Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Last(ing) Conversation

The Last(ing) Conversation

I looked into her I'd never looked before...and knowing completely that I may not look into them again, in the same way. The silence was uncomfortable. A lot of words were to be said. A lot of words could've been said. But then, we chose them carefully. Each word could make a world of difference. What if we never met again and this last conversation was not the memory we intended to make?

We were fully aware of the circumstances. We always had to part. Though not aloud, we had imagined this moment for months now. Now we wondered how we could actually do it, without hurting and hating each other. May be that way was easier. You could hate someone and forget them. But how could you love someone and forget them? I always wondered if the "out of sight is out of mind" adage is true. But how would she be of out sight....when the last image I saw every night before falling asleep was her eyes....and those strands of hair that fell in front of her left eye....and the way she gracefully hid them back behind her ears...till they fell in front of her eyes again....

The strands fell in front of her eyes again. It broke my chain of thoughts. She hid it again and I knew the silence was getting more and more uncomfortable.

"'re leaving in the morning?" I knew everything right from the train number, to the seat she would occupy to the departure time. We had discussed this atleast ten times. I still asked.
" I have to...." she replied. Like she had no choice. She probably had none. But would she have taken it, if she had a choice? I always wondered.
"What if the train to your town is permanently cancelled?" I said. There was a pause. My heart beat fast as I waited for her reply.
" I would've to take a bus" she replied...and burst out laughing. This was part of why I liked her so much. The ability to make light of a serious situation. But somehow, it got on my nerves that evening. May be she noticed it too. She placed her hand on mine..looked into my eyes and said
"You know I've got no choice." This always calmed me down. I was sometimes scared no one would understand me like she did.

Somehow, the way she reconciled to the fact that we could never be together was alarming. It was as though I was already a part of her past. I would probably take months to heal. And she would always occupy a precious little corner in my heart. Would it be the same for her as well? Would she remember me?

"Would you even remember me, after a few years?" I asked. Insecurity was creeping. And the funny part was I felt insecure that I wouldn't be a part of her memories...let alone her life. 
"I've got something for you...." she said. It was obviously a topic-changing tactic. I mean, she always did that when we headed the emotional way. I felt weird. I was always one for emotional, dreamy conversations. She was always the more practical. May be that's why we worked...may be that's why we didn't work. 

She handed me a gift. It was wrapped in golden yellow. I smiled. It was her first gift...and probably the last one. Every time we met after a gap, I always asked her..."What have you got for me?"And she always used to say "I'm here in person...what more do you want?" 
" this won't be there in person anymore?" I said sadly. I cursed this mode of mine at times. But I just couldn't let go so easily. She knew it too.

"Why don't you understand? It's just not possible. I need to go." Her eyes moistened slightly. Somehow, it made me happy. Like I meant something to her...if not everything. "Let's talk something normal. Okay? Normal. When're you leaving for home?"she was good at this.

I must say, I always lacked the power or actually get angry or argue with her. I had tried to hate her many times, knowing that it was the only way I could move on. But was -to put it in her words - just not possible.

Our conversation meandered around some mundane stuff for some more time. I just wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. The moon had risen fully. There was no one walking around anymore. After a while, we suddenly realised the silence around us. It made both of us conscious.

"I think I must go." she said. "Yes you should" I parroted. We got up from those stone steps. I stood close to close as I was permitted. I looked into her eyes for a whole minute. "You're beautiful" I said. "Thank you", she said and looked down. It was getting a little heavy for both of us. But there was no escaping it. 

That strand of hair fell in front of her eyes again. I don't know what made me do it.....but I took it, and placed it behind her ears..its rightful place. She looked at me.I didn't know if she was hurt....or if she was blushing. 
"I'm sorry." I said. "But...I wanted to do that...atleast once in my life". There was silence. She recovered...and said "I'd better get going. Need to do some last minute packing" I had to recover too. We shook hands, like professionals, and said "Good-Bye" to each other.

I took a few steps. And turned to look back at her. She was about to disappear behind a bend, when I shouted "Hey....come here. I have a plan."
"What is it..? I need to rush...."

"It's like this...we both live for an other 50 years say. 2065. Then we die. We are born again in 2089. Let's come back here in 2113. Atleast that time..would you agree to be my companion for life in 2115?" My heart was pounding again. Here I was, a stupid romantic, trying to reserve a slot for a next time that nobody knows if it exists! And my expectation was as realistic as though I was talking about next year. We looked at each other for a few seconds.

In the end, she only said "You are mad!"

Like I said, I was the eternal dreamer....and she was downright practical. 

But somehow, even in the moonlight, I could notice she was blushing. And after a couple of minutes of mute staring and smiling, I could swear she took a step towards me.....

Was that moment advanced by a 100 years, all of a sudden

                                                                                              - 25th October 2014

Give an incident to an author...and this is what you get. Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Writer's Woes -5

                                                     A Writer's Woes - 5

The story......a story he wanted to share. He had it all welled up. But it would never come out. Each time he thought about it, he could imagine each the threads he had woven so tenaciously. Yet when we wanted to bring it all together...he lost grip.

He lost the plot. Creativity, which helped him blend his ideas seamlessly somehow had deserted him. Inspiration, which put passion to his words and strength to his sentences had left him long ago.
He would sit staring at people...trying to decipher their many moods and expressions - for him an eternal source of stories. Yet somehow..all expressions and moods seemed the same. There was no longer that little extra which made the mundane beautiful..and the commonplace interesting.

Day after day, week after week, he waited. He felt robbed of something within his being...from where his ideas used to flow. That well-spring from where wonderful words and expressions used to emanate seemed a barren land... a desert. He saw himself as an aimless traveller...searching for direction, searching for that oasis where he could find at least drops of inspiration.

On the one hand, he felt a sense of scary desperation. The desperation one feels about an innate ability that deserts you when you need it the most. That "so-near-yet-so-far" feeling. On the other hand, he felt he had no option but do everything to re-discover his passion....he felt a loss of identity without creativity.

There was an empty feeling in his stomach that day too. A feeling of nothingness as his weary eyes scouted every face passing for a story. Life seemed like clockwork. People at the same place at the same time every time. That made him think. What is that design which set people to a routine everyday?

The milkman would pour milk to the same home at the same time everytime. So did the newspaper boy. People went about their work the same way. They left home and came back at the same time. He saw a pattern. A constancy about life that he had never marvelled. For them, to deviate from this constancy would be chaos. Yet for him, the lack of chaos meant a lack of ideas and expressions.

There again, a voice spoke in his head. Why did there always have to be chaos for him to write? When the whole world drifted towards a concept of stability, he wanted a deviation from normalcy and constancy for him to thrive. Was it this itch that had robbed him of his creativity? The itch to always see and write something out of the ordinary?

He stared at the world again. He now wanted to change the way he looked at the world. He wanted to appreciate the constancy. The beauty of stability. And from there would spring a hundred ideas. He would lose himself as an author again - in his stable world......

                                                                                                 - 5th October 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Storyteller's Diary

The Storyteller's Diary

"We'll never know why people enter our lives....we'll never know why they leave. It is in these pages I preserve them..." The introduction to the diary read.

There was a bag next to the diary. It belonged to the owner no doubt. The train whistled and moved out of the station. Ten minutes later, the owner hadn't returned to claim the bag...or the diary. I was curious and turned the pages.....

Each page contained a different handwriting. The diary clearly didn't belong to a single person. Or atleast the content. I started reading, from a random page:

"The old lady still haunts me. She was  distantly related to my grandmother. Though we never spoke of her often. All we knew was that she'd come to our home once a month. She would go directly to the place where my grandmother's picture was hung, after her death. She would look at the picture intently. Then curse her for a long time. After a while, it would be praise. I still don't know why she cursed...neither do I know why she praised. But then, there was this depth of feeling when she spoke that I can never forget.....I sometimes thought she was senile....

Then that day..she entered our home. She didn't go to my grandmother's photo at all. She asked my wife to serve her food. We were taken aback. She had never asked even a drop of water. We served her anyway. She wanted just rice. No curds I've never seen anyone eat with such gluttony. She ate as much as my entire family would eat in a meal. And weirdly, didn't drink a drop of water. She then massaged her stomach...I'd never seen a sane woman do that. She then looked at me intently and said 'Today....I'm satisfied'. She walked out of our home, without even looking at my grandmother's photo.

She didn't come back the next month. Or the month after that. Six months later, I wanted to find out what happened to her. Weirdly, we were missing her. Or it was more the phenomenon of her monthly appearance that we were so used to, that we were missing. I went to her home - in a village some 10 kilometres east from my place. When I asked her son, he said she was dead for more than a year now.............I barged in, not willing to believe. And there it was...her picture hung on a wall, with a death date that said it had been 14 months since she died.

In a corner, there was also a picture of hers with my grandmother. It had to be her. But how was it that she was in my home six months ago.........I still wonder. If she was a defies logic....but then, she could never be human.....she still haunts my dreams sometimes...I can never confide this to my family for they'll get scared too...but yes...she haunts me...


I closed the diary for a moment. I realised it was someone else's property and placed it on the owner's seat. The owner was nowhere in sight yet. My impulse yearned for an other look. An other read.I snatched the diary into my hands and started reading.......

"I started stealing by accident. I was involved in a robbery when I was very young. My father made me climb the attic of his in-laws' home - just because only I would fit there. I passed him all the gold. In the morning, he was gone...away from my life....and my mother's. I don't know if the incident showed the way or just reinforced destiny...but I took to robbery for my livelihood. 

I never rob poor homes though. I mark my victims with care. People who're rich and can 'afford' a robbery are my targets. And I also make sure that I use a part of the money to help the needy. It eases my conscience in a way.

It was on a summer morning that I entered a house. There was a young girl playing in the garden. For over a week, I had observed the routine in the house. The parents would leave for office, leaving the girl in the care of a maid. The maid would play for some time with the girl. Then she'd go out and return after an hour. That was my chance. 

I tiptoed into the parents' bedroom. I suddenly sensed someone following me. It was the girl. She smiled innocently. I smiled back. I told her I was her father's friend from office. And that he had instructed me to get certain stuff from the house. Without further thought, I robbed the house of its valuables. It was when I was leaving, that the girl called out to me and waved at me. A sweet sign of good-bye.

That good-bye had an impact. The image of the girl waving at me has never left me. It makes me feel guilty. It reminds me of the charm, the innocence of childhood - something I couldn't experience because of my father. It hasn't made me guilty enough to quit stealing...I guess it's something hereditary. But then, I still send an envelope with some money to that house every year, on the day I made the robbery. It's not that the robbery hurt them; I feel that that particular robbery hurt me more than it hurt them. To send the money  is the only way I can relieve some amount of the pain....."


This came from a completely different personality. The diary seemed to be a gold-mine of experiences from people in various walks of life. I couldn't resist reading a third page.......

"I was happily married for 3 years when I met him. It's just that some're destined to meet them. And later you wonder why you met them. 

He was young, single, charming and sincere. No airs about him. Plain. I still can't understand what was so special about him. We met in office and our thoughts linked instantly. Our ideas mirrored each other. Our thoughts connected in a brilliant way. Naturally, we became good friends. 

And suddenly, I felt our gazes met a little too often. He'd look for me. I secretly wanted him to look for me. I'd look for him unknowingly. And when we met and talked, my pulse would start racing. I could sense his anxiety too.

I still felt there was no cause for alarm. But then, I started thinking about him at home too. My husband caught me thrice - preoccupied like never before. And then, out of the blue, he confessed. He was as sincere as ever. Admitted that he never wanted to be a thorn in my marital life and would walk out of my life with a transfer at work. I guess I melted there. I confessed too. But somewhere, I guess I wanted his presence. I told him not to take such drastic steps. That we could remain colleagues and maintain a certain respectable distance, emotionally.

He went on leave for a week, telling he needed time. When he came back, he waved at me. I went to his desk and shook hands with him. And for whatever reason, that touch sparked a sense of guilt that I wasn't able to extinguish for a long time. We'd shook hands hundreds of times. But then there was something different about the experience that day....that made it unbearable for me to even look at him.

I tried reconciling for 2 weeks. I could not. I decided enough was enough and quit the job. I didn't even look at him even on the last day. He has tried contacting me many times since then. Most times he's been sincere, apologetic. His mails, messages...all speak of how he tried to be just a good colleague...and the rest was a momentary lapse on his part......I never respond. He'll stop trying to contact me soon..I hope.

To this day, I believe him. May be, a part of the mistake was mine as well. And may be, if we hadn't confessed to each other, we'd never have been guilty. But then..would it have been right? I still feel bad for him. May be I could have handled the situation better. But then....I had to save what was already mine....the people in my world. He was just a mirage......"


An old man walked in and sat opposite me. He was almost bald. He wore a kurta-pyjama and a pair of dark glasses. I didn't have the time to put the diary back in its place and was caught red-handed. 

" liked the diary?" he asked.
"Quite a bit...I understand that these are experiences of different people...." I said.
"True that."
"But how did you get them to write it for you?" I asked. Curious than ever.
He smiled. "Do you think they'll ever open up to write in a diary? Actually write in a stranger's book?"
I felt sheepish. Ofcourse not. "So....what about the different handwritings?" I asked.
He removed his glasses. I could see he was blind.

"I was born almost blind, young man. And I turned completely blind when I was 3 years. It was darkness. My mother raised me. She had immense patience. She made me touch and feel objects to understand their shape. I could never read or write. My parents didn't know Braille even existed, at that time. Now, I don't have the motivation to learn. But then, I always wanted to be an author. So....this is my book...."

"I don't these experiences...? They're not it just fiction?" I asked.

"Not completely. But then they're not completely true either. I have this unique quality of getting people to open up. It's probably because I'm blind. People feel secure confiding in me. And me being an aspiring author, I never stop them. I listen to them. Record their experiences in my memory. Then tweak a detail or two and present the story in the diary."

"But then, what about the different handwritings?"

The old man smiled. "If I said I had an interesting story that could help you pass time on this rather boring journey...wouldn't you offer to write it for me? Specially when you know you can read more from that interesting diary of mine..."

Somewhere, I understood he'd tricked me to doing the writing for him, though he never said it aloud. As though by instinct, I took out a pen from my pocket.

"That's're ready already" he chuckled. The train coasted along...and so did the Storyteller's Diary....

                                                                                     - 15th June 2014

This is my 50th Post in this blog. It has been a journey of almost 5 years. It is my opinion that experience is the Mother of all writing. Thanks to people who've made me go through experiences, which have inspired many posts in this blog. I've also witnessed and listened to people's experiences - and that has been of immense value. Thanks for the opportunity. An author never feels his work is complete, until he's read by an audience. Thanks to all you readers - both regular and non-regular. The feedback, the criticism..always inspire.
"We'll never know why people enter our lives....we'll never know why they leave. It is in these pages I preserve them..."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What I may call Life.....

What I may call Life...

I searched for it on ink-stained paper
Between the lines I wrote
Truth would be an idea
Black as black; white as white
Yet the white lost lustre in the night
And cast a black shadow when bright
Black and white muddled together
In an event called grey
I would still keep looking for Truth
Yet grey would hold sway

In a quest to explore the world
I embarked on an endless journey
Each milestone pointed to a world inwards
The Identity, deep, hidden, inside me
I watched myself grow in stature
Yet a child at heart
I felt pride for the vigour of youth
And cried for the kid in me
I made peace with the evil I was at times
The mixed Identity would be my destiny

The world around me burned with ambition
The sparks kindled a flame
I set myself a lofty Goal
A road to name and fame
I filled my heart with reckless zeal
My life now had a purpose
It was a penance of sweat and toil
And reaching the Goal was elation
Yet as the next one presented itself
I realised it was a journey sans a destination

A breeze called Love brought a sense of freshness
To a barren town that was my heart
The town was soon abuzz with homes called dreams
And vows to never drift apart
The gentle caress of affection
And the tender tug of passion
I built myself a castle in the air
Hoping the breeze would stay
And Lo! Love had left without a hint into the night
With memories strewn all the way

I looked into my eyes in the mirror
They seemed to be so full of life
Each day they expected something new
It was bliss for being alive
Through the quest for Truth, Identity, Goals and Love
They had seen it all
With each success they had seen me rise
The struggle after a fall
It was to them, those Eyes in the mirror
That I always owed an answer
Be it Success, be it Failure
I would always emerge stronger.

                                                                                                 - 29th May 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Salesman

The Salesman

"You're too passive for a salesman" my friend taunted me over phone. He was not the first one. Nor would he be the last. "Sales Executive" I tried to correct him, before he disconnected the call. It was just inevitable that he would now let everybody in the world know that I was a salesman....err...sales executive. I mean.... I had to admit it as well. There was some voice at the pit of my heart that kept screaming that I was too "proper" (a word that I've tried to fathom the meaning of, for sometime now) for sales. But I had the grit to say "No" to that voice.....and wanted to believe that I was meant to be in sales.

My parents were among the first ones startled when I pompously announced I was now a sales executive. Well, they'd never understood my choices in life. (Neither did I....many times). From a Biology major in pre-university to a Communications engineer to an IT employee now to a Sales Executive.........I'd seen it all. And so had they. But they never got used to it. On the day I proudly announced I'd be selling bulbs, Amma had different concerns. 
" So you go door to door...selling bulbs?"
"Yes" I said, still with a degree of pomp. She soon made a list. I thought she was listing prospective customers. But it was something else.
"Don't go to these areas. Our relatives live here. I've told them you're a manager.I don't want them to know you're a....salesman"
"But Amma...."
"Yes. And don't be seen in this area as well. My reputation is at stake" Appa added and that was the final straw....
"Guys please...for one, I'm a sales executive- not a salesman." I tried correcting them. "And I'm not going door to door. I'm doing Business to Business shop owners,industrialists...retailers" I was sure I was losing them with jargon. "And my product is no ordinary bulb....It's LED...It has got its own advantages...." I hastily took the sample out of my bag....Amma had gone back to the kitchen. Appa to his newspaper. My brother was smirking at me.


I never knew Bangalore had so many gullies. And so many more within those gullies. My manager told me these gullies were the nerve centres of business - and most of my prospective clients had their shops in these gullies. The voice inside was getting louder. "No" I said loudly and entered the battlefield.......

I entered the first shop. There was an old man sitting at the entrance. I smiled at him weakly. He seemed to return it. I felt encouraged. I proudly took out my product and started explaining its features. He seemed to appreciate it and nodded. I felt encouraged and grew confident. He was smiling now. I thought I'd already sold the product. If this was sales....I would be a runaway success! After 10 minutes of  monologue, I asked him " many bulbs would you order?" My mind was thinking in terms of 50 atleast...probably 100 if I was lucky...I was already calling my manager and he had given me a promotion on the first day......
"Saab andhar he..." he said. "What?" I asked coming back to reality. "Owner Saab andhar he" he repeated, with the same smile that had seemed so inspiring moments ago. 

"Oh..." I still managed a smile, despite the raging anger and disappointment in me. I sat down on one of the chairs. With atleast 5 customers waiting, the owner had no time for me yet. I waited for half an hour. Every now and then the owner would smile at me and order a coffee. The coffee never came. I returned all the smiles sincerely- hoping each smile would translate to a sale. After a painstaking hour, he finally said "Ok..Sir..tell me. What  can I do for you?". I took a deep breath. And made my first real pitch to a real owner. I fought the "No" voice down completely and summoned all my confidence. He looked at me. Took a couple of calls in between. Gave instructions to the shop boys. Between all this, he managed to smile at me and nodded a couple of times. I was naive enough to think he was interested. I went on for 10 minutes non-stop. In the end, I felt so confident that my pomp had returned. I adjusted my tie, my glasses and asked him " that I've explained to you how good our product many bulbs would you order Sir?". Once again...I was imagining multiples of hundred. Did the voice suddenly say "Yes", Yes"...I thought I could hear that....

I looked at the owner expectantly. He merely said "Well......some other time Sir." What??!!!! After all the drama that happened in the last two hours? I had to smile. That was the first lesson my manager had taught me. I had to persist. That was the second. "Sir how about starting off with just 50 pieces?" I asked, trying to inflate the fast deflating balloon that was my poise. "No Sir" he said scribbling on his pad. "25...??" he shook his head and smiled. "Let's say 10 Sir. 10 is good enough for me. You can just try." He looked at me and said no. Weirdly, I felt encouraged. "Make it 5 Sir..." I was bringing myself down without intending to. "3....hmmm.....2.....or probably 1?" He probably sensed desperation now. The smile turned to a scowl.......and that was the end of my first sale.....or sales pitch rather!


A week went by. My score was zero. It remained there after a fortnight. And even after a month. The "No" seemed to be getting louder. But I was getting rather persistent. Somehow, I could never give up. Each owner I met was a character. A lot of them knew me by face now. While some of them almost shooed me away when I waved at them, there were others who asked me to come inside and have coffee. There was a category which listened to me patiently each time I went to them and promised an order in the next week. And that next week, would always remain a next week. I also met a few of them who were looking to chat up on a lazy afternoon and knowing I was a rookie, asked me to pitch, just for the heck of it. Both of us knew we were getting nowhere. Yet for me, the smile and the persistence......were an obligation.


So it was a welcome change, when my manager called me and said "Apartments. Showrooms. Target these now. We'll give a break to the retailers. I know you're doing your best." I was in two minds now. While on the one hand, I was happy to be away from the gullies for any length of time, I didn't want to be seen by anyone I knew in the apartments that I'd be visiting. But again, manager's orders meant everything at a time when my score was naught. I quietened the "No" that was getting louder by the minute and resolved to try.

A guy from typical middle class Bangalore, I'd never visited the upscale apartments that had mushroomed all over the place in the last decade. The tall buildings, the fleets of cars and seemingly sophisticated residents were enough to kindle a sense of inferiority and give strength to Mr. "No", as I called him these days.

I thought the difficult part of approaching these apartments was getting hold of the right person- a President or Secretary who could influence the residents. But it turned out to be getting through the security. I was at a loss as to how to present myself of them. I could neither be too dominant and confident- it would hurt their ego. I couldn't be too meek and polite - I would sound fake. I gave myself a pat on the back everytime I crossed security. It was probably the next best thing to selling that could happen. The score still remained at naught, after approaching atleast two dozen apartments....

When I saw her. Or rather..she saw me. We'd never met in the last year or so. But things were picking up quite well. I'd told her that I would be joining a company as Sales Manager. That had pleased her and we were on chatting terms now - twice a week and only 100 messages each time. I'd pitched myself to her using all that I'd learnt during my 2 years of MBA.....and she'd agreed to give me a chance to keep in touch through messages. If I'd impressed her enough, we would graduate to going out in a couple of months. I'd told I was a sales manager, well connected. "I provide LED lighting Solutions" I'd told her. "'re a it?" she'd asked. "Yes...more or less..." I'd told her. It had taken time to build the reputation...and all of that crashed in minutes.

I was haggling with the security staff of her apartment when she saw me. "How is it that you're here?" she asked. I was shocked to see her there - I didn't know it was her apartment. "You stay here...?" I asked.
"Yes...I do....but why are you here..?"
"Well... I had to meet a client....LED lighting solutions...see". I tried to reason.
"He's a salesman Madam. Trying to get in to the apartment to sell bulbs "said the security crudely...obviously half-informed. I tried correcting him. "Selling LED Lighting solutions Sir" I corrected. 
"Wahi...bulb bhejne aaye ho...." he put it across crudely as possible. He snatched my bag..and checked it. It contained 10 pieces of my product...that were my companions for almost two months now.
He showed it to her. She merely said "We'll chat up." And walked away.

We didn't chat. Or theoretically we did. I went back home and sent my quota of hundred messages. Some of them explanations. Most of them apologies. A few threats that I'd never contact her again if she didn't respond and a few apologies for my anger again. She was probably counting hundred messages. After the allotted hundred, she responded. Well, theoretically she did. She blocked my number. I sent her a hundred and first message that day.....out of desperation....and it never got delivered.

My spirits were sagging at one end. On the other I was getting more desperate. I was still on naught by the way. Her rejection had affected me terribly as well. I wanted to prove that being a salesman was no mean thing on the one hand. On the other, I wanted to sell so much that I'd actually become a sales manager soon...then a regional manager...then a VP......and within a year, buy a flat in the same apartment she stayed...I dreamed of these in the night. And guiding me through all these would be my beloved bulbs. All bright, durable bulbs with one year guaranteed brightness...they had a speciality now...they would hang in mid-air. Soon..I would take over the company...the hanging-in-mid-air bulbs would be our USP. They would last for generations.....that would be another dreams had no ends. 

And in the mornings, I'd see bulbs all over the place. In the grocery shop, I counted the light points; I did the same in a saree showroom and got chucked out. The owner thought I was staring at his wife..while I was just staring at a holder behind her. I kept staring at street lights when I was driving and almost collided with a couple of vehicles before my brother alerted me. I'd soon replace all lighting in the world with my bulbs.....and my bulbs would replace all lighting.


Three months on....I was still on zero. Probably the longest test innings ever. I was down. But not out. I took leave for a week. And at the end of my holiday, my manager called me. "There's someone else covering apartments. Go back to the gullies. It's been some time!
I disconnected the call and pulled myself together. I'd try for an other week. If I was still on zero by the end of it, I'd retire- hurt. Mr. "No" had reached fever pitch now.

I walked to the gullies again. The shop owners were amused to see me again. Yet at the end of the day, the score remained on naught. As I was returning, I spotted a new store. Let me just push my luck, I thought. The owner was an old man. I didn't really have the energy for a full fledged pitch.
I went there. Stood in front of him. And said "Sir...this is an LED glows in the dark......only if you switch it on"
I thought he'd call me mental. But then....he burst out laughing. I don't know what amused pitch or me. He kept laughing for a good 10 minutes. Passers-by started gathering outside the shop. He recovered enough to say everything is fine. He suddenly became very serious. He looked at me for a whole minute...and then said
"Give me 10 of those"

He didn't have to ask me twice. I emptied my bag in front of him. And placed all 10 on his table. The bulbs and I had sort of formed a bond over the last 3 months..and felt it a little tough to let them go.....may be they felt the same as well. But both of us were fulfilling our destined purpose now. I smiled at the bulbs.I smiled at the shop owner. Thanked him...and walked out of the shop.

Mr. "No" was still on rampage. But I had this wonderful feeling that a Mr. "Yes" would soon silence him.
I would smile. I would persist. 

                                                                                                - 12th May 2014, Monday

The incidents are purely fictitious. A bit of experience mixed with a wealth of imagination!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014



It had been 10 years. 10 long years that had separated him and his village. Manju gazed at the place where Veeranna's tea stall had stood. The tea stall had hosted a hoard of memories for Manju. In its place stood a hotel. Manju hoped it was Veeranna who'd graduated from a tea stall to a hotel. He moved to get a closer look at the man at the cash counter. Clad in a formal suit, the person looked as distant from Veeranna as possible. The last connect for Manju in his village had ended..........

Manju had left the village at the cusp of its transformation. Only, he was too young to fathom its implications at that time. He reached Bangalore, where he completed his engineering. Three years into working at a multinational, a chance to work in the States was imminent. He grabbed the chance, with that fervour of typical Indian middle class. 

The first year had been excellent. The second toned him down a bit. The third year sobered him completely. Manju realised he was missing something. During his second year in the States, his father expired. His responsibility tied him down and he couldn't fly down to India. He accepted the fact. A couple of months later, he felt weird about it. He felt weirder, when his elder brothers didn't question him much on his decision.

A few months later, attention turned to his marriage. Manju always dreamed of marrying a girl from a humble background, ideally from his village. He was not really keen on her being highly qualified, but expected sound value systems in place. His mother and brothers floated profiles of prospective brides all the time. Yet he always felt disconnected. He proceeded to chat with a few of the girls and each time felt his family was not understanding what he wanted.

By the end of the third year, Manju felt completely unsettled. He had the position. He had the money. Yet he had this overwhelming feeling that he did not belong in the States. He consulted a counsellor. The counsellor said he'd been away from home for too long. She added Manju was feeling "Uprooted" - a sense of insecurity of having been away from one's roots for too long. Manju resigned from his job and took the flight back to India.


Bangalore, Manju's home for seven years before he left for the States, held no particular charm anymore. He had witnessed its transformation, from a calm, green city to an IT powerhouse that played host to millions from around the country. IT had afforded people a lifestyle that looked and felt confused. People were neither completely Western nor had they abandoned Indian lifestyle. The average Indian middle class somehow found a harmony which ensured the two lifestyles co-existed in their own ways. Manju had tried that over the years. He knew he couldn't do it anymore. He left for his village.

The first sight of his village, after 10 long years, seemed to bring back to him his lost vigour. Green never failed to enthrall him. The fields of paddy, the shade of the coconut tree, and the canal next to the fields- these were his favorite haunts when he was young. He remembered accompanying his father to the fields from the sowing season to the harvest season. His secret wish had been to be a farmer. It had remained a secret wish. The time had come to probably realise that.

The village had changed drastically. Paved footpaths and tarred roads had replaced mud tracks. Each road had an electricity pole and a street light. He could even see antennae for television on the terrace of a few homes. He smiled. The country was progressing. If each street had lights and the roads were tarred in a remote village such as his, the system was working. Manju was filled with hope.

The cab stopped in front of his home. Manju got down and was received warmly by his whole family. His mother looked as though she had recovered from the loss of her husband. His two elder brothers and their wives looked cheerful. His younger sister looked a little dull. He would enquire about it later. His grandma wasn't around. His two nephews and his niece looked happy. Manju felt completely at ease with himself. He felt he was back where he belonged.

He settled down for a couple of days. "How is that ajji is not around?" he asked, referring to his grandma.  "You tell me her other sons, my uncles, are also dead. She wouldn't go to her daughter's home. So where is she?"
His mother was silent. So were his brothers. His sister volunteered "She is in Bangalore."
"Bangalore? She doesn't have anyone there...does she?" Manju asked.
"She an old-age home" his mother replied.
Manju was distraught. He had particularly fond memories of her. He was rather attached to her. He couldn't believe she was now in an old-age home.
"But why?" he asked.
"She was growing increasingly senile. She stopped remembering names. She would blabber continuously. Put herself in danger. It took a lot to control her" his elder brother said
" She shooed my kids away one evening, not recognising them" his wife added.
"But there are so many of you to restrain her. I mean...she is old...bound to be a little senile. But you can't disown her!" Manju argued.
" We haven't disowned her. We still send the old-age home thousand rupees a month for her care. And Rama visits her every month. One of us go once in three months" his second brother defended.
"Rama is a servant! You send him to enquire about ajji? She took care of all of us for six months when Amma was down with jaundice.......and can't we take care of her when she is old?" Manju looked at his mother expecting some explanation. There was none.


It took some time it to sink in. But it finally did. Manju decided to visit her as soon as possible. A couple of days later, he called Rama and asked him to show around their field. His father had been a model farmer and cultivated paddy and sugarcane. He was revered by other farmers in his village and other villages in the vicinity. If feasible, Manju intended to resume farming again. 

Rama was a little nervous. "Let's go Rama. Let me see our fields. It has been more than 10 years" said Manju. Rama led him to the field. But what presented itself there shocked Manju completely. All he could see there was a godown. Green fields infested with paddy and sugarcane were now replaced by a huge godown and fences around. 
" There is a paper factory in some distance Manjanna." Rama said. "They bought all the land. Including your father's."

"Why was I never told of that? I would never have let that happen......" he asked his brothers.
"That's exactly why we never told you. We were never ready to sweat in the fields like father. So what's the use of the land?" his brother said
"We want our children to go to America as well. Not just you. We want them to be part of high society"his second brother said.
" The paper company offered to buy our lands. They provided a job for both of us there. They built a convent for our children. The paved streets and electricity you see are because of the factory

Manju couldn't speak. It was a conflict of emotions for him. On the one hand, the loss of land was almost a loss of identity for him and his family. They were known as farmers for generations and worshipped land and agriculture. Agriculture had sustained his family and the whole village for centuries. And now suddenly, the present generation in the village had chosen to sever ties with the past. On the other hand, he could understand what his brothers and other people in the village were going through. The mood in the country was aspirational. More so in the villages who were watching what industries, led by IT, were doing to the country. He couldn't blame them for trying to climb up the social ladder. Yet, he couldn't escape the strange feeling of helpnesness as the village tried to dissociate itself from its roots and grow into a tree. Would it sustain....? 


Manju was coming to terms with reality. He had come back to his village with the intention of discovering what he had lost in those precious 10 years he was away from it. But nothing of what he actually wanted existed anymore. He felt a stranger. A stranger in his own town. He never probably felt so "uprooted" -as the counsellor had put- in the States as well.

Then, one day, out of the blue, the elder brother announced the young sister's engagement. Manju asked why he had been kept out of the loop for so long. If it was his sister's marriage, he had a say in selecting the groom. 
"The whole thing had to be arranged quickly, brother" the elder brother said. "The groom is going away to the States in a month's time."
"But who is he?" Manju asked. "Have you sought our sister's approval?"
"It doesn't matter now anyway. He is the son of a GM in the paper company. Educated. Well behaved. Anyways, she always wanted to marry someone who would settle abroad" the brother said and strode away.

Manju's world had turned upside down. Here he was, in his homeland after 10 long years, trying to rediscover his lost roots. Yet his own kith and kin were struggling every moment to cut themselves from those roots and get away. While he perceived his roots as his identity, his people perceived their roots as a chain that bound them from an imminent escape to freedom. The value systems had changed unimaginably in a decade. His mother, who had seen the best of both worlds, chose to remain silent. Was she embracing the change or was she a mute spectator? Manju wondered. His ajji, their land.....two colossal monuments of his upbringing, were no more than remnants now............................ 


Manju went to the village temple. He didn't believe much in God. But the temple had always been a source of peace for him. He remembered the night he had slept in the temple, trying to escape his father who was searching for him after Manju forgot to turn the farm pump off. 

The fact that the temple structure had changed didn't come as a surprise. It was no longer the ancient stone strucure. It was bricks now. He was getting used to changed identities. The priest in the temple was a lot younger than the one he had seen 10 years ago. Must be a son or a nephew. 

Manju sat down against one of the pillars. The peace was no longer there in this structure, Or may be it was just his mindset. Then, he heard a familiar voice. It was the saffron clad Sadhu with whom Manju had a childhood association. The Sadhu had taught Manju his first principles and prayers, before Manju lost belief in God.

Manju stared at the Sadhu. He seemed to recognise Manju and smiled at him. He walked out the temple and sung the prayer he had taught Manju. And as though drawn by his voice, Manju followed him up the hillock.He had found last..............

                                                                                       - 13th April 2014


Monday, January 13, 2014

A Writer's Woes - 4

                                                  A Writer's Woes - 4 

He was still trying to get over it. The Loss : Of nothing material. Of nothing tangible. Of nothing that was born with him. The person had never been there. Yet she had appeared.....and disappeared. The fleeting presence had turned his world upside down.

And a month earlier, he had decided to get back to his writing. That was his escape from the world. That was his cocoon, where he wove intricate patterns of creativity and presented to the world. He put pen on paper. But the words wouldn't flow. There was no escape from a world which seemed so empty after the Loss. There seemed to be no escaping the patterns of memories and dreams that he had woven for himself. He thought he'd built a cocoon for himself....but that now seemed a web from which there was no escape. The spider owning the web seemed to devour on his creativity. His mind wouldn't tick. His pen wouldn't move.

The last he had written was a poem for her. That had now gone in vain. But he now feared that that had been the last ounce of creativity in him. "Why though??" he wondered. He took the book where he'd bundled all his previous writings. The creativity had oozed out of everything that he saw. From the hills, the greenery, the sea, to people, their lives and habits. From little objects like letters to seemingly irrelevant stuff like traffic.

He looked around him. For once he felt so disconnected. Or he had disconnected himself entirely from the world. He again asked himself "Why though??" He pondered for a while. Then realisation dawned on him. When she'd been there, she'd been the centre of his world. He'd forgotten everything else. When she'd left, the Loss had been the centre of his world. He'd still forgotten everything else. "For a writer, it is important to be emotional; but he must have enough control to detach himself from those emotions and recognise them, to be able to write about them" his Guru had said. He'd not been able to execute the second part. He had not been able to detach himself and view his emotions extraneously.

He put pen on paper now. A couple of lines flowed. That was it. The mind and the pen came to a standstill. He felt so drained that he fell asleep on his desk.

When he got up, he was determined not to give up. The Loss threatened to take away something so intrinsic to his personality-his creativity- and he was determined not to let it happen. He put pen on paper. And emotions welled up in him. And they flowed. They flowed in words. They flowed in wonderful words he'd never been able to express. It was a compilation of all those moments with her which had meant the world to him. There were lines of immense joy. There were lines of deepest sorrow. Each line was a dedication. Each line was an outburst. He discovered how much pent-up emotion his head and heart seemed to hold. When we felt he was done, he felt so light. He felt empty again. But this was a different kind of emptiness. Like getting something off one's chest. He tried to reason. Of course, there had been no space for creativity, when all of it had been taken up by the Loss!

He read all he had written. He re-read it. There was this impulse to burn it all up. But would burning the sheets mean burning the memories as well? He thought for a while. All the detachment he'd practiced over the years would come to use now. The decision was tough. But to save himself and his creativity, he had to take it. He wanted to do something that would connect him with his creativity again.

He did something his Guru had always advised. He somehow never believed it. But the time had come to try it out. He chose to accept the Loss. He'd been in a constant sense of hope and longing that the Loss was temporary. That the Loss was reversible. He finally chose to concede defeat. "There will be times in your life, when you've to sacrifice something you want in exchange of something which could seem of lesser value at that moment...but could be the purpose of your existence" The writer felt he was at such a cusp. He felt he had to sacrifice all the hopes of the Loss being reversed, to get back in touch with his creativity. His creativity had been the purpose of his existence so far....and he was about to lose it.

He fell asleep again. And so did his creativity. Yet there was a part of his mind-and heart-working constantly on accepting the loss. It took days. It took weeks. He didn't give up. The process was painful. To destroy castles of dreams and memories that had been painstakingly built was tough. Tougher was taking the decision to destroy. But then, he had to do it........

One sunny day, months later, he wrote a complete piece again. He compared it with the others he'd written a few months before the Loss. This was in no way a reflection of his skill...or talent. But still, it was his brainchild- and a particularly fond one for the labor had been hard indeed. He chuckled to himself.

All he had written on that night was still on his desk. He'd chosen not to burn it. And wisely so. She'd probably return as a character in his future pieces.....and so would the Loss. And when he introduced her as a character, he would secretly hope that she'd re-introduce herself in his life again, sans the Loss. The hope somehow inspired him...and he used it just to inspire himself. He felt everything around him as inspiring as they were earlier. Thoughts flowed...and so did words....he was writing...and writing again.

                                                                                  - 13th January 2014