"Oh gosh! Megha! How did you manage her..." The two pair of eyes looked dazzled with glimmer and ecstasy despite the darkness. Their curiosity was thousand-folded and their tongues were a centimeter short of coming out of their respective kennels.

"Where is she? Where...exactly?" Shaan said, his eyes piercing the darkness around.

"Here!" Sagar said and moved his hand generating complex spirals, the tip of the spiral being illuminated by his bright mobile-screen light. The sight was funny, as if an ultra-plump Hippo was playing with a digital-phuljhadi in the gloomy surroundings.

"Sexyyyyyyyyy! You got her number...man you're just awesome. How did you manage it?" Shaan exclaimed.

"I just managed. I don't like to disclose my secrets." Sagar said with his heavy eyelid falling under gravity over one eye, in short fabricating a wink.

"Really? Man, this is the best thing you've ever done!" Daksh forgot about his broken back amidst this breaking news.

Megha. A ravishing beauty - the one and only girl in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Each and every guy of the fachcha-crowd was infatuated with just one name - Megha, our trio being no exception. Yes, they were the first yearites. They had experienced just one month since they transported their asses from their school-benches to the college-sleeping-berths.

Even in the hot summer with no rain, gori-Megha kept on disturbing them at night and sometimes, even during the day. Thankfully to her, the Mechanical Engg. Dept. of SUSCET, Chandigarh encountered 100% attendance in the first one month of the classes. Her number was the dream of every 'single' guy of the college and it caused some dilemma in even the already committed few.

"That's not all buddies! There is another surprise. See the time. It is 12 am. It means 9th August. It means it's her birthday. But, I've no balance left in my phone. You'll have to lend me yours."

"Woah! Man you rock! You found the perfect reason ... now keep off guys! I'm going to call her first... Sagar, give me her number...Megha, prepare to get impressed with your ideal match..." Shaan motivated himself and snatched the phone from Sagar.

"Dude! Give me your phone! I am going to call her first. She even talked to me during classes on two occasions...she would recognise me even..." Daksh asked Shaan.

"Why are you asking for my phone then? If you're so desperate to call, then do it with your own cell. You're never short of balance as far as I know." Shaan rebuked.

"Dude, you don't understand. My mother keeps a track of me. She is so very suspicious about me that she gives me a ring or two at anytime in the night just to check whether my cellphone is busy or not. She fears that I would fall for some Punjabi girl and let her down in my Brahmin society. Her night-duty starts as soon as the clock strikes 11. She had given two check-calls with just one ring since the last one hour." Daksh said being completely annoyed.

"Now I see why worry is in your genes. Hahaha...Biharis are so funny yaar." Sagar ridiculed Daksh while Shaan was preoccupied making sure that he typed Megha's number in his cellphone perfectly.

"See. It's already 12.05 am. We should call her soon to make our image good in her eyes. Daksh, since you already had talked to her, you call her. But make sure you tell her that it is my number, and hand over the phone to me as soon as possible." Shaan directed Daksh.

"Will it sound okay to straightaway call a girl, that too at midnight?" Daksh switched on his worry-factory.

"Come on! It's her birthday... no one gets psyched on one's birthday. You better switch the speaker on and Shaan, don't forget to introduce me to her at last. After all, they say save the best for the last." Sagar said with drops of mischief falling down from each and every corner of his face.


12.08 am. The Awaited Call
The three faces rounded around Shaan's cell-phone with eyes in expectation and heart in desire to hear their hearthrob's sensuous voice. Daksh cleared his throat and was ready to let loose his masculine voice.

Shaan pressed the call button. At first, they could hear their own heartbeats amplified in expectations but soon, Sagar's internal-bass-woofer-system numbed the sound of the duo's heartbeats.

"Tring-tring...tring-tring...tring-tring...tring-tring..." The silly-and-cliched phone-ring's tone digged their ears.

"Isn't it strange that her phone is not busy on her birthday? She might be an early-sleeper. Eeks...I am disconnecting the call!" Daksh said and moved his hands towards the red-button while the irksome tring-tring continued, just then...

"Hell..lo!" A sleepy-and-irritated voice gifted the hell to the trio.

"Hello, is it Megha?" Daksh managed to speak up.

"Yes it is. But who is it?" She grew more irritated at discovering some stranger disturbing her late at night.

"Hi, I am ... am... one of your collegemates. I just called you to wish you Happy Birthday!" Her cruel melody made Daksh forget his own name. His feet started trembling.

"Birthday! What kind of joke is it? I've seen idlers like you! This is a very old method to start a talk with a girl but let me tell whosoever you are that I am not one of those nymphomaniacs. I am going to complain to police if I receive another call!" Megha thundered.

His heartbeat beat Sagar's woofer-system and Shaan too was a bit shocked. Suddenly,

"Kabhi kabhi aditi
zindagi mein koi to
apna lagta hai!"

buzzed the surroundings.

"What was that?" Three voices simultaneously creaked, of which one had its origin in the throat of the gorgeous. Daksh was unperturbed but at the same time disgusted.

"Dude, it's my Mom. This is her yet another check. And madam, you kindly listen. Keep this phone call to be your birthday wish for the rest of your lifetime. I am not going to bother you ever. I've better things to do than calling a wicked butthead like you at midnight." He yelled his disgust out at the beauty and disconnected the phone. Sagar was laughing wildly and even Shaan chose to be in the side of the mockery-maker.

"Damn you Hippo! I'll kill you ... there is a limit to everything and you've crossed it today! I am safe that I forgot my name while talking otherwise what impression would she have about me? Plus, my Mom's check. Damn, life is so dramatic for me! By the way, I am going to kick your ass - you bloody pig!" Daksh said with his wrinkled forehead seeking revenge.

Daksh raced towards Sagar and punched his flossy-belly which looked much more like a boxing-pad and kicked his already-kicked ass. The kick did its job and the halo lighted the place around yet again and Sagar embarrassingly tried to bolt its door.

"Chill man! It was just a little game." Sagar tried to explain, but his try remained a try. Meanwhile, Shaan face imported some of the worrying-properties from Daksh's.

"Yaar, what if she lodges a complain to the police, after all, it was my number."

"I don't think she would do it right away. And we're not going to call her ever again, so I don't think there is much worry." Daksh gained back his composure. His expert logic transported Shaan back from the alienated-world-of-worry.

12.20 am. The Encounter
The duo heaved a sigh of relief while the baby-sumo was busy finding a fixture for his mass-ass, when suddenly his chubby eyes noticed four feet tramping towards them from the far darkness.

His heavy feet suddenly found an engine to accelerate - accelerate in the opposite direction.

"Run, someone's coming!" Sagar shouted to the duo and rushed towards the famous-wall-of-the-misplaced-halo. The duo followed, but could not outrace the big-foot-big-bottomed runner.

The bulky-athlete reached the wall and tried to push his mighty-body up, but could not succeed. His fellow-athletes reached the place soon and he pleaded to them, "Please help me climb up or I'll quit!"

The tiddly duo tried their best to let the Master-of-Calories climb up. Sagar's right leg was just one inch short of reaching the top of the wall when suddenly a loud-screech seethed the surroundings. This time his half-torn pant was promoted to be called a fully-torn pant and the halo emerged making a bright ring in between his body.

In a reflex, he moved his hands off the wall and tried to catch hold of his shredded pant. He managed to remove his pants off their original place but mismanaged everything else. As expected, the God fell down on two of his bhaktas, blessing their cheeks with his divine aura and his misplaced halo gifting them displaced jaws. Now with just his brand-new-big-sized-white-underwear adorning his lower body, he totally resembled a baby-sumo on top of two meek-and-gentle road-rolled souls.

The trio lay down in broken condition in front of the warning-board which seemed like laughing at them and saying that - 'Trespassers will be prosecuted.'

The sound of the footsteps rustling through the grasses grew louder and louder as time passed. The trio had no energy nor any chance left to escape the encoming surprise. Sagar displaced his 'misplaced' halo off the duo's face and that brought enough respite to them to face any encoming trouble.

The six eyes steered through the darkness along the ground and what they saw made their pants plus God's underwear wet in fear. There were four feet standing upright just a meter away from them and were ready to play the tough game with the fun-seeking-triad.

"I told ... ah ... that Megha would lodge a complain! See, they are already here..." Shaan shrieked twisting his displaced jaws upon seeing those two men in Khaki - one giraffe-like well-built soul and the other being more or less a lilliputian - rendering a perfect combination of Bade Miyan - Chote Miyan.

"How could it happen? This is just impossible! Police can't act so swiftly." Daksh was again back in his whisper-mode, while Sagar's heavy eyeballs were stuck at the four feet which were a meter apart.

"The race is over gentlemen! Hands up. I said hands up!" The Chote Miyan thundered in his grave baritone. The trio stood up despite their broken neck, jolted back and shaken jaws and finally managed to stand on their legs with just four hands up.

"Don't you listen rascal - hands up?" A feminine voice bombed their eardrums. The three musketeers were startled by the two musketeers and began looking for its origin.

"I told you it was Megha!" Shaan shrieked in fear.

"What are you staring at? I am talking to you. Hands up! And who is this Megha?"

THE REAL FUN IS JUST GOING TO ARRIVE...TO BE CONTINUED IN A DAY or TWO(will be updated around 9th morning)...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Short of Change

I've written many stories till now. All of them have been an outcome of my imagination. But, yesterday, my life itself had offered me a unique story. This is a story about how shockingly real, the real world is.

So here it is, a comparatively short-story which is 100% real -


Yesterday, I was on my way to the Nehru Place. Excited and happy, out of many reasons at all. I found an auto-driver who agreed to charge according to the meter was one of those many reasons. The weather had taken a smooth turn and it was more-or-less cloudy which gave my burnt skin a salving respite from Delhi's charring heat. After a short-siesta and a shorter lunch, those fluffy clouds played the role of the dessert.

The auto-driver was exercising his racing skills and it added to the fun since the not-so-warm wind was kissing my bearded-cheeks all throughout. The speedometer was touching the likes of nineties and I was feeling that the auto-driver had some ulterior motives of setting some speed record or testing the agility of the tyres, until my body started experiencing the sudden forces of inertia. Yes, the auto started decelerating. The image of a red-pixellated-disk of the traffic-light managed to cross my spectacles to finally paint my retina. The image was clear-enough to furnish my curious mind with the reason behind that sudden advent of inertia.

The auto decelerated at a decelerating rate and it took some time to come to a full stop. Probably, it was not until the auto-driver was completely convinced that his tyres have passed the agility test, that he stopped. My cheek encountered a sudden disappearance of its lover but soon somebody else took the place and gave it a wet sensation. Soon, the tickly wet sensation catapulted since the flood of sweat made its way downwards through the jungles of my beard.

'Tak-tak.' A knock buzzed my ears.

I looked out of the auto. There was nobody. My eyes roved around and then the gravity pulled it downwards. A lathi(wooden-stick) was approaching my field of view. The lathi proceeded ahead in front of my eyes to bring out its master and all the while, the painfully slow advent of the man-behind-the-lathi did a subtle task of sparking immense curiosity in me.

Moments later
Upon seeing the lathi with its master, I became a bit shocked after not being able to find a hand catching hold of its top-end. There was no hand at all. Instead it was just the arm-pit of his right hand that held that lathi; while the left hand, which was physically alright, was holding a stained plastic mug in hope of getting some alms.

'I don't have any change. Go ahead.' These words came out of my tongue unconsciously. My conscience tried to scold me for lying, but my logical and unkind mind subdued that faint inner-voice.

He looked at my eyes and oscillated his plastic mug in front of my eyes. It contained not more than six to seven rupees.

'Go ahead. You won't get anything here.' I rebuked him. He dragged himself slowly away from me. I could see his rags, each of those shreds contained in itself untold stories about his life. His life - which had no importance for me. Why should it even be important? He was frail and old - someone who would be counting his days to get liberated from this dreadful world.

Just at the moment he crossed the auto-driver, the auto-driver stopped him by holding his left-hand.

'Babaji, take this. Get yourself something to eat.' The auto-driver said handing over two coins of two rupees each to the Master of the lathi. I could see a divine smile on that old-man's face which seemed to be reassuring the auto-driver that his act of kindness would be remembered forever.

I was dumbstruck and embarrassed at the same time. I was feeling poor in front of that speedster. Something seemed weird to me. My engineering mind tried to find a reason. But, it failed miserably. Meanwhile, the red painting on my retina was transformed to green and my long-lost lover was back into action.

'Bhaiya, you embarrassed me! Why did you give money to that beggar? I mean...there are so many beggars in India...if you keep giving alms at every red-signal, how would you sustain yourself?' I asked.

'Saheb, I don't give money to each and every beggar that happen to cross my eyes. This old-man's condition was too worse. Have you ever thought how difficult it would have been to carry ourself if we had just one hand? Plus he was old, under-nourished and hungry. I just could not resist.'

'Half of India is hungry. You can't go and feed each of them.' I said irritably.

'Half of India is hungry. You can't go and feed each of them. But, you can help at least one who is really in need.' He said.

I didn't like his logic. My ego just didn't want to take lessons from an auto-driver. I chose to be quiet. The auto paced back to the nineties and my quietness remained my companion for the next ten minutes.

I reached Nehru Place. Fortunately, no more red lights hindered my cruise with the wind.

'Saheb, it is 57 rupees on the meter. Do you have any change?'

'Yes, I've change,' I said with pride and extended my right hand to hand him the fare, and simultaneously said, 'I am never short of change.'

He smiled and offered his left hand to collect the money. I didn't quite like it, as in India it is customary to give or accept money with the right hand - the righteous hand.

'Bhaiya, atleast extend your right hand.' I said.

He extended his right hand and I poured down a fifty-rupees note with seven lustrous coins which when struck his palms gave a sonorous sound. It drew my attention towards it. The fibre -fabricated single-coloured palm with no lifelines at all and the plastic fingers unable to catch hold of the seven metal disks made a shiver of shock run through my whole body.

I looked up at him. Those eyes showed conviction and there was an unrealistically beautiful smile on his face. In that short moment, his heart touched mine.

He looked into my eyes and said, ''Saheb. I wish that you're never short of change!" and moved back to his auto to set a new speed record once again.

P.S. Thank you for reading this. Hope I made you feel how I felt when it really happened.
P.S. The real stories are much more tragic and emotional. That's why I try to remain in the limit of my imagination.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Dark Night

That cold winter night. My heart still whirls with fright when I remember that sight.

I never ever believed in ghosts. Every other day I used to see reports in the newspapers about someone facing some ghastly encounters with a spirit. All that I used to do was to laugh out as loudly as possible, since I found those stories immensely hilarious. But now, when I relate one of those stories, I get shaken with fright. Because that story recounts my encounter with one.

Last Winter
It was a very chilly night, capable of making your feet stiff if you happen to go out in slippers. I had just reached Jainagar, a small village in Bihar, the place where my grandparents lived. The train which was scheduled to reach Jainagar at about 9 pm at night reached the destination station four hours late. 

I jumped off the boggy as soon as the train stopped. My appetite did no good to my condition and I wanted to run to my grandfather's place as soon as possible. The house was 50 minutes on foot or 15 minutes ride on a rickshaw. My thrift could not compete with my sagging body and I decided to look for a rickshaw.

Moving out of the railway station, my eyes wandered. Pitch darkness enveloped by a gory silence prevailed. Besides the distant dogs' howls, all I could hear was my own footsteps. There was no-one to be seen. The passengers who descended the train with me had disappeared and I was left all alone. My eyes drifted along the moonlit asphalt ahead and then, in dearth of a companion, they started following my shadow. Tall, well-built and confident happened to be the few hidden reflections that I could see.

I trudged ahead, bleary-eyed, which sought rest intermittently, while my lazy feet searched for an excuse to not take the next step. The cold wind had already numbed my cheeks and the increasing darkness had rendered it impossible for my bespectacled eyes to deduce what was ahead. The clouds also had no mercy for me because they hid the only companion, the moon, I had while walking. The darkness had ripped myself off my shadow.

Suddenly, a shimmer struck my drowsy eyes from far away. Having walked for just around ten minutes, my lazy feet suddenly found a reason to quicken. The reason well-enough to reassure me that I was not alone on the road in that dark night. The shimmer swayed with the wind and it reached me sooner than I expected. It was the tremulous light of a lantern. The lantern with its owner sitting near it - someone with bent back and a tattered blanket wrapped around himself. Beside him, there was a rickshaw and it gave my tired mind a relief of a lifetime.

"Will you go to Rajiv Nagar?" I asked, presuming him to be the rickshaw-wala.
"Yes," A hoarse voice of a grave baritone came from within that blanket. He got up with the back still bent, as though it was a hunchback, while the blanket eclipsed every aspect of his from me. He diminished the lantern's flame and handed it over to me.

I got seated, while he tightened his blanket around his entire body, not even sparing his face - which I could not even get a chance to see all the while. He set the rickshaw in motion, without uttering a word. The ghastly lull was broken by the rhythmic sound of the moving chains of the rickshaw. The clouds became benevolent and revealed the moonlight to me. I became lost adoring the beauty of the moon when suddenly the cold wind started slapping my cheeks. The rickshaw had been accelerating at an astoundingly great pace. Meanwhile, the hide and seek between me and the moon started again, making it impossible for me to even decipher what was coming ahead.

I shouted at the rickshaw-wala, "Will you please go slow!"

He didn't listen nor did he care.

"Will you go slow?" I screamed at the top of my voice. He was undeterred. The speed increased and abruptly, he took a sharp right turn, almost making me topple, when I squeaked, "Stop! Stop it!"

My yell did the job. He stopped. I was just ten minutes away from home, so I thought that it was better to rely on lazy feet than a psycho rickshaw-puller. I jumped off the rickshaw, placed the lantern on the seat with its flame fully lighted, and took out my wallet - the wallet which contained a little more than two-thousand rupees. I took out a ten rupees note in front of him, when he abruptly removed his blanket.

What beheld my sight made a series of shiver go through my body. I was experiencing an earthquake - strong enough to make me frightened every single time I happen to recall it in the future. The ten rupees note as well as my wallet fell off my shaking hand and even in that cold winter night, I became drenched in sweat.

There he  was, standing straight - at least six-feet three inches tall, with a fully withered face - as if somebody had rubbed his face with cactus, and two of his canines protruding out of his face, being as sharp as a dagger.

My appetite had become a history. My feet felt paralyzed with fear, no matter how desperately I wanted to run away from him, I could not exercise any control over my body. I looked up at his eyes. They were deep red. The sweat as well as the shiver increased over thousand times with just that sight. I just could not stare at him. I felt like running away. I moved my eyes to the ground to avoid the gruesome sight, just out of fear. What I saw hit me hard - he was wearing a shredded shoe which I found very familiar.

I looked up again. In a moment, all my fear was vanquished. Without wasting a moment, I kicked the most vulnerable part of his body.

He fell on the ground, crying aloud and I continued kicking him hard.

"Who are you? Tell me or I'll call the police!" I punched his face. His mask fell off.

"Saheb, it's me, Suresh - Sita-amma's son. Remember, she was the maid at your grandma's place? I didn't know it was you Saheb until I removed my blanket. If I knew it was you, I would have never frightened you," The human inside that ghost spoke up. I was perplexed.

"Suresh! What has happened to you? Why are you doing these things? Are you in your senses?" I whined.

"Saheb, it's not me but my circumstances!" Suresh said.

"Stop giving excuses. You cannot blame the circumstances for your crime."

"Saheb, I won't say a thing. You just come to my home with me," he pleaded with his hand folded.

I didn't resist, out of pity perhaps. I collected all my stuff which had fallen down and despite being hungry, I decided to give him a shot and boarded his rickshaw. He drove me across the village, through a forest, to another village. This time he drove at a much faster pace, while my heart as well as cheek remained  indifferent to the surroundings, being lost in what I'd just encountered. My thoughts came to a standstill just when another lantern came in my purview. The speeding rickshaw halted at a hut outside the dimly lit hut.

"Saheb, let us extinguish this lamp, it will save some me oil for tomorrow. We've another one inside my house," Suresh extinguished it and asked me to wait outside for two minutes till he prepared everyone at home to receive a guest at such an ungodly hour.

"Have you got some money? Tomorrow, we've to go to the doctor for Amma's cataract operation," I overheard a feminine voice speaking with concern.

"Sorry, I could not bring any money. I had this strange..."

"How will we manage then? You're so irresponsible...you couldn't even frighten anyone on the way...what's the use of these masks which I keep making for you everyday. Look at these children, they have not eaten anything tonight...if it goes on like this, they will die of hunger..." She didn't allow him to speak.

"We can discuss about it later. Will you listen to me?" Suresh rebuked.

Their conversation continued.

I peeped in through the window. What beheld my sight made a series of shiver go through my body. I was experiencing an earthquake - strong enough to make me frightened every single time I'll recall it in the future. There she was, standing straight, with her right skinny hand resting on her protruding belly. The dimly lit house was smaller than my washroom. It encompassed six malnourished children who rested on a thin mat, all covered in one long bedsheet, one undernourished pregnant lady with hands as thin as pencils, and a blind old lady who people lovingly called Sita-amma with the erstwhile ghost standing helpless in front of his god.

"Just look at him. His bones are .... oh my god! Babu, babu....!" Suresh's wife cried and started slapping the cheeks of their smallest child, who seemed more like a black skeleton in the shimmering light.

"What? What happened?" Sita-amma and Suresh screamed simultaneously.

"Babu is not breathing! Babu...babu...." She kept slapping her child until her hand felt that it was too late. The child was on her lap now, while she tried to wail with her choked throat, but alas, she could not. A minute later, groans, screams and cries seethed through that cold dark night while the moon stood as a mute spectator to what was going on. The lull, however, was broken by the ghastly outcry of pain.

I shuddered deep within. My appetite had become a history. Suddenly, my wallet fell off my shaking body near their door and my feet started moving away from that hut. I could not withstand that sight. It was dreadful.

Even in that dark winter night, I became drenched, this time not in sweat but in tears. I was terrified, as never before. Even the moon had no answer to what I'd just seen. After all, I had seen a ghost! The ghost of poverty...

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Bet

30th June, 2009
Scene 1
'Ding dong! Tunn...tunn...tunn...' The sound struck Shrey's ears. It was the Royal Cathedral's bell that just told him that it was three o' clock in the afternoon.

He was at the Buchannan Bus Station, Glasgow and had a bus to catch at 3.40 pm for Edinburgh. Punctuality was in his genes. He reached the bus station an hour before the bus was going to leave. He hoped to find someone, after all, two of his friends Rohit and Farhan were also going along with him to Edinburgh.

Even after cross-checking his bag for the necessary goods more than a dozen times, he kept checking the stuff inside from time to time. He had everything in there, right from shaving kit, clothes, laptop, chargers to foodstuff packed as neatly as a newly-wed bride's room, just one thing was missing - the bus ticket. He was not worried though, since he delegated that responsibility to Rohit a week ago and gave him 30 pounds in total to book tickets for whole of the journey.

Scene 2 - The Bet
3.10 pm. He kept his bag on the ground and suddenly, somebody tapped his shoulders. It was Rohit.

"Hey bro! As always you're here before me! What do you do by coming so early?" Rohit asked.
"I just have a look around. After all, there is so much to see here." Shrey said with a naughty smile.
"Aha! I see. So much to see. Now I got the reason." Rohit said.
"Leave the reasons aside, give me the change. I gave you 30 pounds for the ticket, you must have got something left?"
"Oh! Tickets...I delegated that task to Farhan. He was going to the station that day."
"Dude! I intentionally asked you to do that! How could you give it to Farhan? He's such a disorganized person, he'll pack everything up in the last hour and I am damn sure, that he'll miss the ticket." Shrey said irritably.
"You can never be so sure buddy!"

"I can always be if that guy is Farhan. He holds the record of losing his things maximum number of times. Don't you remember that he lost his wallet during the last trip to Inverness? And not to forget the two mobile-phones, of which one was worth 80 pounds. 80 pounds - have you any bloody idea what that amount means? I can feed myself for two weeks with that money. Farhan! Freaking careless and now even phone-less!" Shrey exploded his hate for the species called 'careless people' in one go.

"But still, I don't think he could be so silly as to forget taking tickets with him for the journey. I bet he won't forget. 5 pounds is my bid!"

"I too bet - that he'll definitely forget! I bet my 10 pounds rather that he'll forget the ticket and would come with his irritating smile as if it were saying - 'this was the one last time bro, from the next time there will be no mistakes.'"

"Done! I am going to be richer by 10 pounds." Rohit said.

"You're being overconfident, just wait for 10 minutes; we'll all know who gets richer!" Shrey said looking at his watch, it was 3.20 pm now, just ten minutes to go when the boarding for the bus starts.

"By the way, I suppose you'd told him about all the journey details - 3.40 bus, then Evening ride to the Holyrood Hill in Edinburgh and all. At any cost, I fear that he'll even be able to reach here on time." Shrey said in an indifferent tone.

"Yes. I explained him everything. You got to have faith."

Scene 3
The talk paused for a while when the bus came into the stance and the passengers were asked to keep their baggage in the luggage box. Rohit kept standing with his light bag tightly hugging his backbone while Shrey took his delicately-arranged heavy bag with utmost care and cautiously kept it in the luggage-box. Meanwhile, the passengers lined up in a queue for boarding. The duo with no ticket, and no clue of Farhan the-ticket-wala anywhere, exercised their ciliary muscles in the meanwhile by dilating their eye-balls to filter the-ticket-wala in the crowd around. They could not trace him.

"Damn! Now Farhan is boiling my blood!" Shrey is agitated.

"He knows about buses, much more infact, since his last mobile phone was lost in the bus only. Still there are 10 minutes to go. He'll come with the ticket. He'll not let me lose the bet." Rohit is calm and composed.

3.30 pm. The boarding started. The two sets of eyes - one being more agitated than ever before and the other having just forgotten its principle of calm-sutra; were frantically searching around the crowd. Of thousand bright-skinned people in the bus station, finding someone who was of a tanned-texture was not a difficult task, but that tanned texture to be that of Farhan seemed impossible.

"Man, this bet is not taking us anywhere. We both are losing. Losing 30 pounds each. He has even forgotten to come. You were right! That bloody careless forgot even about the journey." Rohit echoed Shrey's skepticism. Shrey's blood pressure shot in rage.

3.36 pm. The entry had started and the queue now contained just a dozen homo sapiens. There was no hint of where our hero Farhan was!

The four eyes were tired of analyzing every tanned face they observed, so the eyes went back to their original seats.

Scene 4
A minute passed, when suddenly, Rohit screamed, "Oh my gosh! He has made it. That too with the bus-ticket." Farhan was painting their retina. He was at some distance, hopping towards them with a tortoise-smile on his face and a rabbit's jump wobbling his body. He held a paper in his hand - just a paper - no luggage, no bags, nothing at all.

"Here is your 10 pounds bro! You win the bet! But that creepo had given me a nightmare in broad daylight. Losing 10 pounds feels at least better than losing 30 pounds...huh!" Shrey sounded relieved despite losing the bet and now Rohit's wallet was heavier with 10 new golden coins making victorious music as they went inside.

The Countdown
3.37 pm.
The hip-hopper jumped all through the way and greeted the duo. The duo dislodged themselves from the queue for the time being - it didn't matter them much since they were standing last in the queue.

"Hey buddies! What are you people doing here? At the bus station?" Farhan said in a cheerful tone.
"Don't pretend! Your smile isn't going to win our hearts." Shrey remarked. Farhan stood confused.
"Where is your luggage? Aren't you carrying along any bags or clothes?" Rohit said with his face taking the most bizarre form of his lifetime.

3.38 pm
"Bag, luggage...what for?" Farhan looked puzzled.
"Stop kidding bro! I am already fed-up with you. Isn't it the ticket that you're holding in your hand?" Shrey said, a bit irritated this time.
"Yeah, it is, so?" Farhan said.
"So what? Board the bus! Give me the ticket..." Rohit said and snatched the ticket from Farhan's hand.
"What the fuck? What the heck is it?" Rohit was flabbergasted. Shrey peeped in.

3.39 pm
"What kind of joke is it? You have brought 'Angels and Demons' movie ticket out here...where is the bus ticket...to Edinburgh...today's journey ticket?" Shrey asked in a tone that showed he had started losing his temper.
"Wait a minute! What date is it today?" Farhan asked. His eyes were trying to find a shelter outside his skull.
"30th June."
"Oh fuck!" Farhan exclaimed horridly. The phrase turned quite a few heads nearby.

3.40 pm
"You left the ticket at home, don't you?" Shrey charged. Farhan stared at him with a blank face.
"Damn! I lost the bet!" Rohit exclaimed before Farhan could speak a word. He handed a twenty pounds note to Shrey. Shrey looked happy though losing 30 pounds for the ticket was tickling his angry heart.
"Bet? What bet?" Farhan asked, rather to himself in a nonplussed tone.
"Damn you! How could you forget the ticket? 30 pounds in vain." Rohit screamed at Farhan. His irritation at losing the bet did a sleek task of increasing his anger every other second.
"I forgot the tickets. But I can't understand why are you people crying for 30 pounds. The money you gave me is still with me. 'I forgot the tickets' - by this phrase - I mean that I forgot to book the tickets. I'm really sorry for that! It's all my mistake..."

3.41 pm
Instead of being anguished, the faces of Rohit and Shrey lightened. A close-up smile sparked the surrounding, and they both simultaneously hugged Farhan side by side. The sudden uplift in their feelings-storehouse came from the fact that their 30 pounds was still safe and it shot their miser ego to a higher state. All the while, Farhan was a bit baffled at their reaction.

"So, what are you doing here then at the bus station?" Rohit asked being pleased with himself as well as with everybody else.
"I just came back after watching the movie 'Angels and Demons' through bus number 118 and as soon I deboarded from the bus, I saw you two standing here in the queue. So, here I am with the ticket."

Scene 5 : The Climax
"The queue for the bus! Oh shit!" Shrey exclaimed in horror. He turned to the side and all his dark-brown eyes could see was air replacing the space which Megabus occupied moments ago.

"My air-bag! Oh shit! It had my laptop." Shrey held his head in his hands and cried like a three years old child. He was busy remembering his beloved bag, about how the air bag would be enjoying the breeze between Glasgow to Edinburgh, which he was supposed to enjoy.

The Rohit-Farhan duo left no stones unturned at laughing on The Epitome of Carefulness's miraculous transformation into an object of ridicule.

"What was the bet you were talking about?" Farhan spoke intentionally to lighten Shrey's mood by changing the topic.

"Oh yeah! The bet! So, tell me Shrey who won the bet?" Rohit asked. Shrey didn't respond. He was sitting with his head resting upon his palms and his eyes concentrating on the mosaic tiles of the ground. Meanwhile, Farhan went behind Shrey to do something - something pre-planned.

"Screw you both!" Shrey screamed and just then something appeared from beneath his chair. Something which he had been missing with all his heart, which he had arranged with so much patience, something that was supposedly enjoying the breeze between Glasgow to Edinburgh. It was an air-bag with the name 'Shrey Saxena' imprinted on it and there was a paper pinned to its upper cover. Shrey jumped in joy, the joy he had never ever experienced before in his so-called organized life, and in that moment of elation he picked that special paper, which said -

Megabus - Glasgow to Edinburgh
Booking number - P8715384
Date of Journey - 30th June, 2009
Time of Journey - 4:40 pm

And in the bottom, a handwritten note saying -

"Now tell us, who won the bet?"

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P.S. This one was supposed to go somewhere, but it went somewhere else, and am glad it did because it has become better than it would have been otherwise.

P.S. This is emphasizing human nature - the basic pride that we feel if we're good at something makes us underestimate every other person who is not as good as us, but the reality is every person can be as good as we are in anything if we just give them time and chance.
P.S. Here friends plan this trickery to make a situation where the most organized guy is suffering the most while the most casual guy has enjoyed the most.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Plans

Hi. This blog had been stagnating for sometime, I am sorry for it. I was busy all the while. Now I am totally free. Having many ideas for stories in my mind, I just want to pen them down - so that I don't forget and you too can see what I am seeing. So, here goes the list, all these will be fabricated as soon as possible since I myself am dying to read my stories. (The bracket after each point describes the 'genre') :-
  1. Serendipity - A sweet and touching love story - elaborating the role of destiny in 'love'. (Romance)
  2. The Death - A Booker Prize winning debut author commits suicide. (Mystery, human nature, twist)
  3. The Bet - An interesting conversation between two friends waiting for another friend at the railway station. Human nature would be emphasized. (Humour, twist)
  4. The Talk - Conversation between an Indian guy who hates India and a British girl who loves India; and the outcome of their talk. (Realistic, twist)
  5. 'Park'ing the butts! - Ordeal of three friends who went to smoke in the park late night. (humour, drama)
  6. The Lust Of Success - How entangled things can become if success and love are weighed on the same balance. Story of a couple. (Realistic, Emotional)
  7. Will you die for me? - Conversation between a husband and wife which brings out the most subtle truth about 'love'. (Philosophy, Emotional)
  8. Pain - A doctor's story. Being a doctor, he had not 'felt' the pain which his patient faced. But, when he himself gets stricken by a terminal disease; he realizes what pain one faces and his realization out of his own pain makes him do something great. (Human psychology, realistic)
  9. Scientist's story - he discovers a secret with which he can live a thousand lives in just one life. (Science Fiction yet Realistic)
  10. Choice - The most difficult choice of this world - Love or Dream? A story will give you the answer. (Philosophy, human nature, emotional)
  11. Is it really the best policy? A conversation on the definition of honesty which leads to a quarrel and then the climax.(Human Psychology)
P.S. I found myself gifted at exaggeration, so I became a story-teller.
P.S. Tell me which one to begin with first, I would love to hear from you all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Pendulum

Time - 1 am.
Sunday night, 5 days before the majors exam
.
The location - Room no. xx, 'Arbit' Hostel, IIT Delhi.

Our protagonist, Mr. Anuj Modi had just turned off his laptop and he was endowed with an irritated look on his face.

Mr.Modi took his specs off, massaged his eyeballs with his courtesy-to-the-keyboard calloused fingertips and heaved a loud sigh. The loud machine gun noise owing its origin to a computer game called Counter Strike buzzed his ears, his irritation climbed the charts and he popped his head to have an 'annoyed' look at his roommate. His roommate was meditating at the screen in front of him, eyes wide open rather than being closed while meditation and the hands in synergy with the brain for executing the reflex. The machine gun voice continued to buzz the surroundings. Our protagonist's face was busy in climbing Mt. Annoyance; the summit seeming endless.

He saw his watch. It was 1:10 am, the date was 26th April and his irritation reached neared the summit. He looked around. For something. He was searching something. He unfurled his bedsheet but still he could not locate that thing. Peeved completely, he bent down and there it lay - his mobile phone - switched off. He switched it on, it had over two dozen missed calls of his girlfriend Isha.

He lay there wondering, "She might be asleep till now! Shit man, I wasted my last six hours over the internet...killing time...doing nothing."

He switched off the lights and shouted at his roommate, "Creepo! Put your headphones on. I am sleeping."

His voice, subdued by the machine-gun's noise, could not break that yogi's concentration spell. He screamed, "Bloody creepo! Shut down your speakers!"

This time, the scream made the difference, the amplification of machine gun's noise now went directly into creepo's ears through noise isolating headphones.

Mr. Modi 'tried' to sleep. 'Tried', but didn't quite succeed. He was feeling annoyed with himself. He twisted and turned over his small bed intermittently, the room was quite hot and he was feeling sultry. Thoughts started wandering. Not here and there, but only at one point i.e. academics. The insurmountable academic pressure struck his mind with a great force. He could not sleep. He opened his eyes. He realized that his closed eyes were giving him more torture than every other thing in this universe. He pressed a button on his mobile phone. The time had run, run quite rapidly, as it was 1:40 am then.

He checked his mobile-phone inbox, it contained her sweet messages, the first one saying, "I love you thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much, muahh! <3"

He went through the other messages, his heart could feel a tickle, he wanted to talk to her - desperately. The dilemma of not-to-disturb-her-while-sleeping and uncontrollable-desire-to-talk-to-her played simultaneously with his mind. Finally he gave in. He pressed the green button.

Rings went by. First, second, third...fourteenth...to finally, "The number you are trying to reach is not responding at the moment. Kindly try after sometime."

He was sad as well as happy. Sad because he could not talk despite his great urge, and happy because he was not guilty of disturbing her sleep.

He chose to give his insomniac mind yet another tryst with sleep. He shut his eyelids and took a deep breath in. With the deep breath in, the same stressing thoughts regarding academics knocked his mind again. He was irritated, much more this time. Suddenly, something tickled his ears and his eyes were amazed - it was his mobile-phone, with 'Isha Calling' flashing the blue-lighted screen.

"Hi bacha. How are you? I thought you were sleeping!" Anuj said.
"I was in the loo when you called. I could not sleep. I was worried about you. Are you OK? What happened to your mobile...I was trying it for the last three hours and it was switched off! Where were you?"
"Oh! Don't remind me of the past hours!" Anuj said, his expressions were seemingly anguished.
"What? Is there anything wrong?"
"My whole life is bloody wrong. The majors are just 5 days ahead and what am I doing? Sitting over net, chatting and posting random things around. My entire syllabus is yet to be touched, I have hardly attended a lecture in the last couple of weeks and bloody me, I am sitting for hours on the net!" Anuj reached the peak of annoyance, but it was no big achievement to celebrate.
"Baby, still you've ample time, you can repair every error. C'mon cheer up!"
"How can I cheer up? I want to throw my laptop out of my window!" Anuj said seeing his newly purchased laptop lying on his table.
"Discipline yourself rather breaking your laptop. Everything can be put back into place, just organize yourself. Go to sleep!" Isha said.
"I am not getting sleep! I am so irritated at myself. I am going nowhere. I am stagnating, doing nothing constructive, not even doing the primary job for which I came here i.e. studying. I don't know what pushes me to log in my facebook account and keep refreshing my wall without any reason. Tell you something, I am going to be a big failure in my life. You chose the wrong guy! I am warning you, leave me now, I would not like seeing you with a failure in your future." His tone became more and more disgusted and self-condescending.
"Hey baby, c'mon! This attitude won't help. And don't dare abusing yourself. You might not care about yourself but I care about you. It's just a phase, it will pass. Struggle always requires patience. C'mon, we'll just plan your coming week now and everything will seem easy to you." Isha said patiently.
"Nothing is easy, because I am taking it as too easy. I am going to fail in my exams."
"Shut up! Don't dare say a word! It had been 5 minutes listening to all your non-sense. Now listen to me. First, move out of your room. Get out JUST NOW! Get yourself some fresh air. C'mon, lazy bones, shed your laziness. Stand up or I'll cut the phone!" Isha said didactically.

Heaving a huge sigh, Anuj got up, went outside his room staring at his absorbed-in-counter-strike roommate with patronizing eyes.

"I have become like everyone else - idle with nothing to do. Academics is sucking big-time and there is nothing else to flaunt upon. I hate myself."
"Chill, c'mon tell me are you out of your hostel?" Isha asked patiently.
"Ya."
"Can you see the moon?" Isha asked.
"Yes, I can."
"Look at it carefully. Can you see two faintly-dark spots on the right side of the moon?" Isha asked. She was adept in lightening his mood.
"Yeah! There are a few more spots, but they seem merged to the original one. "
"Good, now try to locate the Big Dipper and the Orion!" Isha said.
"Located."
"Just join the handle of the Big Dipper to the three collinear stars of Orion, what figure do you get?"
"Hmm, wait let me try it! Hmm...I can't get it...just a little hint, please?" Anuj asked, he was finding it difficult to figure out what was it.
"No hints! You're an IITian, the so-called cream of the nation, let me see how fast your mind works! Your real standard is going to be revealed!" Isha said.
"I got it...It is like a a coca-cola bottle with coke leaking towards a well."
"Nopes buddy, so this is the brain which you people flaunt? Can't even guess a single figure."
"Don't challenge my brain! This time I got it, it is like a Rhino with a spoon-like tail."
"Hmmmm." Isha said slowly.
"Bingo! I told you don't challenge my brain. Loser!"
"Hmm." Isha said in a contemplative tone.
"What 'hmm'?" Anuj said in wonder.
"I was just wondering how wonderfully you use your so-called sharp brain for manufacturing complex shapes out of no shapes at all." Isha said.
"What do you mean?"
"Dumbo! I mean, there was no shape, I gave it just for timepass. I made a fool out of you, in short!"
"Oh! I can see you smiling - that shrewd smile of yours." Anuj said. He was not annoyed with this little game which Isha played with him, rather he relished it. After all, his mood was rekindled.
"Hmm. Aren't you too smiling honey?" Isha said. She definitely rejuvenated his mood.
"Yes I am. Feeling much better after a smile." Anuj liked the free fall from the summit of Mt. Annoyance.
"Now, let us plan everything. Just see how easy things become when you work on a time-table."
"Cool. But first I should do something about internet. It has become an obsession for me." He was looking at his situation from a non-annoyed angle for the first time.
"Can I give you an advice?" Isha said with a genuineness in her voice.
"Yeah, sure. Say!"
"Discard your LAN-cable for the next two weeks. You give it to some friend of yours to lock it in his cupboard and then you'll never get a chance to pursue your obsession of internet."
"Hmm, sound advice! I will implement it."
"No 'will'. You are going to implement it 'now'. Go back to your hostel, c'mon."
"I am feeling nice out here, the breeze is so soothing, I'll go in sometime and do it. I promise." Anuj tried to sound convincing.
"Breaking promises is one of your hobbies."
"Not this time. I'll do it as soon as I enter my room. Happy? The weather is so romantic, leave all these things for a while, let us talk about something else baby." Anuj's happiness wanted to take some other course.
"Hmm, the lover back in action...all thanks to me!" Isha said.

The talk continued for yet another hour. The content of the talk became a bit more private and privacy is not the genre that I want to touch upon. After one hour, Anuj felt that the lover inside him was sagging and was desperate to give the fatigued backbone a relaxed sleep. He bid a bye to Isha with all kinds of buttering and polishing making him the most romantic guy of the hour. He disconnected his call just at the corner near his hostel and had a look at his mobile for time. It was 4 am, not quite surprising for him. Time flows like wind while talking to one's girlfriend. He was feeling happy, excited and his mood was calm rather a bit on the naughty side. He considered himself lucky to have Isha as his girlfriend.

He reached his hostel after strolling through the breezy IIT-D campus for the last two hours. He entered his room, his gaming-maniac roommate was sleeping, with the same concentration as he had about three hours back.

He turned on the lights. He could see the laptop on his table, with the LAN cable connecting his laptop to the mighty internet hub. The talk about discarding the LAN cable crossed his mind. He moved his right hand towards the LAN cable. Suddenly, his hand froze, something within him stopped him. "Let me check my mails and notifications for one last time", came the inner voice. It was like God speaking from within him.

He opened the lid of the laptop and pressed the power button. He logged into facebook as well as gmail account and checked his wall and mails. There was no increment in notifications, messages or mails still he kept refreshing those pages. Time passed, he forgot his backache and droopy eyes, 'the one last time' continued for the next three hours until he was transported to a dream state with his cheek getting the imprints of the keyboard below.

Our protagonist was awakened by his room-mate at 4 pm the next day, who despite feeding his fingers to the laptop last night for a longer time than Mr.Modi, attended all the lectures the next day, while our Mr.Modi was making rhino with spoon-like tails out of the stars scintillating in his dreams the whole day.

P.S. The LAN wire never got unplugged and the rest is history.

P.S. It's a true story.
P.S. I got an idea for a sci-fi short-story, the next one will be the one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Twist

SCENE 1
"Madam, that's your bill." The waiter said to Radhika, quite obsequiously. The waiter went away. The bill was quite moderate - 1200 rupees, which after all was not much for her six-figured salary-fed bank account.

Radhika. Cheerful, bubbly and talkative. She can be dropped in category of the people who know how to make themselves happy. And that's really a big thing to do!

"Thanks." Radhika said in a highly enthusiastic tone. She sought for her purse. Here. There. Right. Left. Below the table. On the table. Alas, it was not there. Ding! The torch inside her mind lighted up suddenly. 'Oh yeah, I left it in my car'.

"I left my purse in my car. I am just coming." She said to the waiter. Before the waiter could respond, she was out there - on road. Her eyes wandered. Here. There. Right. Left. The eyes stopped wandering, rather got affixed. Affixed to the tow-truck. Her car was exquisitely hanging on it. Her eyes now seemed to pop out of the skull. She looked slightly better than the villain of Scary Movie. The popping eyes transformed into a fountain, a fountain of tears, tears of helplessness. Tragic, her situation was.

Sometimes, some day comes when you are forced to think that it was better to be in the pre-historic times rather than the modern world. Dinosaurs seem much less troublemakers than the tow-truck.

A dozen frantic breaths taken. Eyes were restored to their garage. Ciliary muscles heaved a sigh of relief. Her footsteps automatically retraced the path on which she came outside. She was back at the counter of the restaurant. The fountain's after-effects still visible on her reddened cheek.

"I am sorry. I've no money right now. My car has been towed away. And my mobile as well as purse were in it. Can I pay the bill tomorrow?" Radhika asked the waiter.

"I am sorry madam, but we have no provisions like these. Can't you ask some acquaintance of yours to pay the bill?" The waiter said what he was supposed to do.

"I don't have my mobile, and my memory for numbers is slightly better than nuts. I remember just my car-plate and mobile number." She said, laughing at herself. Finally she was back to her ground state. The waiter didn't reciprocate.

"Madam, my boss is very particular about the bills. At the end of the day, he wants no errors in the business." The waiter said, his tone crossing the servile limit.

"You can keep my watch for the time being. I'll see what I can do. By the way, it is a costly watch - Titan - my brother gifted it to me. That too last to last birthday. You know he is such a lovely brother..." She flew with her effervescence and forgot the key-point of the hour.

"Madam, it is not funny. It is not a time to crack jokes. I've other customers to attend to. " The waiter interrupted her.

"Take my watch for the time being. It's really costly. See there is a hologram too!" Radhika was unperturbed. She was busy adoring her wrist watch.

"We don't accept payment in kinds. Either you give the money or otherwise I'll have my boss take over." The waiter said in a slightly annoyed tone. Radhika glanced at him angrily.

"Get your boss! I can't help...just call your boss. I'll talk to him directly." She ordered. The waiter walked away to the office briskly. Two minutes went by, Radhika started reading the menu again, her mind busy in fixing the evitable turmoil that had crept in because of the last conversation. Meanwhile, a young fellow emerged out of the office and started coming towards her table.

SCENE 2
"Hello Ma'm." He said as he reached in the field of view of the lady of the hour.

"Ishan! Hey! How are you? So long time! How are you...what are you doing here...?" She said having just a glimpse of the guy. Her effervescence was back. Ishan Mehra - her long lost classmate of the school-days was standing in front of him. Tall, dark and handsome. An executive coat and an elite tie brought an elegant man in him. Memories of school days came flooding back.

"Hey, Radhika...you! Where had you been?"

"First tell me, where had 'you' been? You disappeared just after the boards, no contacts with any of your friends..." She said in an excited tone.

"Oh! I had been suffering from a major knee injury. I had to run to US for medical check-ups after the examinations. It took me three months to get back to my perfect health and when I returned, my parents shifted to Jammu and you know how difficult it is to stay in touch with all scattered across different states of this country. Leave all those things. Tell me, how had you been?"

"Oh me! I am doing fine. Currently am working with The Times of India, Delhi as the assistant editor. And today I had this six-hours field work taking interviews of the local MLAs of Vikaspuri and Pitampura Constituency. I hate this job of taking interviews of the uneducated, muddleheaded politicians. I took this career to address the issue of poverty and child-labour, to make the voices of the deprived ones to be heard and see what I am assigned to do - to take interviews of the corrupt-to-the-core MLAs." Radhika, as always, spoke more than what she was asked about.

"Nothing is easy. I didn't realize that journalism can be such a painstaking job." Ishan commented.

"They treat us like machines. I get up at 5 o clock, have a light breakfast and run to work. My days run on coffees and sometimes even a cup of coffee misses my fate. Today too, surviving the tedious work on just two slices of bread in the morning seemed to hard for my appetite. Those politicians treat us from media like servants, they don't even ask us for water. Therefore I am here, this was the only elite restaurant that I could find to kill my hunger in the suburbs."

"So welcome to Ishan - the garden restaurant." Ishan smiled.

"ISHAN! Oh! I realize now, how silly am I? This is your restaurant..I see...hmm! So you are the hard-headed boss who is very particular about bills that your waiter was talking about!" Radhika poked him.

"What? He called me hard-headed? I am going to see him." Ishan reacted.

"Now certainly you're a hard headed boss. I was just kidding yaar, chill!" She tried to clear up the matter.

"I am OK. But these waiters have certainly become over-smart. They need to be taught a lesson. Anyways, leave that. I think there was some thing related to the bill for which I was asked to see you."

"Yeah. I left my purse in my car and curse my luck, it got towed. My hapless situation sought no mercy from your waiter, who kept pestering me to pay the bill howsoever. Haven't they been taught some courtesy?" Her lost irritation flushed back into her mind.

"Has he misbehaved? Just say me yes, and I'll fire him now." Ishan was in wrath. He just needed a reason to execute his merciless plans.

"No, not exactly. He did what he should have done, but he lacked the polish in his voice. Anyways, leave it. It is a trifle matter. You say how is everybody at home?"

"It is not a trifle matter. He needs to know courtesy. I'll take care of him, don't worry." He said.

"You don't need to hamper that poor fellow's livelihood, he'll learn with time. And I am dead sure that he won't encounter a customer as bizarre as me - with car towed and incredibly bad memory for numbers." Radhika said and smiled.

"You need not worry for today's mishappening. I'll help you with the car thing and this bill of yours - here it goes." Ishan took the bill from the table, crushed it and threw it in the dustbin across the room - a perfect throw.

"Hey that's not fair. You can't be so generous. I'll return the money to you, I don't like exploiting friendship in the matter of money." She said, sounding quite convincing.

"I won't take the money. This is the first time I got an opportunity to host a friend at my own restaurant."

"I don't like this way. Friendship and money need to be kept on two different shelves."

"OK. If you insist, you rather owe me a treat. I would prefer a treat than getting the cash back." Ishan said. It was a nice offer, gratifying at both the ends.

"Done. Both are happy that way. I'll tell you the date and place as soon as I get my car back. My whole schedule and mobile are waiting there."

"Oh yeah, come. The tow station is nearby, and I know the guy there - the in-charge of the tow cars."

"Hmm, Mr.Famous...?" Her face assumed the shape of a question mark with her smile creating a bowl below that question mark.

"Yeah, certainly famous. After all I hold a record for maximum number of car-towing in this area." He smiled quite boastfully.

"You haven't changed. Ishan - the troublemaker. C'mon, let us go. We have to get my car." Radhika said and they both packed up. He instructed his manager something about work, took his car keys and went out escorting the lady. The waiter was stunned to see his monotonous boss in such a lively mood. The company of a good-looking woman can even transform Hitler into Gandhi, so his boss was no exception. The waiter escorted his boss and his guest towards the gate and wished the Madam, "Thank you Ma'm. Keep visiting."

"Yeah, I'll. Thanks!" Radhika said. She was more or less pleased with the waiter and she asked Ishan to give him a tip of 20 Rupees, which he reluctantly gave.

"Was he the one who misbehaved with you? Why you asked me to give him the tip?" Ishan was not quite happy with everything around.

"He did not misbehave, firstly. And, I think he did a prompt job and deserved a tip."

The talks continued. They went ahead, Ishan helped her get the car back and their next meet - after all she owed him a treat - was scheduled somewhere in the next week.

SCENE 3
One week went by. Their talks increased. The mobile phones played the role of unofficial match-makers. Interestingly, Radhika Paul was Ishan's crush right from the early schooldays. This serendipitous meeting fostered some tender feelings in him. The fondness was not one sided - but rather lingered over the other side too. After all they both were single, and supposedly ready to mingle. The Sunday's lunch was quite a big thing to look forward to for both of them.

Sunday, 1 pm, Ambience Restaurant
"Hey Radhika. What's up?"

"Nothing special. You tell."

"Just was looking forward to this lunch...no hidden meanings though."

"Hmmm, it would have been better if you didn't mention that last phrase of yours - 'no hidden meanings'. It pokes me to think about what hidden meanings can be lying there."

"Hmm...I think it is the time to change the topic...hmm...let me suggest...that fan...oh no!...how about these sets of cutlery...really nice they are, aren't they?"

"Yeah they are. They would look even better if I smash one of them up your head. Flirting with a school-friend, that is what silly people like you are upto. You are messing with the wrong girl. I am smart enough to understand everything, ain't I?"She started lolling with a naughty smile on her face.

"Very. Smarter than what I had presumed." He said genuinely.

"So how was your week? What special did you do this week, other than looking forward for this lunch, of course." Radhika switched her talk-engine on.

"Hmm. Nothing quite special..."

"You mean nothing quite special other than that, aren't you?" She taunted.

"Now you are flirting...!" Ishan struck the bull's eye.

"Hmm, so should I change the topic now...hmm...rather you continue...what after that 'nothing quite special'?"

"Right. So, last monday, I summoned that waiter of yours and I instantly fired him. I cannot withstand people who are discourteous to ladies." Ishan said proudly expecting an appreciative expression from the lady, but she was on the other side of road - being completely stunned.

"That waiter was not discourteous to me. He did what any waiter would have done. I feel sorry for him. And sorry for you too, that you could not take a fair decision."

"Hey, you are taking it too personally. I did what seemed right to me. He is not even faintly related to you, why are you so much bothered about him?"

"It is not about being related or not. It's about being righteous. You were not right in that case. We, simply because we constitute the higher class of the society, cannot exploit the less resourceful ones. We rather need to take care of them, protect them and be just to them."

"Oh! Cheer up yaar, it is a trifle matter. He'll get another job. They are not as innocent as you think them to be. C'mon tell me what do you want to eat?" Ishan said in an indifferent tone.

"You don't even feel anything...do you?"

"What? A waiter has become more important than every other thing...Forget it yaar."

"I am not one of the waiters of yours. I can't forget it. I feel disgusted with you."

"I am sorry. I'll get him reinstated, promise. Now, please cheer up. C'mon let us place the order."

"I don't feel like eating. I need to leave, I'm not feeling well."

She stood up and went away. Ishan remained seated on his chair; lost in thoughts, trying to enforce discipline on his tear glands.

"What's your order sir?" A waiter came to his table and brought him back to the present.

"Nothing. I think I'll leave." He said and stood up.

"Is it about the ambience of The Ambience that's bothering you sir? No...then is it about this particular table? We can arrange a seat for you on the terrace if you wish. There is a great view up there. No...then...Has any of our staff erred, Sir?" The waiter pestered him, but with servitude.

"It is I who erred." Ishan said. He took out an envelope from inside his coat and pulled something out from it. That something was enough to make the waiter understand what had happened. Placing that something in the flower vase on the table, Ishan left the place.

The flower vase on the table was embellished with a red rose now and its fragrance added charm to the ambience of the 'Ambience'.

SCENE 4 - The same day.
Ishan went out in search of the waiter he fired. The grief in him metamorphosed into guilt. He understood the pain it brings to lose something after he himself lost someone - a friend or someone he hoped could be more than just a friend.

He straightaway called his manager, "Mr. Prasad. Tell me the name of that waiter we fired the last monday. His name, address, everything - be fast."

"Yes sir, anything urgent?" The manager asked.

"Just give it to me. I have some important work."

"Yes sir, note the address. It is - Ramsharan, near Bus Station, one of the small cottage near the temple. There is no fixed address, he used to say that people know him there. You can ask people around there."

"Thanks Prasad. Catch up with you later, bye." Ishan disconnected the phone. He rushed the car to the given address.

Sixty minutes later
Ishan could feel something playing with his nose. Open drains, heaps of garbage and buffaloes filling the potholes of the jerky road with their paste-like crap. This was the first time that his Honda Accord stepped in such a slum.

He stopped the car on the way carefully away from all the buffaloes, stepped outside in haste and BOOM.

"Oh damn!" He shrieked loudly and jumped in air, people around started laughing.

His shiny black shoes were sprinkled with sparkles of sea-green colour of the divine dung he accidentally stepped upon. Done with a dozen strokes of wiping it on the nearby grass, he went on to fulfill the mission that brought him to such a wonderland - a world he didn't even know existed in the city he was living in.

Seeing a pan-shop at far distance, he walked ahead.

"Hello, you have any idea where Ramsharan - the waiter at the Ishan restaurant lives?" Ishan asked the petite pan-wala. The pan-wala glanced him from up to down. Never before had he seen such a gentleman at his pan-shop.

"Hello, I'm talking to you. Do you know where Ramsharan lives?" Ishan shouted.

"Umm..Aha...Who? Ramsharan, ya, he used to live here, but last week some sick boss of his fired him on no pretence. He had nothing to sustain his house or his ailing mother, he left without informing anyone the same night. It was only the next day when we came to know that he had been fired."

"Didn't you people search for him?" Ishan sounded worried.

"Who cares nowadays sir? People come and go, no one is a friend in today's world sir. You know, time has gone so bad, that everybody can turn out to be a foe. Just think of his boss, Ramsharan used to praise him for offering more money than any other waitering job in the city everytime he came at my shop and now see, he only kicked his ass. You want a pan sir, my shop is famous all across this area."

"No thanks!" Ishan was lost somewhere in his thoughts.

"Where is his native place? You've any idea?" Ishan suddenly interrogated.

"Yes sir, his native place is Chakradharpur, near Agra in UP. But he was not quite attached to that place. His uncles captured all the small fields he was to inherit by blackmailing his sick father. You see, no one can be trusted nowadays."

"Hmm. Chakradharpur in UP." Ishan said. Tired, with sunset's light filtering through his goggles to finally strike his eyes, he decided to return back. His nose was by now adapted to the smell which was heinous sometimes earlier. He went back to his car and drove back home, being lost in thoughts all the way. He was feeling the guilt.

Scene 5
"I've always thought about me. Me, my feelings, my friends, my ambition or my employees. But today I realized that this whole world is much bigger than 'my' own little world. There are problems, difficulties and hardships everywhere around - hardships which could even bury the chances to sustain oneself. My eyes had always remained closed to these, they shunned every bad sight by finding some alternative, every heinous thing was covered with some beautiful mask and every good thing was treated as if it is destined to be mine. But, life is too hard to avoid every single bad thing and take every single good thing. Today, I was shaken to realize that 'If I am unable to do anything good, even then I've an opportunity to make this world a better place to live by doing nothing bad.'

My heart aches to think that this subtle realization came after hurting Radhika's feelings and ruining Ramsharan's life. But, certainly something touched me - touched me deep within. I don't deserve to be called an able boss or a good friend - I did the thing which she despised the most and did not even feel sorry for it.

Radhika, I promise you that I'll reinstate Ramsharan respectfully and seek his forgiveness in front of everyone, including you. And then you'll never feel disgusted with me. I promise..."

He dropped his pen, closed his diary and wiped his wet eyes. Suddenly, the phone-bell buzzed his ears.

"Hi Ishan, this is Radhika. I am sorry for the outburst today. I overreacted. You know, I can't stand any injustice to the poor ones, and I could not stop myself that time. I shouldn't have left the table, I am so sorry."

"Your reaction was apt. I've been an unkind indifferent brat all the while. You just opened my eyes. You need not feel sorry. I deserve a punishment. You know, I went to that waiters' place, he left his home the day I fired him - all because he had no money to sustain himself for yet another month. He had an old mother to take care of and bloody me ruined his life. With every information I came to find about him, the more my guilt increased...I am not worthy to be called his boss...actually I am not worthy of anything...I don't deserve to be your friend even...I don't deserve..." Ishan became agitated.

"Don't curse yourself. It's no use now. It's good that you realized your mistake."

"I am not worthy to be your friend. I won't be comfortable talking to you until I win back my self-respect. And that'll be when he forgives me in front of you. I promise to you Radhika that I'll find him and respectfully welcome him back in my restaurant. I'll call you soon...don't call me...I'll call you soon!" Ishan was distraught with grief as well as hope at the same time.

"You're taking too much to your heart buddy..." Radhika said, but there was no response. The phone was disconnected a minute earlier.

SCENE 6
Two weeks passed by. He went in search of Ramsharan to his native place Chakradharpur, where his uncles declined to know anybody with his name. His struggle began and he searched for some of Ramsharan's friends but alas, the struggle seemed to have no end. Ramsharan was missing. He even considered the option of lodging a missing report at the police station but he dropped the plan thinking it might cause Ramsharan further trouble. Meanwhile, Radhika called sometimes but Ishan didn't reciprocate, didn't even pick-up the phone after seeing her number flashing. He stuck to his words. Radhika stopped calling, the friendship chose the path of destiny.

He ran across all the past employers of Ramsharan, all his past dwellings but no Ramsharan anywhere. Days passed, months passed. It was tough for him. His patience did not surrender though his ways to trace Ramsharan encountered a full stop. His daily life made everything a memory, but the guilt and the promise to Radhika seemed to haunt him from time to time. He was not successful in fulfilling his promise. His self-respect waited for its saviour to appear out of nowhere. But, miracles are not that easy to happen.

Six months later
24th May
It was hot outside. Delhi's summer, you know how torturous it can be. Ishan was sitting in the air-conditioned chamber in his office. Suddenly his secretary called, "Sir, someone named R.S.Sharma has come to see you. He tells that he has to thank you for something."

"R.S.Sharma. I don't know anybody with that name. Anyways, send him in." Ishan sat back on his easy chair thinking about who this strange guy was.

"Hello sir. Remember me?" R.S.Sharma said. Ishan looked at and was turned into a statue. Ramsharan was standing in front of him in an executive suit, giving competition to Ishan himself.

"Oh yeah, Ramsharan. Be seated. How had you been...oh my God! Is that really you? I can't believe it. I searched you frantically over the entire city in the last six months to... well...to seek your forgiveness. Will you forgive me Ramsharan?"

"Forgiveness, sir why are you seeking forgiveness, rather I owe you a thank you. Sir, you would not believe what happened the day you fired me. You gave me a month's salary. Having postponed my mother's cataract operation for over one year, I immediately took her to the city hospital with the money I got plus some money which I had. Upon reaching the hospital, I could see all the doctors rushing towards the emergency ward. There was one emergency case of a child and they needed an O+ blood group, and fortunately I had the same blood group. I voluntarily offered my blood and the life of that child was saved. The father of that child turned out to be Mr. Ramjas Jhaveri, the famous fabric tycoon. He became so grateful to me that he offered me a job at his Bangalore apparel unit as the assistant unit manager. I vacated my house without telling anyone in my locality since they would all feel jealous and I slipped away to Bangalore with my mother, who also underwent a successful cataract operation. I worked hard and now I have been promoted to the post of project manager of DenMan - Denim Manufacturing Unit of Jhaveri's Apparels in Gurgaon. My mother keeps on telling me that you have played a role of Messiah in disguise for me. You changed the course of my fate. I want to thank you from the core of my heart. If you hadn't fired me that day, then I would still be cleaning up the tables at one of your restaurants and my life would have never changed."

"I....." Ishan's tongue was paralyzed. With nothing, nothing at all, for his mind to believe, he sat in front of Ramsharan looking depressingly dumb. He had exhausted his sweat glands and fatigued his body to seek his forgiveness and now this guy was thanking him.

After practicing dumbness for another two minutes, Ishan gathered himself and spoke up, "I am amazed...so much amazed. Huh...oh my God! I can't believe it...I need to pinch myself. Is it really happening...oh...huh! Oh"

"Are you all right sir?" Ramsharan asked courteously.

"Oh yeah. I am. Oops! I even forgot to ask you something. So tell me, what do you want to have - tea or a coffee?"

"Sir, sorry I won't have anything. My mother is waiting down there in the taxi. I would rather leave. Thanks again!" Ramsharan stood up, shook hands with Ishan and went forward towards the door.

"Thanks Mr. Sharma, you don't know that you have liberated me from my guilt. Thanks a lot. Be in touch. Take my visiting card." Ishan said. He in-turn gave his own visiting card to Ishan. and bid him a bye with a smile. As soon as Ramsharan left the room, Ishan dropped himself in the couch gasping for breath. He was excited as well as puzzled. His heartbeat was sinusoidal and the breath pattern was pulsating. Heaving a huge sigh, he took out his mobile phone and searched for Radhika's number.

'Radhika would be thrilled to know what has just happened. My self-respect, oh, it never needed to leave me. Shit man, I never really needed to punish me like that! Oh! The way this world works is bizarre, really bizarre.'

Finally, his promise to Radhika was in a way going to be fulfilled - after all he was forgiven, apparently. Though he had absolutely no talks to her since his last talk - six months ago, he inwardly missed her all the while. Radhika's number was in front of him - on his mobile screen, the empty mobile screen was waiting so desperately to display the phrase 'Calling...Radhika' but Ishan felt a bit awkward, courtesy to him not responding to her missed calls earlier. But his amazement at what had just happened shredded away all his uneasiness in a moment. He knew that now it was the time when his days of missing her were going to be over.

Taking a deep breath in, he dialled Radhika's number. He had a smile adorning his face - a happy and expectant smile, a satisfied and contented smile, a hopeful and naughty smile. The phone rung about nine times and then the answering machine said in Radhika's ultra-excited voice, "Hi. I am out of the country - in Switzerland. With Piyush - on our honeymoon. Will be back on 24th June. Please drop your message after the beep. Beep."

Ishan had a smile adorning his face - a frozen and shocked smile, a shattered and screwed smile, a paralyzed and dumbstruck smile. With the beep, his entire life had been 'beep'-ed forever. His breath-pattern was no more pulsating and his heartbeat was no more a sinusoidal one - rather it became a straight line with slope zero.

P.S. It was just a mild heart-attack. Ishan's Ishan-restaurant-delicacy-fed-heart was too fragile to absorb two shocks in a single hour. Ishan was definitely right, "The way this world works is bizarre, really bizarre."

P.S. Certainly a long one, but worth reading, I can assure you. This is for those who read P.S. before reading the story.
P.S. Imagination started catching speed, it takes some time to sharpen one's axe after-all. The flow is back, the writer's block is over and it's an euphoric sensation!