Tag Archives: short story

The Missing Son

The ball crashed into Mrs. Jadhav’s house, shattering the window glass into pieces. It was stuck with immense power by Sunil, a thirteen year old kid from the neighbouring colony. He was touted to be the next cricketing sensation from the neighbourhood which had seen over ten representations in the Indian cricket team in past five decades. His father, Raghav, a former Mumbai Ranji team member, was a close friend of Daksh, Mrs. Jadhav’s only son. Sunil rang the bell twice before Sunitha answered. She placed the ball in his hand with a gentle smile on her face. “Next time, hit it towards Mrs. Dsouza’s house. She was laughing when you broke mine. It’s time for payback!”

“Dadi, I am sorry.” Sunil replied.

“It’s okay, kiddo. Smash as many glasses as you want but do get yourself selected for the Indian team.”

He nodded, as he handed over an envelope which was lying on the floor of her main door and rushed back towards his friends. Mrs. Jadhav placed the envelope on her study table as she continued to broom away the broken pieces. It took over 15 minutes for her to finally get her hands over the envelope. Her frailing health wasn’t helping either but it was of no match when compared to the grievous pain she had felt since Daksh ran away from home.

He was only thirteen then, he had an argument previous night where his parents wanted him to concentrate on studies than cricket. But like most of the kids from the neighbourhood, even he dreamed to wear the blue jersey. The banter wasn’t new; it had been going on for over a year then, his falling grades and poor performances in local cricket tournaments weren’t supporting his case either. That night, the argument got more louder and finally ended when Mr. Jadhav slapped Daksh and asked him to do exactly what he says. The next morning, when Sunitha entered her son’s room, she found only a letter to settle for. The cricket kit bag, a few crisp notes from Mr. Jadhav’s purse and, most importantly, her son Daksh were missing. All that was left was that letter; a letter which asked his parents not to look for him with a promise that he will return only when he makes it into the Indian Cricket Team. It’s been over twenty five years now, Daksh never came back.

She collected her reading glasses, and opened the peculiar looking blue envelope. And what happened next, was something which Sunitha had expected time and again to happen but remained unrealised until today. It was a letter from him, he was coming home finally.

Part1 Ends.
Picture Courtesy: Tom Shaw/Getty Images.

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The Movie Effect

“There always is a girl, there will always be one. School was where I found her, but the only problem which remained was that I kept finding her over and over again. If you didn’t follow what I said then try to hear the story that follows a little more closely, because even I didn’t get it the very first time.

Crushes, I know we do have quite a number of them. They come, they make you feel good, then they disappear as we find another. It all began with the movies for me, and it never ended like one though. I was a perpetual newcomer in school due to my father’s frequent postings, and unlike others I liked it that way. Short and sweet was something that I had always come to terms with but the moment she arrived, a new longing broke into life for me. It was different than before, yet similar like the others. Every school I had gone, I found someone connected to, someone who I believed may be right for me. I know that’s a big word for a school going kid but I would blame the movies like I had mentioned before. Anyways, she wasn’t like the others, she was special, obviously she has to be, right.

I saw her waiting under the shade, I believe her van was late to pick them up. She kept peeping into the street corner to find a trace of her van but all she found was me passing a smile at her. It was strange to be honest when I think about it now but that’s what I did then. It went on like that for days before I finally spoke but she turned the other way and walked away. I tried again but the same response. I tried yet again but the response remained unwavered, even on the last day of school. I didn’t know what to make out of this, and that’s when the movie industry went into a transformation.

That’s the time I came to know what stalking really was, that’s when I realised what might have turned her off. I finally understood that sometimes it was okay to let it go than to pester around just to prove a point. I evolved but never moved. Three years later at a school get together I found her again. Like always I smiled but this time I walked away after that. It took us another three years, and a few reunions to finally get speaking. But when we did, unlike always, was special. It wasn’t the cliches I had grown up with but it was just a casual yet fascinating talk about movies between two. We joked around about the movies of the past, we played those lines and deliberated on them equally before we finally bid each other goodbye. She was standing their waiting but I didn’t have the courage to ask her number, I didn’t wanted to become a creep again, I really didn’t want to. She finally left with a smile on her face, and I stood there completely lost. I tried to satiate myself that I would meet her soon and may be get her number then. But that never happened, at least for the next four years.

Coincidences like our movies aren’t that common in our lives, it isn’t the small world they portray it to be. We were already seeing other people at that time when we met at a common friends wedding. We laughed about how we should have been in touch and made it a point to remain so in the near future. The texts kept coming in and going out, we developed a mutual trust, a sense of camaraderie between each other. In short span of time we gave away our deepest and darkest secrets. But we weren’t in the right state then, we had commitments to be kept and one fine day, she called up and we decided to lay off for a while to figure out what we really want. That’s the most hardest part to be honest; it’s the time when you know she is the one for you but you can’t do a damn about it. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my girlfriend that much but this was kind of different. We decided to honour our relationships to keep our conscience intact but they eventually got battered down in midst of artificiality that I think we tried to impose. It took time to get over the guilt of letting down the ones who loved us for our own selfish sense but when we did, we met again and we never turned back after that.”

 

The Separation

“I sat down, recollecting and refurbishing the details of our last encounter. The time froze as the thoughts poured in to the floating phrases that I had been left to deal with. I closed my eyes, and finally allowed them the space to regroup into a complete whole for me to understand. The play was disturbing; the first thought that sparked reminded me of the void she had left, years ago. It’s really strange that the first possible thought we get when we meet someone, who used to be close, is the one of departure, the one that actually hurts.

It was raining heavily that day; cyclone warning had been issued and the landfall was expected in the next 6 hours. I still remember the frantic calls she had made to my office and how easily I had brushed them aside. She kept telling me to come home soon but I had an important client to satisfy. The deal would have been a big boost to my company, it would have sent us to the next level and I was too ambitious to avoid that. The last call that I received from her was on 8:05 P.M. There were 12 missed calls from her in total. When I finally gave her a call an hour later, the lines were left jammed. I kept trying her phone but all I could hear was how unreachable she was. I didn’t leave hope, as I frantically called her number every other minute, but signal was nowhere to be found.

I left the office in a hurry, managed my way through the overflowing flood to finally reach home. The lights were cut off, the house door was left open. The water had seeped in and all the items were floating in the verandah. I sensed my daughter’s teddy bear near my leg, while her favourite red dress was flowing away in to the main road. I couldn’t control my anxiety any more; the endless thoughts were running amok in my head. All of them related to their safety but I couldn’t find a trace of that in the house. I enquired with the neighbours but nobody was able to answer. I leaned towards the wall and seated myself with the tears that began to flow; it even beat the rain that stopped half a day later.

Next day, I reached my friend’s place after I received a text from her about Tara and Arya.

“Is she safe? How is Arya? Where are they?”

“They are upstairs.” She replied.

As I made my way towards the stairs, my friend stopped me with words that shook my world and left me shattered in a second.

“She wants divorce Ryan. She can’t handle you anymore.”

I didn’t want to believe those words, my Tara can never do that to me. I know my selfish self was talking again, but some characters in us are really difficult to be plucked.

I went ahead with the stairs and knocked her door only to hear the same words from Tara. The only difference was that this one broke my heart to pieces which I was sure would be never fixed again. I could hear my daughter sob from a distance but I wasn’t allowed inside the room. The door remained shut despite my endless protests. I didn’t realise then that the door would be bolted for me forever.

We signed the divorce papers the next Wednesday, and the last sight I remember of my daughter was in the court where her mother took the custody from me forever.

Today after ten long years, I saw Tara again.”

#EpisodesOfLove
#Tara&Ryan

Two Tablespoons Salt

She picked up salt instead of sugar and added two tablespoons of it. I sat down to have my cup of tea, and I wasn’t amused. I rallied myself to the bathroom only to return red faced with a simple question in my mind.
“What did I do now?”

She chose not to answer. I tried hard to think what I had forgotten, what special could this day be. I very well knew Tara’s way of expressing her displeasure, it had almost become a routine, at least once every month. But today’s tea was the most salty that I have been yet served, that made me only more perplexed to find the reason.

“Tell me, what did I do wrong?” I sat down, dumbfounded, looking at her.

She slowly passed a note and made her way towards the balcony.

“Do you remember the day you proposed?” The note screamed out the memories of our past. It was a pleasant day, a decade ago, and it was our first date. We had been together for over an year before that, but the time zones were just too different for us to go out even once together. The night went on well; we were too into each other that we never realised when the time passed away, and how I got on my knee and proposed to her on our very first date. She said yes, if anyone is till wondering. And the rest as everyone says is history lies the fact that we had been married for almost a decade now and still can’t get enough of each other.

But today I had forgotten that beautiful night, so I had to do what I do the best. I went into the kitchen, and made ourselves hot steaming coffee and came out with her cup held out. I handed her the cup and sat next to her with my arm around her shoulder, whispering silently along the breeze, “I love you, my lady. I always will.” She sipped into her coffee with a gentle smile, and then slowly moved over my chest to reach a place close to my lips to finally reply, “I love your coffee, and I love you too.”

#EpisodesOfLove
#Tara&Ryan

War & Peace

Work of Fiction

“Did you see the rainbow in the morning?” enquired Tara with her curious eyes still stuck to the sky.

“I was too immersed in the drizzle that I failed to notice it” Neera replies back as she continues tapping her hands playfully over the pool of water that had formed in the verandah.

“There was a faint lightning that I could see around the rainbow, it was like the story Kishore ji was trying to tell, the story of Lord Indra. Do you remember?” hinted back Tara.

“I do. The story where Masterji had said that when there is a war in heaven, Lord Indra uses his thunderbolt weapon to destroy the evil forces and thus causing lightning in the sky” Neera still wondering as she says; why rain, which comes after lightning, is so beautiful and serene; how could war provide something as beautiful as the rain?

“Do you believe in this story Neera?” It was as if Tara knew exactly what her little sister was thinking.

“I really don’t know. War never produces beautiful things, it only takes our close people away. It can never produce something as beautiful as rain, it surely can’t” Neera answers as she moves closer to her elder sister, though only by a year.

“Neither do I believe in it” Tara replies with her vision moving towards the sky again as she holds her sister close. Her eyes carry a bit of gloom as if she is praying for someone’s safe return, who she knows clearly will never return.

In the meantime, a woman cladded in a white saree with her hair tied closely behind her back with a faint fickle of greyness in her hair walks up to the verandah of her home where the two little girls are sitting and gazing the innocent sky above.

“Neera, Tara, It’s going to rain, and you don’t want to get yourself sick again. So rush down, there are hot jalebis which your grandfather has brought. Go eat them before they become cold” the lady, their mother said in full authority yet with love.

As the little girls in their pre-teens run down, the lady stands there for a while. Trying to savour an old memory which she had shared with her deceased husband in the past. It brings up a smile on her face but a sense of anguish runs parallel with that beautiful smile of hers as she walks her way back down.

We find a hustle in the house, complimented with cheers by the little girls as they play with their grandpa while relishing their jalebis with a wide smile. The one storey house was slowly returning back to become their home again; it was over an year since Major Rajdeep had been killed in an enemy crossfire at the border, leaving behind his two daughters, wife and an ailing father.

Key:

1. Masterji- Teacher.

Best Teacher

“Maa! Your photo”, shouted the 8 year old Boy as his mom turned back with a smile.

 Mom: Rohan, 40 teachers including me have been awarded “Best Teacher” in the state, the poster is in that regard.
Rohan: Even I want to become a teacher when I grow up and win an award like you.
Mom: That’s nice, what will you be teaching?
Rohan: I love stories, I will teach them about it. Everyday a new story! ~ There was a twinkle in his eyes as he said that.
Mom: They don’t teach that at schools beta!
His innocent eyes dropped down to the ground as he mumbled “I don’t want to teach at any school, I want to teach them.” ~  Slowly pointing towards the street kids playing with a broken ball near the Metro station.
Mom: What made you say that? ~ intrigued by her son’s innocent yet powerful words, she became curious to know more.
Rohan: Maa, whenever I go to school, I find them there and also when I come back they are still there. I figured they are scared of school as I was, so I thought why not I teach them myself when I grow up and make their fear disappear.
Mom ~with tears in her eyes, she hugged him close: I am proud of you my son, I wish I was more like you.
That day changed something in her, she started to see a dream, the one which she saw in her son’s eyes, and she knew somewhere down that she would leave no stone unturned to realise it. 

That gut feeling got stronger with leaps and bounds in the next few days as she journeyed herself for the very first time to the places she only heard of, to hear their plight which was unheard. 
Next day                                                                             (Hindi version at the end)
Sakshi: Sarla, How is Roshini? Which grade is she in?
Sarla: Madam ji, she isn’t going to school anymore. The only school in our neighborhood had got closed as its roof had fallen down.
Sakshi: Haven’t you got the complaint registered?
Sarla: We had got it done a number of times but there was never a response. Even if the school reopens, there are no teachers to teach.
Sakshi: So what about Roshini? Will she not study further?
Sarla: Madam ji, Roshini would turn 16 in another two years. We will find her a nice groom and get her married to, then she would be all happy.
Sakshi: Will she? Won’t you let her study and grow up to become someone with a decent job?
Sarla: If it was their in her destiny she would have studied further but it isn’t so. So we could only do what is left with us.
Sakshi: Destiny isn’t written by someone, it’s written by us. Take me to the school tomorrow and get Roshini along. Let’s see what we can do.
Sarla: Okay Madam ji.

Rohan
: Mom, are you going to teach there?
Sakshi: Let’s see, I have no idea as of now.
After a moment, Rohan went close to her mom, teary eyed and hugged her tightly. 
Rohan: I love you mom, I love you.
Sakshi: I love you too champ.

That day when she visited the school and the area around, she understood what poverty could do to a person or a family and realised education would be the first victim. Her priorities to change this were set right the very same day, the day she met Roshini, the girl who wrote beautiful poems which were way above her age. In a way, she saw herself in Roshini and she wanted to provide her with the necessities for her to become someone special, someone who could realise her own potential.

The situation, in the meantime, was grim; the school had been converted into a den of gamblers and alcoholics. The stink of the place was so disgusting that people had abandoned the area completely and moved to safer places. The only option left was to start the school in the housing society she lived. So with a lot of effort and with active support from her husband she managed to open her school, her life which it became for years to come. She had to convince a lot, for her first lot as the parents were hard to change but eventually they budged and so the journey began. With 10 students in a class then, the number grew to 100 in a couple of years.

Shantaram School” as it came to be known became popular with time, attracting many socially responsible individuals with good number of youth among them. The curriculum of the school was allowed to be twisted to make every student understand and learn the way they could benefit the most. New courses began, arts was introduced where children were taught about dance, music and literature. The dream was growing and it reached its sweet moment when an individual walked in for an interview to teach in the school.

Sakshi: Tell me about yourself.
Him: Ma’am I am Ryan, I have a degree in engineering and would like to teach your students about the art of story telling.
There was an indefinite pause after the last word was uttered, and before Sakshi could say anything he continued. 
Ryan: I know it sounds strange and a little comical but I think it would be a great help to the students. It would allow the imagination to grow, it would allow them to create and believe they could possibly live them one day. And when they do that, I am pretty sure they will rewrite their own story into something better. That’s what this school which I have heard a lot about is trying to do, and I just want to add to the same effort.
Sakshi ~ with a smile on her face: Can I see your writings?
Ryan: Sure ma’am. I even write poetry as you can see.
Sakshi: “Inch by inch we shall strive, till success we are alive.” That’s a nice quote.
Ryan: I wrote it ma’am.
Sakshi: The writings are impressive, let’s see how you deal with the students.
She took him to the nearest classroom and made herself comfortable in the last bench as she heard him narrate the story. He began with his part as he drove the attention of the students and the lone teacher in the class, and ended with a thanks to his inspiration and the title of his story, “Best Teacher“. Her eyes were on the brim of tears as all the children in the class looked up to her and the claps never stopped.
The  End

Hindi translation of the conversation between Sakshi and Sarla
“Sakshi: Sarla, Roshini kaise he? Aur woh school ja rahi he na?
Sarla: Kahan Memsaab, school to kai dinno se bandh pada he. School ki chhath bhi, do din pehle gir gayi.
Sakshi: kissine complaint nahi ki Kya?
Sarla: Kiya toh tha, Lekin koi fayada nahi he Memsaab. School khul bhi Jaye, koi teacher padhane ke liye razi nahi he.
Sakshi: Phir Roshini ko padhaogi nahi?
Sarla: Aur do saal ke baad, 16 ki ho jayegi. Shaadi karwa denge uski, tabhi khush reh paayegi.
Sakshi: Tum nahi chahti ki woh padh likh ke naukri Kare?
Sarla: Agar uske naseeb mein hota tho padh leti, Lekin lagta he uski kismat mein itna hi likha he.
Sakshi: Naseeb haton ke lakir se nahi, khud banaya jata he. Kal Mujhe uss school tak Le chalo, aur Roshini ko Bhi lete Aana.
Sarla: Teek he Memsaab.

Key 
1. Beta – Son
2. Class- grade/standard
3. Ji- It is used out of respect for someone.

Rolling down the ‘past’

“Tonight’s hope was yesterday’s agony,

I cared less for the things I lost

In hope for the things I might gain in turn.”

It was that time of the day when the streets were still asleep while the odd traffic light flickered on and off. There were raging cars swaying past the necklace road, while the street urchins looked from their sheets in awe. The one in flashy red made an excellent run only to mistime the turn which saw it crash over the lake. The damage was brutal, leaving the lone driver’s life hanging at balance. He was clutching on to a photograph as he was being pulled out, that photo did mean something to him, it really did.

News Headlines flashed with all its clamor as it brought the world to notice that Ryan Narayan, a noted playwright, has been seriously injured in an high speed car accident near necklace road. A woman stared blankly at her television as the news was read out; she couldn’t believe her ears, he had promised to marry her and be with her forever but there he was broken and fighting for his own life. She tried calling him, wishing he picked up and dispelled all the rumors about him but no one picked. She pulled out her coat and made way to the hospital, all teary and lost.

The sun had completely risen while the streets swarmed with people who were unknown to the tragedy which had stuck just a few hours ago. At the hospital corridor, two people waited patiently as the tears kept rolling down their cheeks. They were baffled upon the happenings, they had met Ryan only a few hours ago before the accident. It was going to be a big night for Ryan, he was going to propose to his childhood sweetheart. It was all planned, Jess booked the table at Jade’s favorite restaurant while Nikhil brought the flowers and the suit for Ryan. They bid him adieu with a smile and never hoped that they found find him in this state. They weren’t able to come to terms with it, they wanted to know what happened that night, what did Jade say to make Ryan do something like this.

Jade: Jess, how is Ryan?

Jess: He was supposed to be with you, what did you tell him? What did you do to make him go nuts?

Jade: I want to see him, I want to see him now.

Nikhil: He is there fighting for his life. Doc says that its difficult for him to make it out. I don’t know…what will happen, I really don’t know. ~ bursts into tears.

Jade: He was there with me till late night. He made me dinner, after he proposed. We were on cloud nine, we wanted to get married right away but Ryan was like everyone in this world needs to know that he was getting married to me. We shouldn’t have waited, we shouldn’t have.

Jess: Then why did he have to leave?

Jade: He got a call around 11 in the night. He said it was urgent, someone wanted to meet him. Saying this he left hastily.

Nikhil: We never gave out appointments that night, we had left it free.

 

On that fateful night,

Ryan: Hello, Ryan here.

Her: Don’t you remember me, I am your master act.

Ryan: I am not able to get you, hold on.

Her: Yesterday’s agony, today’s hope. ~The playful laughter continued.

Ryan: Why did you call? I thought we were done!

Her: You started it, I am the one who ends it. Not you Ryan, not you.

Ryan: What do you want me to do?

Her: Meet me at the pool side at Taj.

Ryan: Now?

Her: Obviously, our things happen only at night. Call ends.

Ryan looked up perplexed, trying to avoid the eye contact with the only girl he ever loved and he ever cheated. He made an excuse and was on his way to meet Lisa as the old memories came afresh. He was teary eyed, the only thought which ran across his mind was Jade running away from him in her white cladded wedding suit. He was trying to catch a glimpse of her before she disappeared while he kept peddling the accelerator to catch Jade in his day dream. He had lost it he knew, he should have come clear about Lisa long back but now it was too late. He kept pushing the accelerator beyond control and before he could flip to rest his madness, his car was flying high into the waters. All the while he held her photo close to his heart, may be he hoped he would be forgiven for his sins, may be he was wrong.

Doctors came out of ICU with a good news, they asked Jade to go alone, Ryan wanted to meet her in person. After a while, Jade walked out heart broken. She left her ring inside, and left his heart broken into pieces. The pain was screeching loud as Ryan couldn’t control his emotion, he kept shouting Jade’s name, wishing she looked back but it never happened. He felt a part of him was walking away, he wanted her back, he didn’t want to feel incomplete but like his stories there was never a proper end to even his own.

“There ain’t a carpet big enough

to cover the truth, there ain’t a lie small enough

to escape the punishment; they do appear, they do hurt,

and they do leave you bruised forever.”