Monday, 31 August 2009

The elope

She was a brahmin. He was a Muslim. The world was two parallel contours. Their world would never hold. They decided they would make it hold.

They would elope. They would elope when the sun rested in the pits of the ocean. They would elope tonight, when the world reprieved from their peccadillo.

The sun fled, tired of illuming the world; Tired of clearing obscurity from the sinister world.

She woke from her slumber. The frightening silence spread like gloominess in the murky night.

She soundlessly carried her bag and walked past her room. She walked past the hall, the kitchen, the prayer room. She reached the main door. She inserted the Copied keys on the rusted lock. The key declined to comply; She struggled with it again. The lock smirked disobediently, as if having a life of its own. She struggled in the darkness, sweating profusely. The key is stuck inside the old, rusty lock. It refused to open, as if conspiring against her elope.

She wondered. She stood thinking. "What would happen to him? What would be of their union, the elope, all the intended life together, as one".

She heard noises. Her father grumbled in sleep. "Would he be awake?"

She returned to her room, unsure of the future. She sobbed, waded by the bulky pillow; the darkness shadowed her emotions.

Soon it was morning. The sun spread its warmth; waking the world, reminding of its obscurity.

Her father walked hurriedly towards the door. He was late as usual; the qualms of the accustomed world apparent on his face.

He tried to open the lock. "The stupid, rusted, old lock".He cursed the lock.

The lock couldn’t stand the sturdiness of the Iron Hammer. It broke after a brief resistance. Father gave a hard stare at the worthless lock and threw it into the trash.

The lock shed its last tears; having tirelessly served his master until the very night, distraught by the ungratefulness of humanity.

The end.

Predict the story !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He reached Trivandrum at 6 in the evening. He was told that no one would pick him from the railway station, and being first-time in the city, he was a bit distraught. It was an overcrowded station like all big stations and having just a small bag with him, he walked effortlessly towards the exit sign.

Several Auto rickshaws lined outside the entrance and he climbed onto the first, informing the driver his destination. As the vehicle sped through the busy street he positioned his small hand bag on his lap and looked out at the muddled street. Often inches spaced between the auto and the bikes and the driver sped through, looking indifferent to the anarchy happening around him.

The driver would wave occasionally at his fellow auto driver, a few pleasantries were exchanged, and then he would focus on the road. Occasionally, the driver would look at his passenger through the rear mirror and then at himself and would hand comb his hair near the ears, softly.

The scorching heat made him sweat profusely. It felt surprisingly hot and he stood to take a cloth napkin from his tight pants and vigorously wiped his forehead and neck, turning it pinkish.
As the rickshaw pulled itself near the house, it was fairly dark and lights were on in the veranda, but it appeared vacant. He walked towards the veranda and reached for the calling bell, pressed it hard two times and waited. The wait appeared too long by his judgment and he wondered where all of them disappeared. He heard an approaching sound and turned to find a middle aged man walk towards him.
“Hallo,I am their neighbor, you must be Sudheer.” the man said assertively.
Sudheer nodded.
“They are not here. Savithri, aunty has been admitted to the hospital. Nirmala hospital. She started getting the pain in the afternoon, and we rushed her.” The man said in a matter of fact tone.
He kept looking at the man, expecting him to reveal more. He found the news disturbing. Not that he was really concerned about his aunt’s health; he urgently wanted to ease himself of his full bladder. He wondered if he could relieve somewhere backyard or on to some wall. His eyes wandered.
“You can come to my house, and then we will go from there.” The man said, walking towards the road.
Sudheer followed, pleased with his invitation.
“Where is the toilet?” he asked the man as he reached the house. The man signaled and Sudheer wondered if he saw a slight grin on his face.

He reached the hospital at seven. He was guided towards the maternity ward and the man departed, giving him a telephone number to call in case of emergency.

He was only seventeen, yet he was the only man available for help to his aunt at her time of need. Her husband had to visit US for a project few months back. Another of his aunt, Rupmini, had also arrived, but her husband as always was too busy to be present. Rupmini often said sarcastically about her husband, ‘’my husband can never be seen at home, I was lucky that he was available for my delivery. Otherwise, I thought, ha!” she would smile awkwardly.
He climbed the stairs tiredly and reached the second floor. He looked towards the signage and walked towards the ward.

Rupmini Aunty got up when she saw him and came towards him. She smiled at him and said in one gasp, “Good that you have come, how the journey was? We didn’t expect this. You sit here; I will go to the nurse room.” He nodded at her and smiled back resignedly. She left swiftly. He knew she was waiting for him. “My role starts. What am I, A watchman for the family?” He asked himself derisively.

He felt as if he would faint if he didnt sit somewhere. His legs yelled at him, or so he felt. He jumped onto the plastic chair; Twelve hour journey in the overcrowded train had taken every speck of liveliness out of him. He wished for a bed and looked longingly at Savithri aunty. She appeared in sound sleep. He wondered if she would deliver soon, he hoped so. He would travel back to Calicut once through. He wondered if he would get to see Trivandrum Zoo, but he dared not to utter about it in these circumstances. He would be chided angrily for being self-centric.

He had sat the whole night in the ward, other than few times when without his control he had drifted into a brief slumber, to be awakened when his head drooped, it was sleepless night. His aunt Rupmini had slept on the adjacent cot, next to Savithri aunty and in between had woken to order tea for herself. He had to go out, hazily to the canteen and get tea for her. He had started thinking whether he would soon lose his temper. He hoped otherwise. It was just a matter of few days, once finished he would be gone. How his mother had forced him into this. “To be a man can be a pang sometimes ", he thought broodingly. "so many responsibilities. These women have just to deliver babies, and for rest of the labor a man is required.” He pondered desolately.

It was at ten that Sumesh, Rupmini aunt’s son arrived. Both were close friends, but Sudheer noticed that lately he had started to detest him. Sumesh appeared to have an air of dominance around him; as if he knew something more than him, which he reviled. Sumesh was two years elder to him, but had started working, which earned him admiration. He knew that was more of the reason for his detest.
“This guy has so much attitude; god knows what he thinks of himself, Mohanlal?” He brooded.
Sumesh smiled at him as he walked towards him and they shook hands.

Two days had passed since he arrived in Trivandrum, but the suffering had anything but passed. It seemed Savithri aunty had a false labor and doctors had calculated that she would take few more days to deliver. Since the doctor expected sure complications, she was asked to stay at the hospital. It was nearly confirmed to be a caesarian. Sudheer hated uncertainty about the date. He hoped that she would deliver soon and he would get back home, but would have to show dependability before his folks. This would be his opportunity to prove his worth.

He had hardly slept but that didn’t bother him much. It was the dreariness of the hospital that bothered him and missed the outside world. He wondered if prisoners in jail would feel similar to him-he was sure he was inferior to a prisoner. At least they had committed a crime.
Sumesh would ease him for few minutes, just to wash and hurried visit to the toilet.
“Lucky him, I too would need to work soon, else, I would end up being a reliever for all.” He thought pensively.

He would go to the canteen and get meals for Savithri and Rupmini Aunty. He would be asked to get tea for the visitors, and some nodded shamelessly when asked for a drink. He would force a smile, but cursed quietly once out of the room.
Rupmini aunty would say to Sumesh, “Son, you go home and rest, doctor was saying it would take another three- four days. You have to go for work, Go son, Sudheer is there, I would call you for help.”

Sumesh would hesitate, show how much he wished to be of help, but would leave upon his mothers command. He would visit at night for few minutes and again would be asked to leave. Savithri aunty accredited his arrival by getting up from the bed and smiling at him.
Sudheer would watch the drama; he noticed that no one smiled at him. He was just called to order tea or food for them. He felt vastly disregarded. He yearned to be treated like Sumesh.
After Savithri Aunty delivered, people would say nice things about him too, “How he was of so much help to them, he is so responsible”. He would provide help and be the man in-charge. Suresh would be at work and only available at night; Very less chances that she would deliver during his presence. Sumesh’s presence would take the whole acclaim off from him.
The doctor arrived on her morning visit at seven thirty and asked few questions to Savithri Aunty. She smiled and doctor returned her smile. She turned to Rupmini aunty and said, “Everything is fine. I think it should be tomorrow or day after, nothing to worry. “She left hurriedly.

Sudheer had trouble with his anger. Another 2 days? He would die of boredom. This is the nastiest thing to have happened to him. It was expected of her to deliver today. He walked out sadly, towards the canteen to tone down his disappointment. He sat on a bench and grabbed the newspaper kept on the table and gazed, turning the pages frantically. His friends would be playing football at this time.

As soon as he turned the second page, he noticed the big poster, almost quarter the page size. RANGEELA: Starring, Jackie shroff, Aamir Khan and Urmila mathonkar, From Today at NEW theatre. He looked at the date, “Oh, today is Friday? I totally forgot, Rangeela is releasing today.” He muttered to himself, elatedly.
He looked again at the poster and stared hard at Urmila Mathonkar. He had never seen her in such skimpy clothes. He looked longingly again. He had been waiting for this movie for a long time. It would be a certain super hit; for sure. There were talks about it since months. “Urmila in a new avatar, the sexiest role yet in Bollywood.”
“Oh, what songs”. He almost roared in excitement. He had watched few songs on chitrahaar. “Tanha, tanha yaha pe jeena”, he crooned to himself, Urmila Mathonkar started running through his nerves, making him fixated.

He would go for it. His friends would have already made plans. He started missing his friends more. He looked sadly at his watch. Eight, he still has ample time for the noon show, he opened the newspaper again. “Noon show is at 12.” It was a short burst of cry.
He heard a voice from somewhere back of his mind, “How would you go? You are on hospital duty, remember, you fool.” He stopped.
He would have to make a plan. He would say something to Rupmini Aunty; he would have to think about something solid.

After a brief ponder, he went towards Rupmini aunty. She looked at him with a blank expression. “Aunty shall I get breakfast for you?” he asked teasingly. She looked at the clock and then looked at him puzzled. She nodded.
He left happily to fetch breakfast for her, his first whole hearted service in two days.
He looked at his watch again; 8:30 am. He would ask his aunty now.
“Aunty, what did the doctor say about the delivery?” he asked in his best playful voice.
She lifted her head and said, “Two or three days, can be tomorrow also. Why?”
“No, I was thinking, I had to go to my friend’s house. “He said cautiously.
“You have a friend here?”
“Yes aunty, one of my friends Kishore is from here. When I told him that I was traveling to Trivandrum, he asked me to visit his home and meet his father. He wanted some urgent books.” He said slowly, taking effort to sound legitimate.
“But how would you go? You were sent to take care of your aunt. Who will be here if you go?” She asked with a veneer of anger.
“No, I would be back in an hour, Maximum one and half hour. Just meet his father and then I would return.” He said swiftly, almost forcefully.
“No, But, what if” She tried to speak.
“Aunty, please. The doctor said for tomorrow or in two days, right? I wouldn’t get a chance later. I would try to come as quick as possible.” He said pausing for a short sigh.
“Don’t worry, she won’t deliver. Doctors can’t be wrong. They are never wrong”
She appeared in deep thoughts, looked at him nervously and said. “Would you come fast? I want you here in an hour.”
He felt he would jump in joy, he said, “sure Aunty, trust me. I would be back in an hour, maximum by two.”
“No, No. No two hours. Only one hour. I don’t have anyone for help, if something happens?” She almost looked as if she would cry any moment.
“Sure, one hour.” He went near her, touched her hands in assurance and left.

He reached the NEW theatre at 9:30. Contrary to the name, the theatre looked as if it was built by Tipu sultan or some British viceroy. It looked so old.
The entrance of the theatre looked like a beehive. It was only that the crowd was human, otherwise it was as chaotic.
He couldn’t understand the pattern, crowd seemed to start and end from nowhere. He rushed, and in few minutes, his clever eyes clearly demarked the otherwise incomprehensible human swarm.
He pushed himself through a minute crack between the human swarm, with the suppleness of a cat. He was delighted with his shrewdness; after all he was a veteran of many such movie releases. He had watched DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYEGE , first day first show. Who else in his circle of friends could boast of such an accomplishment? He almost gave himself a sigh of content.
Suddenly, as if out of nowhere a police jeep stopped and few policemen armed with Lathis jumped out. They scattered to different corners of the theatre and some of them in no time, had already started working on their lathis.

The refusing crowd was put in shape, well, almost intangibly and men who formed the outer layer were constantly subjected to the lathi. Yet the crowd looked unmanageable and policemen had to move violently to bring a tad of relief to the chaos. The men looked like fighters for a cause, unmoved by pain, like martyrs.

What do you think the remaining story is? What would be the title of the story? ..........Please put your story ideas and title suggestions in the comment box....the best story would be added to the existing story and published.........Thank you all.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The first version-Neha's Story

Hi Dudes and dudess....

Please check-out the first version of the story written by Neha by clicking here.Do put in your comments on her blog.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Short story competition-Edited and Improved

As I had mentioned in my Zombie chicken AWARD post, the Short story competition starts now.

To quote from the above post of mine.. ... “All awards (recognitions) come with greater responsibilities....So does this...a Short story competition is coming up for the winners. I would give the topic and probably the plot too. All you have to do is to write a story.....So watch-out...”

The first nominees are Ms. Gayathri , the youngest in the group and Ms. Neha. The rules of the competition are:

a) Strictly to go by the mentioned plot.

b) Narrative style and the narrative could be adopted to suit the Short story. For eg. Story need not follow the given linear mould. Beginning could be the end or end could be the beginning of the story.

c) Names could be changed from the regular ZB names. Arun need not be Arun.

d) You have a week’s time. To write. The story shouldn’t be in more than 2500 words.

once you write it, you will have to inform me, and i will create a post, linking the story to your blog.

Okey, Then....

The Plot:

The story starts with Priya, a girl of 22, attending her mother’s funeral. She is completely devastated .Her only relation in the world is dead. She has a father, who is apparently alive, but has left them a long time ago. Whole her life, she was brought-up by her mother. She is in state of shock and mute. She is cut-out of the world, and sees signs of her mother communicating to her. She can see a flock of pigeons fly towards the sky. She believes that it’s her mother. She shifts to a reverie.

Rest of the story is a monologue.

3 years back, Arun had walked into her office. At that time, She was working for a Cell phone service company ( Airtel) . She attends him with his complaint. He starts visiting her office regularly in the pretence of cell phone queries. She avoids him, but he pursues her. Then one day, he asks her out. She refuse.

He feels hurt. He stops following her. Few weeks pass. She begins to miss him. Finally, she misses him so much that she goes to his office to meet him. She asks him why he wasn’t coming to her office, to meet her. He proposes her; He tells her that he genuinely loved her and wishes to marry her one day. She avoids him, confusing him. He wonders why she was avoiding him, and then comes to meet him when he tries to end the relationship. She agrees to go out with him for Lunch.

During lunch she opens up. They get closer. She tells him her stories. He tells his. But she tells him that she doesnt want to have a relationship. She tells him that she is not ready yet. He continues persevering, and believes that she loves him too, but her circumstance has made her not trust a man. They continue to meet; they go out for lunch. They continue being just friends.

After around 6 months, Arun loses hope and breaks down before Priya. She reluctantly accepts the fact that she loved him too, on a verge that she might lose him forever. She tells him that she doesn’t know yet, if she was in love with him.

Then one day, her mother falls sick and out of other options, she calls Arun, late in the night to come to her house. They take her to hospital and she is cured. This brings Priya closer to Arun.

Then after few months, she is transferred to Bangalore. He too joins her, resigning his job and persuading his father for higher studies( Journalism). They come real close, their distance vanishing completely to a level that she, in a moment of desire, gives herself to him. They make love. She realises that she has positioned herself in a state of no return. She tells him that she loves him completely, and never again she can love another man.He convince her, asking her to stop crying and believe him, trust him. He would be with her in life, and even after (Literally in the story).

Then tragedy strikes. Arun falls sick and is admitted to Hospital with Hepatitis. Priya takes care of him. His parents are called. Her mother too arrives. Gradually he gets very serious and shifts to coma. After few days in ICU, he dies.

The world has trampled for Priya. She slowly starts to lose herself. After the funeral, when she was all alone in her hostel, she slits her vein. She loses her consciousness after much blood lose.

She is found in a critical stage, and is rushed to a hospital. She begins to recover slowly. She is later declared mentally ill. She develops manic depression and schizophrenia.

After a year of Treatment, she recovers. She is adopted by Arun’s parents and they send her for higher studies. She goes on to complete her Masters in Journalism from University of Colombia ( ala Barka Dutt) and become a renowned Journalist with a national TV Channel.

The twist in the story is:

Unknown to the world, When after slitting her vein, she is lying in a state of coma, undiscovered by the world; she shifts to the edge of life, the point after which Death takes over. She sees Arun standing besides her, crying, telling her, why she did this, why did she try to kill herself. He tells her that he would always be around her, watching her and living his life through her. He tells her that she should be a successful woman and do all that he failed to do in his life. She promises him that she would live, She would live life for him.

She smiles at the world for calling her Mad, when in reality Arun was indeed present beside her, when she was close to death. She was sure of that, yes, he was present. He had talked to her.

Call it hallucinations of schizophrenic, imaginations of a confounded mind, or nothing but blatant truth which mere mortals failed to observe....the world would never know...

(Who knows, we would only know after death if soul indeed existed)

The narration comes back to the day of funeral of her mother ( as in the beginning) . She smiles, happy that her mother would join Arun soon. How lucky mother was. She would have to wait longer to unite with him.She was on a wait. A long wait; Life was a long wait, a wait for death.

The End......

To give an Idea of Priya’s character, I am adding few monologues by her.

Priya Speak

The alarm rings on my Mobile phone. I had set it for 6.30, but I was awake. I couldn’t sleep properly the whole night. Father has not come home and mother is worried. I am sure she wouldn’t have slept too. Why does he have to hurt her so much? The only blunder she has done in her life is to have married him.

My mother, oh mother, why are you so kind to him when he doesn’t give you a damn? Why? Why do you still care for him, hoping that one day he would change his ways and take you in his arms, like those good old days. Has he cared to even call and tell you he is not going to make it for the night? I hate him; I hate him for spoiling your life, mother.

Why didn’t you divorce him mother, and care about your life inconsiderately. You knew about him from the second day of your marriage, didn’t you? You have told me these tales of deception hundreds of times, haven’t you: Making me abhor father so much more.

You had a career, you loved your job, and you needn’t have looked into anything so morbid in your life. You would have got a man for you far better than the man you make me call father, o mother.

What’s the point? You and your love; I am sick of it. Why did you make me suffer? Sorry mother, but wont I suffer seeing you suffer?

I wiped my tears. What a way to start a day, oh god, why are you so unfair to me, why?

I sat up to look at my mother sleeping beside me. I know you are pretending to be asleep, you won’t have slept the whole night. Whom are you trying to deceive mother, someone who has seen you all her life? You would have kicked him out of your life mother and I would have felt happier for you. Why do we need someone, who is only an ache in our life, mother.

I got up and headed for the toilet. Its going to be a frantic day, like any other day. I hate my job, stupid customers, my stupid boss, this stupid world.

Arun is the only good thing to have happened in my life. My long, lonesome, abandoned 22 years of life. I feel spiteful at the sight of father. His stench of alcohol and tobacco, what did my mother see in him?

I would have said yes to Arun. What if he leaves me? No, all men are good at conversing and convincing. Women shouldn’t believe half the thing men say. Probably my father would have said the same to my mother. He has spoiled her life, and mine too.

I feel envious of my friends when they speak about their fathers. I wish I too had someone to speak about. I wish I too had someone to call me and check with me when I got late to come home. My heart ached when my friends brought their fathers for their School annual day.Life sucks, big time !!!!duh !!!

@ Gay3: You don’t have to add the above part; it’s just to give you an idea of her character. I couldn’t make it further bollywoodish....Emotional atyachaar....Wish you good luck. :D

As suggested by Aparna, i am adding a word....and example as to how the story can be. The story can be even from the point-of-view of Arun. It need not be a poignant tale. It can even be humorous...

She had the most splendid eyebrows in the world, the luxuriousness that is trained into perfect black arches .She was part of the exotic breed, so it seemed when I looked at her. Her beauty was exceptional, convincing me of such a strong, persistent and universal appeal which would relate to anyone’s sense of aesthetics. She would have coerced the strongest of human minds by revealing possible cognitions, motivations and emotions to churn out poetry and masterpieces of literature, one after another...

Priya walked into my sleepy life as a …hummm…..strong cup of Nescafe in the morning(on bed)…the first drizzle after a horrid summer……long powerless ( electricity) hot & humid night when its impossible to sleep and then suddenly power comes and the fan is on, spreading cool refreshing air-stream….eating tasteless dal and dry burnt chappatis for a month and suddenly you smell hydrabadi chicken biriyani …….I cant think of more examples for now……… was such a change after her arrival…J

Our telephonic conversations were a training experience for me into ‘How to scientifically woo a young beautiful girl through tele conversation’ and I came out victorious, she found me interesting and witty (her words, and not mine..:) )and you know what she said about me during one of our long chats????

“You have made good use of the brain, god has given you” and for my “How”, she said “you are well informed and well read…you would go places..”

I know, that’s more than any guy with a bit of ego could take in a day and I flew like eagles and vultures in the sky……refusing to come down at any time…

P.S: anyone who wants to take up the challenge are welcome.In fact everyone in my friends list is hereby ordered to take part............Watch-out. :D

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Elation of ache- Onam special

Balakrishnan Nair hadn’t slept the whole night. It was too normal for him to squander nights sleeplessly. It was not that some imperative thoughts occupied his intellect, which kept the sleep miles away from his eyes. Ever since his elder daughter Divya called two days back, he barely slept. Now, hardly few hours to the morning, he turned yet again to the side of his wife Valsala, in sound sleep, looked longingly and wondered how she did it so naturally.

He looked towards the window, it was still dark. He was sure it wouldn’t be more than 4 in the morning. He focused his torch, which he hid below his pillow, towards the golden Ajantha Wall clock. He had guessed somewhat accurately; just fifteen minutes off his guess.

He rose slowly from the bed; for fear that he could wake his wife. Walking past the kitchen he headed towards the bathroom. He loved the chill when the water touched his bare body. He shivered in the cold, and then wiped his body with the towel. It was his idea of luxury; what else could life provide at this age. He wondered with a contented grin.

It was still cold at 5 am as he opened the front door after a brief struggle. His wife and daughters derided him for fixing so many latches, but in such matters he listened to no one. He plainly smiled over such derides.

It was fairly dark when he stood at the veranda and stared at the gate. His mind raised several queries: when should he leave for the airport, what time he should reach; what special should he provide his son-in-law for lunch. He walked towards the porch and looked at the Maruti Wagon R.
“Can’t pick Manoj in this, I would get a Qualis on hire.’’ He muttered to himself and walked towards the gate to collect the newspaper.
It was at six that Valsala woke. She walked towards the veranda and noticed her husband read the newspaper. She beamed at him.
“You bathed?” She inquired, well aware from his unsullied appearance. He nodded his head to confirm.
He looked at Valsala again and she inferred the reason. She headed for the kitchen to make the morning coffee for him.

At eight, Balakrishnan Nair put on his shirt, white dhoti and leather Sandals and headed for the fish market. Ever since his Son-in-law mentioned his liking for fish; he made sure to treat him with the best he could get from the local market. He knew Pomfret and shrimp were Manoj’s favorite. He hoped that the market would have good fishes.
He walked hurriedly towards the Market, which was few kilometers from his house. He liked to walk, in the mornings. His wife often reprimanded him for his walks, yet he preferred it over the car.

She would say, “ You are not that young man anymore. Don’t stretch yourself. Take the car.”
He would smile at her, and she would nod sarcastically at being un-complied.
He walked past the stall of fishes, till the end. He got himself an idea of the choices on display and returned towards the middle stall, which sold Pomfret.
“How much are Pomfrets for?” he inquired the bidi smoking man, sitting behind the counter and before he could nod his approval, the man started weighing a large fish.
“Take this home. The freshest pomfrets money could buy. Local not foreign”, he bawled at Balakrishnan Nair to make him heard in the cacophony.
“Rs.240 kilo, reduced from 280 of yesterday. Take this home” he shouted, as if reading his customers mind.
Balakrishnan Nair pointed towards two large fishes and the man lifted and weighed them.
“Two and half kilos, enough?”
Balakrishnan Nair nodded in approval.
He pointed towards the shrimps and asked the man to pack a kilo.

Walking back home, he stopped at the fruit stall and bought fruits; Apples, oranges and water melon. He hoped that his son-in-law would like the food. He remembered his wife mention about Biriyani. He turned and walked towards the Chicken stall. He was certain of his wife’s skills at making Chicken Biriyani and had secretly observed his Son-in-law savor it during his last visit. He selected two medium sized broiler chickens and bought a pack of ‘Everest Chicken Biriyani masala’ from the grocery story and walked towards home.

Valsala heard the screeching sound of the gates open, and walked towards the front door to greet her husband. She had forgotten to mention Biriyani Masala and wanted her husband to take the car and return again to the market. She grinned clumsily and collecting it, searched the plastic bag. Finding the masala powder pouch, she grinned again and he returned his smile as if pleased with her consent.

He hurried towards the wash basin, washed his hands, and walked towards the telephone kept next to the dining table. He called the driver for a Qualis.
“huh, I forgot to tell you. Divya had called. She was saying flight is delayed by an hour. Don’t go early and stand at the airport. Go late.” His wife shouted from the kitchen.

He walked towards the Sofa and switched on the TV. He sat holding the newspaper and now and then, looked towards the TV. Election news fascinated him.
He was served breakfast at nine and after hurriedly eating few Dosas, he went to the lawn and watered the plants.

He was dressed by ten in his shirt, white dhoti and leather Sandals and the Qualis arrived at ten minutes past ten.
Balakrishnan Nair sat in the front seat beside the driver and the Qualis sped through the narrow road towards the airport.

Few men, who were dressed like him, waved and he flashed his languid grin as a customary greet. He knew if he stopped, he would be questioned at once, as to where he was headed so hurriedly in the morning. Men were ever inquisitive about each other; it was as if their moral rights to know what happened to their fellow men that they asked their whereabouts. Most men grinned customarily, but they knew his grin came from the heart.

It was only after they crossed two villages that He began to lighten up. The driver signing the mood switched the FM radio on and chirpy voices of women fluttered in the air, like sprayed fragrance from a can of room freshner. The Driver looked at him again and looked back puzzled. He wondered if the old man sitting beside him would like the music; it was hard to guess from his face. Balakrishnan Nair appeared lost in profound thoughts.

He was thinking back a few years, when Divya had telephoned from Bangalore to announce her marriage to Manoj. He had never experienced a shock of such magnitude in his life and for few days he was in and out of despair. It appeared Valsala was the badly hit, but he knew it was his inability to cry in open. He wished he could cry like her so that he could feel better. He remembered how he felt hearing the news of his elder daughter, clandestinely marrying an unknown man. He had never spanked his two daughters, but on that day he felt, he wanted to plant a tight-slap on her face. Now, after four years, he thanked heavens for making her telephone him, and not come face-to-face with him. Hitting his most loved daughter would have been a terrible mistake. He had a faint grin on his face, almost infinitesimal.

Balakrishnan Nair knew life wouldn’t get so unfair to him. He had never hurt anyone in his life, at least knowingly. But that day, he felt as if life was awfully cruel to him. All his life, he had had his first meal only after the morning prayers. It appeared to him that gods were playing a nasty prank on him. He thought of discontinuing his age-old habit, but somehow couldn’t. He smiled again, now a visible grin and looked towards the driver. Driver grinned at him, pleased with his decision to switch-on the radio.

Balakrishnan Nair has had several tender moments with his wife when they planned the wedding of their daughters. They would find a good match for their daughter once she finished her Engineering degree; or so they planned. They had saved since she was born, for the day when they would send her off to a new family. No matter how well he was respected, his daughter’s marriage would be the ultimate appreciation of his social standing.

The news spread like wild fire during high wind. People ridiculed him for his upbringing of daughters. Some said, “Look at that girl, what she has done to her family. She has disgraced her entire family. Now, wonder who they would get to marry their younger one.”
“Don’t worry, she too would find someone. Younger one can’t be far behind the elder” Someone said chuckling.

Their residence resembled an ominous household; they appeared as if they were moaning someone’s death.
The sorrow and gloom lasted for a week, when it was decided that what happened had happened. “What is the point now, accept the bride groom”, it was told.
A small-key function was arranged, at their house, to welcome the bridegroom and a ceremonial reception was planned.

The Bride groom arrived the next day in the morning flight from Bangalore and Balakrishnan Nair sent his younger brother Radhakrishnan, to receive them at the airport.
Soon as the bridegroom arrived; ladies in the family welcomed them with an ‘Arathi’, and flowers and rice were sprinkled over their head, to the amusement of the smiling crowd. Balakrishnan Nair moved ahead to greet his Son-in-law and to his downright astonish, the boy suddenly shocked everyone by his sudden plunge onto Balakrishnan Nair’s feet. Balakrishnan Nair bent himself to catch him and hugged him after lifting him forcefully from his feet. While in a tight embrace, the groom said softly to Balakrishnan Nair’s ears, “Sorry Achchan, There was no other way. Please forgive us and accept me into your family”.

Balakrishnan Nair looked into the eyes of Manoj and passed a joyful grin. Very minute drops of tears formed in his eyes, which went unnoticed between the hurried ceremonies.
The driver looked at him and said, “Sir, If you don’t mind, I would fill some Diesel. It would just take 5 minutes.”

Balakrishnan Nair nodded. They still had ample time before the flight. The qualis took an abrupt left towards a petrol station and came to a halt. He got down from the car and stretched his hands over his head and yawned. All of a sudden, he felt a strange sensation and felt darkness enveloping his vision. Uncontrolled, he fell to the side, on the concrete floor and hit his right elbow hard on the jagged floor. He felt the ground spinning and darkness cover his eyes. He felt he was drifting away, into a profound sleep.

Balakrishnan Nair woke with a sharp pain and looked at the nurse. She was preparing an Injection, felt his vein in the arms and inserted the needle.
He moved his head and found the driver standing next to him, carrying a petrified expression. He smiled at him, to convey his wellness and turned to look at his watch.
“Eleven? The flight would have landed already”, he shouted at the driver and started getting from the bed. A nurse came running and said, “Meet the doctor before you go. He wanted to meet you”.
He was shown the way. He went in and sat on the chair next to the doctor.
“ Balakrishnan Nair? Age 65?” the doctor said, looking through the top of his reader’s glass.
He nodded his head.
The doctor wrote something on a scribbling pad tore the page and passed it to him.
“Your sugar lever is very high. And also the BP, I would like you to admit here for further checkups”.

Balakrishnan Nair looked at the driver, who was standing behind him and said. “Admit? I would come later, Doctor. My daughter is coming today and her flight would have just landed. Let me go now and I would return soon.” he tried to smile at the doctor but cut short after finding an austere expression on the doctors face.
Doctor wrote again and passed the paper towards him.
“Take these tablets and come back in a week’s time. We will have checkups; Control sugar please and no Oil in food. You also have cholesterol.” Doctor continued in his bleak expression.
Balakrishnan Nair hurried towards the door and walked briskly towards the exit door. He signaled the driver to rush, which made the driver run towards the Parked Qualis. The Vehicle sped towards the main road and in the direction of the airport.
It was at twelve that he reached the airport and was informed that the flight had landed at eleven and the passengers departed.
He searched for his mobile phone and found it to be missing. He tried hard to remember if he had carried it, but couldn’t recall.
He looked at the driver and he appeared to mirror his disappointed expression. They drove towards home.

Balakrishnan Nair pushed the gate snappily and it screeched before opening. When the vehicle stopped at the porch, he looked at the driver and frowningly said, “Dare you tell what happened to anyone. It would be the last time you would be called. Do you understand?”
The driver nodded with a terrified look and he got out of the vehicle.
As soon as he stepped onto the veranda, he heard laughter and thunderous banters being exchanged between his wife and Divya, and grinning, he set his foot towards the hall.
“Huh, achchan has come? Nice man you are. We waited for you all this time at the airport and you never came. Manoj and I caught a taxi and came home. Where did you disappear? “Divya squealed in her shrill voice.
Balakrishnan Nair smiled awkwardly and looked at Manoj. He too carried a discontented face.
“acha, next time send a driver. He would come on time. You don’t come to airport, Understand?”
Balakrishnan Nair nodded and walked towards the bathroom.

Once bare, he turned the shower and stood below the cold stream of water splattering all over his body. A sudden burning sensation spread and he noticed several brushes on his elbow and knee. His elbow started bleeding and he washed it, feeling a severe burning pain. The pain brought tears in his eyes and mixed with the water and rolled down his cheeks.
He wondered if he should go to the doctor next week. He grinned gleefully as he heard the loud shouts from the hall.