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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Bloated Musician!

He had just two lousy obsessions in his artistic existential being. First, he believed firmly in what he said, ‘East or the West, I am the best!’ Second, he always wanted others to talk him, hype him, move around him and worship him like an artist…nope…like the Hero!

He learned the classical method of playing his Indian instrument through a plethora of gurus so that he could finally perform on stage. With only a few stage performances he ballooned into an ill-gotten pomposity thus creating a chain of ill-fated disciples and making quite a few ill-humoured connections. Like you build your down lines!

He managed to capture several concerts outside India too through his connections that were desperate enough to help him have those in order to get rid of him permanently. Now, with his foreign trump cards he started manufacturing more hype for himself.

When performing on stage he was totally focused on the audience rather than on his music. Of course, he wanted his audience to applaud him to hail him and never get the opportunity to look askance at him all through a musical act. When he observed that his accompanying artist had earned a few claps the noble artiste never failed to give him/her a penetrating look saying, ‘Hey you! It’s my solo, right? Better mind you own business!’ 

True and sincere to his nature he was always chivalry incarnated when seeing ladies or more specifically foreign ladies around. His benevolent self never stopped him from announcing how great he was to the fairer beholders.

Once in an Indian small town concert he spotted an American lady in the auditorium lobby. Instantly in action he went up and accosted her warmly.

‘Hello, Milady! Welcome to India and to my music!’

‘Oh hi! You are performing tonight, right?’

‘Yea, yea! Thanks a lot for coming! You see, only last month I performed in your great city!’

‘Really? Was that good?’

‘The response was damn good! But there was small mishap!’ He looked listlessly around.

‘Oh? What happened?’

‘Well, I lost my brand new Mercedes Benz!’ He announced with pride leaking all through his existential being.

‘Good heavens! How was that possible?’

‘I don’t know even now! That beautiful thing just vanished from the parking lot!’

‘But you chauffeur should have been in the car, no?’ The American lady looked puzzled.

He hardly knew what a ‘chauffeur’ meant. But he stuck on to his publicity stunts.

‘You see, I just bought the car and wanted to drive it around myself considering the fact that I am damn good at that. I parked it and devoted myself to my music. After music it was gone!’

‘But of course, you claimed for insurance, right? But you come to our country only for shows, how come you buy a car there? Astounding, lost cars are always traced back quickly in the US. Very sorry to hear that.’

The great musician was getting a little worried anxious and irritated now. How he was supposed to know the car purchase procedures in the US! Expecting more salvos he frantically started looking for his next musical victim and luckily he found one. 

‘Thanks for your concern, Milady! But you must excuse me now! …See you there!’ He nearly leapt away.

The American lady shrugged off into an amused resignation, and headed towards the auditorium entrance.

Meantime, the great musician was already half way into narrating another exotically concocted anecdote of his pristine existence. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Milord O' Landlord--The Spit-Fire!

Even the closed bedroom door could not shield the shrill of the door bell. I woke up and switched on my mobile to check the time. It was very early. We had been new to the place and the visits of the usual newspaper vendor or milkman or maid or the laundry guy had not yet been formalized. Who could it be? I got up and trudged lazily to the door. Felt happy that my wife was still sleeping peacefully. I closed the bedroom door behind me, and as I did so the shrill of the door bell caught me squarely. That someone outside had to be an impatient customer.

I opened the main door and was surprised to find our landlord right in front. His short and thin figure was upright; his longish face with a hairline mustache showed unmistakable signs of agitation and his eyes, still puffy from sleep, were blazing.

“Good morning! ...” I began in the customary way.
He ignored it completely, “This has never ever happened in my house! How is this possible?”
“What happened...?”
“Just cannot imagine! Preposterous...crazy...!” He paused for effect shaking his head in all possible directions.
“Hello mister, would you please tell me whatever may have happened and, which concerns us!” I could not hide my irritation at this unexpected disturbance at the dawn of the day.
“Okay, see for yourself! Please follow me...”

I did so moving with him to the concrete passage outside running along the front side of the building. Out through the grilled entrance he stopped at the centre of passage, looked down at the ground on both sides angrily. He motioned me to do the same.

Then only I realised the cause of his agitation. There were two big sprawling red spots both sides of the concrete floor just behind the main gate. Instantly I identified these as paan spit—a rush of reddish saliva caused by chewing a heady mix of betel nut, betel leaf, lime and with or without tobacco. But why was he telling me all this? How on earth could I be held responsible?
“Oh! Someone has dirtied your compound with paan spit. Such sort of people always does it on the corridors, on the lifts...”
He cut me short, “As I told you this has never happened at my house in my memory! You came in few days back, and since then a lot of people visited this house for the odd jobs and re-dos as you ordered. You see...!”

Yes, I saw it clearly now. As he claimed this had never happened earlier and so it had to be one of those plumbers, electricians and other vendors we called in. He continued, “...Please ask them, quiz them...who must have done this obnoxious thing! Don’t spare them! I’m certain that one of your people did this!” And now, I found this term of ‘your people’ really obnoxious! Temper was slowly rising within me which I controlled...rather I had to, because we were new and this should never turn into a confrontation. As I was searching for the ideal thing to say the caretaker joined us with a bucket of water and a broom, to my escape. He looked up ruefully at me, “Finally I have to do the cleaning up...!” The landlord decided to stay on to supervise.

My wife was up and about when I entered and narrated the episode. She had a hearty laugh and welcomed the landlord’s zeal for cleanliness. I agreed. It had been a national campaign to make your surroundings spick and span. However, I couldn’t agree to the accusing tone in the landlord’s otherwise righteous agitation.

Over the next few days we did ask our normal visitors with the expectation that nobody would confess doing it even if s/he did. We also warned newcomers never to do this type of misdeeds. During this period we also noticed a significant decline in our visitors. Quite a few of them in fact didn’t turn up at all for some much needed touch-ups in the jobs they had done earlier. I was getting concerned knowing well that the family of the landlord must have been on the job too. One day our temporary maid confirmed my fears. She confided to my wife that she was quizzed by the landlord’s wife if she or any of we two had the chewing habit. I decided to have a talk with the landlord.

The agitation was longer in him that day and I was happy to see that. I came to the point straightaway.
“Look mister. It’s a very good thing that you are so concerned about cleanliness and we wholeheartedly support this. But we’re pained that you’re pointing the finger at us. Even if any of us has this habit why should you be suspicious about us? We’re responsible citizens and we’ll never litter our own surroundings. You see, the lane outside your gate is a public place and any of the passers-by could be doing this, out of habit or for mischief. And, it is not possible for you or us to monitor them throughout the day. So please don’t scare off our visitors. Few of the jobs are still half-done. You see, harassment should never be a part of any good thing you must be doing. Hope you understand!”

If he understood he didn’t show any sign. He only nodded his head several times uttering some monosyllables. I let it rest at that. If you rented a place then the landlord was your true boss, and as the saying goes the boss is always right. And, it was hardly the time to look for a new house. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Zombie Progression!

It’s no longer implausible now. It’s happening everywhere, it’s rampant everywhere and it’s not imperceptible. We need to retain some of the humanly senses to understand it and to think about why it’s being so.

They prominently exhibit brutality, but emotionless. They are like programmed entities guided by machines, gadgets and devices. They act on instant impulses taking those to the final realization. Like the professional executioners. Totally devoid of feelings, they demonstrate their skill everywhere, on the streets, in the highways, in the hotels and within four walls of the homes. They seem to indulge in human activities only, but not as humans. The emerging species of the zombies, if you take it as natural you do indeed belong to them.

The programmed beings react immediately to impulses provided in-built by a wide variety of sources. Some of them quarrel in public places; someone, still not programmed and a rarity, comes up and tries to mediate to bring peace. They disperse, but the ire of an unfulfilled impulse remains. So they waylay that unsuspecting person much later and usher in an orgy of violence and killing. All other bystanders in both instances fail to emit any kind of emotion and just watch on. A few bystanders switch on their mobile cameras and take pictures of the bloodied person lying writhing on the ground. Yes, they need those pictures for others of their ilk in all the social spaces available. Who cares a thought for saving the victim!

They drive vehicles guided by the maniacal impulse. At the slightest provocation both parties involved get ready to kill each other. Sometimes they hit someone down and run away guided by the avoid-trouble impulse. The bleeding being sees some hope as pedestrians gather around. However, they get busy with their gadgets and get busier still as the one on the ground slowly bleeds to death. No one thinks about saving a life. The thought process is irrevocably blocked for the impulse-driven entities.

Beggars and the deprived normally act as humans, because most of them do not enjoy access to those impulse providers. One of them one day loses the last ounce of her energy and falls flat on the hard concrete pavement of the busy street resigned to the inevitable end. Beings will be rushing past all around her hardly taking notice, because they are mostly guided by the work and related impulses. Even if somebody notices s/he will shrug it off with ‘what can I possibly do’ kind of programmed thought. Some award-winning photographer in search of impulsive ‘death’ takes this opportunity for a few ‘precious’ photographs. This process may very well be spread over two or three days. Finally the municipal machinery will clear away the human garbage. It does not matter at all if the municipal machinery is being operated by humans only, programmed as they are too.

Sometimes both the predator and bystander types of beings get guided by diverse impulses, the former by perpetrating-excitement impulse and the latter by watching-excitement impulse. In various cases of violent encounters and abductions mostly in public places they get abundant loads of fulfilled impulses. Who cares for the victims, right? The victims always get thrown out in death throes, pushed into the drains or hillsides or land up purely dead with their throats slit. If someone, still left with some human values, takes up the case of a victim like a brave Good Samaritan he or she would most probably end up with the same fate.

Not many of the impulse-driven activities within four walls of the homes come into the public domain. However, the media whose duty it is to report puts out the details in gory glory how the impulsive robbers not only looted the house, but killed all those of the family exhibiting extreme brutality. Who cares for the victims again! The media having done its public duty the impulsive readers get their money’s worth too.

Experts say that the brutality demonstrated in all crimes has been increasing alarmingly in India over the last few years. Their studies also reveal the utter lack of human emotions in the criminals.

So far in the endless expanse of space planet earth happens to be the only place where human beings live. The rate at which humans are losing their values and humanity the zombie progression is most likely to engulf mother earth very soon making her unable to bear the burden any longer. The Endgame, indeed? Would anybody ‘human’ be able to prevent it and make way for better times on our Planet Earth? Hope, undoubtedly, is the most positive human emotion. And the clock ticks on. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Who Goes There—Friend Or Foe?

No doubt, we’ve entered into a highly digital, automated and a rather virtual world where the inhabitants are increasingly interacting with each other without actually knowing each other in the physical sense. Transparency, the avowed goal of digitization, will indeed be achieved in a whole lot of interactions though the electronic slips generated thereof.  However, the desired transparency in terms of human relations is getting more and more shrouded in ambiguity, suspicion and blatant paranoia.

Basic definitions of a ‘friend’ are available on various dictionaries online. One says, ‘a friend is a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations’. Another says, ‘a friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard’. The common factors among various definitions are ‘affection’, ‘attachment’, ‘lack of hostility’, ‘esteem or regard’, ‘patron or promoter’ and ‘belonging to a group or nation’. Even virtual friends are also mentioned as ‘a person associated with another as a contact on social media or website’.

Likewise, basic definitions of an ‘enemy’ are also available. ‘A person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something’; ‘one that is antagonistic to another, especially, one seeking to injure, overthrow or confound an opponent’; ‘something harmful or deadly’ or ‘a military adversary’ or ‘a hostile unit or force’. So basically friend implies lack of hostility while enemy implies its overpowering presence.

The apparent clarity in the definitions is only an illusion in the modern world we live in where relationships have ceased to be unconditional or without ulterior motives. ‘Mutual affection or regard or esteem’ could now actually mean ‘mutual interest or business or greed’. With invisible or virtual friends you know only of the ‘interest’ to evolve out a friendship. However, even with visible or physical friends you know only that much revealed by them to you, the hidden or dormant feelings or stirrings or sentiments are totally lost on you. You are no longer sure if friendship really implies a lack of hostility.

Enemies are not so hard to determine as per the actions, reactions, diatribes, invective and even fisticuffs visible on both sides. However, the problem becomes really complicated when it comes to differentiate a friend from an enemy. The ‘interest’ syndrome here too goes undecipherable thanks to the various ‘conflicts’ involved in various ‘interests’. Mutual interest could soon degenerate into mutual distrust as one’s apparent interest is hereby manipulated to result into a drastic loss to the other. Hidden agenda, lobbying, selfish motives, manipulations, plain corruption and so on are factors now common to both friendship and enmity making your task all the more uphill to stick or not to stick to a ‘friend’.

Let us take few examples to explore the dilemma a bit further.
·      You start a venture with one you consider your best friend. Once the venture is successful and it pays up dividends your ‘friend’ is discovered trying to throw you out.
·      The craze for credit-grabbing for a task completed often makes enemies of friends, be it on the home front or in offices.
·      You are in a serious personal crisis. Friends abound around you giving you advice round the clock. And you understand only later that one or more of them wanted your crisis to continue or they conspired against you solving the problem.
·      Your boss seems to be a benevolent one to you by all indicators, however, the moment you walk out of his/her room something gets written on file against you, and you come to know of it when it’s already too late.
·      A friend of yours remains your ‘friend’ as long as s/he continues with his/her rants against your designated ‘enemy’; the moment the rants become praises your friend suddenly becomes your enemy.
·      Sometimes you don’t get the expected responses from friends for a good job done and you get frustrated. Let it be the virtual or the real world, here you can never be sure of anything. Maybe, your friends are acting out of plain envy and they are trying not to give you the deserving publicity or maybe their apathy is due to some other conflicting interests.
·      Although blood or family relations are excluded from the ‘friend’ list by some definitions the ambiguity of ‘friend or foe’ applies equally powerfully within modern families too.

As a way out of this dilemma you must always trust your gut feelings, and always analyze actions, reactions, comments or the lack of it or any other indicator concerning your friends and enemies together. Sometimes a veritable enemy could turn out to be your biggest benefactor. All is well as long as you are positive and hopeful. As experts advise you, give a second chance always, friend of foe. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Eternal Stalker Named Death

Late Ramen Sarma
Death strikes its victims in varying forms. Sometimes it takes one unawares. Sometimes it makes one embrace death second by second. It's not known why a particular kind of person deserves a certain kind of death. It stalks, always; be it in terms of diseases, accidents or any natural or unnatural causes.
When I lost the youngest of my beloved maternal uncles that was a kind of an experience I was desperate to share with all.
He had only minor ailments like pain in the legs, of course, apart from well-controlled diabetes and moderate blood pressure. Ramen Sarma worked as public prosecutor in the district court. He was always a cheerful person and cracked jokes or mimicked funny lines at every encounter we had. He had been my all time favorite since childhood days. He was a happy-go-lucky one. He never bothered about what to eat or what not to eat and spent more than his salary-always. He was a renowned stage actor and also acted in a few Assamese feature films. It was only much later I found out that he never had even a bank account. But Ramen mama (maternal uncle) was lovable and had a lovable family of wife, daughter and a son.
Over the years pain in his legs started causing worry—not to him, but to his family. When it became continuous and ringing and pinching he was advised to go for treatment. Under family pressure he got admitted in a reputed hospital away from his home. It was immediately found that all the arteries and blood vessels of his body from waste downwards were completely blocked. Only way was surgery. But then, they found blockage in the heart too and could not operate. Luckily, the heart blockages eased up after angioplasty and he was taken to the operating table for the second time. They cut open the less affected right leg, but even in that the doctors finally failed to operate due to the advanced state. After two months of mental torture my uncle returned home with his family, suddenly feeling lost and resigned to fate. The doctors gave some hope, maybe the treatment and the new medicines could work and he might get better.
It was only the third day after his return home. Since the previous day he was feeling a little more energetic. He was moving around, doing his errands and making tea himself. On the fateful day too he got up early, shaved and had a hearty breakfast. Then he felt stiffness in his right leg.
As the stiffness was creeping upwards he decided to inform the doctors of the hospital and called his doctor brother-in-law home. Slowly whole of his right leg became stiff and lifeless. The stalker crept on up relentlessly and his right hand too became lifeless. Whole of his right side was now paralyzed. To relieve his anxiety the relatives made him some tea and he sipped it managing with his left hand. But he knew what was happening to him and so called his elder brother who was also a doctor, "I'm paralyzed on my right side. I just wanted to inform you." Then he broke down and cried helplessly. The march of death went on. He could no longer sit properly. He had a blood vomiting and then crashed. The stalker made sure that he was still conscious and responding by opening of eyes and feeble movement of his left hand. The doctors advised a CT scan and finally he was taken to a hospital in the nearest city. Nothing could stop the stalker. He died later of a massive brain haemorrhage.

Let him be Ramen Sarma of a remote town called Nazira in Assam, a state of North Eastern India or let him be someone in the most advanced medical home of the most progressive United States; man is finally rendered helpless before this stalker. The only question is why the stalker discriminates and dishes out either painless or instant or fully conscious or cruel or horrible or protracted treatment to its never ending victims. What are the yardsticks of this discrimination, if any?

The Eternal Stalker Named Death - Bizarre Strikes

Late Anjali Barua (Biju Baideo)
She was preparing for the marriage of her youngest son to be held within a few days. That day was really hectic. She visited nearly fifty households around the city and extended personal invitations to them. She reached home just before eight in the night.

She was not at all aware that the stalker had entirely different designs ready for her. A unique plan at that.

She was a bubbly girl from childhood days and was immensely popular. She was also a talented singer. Though she did not pursue it to professional levels she never left it either-continuing to perform in private sessions and family functions. She got married to a business stalwart and immediately set about putting her new home in perfect order. Her home was always abuzz with guests and relatives from all sides and of all connections. The one storied bungalow was lovingly named 'canteen' by many due its staggering hospitality at any time of the day or night. Slowly she got into the business of her husband and showed her magic there too.

Somewhere within or outside the city a truck was being loaded with packets of incense sticks. It was to reach a destination within the city that night.

She decided to end the eventful day by visiting her ailing elder sister just one kilometre away. At that moment an old family friend turned up. Normally she would have invited him for a chat over a cup of tea. But at that moment she really wanted to see her sister and so she asked her guest to give company to her husband. She occupied the passenger seat of her car and set off just about eight-thirty in the evening.

The stalker gave the finishing touches to the proposed timing, the expected impact and other details. He sat back contented and smiling.

The two-lane city street was not known for heavy traffic and it was quiet that evening too. There was no dew or fog either in that peak-of-the-winter-season January evening.

Farther down the road the truck ignored a no-entry sign and accelerated beyond set limits.

There was a sharp bend ahead and a break in the divider for side crossing and u-turns. The car was nearing it with its driver and passenger thinking nothing much about anything in particular.

The truck driver crushed the accelerator pedal to the limit never anticipating the sharp bend in the road and if he went ahead he was bound to have plunged straight into the drainage canal. So now he crushed his brake pedal to the limit and steered to his right. The sudden impact made the wheels on his left (In India we have right hand drives) lift off ground and the truck tilted to his right. Continuing with the momentum the truck with its all four wheels in air literally flew on to his right and into the gap in the divider.

The car had just arrived there. The flying truck landed on top of the car and crushed it instantly. Thousands of awestruck pedestrians and onlookers descended on the site offering a helping hand and wanting to lynch the truck driver. As the police station was nearby a law and order situation was prevented.

Miraculously, she did not seem to have any apparent injury as she sat inside with both the doors broken and jammed; she was more concerned for the driver who was trapped hopelessly. She even started calling her husband and relatives giving details of the accident with the advisory ‘not to worry’. She was conscious when being taken out and to the hospital. The eternal stalker never erred in His plans. The head injuries and concussion proved to be fatal for her as the lovely lady lost her consciousness on way to hospital and died an hour later. The car driver remained trapped under the truck for over two hours and finally survived.

Thus ended the lovely saga of a lady named Anjali Barua. Losing a beloved cousin sister I just wondered why. There was nothing to understand or guess about it. Why was it necessary for her to die so unnecessarily, so unexpectedly, so meaninglessly? The stalker always had His ways. Anjali Barua's husband, Pabitra Jivan Barua—a pioneer of the printing industry of Assam—just sat there staring out helplessly at the devastating loss of his life partner, support and solace. Beset with his own health problems he hardly knew how to differentiate one medicine from the other and when to take what in what doses. His life partner would no longer help him sort it out.

Even if we managed to meet the stalker that would hardly help as by that time He would be on numerous other projects and one particular victim would not be remembered. Like that same night farther west in Mumbai a drunken young lady taking sips of beer while driving mowed down and killed a police sub-inspector and a biker. Ironically at that moment the sub-inspector, on a campaign against drunk driving, was testing the biker for traces of alcohol.

Ours not to reason why, ours but to wait and die. Or, maybe you are not yet in the radar of the stalker, but you do not know who are.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Eternal Stalker Named Death: More Tragic Scripts!

The way death claims its victims is as normal as it is unique. One wonders who writes the scripts for some of the victims who perish without knowing why. These scripts are always most inhumanly creative, cruel beyond imagination and most horrendously instantaneous. True, one would never know the when-how-where of one’s last earthly activity, but one has the right to know at least why there is discrimination in the scripts, and this question we had raised earlier also. Of course, the answers would never come.

The youngest member of the family had all the right to be excited at the coming event. It was too early for him to get unduly concerned about the ways of the eternal stalker named death. His earthly existence began just about six years ago, and every small or big pleasure entertained him thoroughly. And this time it was big. His father was planning to buy a car. He was doing the countdown one month in advance making or revising future plans every single day. Why him, no one in the 7-member family had any clue to the designs of the stalker.

Finally the car arrived. His father knew driving and so things were moving easily. It was decided that the maiden trip in the brand new car would be to their ancestral home in the nearby town, and all of them would travel the next day morning. His father really wanted to show his prize possession to his relatives there.

Early morning they started the journey; his parents, his grandparents and his two siblings. The air inside the car was joyful, alive, eager and talkative. For the first two hours the journey was smooth with his father driving expertly and at a moderate speed. The highway was wide, good and well-maintained that would tempt anyone to drive at breakneck speed.

A lorry was moving ahead in their lane and his father felt no hurry to overtake that. In fact the lorry was occupying almost two lanes and there was not much space on the right side for overtaking.

Suddenly a tanker with a huge capsule laden with hot molten tar honked continuously trying to overtake both the car and the lorry. Although the space on the right side was not enough the speeding tanker went on with it. In the process it hit the road divider. The severe jolt made the capsule detach from the engine and lurch forward dangerously.

Their car had no room for manoeuvring an escape, because the lorry was close in front and on the left side it was rough terrain off the highway. Within a few fearful moments the lurching capsule overturned and fell on top of their car crushing it beyond recognition. The hot bitumen started flowing out immediately and engulfed the vehicle.

Miraculously he did not get any serious injury, and managed somehow to extricate himself out of the mangled mess. He hit the windscreen feebly and cried out to the passers-by for help. However, the script was so tightly written that no rescue was possible. The spreading hot lava of bitumen muffled out his cries and engulfed his tiny body in a few seconds. Assembled pedestrians helplessly witnessed the little boy with all his dreams and innocence die an agonizingly cruel death in front of their eyes.

Another boy, hardly into his teens, too had no concerns about the stalker, and only wanted to enjoy a few more moments of life. His caring parents dropped him and picked him up from school every day without a break. That day he had his last exam paper and wanted to celebrate the end with his friends. He asked for his father’s permission to come home on his own only for that day which was granted. And he was dropped at his school as usual by his father.

The most sought-after celebration took just an hour. The happy boy then went to the local railway station to take a train home. He had his best pal with him. As they entered the station a crowded local was about to leave. His friend immediately boarded the train as it started to move. To be with his friend the boy walked briskly along to get a proper hold to board. In his effort he slipped and fell into the gap between the train and the platform. His slim little body was sucked in, cut and mangled in a few moments as if to follow the script in toto.

The eternal stalker never relents. How many more scripts are in readiness for special humans—who can tell? 

(The two articles written earlier on this theme will be published here in coming days. Both these two and the above one are based on real incidents.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Milord...O' Landlord!

The local landlord was known for his fastidiousness. Although some would like to term it eccentricity. Whatever it be he had been extremely choosy in finalizing his clients. He had several small flats for rent in his building, and he always preferred non-local hassle-free renters in his own unique way.

His terms and conditions were very clear, if not transparent. Guests staying overnight were a strict no-no; water with a predetermined litre limit given only once, mostly in the dead of the night; main gates would be locked at 10 pm every night and anyone coming late must inform in advance; CCTV cameras in the campus observing irregular activities and playing or singing of loud music not at all preferred. By profession he and his wife were teachers, and maybe he took his profession too seriously. He had three young children, two boys and one daughter.

One of his flats was going to be vacated soon and the word spread easily by mouth in the small city. Normally he engaged a broker who would fix up clients and on approval would charge a fee separately.

Hearing from a friend one young man approached the landlord directly. The landlord preferred to keep him outside the house while having the initial talk or interview.
"Hey, you need a house?"
"Yes sir, a friend told me one flat will be vacated in two days."
"Right! ...What do you do?"
"Sir, I'm a businessman. On the supply chain contracts."
"How long have you been here? Are you a local?
" No, I'm not a local and here only two years on business. "
"Good!", he paused seemingly assured and to the client's surprise. " How many in your family?" , he resumed his quiz.
"Only myself and wife Sir."
"No issues, no?", he asked eagerly.
" No...not so far. Hopefully we'll have in near future!"
The landlord suddenly stiffened. "Sorry, in that case I cannot allow you here!"
Taken aback he client was as astonished as he was disappointed. "But why, Sir?"
"Well, you see! You'll have a baby and he or she will grow up fast you know! And then he or she will quarrel invariably with my little ones! No, I cannot take that risk! Sorry!", he started retreating into his house.
The client stood there puzzled and staring. Of course, he was desperate for a flat, but how on earth could he make a promise so unearthly! The chill in the air caught him squarely now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Loner!

The first head turned. Its eyes were focused on the entrance of the busy roadside restaurant.

The owner of this crucial part of the anatomy had sharp features and other delights too. He was short, rather emaciated, of dark complexion and had a Charlie Chaplin mustache. This latter addition gave the face that belonged to the canine variety a comic look.

It was evening time and the air was thick and suffocating with peak hour traffic.

The first head as we will call our hero hereafter was waiting at the bus stop, and the deliberate turning of his head away from the coming buses backwards to the restaurant naturally attracted some attention. Its taut positioning and the intent gaze emanating from it appealed to the curious instinct of a lot of fellow commuters. More and more heads started turning in that direction.

The ever increasing number of heads didn’t exactly know what to find or what to expect there, but their collective curiosity was constantly fueled by the undivided attention showered by the first head on the ephemeral sight.

The first head made a sudden move now. He started walking at a brisk pace towards the restaurant. The other heads followed him devotedly with their fixed expecting stares. They waited impatiently because they wanted to make sure before they decided to make their next moves. Although always drawn on by such curiosity chores on a daily basis they still thought—why to waste time unnecessarily on the prank of some stupid crank. Being the proud inhabitants of a roaring Indian metropolis they never ever failed to realize that time was money and if a minute was not to be translated into a few bucks more they expected to get at least moneys’ worth for that lost time.

After reaching the entrance of the eatery the first head stopped abruptly, and began taking surreptitious peeps into the crowded environs inside. The counter manager was all smiles and as always he effortlessly stuck to the eternally welcoming posture.
“Come on in Sir, why stop there? Lot of crowds, yes Sir...natural at this hour! But not to worry—we have tables for you. You can climb up to the AC block for more comfort!”
The first head mumbled something inaudible and continued with his random peeps. The manager persisted.
“Are you looking for your friend, Sir? No issues—please come inside and take a thorough look”, the manager was now a little apprehensive. He had been in this business for over two decades and he prided himself in knowing all sorts of customers inside out.
No impact though on this particular one. Again, the mumbling and the peeps continued.

Now the other heads were sure that something fishy was indeed going on. Some fun was definitely in the offing. Most of the heads started moving towards the restaurant.

The manager was taken aback failing to classify this particular specimen. Annoyance was slowly robbing him of his placid welcome gestures.  
“Please don’t mind my saying so Sir, but you are definitely creating a hindrance right here in this crucial point of entry! We always want to give the very best of service to our customers and we cannot survive otherwise. Please try to understand, Sir! I still welcome you, please come inside and have a seat!”

The first head paid no attention to the pleading manager. By now quite a crowd gathered outside the restaurant. There were murmurs, whispers now.
“What’s happening, pal?”
“How do I know? Let’s go still nearer and find out!”
“I knew the fellow is not normal; but I fail to understand what he’s up to!”
“Maybe he’s plain mad, maybe we’re wasting our time!”
Nobody knew why they were all there. However, they were all egged on by their insatiable curiosity—the expected thrill of watching something unique without any cost or without any impending fear of any danger to them arising out of their participation.

Now a few waiters joined the harassed manager, but even their combined efforts failed to make the first head articulate. The manager eyed the potential customers greedily and wished all of them came inside ordering happily. But alas! Nobody was interested in coming inside the eatery. His annoyance now gave way to glowing embers of anger that stirred within him.
“Hey, what’s the fun, huh? You people either come in or disperse! I’m not going to tolerate this kind of infringement on my fundamental right of doing business with freedom any longer, not a minute longer, I warn you!, the manager thundered to the crowd growing in size with every passing second.
There were hostile reactions to the manager’s histrionics. To his consternation there followed a voracious exchange of invective and the crowd swelled further. The situation now threatened to go out of control.

Meanwhile, the first head was at total peace with itself and was dexterously carrying on with its sneak preview of the hotel interiors.

Finally help came in the form of a traffic policeman who shouted his way through in a bid to find out the root cause of the problem. While continuing with his authoritative overtures he was constantly passing on messages through his walkie-talkie. The manager held at this last straw and furnished him with a brief of the issue.

The policeman walked up to the first head and demanded to know what was going on. Failing to give a proper enough justification would mean an instant arrest for creating a law and order situation, he warned. The first head now decided to break his silence.
“You see, I’m very lonely and depressed...”
“I don’t see how you are, just explain your actions. Quick!”
“...I have no near or dear ones. I live alone in my house, eat alone...sleep alone...passing every minute in a pain for me; I get no appetite...I...”
“Cut it out, bugger! I’m not interested in your backgrounder. Stick to the point”, now the policeman was getting impatient.
“Please, no abuses! I’m a respectable person. I must stress the point that knowing the background is a must to understand any situation”, the first head readied itself to launch into a scholarly discourse. “I told you of my painfully insignificant and mundane existence. But God has a plan for every living being and I was no exception. You see, I fell in love with a beautiful girl who gave a new meaning to my life. Suddenly I was alive and bursting with energy...”

The policeman was beginning to enjoy now and a grin cracked his dry lips. There were also a few giggles from the crowd. The first head was blissfully oblivious though.
“...I never wanted to lose her; I proposed and she accepted as per God’s will. My joy knew no bounds. But I had a I really going to get so much happiness...the loner that I always was. I was paranoid about losing her...”
“Hold it now, enough of your love story, buddy! Do please come to the point, my dear forlorn lovebird”, he paused dramatically for effect.

He was rewarded. For a change there were no giggles.

“As always I was waiting for a bus this evening, and suddenly I saw her...but I’m not sure...sort of hoping against hope. I desperately want to be proved wrong. I still stand here to confirm...she cannot do this to me! ...You see, I saw her with a man! I saw both of them entering this very restaurant! ... If they come out now...and confirm my worst fear...I’ll drop dead right here...!”

There was absolute silence for a moment. First the policeman started it. He bellowed with raucous unleashed laughter. His body shook and tears blocked his eyes. Soon all in the watching crowd joined in the mayhem merriment.

The manager never wanted to let go of this opportunity. He invited all for a cup of tea and welcomed the now silent first head to have a thorough search in all corners of the eatery.

However, the first head began to slip away quietly taking advantage of the relieved situation. As he jostled into a running bus he mumbled to himself, “Abominable nincompoops! Laugh hyenas! How would you know! That this was just good enough fun in my uniquely creative way to have an appetizing supper tonight! Eeeeekh...eeeeeeekh! I’m already feeling hungry, ravenously! Eeeeeeeekh...need food now!”

The restaurant was bubbling with activity. Nobody noticed our hero slipping away. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Well Done, Senor!

The city bus was not overcrowded, but most of the seats were occupied. So I had to take a seat meant for senior citizens on the front left side of the bus. An elderly lady was occupying the window seat alongside me. To add to my peace of mind two seats meant for the senior citizens and differently abled persons were still empty.  So there was no immediate danger of losing the seat.

After the first stop one senior citizen boarded the bus, and to my surprise instead of taking the empty seat ahead came straight to me mumbling something. I pointed to the seat on the front rows indicating that he might as well occupy it. The elderly gentleman did not budge and muttered something again. I thought I heard the word ‘madam’ and so surmised that the lady on the window seat was known to him and that he wanted to give her company for the ride. Without much of a protesting mind I obliged him, and to my luck one of the seats on the last rows just got empty. Instinctively I kept on watching the senior citizen as I sat down on my new address. More surprise was in store.

Instead of sitting down he again mumbled something to the elderly lady, and the lady got up too. I was really confused now. What was he up to? The elderly woman moved somewhat stiffly towards the seats on the right side of the bus meant for ladies only.  I immediately turned my focus to those seats, and found that one seat there was empty. As the senior citizen finally sat down satiated on the window seat everything, suddenly, was revealed to me. I laughed out inside me and I was not able to prevent the amusement infecting my facial contours.

It was a compact plan. While he was boarding the senior citizen took in the scenario inside completely and accordingly made his calculated moves. He disposed of me first which was not at all against the law, and then he eliminated the lady too which was also quite logical. His target was plain and simple—to have a comfortable ride occupying the window seat.

Well done, Senor! Keep it up! 
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