Category: Fiction


Artist

“Roshni, hurry up !” said Ramesh .”We don’t have much time.”

“Just two minutes…I am adding some finishing touches” said Roshni

Ramesh watched as Roshni picked a glitter colour spray and meticulously added specks of golden glitter colour to her work.

“Now it looks perfect 🙂 ” said Roshni with pride

“Hurry up.. it’s the Kala ghoda fest.. we can’t be late ..There will be lots of stuff there.. the people just come to click pictures and selfies.. no one notices the details like this” said Ramesh

“Still, I like it to be perfect, it’s my work” said Roshni

“Okay miss kalakaar (artist).. now let’s go” said an impatient 10 yr old Ramesh

The fest was about to start. Each tiara they sell today would fetch them 50 Rs. as against the usual price of 20 Rs. on Christmas.

Time could not be wasted. Who cared about some extra glitter on the tiaras that his 13 year old sister made…

The Dream

“I had a dream last night, like every night, the same dream… I really don’t know what to do.. what should I do?? “ – said Raghav.

Raghav was the local outlaw. Petty thief, small-time goon, occasional drunkard… overall a societial misfit. A file on him existed in the Belva police chowki. Belva –  a small town near a river was once just a small village. In the last decade, the nearby villages were added under a single administration and the village expanded to be the centre of the smallest township in the state. Agriculture was a fading occupation and small-scale industries looming with more and more villagers (now townsfolk) opening up to the idea of working in the factories set up in town. Law and order was not a big issue, except of local ruffians like Raghav which caused a menace in the locality.

Raghav was once a “tangewala” (horse-cart man) in the village. He ferried passengers for a rupee from one end of the village to another. He had taken on his father’s job at a very young age of 10, after his father died of a heat stroke during a drought 12 years back. But in the recent years, the municipality had started buses for the townsfolk and no one preferred a bumpy tangewala ride anymore. He had no other vocation and resorted to thievery to sustain himself

Raghav went to the local seer to discuss his problem. For the past 2 months he was seeing the same dream. He had met many astrologers, seers, doctors, witch-doctors, tantriks earlier hoping to get a solution to his problem. This was his last hope.

AnjuMa was a very old woman. The entire locality called her Ma, young and old alike… she was probably the oldest woman in the locality who had seen the transformation of the village to a town in the last fifty years. She went through Raghav’s kundli. She despised him like many others in the locality, but he was willing to pay a good amount to listen to his problem, and she needed the money to run the house. In the past 15 years, ill-fate had marked her too. Her husband passed away and so did her son and daughter-in-law. She was left to fend for herself and her grand-daughter. With great determination she raised her “betiyaan” who grew up to be an intelligent smart young girl. She stayed in the city hostel last few years and had come home only last week after completing her studies.

“Beta, tell me in entirety, this dream you speak of.” – she told Raghav

“Well, it always start with me waking up in the dream. I wake up in a night desert. I feel lost in the sand. I try finding my way.. and I see a fire in the dark sand-filled land. I approach towards it and I see two men near the fire. Next to them is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my life. She is unconscious and tied up. I ask the men about her and they attack me. I always defeat them in our fight. Then I untie the girl and hold her in my arms. She opens her eyes and asks me “Who are you?”. And that is when the dream ends…” – said Raghav

“Interesting.. Have you spoken to anyone else about the dream? “ – she asked

“Yes, to a lot of people. First they said the dreams will fade away, then they said I was possessed and tried treating me for same, but last month a very wise seer, I met in kumbhmela, told me that the land I wake up in is the darkness within me. The dacoits are my weaknesses and bad habits, the ones I defeat for this girl. The girl will be my one true love. Before I could ask where I will find her, he disappeared in the crowd. Since then I am searching for her. Help me AnjuMa..help me… I will give you money and also my protection. This girl will change me.. she will help me live a new life…I need to find her…” – said Raghav.

“Relax beta…let me speak now… I have seen your Kundli. Believe me in the last 75 years I have heard many such stories from young man. The old seer you met, he bluffed. He tried giving you a false hope, so that you have a purpose in life. But you failed to see that. You failed to tread on the path he intended. Your dream is not true, there is no such girl in the world. But your inner darkness that you saw as desert, your bad habits that you saw as dacoits, they are real. Defeat them first. Be a better man. Perhaps then you may also find a suitable wife and settle happily. That’s what I can surely see in the future.. if you follow my advice.” – said AnjuMa.

“You are right AnjuMa, you have opened my eyes.. I will try to do as you say. But the dream.. the girl..she was so beautiful.. so real..I really hoped she existed.. I would have left the entire world, just for her..sigh..Here is your money.. I will return to find more answers, after I am a better man…”- these were Raghav’s parting words.

—————————————————————————–

As AnjuMa closed the door on Raghav, she heard a shriek and went straight to the bedroom. “What happened betiyaan.. having nightmares again?”- she asked her grand-daughter.

Her grand-daughter replied, “ Yes Amma, same one again. I woke up in my dream to find myself in the arms of some random strange man. He was staring at me, it was a cold desert, with a fire nearby and two unconscious men. I asked him – “Who are you?” and then before he could answer I was sucked in darkness and I woke up again…just like every time ! “

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Vigilante Justice

Johnny knew what he was about to do wasn’t right. His mom would have expected better of him. He knew that “one cant take law in own hands”. Watching many movies had given him a rough idea of that. Yet the thrill was too high. Of being the hero. Of fighting the oppressor. Of being saviour of his family.

For days, for months and probably for years he had suffered. He had seen his family been tortured. Slapped, beaten, insulted and let down. Enough was enough. Ronald’s gun was all that he needed. He had not stolen it from him, just “borrowed” without him knowing. He will return it ofcourse after his mission is completed.

He held the gun in his hand and slowly snuck out of bed. With hushed footsteps he went to the living room. There he sat, the big brawny drunk man. Unkempt hair, unshaved beard, untidy clothes. He was the tyrant of this household. Tonight the tyranny will end. With a racing adrenaline Johnny stepped forward in front of him, pointing the gun at him and pulled the trigger :

“BAM BAM BAM” “BAM BAM BAM” “BAM BAM BAM” !

As little Johnny kept shooting with the toy gun, his father just frowned in a whiskey driven anger. Tonight too little Johnny will be “punished”. And so will be his mom and younger brother and sister.

Vigilante Justice never pays…

What if the roles were reversed ? RL Stevenson’s tale has two major protagonists,

1. The Hero – Dr. Jekyll – The good personality ,

2. The Villain – Mr. Hyde – The bad personality.

This classic tale portrays how Dr. Jekyll creates a potion through which his inner negative personality comes out, the Id takes over the Ego and Super-Ego.

Id is portrayed as negative, raw, villainous, angry – someone undesired in the society and tamed by society and culture by the overlaying layers of Ego and Super-Ego.

Id in its raw form is looked upon as an animal – Mr. Hyde.

What if this animal caged within the Ego and Super-Ego, had a different voice, a different story to tell. In the story , Dr. Jekyll writes a letter, discovered upon his death, telling his side of the tale.
In a different take on the same, Mr. Hyde writes his version:

—————————————————————————-

“I was always there, more vocal in our youth, before I got subdued again and again. Who am I? I am Mr. Hyde. I am the Id present in Dr. Jekyll. I always was present in Dr. Jekyll. As a young school student, I was the most vocal I could be. Most expressive. I m the summation of all emotions, in all their extremities ever experienced by Jekyll. I am also the summation of all desires ever felt, all thoughts ever occurred, all happiness, all sadness, all anger, all pleasures, all pain. I was vocal in our childhood when I cried at the slightest pain, I laughed at the slightest humour, I got excited at the slightest pleasure, I got sad at the slightest sorrow. I was expressive and free, like a bird in an open sky. In years that followed, more and more interactions occurred. With family first, then with friends, then acquaintances, then strangers, the society at large. Strangers became acquaintances, acquaintances became friends, and friends became as close as family. Jekyll had a place now, in society, in this vast jungle, he felt he belonged to a herd now, a herd of humans, civilization they called it, a society of culture, a society of rules. In it he felt new emotions, new feelings, new desires… I tried expressing them all, for that was my identity.. but he subdued me. He stopped me from expressing. If i tried to cry when in pain, he held me by my neck and throttled my voice. If I tried to express anger at being wronged, he covered me with a sheet and let me suffocate in a blind room. Even laughter was not spared, I had to measure the sound, the smile, the expression.. everything. This change in behaviour.. this separation of me from myself.. of Hyde from Jekyll.. was something I had never fathomed. I realised that Jekyll feared something. Something from the society. He perhaps feared of being judged at every action of his and therefore suppressed my actions to avoid those judgements. He feared an ouster from the herd, the herd he now belonged to, of civilized adult humans, each having his own sense of society and culture, each wanting to hide his “Id”, his inner self from the other, each having their own fears – Fear of been exploited on one’s weakness, fear of been misjudged, fear of ridicule, fear of abandonment, fear of suppression from an external world. To protect himself, he throttled me. He caged me. In a two layer cage, I remained, able to voice myself at times, but not always. At all times I was judged, by not the society, but by Jekyll, who felt it better to kill his inner self, in order to protect an outer image. When he created that potion, when he dissolved that very cage he had built, I felt free again.. Free to express myself, free to let out all the repressed emotions, feelings and desires that were subdued over the years. But they were just too many. What came out therefore was a far more undiluted expression of self, uncontrollable, un-steered and direction-less. Had I not been subdued over the years, I would have perhaps not been so angry, so much in pain. I am but just a part of Jekyll. Good or Evil, I have no stance. All I know is that I am what the Jekyll felt, what he was, but what he never expressed. Normal / Abnormal – that depends on the definition. When I was caged I was “Normal” but perceived to be Abnormal by the society that Dr. Jekyll was scrutinized to. When I was uncaged, the new man that I was, Mr. Hyde was not Normal by any means in in the society, but I as an independent man, free from my cage, free from Jekyll, and I felt normal at last. Would things been different had Jekyll not made that potion ? Perhaps…

But wouldn’t things been better, had he never caged me in the first place… I just keep wondering that over and over again….

The Pious Man

Mr. and Mrs. Srivastava always went for a morning walk at 7:30 everyday in their locality. Their walk commenced from their house crossing the street outside to the adjoining street. From that street a turn around the corner passing the local school and another turn passing the local temple. The walk ended at a park where they spent the next one hour before returning home. Ever since Mr. Srivastava had retired, this was their daily routine.

That tuesday too they were on their routine walk. While approaching the park Mr. Srivastava noticed a young lad, bare footed walking in the direction of the temple. He was dressed in a semi-formal attire, half sleeve white shirt which could be worn both for office and casual use and a black trouser with belt.

“Strange” Mr. Srivastava remarked. “What?” asked Mrs. Srivastava.

“You see that man walking towards the temple. I have seen that lad quite a few times in our previous walks, everytime he is dressed reasonably well but walks barefooted.” said Mr. Srivastava. Mrs. Srivastava just nodded in acknowledgement, “Yes, strange indeed.”

The next day again, during the walk, the young man was passing by, when Mr. and Mrs. Srivastava were entering the park. Regular faces now, he gave them a smile as a sign of greeting. Mr. Srivasatava couldn’t hold back his curiosity and asked him, “ Hello, young lad. What’s your name?”

He said his name was Ramesh. A casual conversation ensued, in which Mr. Srivasatva got to know that Ramesh was new to that locality, having arrived from his village a few days back and was presently searching for a job. Mr. Srivastava asked where he was headed to and he said he was going to the temple. As the conversation continued, Mr. Srivastava asked him why he was going bare footed.

Ramesh smiled and said that he had resolved that he would start his day by going to the temple barefooted and praying for a job as well as a  good daily wage for that day. This was his “mannat”. His day went really well and he able to make ends meet due to this, he said. Mr. and Mrs. Srivastava were moved by the young man’s firm belief in God.

“Such a pious man !” Mrs. Srivastava remarked as they saw Ramesh walk away towards the temple.

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Ramesh entered the temple. He went towards the idol and prayed to God, “Oh Lord, forgive me and bless me. Please provide a good ‘branded’ product today.” He bowed and offered Rs. 2.5 in the ‘daan-peti’.

Ramesh stepped out and saw the footwear lying outside the temple. Chappals, Sandals, Shoes.. all were there. He noticed a seemingly new pair of “Nike” sneakers. They looked expensive.
“Good Brand ! Thank you Lord !” he remarked and smiled. Silently he wore those shoes in the most casual manner and left the temple. Today too he will earn his daily bread by selling the shoes and also add some money to his savings for a change…

Damn !

 

{ An entry for Klash (klashknk.wordpress.com) }

 

The officer was pleased. Everything was in order. The troops were well-prepared. This time the dacoits can’t escape. There was no escape route. The infrastructure was in place. The wall on the east was fully constructed and guarded well. The southern forest was well-manned by commandos.  And the northern cliffs had the best sharp shooters of the army, ready for them. The dacoit’s damnation in hell was certain. “Damn them all” he said aloud. And then he realised something was wrong.

“Damn? There’s something that strikes, but I don’t seem to recollect”, he wondered.

Cadet: “Sir the dacoits are coming from the west, on boats over the river.”

Damn! They had forgotten to build a dam!

Nayan Tarse…

12:00 am – 30th January, 2010

Amit wasn’t sleepy that night. He remembered her. The clock struck 12. “Happy Birthday Riya” — he whispered in the silent air. It had been 8 months since they had a break up. He wished that he could “wish” her.  He fought that urge. Everyone was sleeping in the house. He decided to go out for a walk. Grabbing his walkman, he left his house and started walking on the empty road. He was walking towards the beach. He switched through FM channels. He hardly listened to the music. His thoughts were drifted on her. His desire to see her once again. As he tuned into the next station, a song played that matched his thoughts.

“Nayan Tarse… Nayan Tarse

Taras Na Mile… Nayan Tarse….”

He was lost in the music that synched with his thoughts. As he turned round the corner, he failed to see the blue skoda that was ramming towards him in full speed. As the song reached its end… so did Amit.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

12:00 am – 30 January, 2010

Raghav bid his friends good bye as he sat in his car. Time for a short drive before going home. His watch showed that it was 12.  “ Belated Happy Birthday Dude!!!” — he wished himself for the umpteenth time that night. He was a little drunk, guess the rum did have an effect on him. As he drove the car, he remembered how the year had passed by since his last birthday. Last year, his birthday was marked by “her” presence. But they had to break up, that was his destiny. Why was he remembering her tonight, he too had moved on like her! He had to distract his mind from her thoughts…he  switched on the radio.

Sigh!! Of all the songs the damn RJ has to play this one

“Saawan Barse .. Saawan Barse

Tapish Ki Phuhaar…Sawaan Barse”

He was lost in the music that synched with his thoughts. As he drove his Skoda towards the corner, he failed to apply the breaks and rammed on to that guy with the walkman & crashed the car ahead in the opposite wall. As the song reached its end… so did Raghav.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

“ Bisar Gaye .. Bisar Gaye .. Kitne

Bisar Gaye .. Bisar Gaye .. Kitne

Sunahre Yeh Din, Kaali Raat Mein Gaye Dhal

Raama Raama Raama Raama Re …. “

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

New Year

31st December, 1995:

Vishal saw her from a distance. She noticed his glance. The clock struck 12. He decided now is the time. Approaching her he said, "Uh…Hi…I was wondering…uhh..actually…", he pulled out a ring…"Uh…I…uhh…". She smiled, stretched her hand forward…and the conversation didn’t require words anymore.

The New Year turned someone’s deepest desire true.…

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31st December, 2009:

What a party it was!! Page 3 celebrities everywhere. The newest club in town rocked with the most happening crowd. The host was R. Mehta – the know-it-all of Bollywood. He was the link between financers and producers, between distributors and film makers…between struggling actors and directors…

"Hello Mr. Malhotra… How are you?"

"Hey RM, nice party…networking great, I see…"

"Well…all a part of work…hows your new movie cast coming up. Has your director casted the second heroine yet…?"

"Naah not yet…see if you can help him…he needs a new face…says would keep the lead actress calm…she has a problem working with most of the existing ones…"

"Aah I have just the person you need…a struggler…but immensely talented!! Hey Priyanka…meet Mr. Malhotra. Mr. Malhotra…this is Priyanka…your director would find her perfect, am sure!! Mr. Malhotra?"

"I uh…Hello!!"

And as two persons shook hands in a party on 31st December of 2009, two minds drifted back in the past remembering a forgotten love and the night of 31st December of 1995.

The Night Before Christmas…

 

In a few hours the gift sack would be ready and gift distribution would begin. But Santa had a different problem at hand. A lawyer sat in front of him. The demands were outrageous but Santa couldn’t find a way out. The tooth-fairy was the judge. Although a good friend of Santa…he agreed with the lawyer’s demands. The lawyer’s clients won. Santa sighed. He signed the contract.

Tonight…Santa pulls the sleigh while Rudolph and gang distribute the gifts and have the milk and cookies…

First Love

Year 1981

Raj boarded a bus back home… he was too depressed to walk to the station and catch the local train. Seated in the corner of the last row of seats, he tried to reframe his mind. But his thoughts drifted to the same image. Of the girl he loved his “First Love”, his only love. Sigh… today he saw her walking hand in hand with someone else. His heart ached, he heard it was her fiancé. Sigh so she was engaged, and he never knew it. All those exchange of notes, her blushing smiles, her sweet talk, the one time they had tea together.. all that was…”nothing”…sigh…!!

He tried to drift his mind…he tried to hum a song…

Teri Yaad Aa Rahi Hai, Teri Yaad Aa Rahi Hai
Yaad Aane Se, Tere Jaane Se
Jaan Jaa Rahi Hai
Yaad Aa Rahi Hai, Teri Yaad Aa Rahi Hai

He reached home. His Dad had come early at home. Raj tried to hide a tear. His Dad asked “Is anything wrong beta?”

What can he say to him? He wont understand what love means. If he comes to find out he will only scold him.

“Nothing Daddy ….err… just some exam tension.”

16 year old Rajendra M. Goyal decided to forget and move on.

Year 2005

Vicky boarded a rick back home… he was too depressed to board a bus. Seated in the corner leaning on one side of the rickshaw, he tried to reframe his mind. But his thoughts drifted to the same image. Of the girl he loved his “First Love”, his only love. Sigh… today she told him that they were “just friends”. That she loved someone else! His heart ached, on the mention of her boyfriend. Sigh so she was committed and he never knew it. All those long phone conversations, her flirtatious talks, her playful smiles, their many dates together.. all that resulted in…”nothing”…sigh…!!

He tried to drift his mind… he switched on his ipod

Judaa hoke bhi… tu mujhe mein kahin baaki hai…
Bhooloon tujhe toh…yaad teri aati hai…

Durr jitni bhi tum mujhse…. pass tere mein…
Ab toh aadat si hai mujko aise jeene mein…

He reached home. His Dad had come early at home. Vicky tried to avoid a confrontation. He was heading towards his room, but his tear became visible.

His Dad asked “Is anything wrong son?”

What can he say to him. He wont understand what love means. Why are parents always wanting to know everything?

“Nothing Daddy, its a personal problem…you wont understand.”

16yr old Vicky R. Goyal decided to forget and move on.