Friday, November 24, 2006
"Please, Damu. For me?" She'd implored, with those beseeching eyes he'd fallen in love with silently, over the years.
"Please Damu. It's for the eye-camp."
A beat..."Eye-camp?" She'd repeated, looking him in the eyes.
He'd handed out the hundred bucks in silent resignation. Money-mindedness was the last thing he wanted her to guage him with.
Now he walked across the dark street (no street-light as usual, he noticed), and reached the main road that connected the grid-separator and the alley towards his home. Suchi had decided to stay back to help her friends change. She was one of the organizers anyway, so well..it made sense.
They were through with college a few years back, and still lived in the same neighborhood, but he couldn't muster enough courage to convey his feelings to her.
"Loser," Amit, his pal since first year, had hissed, as Damu silently watched Pritam whisk her away from under his nose. He hurried his steps as the memories bobbed up and down his head. Pritam had joined a year late, but was more popular and had even won the affections of Suchi. I mean, it was almost like those 'good-boy-loses-girl-to-smart-hero' movies he'd seen so many times. And here he was, his life an almost identical replica of...
He turned his head. Fine time to burst crackers.
Behind him. He turned and saw some commotion on the main road. A wail. Some shouting. He was in the alley now and hastened, his heart beating faster. Then he heard someone running into the alley. Behind him. And then a car turned into the alley, following the runner.
Bang. This time it deafened him and he lunged to the ground. He thought he'd been shot at. But no, it wasn't him. He looked up and right behind him, the runner was lying on the ground. Two guys stepped out of the car and pumped two more bullets into him and hurried into the car.
"hey, who's that?" A voice inside the car demanded. Then a command to shoot him also.
Damu started running. A bullet whizzed past his ears and entered a tree. His mouth all dried up, his first thought was - I'm dead.
He turned into a cross road. A voice inside his head commanded him to head into the construction site on the side; without thinking he ran inside and ducked behind a pillar. A few seconds later, the car stopped outside. A few muffled voices. "...probably hasn't seen us. Cannot identify us.." were the all-important words he heard. Oh please, make them go away, he prayed. Then the engine died, sending a wave of panic again. The doors opened and slammed shut. He quietly hid behind sacks in the inner room of the house.
"Come out, you rat," they were speaking in the local language. He wondered how many of them were there, in all? Probably four. Maybe he should just talk his way out. Then another voice in his head, "don't be a fool. They are here to kill you, and they'll do it anyways. Talk or no talk. So just be quiet."
Scuffled footsteps entered the room.
"You think he's here?"
"Let's find out. But first, ask these guys to move. We don't want cops welcoming us outside."
The other guy left and a moment later Damu heard the car come to life and drive away.
Just then the caretaker of the site walked in, sleepy. "Who?"
"Your in-laws, just shut up." It was obvious the caretaker had seen the gun, for he didn't speak after that. The second guy walked in again.
"Find him," commanded the first guy.
"Who...who's here, sir?" The caretaker squeaked.
"None of your business."
Damu couldn't believe he was watching a harmless play only an hour back, only to be facing his death now.
A hand moved the sacks.
"Just pump a bullet or two into all the sacks. That's how you kill rats."
Damu offered a silent prayer, thanked his mom and dad for everything, expressed his love for them...and thought about Suchi. "I love you, Suchi," he said in his mind. There. He'd said it at last. And having said that, he suddenly wanted to live. He didn't want to die like this. He'd been a loser all his life. He couldn't die without first proclaiming his love for her. Maybe things could indeed be worked out by a cordial talk. He stood up.
"Ah..there you are, you rodent" smiled one of the guys. He couldn't see them clearly but they looked like they meant business.
"Look..please leave me. I..I didn't see anything."
"Oh yeah? You think we're fools."
Come to think of it, they were..wondered Damu. All they had to do was do their job and scoot. Why the hell did they have to come after him? And now he'd really seen them. And he had to die for that. Drat.
"Look, you could've just gone away. I was shit scared anyway..Please.."
This made them think. Just then, two loud 'thungs' like a tuner fork rang in the air..and the two guys were lying on the floor. The caretaker was standing behind the gangsters, with a flat iron rod.
"Quick sir, go call the police. I'll tie them up."
"Yeah...ok..uh..hey, that was quick thinking. Thanks. But...are they..dead?"
They bent down and checked. They were alive. Damu sighed with relief and ran out.
"Construction worker helps nab two dreaded gangsters. Saves possible victim's life."
Damu read the detailed report, his name and all...folded the paper and leaned back in the sofa..closing his eyes, with gratitude, and some guilt. He was sure Suchi would've read the report. He sighed again. Maybe he should've taken those bullets after all...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
From the Frankly Spooking outtakes
"Are you sure you want to do this, Kishore?"
He patted her shoulder. "Trust me."
"But it looks desolate, honey. It might be spooky, for all you know." Preeti pulled her shades over her head and winced at the large, greyish two-storeyed building. It was evident that it was an abandoned structure, the tall bushes and dry leaves all over testimony to the fact.
"Yeah, but just look at the weather. It's all nice and sunny," he chuckled. "Have you ever been scared of a building on a day like this? It's all about the darkness, the rains..and of course, the background score." Now he laughed, but Preeti was not amused. She followed him inside reluctantly.
The iron gates, so archetypal of spooky stories, groaned and they walked in. No watchman, no caretaker. This building sure was nobody's favorite legacy.
"You know, it's bang in the middle of the city. I've been watching this place ever since I came here. 10 years ago. That's a long time for something to be left untouched. Not in an area like this. And whenever I passed by, I swore that one day I'd come in and snoop around. It's a childhood habit I can't help." Kishore parted the bushes with his bare hands, making way for them.
Preeti frowned, looking around. It almost looked like the set of a scary movie. Only, the crew had left it as it was, without bothering to clean up behind them. Outside, the sound of traffic reassured her that all was fine, and they could just leave whenever they wanted.
The door was obviously locked. It didn't take much for it give away, as Kishore tugged at it a few times. He smiled at Preeti, who just shrugged. They stepped into the ruins. She turned back, almost expecting the door to shut behind them...and then shook her head at her own silliness. This wasn't a scary movie after all.
"Hmm...," Kishore picked up a vase lying on the floor. It was muddy, but he could tell from the doors and other fixtures that it had been the dwelling of someone wealthy. He wondered why such a magnificent house was abandoned this way. Well, the reasons could be many. The living room was bare, but the windows were open, letting in the light. That helped. There was wild growth all around...the damp smell of earth coupled with bird droppings. A couple of sparrows fluttered around, as if annoyed with the human visit.
Thankfully,the stairs didn't creak, but the cracks showed. "Careful," Preeti whispered, but Kishore kept his head up. The first floor was different. It was darker, and the windows were shut. There were two rooms right across the landing, one on each side. The space in the middle was a corridor that led to the balcony, or sitout, he guessed.
"Let's first take the rooms."
They entered the first one. Not much different from the one below, except this one didn't have undergrowth, but still a few leaves from the ceiling hinted at the green invasion pretty soon.
Must be the peepul tree outside, Preeti thought. The room itself was pretty spacious for a bedroom. A closed wardrobe on one side...and..Kishore started moving toward it.
"Kishore, don't..." Preeti started.
"Why? You're afraid skeletons might come out?" He laughed at his own little joke and pulled at the door. It came in his hand, with a ball of dust escaping the wardrobe. he shook it off and covered his mouth.
"Did you hear it?" Preeti said.
It was coming from the other room. Like a groan. Must be a tramp, come in for shelter, thought Kishore. They stood still for a while. A sparrow flew in and out of the room. They tiptoed out and across to the second room. The door was ajar. Kishore pushed Preeti behind him and pushed it further.
They looked around. Up at the ceiling. Down the rails at the living room.
"Huh." Kishore frowned.
"Chalo. Let's go..I'm not liking this."
"Arre, it wasn't coming from this house. Maybe the neighbors. And moreover, we've not yet explored the terrace."
"Whatever, I don't want to be here."
Kishore was rubbing his right shoulder.
"Are you ok?" Preeti patted him.
"Yeah..don't know why, looks like I have a muscle pull here."
"Beats me. Ok, let's go. I'll come back later some day."
They walked back to the car. Kishore was rubbing his left shoulder now.
"What, the other side paining as well?"
"Hmm, looks like. It's nothing anyway..". He started the car. Preeti looked back at the house. Her eyes roved over the walls, the building itself and then the terrace. She clutched at Kishore's hand so hard, he scowled. "Ow..what?"
"I thought somebody was watching us from the terrace."
Kishore chuckled. "yeah, probably it was him we heard."
She turned back and frowned. Did she really see somebody or was it just her imagination? Anyway, they were out and away. And that's what mattered.
Probably the pain, Kishore felt heavy and his walking was laboured, as they opened the gates and walked in.
"Still paining, sweety?" Preeti rubbed his shoulder. " Don't worry, a couple of pain-killers and a hot-water bag should do. I'll give you a massage as well" Preeti said, with a naughty wink, as they entered their home. They'd visited friends after their adventure and returned late. It was past nine. Kishore had as usual showed off about their snooping around. "Will take you guys there the next time."
Now, as Preeti prepared the hot-water bag, he stood at the sink and washed. As he dabbed his face, he noticed small drops of blood on the basin. He saw himself in the mirror and touched his nose. No, wasn't his nose. And he'd not cut himself. He bent down to wash his face once again, for good measure. Then he did a double take.
There in the mirror he saw a boy, not more than fifteen, sitting on his shoulder, smiling. Blood trickling from his mouth. Instinctively, with a gasp Kishore tried to shake him off, but his hands just went through the boy's legs.
And then, the boy tightened his legs round Kishore's neck. Smiling all along.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
"Sorry, sorry.." she muttered as he shrugged and turned to the moving line. She was still behind him, peeping out a bit from the shoulder. Oh no, he was moving to the food court. Her heart raced as she clutched her bag tighter and muttered a desperate prayer. He now stood in the entrance, roving his eyes. And then he turned and walked away toward the escalator.
"God...go, go, go..." She gnashed her teeth.
She spotted an empty table and settled in. The guy in the line spotted it too and approached. She buried her face in her meal and pretended not to see him. She felt stupid holding his shoulder now.
"Uh, excuse me?"
She looked up, pretending as if his shoulder had not existed.
"Is this taken..?"
"Oh no, please.." She moved away a little.
He sat down and started his meal. She avoided his glance. Too late.
"Uh...I don't want to sound nosey."
"But...are you in some kind of trouble, ma'am?"
He seemed embarrassed now.
"Uh..I mean..you hid behind me. From someone, obviously" He rubbed his shoulder. "YOu are quite strong, you know."
She smiled sheepishly. Actually this guy was cute. And yeah, she was a bit tough on the clamping.
"Sorry." She pushed back a lock of hair.
"That guy...well, forget it. It's..it's not important."
"Are you sure? He might be waiting outside, you know."
She stopped eating and contemplated for a minute. He was right. She swallowed her mouthful and pushed back the plate a bit.
"Well, he's..I don't know how to say this..but..he's my fiance."
"Yeah. Strange, isn't it? I behaved as though he were a psychopath or something."
She laughed nervously. The guy didn't talk.
"The name's Atul. You could call me that." He smiled.
"Oh.." she chuckled. "Shraddha."
They walked into the parking lot, Shraddha's eyes looking around in fear. It was almost deserted, except for the security guy at the far end, manning incoming cars.
"I can't believe someone could behave that way with his own fiancee." Atul took out the keys.
They sat in his car.
"I think I'm troubling you a lot.." Shraddha started.
"Nonsense." He smiled and before he could start the car, the passenger door opened and a guy slid in. Then, two simultaneous clicks. From the corner of his eyes, he caught the gleaming barrels, one beside him, and one in the rear-view mirror.
"Keep the hands on the wheel, Atul. And just drive."
"Easy..ok?" Atul said with just a hint of nervousness, easing the car back.
"And don't try to be funny, mister." The fiance growled from behind.
"Ok, ok..please keep the guns away."
The car hurtled down the National Highway.
About fifty miles down, when the highway was near empty, the car swung hard and spun a few times before standing still off the road.
A moment later, two quick shots rang out in the quiet afternoon. The car was soon back on the road, this time headed back to the city.
Atul was panting, but just. In five minutes, he was composed. He looked at the hole in her head and another gaping hole in the guy's neck. "Not bad," he said to himself. He drew up the tinted windows and pushed back Shraddha's seat, so it looked like she were napping.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
There went his siesta.
"Ashish?" Whoa, the voice was sexy.
"Yes?" He was wide awake now.
"Hi Ashish, Mrinalini here."
Mrina...oh, Mrinalini. The RJ!
A second, and he was all ears. In fact he was all everything.
"Uh, hi! Hey..thanks for calling."
Finally, all those emails paid off.
"You wanted to meet?"
He fell back on his pillow. Ahh!
He looked at his watch for the 500th time. Was he looking good? He checked his breath, ran a hand through his hair. The usual guy things. They'd agreed to meet up at Ulsoor lake. They could've met up in a cafe, but she preferred it that way. And he was ok with it so long as she agreed to meet him. And then she walked in. Oh boy, was she beautiful or what.
She came up to him, with a faint hint of short breath. Maybe she walked a bit. He didn't seem to notice any car outside. Good. He could give her a ride home. They sat on the bench.
He smiled at her. She smiled back. He smiled some more, nervously now, not knowing what to say. She raised her brows and smiled again.
"So, say something."
He was sheepish.
She turned to him for a better view and threw her hair back, which almost killed him. No, not the hair..his heart stopped for a fleeting second that is...
"Do you know how many emails you sent me?"
He shook his head.
"54, to be precise."
He grimaced. That's all? So much for being an admirer.
She read his mind.
"Well, I've received more fan-mail, but you were different."
Ah, so it proved it. He had a way around girls. He settled in now.
"So, what is it that you 'so badly' wanted to talk with me?"
He scratched his head. "Don't know, Mrinalini. I just...love your voice. I mean, you're so damn good." She raised a single eye-brow. He bit his lip. Damn good? all those rehearsals in front of the mirror and all he could come up with was 'damn good?'
"Err..what I meant was..it's..it's - wow!" He chuckled.
"Thanks." She smiled coyly.
"So..what is different in my emails?" His turn to interrogate. Anyway this is how any real conversation could come about. So he played it straight, like her.
"Ummm, don't know. The way you use your words, perhaps?"
"How do I use my words?"
"Ashish.." She frowned mockingly.
They spoke about themselves, he about his personal life, interests etc etc..and she followed suit. To cut a long story short, they got comfy with each other.
She looked in his eyes for a moment and turned her gaze on him. "You know, I wanted to meet you. At least to see who you were. At least once. I really liked the way you persisted in your emails. Maybe you should try your hand scripting my shows."
"Sure! But why did you want to meet me only once?" He feigned disappointment.
She smiled. "Once is enough, don't you think? You've met me, so my inbox can breathe now."
"Don't be too sure." They laughed over it and she looked away dreamily at the ducks in the pond.
"It's so calming to see them, na?"
"The ducks, stupid."
"Oh, the ducks. Hmmm, yeah." He gazed at the birds now.
"Sometimes I want to jussst float along, like these guys."
"Yeah. Have you ever..?"
"What? Floated? NO way!"
"Offoh! No, I mean thought about floating..like them."
He shook his head.
"Well, you could try."
And then, with a heave she shoved him into the lake.
"Wake up, you lazy oaf. We've a movie to catch."
Sudhanshu, his roomie stood over him, with a mug of water in his hand.
"And who's this Mrinalini huh?" Sud had a smirk on his face. Ashish grabbed the cell from his hand and read the messages. Gosh, 2 messages and a missed call.
He clicked to view the message - Please don't sent me any more emails or I'll have to call the police - Mrinalini.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Raj climbed the stairs apprehensively. Would she recognize him? 15 years was a long time. He'd gotten her address from a common friend who just happened to know her address. It was pure luck. A lot had happened in between. A million questions in his head.
He rang the door-bell and waited, checking his breath. He'd cut down to a half-pack and on his way to quitting it altogether. But he didn't want to spoil the first impression after so many years. Why was he here at all, he wondered.
A head peeped out. It was dark inside.
"Uh, Mrs. Sandeepa?"
The old man, her father perhaps, opened the door wide and squinted his thick-glassed eyes to study Raj.
"Who are you?"
"Uh..sir, I'm an old friend, college mate? I was in town and I learned..."
"Come in, come in."
Was this really Sandeepa's house? It looked like a stable. There was an unidentifiable stench coming from the far end of the house. Raj squirmed and slowly sat down on the tattered couch.
"Am sorry..this.." the old man looked around.
"Uh, it's ok...sir."
"Sandeepa has gone out. She'll be back soon..uh would you..?"
"No, sir, it's ok."
They sat, neither speaking, for a while. The stench now vanished. Maybe his nose had gotten used to it now. The old clock on the wall tick-tocked the boredom away. He looked around. Sparse, minimalistic furniture. He had a mind to leave. It wasn't worth it maybe. But then, the prospect of meeting Sandeepa after so many years kept him glued.
The door-bell rang. The old man left to answer it. Raj's pulse quickened. He heard them talking. The female voice sounded surprised. Then she walked in.
"Uh..hello..Sandeepa." He rose to greet her.
The sound of traffic below was strangely comforting. They sat sipping tea in the tiny sitout. The lunch was simple, but adequate. He looked at her. Still the same. A few wrinkles perhaps, but the same. She looked at him and smiled.
"You don't believe what I just said, don't you?"
"Hmm? Oh no..no, not at all, I do believe it. I.." Actually he did find it hard to believe it. But as far as he knew her, she wasn't someone to just make something up, not after 15 years at least.
She was dreamy now. "Yes, I met her a few months back and we exchanged addresses. How's she? And how her children have grown, na? Imagine..naughty Neha, with her own naughty ones." They laughed, going back to the college canteen for a few seconds.
He smiled. He wondered if she had any children of her own. This wasn't the time to ask.
"Keep in touch, Raj." Was there a tear in the corner of her eye? Guess not...
"I will. thanks. You too..And take care."
They shook hands. He held her hand for a fleeting second more. She didn't seem to mind.
He nodded gently at her father and started down the wooden stairs. She was leaning on the railing.
He started the car and lit up a cigarette. Then he shook his head, smiled and threw it out.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
But first things first. Despite the fact that my story 'route no. x' was a super flop (according to me at least), it was one helluva entertainer. My apologies to the 'lucky' few who came, who read, and who left...confused. I don't blame you guys. I posted that story when I was absolutely bored stiff last afternoon. A lesson I learnt - never post a 'horror' story when in such a state of mind. It puts even my characters to sleep.
It all started when I posted the story and then Harsha pointed out that 'bhai, kuch mazaa nahin aaya'. Well, what the hell, I had busloads of time on my hand, anyways. So there I went snip, snip, snip. But I left out some parts of the original story. The result? Stephen King meets Jaspal Bhatti.
And believe me, I wanted to delete the story yesterday itself, as I wasn't too satisfied with it myself. But Blogspot played spoilsport and didn't allow me to do it.
Today, before I deleted the post altogether, I read it one last time - Boy, what a mish-mash! I would've strangled the author if I were a visitor here. It didn't even tickle me, forget making my hairs stand on end. Heheh... And Enigma, I must hand it to you, girl. (Were you a consultant for Ramsay brothers anytime?) Your interpretation of the story had me rolling on the floor.
But one thing is clear. I enjoyed all the puzzlement and intrigue that the story caused. And you touched my heart. You guys so patiently analyzed a story which wasn't scary from any angle. Hats off to you. :)
But let me tell you, I didn't delete the story because of the confusion it created. I removed it because somewhere I felt that it didn't belong in my blog. I wasn't satisfied with it. And as writers, I'm sure you all know how it feels not to be satisfied with your own work.
Wish you all a very happy Deepawali. Have lots of fun. Safely..though.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Well, like all love stories, luckily for him, turned out she was attracted to him as well. And so it all began with a first 'hi' and subsequent meetings in the elevator, amidst the other people. And then the first date happened.
He pulled the chair for her. Why did all restaurants play Kenny G? He would've preferred something livelier. But what the hell, he wasn't here to listen to music, anyways.
"Nice place..." He started.
"Come on Avinash. That's such a cliched line. Your first date, right?"
He felt like an idiot, but smiled.
"Chalo, it's ok. Actually it is". She smiled. Ah, that smile. That face.
"You know what, Disha...I've been wanting to tell you this."
"You know, you remind me so much of someone..."
"Don't laugh, ok?"
she laughed. He frowned mockingly.
She patted his hand. "It's ok. Tell me."
"I had this crush on my 6th standard teacher."
She didn't laugh. Good..
"You remind me so much of her..."
"What was she like?"
"Well, she taught us science. Pretty strict actually. But I was smitten by her."
"Yeah?" She laughed.
"Actually..I'd even sent her a card. Anonymous of course.."
"What? Proclaiming your undying love or something..?" Some more laughter.
"I was her favorite student, though. I always scored well in her subject, because I didn't want her to be upset for me."
"That's so sweet. What was her name?"
"And which school was this?"
"St. Anthony's. Why?"
"So..did you ever go tell her it was you who sent her the card?"
"Oh boy. Didn't want to die. No. Never."
She smiled again.
"She had a typical smile..her lips curled like..donno. You have a similar smile."
"You should've told her about your love."
He didn't know what to say. He shrugged.
"Ok, am just kidding." She smiled that smile...
"But there's some consolation for you.."
"What do you mean?"
"You can always proclaim your love to her daughter."
"Wha..?" His jaw dropped.
She laughed that all too familiar laugh again. With a twinkle in her eye, this time.
"Meera's my mother, stupid."
He couldn't believe his ears.
"Meera Sachdev. St. Anthony's. Right?"
He mutely nodded, not knowing what to say.
"And know what? You can tell her too. She won't mind. After all, she still has that card of yours. she still talks about it. Tell her in person. She'll be happy. And..this time you might even get a 'yes'. For her daughter, of course."
She reached out and took his hand. They laughed. He still couldn't believe his ears.
Friday, October 13, 2006
But the best wish I got today (no prizes for guessing) was from my 4 year old - "Appa, many happy buddays return to you".
Apparently, Anu had taught her the 'Many happy returns...' thing, but my daughter went a step ahead and presented me with this gem.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Introduced to movies
Loved the 'Dishum Dishum'
Watched 'Khoon Pasina'
Bell-bottoms a must (Even to school! My mom had nightmares those days, trying to dissuade me).
Parted hair in the middle (Looked stupid on my curly head, but what the hell)
Imitated the deep dialogue delivery
Had a folder full of his pictures
Hoped to grow as tall...Never did..Doesn't matter
Other movies. Hollywood. Many favorites. But he's still closest to the heart.
Discovered that my birthday falls 3 days after his!! (That's like discovering nirvana. That's like family. That's connection).
Dream of making a movie with him in it.
The awe hasn't diminished much (though not as strong)
Happy Birthday, Mr. Bachchan. You're still tops.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Once out, they had to snail it up behind a long line of cars, partly due to the movie crowd, and partly due to the several barricades up ahead, just outside the hall. The police were even checking a couple of cars. All young men in them.
"Wonder why so many cops?" Santrupti's first words since interval.
"Hmm?" Megha was still in the movie.
They waded through the pool of cars and finally hit the semi-empty road. It was almost 1 am and Bangalore looked more like in the wake-up mode than sleep. They were headed the Mumbai way for sure, thought Sannu (Megha called her that).
Two guys waved them down and forced them to pull up to a side.
"Megha, just drive" Sannu hissed.
"But..how can I? They've blocked my way.."
"Just reverse it up and go". Sannu's voice shivered.
Megha looked around to see if there were any cops. None. All of them were back there near the cinema.
The fairer and taller one knocked on Megha's window.
Megha raised her eyes, her face a question mark.
He mumbled something she couldn't make out. Then he raised his fist, as if to break in.
She rolled down slowly.
"Give me the bag." He barked this time.
She handed it to him. He dug his hand inside, trying to find something. Sannu looked on in horror. Megha tried to be calm. Then, Sannu's hand slid inside her bag and clutched the pepper-spray can tight. She reminded herself to thank Manoj who'd bought it for her just last week.
The man called his partner. They talked in hushed tones and then finally their voices rose. Sannu understood the local dialect. Something about mistake, wrong woman, bag etc..they couldn't make out anything.
He shoved the bag back to her and waved them to go. Megha gratefully brought the car to life and took the first turn they got.
"Whatever the hell was that?" Megha said, after parking the car in front of Sannu's house. She hid her face in her hands and then ran them over her head.
Santrupti looked ahead, too terrified to talk.
"Why were they after my bag?" It was more a question to herself..
Sannu didn't reply. Too many questions were racing in the women's minds. The horror of what had just happened hadn't yet sunk in.
The police commissioner got up and smiled.
"Thanks a lot Ms. Santrupti. Our city needs alert and responsible citizens like you. That diamond necklace belongs to the royal lineage and we had a tip-off that the thieves had entered the cinema hall. Only we didn't imagine them to slip it into Ms. Megha's bag."
Santrupti smiled at her friend, who'd accompanied her to the station.
"It was my duty, sir. It's a good thing I saw them doing it while Megha was so involved in the movie. I then clicked their pictures during the interval, before of course taking the necklace out of Megha's bag and slipping it into my jeans."
Monday, October 09, 2006
My father was one such lucky person. And he received his card from a colleague who he'd befriended while on a trip abroad. He'd receive the cards every christmas and new year, sometimes even out of the blue...and read out the tiny, scrawly letter etched on the back of the card to us. Sometimes, he'd get a full letter in an envelope. The letter even smelled good! And we kids would pride at the fact that dad had an 'American' friend.
We received countless cards and letters, until one year they just stopped coming. Just like that. Stopped (much before the internet and emails...even STD calls). We spoke about it for a year or two and then carried on with life. One day, last year, we remembered this friend and wondered what would've made the guy stop writing.
"I guess, he passed away."
In truth, this might really have been the case. Because he was the only person who my father knew. We didn't know his whereabouts, we didn't know his changed address, if any (father tried writing to him years back, but the letters just returned to him).
I even googled him out for father, came up with a couple of close matches, but perished the thought, because of the age differences. I guess he really did pass away. But just think - at least for father, his very existence depended on just the cards and letters he wrote; the wishes he sent across the oceans.
Now, if only there was an email service in heaven.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
"Doctor, could you be more specific?"
"Look, in plain words, your brother has had a minor concussion. There's a blood clot. We've to take a CT scan and then decide whether or not to operate on him".
"Is it..is it serious?"
The blood oozes out of his left ear. We've run out of cotton. The nurse hands out another wad, with a casual wave of her hand.
The smell of antiseptic, mixed with the iron smell of deep dark blood can send waves of nausea through even the most stoic of digestive systems.
We wait. 2, 3, 4... hours.
The effect of the pain-killer's beginning to wear off. The groans have begun.
Outside, an ambulance screeches to a halt and then, like a scene straight out of ER, paramedics wheel in another accident victim.
Time stands still in a casualty ward. Because everybody hopes that in that momentarily suspended strand of time, we might see recovery. Some recover. For some, time remains still. Just like the victims.
All that mind thinks at this time: thus far, and no more.
For the mechanics of the human workshop, shop opens mostly at night.
Monday, September 25, 2006
I know blogdom is a pretty amoebic world, where nothing ever really stays constant, be it emotions, thoughts, opinions or plain interest. But that said, I must also say that somewhere deep down, when I visited you guys, despite not having penned anything the last 3 months, I did feel a sense of security, a warmth that said 'hey, these guys are around, and it's still fun being here'. So, that's motivation enough to join in...whenever. It's like falling out of a steady stream of people walking and then one fine day you come back to the road and fall back in. No eyebrows raised, no questions. A pat or two on the back perhaps. A smile.
It feels good to be back.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
"Hello. Ajit Timbers?"
"The load hasn't come yet."
Puzzled expression. "But I sent it tomorrow?"
"yes. And tomorrow's load I'm sending it yesterday."
"Wha...? Who is speaking?"
" D? Which D?"
"Which D? This D. There's no other D. "
Line goes dead.
And this one, the day D wanted to know if it was a holiday in the college due to a strike. Those days, engineering colleges resumed after an hour or so after the strike. He was in no mood to go to college, so he decided to do some good to his class-mates as well.
"Hello, NIE college?"
"Put me on to Muthuswamy."
"Sorry, sir he's not coming today. There's a strike."
"He's the principal and he's not coming today? what kind of a principal is he?"
"Uh...sorry sir, I didn't get your name."
"I'm Inspector Puttuswamy here."
"Oh, good morning sir." I'm sure the guy stood up, whoever he was.
"Have my men come there?"
"Yes sir. The constables are here. We're not allowing any student inside."
"You have declared a holiday haven't you?"
"Yes sir. half day."
"NO, no...give a full day off. I got a tip that there'll be trouble."
"Good. I'll be there in a half hour. And please call Mr. Muthu also to come and meet me."
"Ok sir. Thank you sir."
"Thank you? What for?"
I wonder if the writer of Hera-Pheri consulted with D...
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Some movies I felt were as good, if not better than novels they were adapted from:
The God Father
The Color Purple
couple of John Grisham movies ( The Firm, Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, A time to kill...And there on his novels became cookie cutters. So much so that whenever I read his later novels now, I imagine a hollywood star/actor in the lead characters)
The day of the jackal ( well not exactly, but it was gripping)
Devdas ( The old one, not the ne-ne-ne-new one)
Some Alistair Mclain movies (Where Eagles Dare, Force 10 from Navarone, Guns of Navarone)
The Jungle Book (Animated)
Jackie Brown (Elmore Leonard's novel was called Rum Punch)
Any more....? (Am sure I don't remember all)
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Rose: You first
The_hitman: male, 35 years
The_hitman: Why? Am I too old for you? *wink*
Rose: NO..no, nothing. forget it.
Rose: So...what do you hit?
The_hitman: Excuse me?
Rose: Your user name...
The_hitman: oh that! :)) Yeah, I am a hitman
Rose: What is that?
The_hitman: You don't know?
Rose: Why would I ask?
The_hitman: Be prepared, you might get scared. But you should not...
Rose: Tell me first.
The_hitman: I do contract killings...
The_hitman: I told you you'd be scared.
The_hitman: wow, I like courageous women.
A week later...
The_hitman: So, how's it like being in a travel agency?
Rose: Better than being a killer (if you are one, that is) :)
The_hitman: Lol.You know what, you are a nice girl, I'd like to meet you.
Rose: And kill me? ;)
The_hitman: Come on, be serious. Can we meet?
Rose: That depends...
The_hitman: Depends on?
Rose: On one condition. You should tell me all about your profession. I want to know more.
The_hitman: Forget it, it's not for women like you.
Rose: Look, if you want me to meet a hitman, I might as well know more about his profession, no?
The_hitman: Hmm, you have a point. Ok...
The next evening, this time face to face...
Rose (sipping coffee): You don't look like a hitman. (Giggles)
The_hitman: Well, you do look every bit like a travel agency executive.They smile. An hour later, they're walking down the road, feeling the gentle evening breeze on their faces.
"So what are you really?"
"Come on, I know when I see men. You cannot be a hitman."
"Is it written on a hitman's face that he's a hitman?" He laughs.She laughs, but is serious the next moment. "Tell me".
He watches the traffic silently for a minute and sighs."Ok, I might as well tell the truth, why fib? I'm a builder."
"You could've told me that straight away, the other day."
"Yeah, I know, I should have."
They walk and talk for another half hour and walk back to the parking lot inside the empty compound. It's late in the night now.
"So being a builder is equally dangerous, hmm?"
He smiles. "It is. But we have to take our risks. It's a part of the job."
She smiles and nods in agreement.
"Do we get to meet again?" Mr builder asks.
Rose smiles. "I don't think so."
"Why?" He puts on his best smile.She doesn't answer him. She gets on her bike.
He looks at it for a moment, unsure. "Hmmm, that's quite a ride for a travel agency executive."
"How can you be so sure I'm an executive?" She smiles mysteriously now. In fact he's a little uncomfortable with that smile.
"Yeah, but...you...you told me..." He smiles, but barely...
The little pea sized hole in his forehead looks like a third eye, written by a cartoonist. Now, which cartoon character had those eyes, she wonders. Ah, Tintin, she smiles. She looks around and then down at his startled half-smiling face, the trickle of blood from his forehead slowly reddening his teeth.
"Am so sorry we cannot meet again. You were kind of cute. But you know what, I have to take my risks too.That's a part of my job."
She sighs, and kickstarts the bike to life.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
In a city like Bangalore, there are all the chances that I bump into an old school-mate, an old acquaintance. And well, I guess I'm not the only one thinking this. And so, the staring continues.
Friday, June 02, 2006
I wonder where my friend is today...
Friday, May 26, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The shorter guy whispered harshly. "Don't touch that."
"Why?" The taller one, who the other guy kept calling 'sting' for whatever reason, replaced the black velvet form on the floor. A small 'mew' escaped its lips.
"Cats are evil", shorter said.
"But he's so...he's so warm" sting said. "And fuzzy." He looked puzzled and even slightly disappointed at having to keep the cat back.
He sighed and continued stuffing the huge gunny sack with other 'important' things like the mantelpiece clock and littered jewellery like a bracelet and ear rings. The owner of these was surely not bothered about theft, it was obvious.The black furry animal blinked at sting once. He smiled in the semi darkness as the two glowing eyes met his.
"Nick," Sting said. "What if the folks come back sooner than we know?"
Nick waved him away. "No they won't. Trust me? Now hurry up and stop gazing at that beast. We've a long night ahead of us. Remember we've to rob at least 5 more houses to keep us going this month."
Sting shrugged and continued stealing. Then something caught his eyes. "hey."
"What?" Nick almost jumped. "Don't you ever scare me like that. What is it?"Sting pointed to the corner of the room, on the other side of the huge bed.
"Yeah, it's a computer. So?"
"Aren't we gonna take that?"Nick looked at it for a minute. It wasn't a very good looking one he decided. Moreover, he had a bigger, meaner machine back in their dump.
"Nah." He shrugged. "It's no good. And nobody's gonna buy it anyway. That's the funny thing about these things. They're not valued for their appearance. or even price. The juice is in the software, memory and such. And this one's a goner" He chuckled.
"You think so?"
"Well, you're the boss."
They were almost done. A half hour later they were gone like they'd never come in here. Outside on the dark street, you could hear a 'mew' every now and then from the house.
The local newspaper carried a picture of two local thieves a couple of days later. Nick and Sting. The report said the two were identified by a video of theirs, captured in a webcam.
Salma stroked her fingers gently over the fur as she gazed at the blue light in her monitor. The house slept. She'd logged on as usual to write her online journal and check emails. But the events over the past few days had baffled her. She still didn't have an explanation. The police had had no trouble nabbing the two thieves who'd burgled their house. Her webcam was on when they were going about their job.
"But...I thought I'd shut it off," She'd stammered when the cops had come sniffing.
"But evidently it wasn't, ma'am", the bushy moustached officer had beamed. "You must've been video mailing someone and left in a hurry. Maybe you could ask your cat, he was there." He laughed heartily, his belly heaving.
"Well, thanks to you, they're ours now."
Salma had placed an icon of the webcam on her desktop and all she had to do was click on it. The thing came on. Yeah, she video chatted with her friends now and then, but...she was puzzled. She was dead sure she'd switched off the computer the other evening before heading off for her cousin's wedding. She never forgot to do that. Never. If Devil could speak, he'd say the same thing. He was always watching her when she sat in front of the computer.
She nuzzled her face against Devil's "What do you say, Devil? Did you switch my cam on?" She said, and laughed at her own silliness.
She looked at Devil. He blinked and mewed. She could swear she saw him smile, as he leaped off her lap and settled on the bed, looking at her from there. She turned to her monitor and opened her mailbox.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Karthik just looked at her and proceeded to his room. She pulled him back.
"I said what happened? who did this? Who did you fight with?"
Funnily, he didn't seem to be in great pain despite a bleeding lip and bruised cheek. Like some big cat had mauled him.
Vanaja took off his shirt and immediately pulled him to the bathroom.
"I knew it. I knew one day this would happen. Picking up fights with classmates, fighting..are you a boy or are you a...?" She ran the hot water and prepared the scrub, while searching for the Dettol. Then she turned to look at him. His eyes were red, and his lips quivered.
She pulled him close and waved her hand over his ruffled hair.
"Oh, I'm sorry sweetie..."
She held him at arm's length, studying the wounds.
"Does it hurt a lot?"
"Oh, my poor baby.." She washed the wounds and gave him a bath.
"I've told you na chinna (darling in kannada), not to pick fights with the other boys? This time see, it's hurt you so bad."
"I wasn't fighting with the boys."
Vanaja placed the milk cup on the table and sat beside him.
Karthik bowed his head.
"What? Who was it then?" She found her voice rising again. She sighed deeply and turned his chin up.
She couldn't believe what she'd just heard.
"Why would Rinki do this? And why did you have to go fight with her?"
Rinki was Karthik's music school classmate from two lanes down the road. And to think that music wasn't the only thing they practised.
"I was teasing her sister."
"Rinki came to her rescue."
Vanaja looked at her little tiger sipping milk. And then burst out laughing.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
"Oh, hello. I'm sorry, I was so involved in reading.. I.."
"It's ok." She smiled.
"What're you reading?"
"Oh, it's about Zen."
He smiled. "I'm Arun."
"New around here?" It amazed her how she'd so easily started a conversation with a blind person. She'd never done it before. But there was something about him...
They made small talk for a few more minutes before she rose. She had an early meeting to attend. She wanted to ask him if he needed help out of the park. But she knew how fiercely independent differently abled people were, so she let it be.
Arun was a nice guy with a great sense of humor. Jogging in the park was not just another morning routine for Geeta anymore. She looked forward to meeting him and talking with him. For more than a fortnight, the new routine was she finishing her jog, and then talking to Arun. Then they walked to the nearby tea-stall where he had his tea and cigarette, and then she walked him to the edge of the park, outside. She decided that it was time to call him home and bring him into her circle of friends and family.
"Geeta, it's fine, but..."
"Please Reena, you don't start that thing about him being blind etc." Reena was her close pal at office, who had started out with her around the same time in the city.
"I know, I know..but..hope you've thought about this, hmm?"
He wasn't there. Her first thought was, "I hope he's ok." And she now felt bad that she didn't know where he stayed. She'd told him almost everything about herself - where she lived, where her parents were, who her friends were, where she worked. And he'd never divulged anything more than his interests, not even his background. She suddenly realized she didn't even know if he lived in this city - he'd never mentioned it. Maybe his blindness had somehow stopped her from being more inquisitive than she'd normally be.
She finished her jog and waited on the bench for more than a half hour, but he didn't show up. She felt a pang of disappointment. She shook herself. "Relax Geeta, don't be so restless now."
He wasn't there the next day either. And the next, and the next. And the next. A month later, Geeta only turned to look at the bench while jogging, but was now sure that he'd gone. But she felt cheated. He could've at least come by to say bye. But then, well, he might've had his own reasons. She accepted his absence and carried on with life.
Sunday afternoons were the most boring, according to Geeta. As she flicked through the channels, her droopy eyes almost closing, the loud door-bell jolted her out of her senses. God, she must have that bell replaced, she muttered, dragging herself to the door.
He was looking different. And she realized he was not looking through her. He was looking at her. Into her eyes. It took her a moment to realize.
She gently pulled his hand and got him into the house, but his eyes won't leave hers.
"Yeah, that's right Geeta. I'm not blind now."
"Uh..." She didn't know how to react.
"I've come to invite you to premiere of my movie this evening."
"Yeah. I play the same character that you saw in the park all those days."
She sat down in disbelief.
"how was I?"
He smiled. "My acting. How was it?"
She didn't reply. She didn't know how to reply.
"We had to wrap up the shoot and the other post production work. So I couldn't come to the park. I wanted to surprise you by inviting you to the movie."
She just kept looking at him.
"It's my directorial debut. It's a small film, but...."
She was staring ahead.
"Look I'm sorry for all this...but...you'll come to the movie, won't you?"
He smiled that same innocent smile. She slowly smiled back.
"Of course, I'll come...you Oscar winner" She replied, hitting him gently on his shoulder.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
"If you wanna write, write. Don't think". That's precisely how the better half put things in perspective when yours truly cribbed about the 'bloggers block' and all that jazz about not being able to post for so long now. Well, taking a serious cue from that one, I thought, yeah well, if thinking about writing a story on my blog could lock up my fingers from writing just about anything else, then I probably shouldn't blog - I should maintain a diary where I jot down my so called stories and wait for eternity until the next idea strolled up my brain. But for now I'm doing just what the doc prescribed - just write. And this is something we as writers are advised and instructed to do, right from the time we learn that we could do some serious damage with the alphabet. But still we talk about writer's block as if it were some privileged five star condition that only we were entitled to. "Oh, I have writer's block." The common cold feet.
Wondering, should I post what I just wrote?
What the... well, here it is. Now it's just a matter of 'just writing' everyday. Hmm? I feel better already.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The trek organizer had left them a few kilometers back at the foot of the Jogi mountain, with detailed instructions about first aid, food and other helpful tips in case they got lost. This was their first trek before they tied the knot a month hence. They just wanted to have a blast and do what they both loved doing - exploring nature.
"Funny, I thought the building looked much smaller from the outside" Rohit commented, gently running his fingers on a tiger, so realistic, he felt it would roar and bite his finger any time.
It never struck them as odd, the appearance of a museum such as this, in the middle of virtually nowhere. Even the organizer hadn't mentioned this in the route. But it didn't matter. Rohit had checked. From the window of the museum, they could see the nearby town. Well, a lot of folks preferred to drive up to a place like this; it was good tourism. Even if Rohit had any doubts it had slowly perished, after having walked around for a while now.
"This way please," The curator who'd welcomed them in flashed a typical curator smile that said, see it but don't touch it. He'd called himself Guru.
Seema rolled her eyes and exchanged a brief knowing glance with Rohit. The curator watched the lovers from the corner of his eye and smiled to himself before leading them to the room at the far end of the museum.
"And this.." He said opening a door that led to some kind of a basement, "is something you would'nt have seen anywhere in the world."
Rohit raised his eyebrows. There was a rare confidence in Guru's voice. They simply smiled and followed him downstairs.
"See? I told you." Guru looked around proudly, as if he'd built this place with his own hands.
Rohit had never seen anything like this before. Statuettes, caskets, jewelry, pottery, and more...indeed he'd never seen anything like this before.
"Original. From the 10th and 12th centuries. All these belonged to the Rastrakutas."
"Rastrakutas? But...how..?" Seema had read a bit of history, and knew that the valiant dynasty had indeed existed in India between 752-985 A.C.E and that their contribution in the field of art and architecture was unmatched. But to openly claim that all of this belonged to them was being a little too confident.
But before she could continue to quiz him about the Rastrakutas, Guru led them to an adjoining room with massive blinds and the walls adorned huge life-size paintings of various temple and historic monuments. They would've missed it had they not stopped by to see the paintings closely. And funnily, this part of the museum was lit poorly. And the air suddenly felt as heavy as lead. Seema's throat felt dry.
"Hey, isn't that..?" Rohit stopped. Guru turned. Seema grasped Rohit's shoulder, her eyes round with bewilderment.
"That's as you can see.." Guru stepped closer.
"The Taj Mahal" Seema completed the sentence.
"Yes. Quite right, ma'am."
"Why's it in shambles? Who could've painted it this way?" She wondered aloud.
"Ah, that's the specialty of these paintings ma'am. All these paintings represent buildings that are going to perish in the near future."
"But how gross. How can somebody think about our national wonder in this way?"
"That's how it is, ma'am."
Rohit and Seema turned to Guru, who had an almost diabolic smile now, instead of his warm, friendly countenance.
They looked at the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, the Qutub-Minar, Vidhana Soudha...all in pieces. And then they came to the last painting.
"Yes. It is."
It was the museum they were in.
"Wh..when is this going to happen?"
"Anytime now," Guru said, as the floor beneath them began to rumble and they started shaking violently.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
"Who? These? Why would you know them, ma? And..how would you?"
"Then? They've written their names like they were celebrities we all recognize. See - Meena and Nikhil. Anil and Sania. Mohan and Preeti. How does it matter what their names are if I can't relate to them?" She frowned and adjusted her glasses. "Wait a minute. This girl...is she a model?"
"No, ma. She's not. And most of them shown here aren't."
"Then? Why the names...?"
"Ma. They're just there because someone paid the newspaper to have their pictures on print. It's publicity, that's all. They're called the 'Page 3' people."
"Ah. That movie. They acted in that movie?"
"Aaargh, no ma, they didn't. Page 3 is...it's a name for...for these socialite kinds. Celebrities too are featured in it. It's just like you know, the 'editorial' page where you find editorials? (Sheesh...what a comparison). But it's just as an example, no please don't draw parallels." But it was too late. She was already at it.
"Editorial? You mean, these people have written all that's written here, on this...this Page 3?"
(Remind me to raise some money and pay it to a newspaper the next time we have a get-together at home. And oh, remind me to take my mom's pics and have 'em printed as well. With her name.)
Friday, February 10, 2006
And this is one day I cannot forget till I die.
Love you, honey.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
1. Good sense of humor (fair would do as well)
4. Lovable (I know...vague, but can't put it any better)
5 - 8. All of the above ;)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
"Drive, woman. Don't you dare look back."
She pulled out onto the main road. Calm now, she auto suggested. No point asking where he wanted her to go. And moreoever, she didn't want to feel like a cabbie. She sniffed. Her cold suddenly worsened, and she'd this urge to sneeze. It passed.
"Take a left here."
A thousand re-runs of a thousand bollywood/hollywood movies zipped in her mind. Well, not that she was an avid movie watcher in any case, but a part of her mind now chided her for not watching all those DVDs her husband rented. She drove on. They were on the ring road now; oh, they were going on a long drive alright. She spotted her cell lying in between the steering wheel and the odo.
Almost as if he'd read her mind, "Pass me your cell phone."
She could hear the clicking and snapping. The sim card was out of the window. Dumb move, she thought. Then he flashed his own cell out. She managed to look into the rear view mirror. She wanted to laugh out as she noticed what he realized.
"You could've used my phone, you know. Yours might be traced..."
"Shut up and drive."
She shrugged. She'd caught a glimpse of his face. Looked decent. Glasses. A light stubble. Hmm, not bad looking, actually. They rode in silence for a few minutes, the traffic outside the only sound. Suddenly she liked the sound of traffic.
"Drive out of town."
"Listen, we've to fill up..."
"Next bunk, on the right. And make it fast." he ducked.
At the bunk, he lay low.
"I've to go...you know...." She said.
"I'm watching you. And no tricks, ok? This isn't like the movies. Don't try to call the cops from the bunk."
She handed over the keys to the bunk assistant, instructing him to fill the tank up. When she returned, her passenger was still lying low in the back seat. She shook her head and got in. A few minutes later they were speeding out of the city. She looked at her watch. Some more driving in silence.
Before she could open her mouth, he spoke again.
"You don't look like you work."
Yeah right, I carry my ID around, she thought.
A white innova overtook them and blocked them, forcing the car to stop. Now what...
Four men stepped out.
"I'll handle this. You keep quiet."
She shrugged. He inched the muzzle closer to her neck.
One of the men pulled the rear door open, pointing at him what looked like an automatic.
"I'll...I'll kill her. Don't step forward. Who are you?"
He'd barely uttered the words, when without his own knowledge a howl of pain escaped his lips, and he felt his hand snap. The woman in front had used the distraction to pull his hand and break his wrist. The gun fell from his hand. Uma stepped out. The leader of the group stood in attention and saluted her.
As the perpetrator was handcuffed, she couldn't help but notice with amusement, the look in his face.
"Not your day, man." She smiled. He didn't know what to say.
"And oh, one more thing."
"Next time, make sure you get your basics right, hmm? Read the newspapers, it's a good habit. Guys like you should know who you're pitching against, shouldn't you? And last - never, never leave the victim out of your sight. ok?"
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
A Happy New Year to all of you! (...it's great having you all around)