Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Malnad Diary

Brahma Katae a small village in the heart of Malnad, with just about ten houses scattered around a radius of about five kilometers was truly one of the most remote places I had ever set foot on. A small house lay in the lap of dense forest and huge mountains. The house mostly surrounded by coffee plants, areca nut trees, orange trees and paddy fields was going to be my home for the next couple of days. My friend's uncle and aunt welcomed me a stranger, with enough warmth to make me feel at home within a few seconds. There was sincerity in their actions and innocence in their expressions.

I stood in front of the house with folded arms looking at the dark clouds; slight chill in the air had me rubbing my palms for warmth. A monkey screeched, the dog ran out to chase away the monkey, a bird sang at a far away distance, the areca nut tree bent but stood strong to face the wrath of the wind. The weather was magnificent, and rain could only make things better. Uncle came out; he stood there with me for a few minutes looking at the sky. A small prayer he muttered, requesting the rain God to pass away, requesting the Sun God to come out of his hiding. A loud thunder had him running towards his paddy fields cursing the weather, cursing the Gods; things could only get worse for him.

A young girl came out to greet me, looking at her a song from an old Kannada film started to play out loud in my head. I have a habit of adding own words to the original song and humming it with the original tune, and this song had a few added to it. She asked me a couple of questions, I answered them looking at her light black eyes, each time they blinked the song in my head got louder and louder.

"Malanada henna mai-chanda, aa nadae-chanda, aa nudi-chanda, mana sothu na ketae" (Rough translation: O beautiful girl of Malnad, your mesmerizing walk, your talk has stolen my heart and I seem to have walked into a mess having lost my heart to you)

A trek to a near mountain was planned the next day, excited with the idea we took off to scale unseen heights, to witness the beauty of the land, where Mother Nature seemed to have been generous with a wide variety of trees and plants. To be honest, I was excited about the chance to walk beside the Malnad girl, maybe I could talk to her, a few laughs we could share; if lucky get to know her better.

A muddy road with coffee plantations on both sides led us down to a vast area of paddy fields. Across the cut paddy fields sat the mountain 'Kal Gopura'.

Small streams we jumped, soft land of the paddy field we stepped on. The cold dew touched our feet, it brought with it a tickling sense; everything around looked spectacular, there was a smile on my face, I looked down to see my feet and the wet ground. I jumped immediately and kicked my feet in air, made sounds that could scare the monkeys from the forest; two blood sucking leaches were relishing my blood on my feet. Before I could do my dance and shout more, the Malnad girl bent down and gently pulled away the leaches, she looked at me and let out a soft laughter and all I could do was flash a stupid smile. Words failed me, her laughter echoed in my head and the stupid smile was pasted firm on my face.

Uncontrollable panting yet a strong determination to reach the top kept my friend and me going, he led the pack from the front while I hung at the back and between us, was the Malnad girl, her elder sister and our car driver.

There have been only a few moments in my short life where I have enjoyed the company of silence; standing on the top of that mountain was one such moment. Lush green forest stretched across majestic mountains and at the foot of the mountains light green paddy fields ran till the eye could see. The word beautiful fell short to describe Malnad and its people.

My friend walked up to me and asked 'so, whats your scene?'

All I did was sang my song softly.

I heard a soft laughter at the end of the song; I turned around to see nobody standing at the top other than us.

Did she hear it or was it my own head?

Still remains a mystery.

A New Direction

There is a book that I carry with me always, it is 'The Writer's Nightmare' by R.K Narayan, a collection of selected personal essays by the great author. Reading the book, I have often thought; Can I write such essays?
After a long period of thinking, I have come to the conclusion. Only way to find out, is by giving it a try. After weeks of forced break from the internet, I return to give my blog 'Voices in my Head' a new direction; Personal Essays is the future of 'Voices in my Head'.

As the author of this blog, I am excited and looking forward to writing such essays. I hope my fellow blog readers will enjoy them as much as they have enjoyed the short stories.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


His two year old son was still asleep on the tattered rug that covered the cold ground. His wife sat beside him as he washed his face near a broken water pipeline. Murgan and his family had got used to living on the pavement. The sun was yet to rise, the road was already bustling with joggers and morning walkers. With swift and a steady pace they moved. They talked, they laughed, as Murgan sat and watched them with silence as his companion.

Murgan got up to leave; he looked at his son still asleep on the pavement; he stood still for a second staring at his son. His son's face reminded him every day of the dream he came to the city a year back with. A dream to provide a better life to his family, a dream to power his son with knowledge, a dream to break away from poverty, a dream to become a taxi driver.

He hands his wife a crumpled five rupee note and few coins, and puts away a dull looking ten rupee note along with some shiny coins in his pocket. They take the place in his pocket beside his prized possession, the driver's license; he got done before leaving his village.

He walks towards his work place with the same pace as the people around him. The driving school, where he cleans the cars; the taxi stand where he washes the vehicles, were all waiting for him.

Mathre makes a final inspection of the car to make sure it is ready for the first student of the day. Mathre calls out Murgan to clean the front window once more. Murgan goes to work without a protest. Mathre is a "very good man" Murgan often tells his wife. Mathre a driving instructor at the school, frequently takes Murgan out on drives and teaches him to drive the car around the city.

"Don't tell anyone, about our drives" Mathre cautions Murgan every time.

The fear of getting fired from his job, if the authorities found out, haunts him but never stops him from teaching Murgan to drive.

"I spoke to another taxi owner. He is not coming down from five thousand" Mathre speaks looking at Murgan

"Sir, I have only two thousand eight hundred. I don't know what I will do for the rest of the money. You are my only hope sir, try and get it down sir"

"Some owners are demanding a deposit of eight and ten thousand too. I have told you before, I will try my level best to reduce it, and rest is up to Him"

"Him, no sir, it is up to Her, Lakshmi Devi, when will she look at us?" Murgan replies with a smile.

"I think there is one fellow who can help you. I not very sure, I will not make any promises to you, I will talk to him next week, let’s see"

"Sir, ready to go?" Payal asked with a smile.

She was Mathre's first student of the day. She had walked the couple hundred meters from her swanky apartment to the driving school. She looked at Murgan and gave a short smile; he washed her dad's car along with her neighbor’s cars in the apartment.

"Yes madam, please come the car is ready" Mathre called out Payal.

She climbed into the driver's seat, and started the engine, which let out a loud noise scaring away the dogs sleeping near the car. She slowly drove out the car onto the road; there was a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. She had woken up, bright and eager early in the morning for the past ten days, to fulfill her dream to learn driving, her dream to drive a car to college. Her dad had sent a signal by sending her to driving class she thought.

But he kept saying "Next year", like he had for the past couple of years.

The low hum of the ceiling fan coupled with the sounds of T.V filled up the living room. Uday sat on the floor playing with his badly damaged toy car. He made different types of sounds from his mouth, but immediately stopped when his mother gave me a warning glance. There was a knock on the door and he ran to find his father, Mathre, at the door. He jumped on him shouting

"Papa is back, papa is home"

Exhaustion filled Mathre called out for glass water. His wife had already run into the kitchen to get him one.

"Papa, remote control car" Uday pestered him

"Papa, please red color remote control car, Suraj and Ram have the same one, Papa please" he continued

"Next month" Mathre said keeping down the empty glass

"You have been saying this for the last six months" Uday softly banged his fist on his father's thigh

"How many times should I tell you not to disturb me when I am watching the news. Radha can't you take care of him" he shouted at his wife and Uday

Uday ran into the bedroom with tears in his eyes. The news channel was not tuned to, his mother serial was still playing out loud. He knew if he had stayed in the room it would just anger his dad more.

Uday bent down and reached under the shaking wooden cot. He hid the empty box of the remote control car, the box his friend had lent him for a week. A shiny red car adored the front of the box. He wiped his tears and then wiped the box with his shirt. His friend had let him drive the car once, a small round around two papaya trees. With big bright eyes and a huge smile on his face, he had run back home to tell his dad about the car and a request to buy him one.

Six months had passed, the request had now turned into a dream; a dream to own a shiny red car.

"Next month my dad will buy me the car" he kept telling his friends, he kept telling himself.

A shiny red car came to a screeching halt in front of the driving school, and out walked Payal with a box of sweets. The smile had not faded one bit from the moment her dad had gifted her keys to her new car. A sense of disbelief still surrounded her, her mobile kept buzzing; "Congratulations" kept popping on the screen, bringing more energy to the all ready bright smile.

"Sir. Sweets my new car" she extended the box of sweets to Mathre

"Oh, thanks madam and Congratulations. Remember to drive slow the first thousand kilometers, the engine has to get settled"

"Yes sir, I will keep that in my mind. You are leaving very early today?"

"Yes, it’s my son's birthday today. So I was thinking of taking him to the beach" he smiled

"I came here to thank you for your help and patience in teaching me to drive, and I think I have a small gift for your son" she walked to the back seat of her car

"No please, I have done my job. The sweets are enough"

"It’s for your son sir, you have to accept it" she forced the plastic cover into his hand

Inside the cover was a box with the words "Remote Control" on it. He smiled at her and thanked her, he thought he should say 'No' to the gift and return it back, but deep down in his heart he harbored a dream of giving his son that box one day.

They spoke for few more minutes about the car, he clutched onto the cover tighter and tighter with each passing minute. She was about to leave when she said

"I couldn't find Murgan today morning. Can you please tell him to clean my car along with dad's car from tomorrow."

"I don't think he can do that"


"He is now a taxi driver, madam"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lows to High

When I looked at it the first time, I was a little scared. My friend looked nervous too, but tried to not to show it on his face. Pale green, dried they were. Carefully one guy powered the dried leaves and rolled it into a white piece of paper.
The first puff was nothing but all smoke, then followed a series of more such puffs. My head felt light and the white sticks looked to be calling me to her.

Some months past with the smoke, then I thought. If I am smoking I might as well snort the powder. There was a conflict in my head though. A clear objection to my idea.
"I want to try everything once in life" I convinced the low voices of protest in my head.

Friday, December 4, 2009

All in a Day's Work

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 5; the fifth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

One week old in the office and I still had no idea, what the word 'work' exactly meant. Five full days had passed by sitting in front of the computer and staring at the screen. The only time I touched the mouse was when I changed the wallpaper. Calvin n Hobbs, Garfield, Football stars and Cricketing Gods had all graced my screen in the span of five days.

I attended team meetings everyday, people around me spoke of issues, schedules and strategies, but I had all my focus on Sohini. She was the most beautiful in the office, her smile, her dimples and her sparkling black eyes, they all demanded an attention of their own. The lunch hour spent with her, and it was the only thing that made me come back to office.

All team meetings took place in the conference room, with the AC switched on to full blast always, I called it the 'cold room'. One hour in the room and one can experience the Arctic region sitting in the heart of Bangalore.

I zipped up my jacket and walked into the conference room for the third meeting of the day. Entering the room I realized I should have brought with me a bottle of brandy and a muffler to survive the two hour meeting. My neighbours in office Nanditha and Kavitha sat together in the room. Kavitha's three year old kid choosing to eat his one dinner with his grand mom instead of her, still looked like a hot topic of discussion in the room. They didn't discuss much in the room, they saved the best and the rest for lunch. Lunch was their chance to exchange their household issues and then have some sympathy showered at them from the rest.

Somnath, our system admin was busy hooking up the projector. Somnath joins Rohit and me for smoke after lunch often. He is twenty four but speaks like a fifty year old most times. He never gives up on an opportunity to make a fool of himself. Rohit and I had burst into laughter, when he pulled out a condom from his purse and announced

“I am always ready and I like to play safe”

He had a line with which all his stories started with, and over the past week I had learnt that all the stories that start with “Pata hai Tuje” were a creation of his imagination which he tried to pass off as real life experience. We never called his bluff on his face, the stories were definite fakes but they were quite entertaining at the same time. Be it him stealing mangoes from his neighbour’s compound when he was seven and then jumping over a ten feet tall wall, or ending up kissing a girl on a full moon night when he was just ten. They all made us smile. He was nice guy, who just craved for attention from people around him. He pretty much had an ordinary life and a very ordinary childhood, but deep in his head he lived an extraordinary life filed with adventure, twists, beautiful girls, and people looking up to him as a hero.

The first half hour of the meeting was spent with everyone agreeing the project was behind schedule. The second half was spent discussing, why was the project behind schedule. The next forty odd minutes were spent explaining the repercussions of the behind schedule project. The last fifteen minutes was spent planning the next meeting, to come with strategies to put the project back on schedule.

It was lunch already, I had earned my salary by just nodding my head. The salary felt more like an award for surviving the meeting and the cold room.

Sohini and me walked up a couple of floors to reach the cafeteria. I wanted to take the lift, but she felt the stairs were healthy. Rohit skipped lunch to get a 'I am sorry card' to his angry girl friend. At times like these, Hallmark say sorry better than us.

We entered the cafeteria and all the guys in the cafeteria had their eyes fixed on Sohini. She stood ahead of me in the lunch queue, we didn’t speak much. She was concentrating on the dishes that were laid out on the table.

We sat at the table, opposite to each other. I was surprised to see her plate with only little food scattered around.

“Why you look surprised?” she caught me staring at her plate

“Surprised, me?”

“I am on diet, and zip your mouth. I don’t want to hear any comments.”

“I was not going to make one” I replied immediately. Girls just jump to all kinds of conclusions. Passing a nasty comment had not occurred to me at all, but now that she mentioned, it was all I could think off. It was a test in self control to stop myself from uttering out all the stupid comments that came flooding in my head. Times like this, makes me feel my brain is my only enemy.

I looked down at my plate trying to figure out the different vegetables used in the sabzi. As we ate our chapathi made out of rubber, I spoke to change the mood

“I think heroines are better at handling all the fan attention and the crazy fans.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Well, even when she was not a heroine she would have got stared at by men all the time, and have crazy guys running around her.”

She laughed out loud, and spoke

“You know what. You are actually very sweet. So you thought of it, when all the guys around were staring at me.”

“Kind of, but no, even in college everyone stared at Isha and I used to think about it.”

“Isha is your girlfriend?” she asked tearing out her chapatti like a tiger tearing out a piece meat.

“No. She is a friend. She is actually my friend’s girl friend.”

“So you never stared at Isha?”

I smiled, bent my head down to pick up a piece of pickle and replied

“Not much”

“You stare at me?” she asked with her eyes fixed on me

I smiled. I couldn’t look directly into her eyes. I turned away and replied

“Not much”

She broke into a light laughter and punched my arm softly and said


The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Waiting with a father

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation is the life line of Bangalore city. We don't have local trains nor do we have metros yet. The B.M.T.C has served the people for a long time and has taken the burden of the city's ever growing population on its shoulders.
They offer a variety of services from the clean expensive AC buses (Volvo) to the cheap crowed smelly buses. Of which the black board bus, which is a branch of the crowded smelly bus are the ones I have chosen to travel in. The other branches are the Red board and the Pushpak.

Getting hold of a monthly pass was not as easy as I thought it would be. I had to get a photo I.D card which almost looks like a pan card, with all my vital details on it.
Kempe Gowda bus stop, the main bus stop of Bangalore city, hosted the head office of B.M.T.C where the photo I.D cards were issued.

I walked up the stairs to the office on the second floor of the B.M.T.C main building. As I entered the office I came across one of the longest queue I had ever seen. It stretched from one end of the room to another diagonally, but it was not a straight line. The queue looked like a snake or the letter 'M'. I stood in the queue cursing my rotten luck and the B.M.T.C authorities. I wished if I could get such passes online, instead of wasting my time in the queue.

The snake queue moved at snail pace. People were visibly bored. Some were busy on their mobiles explaining how long the queue was, some were playing on their mobiles and some tried to read a newspaper.

One old man who looked to be in his early sixties stood in front of me, he had grey hair, his facial skin had developed wrinkles and he stood with his shoulders bent. He was trying to figure out the various options on his, what looked like a new mobile phone. He kept pressing the menu button and then the back button; he clearly had no clue as to how the mobile worked. He gently turned back and gave me a warm smile. I smiled back with the thoughts of helping the old man with his mobile bouncing around in my head. It took me almost ten minutes to decide to plunge into the cause of helping the old man with his mobile.
"Hello, my name is Nikhil. Do you need any help with the mobile?" I asked
"That's very kind of you, young man. I am as confused as a kid in a mathematics class" he replied with a chuckle and handed me over his mobile

I took hold of the mobile and navigated through it with the confidence and speed of a race car driver in a track. I started explaining, how he could send instant messages to anyone in any part of the world, with his mobile. He was visibly surprised by a simple feature of the mobile. He listened to every piece of information I gave with child like innocence and student like concentration, and quickly jotted down the steps to send a sms, in his hand book.
"Are you ready to send a sms" I asked
He nodded his head and replied
"I want to send a sms to my son who is in The States"
He typed out a small message with his shivering hands and pressed the send button with all the might he had.
I smiled and said
"Uncle you don't have to press the button that hard"
With wet eyes and a soft smile he replied
"I was hoping if I pressed hard it would reach him faster"
I just didn't know what to say to that, I quickly managed to change the topic
"Uncle, I like your number it ends with 007, quite fancy"
"Oh, James Bond, never thought about that, it's nice, have you seen Dr No?"
"Dr No, is it a Bond movie?"
"The first Bond movie kid, Sean Connery an excellent actor, wonderful movie, you must watch"
"Oh, I know Sean Connery, he was in 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', he is good, but I think Pierce Brosnan was the best Bond"
He looked at me smiled and said
"How can you call him the best without having seen the best"
I stood silent for a second, and then we both broke into light laugh.

He looked ahead at the people standing in the queue and said
"This queue is surly going to take a hit at my one o'clock lunch"
"Your wife must be waiting for you at home" I added with a smile
"She is waiting up there for me" he pointed at the heavens up above
"Oh, I am so sorry..."
He cut me
"Don't be, she lead a very beautiful life" he smiled
I nodded my head in understanding and smiled back
"The only thing that's waiting for me back home is my T.V" he added with a chuckle

We stood quite in the queue for few more minutes, and then he spoke
"I like to travel in the bus, the variety of people you get to meet and observe are beyond one's imagination."
I nodded, but I had not yet experienced the bus enough to agree or disagree with him.

We were almost near the I.D card booth when he said
"I like emails and now this instant messaging service, some say they are impersonal, but it's nice they reach faster than the letter."
He continued
"Why are you smiling, is it because I am the first old man you have met to have said this. Letters are fine but now we have to change with the changing world."

He reached into his walled and pulled out a worn out piece of paper, and handed it to me. It was an old letter, dated 26 April 1986, exactly two days before I was born. He took the letter from my hand and said
"This is the first letter my son sent from the States, he is now settled there with two kids, they email me, I have never met them, but they have promised to visit next year."
I looked at him, with the fact that this old man has been living in the city alone with his only kid thousands of miles away, just settling in.
He looked down at the letter and said
"The only thing emails don't give is the feel. I can still feel my son's touch in this letter"
Silence took over my words, but luckily for me we had reached the end of the queue. We parted ways with a short good bye, as he moved towards the senior citizen's booth.
The letter still remained in my head.
One small paragraph that I noticed in the letter played continuously in my head.

"My studies are going........................
......................................Appa, I miss you a lot, can't wait to come back home.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The below story was selected as one of BlogAdda's Tangy Tuesday pick. Recognition in any form feels great, and this one along with the fellow blogger's comments has been the sweetest of them all.

Lying on the hospital bed, he looked at his injured leg. It had been ten days but a hint of pain still lingered.
He looked around the room, that was filled with low vibrating noise coming from an old air cooler. There was a plastic cover with fruits in it, some tablets and bottles lay scattered on the side table near his bed. The room looked clean, he was quite happy with the job the hospital maid did every morning.
He let his head fall back on the pillow. All his thoughts were with his pregnant wife going through labor at that very moment, in the same hospital. There was small a prayer in his heart to Goddess Laxmi, asking her for blessings of wealth and health to his family.
The door opened and in came his mother and the nurse. The nurse held a needle, he had always been afraid of the needles. His mother sensing his fear still alive, walked to his side and held his hand like she had for the last thirty years. He felt safe each time she held his hand. There was certain warmth to it, and a reassurance of support for a lifetime.
The nurse smiled and rubbed his arm with cotton, after the injection. Over the past ten days, he wondered how he could thank the nurse for all the care, all the affection she had showered him. The nurse walked out, telling his mom, she could give him lunch.
His mother ran out of the room and came back with his younger sister holding a lunch box. His sister walked up to him, and rubbed his forehead. She tried to fix his messy hair with her hand, but felt it was not enough. She pulled out a comb from the drawer and spent the next fifteen minutes, making him look handsome. He enjoyed his sister's attention, he could never think of a world without her.
His mother helped him get up and sit back on the bed. She opened the lunch box. There was a smile on his face, when he saw some of his favorite dishes filled up the lunch box. His sister had toiled in the kitchen to prepare all his favorites.
His pregnant wife had cooked all his favorites for the past nine days, and his sister had taken over the morning his wife went into labor.
His mother fed him small pieces of chapatti. His sister filled a glass with fruit juice for him.
Both his sister's and his mother's tired eyes had affection in them for him and kindness in their touch.
From birth to the present day, his mother had been taking care of all his needs, his demands, and not a day could he remember, when he felt not cared for or ignored.
The nurse came running in and his face immediately was filled with dejection and sadness, when she said

"Your wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Congratulations!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Living Dead

The plan was drawn, the task was explained. Ten years of training would be put to test in the next few days. They were the chosen ones for the holy task. Twenty years of their existence in this world and all they had gathered was hatred. All they listened to was hatred. Sixty years had passed and they still carried the wounds. The pain, the hate was passed down generation to generation. The pain the hate recruited chosen ones all over the world. Young men surrendered their heart. Little did they know, they had surrendered their brains too.

The young men walked out of the makeshift base camp near the border, to the training area. Guns of different caliber waited to be picked up from the table. The cold hands picked up the metal. Guns were not new to them, they grew up playing with them, they grew up sleeping with it. Special guns , hand grenades were imported from the West and Europe, their biggest enemies. Money the paper creation, had given birth to traitors all over the West and Europe.

One last prayer was said before they left. The destroyers prayed to the Creator, to help them destroy His creations. They climbed onto a boat and took off with just the words of their leader in their minds. Thousands of miles of journey was covered without a single thought, without getting caught. Thousands of paper pieces had again given birth to traitors in the foreign land they entered into.

The young men climbed off the boat and walked out of the harbor into the main road. They looked around the foreign land, they looked at the people around. The people wore the same clothes they wore, they looked the same color, they looked the same type, but the young men were taught to find differences in these similar kind of people. The young men stopped a taxi and took it to their planned destination. The driver smiled at them and spoke a few words with his passengers. The young men understood the language, it was no different from their own, but they never smiled back at the driver. On reaching the destination, the young men walked away from the taxi, telling the driver to keep the change. The driver, drove away in his taxi excited to have received extra money, he drove to the nearest toy store to buy his five year old a doll for her birthday the next day. But little did he know of the return gift the young men and left behind in the taxi.

The young men walked into a railway station. The security was relishing a cup of tea, his uniform had got him for free from a small child selling tea on the platform. The young men stood in the platform waiting for the right moment. There was no doubt in their mind, there was no thought in their mind, their minds were filled with voices, commands, hate of their leaders who now sat thousands of miles away, with their television sets switched on.

A five year old stood smiling with her mother, she was excited about her birthday the next day. She stood with the thousand others who waited for the train along with the young men. Nobody noticed the young men, nobody saw anything different in them, they looked like their very own.

A button was pressed and in an instant the platform turned into a graveyard.

The whole world watched the scene on their television screen. The rulers announced compensation in terms of lifeless paper pieces. The protectors carried away the blood stained body, they were recruited to protect. The country changed the channel, worried if they had missed any important scenes of their daily television serial. The leaders hiding thousands of miles away, celebrated the bravery of the young men and thanked the Creator for answering their prayers.
While the people who had lost their dear ones, stood on the blood stained railway platform asking the Creator, the rulers, the protectors, when will all this end?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Evening Breeze

The below post titled 'Evening Breeze' is a small glimpse at the bigger things that I am planning and hoping to paint. Please do give it a read and let me know of your honest opinions.

The bus stop looked surprisingly empty compared to the morning madness that had engulfed the place. The conductors and drivers looked tired but not frustrated like they were in the morning bus. Everyone waited for the bus, but there was a lazy stride in everyone’s walk. The benches on the platforms were occupied to capacity. Boys selling variety of masala nuts and Kannada evening news daily seemed to be making brisk business.

The evening news daily fascinates me; it carries the news and events of the present day, while the morning news paper carries the news and events of the day past. I have always wondered which would be better choice of getting the news.
Newspapers over the past years have gained a lot of my respect. Even with Television taking up the main role and news channels evolving every day. Newspapers still find a place in homes. A fascination we have with words and sentences was definitely built on strong foundation.
One of the kids walked up to me asked if I wanted to buy a newspaper. I looked at the newspaper in his hand ‘This Evening’ was the name of the paper in Kannada. The headlines shouted out the political instability in the state. I waved ‘No’ at him. Politics has never quite interested me. The whole system of appointing able citizens to govern the land has gone on to read appointing leaders to rule over us.

A bus slowly started approaching the platform. Sighting the bus meters away I started to make my move and swiftly walked towards the likely position the bus would stop.
My early sighting of the bus seemed to have yielded fine result when I scored a window seat. The bus quickly filled up. There was enough space for everyone. The people standing also had the luxury to change positions if they wished. It looked like paradise compared to the morning bus.

The bus slowly moved out of the bus stand and entered the road. The bus even though looks dull with its faded blue colour yet there is something majestic about the machine. Sitting in the seat and looking down at all the vehicles was a completely new experience to me, there was a certain amount of joy to it as well.

The conductor looked to be having it easy. He had change for every hundred rupee note that made an appearance in the bus. There was no smile on his face but there were no frowns either. After making sure everyone had a ticket or a pass he walked towards the driver’s seat and stood there chatting with the driver. Their conversation mainly focused on a fellow conductor, a colleague.
The work place of the driver and conductor was so very different from my cubicle and the AC rooms, but we did share one common interest; bitching about a fellow colleague.

The bus moved slowly thanks to the thousands of vehicles that were heading back home. Every signal that we had passed looked to have considerable amount of traffic jam. I looked around the bus to see everyone busy lost in their own thoughts. A mobile phone played a radio station, loud enough to be heard in the entire bus. The noise from the vehicles outside tried to fight it out with the sounds from the radio, but music seemed to prevail over the noise in some parts of the bus.
The music comprised of Kannada and Hindi to please everyone. The RJ seemed to have same enthusiasm she did in the morning show. She read out requests and dedications for a song, sent to her from all over the city.
A song describing a girl’s beautiful smile, her eyes, had me thinking of Sohini again. How I wished if she would talk to me again. Her name brought a smile on my face, and my mind could do nothing but picture her beautiful smile.
I was rudely brought back by the next song which talked of the loneliness of a heart broken guy. I turned to look out of the window, trying to block myself from the song.

November had just begun and winter had started to rise. There was a cold breeze that made me pull my jacket closer to the body. It was a cloudy evening, but I couldn't much see the sky in the dark. Light orange street lights lit up the road. An orange glow covered the air near the lights and few insects flew near them mesmerised by the light.
The bus happened to come across an empty road and started to accelerate to speeds of thirty and forty. Bikes zipped past the bus and were lost from sight within seconds. The driver tried to pick up more speed, but the engine revolted back with warning noises.

It came to a screeching halt to a red signal that ordered the vehicles to stop. A countdown board near the signal lights told us exactly how many seconds were left for the light to turn green. Hundred seconds left, the vehicles stood quite, thirty seconds left, the life was back. Bikes, cars accelerated, engines roared ready to unleash the fury.
Ten seconds left, honking from all the vehicles took over the roar from the engines. As the countdown moved towards zero, the honking amplified. Zero and green, the vehicles zoomed away and raced each other on the empty road. The bus slowly accelerated, before it could pick up speed, it came to a stop at a bus stand.

A young couple got onto the bus at the stop. The girl was lucky to get a seat in the front section of the bus, while the boy didn’t have the same luck. He stood holding onto the handle of the bus.
His eyes looked to be fixed on the girl and didn’t for a minute look around. The girl often turned back to smile at him, and communicated with him using her hand. His smile looked to tear open his cheeks, each time the girl turned to look at him.
At the next stop, the woman sitting next to the girl got down and the boy immediately jumped to the empty seat. They both seemed to smile at each other again and the boy quietly put his arm around her shoulder. They spoke softly and the girl broke into light laughter every time the boy said something. After a round of laughter and smile, she softly laid her head on the boy’s shoulder and he affectionately bent his head and touched her head with his. The cold breeze, the music in the bus and a partly filled bus, everything looked to be perfect for the young couple.

A middle aged woman stepped into the bus in the next stop. There looked to be no vacant seat for her and being a little on the heavier side, she certainly was in no mood to stand in the bus. She glanced around and spotted the young couple.
She clearly didn’t agree with the boy occupying the ladies seat, and ordered him to vacate the seat specially reserved for ladies. He had no case to argue and knew very well even if he did, it would only make things worse. He got up from the seat reluctantly and walked back to his old position with a dejected face. He stood holding onto a handle with a gloomy expression, but the smile was instantly back when the girl turned at him and started with her hand gestures again. I looked away with a slight smile on my face. There was a strange sense of happiness for the couple in my heart.

A young man walked into the bus in the next stop. He looked restless and kept changing his positions. His heavy sighs to the song playing from the mobile radio made me have doubts that he didn’t quite enjoy that music. My doubts were confirmed when he pulled out his mobile phone and started to play songs of his liking.
Now there were two mobile phones playing two different kinds of music.
Kannada and Hindi lyrics, drums, guitar, dhols, and flute got mixed and out came a sound that was clearly unpleasant to hear.
Nobody looked to object to the harsh sound that was forced upon us. I kept silent as well, but cursed the new arrival to the bus for bringing the music with him that spoilt the atmosphere in the bus.
He didn’t look to enjoy the music he played either. He kept jumping onto the next track and never stayed more than a minute on one song, which made it all the more frustrating for me to sit and listen to it. I got up from my seat and walked towards the rear door, there was one last stop before my stop. I stood near the door looking at the empty foot board. I felt an urge to try standing on the foot board with my head hanging out a little, but I stood near the door, still a little afraid to try the foot board.
I got down in my stop and walked away feeling quite relieved that the evening breeze was much enjoyable compared to the morning chaos.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Remember

I paced around the hospital corridor, waiting for the doctor to come out of the room.
My wife was inside the room, and I knew she was in pain.
I sat on the hospital bench in the corridor. It had been five years of our marriage and six years of knowing her. I still felt we had just met a couple of days back. Each time she smiled I felt the same excitement I had six years back and each time she walked out of a room, I turned around to catch a glimpse of her like I had six years back. Sometimes my friends ask me, if I remember the first time I saw her?

I entered a restaurant with my friends, as we walked in we were greeted to shouts of 'Happy Birthday'. It looked like some people had gathered to celebrate a fellow friend's birthday. Sanjeev my friend felt there was too much commotion inside and thought it would be a good idea to eat someplace else. We had almost agreed with him and had turned to walk away, when a girl from the birthday party came running up to us requesting one of us to click a snap for her. I volunteered and walked with her to take a snap for her. I took the camera and looked through the lens to see her standing in the middle of the crowd. She had some cake pasted on her nose and cheeks and she stood there smiling like a school girl. I took the snap but stood there for a few seconds mesmerized by her smile. She laughed and hugged her friends. I walked up to her and greeted her
"Happy Birthday"
"Thanks, I didn't quite catch your name" she smiled
"I was just taking a snap for your friend" I pointed at the girl who had requested me to take the picture.
"But, I am Gaurav I was here with my friends" I added.
"Pallavi" she smiled and shook my hand.
I went back to my friends after wishing her luck, and convinced Sanjeev and everyone to eat at the same restaurant. As we ate, Pallavi and me stole glances at each other, and smiled when one of us caught the other one staring.
She kept blowing away her hair that feel on her eyes, her sparkling black eyes made it very hard for me to concentrate on food or on anything my friends spoke. At the end of the dinner I had decided that I had to talk to her again. I walked up to her and requested her for a minutes time, as she walked away few feet from her friends, I asked her with a smile
"Is it okay if I call you sometime."
She was silent for a minute and then smiled back and said
"Sure, here is my number"
I checked my pocket for a piece of paper but couldn't find one. With no second thoughts I quickly took down the number on my palm.

She waved goodbye as she walked away with her friends.
I turned towards my friends and clenched my fists and punched in air signaling success. I walked up to the table and opened my fist to find the number partially erased due to the nervous sweating in my palm. With fear of losing the number I quickly made a note of it on a paper napkin.

Sunday morning seemed to be perfect to call her up. With my parents visiting a temple there looked to be no disturbance.
I dialed the number I had written down on the napkin. I immediately banged down the phone after finding it was the wrong number. I realized I had noted down the wrong number from my sweaty palm onto the napkin.
"She could not have given me the wrong number" I told myself.
I closed my eyes tried to think hard of the numbers she said, but all I could picture was her beautiful smile. With determination not to give up easily I started dialing up all kind of combination of numbers from the napkin.
From STD booths to provision stores to all the aunties and uncles picking up the phone, they all had the same to say ‘Wrong Number’. After seventy eight failed attempts, the phone finally connected to her.
I asked her
"This is Gaurav here. You remember we met at the restaurant on your birthday?"

The doctor walked up to me and said
"She has been shifted to the ward, you can see her now"
I walked into ward room, to see her lying on the bed. She smiled at me, like she had for the last six years. The nurse walked in behind me and said
"Here is your beautiful daughter sir"
She placed the baby in Pallavi's hand, as I sat beside Pallavi with my arm around her shoulder. We looked down at our daughter and couldn't control the tears. Wiping my tears and smiling I said
"She has your eyes"
She broke into a smile and replied
"We hope she doesn't grow a nose like yours"
The tears flowed as we broke into light laughter. I bent down and placed a soft kiss on my little angel's head, and then kissed my wife and said
"Look what we brought into the world"
She smiled, wiped her tears then turned to me and asked me with the same smile
"Do you remember the first time we met?"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Battlefield - 55 Fiction.

To people who are new to 55 Fiction. It is a genre of fiction writing using only 55 words. A story with only 55 words in it.

Here is my second offering in this genre titled 'Battlefield'

Hiding behind the rock all I could see was his cap. He is a human I was sure of that. He is firing at me I was aware of that.
"Why are the bullets flying?" we never asked.
My thoughts
"When will all this end...?" was abruptly halted when his bullet hit my head.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

If I were a baby again

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 4; the fourth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

They say be careful for what you wish for. For it may come true.
Nothing seemed to be going Siddharth's way till one day The Almighty decided to pay him a visit and grant him a wish. Siddharth always wondered, how it would be to go back to being a baby again, a baby with a small part of his 24 year old brain with him. Could I do things different, he asked himself. He didn't much remember anything of his baby years though.
Luckily for him today he was given a chance to go back, all he had to do was utter the magical words

'If I were a baby again'

Come on lets listen to Siddharth.

Siddharth Speaks
'Gaga gugu'
( I woke up on that fine Sunday morning to find myself in the cradle again, my fingers tightly clutching a leg of the wooden horse. The room looked empty and dull; I lay there thinking what to do next, when the baby in me let out a loud cry.
A beautiful lady came running in. Who is this beautiful lady, so gentle and caring.
'How are you my little prince?' she seemed to ask me lifting me from my cradle, with a bright smile.
'Gaga gugu' (Mom. That’s you mom. God you look so pretty.)

She took me to the living room, wooden furniture everywhere I looked, the drapes, the absence of television, they all contributed to the sweet charm that danced around the room.

'Hey Sidu. Come to papa, come, come, come... Good boy'
'Ga!' (Dad, that's you, you... you... you have so much hair.)
I had to touch it to be sure, if they were real. I grabbed at it
'No Sidy. No pulling papa's hair' dad gently pulled my arm away from his hair.
'Gaga ge' (Don't worry dad, they are not going to last for a long time, anyway.)

My elder brother ran in, he looked tiny as ever. He looked to be having problems with his homework, and urged dad to help him. Dad took me along with him to help Arjun with his homework. He put me down on the bed, beside the book. Before he could take a look at the math problem, grand mom called out.
'Subbu, come here, help me bring this box down'
Dad ran leaving Arjun in charge of me. Clearly granny ruled the house from the start. Just couldn't believe she would end up bed ridden requiring help from others to move around in her last few years.

Arjun looked to be busy with his homework; I pepped in to see the math problem.
What is 3+3 =?
"Gugegu" (Six the answer, idiot. This guy is going to grow up to clear IIT and IIM.)
"Gaa" (How? How?)

"Arjun, come for breakfast, bring Sidu along with you" mom called out

My elder brother, carefully lifted me off the bed and walked slowly, as he walked he made weird shapes with his hand, and asked me to smile. I couldn't control, the baby in me let out a smile. Seeing me smile, Arjun hugged me tight with joy, and placed a kiss on my cheeks. The 24 year old in me had tears, but the baby had more smiles for Arjun.
I just can't believe from this, we go onto to grow up, mostly fighting and shouting at each other, to even not talking to each other.

I was made to sit on the table, with mom holding me. Arjun's plate was filled with chapatti and palak. Mom brought out a spoon filled with white looking substance near my mouth.
"Gegega" (What is this? I want the palak. Give me the palak.)
"Come on Siddy, open, open" mom requested
"Gege" (You feed Arjun palak and me some white substance, no wonder I drop out, and he goes to clear IIM)
The palak conflict in my head was too much for the baby in me, and it let out a loud cry.
"What happened? Why is Siddharth crying?" granny came running in
"May be his diaper is wet" mom felt

Together they started undressing me, in front of both my brother, my father and my house maid.
I cried louder and started shouting
"HeGaGUGU" (What are you people doing, don't undress me in front of all these people. Please don't, I will be scared for life. NO NO)
They were in no mood to listen to me. I was stripped naked in the middle of the dining room. Once they opened my diaper a foul smell engulfed the room, the odor was powerful enough to send Arjun and dad run away from the dining room.
"Gege" (God that is some bad smell)
"Gaduga" (What? Is it from me. Oh, lord its from me)

After the embarrassing breakfast, granny took me out with her to get milk from the milk man. She was visibly upset to see him come late. I was not a lest bit interested, but she wanted to show me the cows.
"You have come late again, and your milk its nothing but white water" granny shouted at him
"Guhudu" (Wait a minute, this milkman looks a lot familiar. Where have I seen him)
"GAAA" (Oh my God, granny that milk man is going to grow up to become our Railway minister. Don't shout at him, don't granny.)
"Gegee)" (If not anything, we may atleast get free railway tickets. Please don't shout at him granny. Take me near him, I want to touch the future Railway Minister of India.)

She was clearly in no mood for anything I had to say, if only she could understand what I was telling her.
Two more ladies looked to enter our house with a baby with them. Granny greeted them, pinched the baby's cheeks and welcomed them in.
They put both of us in the same cradle, and stood near by talking about the milkman/ future Railway minister.
"Gygegu" (Hi! What is your name. Do you understand me?)
"Hugutu" (Of course I do, moron) the baby pinched my arm
I let out a loud cry due to the immense pain. Granny came running
"Oh, did Prachi pinch you again"
"Ga" (Is that Prachi, Prachi, who I grow up to have a hug crush on. Is it her?)
"Guhuta" (She looks cute. May be I should tell her I like her. The most she can do is pinch me, she can't complain to mom or dad)

I had made up my mind to tell Prachi, about my huge crush for her, when mom came running in

"Why is he crying still"
"May be his diaper is wet, lets check"
"GERUGE" (NO, please NO. Not in front of Prachi please. Mom please stop no.)
"GerGu" (I hate being a baby again, take me back God, please, please.)

He brought me back, exactly after they had stripped me naked. Franky the experience was a mixture of good and bad. Before I forget I have to run and give my elder brother a hug. So I am off. You guys keep wishing, for you never know, who is listening.

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