Monday, December 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
No one ever dared to speak up straight against Mr. Neeraj's authority. He came all enraged towards Aman and slapped him so hard, the sound echoed from the walls. When he lifted his hands again, Aman grabbed him and slapped back as hard as he could and he did not stop. He kept beating his teacher up. But it was almost like the scene when elder and younger brother fight over an argument and the elder always beats the younger one up. When Aman found that he was terribly overpowered and Mr. Neeraj had been insulted enough, he just ran away. Aman was suspended for 15 days. It was his father's repeated requests, almost begging the Principal not to put him out of school that saved him a year. He also had to apologize to the English teacher. Aman, however, also had to say "Sorry." after being forced and threatened by his father and the Principal of the school. Next year Aman was admitted to a different school but he did not do well in studies after the incident. His anger destroyed his education.
15 years had passed since the incident. Who remembers such a thing after 15 years? After all, things like this do happen in all schools where students are vulnerable to punishments. But why was Aman at Mr. Neeraj's home today? Has revenge brought him back? Does he still blame his teacher for loss in his career?
"Do you remember having rough time in the school in 1988?"
Mr. Neeraj thought for a while. An old man going back in time, counting tragedies that every year had brought, it takes a while to go 15 years back. When his memories did reach the year 1988, his mouth was left open in fear and in anger.
Why was Aman here? He must be here today to show that he did become a big man without his English teachings after all. What a fool! How big his ego must be to come back years later for that? Or is he here for revenge?
"What do you want?" the bitterness and agony of 15 years came stronger in his voice than his thoughts.
"I just want to talk sir. There is something I want to say. Can I come in?"
"It is good sir."
"I heard from Shekhar that you managed to get a diploma."
"So did you get a job too?"
"I did get a job but then I left it only recently."
Must have been fired, Mr. Neeraj thought, sipping his tea with utmost pleasure while listening to his ruined life.
"I worked as a draftsman."
"How much did you get?"
"Rs. 3000 per month sir."
Who would pay you more than that? The old man's soul was getting satisfied by the misery of his own student.
"Good." He said viciously.
"How are you sir?" Aman asked politely. The soft tone almost touched old man's heart. He retreated and replied with his firm voice.
"How would an old man be? I am good. Waiting to die you know. I wish I had more students like you to teach." He said contemptuously but Aman did not seem to feel bad.
"How is madam sir?"
It almost came as a shock to him. Was he trying to hurt him by asking such a question? Did he not know that they divorced long ago?
"We are separated, Aman." He wanted to sound bitter but the feeling of loneliness curbed him.
"Oh I’m sorry sir."
As if you are really sorry raising such a question only to make me feel bad. The old man was indeed feeling sad at being separated and felt it was cruel to have been asked about it. But he also knew it was his anger that drove his wife and his children away but right now he wanted to be angry and the conflict made him restless. He was about to say that he has some work to attend to and it was nice meeting him when it occurred to him to ask about the visit.
"So Aman why did you come to meet me after all these years? Any work you have got?"
He waited for Aman to speak but he didn't, so he just added
He waited getting more and more uncomfortable and impatient with the silence that held them, when Aman broke.
"Sir, I am here to apologize for what I did."
So his life did teach him a lesson. Mr. Neeraj felt proud now. He felt triumphed and viciously happy more than he had been in many, many years. As more tears fell from Aman's eyes, more satisfied did he feel. But Aman did not stop, his tearful silence turned into sobbing and then into inconsolable gasps.
The old man's arrogance immediately melted like candle wax and he took him in his weak, shivering arms.
"It was long ago Aman, forget it. Don't feel so bad. You had said sorry even then."
"No sir I mean it this time."
Yes indeed that must have happened. The old man had seen such people all his life. They regret for what happened but never change. It appears to be one such hopeless case. What a waste!
"And Sir I then became lethargic, oblivious and opposed to everything. I blamed you for everything that had happened and never tried to get up. Later I used you as an excuse for making my life miserable...until...until one day when I fell sick."
"I was suddenly afraid of things..."
"I suffered from flu and I became violent. Doctor said it was depression but it felt different. I got treatment for everything but my condition was growing weird and I suffered from terrible headache."
"No son I did you wrong. You don't have to be sorry for anything."
The old man could not stop his tears. Even when it was his student who needed courage for his very last days, he could not offer him even that. He tried to be strong to tell him that he did not hate him so much, that he loved him in school, that sometimes he really wished that the unfortunate wrestle would not have happened, that he sometimes even thought about him and wished that he do good in life... But it all seemed to be futile now. It seemed to be too late.
And the thought of it broke him even more. He could not help himself over it as he escorted Aman to his father who had come to pick him up. Teary eyed, he wished Aman peace for the rest of the days.
The English teacher was the last person Aman had to meet. Everyone he met- his friends, relatives, chai walah, people who did not know him, cried. But he did not expect the old man to be so weak too. He always seemed to be such a strong man in class. May be life and loneliness from separation had torn him apart.
2 months later Aman died a death of dog, chained to the hospital bed, hallucinating, partially paralysed, salivating and afraid of everything. He had lost himself; he was no more a human being. The disease had completely consumed him. Life did not spare him, neither did death. But at the very last moment, before dying, when he saw his teacher, his best friends, his parents around, his eyes did speak out loud; he really wished he had a better life.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The house to the west of Saket Garden was hardly ever lively. Tainted paint and texture of water leakage on the walls of building resembled to the poorly managed college hostels. Its second floor was one of those places which always seem to be deserted. No one lives and no one cares. Windows remained closed, no one ever came to its balcony and there was never a sound. But when you look at it, a tinge of curiosity prevails on your face. No one likes emptiness; no one has to be so lonely. Not even this floor. The curiosity to know was eating Sohit up, day and night, for the past one month. Since he had shifted to the building across the road he could not ignore it.
Once he invited his local friend Shanu and asked her about it but she did not seem to care either. It must be one of those unoccupied apartments in the area, she said. This did not answer Sohit's questions at all. But did he know the questions himself? He had an increasingly growing urge to discover something about it. The feeling was almost burning him from inside. He has to find out about it on his own or his thoughts will eat him alive. For some reason he was suspicious and fearful of what he may find. So he decided to make paper chits of the days from Monday to Sunday and then lift one randomly. Thursday it came and that was it! He left the consequences to fate.
On Thursday morning it rained so he postponed his quest till evening. He had waited weeks for this day and not being able to go there proved to be terribly unsettling. He could not finish his lunch. He almost felt choked inside. The unknown fear was driving him crazy. Was there something that was trying to stop him from going? Is it really empty? Is it a ghost house? Is there someone dead inside? Not able to contain the puzzling outbursts, he left for the building in the afternoon itself. The door to the apartment was closed. He raised his hand and as he was about to knock, he stopped and decided against it. He went up and knocked on the apartment on the third floor. No one answered. He went down and knocked on the apartment on ground floor. To add to his fears, no one answered there either. He returned to his room as soon as he could.
That night, the lights on the second floor were lit. The windows still remained closed. There was no vehicle in the parking of the building. Sohit had asked his retail shop person about the building and he had said that everyone went home on vacations. He avoided asking anything particular to the second floor. He did not really care about the rest of the people living there. Something had got him obsessed with that particular floor only. Having no clue what to do, he did not dare to go there again.
One week later a boy came to his apartment and said that someone has asked for him from across the building. It was evening, Sohit turned towards the building and the lights only on second floor were lit. The day has come he said. He let the boy go and went towards the building as calmly as he could. As he started climbing the stairs, his steps turned heavy, his breath began to burden. He stopped for a while to let his heartbeats get normal but heard someone coming up so continued to climb thinking that he would wait for a few minutes outside the apartment. When he reached the second floor, the door was open. He was surprised but had no choice except to carry on with his fears. Trembling, as he entered from the door, he felt like submitting himself in the hands of doom. He was taken aback with what he saw! The room was filled with photographs of French girls, Switzerland, London, ocean line, forests and portraits. When no one came for a while he thought of stepping outside and waiting there but spent a few more minutes looking over pictures and the expensive decoration in the room. As he turned back to move out, he almost screamed! A girl was standing right behind him.
“Hi!” she said.
“Hi!” he was still trying to catch his breath.
"I was alone and was thinking of inviting someone then this boy told me that you are new in the vicinity. So..."
Sohit stopped listening. "But that happens only in movies!" he said to himself. He was still trying to feel normal
"It’s so kind of you to do that. Thanks!" he said.
“Would you like to give me company for some time? I was waiting for my friends but they are all busy and I don’t like to be lonely. I would appreciate if you could stay for a while. Is that okay with you?” she said in her soft persuasive tone.
“Sure. I was lonely as well.” Sohit was having the best day of his life. A beautiful girl was willing to spend the evening with him. What more could he ask?
"Well that’s just great! I am a photographer…” She quickly interrupted herself and said “Oh! Let’s talk over coffee."
She led him to her drawing room which looked more like a bed room and went to make some coffee.
"Is this happening for real?" “First day and she is showing me her bedroom.” Sohit thought.
Wild imaginations filled his head. He was stupid to have kept himself afraid and away when such a sexy and friendly girl was living right in front of his building. The throwing of chits made him feel even more stupid. He carefully looked at the pictures, music collection, curtains, yellow lights that glowed behind the windows and...
She came and immediately started talking.
"So I had this idea of capturing people's life in fragments, you know? They would be like real puzzles."
Then she showed him the lives of the people she had captured. Not everything seemed to be related. Some photographs were particularly disturbing, others simply hilarious.
"The idea is quite intriguing. I never saw things this way."
"Exactly! Do you like to see it this way?"
"I am not sure." Sohit could not make out most of what she was talking and wasn't sure how she was taking him. Frankly speaking he never had an intellectual sort of conversation with a girl before. And this seemed to be going too tangled to make a meaning out of it. This was her bed room and she certainly has called him for some reason but to talk about her hobbies.
She probably read his mind and said, "Tell me something weird about you."
That is the way it outta go boy! Sohit was in the ninth cloud of wildest imaginations.
"Well, I like thinking about people I have never met, never seen and never heard of." Fitted perfectly to the present case he thought proudly.
"And what about people you have met?"
For the first time in life, he was having a naughty feeling about how this might end. He was behaving quite unlike himself he secretly accepted.
Their conversation slowly progressed and became quite intimate. There was nothing they did not talk about dating, love, one night stands, and occasional pleasures. Amongst all love was their most hated topic and neither talked much about it. Both agreed that it is just a concept and one should only believe in living in the present moment.
They had dinner together at a fine restaurant near the garden and on the way back she moved slowly. Sohit had heard of people meeting in clubs and discs, who end up on beds. He believed them to be mere stories but now he was expecting to be part of one of those stories. As they reached near her building, she turned towards him and said good bye. Well this was not what Sohit expected to happen all of a sudden and he had to resist all his temptation to ask for some more time. It wasn't a good idea to be all demanding and desperate on the very first day you meet someone. So he also waved her good night. “She is gonna be around”, he said to himself and grinned.
Returning to his apartment, he was the happiest man alive on the planet. He could scream, run madly, sing songs, say anything to anyone, jump; he even thought he could fly if he let go from the top of building. His happiness had more signs of desperation than satisfaction.
“What was her name?” he suddenly asked himself. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” he refrained and cursed on his stupidity. He stood there for a while thinking about going back to her. It makes perfect sense to go back saying he forgot to ask her name. “That doesn’t sound like a pretext.” he made himself believe. But then he continued moving. May be she didn’t tell the name on purpose. May be she wants him to return to her at night. He enjoyed the thought of it, as he kept moving to his apartment.
On his way up, there were marks of footsteps on the stairs. Probably people had come to meet him. May be Shanu was here to leave some message. When he reached on his floor open lock was hanging on the door. God, he was so stupid to even forget locking the door properly! When he entered from the door he was shocked by the view. His apartment had been robbed and thrashed! There were just papers and broken pieces of furniture all over the place. What should he do now? For a moment he even felt that it would be an opportunity to go to the girl next building and ask her to let him stay there tonight. He felt stupid, poor, robbed but secretly proud as well. Anyways he needed some help to deal with the situation and immediately went to the girl’s apartment.
Having a sorrowful and helpless face, he reached to the second floor of the next building. The door was still open. She was indeed expecting him. He thought about how he would tell her about robbery, ask her for help, she might say it happened because of her which he would deny, probably will go to police station with her for reporting the theft and then stay at her apartment at night. He entered confidently, with mixed feelings, and as he did,
There was not a piece of belonging left in the apartment!
She was alone and she had robbed them both!
“What was her name again?” he said and kicked himself as hardly as he could.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
In the jungle, one day two rats were fighting over their supremacy.
Lui: “One day a cat was after me, I turned around and warned her not to try to catch me but she did not abide by. I held her ears stretched and banged my slap on her face. She did not wake up for a week.”
Dui: “That is nothing. One day I challenged a cat to catch me but she refused so I challenged her ten friends to catch me but they refused. On the night when I was sleeping they captured me and tied me on the tree. While they beat me up all day and night long, I was yawning. After they were tired I gently flexed my muscles, the tree fell on them and I walked away.”
Lui: “Oh that is nothing! One day my mother was captured by pirates and they took her far in the middle of ocean. I sprinted on the water reached their ship and made a hole at the bottom. The ship sank; I took my mother and swam back.”
Dui: “Are you proud of that!? The pirates once held all of my family including me and put us in their jail on the ship. A thunderstorm struck the ship and it started drowning. The pirates could not do anything so I broke the jail and challenged the thunderstorm. Angry thunder storm struck me with lightening, I jumped on the sea and I heated up so much from the striking lightening that the sea dried. Later, the pirates apologized and carried us back to the jungle.”
Lui: “Once a kite flew over my house and when I came out he captured me with his claws and took me away. Then he threw me to his Kite boss for food. Kite boss asked me “Are you afraid?” I laughed at him. He said “Why are you laughing?” I laughed loudly. He said “Aren’t you afraid of dying?” I held his beak, tied it with a rope; straightened his wings with sticks and flew the world using him as glider. When the Kite boss begged for forgiveness I landed on my house and set him free. He now scavenges my enemies.”
Dui got afraid but he could not turn his back so he punched again.
Dui: “Once a Kite abducted me and he threw me to his Kite boss. When I told them I was Dui both of them escaped. Next morning I took a bow and arrows and shoot both of them down.”
Lui got irritated. His every story was thrashed by the story of Dui. Frustrated he started yelling on Dui that he is a liar, his stories are rubbish they started fighting. Listening to the noise other rats gathered around them, enjoying the show. While they were wrestling, punching on faces breaking each other’s tooth, suddenly they heard the ground go “Thump! Thump! Thump!” Lui saw to his left and found all the rats stamped on the ground then Dui saw it to his right then both of them looked up and saw giant elephants were passing by. They saw a foot rising and coming over them. “Thump!” they escaped. “Thump!” they escaped again. “Thump! Thump! Thump!” The group of elephants ran all over. When they had passed, Lui-Dui stood together and found the crushing foots buried everyone and everything around them. They looked towards each other thinking about their arguments earlier, grinned with their broken teeth and holding each other, returned back to their homes.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
A bird flew from her nest, flapping and soaring and gliding in the air moving up and down, occasionally facing the whoosh of the breeze coming from the jungle Peech. Looking for the breakfast, she hovered and alighted on the huts and houses in the nearby village Sat-Tal. Generous people of the village loved the birds and would put seeds, rice and food leftovers from last night in front of their houses. Large groups of birds would come every morning and afternoon in the village to fill their belly. They would fight amongst themselves for the tastiest food, feed their offsprings and would carry boiled and soaked food to their children in the nests. Villagers would love watching and talking about them. Our bird, Chiki was also one of the naughty ones from the groups. But one day a gang of hunters came to the jungle Peech and everything changed for her.
It was mating season for the birds when Chiki fell in love with Choker and conceived children. They were very happy and it was the first time Chiki would become a mother. Every morning Choker would get ready to bring food for Chiki but she would insist and go along with him. Chiki could not leave him alone, so madly she was in love with him. Other birds were jealous of Chiki's love for Choker. It was sometime in the spring when new leaves and buds were rejoicing their birth on the plants and flowers were blossoming when Chiki gave birth to three cute little birds. The newborns were very noisy and demanding, they would cry for food all day and Chiki-Choker would make hundreds of trips to the village to bring enough food for them. The loved their babies.
One day a gang of hunters visited the jungle as tourists. They came with the intention of hunting rabbits and had guns with them. One of the shooters saw a rabbit and started following him. After trailing for a while the rabbit sensed it being followed and instead of running on ground climbed on the tree. The shooter prepared! He sat down quietly and set his target. As he shot the rabbit escaped, the bullet skipped to the next tree and hit Chiki. Swirling in the air by the impact Chiki fell on the ground.
When Chiki opened her eyes all the birds had gathered. There was a lot of noise, some who witnessed the incident were telling others, some cursing the hunters, some felt viciously happy and others just joined the crowd. No one was really bothered about her. Chiki closed her eyes again and the image of her babies appeared in her mind and suddenly she could hear them chirruping and crying for food. Anxious Chiki stood up and saw Choker sitting by the nest, sad with tears. She flew to him and cuddled near the neck. As she did the pain from the beak gripped her and made her restless.
Next morning Choker went to bring food to the babies, Chiki was weak and in too much pain to fly. Choker made hundreds of trips to the village but the babies were still hungry and so was Chiki. Choker did not know what to do. When he asked other birds to help they advised him to leave Chiki and that she was useless anyways now. Others also made fun of the broken beak. Slowly the lower beak also gave away from the crack obtained by the impact of bullet and this left Choker completely confused and one night he slipped away quietly.
Finding herself alone with kids in the morning, Chiki knew he had left. She flew to the village for food but with broken beak could not carry much and the rice and seeds would fall. Tirelessly she tried all day but could not bring enough even for one baby. Faced upon by such a situation she had decided that she would try to save the healthiest baby but even that did not seem possible. This broke her completely.
It had rained last night in the jungle and the nest broke due to the thunderstorm. Chiki spent all night keeping the babies safe and since dawn repaired the nest. It was tough for her. Without enough food, help and hope she was getting weak and was worried about the babies who were getting weaker day by day and would not fight and cry much anymore.
She went to get food from the village. Tired she could hardly fly had become very slow. She rested in the village for a while. When she returned one of her babies was not very well. Worried she fed him and cuddled but the baby did not survive long. It was the cold from the last night's rain and starvation that had suffered. Tears started to pour from the Chiki's eyes she could not contain the fear of future anymore but she gathered all her courage and brought food for the two babies. But they did not survive long either. Within 2 days of the rain they fell sick and died. Chiki was left alone, weak, withered and hungry. She could not even feed herself with the broken beak. Slowly she was also dying in hunger and she decided to die.
She dragged herself to the near pond where she thought she would drown and die. Probably some crocodile or other animal would eat her. She went to the pond and looked in it. She could hardly identify herself. As she closed her eyes the younger image appeared in her mind but as she opened the withered image appeared again. Chiki closed her eyes again. She wanted to remember how young and happy she was before she dies. And with that image in her mind she jumped in the pond.
As she drowned into the pond floor something unusual happened and a small fish got caught between her beaks which clutched the fish like jaws. She could not even die peacefully. Angrily she tried to get rid of the fish and cuts it and eats the fish! She came out of the pond and dipped her beak again in the water and another fish was clutched. Dipped again and another fish and another. Other birds gathered to see what was happening and suddenly the new ability of broken beaks to catch fish took all birds by surprise. Happy, Chiki started running around, jumping, fluttering, flapping and screaming. Soon she became famous in the jungle as miracle bird and would help the weak birds by bringing them fish.
Even when she thought everything was lost she found that not all was gone. She just did not know what there was!