Showing posts with label SHoRt StOry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SHoRt StOry. Show all posts

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The heaven that is Home : Blog # 233

The heaven that is Home

            It was the first time that Niranjan was going to stay away from home. He went to one of the better colleges and had landed an offer with a reputed organization. After spending about 2 months at home post his final exams, he was dying to start working. He was beginning to get bored. During the evening tea time, his mother kept on telling him how much he is going to be missed. He consoled her saying he will get back whenever he gets leave.

            When he was about to leave home, he felt different – not sad, but different. Every time he left home, he knew when he was going to be back. This time, he will need to wait till he gets leave from work and he did not really like that idea. Amidst words of concern from dad, a bit of emotion from mom and sister’s banter, he boarded the train.

            Bombay was nothing like what the films portrayed it to be. It was crowded, dirty and unusually fast. Everyone was going somewhere. Unlike his small town, no one was sitting peacefully in front of a shop or waiting for someone. People just moved and all of them had a sense of purpose about them. Company had booked a hotel for him at which he checked in. The room boy ushered him in, kept his luggage in a corner and left. Suddenly, he felt alone! He couldn’t remember a time when he was in the presence of solitude like that. Always, there were people around him – friends, family or at least acquaintances. He looked out of the window and he saw a large mountain in the back drop. He stared at it for some time and called home. Once he talked to his family, he felt better.

            It was first day at office. After the initial rounds of introductions, he went for breakfast with some colleagues. He looked at the menu. There was nothing of his liking. There wasn’t even anything which he usually has for breakfast. It reminded him of his mother who kept on calling him to come and have breakfast when he lazed around in his bed. The day went by fast. There were a couple of sessions at office and he was back at his hotel room. He was tired from the day and slept off fast. A week went by. On Saturday, he went out with colleagues and explored the city. He was beginning to like Bombay. In spite of the crowd and lack of cleanliness, the city had a spirit about itself.

Whenever he hinted at the crowded local trains or fast paced life, people who had made the city home kept on telling him “Ye Bombay hai!” (This is Bombay!). To him, it sounded more like “This is Sparta!” After the training sessions were over, the other rookies who joined with him were sent to different cities. He was to remain in the Bombay office. By now, three weeks had passed and he was missing home and family beyond words. The evenings were unbearable. He kept calling home. He hinted to his dad that he might just get a flight ticket with his first salary. His dad told him not to spend his money. If needed, he will send him the tickets. He felt happy hearing that. He told his mother not to ask him as to when will he come home. Although he told her that asking it again and again will make her sad, the truth was that it was making him sad too.

His colleagues told him that there was a long weekend coming up soon and they were planning to go home. Hearing this, Niranjan also went to his boss asking for 2 days leave so that he can club it with the long weekend and go home. His boss shot it down saying he had just joined. He went back to his apartment despondent.

Niranjan called up his dear friend, Sam. He told him about how home sick he felt. Sam told his friend that he thought he was the only one who felt so. They couldn’t believe how much they longed to go home. At home, they were always in a rush – they were either going out of home or walking in just to leave again. They wondered how little time they used to spend with their family. And now, all they wanted to do was to be at home and talk to their family.

Niranjan woke up the next day to the beep of an sms. It was from his boss. It read “Go Home!”He just got up from the bed, looked out of the window and smiled. It felt as if he were an arid land and the message, a midsummer rain.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

How Human! : Blog # 226

How Human!

Patricia and Robert were a happy couple. They were neighbors and grew up together. Both of them were adopted and may be because of that, they understood each other better. They told each other of the perennial void they felt in spite of having such loving families. They confided in each other as to how difficult it was to make those families their own in spite of the love they showered them with.

They do not remember when they met each other for the first time. All Robert remembers is that it was during a morning walk. Patricia says they had met even before during a house party at her place which Robert couldn’t recollect. It was love at first sight for Robert although Patricia took a while to take a liking towards him. But once she started liking him, in Robert’s words, “Patricia’s was a love he had never known before and he was certain he wouldn’t know ever later”.

There were times when they did not get along. But they were a couple who valued each other more than ego and false pride. Their fights were shorter than a midsummer rain. Others told them in words and through lingering eyes that they were destined to be together. The way some of their friends lived their lives reminded them that theirs was a companionship that comes along once in a long while.

Days went by and Patricia was expecting. Robert couldn’t be happier and he took time to be with his beloved. He was there with her at every stage of the most beautiful stage of her life. And the day came, when Robert became a father to Patricia’s children. They promised each other that they will bring up their little ones with so much of love and affection that they will never feel the void which they felt in their childhood. Their children, there were three of them - a girl and two boys were so adorable and well behaved. Their friends told them that they started believing in the phrase, “Children are God’s favorite angels” after seeing Robert’s and Patricia’s kids.

Patricia was in the kitchen. She heard a loud cry which she will remember with heart wrenching anguish,all her life. She rushed out of the kitchen and saw Robert and her three kids being dragged out of her home and being taken away. She ran after the van. She doesn’t remember how far she ran for her friends said they found her lying on the road, unconscious. One of her friends told her that which she did not want to hear. Her husband and kids were brutally murdered.

       Patricia and Robert are dogs, not humans. The brutality which happened to them is Yulin festival. Yulin festival is where poor, harmless, clueless dogs and cats are captured and killed in cruel ways which only humans are capable of! What an irony, isn’t it? Only we humans can inflict so much of pain and remorse and still call it a festival! 

You think only humans have emotions? You think only humans have families? How selfish! How ridiculous! How human!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Who will finish these stories? : Blog # 225

Who will finish these stories?

She was graduating that day. Her parents had flown in to be part of the function. She was the family’s first child to go to a foreign university. She wore the robe and looked at herself in the mirror,happy and proud.

They grew up together. They both went to the same school, same college and found jobs in similar firms. Tired of the routine, they decided to start something of their own. That day, they were opening a new office, the first step towards their dream of a life time.

He was thrilled. It was a special day. At work, there was a project deadline which he had to complete by end of the day. Still, he found time and bought a gift for his wife. He wanted to surprise her. It was their anniversary that day.

His daughter called up early in the morning. She said “Dad, you are going to be a grandfather. The test results just came in”. He could hear the joy in her voice. Even though she was continents away, he could see the sparkle in her eyes. He told her that he can’t wait to be with them. He went to book the tickets.

She was dearly fond of her brother. They weren’t talking for a week. It was a silly fight and now, she was missing her dear brother. She wanted to say sorry and bought his favorite chocolate at school. She thought she will give it to him in the evening.

The old uncle next door was getting increasingly lonely. After aunt passed away, he had been struggling to fill his day. He knew that he should spend more time with uncle. While leaving he told uncle that they will play chess in the evening once he is back from college.

He had dreamt of this day for years. To be a published author was his very purpose of life. Countless nights and endless hours that he spent on writing and then the struggle to find a publisher was coming to fruition that day. His book was going to be launched.

It was a hardship posting for him. When his friends and family fretted, he said that it is to serve the nation that he took up a life in the armed forces. He put his heart and soul in to the assignment that was given to him. That evening, he was to go home.

These and many such lives fail to live through their destiny. Their stories remain incomplete. The reason? Terrorism!

#Brussels #Myanmarinsurgents #Terrorism #26/11Bombay #Maoistblast #Bodhgaya #Srinagar #Mumbaitrains #Akshardam #Peshawar #Charliehebdo  #9/11USA #7thJulyUK 

Arun Babu

Monday, 19 January 2015

Gatekeepers of heaven : Blog # 204

Gatekeepers of heaven

I woke up to the usual monologues by my mother “You keep on watching this TV. What do you get out of this?” My father silently listens. He says communication is key to a successful marriage or the absence of it and laughs J.

We sat for breakfast. It was a Sunday and mother had prepared ‘Nadur Mand’. Father had one mouthful and said “Uff, how this reminds me of my village!” Mother sighed and looked at him saying “Why don’t you let it go? How many years has it been! We don’t belong there”. Dad roared in his baritone “How dare they? Who told you that we don’t belong there? Who are they to decide?” If I die, I will die in my Kashmir. We are the gatekeepers of the Heaven on Earth!

“My dear, do you remember Kashmir at all?” He asked me. How will she? She was all of 3 when we were made to leave. It is for a reason that place is called a paradise. I am not talking only about its peripheral beauty. There was a serenity about that place. You could sense the calm in the wind. It was as if even the strongest of tempest wanted to become a zephyr when it entered the land of Kashmir. All that is lost now! You can’t walk a distance without seeing a gun. Do you know what that does to a child’s psyche? The last thing it does is to make them feel safe. That much I can tell you.

“Why do you want to go back daddy? Is there anyone there whom you know? All your friends and family are here!” I told him. Oh dear, you don’t understand the pain.  I couldn’t even say good bye to my friends. One fine day, we were asked to leave. Just like that! As if we never lived there... I feel uprooted. How do I tell you the kind of void I feel? My father and mother are buried in that soil. I need to go there, I need to talk to them. I want to tell them how wrong they were when they told I couldn’t make a living out of writing. I also want to tell them how right it was on their part to reprimand me when I talked to your mother in a raised voice for the first time. How I miss their shadow in my house!

How I miss the courtyard of my house! How beautiful our garden used to be in summer. And don’t get me started with the seasons of this city! How barren this part of our country looks in comparison to where we come from.

Quite often, we had these conversations at home. Whenever there was a social gathering, my father used to talk to my uncles and his friends about his longing. A while later, I went abroad for higher education. It was then that I realized what he felt in his heart. How different it felt to be away from home! How agonizing a longing it is to return to one’s home…

I returned to work in India. My father started becoming increasingly frail. Although, his eyes were sparkling as ever and did not lose their luster. But age had begun to take its toll on him. It was a cold winter morning. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened that day’s newspaper. “Welcome Home, the Gate keepers of Heaven; Welcome Home, Kashmiri Pandits!” Just then, my mother called up. When I told her about the news, she said “Oh dear, your father has already left for heaven!”

Arun Babu

Keywords : Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandits,Exile,25 years of  Kashmiri Pandits Exile, Justice for Kashmiri Pandits,Shortstory, Indian Short story

Saturday, 3 January 2015

About Dreams and Life : Blog # 202

About Dreams and Life

On New years’ evening, a few of us friends were out to watch PK. After the movie, I was wondering what people found so great about this movie. I liked the message it conveyed but that was it. The high point of that evening was when my dear friend Ashanka told us a story. It was a very simple story yet it hit me hard! The story goes like this.

There was a landlord and a farmer. One day they were out for a walk in the fields. The landlord owned vast tracts of land. He told the farmer “Listen, I am ready to give you as much land that you can cover on your feet by evening. The only condition is that you must return to me by sunset. Hearing this, the farmer got ecstatic. He started running. He did not stop for lunch. Neither did he stop to wish his friends and family whom he met on the way. There were times when he thought he would drop dead. He still kept on running. He thought of all the fortune that he and his family is going to enjoy. It started becoming dark. He reached a point where he couldn’t run anymore. He stopped and though of returning to the landlord. He turned back. When he was about to start walking back, he saw the sun was setting. It was dusk!

I was blown away by this story! Don’t you think there is a beautiful analogy here? The farmer is us, you and me. The landlord represents people whom we hold close to us. We all have dreams to chase, we all have aspirations to realize and we are in a mad rush to make all that come true. But eventually, we have to return to our family and friends. If we don’t return; like the farmer in the story, all the efforts that we put in become half baked. We will be left with a feeling of having worked hard yet lacking contentment.

Think about this. In all probability, this is our only Life on the face of earth. The time available with us is finite. Then why do we attribute more importance to the youth phase of it? Many of us tend to ignore the twilight period of our lives. How will it feel to spend the later years of our life with memories of only the efforts that we have put in to realize our dreams? Won’t we need memories of some moments which will make us feel warm from within? Only such memories will keep us spirited and make us feel alive in those times when our social circle becomes smaller than the years left to live.

As they say, it takes a long time to grow old friends. I think all of us should strive to find some people be it friends or family with whom we can spend a soulful time with, when our bucket list becomes all checked!

Happy Newyear! 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Zubeida, Peshawar, Dec16th : Blog # 201

Zubeida, Peshawar, Dec16th

Ammi came to my room and pulled away the bed sheet from me. I wanted to sleep for some more time. When Ammi came and whispered in my ear what was for breakfast, I jumped from bed. She kissed me and laughed seeing my enthusiasm. I brushed and went to Abbu. Irfan was sitting in Abbu’s lap. Seeing me, Abbu asked both of us to get ready for school.

At the breakfast table, Ammi and Abbu were talking about a marriage to go to in the evening. I told Abbu that I do not want to go. These marriages are so boring. Abbu said “I know Abbu’s Zubi will come”. That was Abbu’s trick to get me to do something which I did not want to.  When he said that, I also never protestedJ. That was our sacred agreement. As usual, Irfan left behind one last spoon of cereal. Ammi came and fed him that. He always does that!

We were getting late. Abbu started his motorbike. I sat behind and Irfan sat in the front. Ammi wiped my face with her duppatta and I screamed “Ammi, I am not a child anymore!”. She laughed and said “Sorry daadima”. We reached a signal. Abbu asked me “Zubi, what are you going to be when you grow up?”. “Abbu, I want to be a pilot and I will fly you around the world in my plane”. I could see in the mirror that Abbu was beaming with pride. He asked Irfan “ Beta, what do you want to become?”. He said “ Abbu, I will become an officer like you”. The signal turned green. I hugged Abbu even tighter. We reached school and we got down. Abbu, “where do you want me to take you when I become a pilot?” Abbu smiled and said “Take me to the doorstep of Jannat and drop me there my dear”. I did not like that answer at all!

After the assembly, we all went to our classrooms. The first hour got over. I saw that Ammi had kept Irfan’s lunchbox in my bag. I stepped out of the classroom and went to Irfan’s class. I gave the box and was walking down to my classroom. I saw some uncles running towards me. They were in the uniform. For a minute, I thought they were Abbu’s friends. Then, one of them ran towards me and held me by my hair. What mistake did I do? I screamed out my teacher’s name. The teacher came out and they shot at my teacher using guns. I tried crying but I couldn’t and my body started shivering. I said “Sorry uncle. I won’t do it again”. I did not know what I did to make him angry. Then before I could say anything, he took out his gun and shot me.

I hope they did not do anything to my friends. I pray to God that Irfan is safe. What will my Ammi do without me? I am the one who always go for shopping with her. Who will she go with now? Who will polish Abbu’s shoes? Who will Irfan play with? How will I take Abbu on a world tour? What will happen to my dreams?
Zubeida, Peshawar,Dec16th

Anyone who has ever been with a child at least for a day would know that all a child is capable of is to Love. Have you seen a child getting scared? Their eyes go wide and they look at someone who can protect them. If you have ever been in such a position, you would give your life to protect that child. Imagine what those children would have gone through in those class rooms. Can you fathom what bottomless trench of grief the parents will be going through? How will they ever overcome the guilt of not being able to protect their children?

There are moments in eternity where the entirety of humanity weeps for the loss of its own self.  16th day of December in Peshawar, Pakistan was one such moment. We shouldn’t let it pass. Even if it suffocates ones heart and soul every time one thinks of it, one shouldn’t forget this blot on the consciousness of mankind.

Keywords: Peshawar,Pakistan,Terrorism,Children,Attack,Humanity,Tragedy,Traversity

Sunday, 10 August 2014

With Love, Noora : Blog #188

With Love, Noora

Dear John,

            I woke up to the early morning sun peeping in through the windows of our balcony. The sun shines bright and yellow these days. There are no clouds of dust which shield the golden rays. The nights are peaceful. The only sounds I hear are of the crickets and the creatures of the night.

         Loud music played on as I had breakfast. Father offered to drop me. I chose the public transport instead. Why wouldn't I? It’s so safe these days. Initially, I found the concept interesting. Remember? We never had it here earlier. The only vehicles which came close to public transport were the ones used by the embassies. Thanks to your father’s job there, we both used to frequent them.

         My kid bro is a little unhappy these days. He has to go to school every day. There aren't many vacations for him, not unplanned ones at least. I love going to college. There are new universities coming up. People are hopeful about future. At times, I listen to our discussions ranging from job prospects to developments and wonder if it’s for real. There are trees being planted on the road sides. Earlier, there were hardly any trees and now, there are glimpses of greenery here and there.

          Our relatives who had been gone for long have all come back. Now we know what it feels to be like a real family. The sense of void is no longer there. You know what I like the most? The movie theater which was closed years ago is reopened now. We get a glimpse of the world outside now. How much the world has changed! A new super market has opened in the locality recently. I never knew there are so many kinds of chocolates!

         My father has restarted his business now and mother has started teaching the kids craft again at home. Every day morning, the roads are filled with vehicles. People go to work, kids go to schools. We have our own mini rush hours. The radio gives alerts on traffic these days and not cautionary warnings. The streets are filled with honks and not sirens.

These days, Life has become what you call ‘Normal’. Now, I understand what ‘Normal’ means.

With Love,
From Palestine,

Monday, 7 July 2014

Over a Cup of Coffee : Blog # 182

Over a Cup of Coffee...

Sunny had not called a city, home for more than three years, thanks to his father’s ever transferable job. Very early in life, he learned not to get too attached to anything or anyone. Even if he did get attached, he knew how to move on soon. He knew which button to press to bring the pain of attachment to a screeching halt.

Sarah’s earliest memories are tied to the charming city that is Bombay. She was born here, went to school here and graduated from the very same city that is home to her. For her, this city is like a person with whom she has grown up with.

Sarah and Sunny met during the first day’s induction at work. Not wanting to come across as timid, Sarah extended a handshake. They had similar interests but as people, they couldn’t be more different, thanks to the circumstances they grew up in. But they grew fond of each other. Sarah found it quite materialistic of Sunny to look at Life so objectively. She thought of Life without attachments to be mere existence. Sunny told Sarah that she exerts her heart too much and at times, one should approach life with the head.

Over a tea, Sunny told Sarah how limiting attachments can get. How much a short leash they can keep a person in! Sarah said “Even the Eagle which soars high above the rest of the birds and the clouds has to come back to its nest”.

On a Sunday morning, Sarah called up Sunny to tell him that she is getting married. Sunny was happy for her. Sarah couldn’t hold back her tears when she bid adieu to Sunny and left for Bangalore. She lamented about having to leave Bombay and to go to a place full of strangers. Sunny did not understand what was there to be so emotional about and neither did Sarah expect him to understand.

Over the years, they stayed in touch in spite of their hectic schedules and respective families to take care of. It was some day in the middle of the week that his phone rang. Sunny couldn’t recognize her voice initially. Then he broke in to a broad smile and a hearty laugh. The decided to meet up at the Dorabjee’s coffee shop over the weekend.

Sarah had changed completely – to the extent that Sunny wouldn’t have recognized her on a chance meeting. Sarah got up and hugged Sunny. “Someone has put on weight and added a bit of salt and pepper too”, exclaimed Sarah. Having ordered a coffee, Sarah said “Over the past 12 years, I have lived in 5 cities! Can you believe that? At times for his job and at times for mine. Now, you are my only friend from Bombay! I must give you credit for keeping in touch. You tell, how have you been?”

“I have fallen for Bombay, Sarah. I have neighbours whom I have known from our early days in Bombay. Shopkeepers around know my preferences. My kids went to the same school that they attended primary school in. My wife and I have lived in the same apartment since marriage. Bombay is home to me! So you have finally come back to Bombay for good. Is it Sarah?”

“Not at all! I can’t stay in Bombay for more than 2 weeks now. I am on a small stopover before my husband and I move to Delhi”, said Sarah.

Sunny smiled looking at the window which over looked a busy street. On the window, was etched “Time Changes, Waves Change and So do People”

Arun Babu.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Just another day : Blog # 176

Just another day ~ Say No to Smoking

     Gaurav woke up to the blaring alarm, a sound which he has come to hate the annoyance quotient of which comes second only to the sound which the auto rickshaws make when they try to overtake a speeding bus. As usual, he went to the balcony for his morning puff. His mother who was watering the garden looked up and wished him morning.

How I wish he quit this habit! How do I tell him how worried it makes me to see him smoke? What will happen to his health?

            Wanting to not be late to office two days in a row, Gaurav got dressed and went down to see his father sitting with the newspaper. “Dad, how is the new Government coming along?” He went near his father and quickly passed a glance through the business page. “Looks like this government means business! Come, let’s have breakfast”, his father said.

He is reeking of cigarettes! Where did he pick this habit from? I should have a chat with him. But then again, what do I tell him at this age?

              Gaurav couldn’t wait to get in to his car. He waited till the car got out of their street and opened a new pack. He lit one when he reached the signal. A school bus came and stopped next to him. He reminisced about those days. What fun it was! To study was a pain but then there were no responsibilities, no targets. Life was fun.

Hey all of you come here. Look what that uncle is doing. He looks so cool with a cigarette in his hand, doesn’t he? I can’t wait to smoke! But our teachers tell us it is the bad people who smoke! Does that uncle look like a bad person? And I have seen our teacher smoking in the bathroom! So it is not that bad a thing to do after all.

            Walking in to office, Gaurav met a few friends on the way. He went to his bay and started working on the ppt. which he was to present that day to his Boss. Once the finishing touches were done, he went in to his boss’ cabin.

Guys, isn’t it Gaurav’s birthday the coming week? What do we gift him? “Let’s get him an ashtray!” Akshaya said. “Yeah right! And please be there to gift him that sun sign mug when he gets sick!” Akshaya did not expect this reply from Madhav. Realizing he came across as rude, Madhav said “I am sorry Akshaya. The thing is we take this awful habit too lightly. Somehow it has gained acceptance in our social circles. We fail to look at how grave a situation this habit can land a person in”

            The presentation went quite well and Gaurav was happy. By evening, he made plans to go out with his friends for a movie. In the break when his friends went to buy snacks, he went for a puff. They came back and the movie resumed. Someone passed on a snack which used to be his favorite. He took a bite and realized that he did not like the taste of it. He asked his friend if it has gone stale. His friend said “Not at all. In fact, it tastes great!”

           Gaurav drove back home, had one last smoke and slept off.His cellphone lit up for a second. It was a Whatsapp message which read “To Sin is human. But to make others pay for your sins is evil”.

                                                                                                            Arun Babu.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Of Tales Untold : Blog # 99

*A Short Story

Of Tales Untold

      Amit was coming home after 2 years. As much as he fell in love with the seasons of that foreign land twice over, he missed those seasons he grew up in.

            He reached home early in the morning. The breakfast along with family was blissful, the one he longed for while gulping down the toasted bread and the bottled juice. Promising his mom to be back for dinner, he called up a dear old friend and went out for lunch. It was a restaurant they frequented during their college days. The waiter came asking for starters and his friend told him “It has been a while since you bought me spring rolls” J.

            The family was having evening tea in the balcony, their favourite place in the house. Breaking in to laughter, Amit and his sister sat on the old swing at the same time else one side of it will go off balance. It was something that both of them did right from their schooldays. She said “No one else gets it right!”J. His mom told “Remember, how we used to go and buy groceries when your dad was away? And the evening walks we used to go on when you came back from college?”.Both of them smiled in fond remembrance.

            Amit’s girl friend, Ashima was performing a play in the nearby theatre. He reached there just when the show was about to begin. Calling one of the boys in the supporting cast, he sent across his wishes and a bouquet.

            The vacation got over in a blink and it was time to go. While packing his bags, his father told him “Amit, your wallet didn’t have change. I have kept some”. J

        Hearing the cab honking outside, he touched his grandmother’s feet. Cupping his face, she told him “Don’t send me money order on New year. It is not the post man whom I want to see” J     

As the cab approached the airport, his cell phone beeped. It was Ashima’s message.“The hall would have looked empty, had you not come.” J
                                                                                                 Arun Babu.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

For my Love... : Blog # 24

For my Love...

            Manu was sitting on the windowsill of the french window, his favorite place in the home. Outside, he saw a cycle vendor selling cotton chocolates. It always reminds him of his vacations at his ancestral home. He couldn’t wait to meet his Grandmother after exams. He used to pester his mother to take him there. But as he grew older, his visits became less often. He always talked to his Grandma over the phone but then got too busy with his friends to go and meet her. 

            Whenever his mother called him, he made some excuse or the other. It has been over 3 years now since his last visit. For two years, he was tied up with college and a year before that, he was busy with the preparation. ”Manu, I do not want to hear anything. You are going to meet your Grandmother this weekend” said his father without giving him a hearing. When his father was gone, Manu told “Ma, tell dad this is not his college and neither am I his student”. If you want to tell anything, you tell him directly, told his mother. “If I had the courage, will I ask you?” Manu’s mother laughed.

            The road was flanked by lush green paddy fields on either side. He stopped the car near the village pond and dipped his feet. The water was just as cold as it used to be. The lone rock in the middle where Kingfishers wait for their prey was still there. Nothing has changed here.

            Manu honked at the gate. Kaka came and opened the door. With his usual grin, he said “Memsaab will be really happy. You have not come here in a long time”. His grandmother came out to the sit out adjusting her spectacles. “Nannyyyy....” called out Manu. Don’t talk to me. Do you remember when you came here last time? But all it took was a hug for Nanny to forgive. Nanny had a visitor – a middle aged lady. She was leaving as Manu came in. “Who is she Nanny”, asked Manu. “She is the leader of a self help group here. She wanted some advice on certain things.” Ask Kaka to get your luggage. I have made your favourite sweet. Let’s have lunch.

            “Have some more rice. See how thin you have become. Do you remember? You used to ask me to prepare this sweet every day.”  “And we used to lie to mom that I am not having too much of sweet” added Manu laughing along with Nanny.

            Nanny served sweet in the living room and switched on the TV. Manu jumped on to the remote. Tuning in to MTV, he lied down with head resting on Nanny’s lap.”Nanny, why don’t you come and stay with us ?”. “In the city ? Then who will look after the things here?”, she asked.

            Manu woke up to Nanny’s call. He did not realize when he had slipped in to a slumber. “Here, have this tea and let’s go for a walk.” They went to a nearby temple where Manu used to visit when he was a child. The priest smiled at Nanny and said “This must be your Manu. Your nanny comes here only for you.”

            On the way back, they met Nanny’s friend. Manu remembers her face but couldn’t recollect her name. “Manu, when did you come?”. He came today morning, answered Nanny. “I never thought Aiswarya will do like this”. “Is it? what happened?”. It took a while for Manu to understand they were talking about a TV serial and also that he switched to MTV when Nanny was going to watch her daily serial.

            When they were about to enter home, someone called out from the gate. It was Shrikala aunty, nanny’s old colleague. “Why didn’t you come for the pension meeting?”. Manu came today. So I thought will collect the pension next week. “You know Manu, when you were in school, your Nanny used to mark days in calendar for your vacation”. Nanny smiled lovingly at Manu.

            Manu woke up late. Kaaka came with tea. “Please visit your Nanny once in a while. She spends time looking at your old photos.” Manu got dressed and hugged good bye to Nanny. “Come by more often. I always miss you here”. “Sure Nanny, I did not know you were so busy here. Still you always find time for me” said Manu. Nanny smiled and said “ Anything for you my Love”. Manu gave a hearty hug to Nanny and got in to the car.

            He stopped at the pond. He sat on the pavement with his legs touching the water. He took out the cell and kept a reminder for the second Saturday of every month: “For my Love”.
                                                                                                Arun Babu

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Good day! : Blog # 22

A Good day!

* A short story

Gaurav returned from the matinee movie show. It was nothing different from a usual light hearted bollywood movie, but had a feel good factor to it. It was his routine - a movie on Sunday evening with friends. But every time he returned from the movie, it reminded him of having to go for work next morning. According to him, whoever said “Pick something you love to do and you will never feel like you are working” has never worked in their life. He slept off reading ‘The Namesake’, a book recommended by his girlfriend Priya.
After the morning cup of tea, he rushed to the station picking up the day’s paper on the way. By now, the ‘paper wala’ knows his preference and sets it aside so as to waste not even a second. The station was not crowded by Bombay standards. Although back home, it will take the whole of his village to crowd the platforms as much. Braving an uncle and his gang of friends, he managed to hop on to the second door of the first class compartment of his usual 8:40 local.

Shekhar was waiting for him. “Hey check out this new song.” Shekhar is as crazy for music as Gaurav is of books. That’s why ‘Landmark’ eats up a large chunk of both their salary. He tried to talk about the Teach India initiative launched by a leading daily. But Shekhar never cared of any such things. It was a very novel idea which implored the youth to take up teaching for the under privileged. He wanted to be associated with this cause. But when he enquired, it became clear that it will clash with his weekend movies and workout sessions. He couldn’t cancel any of them.

Priya boarded after 15 minutes. He always wonders how she stays as beautiful and perfect in spite of the crowd at the station. He loses all the freshness the moment he sets foot in the station. As usual, she was all smiles and cheer. She is the one who makes his days come alive, today and every day. The train started moving and she said “Gaurav, Listen Listen”. She gave one end of the headphone to him. It was the song of the first film they went together. It brought a smile on his face.

The TTE came in at Kurla station. Gaurav has no respect for people who travel without ticket. How rich will a person get out of saving a ticket’s worth! It is not just about money. It is about principles. The TTE asked him for ticket. He took out his wallet and showed. His is a season ticket. TTE stared at him. “Your ticket is invalid. The last date was yesterday.” The passengers started staring at him. “Sir, here is the ticket”, said Shekhar. “I knew you will forget! I reminded you after the movie also yesterday. Thank me at the Mc Donald’s today evening!” He let out a sigh of relief. Before he could say anything, Priya took over “Ohhhh that’s so sweet of you Shekhar”. Shekhar was always like this. In his own words, “A Just In Time friend.” 

He did not speak much that day although Priya and Shekhar were busy with their office politics. Yes, they both were colleagues. All of them got down at VT station (CST these days, but he liked to call it VT just like he called the city Bombay and not Mumbai). 

Was he a little late to reach office? No, it’s still 10 minutes to 9. But everyone has already reached and has started working. He looked at the corner cabin. The boss is IN. That’s why the silence. Uma is his cubicle mate in office. They are good friends so far, thanks to not being allotted the same project yet. He has heard she is a bit tough to work with. But as far as he knows, she is a good friend. After the routine work, he was about to do some prep for the upcoming project. He badly wanted to be associated with that project. It is then that Uma called, “Motu….”. That meant she has brought something from home. He turned 180 degrees, all smiles and asked “What have u brought today?” “Roshgullaaa” Uma declared in her unadulterated Bengali. Those were his favorite. He couldn’t thank Uma enough.

It was then that Boss called him to the cabin. It was a monologue like always. “Gaurav, I came to know that you are interested in the upcoming project. I have been hearing some good things about you from your peers. You will be working with Mr.Swaminathan’s team for the new project. Keep up the good work. That will be all”.  Gaurav had a wide grin on his face.

After office, he headed to McD for the treat he promised to Shekhar. As he was beginning to dip the French fries in the sauce, he heard “Pandu!!” Secretly wishing Shekhar and Priya didn’t hear that name, he turned and saw Ani, his college friend. They were roommates in UG hostel. Both of them hugged each other. It had been a long time. He was extremely happy to have met Ani. He asked Ani to join at their table. They caught up on the good old days. They cracked up over college jokes, some he wished Shekhar and especially Priya did not hear.

All three of them got in to their usual 7.45 local from the last platform. Meeting up old friends is always fun. Isn’t it? Gaurav asked. “Yes Pandu!!!” Priya and Shekhar said in chorus. He couldn’t hide his smile.

The train started moving and someone played an old song which made Gaurav nostalgic. He held Priya’s hands. “So Mr.Pandu, did you send the money order for your secret good – hearted work?” Asked Priya. It was then that Gaurav realized he forgot to send the money for Diya’s tuition, a girl whose education he was sponsoring. “How did you come to know about that, Priya?” “Hello, thank me first. Saw the post it on your table yesterday before we left for the movie. So on the way, I did it and you are welcome!” chirped away Priya. “Thank you so much shona”.  “Yea, go and try the Bengali on your Uma!” Priya said playfully. Gaurav felt lucky to have Priya in his life.

Gaurav opened his door and switched on the TV. After changing in to a t shirt and shorts, he plunged in to the bean bag. There was some TV show on air and the anchor said “It is the smaller things in Life which need to be celebrated. It is the little blessings that make your life worth it. If someone made you smile today, be thankful. If someone took care of you today, be thankful. Be thankful that you had a Good day”. Gaurav could feel his smile reaching his eyes and said “I am thankful for today  :) :) ”.
                                                                                                                    Arun Babu.