Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not seeing...is believing

The scary house at the mall was anything but scary. The weird noises coming from the speakers placed in the Plaster-of-Paris skeletons made Priya laugh more than get frightened. So much for paying through your nose for this.

“Did you see how the usher smiled at us when we got in?” Priya shouted above all the howls and screams. “Will be our scariest adventure, he boasted. And that sinister laugh of his, I’m sure it’s a fake one – for the show.”

Arun shook his head. “He’ll hear a mouthful from me. This sort of a rip-off should be stopped.”

Finally they saw the light at the end of the ‘tunnel’ and sighed. Out of this madness at last. As they neared the exit, they could hear the weekend rush getting louder. Relieved, they stepped out.

But the mall was empty. They could hear the people milling around, laughing, talking, kids screaming, and all the other sounds of the mall, but they couldn’t see a soul.

Then the noise slowly died down... to pin-drop silence.

Behind them they heard the usher laughing and telling someone they couldn't see -

"This will be your scariest adventure ma'am. Trust me."

Then he looked at them and winked.


Monday, January 30, 2012


“Beta, can you please watch my seat?”
Later – “Thank you.”
“Beta, can you …?”
Later - “Thank you.”
That night on TV.
“…Apparently Varadarajan came out of Plaza Theater during interval, and was hit and run as he was crossing the road.”
Mug shot of the man on screen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


The paintings were breath-taking. Rajani looked around. She was alone in the art gallery. She wondered why. The paintings were truly out of the world. No takers?

This one was atonement, she figured. That’s what the catalogue said. Oh, the pain in the eyes so well captured. She inched forward slowly, constantly referring to the catalogue. She saw a lot of faces. That was the subject of the painter. Hmm. She was looking at a woman now. Sad eyes. There was unspoken anguish. Wonderful. She made notes.

As she proceeded to the next one, she sensed a movement from the corner of her eyes. She turned. The woman’s eyes in the previous painting were following her. Oh, one of those paintings where any which way you moved the eyes looked at you. She smiled. But she could’ve sworn she sensed movement. She shrugged and looked at the one in front of her.

A sound. This time there was movement right behind her. She swung back. Again nobody.

She didn’t like this. She hurried through the rest of the paintings. It was late. She had to go. The gallery and the silence all around her was making her uncomfortable now. She came to where the entrance was. But there wasn’t any. How come? She continued along the paintings. Maybe it was around the next corner. She came to the sad woman again. Which meant she was back to square one. Where was the exit? She retraced her steps in the opposite direction; and after a while was back to the sad woman again.

Only this time, the woman didn’t look very sad.

There was a smirk on her face now.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The marksman peered into the telescope of the rifle. His mark was smoking, in the opposite building.

He sighed and braced.


“Uncle, can you see the moon in this?” asked the lolly-pop sucking kid, who’d appeared behind him wordlessly.

"Wha…?” The sniper said, losing his balance and falling head first. All the eight floors.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What if...

Just two letters. But they open up a whole world of possibilities, or shall we say - impossibilities? A whole different world of hope, expectations, desires, fears, apprehensions...Sounds silly but whenever I get a 'what if' in my head, it makes me smile. It reminds me of the present dimension that I'm in and the other dimension that is 'if'. So many times I've wanted the two dimensions to co-exist. Something like a spare tyre. If one goes, the other should carry things forward. But just imagine if (again, if) that were the case. There would be no disaster, no worries, no fears to face. The other dimension would kick in with a solution. But with it would also come other problems like the two dimensions confusing you into mixing people, places and even time!

Sounds like a sci-fi movie, but these are thoughts that often occupy my 'iffy' brain. But thankfully, it hasn't taken over yet. That would be disaster of another kind.

Human beings are animals of routine. We love to get into our own little comfort zones. We spend years and years trying not to come out of it. But just imagine, what if one day...one (not so fine) day, we come face to face with our own 'other' self, the 'what-if-I-were-this/that-self'?

This reminds me of a particular TV show that aired on this particular channel, Hallmark (isn't on-air anymore) - Sliders, a while ago . Showed the escapades of a young nerd (the hero), who had found a way, or rather, had accidentally discovered a way of slipping into the parallel dimension (world), and would have encounters with people identical to his own existing dimension. Except in the other dimension, these people were either crazy or criminals (obviously, else how'd the producers get the TRP ratings, huh?). But it came pretty close to my thought process. Used to watch every single episode. But after a while, it got tiresome. I guess it's just as well.

Fantasy must have stops too, however pleasurable the flight.


Friday, January 20, 2012


Raj stepped into the old elevator. The elevator started with a loud thud and ascended. At his floor, he stepped out and stood. Strange. He didn’t remember pressing the button. Then how…

“It’s ok, you’re welcome,” said a voice from inside the elevator, chuckling softly, as the elevator started with the same thud and descended.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Rishi couldn't sleep. It was close to 2 am.

He dragged himself to the living room and drank some water. Then he picked up the day's newspaper and started flipping absently. He came to the obituary section and stopped. He stared at a picture in the section and thought,"Hey, I know this girl, she's familiar".

But he wasn't able to recall where exactly he'd seen her. He read the date of her death. Yesterday. Then his eyes moved to her birth date. "Shit, this couldn't be." She was born more than 85 years ago. They'd inserted a much younger looking picture of hers. He was sure he'd seen that face recently. Maybe grand daughter? No, couldn't be. The likeness was too sharp. It was indeed her he'd seen and not somebody who looked like her.

There was a loud thud outside. He went to the window. Nothing.

Shrugging, he returned to the sofa, back to the picture. Funny. Staring back at him now was the picture of a frail old lady, wrinkles and all. He blinked a few times, and rubbed his eyes. What the...

Then the old lady smiled.

Slowly, like in the Harry Potter movies, but unmistakable.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2nd Chance...?

My daughter narrated an incident from school, about how an innocent guy in her class was victimized by some bullies - and how the class teacher came to his rescue.

Reminded me so much of this story I'd written a while ago... :)


It was late. And the play wasn't anything to write home about. And in any case, Damodar had gone there to please Suchitra (Suchi for her friends), who'd pestered him to buy the damn tickets.

"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 that idiot 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. 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.

Bang... again.

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...


Monday, January 02, 2012

Just another year...

"So, another year, huh?"


"Hmm, I guess so."


"So, what plans for the new year?"

"Same old. You?"


Another nod.

"What do you think is happening. Do you see any change?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, we meet here, on this rooftop every new year's eve, talk the same old things, you know - we never really discuss what we actually did the previous year; or what we're gonna do the next. We never really discuss about our observations. Know what I mean?"

"Oh yeah, that. True."

"So...what change do you see?"

Another shrug.

"Nothing, really. Except..."


"It's a bit more flashier, everything. You know, the kids know a lot more about what's happening around them. The grown-ups know a lot lesser about the same. Somehow, the world seems to have shrunk into one little app after another. It's all about buttons and keys, know what I mean?"

"Hmmm - that's right. You've begun to speak the lingo too - app"


"Yes, yes, I noticed."

Awkward silence. Clock strikes.

"Happy new year."

"Happy new year."

Festivities yonder. Shouting, cheering etc.

"You know it's silly, doesn't really matter even...but..."


"Which year did you say you died?"

"1976 new year's eve. You?"

"1986. Same day."