Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Booo Chronicles is back... :-)

For those who came in late (it all started here), Boo Chronicles is about one of the most amazing places in Kolkata, the 'Plaza Complex' (name changed, so no use googling it) where the living and the 'already-lived' co-exist harmoniously. Well, harmonious or certainly makes great food for thought. My friend N, who was the manager there, recently found some free time over the weekend to narrate some more incidents,which proved beyond a point that, forget us, even ghosts are touchy when it comes to personal space. Read on.


It was late, and N yawned. The clock read 1 AM. But he had to complete two sets of reports for the christmas season round the corner, and had to prepare requisitions for a whole lot of inventory and permissions for various vendors who'd set up their wares on the D day. He knew that the third floor of the house had a small one-room studio apartmentish kind of a guest room, which was reserved for his boss, when he flew in from Mumbai. He decided to spend the night there. He called home, informed his wife and sat down to draft the reports. An hour later, he stepped out of his office and trudged down the stairs. After a few steps, he thought he heard another set of footsteps, echoing his own. 'Clop, clop' and then immediately a 'clop'. He stopped and turned around. No one. He ignored the echoes and reached the ground floor, where the security guy sat. The uniformed man was slumped in his chair. At a glance, you'd think he'd been stabbed or something. The snore gave him away. N woke him up and asked for the keys to the apartment. The guy hastily pulled out the keys from his pocket and handed it to him. As N was returning to the flight of stairs, the janitor, who slept right below there, peeped out and called out.

"Sir, you're still here?"

"Oh, yeah..I had some work, so I decided to sleep over at the Boss' apartment. Why do you ask?"

The small wiry guy quickly stepped out of his bed and came to N.

"Please don't stay there sir. You better go home."

"But why?" N said and paused. Then he shook his head. "Don't tell me..."

The janitor nodded. "Yes, sir. They're there as well."

"Holy ghost," N muttered.

The janitor said. "And this guy is a tad more touchy than the other ones."

N waited for him to continue.

The janitor said, "You know I used to sleep there, on the 3rd floor, right outside the apartment, don't you?"

"Yeah, now that you mention it, I do remember that."

"Hmmm..and now I sleep here on the ground floor. Know why?"

"Enlighten me," N said, sleep slowly hovering over his eyes.

"Well, one night after my usual round of duties, I slept there, in front of the guest room. And in the morning, I found myself here, below these stairs."

N raised his eyebrows.

"Yes sir...and I don't walk in my sleep. Never have. I have been sleeping there for the last four years. And this happened about two months ago. That's when I suspect, the apartment might've had a new visitor."

N scratched his head. "Well, ok. We'll see. Maybe I'll find myself beside you here in the morning." He chuckled and climbed up the stairs to the guest room.

The next morning he woke up inside his car, in the basement parking lot.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lonely night...

Shireesh opened the door and stepped into the silence.

He clicked the lights on, walked over to the couch and slumped in it. He looked at the bottle on the center table and hunched forward to take it. His hands trembled and he slumped back.
He looked around the empty house, which a few hours ago, was filled with laughter and animated gestures. He and Sandeep had planned a perfect evening. Catch a couple of beers, have some chinese grub, and then walk down Brigades to Rex for the night show. He looked at the clock. The movie would've begun; in fact it would be well nearing intermission.

He looked down at his blood-soaked shirt, and dug his fingers into his breast pocket. He pulled out the two tickets he'd booked for the show. With his hand still trembling, he crumpled the tickets and threw them on the floor. He then fished out his cell and navigated to the Contact list. Neethi. Sandeep's girlfriend of two years. His blood-stained thumb hovered around the green button for a few seconds before he threw the instrument on the couch and leaned back, clutching his head. Then he broke down and let it all out for a half hour.


It was a first, for the cops. They found a guy, who would later be identified as Sandeep, with his neck slit. They knew it was 'Knife' Raju's trademark style. But what stymied them was, his own body was right there beside Sandeep's body, his trademark knife sticking in his mouth and out the back of his neck.


Monday, November 10, 2008

It's never too late...

He didn't believe in ghosts.

"What rubbish, ghosts are but figments of your terrified, primitive brains, working overtime" he'd argue with friends.

Even when they found him hanging by the ceiling fan one day, his suicide note read: "No one but I am responsible for my death. And please, for heaven's sake, don't think that I'll come and haunt you all as a ghost. There's no such thing as a ghost."

It's a different matter that a couple of days later, his friend Ashish, who lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment, choked on his dinner and died when this guy appeared at his dining table.

"Well, I just realized I was wrong. I'm sorry."


Friday, October 31, 2008


Rajiv always liked to watch the junior artistes, or extras, whenever a funeral scene or any other serious scene played on the big screen. He chuckled when he spotted some dumb oaf in the last row of 'mourners' smiling at the camera to catch its attention.

Today was no different. A similar funeral scene was playing and everyone was sitting around the 'dead body', dabbing their glycerined eyes. The heroine sniffed into her hanky. Heart-rending scene indeed. But Rajiv was busy looking at the lesser actors, shaking their heads vigorously, and wailing their guts out. He smiled. Then he looked at one girl who was standing in a corner. The camera was not directly focused on her, her face partially hidden behind another face. That was odd. She looked familiar. Maybe acted in some dumb TV serial. Rajiv craned his neck. Then he realized how stupid that was. It was a two dimensional screen, stupid...he laughed at himself. Then the camera moved and zoomed on the girl. She looked up. At him. He didn't know how to react. Then she tilted her head to her right, as if telling him to turn to his left. He turned his head slowly. It was her, sitting beside him, but watching straight at the screen. He swallowed and turned to the screen again. She was gone.

And so was the girl on his left.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Thank You...

Look! Up in blogosphere...
Is it a Booker? An Oscar? No, it's the Brilliante Weblog


I've penned down the retrospective many a time; so I'll refrain from going down that lane again. Instead, let me today spend a moment to think of those people who I've been at b(logger)heads with the past several years (ok, some are new but heck, I feel like I've known them for years).

I'm really bad with acceptance speeches. While I feel overwhelmed when someone says a nice word about my writing, I never know how to handle a 'real' big compliment. A sheepish thank you is all I can manage. Man of few words? Naaah, too lazy to say anything. :-)

Mampi and Pinku, both who I've known now for a few weeks now, have been gracious enough to bestow the Brilliante Weblog award on me. Thank you ladies. But be that as it may, I've realized that blogging is more about connecting. To another person's mind, life, his or her world of fantasy, adventure, feelings, and a whole lot of other aspects, which maybe don't come to the fore in person. Ok, enough already.

Now for the toughest part. Passing the baton (as the rules go). The rule of this award says, pass it on to seven or more bloggers. I say tough not because of the number seven, but I probably have so many bloggers in mind I already feel guilty that I might miss out on someone whose writing I probably loved, but have forgotten the person's link ever since. Well, anyways, here goes (And bloggers who've known me for more than a few years now, if I missed you, it's entirely due to forgetfulness, and has nothing to do with me not liking your blog. I've liked all the blogs I visited till date. All of you rock!):

Gratisgab: One of the early bloggers I got to know. Fantastic sense of humor and a sensitivity that's very rare to find these days. (Psst, she also shares my wife's name).

Alpha: Again, an old bloggerhead - great writer, terrific sense of humor. It's been a while since I visited her. This could be a great way of doing it.

Manuscrypts: Cool dude, and quite befitting his trademark 'devilish' logo he displays on his blog, at least the old one. You rock, pal!

Pinku: A recent discovery, and what a discovery! Here's a woman that deserves a standing ovation for what she's stood for. A truly gutsy lady.

Mampi: Have you seen a coconut? Tough on the outside, but quite soft on the inside. That's mampi. A very sensitive person, but at the same time, she knows how to take potshots at life. She can pack a punch. With her words, of course. ;-)

Shub: Very rarely do you come across a girl whose idea of a date is a candle light dinner, with, perhaps M.S. Dhoni?? (Shub, please forgive me if that was a totally off the hook reference). But she's a true sports lover and cries when a sportsman/woman hurts himself/herself on the field, and exhults when they excel.

Cynic in Wonderland: Hahahahahahhahahahahahaha. That's how I go when I read her posts. Our very own P.G. Wodehousini. Terrific humor writer. Must remind her again about that book I want her to come out with.

Prerona: An old bloggerhead again, a good friend, and again, a very sensitive person. Where are you girl? Don't see you at all these days. And to top it, her blog's open only by invitation these days...

GaramBhejaFry: My very good friend, in fact, he's like a younger brother. If you wanna roll on the floor laughing, then he's the guy for you. I think he's not a single 'serious' bone in his body. All are funny ones. Check him out.

There. Did it. But I repeat; there's more to this list than meets the eye. And please..all of you deserve this one. At least from me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feeling el(ev)ated... (The booo...chronicles)

The Plaza Complex is apparently a squarish structure with a huge light well in the middle, like how most malls are. Well, this wasn't exactly a mall, but back in those days, most shopping 'complexes' (I still can't figure out why they called 'em that), were designed in pretty much the same way, and this too was like any other. Except, this one had an adjacent building, 'wing' as the staffers would say, that was kind of attached to the main building through a 'skywalk', more like a narrow suspicious corridor you see in those crime movies (Remember? - close-up of a cop quietly slithering along the dank path, no background music, only his hushed breath?).

Now, this other building housed a nightclub on the fourth floor, the access to which was from the basement parking lot of the same building. Long story short, the 'mall' side of the building had it's doors closed to this wing (for obvious reasons), so the 'family types' could shop in peace and the night birds could prowl around safely on the other side.

The basement had two elevators that carried folks. One of the elevators was dead. Meaning, it had been non-functional for more than a decade and a half. Reason? It had an old fashioned door, with a huge padlock, the keys to which were with the owner of the complex, who happened to be somewhere in Mumbai. Well, anyways, it didn't work, and nobody bothered to fix it. The other one worked just fine, so why bother? And in any case, the night club on the fourth floor was the only place worth visiting in that wing, the rest of the floors were also kind of deserted (yeah, yeah...I see where you guys are heading. It'll come, don't worry).

So. Two elevators. One functional. Aaaand....the parking lot was manned by a security guy who, more often than not, was found flirting with the women employees in the adjacent building, which was apparently a beauty parlor.

One night, As N walked out of the nightclub, after having filled in for a colleague who was in-charge of the place, he heard hastened footsteps up the stairs. He stopped in his tracks.

The security guy.

"Sir, sir...," he huffed and puffed.

"What happened?"

"Sir, I won't keep watch over the parking lot tonight," he said, his face resembling the white-washed wall of a new flat.


"Sir, I won't...please don't ask me. I just cannot."

N kind of knew what was coming. But he waited.

"What did you see?" He asked, coming to the point.

"A hand.."

"Hand? Where?"

"Sir, in the lift that doesn't work," he said between breaths, "I heard a sound and I turned to the elevator...and I saw a hand beckoning me, from inside...sir."

"How the hell could you see a hand? There's no light in there."

(Remember those paleolithic elevators - wooden doors, a small square glass pane in the middle?)

"I could make out sir, in the light of the basement."

N raised his eyebrow. So much for being a security guy. Just then another staffer walked out and he heard the conversation. Something fishy. He stopped and craned his head with a question mark on his face.

N turned to him and said, "Have you ever seen a hand in that elevator? It's been dead for God knows how long, and this guy thought he saw someone inside."

"Oh that? That's her...", the guy said matter-of-factly, like he waved at the hand every day.

N frowned. "Another ghost?"

"Sir, there are many in this building."

N suspected if any of the staffers in the place were ghosts themselves.

Then the guy turned to the security guy. "Hey, how many times have we told you not to turn around if you heard a sound? Huh?"

The security guy just shook his head stubbornly. "I don't know all that. I want to go home, sir."

N waved him away and walked down the stairs with the other guy. "Let's see, I want to meet this lady."

"Sir, please don't go there now, sir. Why disturb her?"

N shook his head sorrily and hurried down. When they reached the basement, it was quiet. N cupped his hand and peered in. Suddenly, there was a loud metal groan as if the cables came to life, and the elevator rose up. The two of them watched in mute horror as the cabin traveled up. And then, they heard it. Female laughter.

(Watch this space for more such 'boooo...' stuff).

Happy Independence day tomorrow, folks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ghost Guzzlers (The boooo... chronicles)

This is a true story, and I kid you not.

My friend N is a unit manager at one of the top Thai restaurants here in Bangalore. Before coming here, he was in charge of an entire mall in Kolkata (am not disclosing the name and area of the mall for obvious reasons), responsible for overseeing the operations of the eatery and the movie section of the mall. Last night, somehow the topic veered to (yeah, what else...) ghosts, and what he narrated in the course of that conversation, made me think. That ghosts, are...well, some ghosts are nice and they're best left alone. And they allow you to do your thing. Read on.

The year 2000. N had just landed a job at the mall (let's call it 'The Plaza complex'. If you remember, all these earlier versions of malls sans the movie halls were suffixed with 'complex', as if that'd make things any easier), and it was business as usual till one evening, when he stepped into a pub in the same vicinity around five, to check on the stock - the beer mugs, bottles, inventory and stuff. It was a fairly quiet evening, as the stewards went about their business readying the place for the guests who'd start trickling in by about six. N headed to the bar counter where a steward was wiping glasses, and generally humming a tune. After a cursory 'good evening sir', 'how are things' kind of a dialogue between the two, N walked to the men's rest-room and he'd barely closed the door from the inside when someone knocked - hastily. Five to six quick knocks. Irritated, N pulled open the door to give the steward (who else could it be, customers hadn't yet arrived) a piece of his mind. But to his puzzlement, there wasn't anybody outside.

N walked over to the steward at the bar counter who was oblivious to the entire thing and had his back turned to the counter.

"Hey, listen," N said.

"Yes sir?"

"Why'd you knock on that door when you knew I'd just stepped in?"

"Which door, sir?" the steward said, surprised.

"Arre, the rest-room's. Just now. Didn't you knock?"

The man shrugged, and then suddenly as if realization had dawned, he muttered a quick excuse and sauntered out from behind the counter and headed to the exit.

All the more puzzled, a bit annoyed even, N followed him out.

"Why'd you walk out on me, I was speaking to you, wasn't I?" He brought on his 'manager-to-steward' tone.

"Sir, you'll have to forgive me, but I had no choice."

"What? Why?"

"Sir, what's the time now?"

N frowned at his wrist. "5.20, why?"

The steward nodded his head sagely. "Sir, that's the problem. The time. You should'nt have gone to the rest room now."

"What nonsense, why not?"

"Sir, keep this to yourself, but there's a ghost in that rest-room, and he is around between 5 and 6 in the evenings."

Unable to believe his ears, N put his hands on his hips with that 'yeah-right-like-you-want-me-to-believe-this' look. The steward called out to a few other staff guys, the janitor, a security guy, and a couple others and they nodded their collective heads in ghostly unison.

"This is truly ridiculous guys, you want me to believe this?" N shot back at the pale faces.

The janitor, the senior most, spoke up slowly. "Sir, if you don't believe us, please step into the rest-room once again. There's no one else around, right? And this door is quite a distance, so none of us can follow you."

N mulled over this. The janitor raised his eye-brows, as if to dare N. So N sighed and walked back to the rest-room, and just as he was nearing the place he turned to check. Yeah, they were all outside. He shook his head and went to the door.

This time round, the door was locked from the inside.


(More such 'booo...s' that happened in the very mall;in the next post).

Friday, August 01, 2008

At home...

She sat by the closed window, reading. The rain drops were drumming on the glass, her ears comfortable with that sound now. She turned the pages quietly...slowly. She took her eyes off the words for a moment, looking out. There was something about reading a romance when it rained. She sighed and looked outside. Oh, how she loved this setting. This house, the rain, the books...


The door opened and the lights came on in the room.

Nandini muttered something beneath her breath and walked to the window.

"Gosh, this window." She slapped her palm on her forehead. "Trust Rohit to fix the bolts."

She struggled with the bolts for a few seconds and closed the window. In the sudden silence, she felt a cold wave. She rubbed her palms before folding her arms. She was about to turn back, when she noticed the book on the ledge. That was funny. Only an hour back she'd cleaned the room and put everything back where it belonged.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lost and found...

5 pm. The medical college canteen. Nishant sipped his coffee in solitude, mulling over the day; and it hadn't ended yet. He planned to head back to the hostel for a quick bite, check emails, and then back to the college. He had to collect the one book he'd been gunning for, the past month or so - Atlas of Human Anatomy.

His usual gang - Amit, Tejas, Meera, and Anushka had decided to catch a late night movie, but he wanted to have that book at any cost.

"Carry on, guys," he'd said tersely amidst sniggers and raised eye-brows.

He'd just stepped out,headed to his bike in the parking lot, when he heard a voice behind him.


Nishant turned. The voice belonged to a frail looking man in his fifties. He was very familiar, but Nishant couldn't place a finger on his face. Probably one of those patients he'd to take care of in the afternoon.

Nishant waited for the man to say further.

"Son, I'm Mohan Rao from Vijayawada...and I want to go back home."

That was a strange request. Nishant had a mind to say, "so, go sir, who's stopping you." But he held back.

"I'm sorry, I don't think I understand," He said instead.

The man advanced slowly. Something was wrong with his was laboured. Nishant cleared his throat. " you have a problem? Maybe if you head to the reception..."

"No no. I just want to go home. I'm..I'm Mohan Rao."

"Yeah, I got that," Nishant said, slowly.

"I need your help, son."

Just then Nishant spotted Amit and Tejas walking toward him.

"Hey, Nishant. You sure you don't want to join us?"

Nishant looked at the pale face of Rao, and then his friends.

"Uh, sorry guys. I have to have that book. And moreover, I can't stand that guy, the so called hero of the movie, so..."

They waved him away and turned to the canteen.

"Yeah, so Mr. Rao..." Nishant turned, only to find the man gone. He looked at the gate, craning his neck a bit, but couldn't spot him. Maybe he'd catch him on his way out and offer him a lift or something. Then he chuckled to himself - not all the way to Vijayawada though.


Canteen, the next day. They were talking in hushed tones, when Nishant arrived. He sat down and looked at them. "What's up, guys?"

Tejas shook his head silently, and the others toyed with their respective plates and cups.

"Did I miss anything?" Nishant smiled. "How was the movie?"

"Boring," Meera droned.


Tejas was solemn. "There was a cop here today."

"What for?" Nishant asked, placing his books on the empty chair beside him.

"He was talking to the principal, I believe...about some unclaimed body."

"Unclaimed body? Here? What, one of the cadavers?"

"Yeah, the one we'd been working on."

"Oh, shit," Nishant said. "And..?"

"The cop was saying, the body belonged to some guy from Andhra. His relatives were apparently enraged...we don't know how it came to us."

"But I thought, we got bodies only after all the legal.." Nishant began, and stopped. "What did you say? Andhra?"

Meera nodded. "Vijayawada."

Suddenly Nishant's stomach churned.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just another 'blog' in the wheel...

I remember the first time I heard the word 'web-log' was sometime in '97. I'd arrived in Bangalore, fresh out of post-graduation, and landed a job with my cousin who ran a small multimedia outfit back then (the company's long since wound up). The net had just about picked up - we used to hook up with a dialup; remember the familiar long 'beeeeeeep', and then a series of 'bip-bop-bip-bop'...and then the lights on the modem would turn steady, and we were ready to go. 56kpbs line. Great connection. Wow! The page loads in half a minute. That was fast, man! And while researching some web designs, I stumbled upon this guy (forget his name now), who had designed this very cool (for those days, these days you get all kinds)website he called his 'weblog'. I decided to save it for later and when I found time, just went through his site. It looked more like a day-to-day account of what he did, who he met - he was a designer himself, so it was more of his sketch works, rough drafts, designs, interactions with visualizers, ad guys and such. But he had a knack of making the mundane so interesting, I kind of got hooked to his page. I remember religiously opening his site every morning, just to read what he'd done that day.

That was then. Over the next few years, when Internet started making its way into everybody's home, weblog had turned to a crisper, dittier 'blog', and hey, you and I could have one. I heard about the new avatar sometime in 2000-2001, but I still didn't have that easy an access to the net to be able to blog myself. And not many people had begun blogging, anyways.

When I entered the software industry, and found that the Internet was as easy as a click, it opened a whole new world for me. And it was then a colleague invited me to read his 'blog'. I'd shown him a couple of my printed short stories, so he encouraged me to have a blog of my own.

So, finally in May 2003, I signed up for my very own blog - at blurty. I'd to give it a name. That was a problem. I'd not seen a lot of blogs and this colleague who'd shown me his, had something very simple like 'meandering thoughts' or some such. That wasn't much inspiration. So I went back in time, digging from favorite movie characters, comic book heroes etc. Nothing caught my eye. And then, one day over lunch I cribbed lightly about this to a friend. And he said, 'yaar, tu itna emotional kyoon ho raha hai?' (why so emotional over such a trivial matter?). And it struck! Of course. I'd found my name! I remember long back in school I had this favorite TV show 'Phatichar', and that character had stayed on in my mind for long. Phatichar would always console himself with that line 'yaar phatichar, tu itna emotional kyun ho raha hai?'. I liked it. So I named myself 'Phatichar' on my new blog.

Phew! It's been a great journey so far. I know five years isn't such big a deal. And I've been in and out of here far too many times. But whatever the frequency, it's always consoling to know that whatever happens in the outside world, there's always a place in cyberspace, where I can take refuge. A place I can go to without having to worry about what I am, who I am, about being politically correct. It's my space. Our (us bloggers) space.

Here's to bloggers all over the world. Cheers. :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Twinkle, twinkle little star...

He stood atop the terrace, looking at the smattering of stars the parting clouds made way for. He remembered all those stories his grandmother used to tell him, about people becoming stars after they died. He wondered how many stars he'd put up there personally. And were they looking at him now? He looked at his watch. In about a half hour, it would be time to send up another star. It was cold. The rain had ceased, and it was wet all around him. He hoisted the silencer-fitted sniper gun on the wall railing and turned the telescope, getting a clearer picture.

The slim executive walked out of the restaurant, brief-case in hand. There was a pretty young thing hanging on to his elbow, and here was the challenge. He had to down only one. Hmmm, he gripped the wooden handle of the gun and sighed deeply, sticking his eye into the telescope, as it followed the couple below.


The lightning struck quick, followed by an unusually loud clap of thunder. The executive's girlfriend looked up and remarked.

"Oh, look sweetheart, that struck the arrester of that building. So close by, huh?"

The executive looked up and shrugged. "Hmmm. Good thing that building has an arrester. It looks old to me."

Little did they know, it was their (un)lucky 'star' that arrested the lightning.


Take your call...

"Hello?" Said the female voice.

Deepak braced himself. He was dead sure it was one of those 'please-take-this-credit-card' call.


"Deepak Joshi?"

"That's me."

"Sir, I'm calling on behalf of Millenium Bank. Do you have a credit card,sir?"

"Nope. And I don't plan on having one, either...sorry."

There was a pause.

"Maybe you'd take it if I told you your life depended on it."

Deepak sat up now. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me right, Mr. Deepak. Take this credit card, or you could be on the obit page tomorrow. Think about it. I'll call back in 5 minutes," said the girl and hung up.

Ha, somebody's sick idea of a joke, he concluded, throwing the cell phone on the couch. He got up to get himself a glass of water. His eyes unconsciously went to the calendar. He chuckled at his silliness. Of course, it was crazy - it was October, not April. He came back to the living room and stared at his cell. It rang even as he was looking at it. He picked it up. Same number.

"Yeah, listen you..." he started.

"Have you decided?" She said.

"Listen, whoever you are. You can't be so stupid as to not realize what I could do with just one phone call to your bank, right? So, come clean and tell me who this is. Neetu, is it you?" He frowned.

"Mr. Deepak. You don't realize this could cost you..."

"Yeah, right. This could cost me my life. What else?" He decided to humor her now.

"Not bad. You're smart. That's right. This could cost you your life. I think you should take it."

"And what if I don't?"

"You'll see."

This was not funny any more.

"Great. I'd like to see that. Bye." He hung up and shook his head in disbelief.

The cell rang again. He looked hard at the number before answering.

"That wasn't a smart thing to do, Mr. Deepak."

"Look, this isn't funny. Who the hell are you?"

"I'm just a representative, Mr. Deepak. And it is in your best interest that I tell you..."

"You'll kill me if I didn't take this dumb card? Is that what my best interest is?"

"That's right." The voice sounded more confident now, and that annoyed him further. He stepped out into the balcony,looking around as if the caller was in sight.

"Ok. You know what? Now you wait 5 minutes, while I call your bank. We'll see. OK?" He hung up again.


The next morning, he absently picked up the newspaper lying on the chair and started flipping. There on the 3rd page, was his picture in black and white. And on top in bold letters, was written:

Obituary. Deepak Joshi, 22nd September, 1977 - 15th October, 2007. We sadly mourn his demise. Signed - Family and friends.


Monday, July 14, 2008

urban legend...

Nikhil slid the console of his mobile and checked the incoming message. "We're on. 1am sharp."

He sighed and pushed the instrument in his front pocket. That's it. Show time. He threw the cigarette butt and got into the car. He rolled the windows down as he hit the highway. The cold wind whispered angrily at his cheeks, but he was calm. He needed this dressing down. Soon, he turned his thoughts to the old days, when he rode the same highway on his bike. Innumerable treks with his friends, to nearby haunts - hillocks, forests. He pushed back his hair and turned the volume on his car radio, a wee bit higher.

At the 30th Kilometer, he veered off the tar and slowed the car down, the dirt track massaging the wheels. He drove for a few kilometers, concentrating on the path ahead. The light tunnel was closing in on the destination. He was surprised his heart wasn't behaving in the same manner his car was, on this bumpy track. It was pretty composed. He sighed deeply as he came to the clearing. The dust he'd kicked up behind him slowly settled down. He killed the engine and stepped out. In the darkness, he felt at home. The lone flicker from his lighter shone up the area for a brief second as he lit up. He waited. His radium-lit watch showed 12.40. About time now.

A few moments later, he saw a pair of head-lights bobbing its way toward him. It stopped at a distance. Doors slammed. He waited.

"All set?" Amod asked, rubbing his hands as he approached. Nikhil nodded and dropped the cigarette stub.

"Let's do it."

They headed up the hillock, leaving their cars behind. The flashlights caught a couple of surprised snakes on the way, inviting a gasp from Pradeep. "Holy Shit."

"Watch your step," Nikhil muttered, confidently leading the troupe.

They saw the building yonder, looming large, getting bigger as they closed in on it. Nikhil motioned for the others to turn off the flashlights.

After a few moments, against the faint lights of the nearby town, one could see four silhouettes crouching and entering the hollow mansion.


Legend has it that no one ever returned alive after a visit to the mansion as it was called, since nearby villagers always heard deep throated echoes from there. It was well-known that nobody ever ventured on that path after dark, let alone in the middle of the night.

But the four guys led by Nikhil, returned. Because legend also has it, that after the two abandoned cars on the dirt track were picked up by police, that same night a villager had seen four wolves, howling and speeding down the paddy fields. They were unusually big for wolves, he'd observed.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Stony silence...

The little guy was concentrating hard, turning the smooth, flat stone in his tender hands, contemplating how many skips to make in the placid lake in front of him. His lips were pursed, eyes browed into a narrow frown.

Sagar smiled at him from the bench nearby, and watched him intently. Go for it, tiger, he thought. The boy now looked uncertain.

Sagar rose, and slowly walked to him, hands in pocket.

"Giving up?"

The little tyke swung back, obviously annoyed at this unwelcome comment. He shook his head vigorously, and turned back to face the lake.

"I could do almost 10 skips when I was a kid," Sagar bragged; standing beside the boy now. That invited a mock 'ha'. Sagar smiled and looked on into the lake, taking in the moist smell of the algae.

"Ten, huh?" The kid spoke at last.

"Uh, huh," Sagar nodded, raising his eyebrow as if it were a record none had broken in a while. The kid shook his head smugly.

"What? You don't believe me?"

The kid shook his head again.

"Wait.." Sagar looked around for a stone, "...let me show you."

Big mistake big bro', the kid seemed to say.

Sagar grabbed a stone and concentrated. He frisbied the stone, skimming the lake and sending ripples. One, two, three, four...

The kid chuckled.

"Well, it depends on the..." Sagar began, but the stone from the kid's hand had already escaped and went gliding over the surface. 12 was the last he could count as far as his eyes could see. They both counted aloud. The boy turned to Sagar proudly, and walked away with a beaming face.

Sagar shrugged and turned to the lake. "Well...there know bad days."