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A note:  It is a series of dedication to my idol, R K Narayan Sir. I may not be up to the level, but trying to bring his qualities in describing some usual incidents.

—–

One cold-unfriendly person like Kartik had only one positive. He was very hard-working, seldom wasted his time. He had come to Malgudi to enjoy some peace from this village which was losing its resources to modernization and mostly young kids stayed here with their grandparents. It was growing lonely being neither very modern city, nor a complete village. The only thing it sustained on was tourism.

Kartik was on a two-year break from regular life, having earned himself by saving for it. All he wanted from long was to be an author. Not just an ordinary author, but a Pulitzer or a Booker winner. He wanted to write a classic epic, a monumental work, unmatched in length, vocabulary, and language by most of the usual works. He didn’t tweet, blog, or have a facebook account. He didn’t care whether he got the people hooked or not. All he wanted was a magnanimous work. He wanted to go down in history, didn’t really care about people, or anything for that matter. He had molded himself into a tough routine to stay mentally and physically fit.

Tonight, as per routine, he heads to the gym and reaches sharp at nine. He makes an entry into the register, calls for the trainer for the drills for the day. The trainer is a couple of minutes late and he blames him for wasting his time telling not to do that again. He leaves after an hour exactly, marking time in the register and heading to buy eggs. He reaches the egg-vendor stall.

He ordered: ‘Five boiled eggs, quickly’

Egg Vendor: ‘Sir Farm or Desi?’

‘Farm’

‘Sir Desi are better, see you have been eating these from few months and you haven’t improved where there was an X—, a relative of mine who grew bulki…..’

‘I don’t need your advice, are you giving them to me or not?’

Egg vendor gave it, and collected his change in silence then. It was pretty late so not many people were there, however not unlike few years back; some stalls were always there even till midnight. Ice-cream vendor was one such stall. Kartik eyes it, and yearns for an ice-cream, his favorite since he was a kid. He daily saw the same stall and daily wondered, but the disciplinarian in him stopped him. He used to say even a thought is enough to break an age-long process. However presently, he sees the stall for a moment too much and argues ‘Can an ant lift a mountain, even after any amount of effort?’ He remembers the greatest ice-creams he had in childhood, and even after getting a job. Though mostly, he saved them for this break. Today, he crosses the discipline to move to desire. He walks there and says

‘Choc-o-bar please’

Ice-cream vendor: ‘yes sir, how many? Earlier people could eat many ice-creams without getting ill. Now though, people get ill too soon. Can you tell me how some ice, milk powder, flavor, and chocolate make someone unhealthy?’

On any other day Kartik would have cut short the conversation, but he liked the way the ice-cream vendor said and didn’t mind having the ice-creams even in wintry night.

‘One’ he replied, adding ‘will try different ones afterwards’.

He didn’t mean to say the latter part but he had lost control more than once today. He forgot all discipline and just let himself be now.

Ice-cream Vendor (handling him the package): ‘Here it is Sir. Haven’t seen you here before, are you new? What do you do?’

Kartik (opening the wrappers and eyeing his prize): ‘I have been from a few months, an author.

Ice-cream Vendor: ‘means a storyteller?’

He somehow didn’t like the word.

He replied: ‘Yeah, ummmm, naaa, an author. I am writing a monumental work which will have few parallels in length, language, and vocabulary’.

‘But you need a massive story for that naa, how can you write without a story?’

‘Yeah, story is there. But it’s just a small part’

‘How can you write monumental work without a story? Do you know Mahabharata is the longest written literature? And its story is considered one of the greatest stories ever told?’

Kartik smirks: ‘what do you, an ice-cream vendor know about story-writing?’

‘Sir, I used to sell my ice-creams back then only because of my stories. It’s true I can’t read or write, but earlier I didn’t sell Party Bars ice-cream, we didn’t have any brand then. I made some kulfi from milk and nuts, and sold them. The taste wasn’t good, but I had to sell them to run family. What I used to do was tell people stories and because they were engaged in stories, they forgot that ice-cream weren’t that good but they bought anyway. Even now, many come to me for my stories but I am becoming older now so I tell only small stories to very few.’

‘Can you tell me a story of yours which made people enjoy your ordinary ice-creams?’

‘Yes Sir! Let me think…. Ummmm…..’

‘Okay… once there was a man who looked like a madman. From henceforth, we’ll refer him as madman. He went to a juice corner asking for pomegranate juice. At the same time, there came one family. There was a man carrying his three year old child in his right hand, and a woman along with him. It was just after sunset. He asked for one medium and one large juice, he didn’t mention any name. Usually, he gives mixed fruit juice when it isn’t mentioned. But that day, he gave pomegranate juice, medium to son and large to the lady. The madman went empty-handed after the vendor told him something.’

Kartik meanwhile had finished his ice-cream. He would have gone long back on his usual disciplined modes, but somehow he was hooked. It was as if the artificial flower maker saw a real rose. He was mesmerized and charmed by the story, which to his practical mind seemed ordinary that he gave best juice for the one who could afford and sent away the poor soul. But in his epic, he had forgotten to include a normal human-like human. That might have been a small reason too.

He said: ‘one orange bar’ and later added ‘so he gave the best juice to the rich man and didn’t give any to the poor man who couldn’t afford it?’

Ice-cream vendor (giving him the ice-cream): ‘No Sir. Actually the madman had money. Usually juice-vendor doesn’t give juice after the sunset, he tells them that come in the morning or afternoon, and it’s not good for health this time. He told the same to the madman, adding that he must have orange juice which is good for immunity, pomegranate is good for increasing blood which can be had once in a week and it’ll be enough’

‘Then why did he give the juice to the little boy’

‘His father was holding him in one-hand, and was smoking cigarette from his left. Juice-vendor had thought the son is already getting the worst, so it won’t do badly if he has some blood. His father is probably mad making him smoke indirectly, so he will somehow need blood to work hard. It was some weird philosophy but according to him, it didn’t matter anymore. He just thought of making some money that time.’

‘Ironical. One was trying to improve his health, while the other was showing off with costly juice but actually giving tender lungs a great danger. Now who will you call mad?’

‘Isn’t it Sir? Didn’t you like the story?’

‘Yeah, it was okay, how did you make it?’

‘Sir, see there, Jeevan Juice Corner, that’s where I got it, observing people. We writers observe what usually most don’t, or don’t analyze and then sell it to them’

‘Nice point, but was it real?’

‘Some part of all stories are real, else it wouldn’t be made’

‘Nice philosophy man’

‘Sir, would you hear the story of an ant who moved a mountain?’

—–

 

 

Would-be Author Meets the Street-side Storyteller of Neo-Malgudi

One cold-unfriendly person like Kartik had only one positive. He was very hard-working, seldom wasted his time. He had come to Malgudi to enjoy some peace from this village which was losing its resources to modernization and mostly young kids stayed here with their grandparents. It was growing lonely being neither very modern city, nor a complete village. The only thing it sustained on was tourism.

Kartik was on a two-year break from regular life, having earned himself by saving for it. All he wanted from long was to be an author. Not just an ordinary author, but a Pulitzer or a Booker winner. He wanted to write a classic epic, a monumental work, unmatched in length, vocabulary, and language by most of the usual works. He didn’t tweet, blog, or have a facebook account. He didn’t care whether he got the people hooked or not. All he wanted was a magnanimous work. He wanted to go down in history, didn’t really care about people, or anything for that matter. He had molded himself into a tough routine to stay mentally and physically fit.

Tonight, as per routine, he heads to the gym and reaches sharp at nine. He makes an entry into the register, calls for the trainer for the drills for the day. The trainer is a couple of minutes late and he blames him for wasting his time telling not to do that again. He leaves after an hour exactly, marking time in the register and heading to buy eggs. He reaches the egg-vendor stall.

He ordered: ‘Five boiled eggs, quickly’

Egg Vendor: ‘Sir Farm or Desi?’

‘Farm’

‘Sir Desi are better, see you have been eating these from few months and you haven’t improved where there was an X—, a relative of mine who grew bulki…..’

‘I don’t need your advice, are you giving them to me or not?’

Egg vendor gave it, and collected his change in silence then. It was pretty late so not many people were there, however not unlike few years back; some stalls were always there even till midnight. Ice-cream vendor was one such stall. Kartik eyes it, and yearns for an ice-cream, his favorite since he was a kid. He daily saw the same stall and daily wondered, but the disciplinarian in him stopped him. He used to say even a thought is enough to break an age-long process. However presently, he sees the stall for a moment too much and argues ‘Can an ant lift a mountain, even after any amount of effort?’ He remembers the greatest ice-creams he had in childhood, and even after getting a job. Though mostly, he saved them for this break. Today, he crosses the discipline to move to desire. He walks there and says

‘Choc-o-bar please’

Ice-cream vendor: ‘yes sir, how many? Earlier people could eat many ice-creams without getting ill. Now though, people get ill too soon. Can you tell me how some ice, milk powder, flavor, and chocolate make someone unhealthy?’

On any other day Kartik would have cut short the conversation, but he liked the way the ice-cream vendor said and didn’t mind having the ice-creams even in wintry night.

‘One’ he replied, adding ‘will try different ones afterwards’.

He didn’t mean to say the latter part but he had lost control more than once today. He forgot all discipline and just let himself be now.

Ice-cream Vendor (handling him the package): ‘Here it is Sir. Haven’t seen you here before, are you new? What do you do?’

Kartik (opening the wrappers and eyeing his prize): ‘I have been from a few months, an author.

Ice-cream Vendor: ‘means a storyteller?’

He somehow didn’t like the word.

He replied: ‘Yeah, ummmm, naaa, an author. I am writing a monumental work which will have few parallels in length, language, and vocabulary’.

‘But you need a massive story for that naa, how can you write without a story?’

‘Yeah, story is there. But it’s just a small part’

‘How can you write monumental work without a story? Do you know Mahabharata is the longest written literature? And its story is considered one of the greatest stories ever told?’

Kartik smirks: ‘what do you, an ice-cream vendor know about story-writing?’

‘Sir, I used to sell my ice-creams back then only because of my stories. It’s true I can’t read or write, but earlier I didn’t sell Party Bars ice-cream, we didn’t have any brand then. I made some kulfi from milk and nuts, and sold them. The taste wasn’t good, but I had to sell them to run family. What I used to do was tell people stories and because they were engaged in stories, they forgot that ice-cream weren’t that good but they bought anyway. Even now, many come to me for my stories but I am becoming older now so I tell only small stories to very few.’

‘Can you tell me a story of yours which made people enjoy your ordinary ice-creams?’

‘Yes Sir! Let me think…. Ummmm…..’

‘Okay… once there was a man who looked like a madman. From henceforth, we’ll refer him as madman. He went to a juice corner asking for pomegranate juice. At the same time, there came one family. There was a man carrying his three year old child in his right hand, and a woman along with him. It was just after sunset. He asked for one medium and one large juice, he didn’t mention any name. Usually, he gives mixed fruit juice when it isn’t mentioned. But that day, he gave pomegranate juice, medium to son and large to the lady. The madman went empty-handed after the vendor told him something.’

Kartik meanwhile had finished his ice-cream. He would have gone long back on his usual disciplined modes, but somehow he was hooked. It was as if the artificial flower maker saw a real rose. He was mesmerized and charmed by the story, which to his practical mind seemed ordinary that he gave best juice for the one who could afford and sent away the poor soul. But in his epic, he had forgotten to include a normal human-like human. That might have been a small reason too.

He said: ‘one orange bar’ and later added ‘so he gave the best juice to the rich man and didn’t give any to the poor man who couldn’t afford it?’

Ice-cream vendor (giving him the ice-cream): ‘No Sir. Actually the madman had money. Usually juice-vendor doesn’t give juice after the sunset, he tells them that come in the morning or afternoon, and it’s not good for health this time. He told the same to the madman, adding that he must have orange juice which is good for immunity, pomegranate is good for increasing blood which can be had once in a week and it’ll be enough’

‘Then why did he give the juice to the little boy’

‘His father was holding him in one-hand, and was smoking cigarette from his left. Juice-vendor had thought the son is already getting the worst, so it won’t do badly if he has some blood. His father is probably mad making him smoke indirectly, so he will somehow need blood to work hard. It was some weird philosophy but according to him, it didn’t matter anymore. He just thought of making some money that time.’

‘Ironical. One was trying to improve his health, while the other was showing off with costly juice but actually giving tender lungs a great danger. Now who will you call mad?’

‘Isn’t it Sir? Didn’t you like the story?’

‘Yeah, it was okay, how did you make it?’

‘Sir, see there, Jeevan Juice Corner, that’s where I got it, observing people. We writers observe what usually most don’t, or don’t analyze and then sell it to them’

‘Nice point, but was it real?’

‘Some part of all stories are real, else it wouldn’t be made’

‘Nice philosophy man’

‘Sir, would you hear the story of an ant who moved a mountain?’

—–

 

I’m Perfection

A studio decorated with wonderful paintings, each painted as if the painter had been possessed while making was breathing a disappointed air, an air which it was unaccustomed to before now. Obviously the painter didn’t start making masterpieces right when he decided to hold the brush for first time, but then he didn’t have the luxury of this studio.

“Something is surely amiss” said the new age painter dejectedly. He had made them pose in scores of ways, and wasn’t yet satisfied with the end result. A perfect 24 by 16 leaf hangs on one of the walls making one believe that the leaf was made by God, but not as good as this painter. At this stage of his career, he couldn’t have believed it even if God came and told him the same. Yet, it happened. It wasn’t his fault exactly.

It was almost curtains on the relationship of Raj and Natasha, both of them workaholics making their way to the top. They had now a habit of asking for nothing but the best. And they got it, invariably. Either they worked for it, or they ate the fruits of their long time works.

Raj was an IIM-A graduate who rejected an offer of fifteen millions an year. He remembered his father’s words “I can only sustain the family for a small period, my life will be over soon along with my dream, the Ayurveda, so you better find your own means.” He was a struggling student then in the midst of his B.Sc. Biotechnology from Aashiyaana University, and he turned out to be joint third in his college (despite two average years), and broke the records of the final year performance. It wasn’t a fairytale. He had always had only one dream, and that was his father’s dream. He wasn’t serious in studies and wanted to join the business soon, but his father probably knew the condition and forced him to do the graduation. He then went on a plan, he would be the brightest student, reject the best offer the IIM can offer, and will earn a goodwill anyhow. He will be in the eyes of the people, and will therefore get a swifter result in getting back his father’s company. It was a master-stroke.

It took time, first due to the bad will, and probably growing losses which had conjured up so that he could study well. Then secondly, they came up in the third year with his ideas of expansion beyond the Indian boundaries started to bring a temporary loss, but not the loss of funds. He had built the business again, but before that, a brilliant goodwill.

He was perfect, had a Midas touch around him. His father’s depression was depressed due to his effect; in fact he started an organization helping depressed come out of depression. And that was when he was studying, not when he made all those profits. His mother had an OCD for doctors and medicines. It moved to an OCD for fitness sans-doctors and medicines. His friend, once a bankrupt out of share markets learned and earned due to his advice. His walk would give a professional model a run for his money. Perfect formal for the business work which outlined his well built body, in the crisp light coloured shirts and black well creased trousers, perfected his overall look. Now he owned a Porsche Panamera, chauffeur driven unless he had his occasional moods of driving, mostly on informal occasions.

On casual days, he wore perfect casual, before a model in the current Paris Fashion Week will wear. He had that kind of charisma that just everything suited him, the perfect square face with a perfect body. Actually he had worked hard on both of them. He had this habit of training hard since early days, and he always used Ayurvedic products, the magic of which shown on his face forever. He touched anything and it turned to gold, what really happened when he touched gold?

Natasha, the woman who could give sleepless nights to any man on planet, and who had been voted the sexiest woman of India, ahead of the actresses, was also the most searched and the most-image searched beauty queen of India. She had a price to pay. She never talked. She never needed to. She took modelling by her heart and took care to speak everything with her face expressions and the lovely eyes she had. She spoke in monosyllables when she needed anything, didn’t have to say really.

Born in a village where there was no place for dreams, her escape was aided by her mother. They were village landlords, a class of people of India who are always the most showy when it comes to attitude and prefer to keep their women under the veils, quite literally. It was on the eve of her marriage that all the jewellery and cash was being collected for the dowry. Her mother, who knew the plight of the womenfolk, felt pity for the child who was barely twelve. She bribed a servant to send her off to a faraway place. She reached Mumbai, where she lived happily ever after.

Back home, even when there was a phone at home for her, she could not generally talk. Whenever she did for a few seconds, everybody from the father to the grandfather to the brothers to the bodyguards (unofficial) asked so many questions that she started hating one of the better tools, speech. She became a successful model, a supermodel rather. The reason was simple, she hated to talk. She took the profession outside its bounds and mastered skills of face expressions and eye contact. She knew how to fly high. But how high did she fly in a pair?

These two perfect people met finally. On the first site they realized that they are alike. They will hopefully understand each other. They soon married, not much of courtship though. The world saw the marriage as the most perfect union that could happen. They were in awe. Between the two, something started going wrong.

Raj always wanted to help others, he never thought anyone to be equal. He took it for granted that the other person wants some help. He never really accepted there could be anyone equal to him. This despite the hard work he had done, he seemed to have forgotten that others could also do the same amount of hard work, and even more.

Natasha, on the other hand, didn’t want to talk. It hurts a man when his woman doesn’t talk. A man of such high standards would obviously get affected. It happened. Sometimes he just pushed her in front of him, held her and tried speaking. These were the moments when her face expressions went numb. She had met someone real in life. The couple of eyes, shocked and surprised at a new life beyond the life they had known, refused to give anything away. While she wouldn’t talk, he would think of it as some kind of problem she has. He would offer his help, without thinking of her on the same level. Till the time she geared up to talk things out, his patience gave up and his ego flared.

A couple of months into marriage, she was ready to talk to him. She felt she belonged to him. However, he had the divorce papers in his hands. It was the end, probably. To capture a faked happy pose, they went to the painter much to his disappointment.

“Move a bit closer, make it a semi-hug” said the painter. The body language said it to the eyes of the painter for whom, the couple was just a subject he had to get the best out of. It wasn’t happening, wasn’t going to happen probably. When Raj moved a bit closer, his body language meant discomfort which obviously didn’t show out to naked eyes. Even a painting would have been made had it been any other painter. Natasha read the discomfort quicker than even the painter and her body virtually dropped, however she tried to fake it. A score of poses were tried such way making the painter unhappy, he gave it up ultimately.

The man could touch anything to gold, but didn’t know what to do to gold. The woman could fly any height, but didn’t know the art of flying in pairs. “I’m Sorry” said the painter. That was what the relationship had said to both of them. “It’s not happening”. It is not happening. It is not happening. Not like their lives.

They went back, disappointed. They started moving upstairs, not wanting to disturb his parents. The supermodel’s ankle didn’t hit the stair properly, probably for the first time in years. She was not herself. While she was falling, the man with the perfect mind and body couldn’t even hold her. They both fell, over the world’s most beautiful flowers collected in the vases just near the glass staircase. His eyes brushed the Rhododendrons, and the sight left him in contact, probably falling over the very beautiful flowers and ditching his eye balls.

Some three four months later

“Mr. Raj Makhija there? I am calling from HealthCare Eye Hospital” asked a monotonous male tone.

“Speaking” answered Raj.

“Sir, we have got a donor, please come to the Hospital by tonight…”

“I have got my eyes, better ask someone who is in real need” interrupted Raj and put down the phone.

Mrs Natasha Makhija felt something her expressions couldn’t speak while she just woke up from sleep.

Raj left his perfection to the flowers, Natasha left it there too. The same spot, the flowers gifted in return a merry life for the couple. God does bless, in His own sweet ways.

“Something is surely amiss” said the new age painter, after making them pose in scores of ways. He was not satisfied. This painter had the ability to draw the best paintings out of anything. Once, on a 24 by 16 canvas, he drew a perfect leaf. No one could have imagined such a small thing on a huge canvas. And yet, he did it perfectly. He was in habit of making perfect drawings, and for that he made his subject pose in the way he wanted. He always found the best pose somehow in a few tries. Sometimes, it took longer than usual. However. Today, he was not able to get the pose perfectly. Or was it due to the subjects?

When Raj and Natasha wanted to get a memento of their relationship, they went to the best. They always chose the best, they were short of nothing. Raj, the perfect man, who was two years back the most eligible bachelor the country had. He made fortunes out of one small Ayurvedic manufacturing plant. He was an IIM-A pass out who refused the most lucrative offer ever given to an Indian MBA student. But he wanted to help his father’s ailing business. And he did, in a year, the losses turned zero. In another year, the profits started souring. In the third year, the world-wide distribution and marketing started. The cost of marketing and publicity made the year less profitable, but the fourth year saw the company rocket to top twenty list of India. This year, the fifth in running, he is all set to get the company into the top five.

His looks could give complex to Tom Cruise, his body made his looks complete, the perfect Greek God look. His body language, his attitude, his attire, his accessories, his cars, his home, all complemented his self. He reflected his persona on everybody he met, and if one cared to heed his advice, was sure to make some good progress. His friend had lost lakhs in cricket betting, but his advice of investing some money in shares, along with when, where and how turned his world upside down. He is now one of the leading share brokers, of the country. His mother had health problems and had been wandering from doctor to doctor for her treatment. He advised her to use the medicines he suggests for a year, and she actually became perfect. In addition, she lost some years of her. All in all, there was nothing he couldn’t do, nothing he couldn’t get. Anything he touched turned to gold. He was yet to touch gold though.

Natasha, the woman who could give sleepless nights to anybody had been voted the sexiest woman of India. She was a model, a super model, a superb model at that. She had left the Bollywood actresses behind in becoming the most searched, and the most image-searched female of the country. She had grown steadily, but not slowly. It seemed that from when she entered the industry she could do no wrong. She never needed to speak to explain. Her face was her voice. From childhood, she hated explaining and talking too much. Now, her face said everything, her eyes complemented her face in doing so. She never needed to explain, talked only in monosyllables.

Besides her looks, she was a perfect businesswoman. She had one small business of flowers. She apparently sold the costliest rose in India. And yet, she sold more roses than anyone else in the country. She had a knack of rising from wherever she began, even if she started from the top. She could always create a new ‘top’ for her. Rising and rising, she went just very high. She went so high that probably no one could have got her back.

Finally, two perfect people met. There was no attraction. They just complemented each other through their looks when they met for the first time. They knew they both were the best. That was when the man with the Midas touch touched gold itself. Someone who touched anything and it turned to gold touches gold, what happens? Nothing. While she had been flying, she flew out of the safe territory. She knew how to rise high, but not how to come back. What you think happened to them?

They met. They decided to marry. They managed it well enough. For the outer world, they managed pretty well. They lacked nothing- for the outsiders. Between them, they lacked everything. They lacked the spark. They lacked the charm. There was no awe for little beautiful things. They were both epitomes of perfection; they started taking each other casually. They both forgot that to attain perfection, they had to work hard. They never talked to each other, she never needed to say, and he hated the fact she never talked. It went on and on until they decided not to continue. That was when they went to the painter to get them in paint, as a memento.

“It’s not happening” was his final call. This was the first time the painter had faced this, he kept feeling that something was amiss. He had given up ultimately. And this couple went back home. They were angry. They knew what the painter meant by the missing thing. They were the two people who were perfect in isolation but imperfect together. Back home, they decided to go to their bedroom upstairs and not disturb his parents with their talk, or the lack of it. While they were climbing the stairs, Natasha slipped suddenly, and in a bid to save her from falling, Raj tried to hold her in her arms. He slipped, and his face hit flowers of the vase. Very beautiful, but poisonous, the Rhododendrons. The best of the doctors couldn’t save his eyes, and he had lost himself. He had to wait till he found a donor, and for that the donor had to die first. He lost his perfection, she lost hers. Now she could no more speak with her face, at least to him. They found their perfection. However.

It seems like writing stories is impossible for me. What do I do? I was never good at it, however there were signs of some development in the story telling department. Now it’s basically impossible. I get to see lots of stories daily, but it isn’t possible to write them down. Something or the other is missing. Gravely missing.

‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. I do have the will, yet to see the way. Being a writer is difficult if you’re not with the latest trend of Love equals Sex, and College/School stupid tales equal the completion of a write-up. I always thought that there are two types of writer, one who struggle and struggle but ultimately give up before they reach their pinnacle. The others do the same, except giving up and bask in glory. Now there’s a third category of Chetan Bhagat and co. They are happily working in some company or the other until they realize that the world is incomplete without their story. And they go ahead and tell their college stories, or some other masala Indian fiction. This masala fiction has plagued Indian film industry for a long time. Now that the film industry has freed itself from the shackles of it, the writing world is becoming affected.

Indian writing in English has very few successful writers. I admire R.K. Narayan the most. In fact, I’d say I want myself to do his kind of storytelling. The one in which when you read about a character, you somehow or the other see an image of a living person you’ve seen. Or sometimes even a part of you could be there. Well, the point is I can’t do that. Not that it is impossible. I simply don’t want to. The people today are kind of different from then. The generation gap has been too much for me. I don’t want to belong to this generation, and now that I’m here I’d prefer talking about good things only. So may be I should be the next Chetan Bhagat. After all I’ve been to school, to colleges, I can think of a lot of untold stories, tell a lot of sex tales, many love stories brewing up in the campus. After all, if a book like ‘Of Course I Love You… till I find someone better’ can be a bestseller, I’ll at least know grammar rules, and check and recheck before getting it published, and I’ll add some story to it also.

Confusions do come up. In stories, I know that at least I can do it, may be with some practice. But poetry is like Greek and Latin. It takes a lot of time understanding them, forget writing. I used to write, well crap. I would have failed a test for nursery rhymes, cause I only rhymed, and that too not so smooth. And when I get to meaning, it probably wasn’t really there. All superficial. Add to that, I fought a lot for that stuff. Embarrassing. Anyway. I better not tell any more. The last few poetry has been better in some respects, but I’ve got a long way to go.

But the point is that I’ve a confession to make. Today is the last date of theme competition. I so want to participate. Though I don’t really have a story. Actually I have many, but no use putting them up in here because I’m somewhat skeptical about writing them. So I took an autobiographical path, and thought of writing something weird. At least for the participation it’ll count. Most of the contests give certificates of participation to all participants. So I’m booking one for me. Thanks for bearing with me.

No forest specifies ways,
Amidst the building
lost all trails…

No such path called:
‘less travelled by’;
Help me find my way.

21st century, a blessing or no?
Certainly, there is no Frost way,
Yet, all frost ways.

=======

Read this Robert Frost Classic to understand more:

While I grew up:
Some things changed.
Obvious.

The valued coins:-
No more has value,
gullak a mere child’s fantasy,
a 10 rupee note too less.

Once with a best friend,
holding hands meant true friendship,
now, a mistaken touch, invites comments
of gayness; and the new 377.

The magic of co-ed school,
girls and boys together, playing,
lost, all lost,
no more boys’ games are girls’ game.

The dream of growing up,
lost, when I grew up.
The birds irritate now,
cockroaches aren’t scary enough

Couldn’t hold on to
Pakdam-pakdai
Chhupan-chhupai is lost,
Somewhere, hiding.

Somewhere, behind the young bones
Lies the advent of adventure
Adventure now is dangerous,
yet not adventurous enough.

As I come back from the mall, I render over the possibilities of her unspoken words. Her refers to my girl friend, someone whom I love a lot. She has been with me for four long years. Moreover, she has been the best girlfriend one could ever have. The point is she was trying to say something but could not. I was not able to decipher the eye language probably. I never understood why people gave so much importance to eyes as if they could really say. At most, tears indicate sadness. That too is not a surety. Tears of happiness also fall from the same place, if you are not Govinda of Partner of course. You need eyebrows to make at least some understandable expression. That was what I thought.

That was around two hours back that I couldn’t understand her. Now, I was buying a gift for her, and arranging a surprise for her, which would mean that I will be staying at a friend’s place for the night, with no time to get back home.

Anyway, back to my story, around two hours back, I couldn’t understand the language of eyes. I had left my girl-friend at Movie World, as it was near her home, she being a resident of Ghaziabad. From Movie World (Ghaziabad), it was ten minutes of boring walk towards Bus Adda (Ghaziabad). Then a half an hour to an hour bus ride to Delhi Border, followed by half an hour metro ride and then I was going to be almost home. However, today, I did not feel to sit in over-crowded bus. I took a tempo to Naya Bus Adda, then another tempo to Delhi border. It cost me six rupees too many, but I was too tired. Moreover, I got a lot this way, probably got a new meaning out of my relationship.

Aankhon Ki Gustakhiyaan

Maaf Hon

O Aankhon Ki Gustakhiyaan

Maaf Hon

Ek Tuk Tumhein Dekhti Hain

Jo Baat Kehna Chaahe Zubaan Tumse Vo Ye Kehti Hain

Aankhon Ki Sharmohaya

Maaf Ho

Tumhein Dekhke Jhukti Hain

Uthi Aankhein Jo Baat Na Keh Sakin

Jhuki Aankhein Vo Kehti Hain
As I got in the tempo at Naya Bus Adda, there was one girl exactly opposite me. There was some distinct expression in her eyes. Yeah, she was sad at something, and it was clear from her eyes. I didn’t need to look at her face to confirm it. The water tap was about to be opened. But somehow, our eye contact rendered a change in those lovely eyes. She was asking me for help, with a hint of water, visible only to me again. She was in some problem, probably we were both in a similar situation. I was in need of help myself. Slowly they changed to an inquisitive pair, as if searching for something in me, or my eyes. The water seemed to be drying by itself as if they were an illusion. There was then a relief. The last few minutes of our eye contact was a matter of great peace.

I had understood by then what my girlfriend wanted of me. She was sad and pleading at the same time. She was also angry. This brief interaction had helped me understand it. I just tried to say thanks through my eyes, and she was saying thanks. May be we were destined to meet. Then the couple of couples, that is eyes, became cheerful and happy. She left soon after.
When alone, I tried to figure out for what my girlfriend was angry. Suddenly it struck me that I had forgotten her birthday. She had given party and not told me why it was and I could not figure it out either. Moreover, I neither had wished her nor gifted her anything. I can always make amends, but have not I left more precious thing? It is the girl in the tempo. I do not remember her face, not anything but her eyes. Can I find her again? That is whom they call a soul mate? Who could talk without talking? I never felt so good, yet so bad. I was thinking about someone whom I had not even seen except for her eyes. Moreover, what about my girlfriend? If I would be with her now, it would be a crime. If I leave here four year into a relationship, may be this would break her. Rather I would accept this moment as a moment of infidelity. The moment in turn would help our love. When we watch a sunset, sometimes we wonder about its beauty. Another moment, we complain about diminishing light.

Ye Zindagi Aapki Hi Amaanat Rahegi

Ay Hey

Dil Mein Sada Aapki Hi Mohabbat Rahegi

Ay Hey

In Saanson Ko Aapki Hi Zaroorat Rahegi

Is Dil Ki Naadaniyaan

Maaf Hon

Ye Mere Kahan Sunti Hain

Ye Pal Pal Jo Hote Hain Bepal Sanam To sapne Naye Bunti Hain

Aankhon Ki

Aankhon Ki

Gustakhiyaan

Maaf Hon

Sharmohaya

Maaf Ho.

I am going back to her, yes, I will confess it to her about my infidelity, and if she loves me, she will forgive me.

I was always afraid this would happen. Now I’m all alone. She left me too.

Year-1985

It was when I was small; I always used to wish for bigger houses and huge bungalows with minimum seven or eight rooms. But we had a single room small home. It was actually my father’s room when he was studying. And he could never afford to have a bigger room in his life, because he was working at a pay of about Rs. 5,000 roughly. The rent was Rs.70 a week then. We used to manage it somehow. My mother had just started working again, when I was five. They thought it best because of me as they wanted me to have a good life, and they left me altogether. I always used to think why these parents spoil the child’s present for the sake of their future. It felt like stealing happiness to give some happiness of the future.

Slowly and steadily, father got promotion; mother got a job, and a promotion. Two year later, father was working for 10,000 and mother for 7,000. We, that is, my father and my mother, decided to move to a bigger house. I was elated, having dreamt of bigger houses almost always. Also, I was hoping I would get better games to play, better school to go. There was a discussion between a 1-BHK and 2-BHK. Rent was almost the same; the difference was only of the locality. Since I had to remain alone most of the day, 1-BHK was decided. I didn’t get to change the school then only as we couldn’t afford it. But I certainly got better toys, more so because my father and mother both were government officers and now father was pretty senior. Father specially got me new games or things regularly. I didn’t know how it came, but I felt happy having new trunks and noses and ears to break, and new cars to crash.

Another two years went by, we’d moved in to a posh locality. It was a 3-BHK this time. I was going to a private school. I had my separate study-cum-bed room. One room was for dad and mom, the last was called servant’s quarter, a very small room. And yes, we had servants. I had almost everything I had wanted once. Or had I? It was year 1989, and then, we were getting a net taxable income 30,000INR. Add to that the extra income. It was all going great as far as luxury and style was concerned. We had a car, dad drove mom to her office before he left, and collected her late in the day. The consequences, I’d got an extra hour and a half, or sometimes two to spend alone. But those were times when still women weren’t working that freely in our area. That might be the reason why there had been huge discussions when mom had got a receptionist job, and so as soon as dad bought a car, he set himself up with this duty of dropping her at work, and collecting her after work.

It might all look a bit of a fairytale. They came, they did the hard work. They conquered. It wasn’t like that. The bigger the house was getting, the farther the members. The only time I could talk to my parents’ was while dinner. That too, the discussion would be about how my studies are going, and asking me if I need anything. Whatever I’d ask, it would be given to me the next day. I felt excited about showing my new friends my big home, though not huge still. I would show them my latest toys and games. It was all good in the beginning. But then I felt the need to be talking to my parents more often. I couldn’t cry now, as there wouldn’t be anyone to wipe away my tears. There wasn’t anything to feel happy about anyway. The fifteen minutes talk each day was also in front of TV screen, the screen I’d always thought of smashing, and did it once. But my parents didn’t even ask how it happened, they were too busy. They just got it replaced by a new larger TV set. It was going from bad to worse.

By the time I was in my tenth, we’d got three separate flats. That was when I was realizing things, and that was the worst part of my life. Besides the usual job, they’d started a business. They, means both dad and mom, but separate. First it was dad, who used to be busy even on the usual free and happy Sundays. With that, there were different kinds of people coming in, mostly rich. It was some modeling business. And that was why I always saw different girls coming in dad’s flat. Left flat was all dad’s, right was mom’s and center for me. Dad had suggested it, and I could see why. Initially he used to say whenever I asked that the girls were there for auditioning. I wanted to ask why boys didn’t come then. Strangely enough, mom never asked anything. As if by impulse, she started a firm of designers, to make two wrongs right. There were always various men around. After six months into my tenth, I had separated, but not legally divorced parents. And if I could say, they were only biological parents, while I felt an orphan. I was beginning to think of ways of getting out. I told them in Mumbai, from eleventh onwards, there are high schools, and I want to be there. I wanted to feel closeness once more, wanted to feel crowded once more. They asked me if I want a home there for myself and a car with a driver etc. I said I need your sign for admission forms and hostel forms, college and hostel fee and a grand every month. They agreed, had no time for arguments.

Year 1998

For the first month, I got rather regular calls from both mom and dad asking for me, but after that it became once a month, then only when the fees was to be paid. Then ultimately they transferred money in my account, as I was eighteen in the mid of my twelfth.

Other than that, it was really lively being in hostel. There were people all around, no time for being alone. My loneliness was all alone now. Except for holidays, when I was alone in my room, as everyone used to go home. Those were the days which everyone waited for, and I loathed. I made a few friends out there, and I loved their company. Because of what I’d seen, because of being talk-deprived, because of having no one to talk to, in hostel and college both, everybody called me The Talkative Man of Mumbai (reference to The Talkative Man of Malgudi). Sometimes when you’re sleep deprived, you’ve got the ability to sleep for hours and hours, sometimes you just wake up to eat, and then sleep until you wake up and realize a day, or two days have passed without passing. The only time I talked to when I was home was when I was school, and then there were those high-class schools with the children behaving as if they were the princes and princesses, that habit had also disappeared.

It was on a school trip to Manali in the first year of my college that I saw her, my would-be wife. She was actually from the same college as mine; studying engineering, but I never encountered her before. We were out to watch sunset. I was standing watching hopelessly, but the sun didn’t seem to go to rest that day. I lowered my head, tried to justify my image (of the Talkative Man) by trying to talk to someone, but everyone had their eyes glued, and out great guide was yelling continuously to keep watching, else you might miss. I didn’t care for it now. Suddenly I saw a face that seemed to me the most beautiful sight I could ever see. She was watching something in wonder, marveling over the beauty, and there was a certain glow over her face. She somehow noticed me, and signaled towards the sky moving her brows, which made cute little wrinkles appear on her forehead, and then started looking at the sunset again. I thought why I should look out for a diamond, when I’ve seen Kohinoor itself. She noticed it, but didn’t react again then.

Later, in the bus, I sat next to her, she wasn’t difficult to talk, and that started it. That started my life again. It started slowly and steadily, she liked me, I liked her. No drama at all. By the time we were in fourth year, I proposed her for marriage. It was 2004 now. I knew I wouldn’t get a fine enough job. And that was exactly what I had wanted. I wanted to earn for living, not live for earning. She said, what I expected, yes. By now she knew about my life, so I understood she wouldn’t blame me if I didn’t let her work, or didn’t have a good enough home.

The same year, after I got results, I got a decent job. An Rs15, 000 job wasn’t bad considering what plans I had. I was getting married in a few months. I told my parents, they said they can’t come, they’re busy. They’d by now got bungalows at different places, so as to do whatever they wished for, and had quit their respective jobs. I almost said thanks when they said they aren’t coming. But they still came, both separately, meeting as if strangers, but somewhere within me, a sense of completion came, and they too had some real smiles after a long time, as I could see. It was a beautiful thought to just be there, with my family. My would-be didn’t have any of her relatives, except for one, who wasn’t in India, and couldn’t come. So it was pretty small affair with only a few close friends. That irked my parents somewhat, but not when they went. After that, I realized they weren’t really happy, and also, they won’t leave this fake life they had for anything.

I had taken a small two-room home on rent. It was enough, more than enough. We shifted there after marriage. As the law of progression goes, I got various promotions. In two years, I had the money to move to a better house, but it would only be a house, not a home.

One day, I got an offer from another company, which offered me a place to stay too. I cursed my hard work then, I’d displayed I was an asset while I shouldn’t have. She felt suffocated or what, but she asked me if she could ask for one thing from him. I said yes, could have done anything for her. She asked if he could accept that, and told me to believe her, to trust her. I couldn’t deny. I thought history repeats itself isn’t really true. I thought, on the other hand though, I could always believe her, but not myself, my genes. Still, I had to give it up. But I didn’t accept the other offer; I just chose myself a bigger home, but again with just two rooms. She complemented me for being a genius.

A year later, it again started, she felt suffocated in the house, and I could afford better, I was getting better as soon as I got myself promoted. I did, we shifted. The same thing almost started. Separate rooms were the worst thing, but thankfully, she didn’t force for that. It was going all fine. One day, when I came back, I heard some male voice inside my house. All those extra-marital affairs, all those images of my house came back. I tried hard to stop, but I banged open the door, and slapped her. I don’t know why I did it. I then came back to my room, and banged the door again. I heard her crying.

She’s gone now, she left me, informed me it was her brother, who’d been out of India for long, and came just a day back. And she added she’s afraid of me, she’s going.

I wanted to tell her a lot of things, but I thought it might be good for her to just leave. My phobia of larger spaces would haunt me forever.

Ting Tong (Bell)

It’s her, she is back.

“Sorry to panic, I should understand you. Forgive me.”

I was on the brink of tears, but I was under the spell of those times where my tears went dry and nobody came to my aid. I didn’t cry immediately. But her hug made me cry as much as I wanted.

“I am Sorry” was all that I could say.

The good thing about her leaving is that I am now no more afraid of anything.

We’re moving to a bungalow soon, our child (my wife is expecting) needs space to play, but we’ll never let those spaces enter our lives, and its life too. Two days back I got a mail from dad saying he is sorry for himself, his wife and me. The child is so lucky, its grandparents will join soon in the same house, their lust for money is vanished as they’ve realized by moving towards some things in life, they’d almost forgot how to live.

While sitting in a Kashmere Gate – Noida Sector 22 bus, I noticed one person in the last half an hour of my ride. He was constantly looking at one picture of a girl in his mobile phone. He was looking into it from different views, and zooming into different parts, and to his credit, he never went beyond the face.

 

For 25 minutes, he kept observing the 4 pictures he had in his phone of that girl from different angles. He seemed to be so into the picture that he was unaware of a few people staring at him, including me, and it seemed he didn’t care either. I developed a thought in my mind how much he loves that girl that he is so lost in her pictures.

 

For the most part of 25 minutes, I was looking in his direction, while the most romantic songs, mixed with a few sad songs were constantly being played in my ears courtesy mobile mp3s, and my choice of songs. They added a background effect to that man’s love story, if there was any.

 

After the end of those 25 minutes, he closed the picture, and put his phone in his pocket, and observed people around if anyone was looking. I just for a moment turned my head the other side, as if to tell him I didn’t see anything. But I managed to see a small tear twinkling in his left eye. I was thinking here’s another Devdas, and started feeling pity, and sorry for him, and for the girl who couldn’t get such boy who loved her so much.

 

The next 5 minutes or so made me feel how soon we form an opinion of something, and how quickly we change it, hurting our ego, but keeping all within ourselves. We shout to world when what we proclaim comes out to be truth, while if it isn’t, we don’t say anything.

 

As the Kashmere Gate appeared, the boy moved towards the back door, followed by a cry of ‘Papa’. I failed to notice a lady sitting beside him, who herself didn’t look of much age, and wasn’t the girl in the mobile phone of the boy, who was in fact a man, carrying a small child by his hand.

 

“Bastard!” was all I could think…

 

 

December 23rd, 2008. New professor, appointed only last year, spoiled all his accumulated repo. He gave a hint of a smile. Professor Shashank Sharma smiled on his way to main academics office of the CCS University, Meerut from Confidential office.

For the next 10 minutes or so, everybody from the nearby college and hostel who knew Professor Shashank Sharma was shocked. They wanted to know how it could be possible. For a year, he had not showed a glimpse of curve down his lips at all. It was as if smile evaded him. A strict lecturer he was, a tough disciplinarian, and a strong teacher. Everybody put forth their hypothesis to explain this rare phenomenon of nature.

One of the girls in the campus, who had just bent to pick her pen, took it as he appreciated what he saw. She felt embarrassed. Some of the others who saw that happen, both the events simultaneously, thought he was making a pass at her.

One of the boys, who were standing outside a classroom, punished by him, thought he was smiling at him. The smile was devilish to the core. He had lately been thinking the professor had a personal animosity with him. Add to that, his low practical scores, and frequent letters to his home. He did not know it was with everybody. Nevertheless, for the moment, he thought it was cause of him.

A clerk, who got really pissed off by his sight, as he never gave any tips. Add to that, he had reduced the possibilities of unfair means of income for him to zero. He checked whether everything was done honestly or not. The college had become very fair in his time. It was his one of the duties that he supervises the clerical works. The clerk thought he was smiling at the plight of his wife daily getting him the food, as he could no longer afford eating at the nearby dhaba.

Some of the people preparing a Christmas tree had a different view. They thought he was mocking their westernization as usual. He had always blamed youths for being westernized. He blamed them for almost everything.

Everybody had some or the other theory, until they actually saw the reason. It was his daughter, who had come to celebrate Christmas with her husband. He was not home, so she came to the campus when she realized he was heading to Teachers’ Rooms only.

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