Thank You Publishers!

Buoyed by a good response to the ‘Love Stories’, by encouragement from the readers and by the persuasive tactics of few friends cum bloggers cum “… many roles…”, I decided to keep my complex aside and approach the publishers. I wrote to 11 different book publishers, some large, some very large and some relatively very new. Fortunately or unfortunately, 5 of them rejected me outright citing various reasons, 4 of them are asking money from me to publish my book (they call it self publishing, I call it good business model), one of them said they dont publish short stories and one is offering me a 50:50 profit sharing partnership, provided share the cost of initial production.

None spoke about the stories.

Thank you publishers. Thanks for letting me know who I am and what I’m worth. This surely doesn’t motivate me to write another love story.

When Hate Becomes an Understatement

Reading this post on Shilpa’s blog has inspired me to write this post. In fact, inspired is not the right word. I’m provoked.

Few months ago, I read a news in the papers that they found a 4-5 day old baby boy dumped in a garbage can. You can understand in what condition he must have been found. He was in a heap full of filth, robbed of mother’s milk and had his toes nibbled off by rats. Thankfully the baby was alive. Couple of weeks later, the police successfully traced his parents and arrested them for an attempt to murder amounting to a culpable homicide. You know what was the reason for dumping the infant? Simple. They didn’t want it. The baby was unwanted.

I dont know if I should say I hate such people. Because hate, in such cases, is an understatement. Period.

Z7: The Honour

This is the last part (part7) of the story Red & White. Please read the earlier parts before continuing.

“… and ladies and gentlemen, we come to our next award category. This is the highest civilian honour for showing exemplary acts of bravery and services to humanity. The award this year is being conferred to two young men and, for the first time in the history, to a dog!”

The entire dais and people sitting in the galleries erupted with an encouraging cheer. Sara’s hands had not stopped waving the Indian flag. She had specially come here to witness the ceremony. After all the two men who saved her life were also responsible for a change in her attitude towards it. Even today, the seven month old incident sent shivers into her spine. She still remembered the bus falling down from the bridge. Thankfully she had fallen on the conductor, and two more bodies fell on her. So she was saved from a grievous injury, save some bruises. But the impact of the weight on her chest and the hip bone was too much for her to lose her breath. She remembered Sakha’s words as Moti pulled her out of the bus. “Keep breathing madam. The key to survival is not to give up on basic things. If you hold on for another half an hour, I’m sure you will be able to hold on for your entire life. Keep breathing!” And so she did. They saved her. She spent only a day at the SHCU before being taken to a private hospital by her family. But Sakha and Vinda kept visiting her occasionally. They said it was important for them to see every one alive was back on their feet. They were two good men… too good.

“As much I talk about them will be insufficient today. No word can describe the nonpareil  act and contribution of these two men. In fact I’ll go on and say that this honour is not enough. Now may I call upon her Excellency, Honourable, Srimati Pratibha Patil, our beloved president of India to present this award to the two gentlemen? ” said the presenter.

Jeeva, sitting on a wheel chair, got so ecstatic that the glass of water in his hand started shaking. He was obviously overwhelmed to the his saviours get an award at the hands of the honourable President of India. His wife walked up to him to see if he was alright.

“What happened to you Jeeva? Itna kaap kyun rahe ho?”

“Tu nahi samjhegi. You know I’m alive because they were there to help me. Not only did they help. They also encouraged to live again. They are my god. They truly are…” spoke Jeeva as two drops of tear rolled on to his cheeks. Vinda had found Jeeva in a very bad condition. His leg was entangled between the legs of two of the seats. Add to that, Sarika had landed right on to it. He had received blows on his head, had bled profusely and had the glass pieces from the windows and the wind shield all inside his hands and other body. He had seen his good friend and the driver get crushed between the rocks and the bus. He had seen some of the passengers give up and die in the hospital. But he didn’t. He lived and did full justice to the two boys who pulled him out of a near death situation. On one of the many days he spent in the hospital, when the pain had become unbearable for him, Vinda had come and spoken some thing he never forgot.

He had said, “Arre chacha, ek baat bolta hu. It is not in our hands to decide what time life gives us to live. But it is definitely in our hands to decide what we can do with whatever we have got. Do most in every minute. Live, dont give up.” The sentence still echoed in his ears. He didn’t want to miss any moment of the ceremony now.

“… and now ladies and gentlemen. Let me first call upon Mr. Aravinda Narayanan. Please put your hands together to welcome him.”

Vinda’s life had completely changed post the incident. A series of interviews were published in almost all news papers. Every one wanted to know how he and Sakha pulled the feat without any help from any one out side. His father too was proud of his achievements. He started getting requests to bring Vinda along with him, wherever Ananda was invited to deliver a lecture. Vinda was also invited to some of the school gatherings to lecture young lads about acts of bravery and humanity. It gave him some ideas and finally in the second half of December, Vinda opened a adventure training camp cum academy on the foot hills of Valkyrie mountain. Given his reputation, it became an instant hit.

The biggest loser in the story was Nisha. What she hadn’t told Vinda on the evening of 25th July was that she was planning to say yes to her father’s proposal to marry her off to Maj. Kapil Vij. Kapil was a senior army official and was very well known to Nisha’s father. Nisha knew Vinda loved her. But she also was sure that she did not want to marry a loser. But today, now engaged to Kapil, as she watched Vinda walking towards the dais to accept the award, she was feeling like a loser herself. She had tried once to apologise for her behaviour. But now it was too late.

The clapping grew thunderous as the President of India put the medal around Vinda’s neck. Moti was so excited that he jumped out of Sakha’s lap and rushed to the dais. “Oh and the dog is already very excited.” said the presenter as he waited for the applause to die down. “Aravinda can I request to stay for a moment? Thank you! And now let me also call upon Sakharam Khevadiya, the small town boy from Dongri. Please put your hands together for Sakharam and his dog Moti, who is already here.”

As Sakha walked towards the dais, Devilal’s eyes got all wet with the tears of both proud and guilt. He remembered how hardly he had slapped Sakha when he did not return for almost more than a day. It took the intervention of his sister and Sakha’s photo in the newspaper for Devilal to calm down and realise what had happened. What followed in the months to come was a welcome surprise for otherwise calm and serene Khevadiya neighbourhood. Initially the news papers and television reporters paraded on the farm to get the first hand input of what happened. Then a couple of authors came who wanted to write a story on his heroics. Then a local production house came who wanted to make a short film on what happened. They promised Devilal that his son will soon be a national star. But all that turned out to be false promises. As the days passed, the same people who read a lot about Sakha finally started to forget him. Until, one day he received two letters from government of India. One spoke about the bravery award. And another was from the Indian Police Services Commission. They were offering him to join them and get trained along with the special rapid action forces. They wanted his rescue act to be put to good use. That turned out to be the happiest day for the small town boy.

Today as they stood shoulder to shoulder with the President of India and other dignitaries on the dais, the entire country was proud of them. Sakha had got his wish fulfilled by joining the RAF. Vinda had carved a name for himself. Sara learnt to value the life in a better way and Jeeva was now no longer a disgruntled employee. Life had taken an unexpected turn. And all of them were happy about it.

Z6: The Rescue

This is part VI of Red & White. Please read the first part before proceeding.

Vinda dashed out of his car and ran towards the bridge. He could see the shredded pieces of tyre lying on the road. The bus had definitely ran over a sharp object, causing the tyre to completely disintegrate. He could also see pieces of broken glass all around. The humming sound of the Engine was still audible. But the railing was completely shattered. So it was difficult for Vinda to lean and see where the bus was. He heard a dog barking in the background. The sound was coming from beneath the bridge. There must be some one down, he thought. In a split second he ran around the bridge and started to climb down through a narrow, steep alley. It was marshy and very slippery. But Vinda was not thinking about it. He quickly pulled his mobile phone out and dialled Gurjeet.

“Hello Gurjeet… hello, awaaz aa rahi hai kya? Hello… nahi tu meri baat sun. Yaar yaha Cheeaaa…  aaah! …”

and the marshy surface did him in. Vinda slipped, rolled, nearly collided with a rock and landed flat on his face. The impact was hard enough for his mobile to pop out of his hand and land inside the flowing river.

“Aarrrgghhhh! … SHIT!Vinda let out a cry of frustration and put his had down in dismay. Just then he heard some one run towards him.

“Sir… are you alright?” Continue reading

Z5: Sakha

This is part V of the story. Please read Red & White before continuing.

“I think we will have to use third degree on him. I have heard about him. His name is Sakharam Khevadiya. He is their best man, the best spy ever India’s RAW has had.” Said the Al Qa’ida henchman. He looked dangarous. He held his .33mm bore rifle in his one hand while he spoke pointing fingers are Sakha.

“Do what you want, you cheats. But I’m not going to reveal any thing. I shall prefer to die than compromise my mother land.” Said the skinny soldier in a rousing voice.

“Oh yeah, let us see who relents when we put you through our third degree.” He turned and said, “Bring on Abdul Hamid.”

Moments later, a dark, burly looking man appeared in front of Sakha. He was holding a large iron rod in his hand was wearing a dog belt in the neck. Before Sakha could realise what happened, he came running towards him and started licking him all over his face.

“What the heck… Wha…afff… uummmmppphhhh. What are you doing” Shouted Sakha while getting out of his bed like spring was attached to his bums. “Gosh, MOTI! What are you doing?… yuks!” He said again trying to push the little canine Moti away from him. The black and white spotted dog had licked him all over his face. Wuff wuff… the canine barked.

“Hummph!… Moti, now go. Go out and play.” Said a weary looking Sakharam, still living in his dream. But his dog was not going to give up so easily. Moti barked again, this time rather loudly. Sakharam heard his father make a grunting sound in the back ground. “Moti… what do you want beta? It is just… (looking at the watch) 6:30 in the morning. Dont you want to sleep? Now go… go out.” The dog barked again. “Gosh Moti… if babu wakes up, he is going to kill you, you know. Now go” said Sakha shoeing the dog away and out of the small room he was sleeping.

Sakha was one of the 4 siblings of Devilal Khevadiya, popularly known as babu and a farmer by profession. They had about an acre worth of land and its yield was sufficient for Devilal to raise Sakha and his 3 elder sisters. The whole united family used to stay on the single storied house right in the middle of the farm. However with two of Sakha’s sister already married and after the demise of Devilal’s parents, the population of the Khevadiya farm was reduced to four. They also maintained some live stock such as cows, goats and a dog, named Moti, who was now back in Sakha’s room. He too feared Babu and so this time he started pulling Sakha’s pyjama.

“Goddd… MOTI!shouted Sakha as his father again grunted in the back ground. “Okay, okay… common I’m coming out.”

All of 21 years, Sakharam’s life had revolved all around the farm. Although Devilal educated Sakha as best as he could, he wanted him to carry on as a farmer. However Sakha was not interested. The tall wheat in the farm was a hiding ground for him. As a child, he used the sunflower as a code word to hide his identity in the school. Sakha was fascinated by the thrill of life. He found the routine life very mundane. Thanks to his English teacher, they all read stories of Sherlock Homes and Percy Jackson. And he liked both. As he grew, his fascination armed forces caught speed. He had read all the stories of the 1968 and 1971 war heroes. And he never missed a war movie. As he grew up, he made up his mind to join the Army. Being the only son, every one in the family refused to allow him to do so. As his sisters got married, number of people preventing him from joining the army grew by one each. As a result, he could not appear for NDA. But now in his final year of graduation, he had made up his mind. Another year and he was going to fly… literally.

Sakha was not in talking terms with his father since two nights. One of his idiot friends had spilled the beans of his plans in front of Babu… and then the fight started. 2 nights and 3 years had passed. Sakha wondered how much more will take him to convince his babu. But now, he had to respond to his dog, who for some reason wanted Sakha to accompany him some where.

“Arre kya hai? Kaha jaana hai?” Sakha was getting angry now, while his dog was interrupting his daily routine.

“Where are you pulling me baba? Let me wash my face at least.” In some time, Sakha realised that Moti actually wanted to go to the River. He was a good swimmer, just like all other dogs. But he loved water, unlike all other dogs. And although Chena river was about 3 kilometres from his farm, he enjoyed running to it, jumping over numerous sequences of flat farm lands and rocks. So did Sakha. They enjoyed every moment of it, whether it was raining like today or dry. Sakha spent his journey, plucking potatoes and carrots en route while Moti chased away the butterflies and birds. Today was no different, except that Moti did not have any birds to chase, thanks to the rain.

The intermittent rain meant it took them almost an hour to reach the Chena bridge. Instead of munching on carrots en route, Sakha had to take shelter under the empty bullock carts in the farms nearby to evade the rain. His dog, however, enjoyed every bit of the shower. The last farm was about 300 metres away from the bank and just overlooked the bridge. Thanks to rainy season, it was not full of wet sand. Sakha started walking in it, looking back at the foot print he was leaving behind. He wondered if he had a camera. He would have captured the sight, his and Moti’s pug marks. Just when he was admiring the beauty of nature around, a lout noise broke his attention. What he saw completely horrified him.

He saw a large piece of rubber out of a state transport bus’s rear tyre rip apart and literally fly out on the car coming behind. Even before he could blink, he saw the bus wobble as if it was running on a water bed. There was another loud noise as the bus crashed into the railing of the Chena bridge. Sakha let out a loud scream out of his mouth. But before he could breath again for another scream, he saw a rather old looking green and white bus nose dive in the gorge of the Chena River.

To be continued…

Z4: Vinda

This is part IV of the story Red & White. Please read earlier parts before continuing.

“You know Soham, Vinda? He is such a cool dude. Man! In saw him the other day with a…”

“Oh shut up Gurjeet. All you talk about is other people only. I’m sick of hearing who is better than me.” Aravinda cut Gurjeet short, rather curtly. “Ab time aa gaya hai ki log apne baare mein baat karein.”

“Haan, why not. People already talk about you. Aravinda Narayanan, the son of famous economist Mr. Ananda Narayanan. Tuze kya kami hai yaar. Tere baap ne to bahut chhap ke rakha hai.”

“Yes. You are right. But uska chhapa hua paisa mera nahi hai. It sucks when people refer me as Mr. Ananda Narayanan’s son. Even I should have a identity. What good is it to be called as some one’s son?” Aravinda said with a poignant expression on his face. “… and besides, it doesn’t help me any way.”

“Matlab?” Continue reading