76: Piya Bawri!

Story number 6 of the Seven Deadly Sins series. I know I have dragged them too much. But then good stories do not come just like that, do they? ūüôā

Plus I’m also delivering on a promise that I’ll start writing love stories again. This story could just be the beginning. Enjoy!

Kitte Jau re Piya kaise pau re… tohe pau re…

They could have been the last words of Sampada, she was found unconscious by the pool with her left palm (and wrist) dipped in the shallow side meant for kids to play. Lot of blood had oozed out of that wrist, probably slashed with a broken glass piece from the chandelier that fell off in her room some time ago. Her maid Jharna Bai had been shouting Laado Sa… Laado Sa from out side Sampada’s chamber, trying to prevent her from doing the unthinkable, but in vain. She had been following the princess close on her heals since Pratap left earlier that night. And now, she was looking for guards who could break into the room. Continue reading

75: Acedia

This is story number 5 of the 7even series.

“Dinkar… look at that boy Sachin. He is only a couple of years older to you. But he has already made a¬†d√©but¬†in the Indian national cricket team. You too are a good batsman Dina… I think you should work towards it.”

“I am Baba… even I’m a good batsman. I need not prove it time again.”

“I know Dina… I just want you to work hard towards it. Yesterday I met your coach Achrekar. He said you are always late to practice in the morning? Some times you skip it too. What is this?”

“Ah … he calls us at 5am. I cant wake up that early. Besides, dont worry… I’m still the number one batsman at my club.” Continue reading

74: Gourmet Issues

This is story no. 4 from the Se7en series.

Warning: Long Story

“Ladies and Gentlemen! After successfully launching the WLL services, Timenet presents to you the future of computing. Please put your hands together to the next generation of grid computing, THE TIME WRAP!” Said Kedar Marathe, the Chief¬†Architect¬†of Time Net, and Indian company in the business of making software products for the network connectivity solutions and data¬†centres. They had launched a new self developed cloud computing platform, first of its kind in the world.

As the Emperor Arena in Abu Dhabi burst into a loud applause, Micheal Casey banged his coffee mug on his table. The small watch in his wrists was reading 5am. He and his team mates had come early to their Palo Alto office especially to watch the webinar of Timenet’s 1.0 launch of their new grid computing platform, ‘Timewrap’. Continue reading

73: The Extra Dollar

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In continuation of the previous two stories, this is the third story of the 7even series.

Savita was finding it difficult to concentrate on the new case file that was handed over to her. She was just not able to get her head out of the Nishi Dasgupta murder case that had rocked the city two months ago. It had been 8 weeks since she began the investigation. However none of the clues led any where. She was just not able to find out who killed the 26 year old married woman and why. The case was now taking a political turn. As the pettiness of the leaders of opposition grew, pressure of handing the case over to CBI was mounting on ACP Savita Nath from the crime branch. It was making her very nervous. Continue reading

72: Punerva

It was now beginning to pain a little bit. But she was not thinking about it. As always, her mind was wandering else where. She had made this compromise with herself. Every time she was on the job, it was important for her to think of all the good things. And she was trying it hard to do just that. As the activity became little fierce, she gripped the side of the cot tightly with one hand while digging her fingernails on his shoulder with the other. He responded with quick and hard strokes before letting out a cry… and then he fell limp on her body. It was over… for now.

Punerva hadn’t chosen this life. It was thrust upon her. She had faint memories of her childhood. She was one of the victim of the racially motivated massacre in Bhagalpur, Bihar. Unfortunately, she was saved. Along with few others, the five year old kid was tossed from centre to corner before the country forgot about them. That is when Vaijayanthi took the girls under her stride. She ran a brothel in Erode and, during her younger days, was the most popular face in the red light area. Vaijayanthi would occasionally pick up some girls from the streets and raise them at her old mansion. There she would raise them as her own kids. They had teachers to teach them, good clothes to wear and most importantly they had food and shelter. But every one knew what was their future going to be. Often half of them ran away while only few stayed and obliged to Vaijayanthi’s demands. Punerva was one of them. She had no one to go back to. It was a cruel world outside. Besides all she had to do was make some compromises.

“You were very good Pannu…” said the man as he tried to come close to her again.

“Get lost you limp. Just pay your money and leave!” Punerva curtly replied as she got up and walked inside the bathroom.

Staring at her naked body in the mirror, Punerva thought she was out of shape for a 23 year old. But she had never had a need or time to work on her body. It was always some one else who worked on her. It had been 6 years since the first time… and the memories of the first encounter were still fresh in her minds. Vaijayanthi, who had taken care of her for 12 years had sold the pretty virgin to two businessmen for a sum of 30,000. As the sound of flipping of new notes grew louder, Punerva’s agony and pain grew deeper and colder by the day. In all these 6 years, she had met innumerable devils who paid to use her as a machine that satisfied their need, lust!

But then some thing happened few weeks back, which Punerva did not expect. That evening, Vaijayanthi told her to be ready for a special guest from Chennai. She got ready as usual, expecting a wealthy businessman in his middle age. But she was surprised to see a rather timid looking young man entering her room. He looked scared from the moment he entered in. Punerva’s second surprise came when the guy turned his gaze away from her half naked body. She was used to desperate people who wanted he naked immediately. And here was a guy who stole his gaze away from her. She asked him if he was okay. He didn’t respond. Punerva tried going near him. But he moved further away. 5 minutes later, the guy said some thing, which took her by surprise. Since then she had been trying to locate him. Brothels generally don’t keep contact details of their clients, unless they are esteemed. So there was no way Punerva could reach him again. Days became weeks and she got on with her life again, still hoping to meet him once

On a lazy Sunday morning, another girl Latha came running with an advertisement in her hand. A large silk emporium from Chennai had opened their branch in the new mall in Erode. They were giving away inaugural discounts. The offer was too exciting and the girls decided to visit the showroom in the evening. Little did Punerva know that it was going to be a memorable evening. As they entered the showroom, she met her fourth surprise associated with the same guy. He was sitting right on the cash counter and busy making bills.

“Hello…” she said rather loudly, “Nice to see you again.”

But it seemed the guy did not like being identified. He nervously got up and started going inside the shop, as if he was trying to hide himself from her. Punerva followed him

“Hello mister, excuse me! Did you not recognise me?”

“Yes I did.” He said, looking very nervous. “But what do you want now?”

“Oh nothing. I had been thinking about you and I just wanted to…”

“What you wanted money? I thought so. Alright but not here.” He said interrupting her.

“Money? No No… actually I just wanted to talk to you. You are…” He was surprising Punerva again.

“Alright… but not here.” He signalled some one to man the cash counter. Then turned to Punerva and said, “Come with me!”

Since the mall was newly constructed, many shops were still empty. Making sure that no one was looking at them, he found one with half of the shutter open and took Punerva inside.

“Look! I’m the only son of a reputed business family. Coming to you that day was my mistake. I was forced to do that by my friends as I’m getting married in few months. But I didn’t do any thing wrong with you, did I? So why are you black mailing me?”

“No sir I’m not. In fact I was…”

“See it is fine. If you want money, I can help you with some. But only some. Please understand that I’m a simple guy who fears the society image, family, reputation a lot. I cant face the wrath of all. Besides, I can’t be be spotted talking to a prostitute here. So you please…”

“Hmmm, I see! Now I understand why you were so reluctant that day. I should have understood on the same day. I was fool to think that you were different. You blinded me with your dialogue. Do you remember? You had said why do I spoil myself with this flesh trade when there are other better things to do in life. Let me tell you mister that I did not choose to be what I am today. I have my own share of agonies. But what will you do listening to them? After all you have made a conclusion that I’m a prostitute and I’m not worth talking or spending time with. Par sahab, humein bhi seedhi sadhi zindagi jeene ka haq hai. Even you are a businessman. Probably you wanted to be a pilot. But you still are a businessman today because it is your family profession. May be your father forced this on to you. It is no different for me. I was also forced onto it. But I don’t blame my family, I don’t have one. I blame people like you who have forced themselves onto me time and again. They came, threw money and used me as a machine to satisfy their lust. Yes mister, I am a victim of lust of people like you. You guys have torn me to¬†shreds¬†and will continue to ruin me. You all are just…”

“What is your name?” Interrupted the guy. He was watching her all along the conversation. His expressions changed with every sentence of Punerva.

“Huh? Why?”

“Tell me… I want to know” he said as he pulled out his mobile phone.

“Punerva.”

“Full name?” He said again as he took a picture of her in his mobile phone.

“Do you think I have a family name? Anyway, I have had enough. Go and complain, if you feel so. Good bye mister, whoever you are!” said Punerva rather strongly as she walked away from the guy. He followed her and kept watching until she¬†disappeared at the end of the corridor. She didn’t turn.

Few months later, Punerva got a letter on her name with Vaijayanthi. Thankfully Vaijayanthi was not around and she got to open it herself. It contained two documents. One of them was a fixed deposit certificate. Some one had deposited 5 lacs on her name in the State Bank of Travancore. It also had her picture, which she immediately recognized. The other was a hand written letter. It read…

“Hi Punerva,

This is Balamurugan Shanmugam. I’m sorry I did not get a chance to introduce myself to you. I’m the same guy who met you in the Chennai silk emporium. I too have been thinking about you since you left that day. I did not have courage to come and meet you or call you. As I had said that day, I’m a family fearing, society fearing guy who cares a lot about his and his family’s reputation in the public. I’m not brave enough to do some thing noble and save a prostitute’s life, although I’d love to do that. But I had to do some thing for you.

So I’m sending this fixed deposit on your name. I’ve signed on your behalf. But it is easy and you can replicate. And please don’t think that I’m trying to help you financially. There are people out there who want to pay money and buy you to satisfy their lust. This is my small attempt to protect you from them. By this money, even if I can buy the lust of 1000 Balamurugans like me, I’ll feel I have achieved my life’s objective.

You are a nice girl Punerva. Thankfully we didn’t do any thing that day. But now I wish if we had done it. The memories you gave me are not enough.

Yours, Bala”

Foot note: This story is a tribute to all sex workers who have compromised their lives to satisfy the demons in us. But I hope we stop some day and some where.

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