Monday, April 30, 2012

'Galti' se mistake (Part 2)

Read Part 1

Siddharth looked at the fuel gauge, and then at the armed guy in the back seat through the mirror.

“Boss, I need to fill this up, else we won’t be able go beyond the next town.”

He could feel the guy shift. “Keep..keep going..tell me when it reaches the red line, yeah?”

Siddharth shrugged and nodded. He looked at Priyanka who had her face to the window all this while. “I’m sorry,” he muttered.

She waved him off without turning. He pursed his lips and sighed. The rain had gotten heavier now, and the wipers went ballistic all over the windscreen. He rubbed the screen with the back of his hand every now and then.

The thick drops of water pelting on the asphalt now resembled spears in the bright headlights. Siddharth squinted his eyes. The traffic was lean, thankfully. He kept going. He could see the glint of the gun in the oncoming lights, through the rear view. The guy had it pointed at them alright.

They approached a petrol bunk, and Siddharth checked the fuel gauge again.

“Red line,” he said.

The man sat up straight, tightening his grip on the magazine. “Ok, turn slowly. And no smart ideas, ok? I’m watching you.”

Siddharth threw his hands up in the air. The attendant walked up to him with a smile. Siddharth lowered his window and asked the bunk guy to fill up the tank. The car-jacker reclined a little more in the backseat, away from the lights of the bunk, but the gun pointed squarely at Siddharth.

Priyanka turned to look behind her, and the man immediately pointed the piece at her. She shook her head and turned back.

They continued their journey. A while later, in the middle of nowhere, Siddharth turned to the guy, who looked puzzled.

“I need to take a leak, boss.”

“It’s raining,” the guy said.

“So? I need to go, man.”

The man hesitated and looked at Priyanka, who shrugged.

“Ok, I’ll come with you…and you,” he said looking at Priyanka. “No funny business, huh?”

Priyanka didn’t reply.

Siddharth parked the car off the road, a bit. Then the two men stepped out. Cars and buses sped by, spraying them. Still pointing the gun at Siddharth, the man nudged him to a side of the road. The headlights of the car were on, per instructions. Priyanka watched Siddharth step down a little towards the fields. The man kept looking over his shoulder, pointing the gun at her, and then back at Siddharth.

She was breathing a little faster now. Come on…do something, he is just one guy. Do something, come on, come on….

Siddharth returned and slowly started walking to the car. Priyanka sighed. Only in the movies, I guess.

Suddenly, a big vehicle approached, the lights blinding the two men for a moment.  The car-jacker brought up his left hand to shield it. Seizing the moment, Siddharth struck him in his right ear. Crying out in pain, the man loosened his grip on the gun, and Siddharth snatched it from him.  Roles reversed, Siddharth now held him at gun-point and quickly made his way back to the car. The man was taken aback.


“Fuck you, asshole, don't you move, ” Siddharth said and started the car, still pointing the gun at him.

“Give me my bag at least, man..please..I…,” he looked at the oncoming traffic and side-stepped, continuing, “My life is in danger. Please..I need that bag.”

Siddharth turned to Priyanka, who was quick on the uptake. She didn’t want anything to do with the bozo either. Give him what he wants and scoot. She bent to her right and pulled out the man’s bag. Siddharth, who’d turned to her for a moment,  felt him move, and pointed the gun back at him.

“Hey, ok, ok…,” the man reflexively stepped back onto the road for a moment, and an approaching horn blared long and loud.

Too late. Metal met flesh a split second later.

Siddharth and Priyanka watched with dropped jaws, as the car-jacker’s body flew in the air, landed several feet ahead, and the skidding car, squealing tires and all, went over him once again, lost balance and  cart-wheeled a few times before rolling off the road and landing on its roof. It didn’t end there – three subsequent cars came squealing as well, banged into one another in a pile-up and skidded in all possible directions, before stopping.

There was no traffic for a minute. Just silence. The smell of burning tire, smoke, combined with the grimy smell of the road, and security buzzers blaring in two of the cars.

Priyanka was gasping for air; she cupped her mouth and went , “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…”.

Siddharth just held his head for a few seconds, eyes transfixed on the mess in front of him.

To be continued...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

'Galti' se mistake (Part 1)

The rain beat mercilessly on the glass sheets of the high rise. Across the street, the drains overflowed, revealing the poor sewage work of the city. Pedestrians with umbrellas, without umbrellas walked gingerly, watching their steps. Traffic had ground to a halt. Horns blared, curse words rented the air. It was close to seven in the evening.

Siddharth covered his head and walked to his car, parked parallel on Brigade road. He looked for the parking attendant, who was nowhere to be seen. He’d parked a little over his time-slot, and these guys didn’ t stop for the rains. But this time round he was lucky. He got into his car and started backing up. Visibility was zero, and he pulled back real slow.


Shit, he’d hit something. He pulled the hand brake and stepped out, getting drenched almost instantaneously. He saw a girl trying to get up. Her scooter had a bent fork upfront, and the cops manning a traffic signal nearby, were slowly making their way over to him. He rushed to help the girl.

“I’m extremely sorry, I…,” He began, giving his hand to her. She brushed him off. Her shopping bag was strewn all over.

“Are you blind, you nutcase?”

“Excuse me, but I think you should know better than to race even in this weather. I was as slow as possible.”

“Oh yeah..look…,” she began saying. One of the cops, a constable, slowly waddled toward them.

“What’s the matter?”

“Uh..nothing, sir..I, here – she was coming damn fast and..”

“Hello, you should get the reverse light of your vintage car fixed…”


A few minutes later, they both were seated in Siddharth’s car. She was fuming. He maneuvered the car slowly through the traffic. Neither spoke.

“Damn autorickshaws,” She muttered.

Siddharth smiled at her. “I know.” A pause later, “…I’m Siddharth. Hi.”

She glared at him. “Don’t you try to be all friendly and all, now. I’ve noted down your number plate, mister – so, if you so much as even try anything funny…”

He shook his head, chuckling in disbelief. “You must be kidding. Do I look like that to you? Hell, you’re welcome to step out right now, lady.”

She didn’t speak.

He remained silent for a while, the traffic worsening ahead. They had almost come to a stand-still.

She flipped open her cell and dialed.

“Hello? Yeah, amma..I’ll be a little late. I..there was a small accident – no, no, no, no..I’m fine. I’m getting a drop till the corporation circle…” She stopped to look at Siddharth, who wasn’t looking at her. “No..a friend.”

Now he turned to her, raising his eyebrows. She frowned and turned away. “Yeah..can appa come pick me up?”

She quickly completed her conversation, stuffed the cell phone back into her bag and sat looking out.

Siddharth looked at her again. “Your dad doesn’t have a cell phone?”

“None of your business.”

He raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “Ok”. He then inched the car forward.

She looked at him for a moment, the glare in her eyes softening just a little bit. But she was still serious. He looked at her for a brief second. She opened her mouth to say something, stopped, and again started. “I’m Priyanka. Look…I…”

The rear door behind her opened and a big, burly man slid in. Siddharth turned, shocked.


“Just keep driving ok? I don’t want trouble,” the man said, ducking below the seat.

“Hello, sir..listen, who do you think you are…,” the girl began when he pushed the barrel of a gun at her face.

“Shut up, girl.” He then looked at Siddharth, who looked at the gun for a minute and then turned his eyes back on the road.

“Hand me your mobiles. Both of you. Quick.”

The stranger was breathing heavily, craning his neck every now and then, trying to look out for something, or somebody. He then turned to Siddharth.

“Hey, boy..get out of the city – drive to Mysore.”

“What?” Priyanka said, gasping.

Siddharth didn’t reply.

“What are you thinking, do as I say..” the man said.

“Yeah, ok ok..I will, but..I need to drop her at the corporation circle first. She needs to..”

“No time. She comes along,” he said looking at her. Priyanka was swallowing hard now. She looked out of the window for a minute.

“Don’t even think of shouting for help,” the man said, reading her mind. He jabbed the gun to her shoulder.

They passed by corporation circle after a half hour. Priyanka spotted her father waiting at the place they decided upon, and tears rolled down her cheeks. Siddharth was quiet. The city lights slowly gave way to moffusil ones, and the long, lonely highway stretched in front of them after an hour or so.

“I need to fill the tank,” Siddharth said blankly. Priyanka’s eyes had turned red with weeping silently. She sniffed, looked back at the man and then at Siddharth again.

The man raised himself on the seat now. “Are we out of town?”

Siddharth nodded. The man sighed, stretched, and then lay down on the seat, legs folded. He’d switched off the two mobile phones, and then switched off his as well.


Suresh Kumar, Priyanka’s father, waited a while before dialing his daughter’s number. He had brought along his wife’s cell phone; he belonged to the old school of thought and hated carrying the little instruments. Being retired, he didn’t see the need for a mobile device for himself. So, after much prodding, he’d gotten his wife’s cell phone, and now kept trying Priyanka’s number, which was apparently switched off. He called home and conveyed the same to his wife.

“She should’ve been here by now, Radhika,” He said, his tone typical of a worried father. He looked around to see if she’d gotten down some place and walking to him.

It didn’t take so long, even in this weather and traffic, for someone to drive from Brigade road. He hoped his daughter had parked her damaged scooter some place safe.

He dialed his wife again after a half hour. “What was the name of the friend? Didn’t you take down her number?”

“How should I know she’d get so much delayed? I tried her number myself a few times. She’s not picking up. Moreover, she said she’d see you in half an hour or so.”

“Ask Amrish to go down to Brigade road and check if she’s returned there, for some reason. She keeps leaving things in her glove compartment,” he instructed. Amrish was Suresh’s nephew, and lived close by.


Amrish came to where Suresh Kumar was, an hour and a half later.

“She there?” Suresh asked.

Amrish shook his head. “No, but I spoke to some people nearby, and also a traffic cop. She’s not with any friend. She’s with the guy who hit her scooter. They had a small fight, the cops didn't intervene due to rains and all.. after which the guy said he’d drop her to corporation, I believe.”

Suresh kumar clenched his teeth. “The bastard.”

To be continued…

Friday, April 20, 2012


Akshara saw the endless curves of the gleaming Jaguar, shining in the street light outside the compound walls.

Wow, some hot-shot has checked into the hotel.

She overheard a couple of hotel employees take Amardeep’s name.


He was her pin-up boy ever since she was in high school. He was here? She had to get a glimpse of him, get his autograph – maybe shake his hands as well. She found herself blushing.

Come on, Akku…this is ridiculous, you aren’t in high school anymore. As if he’d have the time to stop and look at you.

She then asked around and learnt that the star was there for a shoot and would stay for a couple of more days. Ah. Nice.


Akshara was at the sleepy town of Madikeri, to do a story on the local planters and how the coffee business had changed over a period of time. Her prime subject was Mr. Bopanna, who’d patented a unique way of growing coffee and his brand of popular bean had made waves across the continents. She had a quick supper that night and decided to walk to the historic Raja seat, both a tourist spot and suicide point.

As she approached the spot, she noticed someone was already there. The place was empty save for her and that other person. He was sitting on one of the benches and shaking his head. Listening to music, she assumed. She stopped in her tracks.

Amardeep. Wow.

She turned to see if his bodyguards were around. She was certain she didn't anyone at the entrance. And they weren't here as well.

Why did he venture out alone at this time? Oh well, maybe because he felt nobody would probably recognize him, anyway. Stars had strange whims.

He turned around when she came close to him.

“Uh..hi, Mr. Amardeep?” Akshara said, her heart beating wildly.

He took off his ear-plugs (just as she’d guessed), and smiled that charming smile that millions like her died for. Ah, vanity. But she didn’t care. She wanted to pinch herself. Was it really him? She was glad it was dark, else he’d be embarrassed to see her blush so much.

“I’m…I’m a huge fan, sir…”

“Hello,” Amardeep said and rose to shake hands with her.

“No, no..please sit, sir.”

He smiled again, and Akshara went weak in her knees.


Just then three men walked up behind them. They'd have passed them by, but one of them stopped.

“Well, look what’s happening here…” said the guy who'd stopped, probably the leader of the pack. As they approached nearer, one of them recognized the movie star.

“Isn’t that Amardeep?”

“Amardeep?” Echoed another.

“Yeah, I think it’s him. Come on...” They came closer.

“Oh, is him.”

Amardeep put on his best behavior and smiled. “Hi, guys…”

“Hi,” Said the leader and motioned something to his cronies.

They were three of them.

“Uh…autograph?” the leader continued turning to the star again, chuckling. Akshara stiffened now.

She stood silently. They're trouble.

Amardeep could sense her discomfort and winked at her, as if to say, “relax baby, I’ve got this under control.”

Damn these jokers, just when I had him all to myself…

“Sure,” Amardeep said jovially. He put out his hand, asking them for something to write on.

Instead, one of them pulled a knife.

“I actually meant my autograph…on your neck,” the leader said, and looked at Akshara. “You just stand quietly, madam…ok?We'll first finish 'interviewing' our dear hero first.”

Akshara waited Amardeep to do something smart. But to her dismay, she saw him quickly hand over his watch, chain and other gold trinkets. “Keep them. Yeah?”

The three ‘stooges’ couldn’t believe their luck.

One of them looked at Akshara. “And her?”

They laughed.

“Uh..she’s a friend. I think you guys should leave now.” Amardeep tried to sound composed.

“Oh I see. Friend."

“I want to be her friend too,” the third guy said, in a complaining tone.

“Listen..don’t want any trouble, ok? Just…leave.”

“And what if we don’t?” The leader asked innocently.

“Then we’ll have to kick your asses.”

There was total silence for a moment, as the trio looked at Akshara dumbfounded. It was she who’d said that.

Even Amardeep looked at her.

“Uh..miss…” he started saying.

“Akshara,” she said.

“Akshara..I think we should leave. I’ll..let’s..let’s call my bodyguards…” the movie star was at a loss of words. Akshara couldn't believe her eyes. This was not how she wanted to see him. She knew whatever he did on screen was acting, but she didn’t expect him to be such a sissy. They were just three of them, for God’s sakes. Damn them..why did they have to come by. At least she could've lived out her dream of having met and spoken to her idol. But now it looked like she had to take control.

“Don’t worry, sir. I'll handle it.” she said, her voice steel cold now. She then turned to the chief. "Sorry, correction. I...will have to kick your asses."

The leader stepped forward. "Oh you will? How?"

She brought her hand up, and raised an eyebrow, glaring at him. “Don’t you dare...”

“Ah..a fighter,” the other guy said.

“Shame on you, hero,” the third guy said, laughing at Amardeep.

The leader put his hand on Akshara's shoulder. “Come now, sweety…”

A cry of pain rented the air. Akshara had broken his wrist.

“Fuck…you….bitch,” he tried to say, his breath knocked out. The two men immediately stepped forward, one of them with the knife. Akshara moved like a wild cat, stepping forward swiftly and delivered a side-kick at the second guy’s groin, bringing him down to his knees. As he bent, she swept her out-stretched left leg at his chin, keeling him over. The third one lunged at her with the knife. She quickly clasped his wrist, avoiding the shining blade, twisted it quickly and pushed it in the opposite direction, breaking his wrist. As he cried out and sunk to his knees, she jabbed her elbow at his neck, knocking him out.

She expected the leader to attack from behind her and swung back. But he was long gone.

Amardeep, who all the while, was a mute spectator, looked at the two goons groaning on the ground. He swallowed hard after a while and looked at Akshara, who was panting heavily.

“Uh…I,” he started saying.

“It’s ok, sir,” Akshara said.

“You know, that was a brave thing to do, but risky. What if they come back…?”

I can’t believe this guy just said that.


“I mean…you know..they were armed…”

“With a blunt knife. And were only three, not an army.”


“ was nice meeting you, Mr. Amardeep,” Akshara said and turned to leave.

“Hey - Akshara” he said. She turned.

“ fight really well. Maybe you can train me for my forthcoming movie…I like this style…what’s it called?”

“Krav maga. And no thanks. I don’t think I want to train you.”

So much for drooling over a loser. Ugh, I can never watch his movies now.


Forever Red

The blue Indica was at the traffic signal at around 10 pm.

“Sir, toy gun for your kids?” said a hawker

 “Don’t want.”

 “I insist,” the hawker said, pulling the trigger.

From the shadows, he watched the traffic pile up angrily behind the stationery Indica. He fished out his mobile phone.

“It’s done.”


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Too late

Shipra picked up Neelam from college at 6 pm sharp.

“Can we stop at Neetu aunty’s for a while, babe?” Shipra asked. Neelam smiled and shrugged.

“Meanwhile I also need to pick up my top from the tailor. Aunty might’ve made her heavenly pakodas, so gorge all you can,” Shipra enticed Neelam further.

“Oh, chuck it. You don’t have to give me any incentives to spend time with Neetu aunty. But, I can as well come with you to the tailor, no? Why do we have to go to…” Neelam said, raising her voice against the wind.

“I need to hand over some cash to Neetu aunty. She’s been having some money problems lately. Her drunkard husband died leaving a cartload of debts, which even she wasn’t aware of. Poor thing.”

Neelam nodded. ‘Oh.”

They arrived at the front gate about 25 minutes later. Shipra dropped Neelam and turned her two-wheeler on to the main road once again.

Neelam waved at Shipra and turned to open the creaky gate. The lawn hadn’t been mowed for a while, she noted. She was about to climb up the short flight of stairs when she spotted Neetu aunty smiling at her from the kitchen window.

“Hi, aunty,” She said, waving at the older woman.

“Hi beta. Come.”

Neelam walked into the living room.

Neetu aunty peeped from the kitchen, smiling. “Some water?”

Neelam crinkled her nose and smiled. “Thanks, aunty.”

Neelam looked around, and noticed the living room was slightly untidy. It was unlike Neetu aunty. She was always spick and span, and kept her house likewise. Maybe she wasn’t keeping well. She did look a little tired. She wondered what it was about the money. She picked up a magazine from the center table and started flipping the pages. She craned her neck towards the kitchen every few seconds.

About 10 minutes later she frowned and kept the magazine on the table.

“Aunty?” She called out.

Aunty never took this long to get a glass of water. Was she cooking something?

Curious, Neelam went over to the kitchen. Neetu aunty wasn’t there. It couldn’t be. She’d not seen her coming out. She hadn’t been so immersed in the magazine. Then, where was she?

She checked the bathroom, the laundry area and the small store room adjacent to the kitchen. Aunty wasn’t there either. Odd.

Neelam came back to the living room. She stood blankly for a few seconds, and then switched on the lights; it had gotten dark, both in and outside. She switched on the light in the front porch as well. She then went to the bedroom. Maybe aunty had gone in to change. She knocked twice and called out gently. The door wasn't fully closed. She slowly pushed it open... and gasped, covering her mouth.

Neetu aunty was hanging from the ceiling fan, her blood-shot eyes staring straight at Neelam.

Neelam felt the ground beneath her suddenly give away and she sank, her breath coming in short bursts, her voice dying to come out of her throat but unable to. Her head reeled.

The lights went out.

Just then, from the kitchen came Neetu aunty’s voice – “I’m making some hot tea and pakodas, you’ll have na, dear?”


Thursday, April 05, 2012


Uttam and his trekkers came to a clearing. They were in front of an old house. It was getting dark.

They saw a sign-board, front of the house.

Beware of Ghost

The trekkers laughed all over the place. “Oh, boy, boy...”

Then the girl in the group gasped. They turned.

The sign board had disappeared.


Knock Out

The contract killer exited the building and lost himself in the crowd. He stood with the other pedestrians to cross the road. A moment later he started crossing, but stopped suddenly. His victim was on the other side, bullet in his head; smiling.

What the..

The screeching SUV hit him so hard he went flying.