My Hinduism


I am an atheist; I have lost interest in offering prayers or visiting temples. However, being atheist doesn’t make me a non-Hindu. I don’t see Hinduism as a religion but as a way of life, the Indian way of life.

Historically, for foreigners the Hindus were those who resided beyond the river Indus. They were the citizens of Hindustan.

Hinduism is an eternal cultural revolution. It is known for its openness and has always adapted itself since the Vedic ages. New influences, ideologies and cultures have arrived from outside and many new have taken birth within this region but Hinduism has always embraced them and coexisted with them. 

When the Vedic way of life or Brahmanism was threatened by the liberal ideologies of Buddhism and Jainism, it adapted itself and rejuvenated within some centuries. It sustained the rule of Islamic rulers in the medieval ages and even forced Islam to adapt itself to the Hindu way of life.

There is no scope of so called fundamentalism in Hinduism as Hinduism never propagated any fundamentals. Stop confusing Hinduism with the ancient Vedic religion and look at it with an open mind. I believe in this brand of Hinduism.

So when people talk about reviving the old glory of Hinduism, they are just fighting a personal battle with vested interests. Hinduism is forward looking and not backward looking.

It was this backward looking tendency that made some maniacs destroy one place of worship to erect another in 1992 to correct an alleged wrong committed in 1528. Because of this one act, India has bled again and again in the last two decades. The covert actions of Pakistan are not as much responsible for the Islamic brand of terrorism as these politically motivated acts of violence which are claimed to be spontaneous outbursts of the population.

And now, those who want to turn a blind eye to a new brand of Militant Hindu Nationalism or don’t want to see it as a big threat are just giving into the wishes of these backward looking ideologues who want to tarnish my faith, my Hinduism.

In the Image:
A confluence of rivers. Just like it, Hinduism is a confluence of various ideologies, cultures and traditions.

Image Courtesy:
http://gallery.nen.gov.uk (original)

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The Threat Quotient



Since long I have been thinking about returning to serious blogging and last week an issue did come up which presented that opportunity. However, thanks to my laziness, I kept procrastinating but finally I am here dishing out my humble views on the issue which has created a slight furor in the political arena though the rising onion prices has relegated it to the back burner. Nonetheless, it is an issue which will keep returning and haunting this country.

Wikileaks which was turning out to be an embarrassment for the American government reached the Indian shores with the news that the Yuvraaj Rahul Gandhi thinks that Militant Hindu Nationalism is a bigger threat to India than the terrorism being perpetrated by militant outfits like LeT.

Do I agree?

Well, Yuvraaj ji, though I hate Dynastic politics and hence I am no big fan of yours, still I agree with this statement of yours because I tend to think objectively.

First of all, Rahul never said that Islamic Terrorism is not a threat to India. In absolute terms it definitely is and one should note that during the above mentioned candid admission of Rahul to the US Ambassador, he had also admitted that there is evidence of some support for LeT among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community too. Maybe, this statement lost its importance in the entire furor created by the other big statement.

According to Rahul, it is on relative terms that Militant Hindu Nationalism becomes a larger threat to India. But then one will argue, can we quantify the threat while talking about terrorism, whichever hue or colour it might be having, here ofcourse green versus saffron.

Definitely, you can’t. Terrorism in any form is equally threatening. So why do I say Rahul is right?

It’s important to look at the overall consequences of the actions perpetrated by Militant Hindu Nationalists and the situation arising from such violent polarization of the society. It is this situation that poses a bigger threat and that’s what Rahul meant when he spoke those words.

How am I so sure if this is what he meant?

Well, because I hold the same views and hence, somehow I can gauge the sentiments behind the statement.

Opposition keeps accusing Congress of indulging in Muslim appeasement. However, the fact remains that appeasement never leads to actual upliftment of the community being appeased. Hence, the situation of Muslim community remains as abysmal as it was. Findings of Sachar Committee Report substantiate this fact. 

Ofcourse, the community feels cheated by both the sides, those who allegedly appease and those who accuse them of doing that. In such a scenario, certain sections within the community are definitely going astray. However, to catch hold of these sections is not that difficult for the simple reason that they are a minority within a minority and those responsible for catching them largely come from the majority community.

Then why they don’t get caught is a different story linked to the so called minority appeasement by those in power. Anyway, without going off topic, I must tell you why I brought this up.

Now think of the terrorist activities being committed by those who comprise a minority within the majority, i.e., Militant Hindu Nationalists. Here sympathies of those responsible to catch them might hinder them from doing their duty. I am by no means questioning the honest police officials but then there are black sheep in their ranks and frankly, many of them as we all know.

What happened in Gujarat is known to all. You may keep on prolonging the investigations but the horrendous stories that came out couldn’t be someone’s figment of imagination.

Hence automatically, militant activities being committed by those sections which come from the majority community become bigger threat.

The polarization it creates is even bigger as now the minority community tends to feel even more insecure and hence, those from amongst them supporting groups from across the border increase in proportion.

The situation can only worsen from here.

It is this situation being created by the Militant Hindu Nationalism that is posing the biggest threat to India. The terrorism from across the border can be tackled by the mere patriotic conscience against it but that being bred in the name of religion within the country by the majority community may go out of hand.

So to sum it up, Militant Hindu Nationalism is a bigger threat to India’s integrity than the Islamic Terrorism being perpetrated from across the border. Period.

Off the Topic Reflection:
In a class some days ago, I was discussing similar issues with the students. There was one student who kept negating my stand on little being done for Muslim community and threat from Militant Hindu Nationalism. To some extent it was irksome but overall he was a very intelligent and responsive student. While taking the attendance, I realised he was a Muslim. 
Before leaving the class, one student asked me that what is the biggest example of secularism in India?
Though, I just replied that it is the fundamental right to freedom; I actually wanted to say, see how I, a Hindu is accusing the successive governments of doing little for the Muslim community and talking about threat from Militant Hindu Nationalism and this student, a Muslim is constantly negating me.
Militant Hindu Nationalism is the biggest threat to this very secular fabric of my nation.

In the Image:
A news report about Malegaon Blasts (2008). The investigations led to the unmasking of the ugly Militant Hindu Nationalism.

Image Courtesy:
www.dnaindia.com (original)

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

एक टूटे दिल की शायरी सीधा दिल से!


Well friends, here comes a lame post just to keep this dying blog alive. For those who have no clue what this title (which happens to be in Hindi) translates to, here's what it means - "Poetry of a broken heart straight from the heart". Don't get emotional now!

A couple of these were actually written with a broken heart about four years ago for my ladylove on whom my Cupid Tales were based which were published on this blog earlier this year. 

Please read them the way shayari is recited/read. So, here comes the first - 
Arz kia hai...

सोचा ना था वो  हमें यूँ भूल जायेंगे 
इक छोटी सी खता की हम ऐसी सज़ा पायेंगे 
क्या करें हमें तो भूलना भी नहीं आता 
तुम्हारे लफ्ज़ सुने बिना अब रहा नहीं जाता 
तुम ना हो तो तुम्हारी तस्वीर से बातें कर लिया करते थे 
पर अब तो तुम्हारा अक्स भी हमसे रुसवा रहता है!

Ok, enough of wah wah. Save them for the remaining ones. So, here comes the second. I know the starting is pretty similar.
Once again arz kia hai..

सोचा था कभी तो पलट कर देखो गे इस ओर, 
पर तुम तो नाता ही तोड़ कर चल दिए;
कच्चे धागे थे जो टूट गए, समझाता हूँ अक्सर मैं खुद को, 
पर ये कम्बख्त दिल है कि मानता नहीं!

Can't stop from doing wah wah myself for this one. Well finally, here is another heart broken piece but just from the perspective of a heartbroken poet composed much later than the above two.
For the last time arz kia hai..

शायर ना कहो मुझे, मुझे शायरी नहीं आती,
कुछ लफ्ज़ जोड़ लेता हूँ बस, इनकी अदाएगी नहीं आती!
ज़िंदा ना कहो मुझे, मुझे ज़िन्दगी नहीं आती, 
सांसें भर लेता हूँ बस, इनकी रवानगी नहीं आती!
बन्दा ना कहो मुझे, मुझे बन्दगी नहीं आती,
आंसू  बहा सकता हूँ बस, मुझे शहादतें नहीं आती!
फिर भी जी रहा हूँ मैं, क्यूँ  मौत नहीं आती,
क्या मकसद है ज़िन्दगी का, बात समझ नहीं आती!

In case you do not understand Hindi (though many words are from Urdu too), I am sorry that I can't translate it into English. Maybe it was your lucky day.You can steer clear from this torture.

Ok.. That's it. Now do leave some comments but please, please, please; I don't want any condolences as its a thing of past and the last one is not even straight from the heart but from the brain.

Image Courtesy:
http://imageshack.us (original)

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Mystery of the Deserted Station

This post garnered third most number of votes from amongst the 54 entries for Blog-a-Ton 15 and won me the Bronze Blog-a-Tonic of the Month aka BRONZE BATOM award. Click here to see the results page.
This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 15; the fifteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


It was a lazy Sunday afternoon as Vikrant deboarded the Uttar-Dakshin Express. Despite the one day long journey, there wasn’t a trace of laziness in his stride as he marched towards the exit. He was beaming from within with an odd mix of anxiousness for what awaited in his new assignment.

One could easily make out from his demeanour that this was a man of strong will and he had established himself as one, fighting the hardened criminals in his last posting as an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

Lalitgarh was a new place and he had a new position to take over. He was joining its police department as Superintendent of Police, having climbed the rung much faster than others.

He had just moved some paces when he got thronged by a dozen men with garlands in their hands. It took him about half an hour to get through the sycophants and their hollow pleasantries before he could move to the awaiting car.

As the car moved towards the officer’s guest house, Vikrant was surprised to see the railway station, he had seen just a few kilometres before his journey to Lalitgarh had ended. When he had seen it just about an hour ago, he was amazed by the beautiful architecture. It was reminiscent of the British era, something that he had only seen in the cities of Mumbai and Kolkatta.

“How come we have such a beautiful station in this remote district?” he asked his subordinate.

“Sir, this is Herbert Station. It was commissioned by the Nawab in the early 20th century and designed by the British architect Sir Herbert Manning,” he replied.

“Well, that is interesting. But then how come it is deserted and I had to deboard at that shanty of a station in the outskirts of the city instead of here?”

At that instance, the driver chipped in nervously, “Sirji, there is a long story behind it. Let us pass through this area. I’ll share it with you later.”

*

Vikrant had been in the district for a week when he decided to make a surprise visit to some distilleries in the outskirts of the city. It was then that he saw the Herbert Station again and all of a sudden all those unanswered questions sprung up again.

“Listen Raju, you never told me the story behind this deserted station,” he asked his driver.

Sirji, its inauspicious to tell such a tale at the very place where it all has happened,” replied the driver, again trying to steer clear of the issue.

However, Vikrant wouldn’t take a no for an answer and asked again with a hint of anger in his tone.

Raju had to relent but only when they had driven past the station.

Sirji, as DSP sahib told you that day, this station was designed by a British. He was paid heavily by the Nawab and hence, he took great care in its construction too. On the ill-fated day of the inauguration, among the entire hullabaloo, the man of the day, Sir Herbert slipped from the platform. He fell on the tracks, his head hitting hard on the steel frame. Despite the best possible medical attention of the time, he lost his eye sight due to this incident.”

“Oh, that is sad. So, this station never got inaugurated. Such a waste,” commented Vikrant empathically.

“No, sirji. That’s not the issue. The Railway Station was fully functional after that day. However, after this mishap, Sir Herbert became very reclusive. He never went back to Britain. On his request, Nawab arranged for his stay at a luxurious cottage near the station itself. One day, his caretaker, found him dead at his cottage. He had consumed some poisonous herbs. It was a suicide or yet another misfortune, no one could tell. He is buried just next to that cottage behind the railway station.”

“Ah, so that’s when this railway station was abandoned. I don’t think such a great artist would have wanted his creation to be deserted like this.”

Sirji, even that’s not an issue. In fact, it was after this incident that the station got its name in memory of that man. No one even knew about this story until about ten years back. It was then that the first incident occurred.”

“What incident?” blurted Vikrant in a jiffy.

“It was a morning after the full moon. Just a day before that, the proposal for the renovation of the station was passed by the administration. It was then, that the Station Master’s body was found on the platform. His eyes had been gouged out mercilessly. The autopsy showed that he died of poisoning. Many investigations were carried out but no trace to the perpetrator could be found.”

“Oh, that’s terrible. What happened then?” he coaxed, fully engrossed in the story.

“Before the people could forget this incident, another body was found in the same condition. It was then that people started talking about paranormal explanation behind these happenings. The local newspaper came out with an article about Sir Herbert and gradually, a link was established between his misfortune and these deaths.”

“So, you mean to say, it is the angry ghost of Sir Herbert that is doing all this. What nonsense?”

Sirji, there can’t be any other explanation. Till now about a dozen people have died; their desecrated bodies found on the platform by the drivers of the passing trains. People have heard noises, they claim they have seen things. After another couple of incidents, even the station was abandoned and the new make-shift station was built.”

“What about the investigations. Couldn’t they find even a single clue in all these years?”

Sirji, one of the victim was an investigating CID official himself. There are things for which there can be no practical answer, you see. You may not believe in these things sirji, but remember, there is a big vacant space beyond our individual beliefs. Who or what resides in that void, no one can tell.”

*

Vikrant was pretty uneasy that evening. He had taken the customary shower and a drink upon returning from work. Usually, he just watched some news and waited for the dinner to be served. However, today he decided to go out for a jog. Maybe, a little fresh air will lighten me up, he thought. He decided not to go too far, the sky being cloudy; but lost in his own thoughts and jogging to the tune of the cool breeze, he didn’t realise how far he had jogged to.

It was then, that he saw that railway station again. It was across the fields with thick vegetation growing all around it. However, despite the dimming light, it looked magnificent. Someone else would have called it haunted, but at that moment he was just mesmerised by it.

It reminded him of his visits to his paternal village. There used to be a beautiful mansion there which was rumoured to be haunted. He always loved walking by it in the evenings while his cousins steered clear. It was only as he grew up, he realised, the mansion belonged to a rich influential family which now resided in the city and all the stories were just cooked up by the elders to keep the children away from it.

Suddenly, he had an urge to take a closer look. Aided by the full moon’s light, filtered and scattered through the clouds, he moved towards the station.

When, he had heard the story about Herbert’s ghost in the morning, he had been amused. If I meet this guy, I’ll surely compliment him for this beautiful architecture, he chuckled.

Upon reaching the station, he crossed the railway tracks and climbed onto the platform. He started walking on the platform enjoying the cool breeze and singing some old melodious song. It brought back the memories of his minor halt at another station while going on a trip with his college friends. They ended up making the life of other waiting passengers, a hell by playing antakshari whole through the night till the connecting train finally arrived around dawn.

Vikrant decided to enter the central hall which led to the main entrance and the exit. However, upon taking a glance, he realised there was no point exploring it as it was too dark inside. So he decided to go around by climbing a small wall which extended for some yards beyond the main structure.

Just as he jumped onto the other side, he could see a cottage on his far right. One could easily sense on seeing the courtyard that it had not been mowed since years. He got all the more excited on seeing a grave just next to the cottage. Though apprehensive at first due to the fear of any snake or scorpions, he decided to go and have a closer look.

Vikrant had always been adventurous. It was this love for adventure that made him opt for IPS  instead of IAS despite the grander status associated with the latter. He couldn’t see himself stuck with the files in an air-conditioned office. He always wanted to have a slice of the real action.

Just as he reached closer, he heard some ruffled noises. It made him freeze in his tracks. Upon concentrating, he realised they were coming from the wall behind the cottage. He moved towards it cautiously trying to find a spot from where he could see through.

Finally, he found a crevice in the wall and peeped through. It was pretty dark and he found nothing suspicious. It must have been some animal, he thought. Just as he was about to turn back, his eye caught something odd. For a moment, he didn’t realise what was happening. However, it just took some seconds to realise what lay in front of him across the bricked wall.

He stood there stunned. A drop of sweat slipped down his forehead as he reached for his revolver that was tucked in the holster below his tee. Usually, he never carried it during his morning exercises but it being evening, he had decided to keep it handy. However, standing there, he wasn’t even sure if he was relieved to have it.

There was obviously something sinister about this place. How else would one explain such stories, he thought. How could he be so naive? All this police training and on the job action and this is what I get stuck into, he cursed himself. Adventure was one thing but acting like a jerk, a different. He knew he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He had to make his move quickly and quietly. He couldn’t just keep standing there. It was too dangerous.

He loosened his grip on the revolver and turned back. Concentrating hard on his track in the dark, he moved back slowly through the courtyard towards the wall. He was relieved that the overgrowth was cushioning any noise that his footsteps were making.

Despite the soup he got himself into, he humoured himself with the instance when he had walked unannounced into his elder brother’s bedroom while he was busy watching porn in the dark. He had tip-toed across the room to pick up his comics and moved back so stealthily that his brother didn’t have a chance to realise his presence.

Tip-toeing through the courtyard, Vikrant finally reached back to the wall adjoining the platform. Just as he tried to climb it, his foot gave away its grip and he fell down hard on his back.

*

Despite the heavy rains that had drenched Lalitgarh over the night, there was a lot of hustle and bustle around. For those who were surprised to see a sudden rush of police jeeps and other vehicles, the picture got clear as the evening newspaper reached their doorsteps.

It carried the following headlines.

Herbert Ghost strikes again - Body of new SP found with eyes missing.

The people were terrified upon looking at the picture that accompanied it. It took another month or two for normalcy to return to Lalitgarh. Investigations were held but as usual nothing suspicious was found. Meanwhile, the local community got a new tale to add to the existing tales of the haunted station. Vikrant, the illustrious police officer got reduced to a vignette in these never ending tales.

And yet again, the mystery of the deserted station remained a mystery.

***

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Goodbye

This post garnered second most number of votes from amongst the 75 entries for Blog-a-Ton 13 and won me the Silver Blog-a-Tonic of the Month aka SILVER BATOM award. Click here to see the results page.
This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 13; the thirteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.




As he entered the Hyderabad station, he could hear the whistling engine. Realizing that he is losing the time, he started running towards the platform as the train chugged along. Wasting no time, he hopped onto the first wagon within reach, hurting his left forearm which was already bandaged.

Assalamu alaikum,” he greeted the men sitting in the first compartment as he searched for a vacant seat.

Wa alaikum assalam,” replied three of them in a chorus.

One of them, a jovial looking person, made space for him on the rugged bench.

“Hello, I am Iqbal. That wound seems pretty nasty, brother,” he said looking at his bandaged forearm.

“A blow during a riot,” he replied with lack of emotions in his eyes.

“If you are the one with just a minor injury, then I believe that kafir must have gone down after inflicting it upon you,” interjected another fellow passenger with a flowing beard.

“You bet,” he replied, smiling with an evident sense of pride.

“I don’t think there is any need to smile about this senseless violence,” commented Iqbal in a serious tone, unlike his general disposition.

“I believe, you were lucky, not to be stuck in any riot then,” said the bearded passenger condescendingly.

“I lost my brother to it,” came back Iqbal’s matter-of-factly reply.

There was silence for some time before the bearded passenger spoke up once again.

“My name is Raza Khan. What’s your name brother?” he inquired the new co-traveller.

“I am Shah Mohammad from Multan,” he replied.

“Well, I’ve heard there has been considerable rioting up north in Punjab,” said Iqbal inquisitively.

“Yes, you have heard it right. As it is, there is little love lost between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims due to the trust deficit created by all the political activities in the recent past.

“Moreover, the partition has been pretty haphazard, Amritsar and Lahore being the bone of contention. All this has led to a lot of inter-communal violence on both sides of the border,” affirmed Shah.

Sindh has been pretty peaceful, unlike Punjab. I see no reason why can’t the existing populations keep staying where they are,” said Iqbal empathically.

“What are you saying? Pakistan is the land of Islam. How can kafirs stay here?

"As it is, there is such an influx of our Muslim brethren from across the border. Where will they stay if we do not kick out these dogs from here?” answered Khan indignantly.

“He’s right,” said another co-passenger as others also nodded along.

Shah wiped off his brow and adjusted his bandage, evidently still in pain due to the wound.

Seeing the odds against himself, Iqbal preferred to keep to himself while others started discussing the horrific tales of massacres and violence. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle was interrupted as the wagon jerked and the train slowed down near an approaching station.

“We all are the sons of the same God. This is His Land and we all have equal right upon it and its resources. May Allah’s mercy be upon you,” said Iqbal, picking up his luggage to deboard the train.

“Ah! Thank goodness that weak hearted dog has left this train. If he had stayed anymore, I would have definitely thrown him out of it,” said Khan with raised brow and quivering moustache, as the engine whistled again.

“Indeed,” replied Shah in acknowledgement.

“So what takes you to Karachi?” asked Khan.

“Well, I work for a merchant. I am going to Karachi in relation to some consignment that is reaching the docks tomorrow,” replied Shah after a brief pause.

“So, you were part of a riot, haan” commented Khan.

“Yes. As you have already noticed, this wound speaks for itself,” replied Shah matter-of-factly.

“How many dogs did you slay?” asked Khan continuing with his volley of questions.

“Well, a couple of them,” replied Shah, keeping Khan in good humour.

“You know why am I going to Karachi?” Khan said, wanting Shah to show some inquisitiveness. 

Shah just shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, my brother worked for the government in Delhi. Upon hearing the news of partition, I sent him a telegram cajoling him to return to Hyderabad as soon as possible.

“As he was a government official, he thought unlike other fleeing Muslim brothers, he could take his time in disposing off his property and gathering some resources before he leaves India

“By the time he left for Lahore, violence had reached its peak in Punjab. His train was attacked by the Sikh guerrillas near the Ludhiana station. Despite the Indian army that was accompanying them, he didn’t survive. I am so sure that the army must have conspired with the guerrillas too.

“What was his fault? He was just peacefully leaving their land and returning to Pakistan. Now, it comes upon me to avenge his death.

“They killed my innocent brother. And you know, now I’ll be killing their fleeing brothers,” concluded Khan, evidently seething within. 

Inshallah,” said a couple of co-passengers.

“Anyone of you wants to join me in this service of God,” asked Khan looking one by one at all the five men sitting in his compartment.

No one seemed to be forthcoming. Sharing tales of violence and condoning such heinous acts was one thing but being a part of it, a totally different thing.

“See, I have planned everything. As such there is little scope for violence in the city due to heavy security. 

“My cousin works at the port who’ll let me through to the ship bound for Bombay. Once it drifts away, I’ll attack the unarmed passengers and before anyone can raise an alarm, I’ll jump overboard and swim back to the shore.

“With no witnesses to vouch for it, I’ll be a free man; free from the fire burning within me and free from any potential accusation,” Khan tried to convince others, pulling out a long dagger from his bag.

The co-passengers were taken aback and conveyed their unwillingness in hushed tones.

However, after contemplating for some time, Shah replied, “I am with you my brother. It looks well planned and it also gives me an opportunity to do some good.”

Once the train reached the Karachi railway station, both Shah and Khan proceeded to the port. The city seemed pretty crowded due to the migrating population. Khan kept close to Shah to ensure that his just acquired accomplice doesn’t have any second thoughts.

“We are well in time; ship leaves in just half an hour,” exclaimed Shah on seeing the schedule hung on the rope at the ports entry.

“Just see these dogs boarding the ship. They think, they’ll just move away like this. They don’t even know what is going to strike them,” snickered Khan.

“Brother, I’ll need a dagger too. You arrange for our mini-voyage and I’ll meet you there in about ten minutes,” said Shah.

“Don’t you worry about that. You hold this,” replied Khan pulling out a sharp knife from it’s holster tucked in his salwar.

Shah put it in his satchel and soon the two of them boarded the ship, waiting with bated breaths for their final assault.

As the ship hit the Arabian Sea, Shah along with Khan slowly moved to the deck. By now the ship had drifted about a mile from the shore on its way to the Bombay harbour. A crowd was gathered on the deck, emotionally waving goodbye to their homeland.

‘Now is the time’, Shah thought leading Khan to a secluded bulwark on an otherwise crowded deck.

Suddenly there was a subdued yell followed by a loud splashing noise. Half a dozen alarmed bystanders turned their heads to see Shah standing there alone against the rail, catching his breath.

“What happened?” asked one of them.

Shah quickly lifted up the sharp dagger lying at his feet and with one quick manoeuvre, ripped open his bandage, before throwing the dagger overboard.

“What’s going on?” said another curious onlooker before seeing Shah's scratchless forearm where there had been a bandage just moments ago.

“And what kind of wound did you have? It seems to have completely healed or should I say vanished,” he added ponderously.

Tilting his forearm, Shah grinned at his own ingenuity.

The baffled bystander looked at the name tattoo on his left forearm before giving a puzzled smile to the smiling Shah Mohammad.

Sham Mohan’, it read.

***

Image Courtesy:
http://www.pbs.org (original)

Explanation
I know the twists in my stories can be tricky at times. So explaining the plot. Sham Mohan is a Hindu fleeing Pakistan during the partition. In those days, many people usually tattooed their names on their forearms. If caught, Sham could be killed by people like Khan.  So he applied a bandage to conceal his identity. This part of the story is based on my grandfather's escape from Pakistan.


P.S. 

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Wish



This post was voted as the best from amongst the 70 entries for Blog-a-Ton 12 and won me the Gold Blog-a-Tonic of the Month aka  GOLD BATOM award. Click here to see the results page.

This post got selected for BlogAdda's Tangy Tuesday Picks. Click here to see the BlogAdda page.
This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 12; the twelfth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


Oye Vijay bhai, Come fast. She’ll be in the verandah anytime now.”

Saying this customary line and banging my door hard, Arun, my neighbouring roomie rushed up through the staircase to join the other guys. As always, I rubbed my eyes, took a big yawn, got up slightly, scratched my pot belly, shedding some body hair in the process and suddenly realizing what the ruckus was all about, sprung up instantaneously. Ignoring the fact that I was in my underwear and was all sweaty due to the Delhi heat, which made sleeping at nights, a hellish experience; I too ran up to join all my fellow P.G.’s.

“Hey, you hirsute, how many times we’ve told you to cover yourself before you come,” yelled Abhinav as I barged into the roof.

“Shut up. I don’t have to mind myself in front of a bunch of gays,” I retorted, pushing him aside to take a strategic position along the railing.

“Weren’t you supposed to get a pair of binoculars from home,” I impulsively asked Rajesh who had just returned from Hyderabad.

“Yeah yeah, Narendra is repairing it and getting it in a while. Don’t get on my nerves,” snapped Rajesh, focusing his eyes towards her terrace in absence of the binoculars.

This was our daily routine, the first thing we did every morning. We, the future of India, the enlightened ones who had taken upon themselves to pull the jittery administrative system of the nation, we the aspiring civil servants, but in short, just a bunch of wannabes.

She used to come to her terrace every morning to do some yoga and aerobics. Her bungalow was a couple of lanes across. However, as both the places where we stayed were the tallest amongst the neighboring ones, we had an eagle’s eye view from our roof.

We all had gathered in the national capital from different parts of the country, some came from the plush plains of Punjab and others from the arid deserts of Rajasthan, some from the coconut coasts of Kerala and others from the mineral rich inlands of Chhattisgarh, some from the sugarcane fields of Maharashtra and others from the spicy land of Andhra Pradesh, all with the same dream in their eyes, to pursue the common ambition of joining the guild of extraordinary not-so-gentlemen.

In an otherwise hectic routine, bird watching was a great respite and since a couple of weeks, we had laid our eyes on this beautiful bird. Frankly, from this distance, it wasn’t easy to recognize her but her milky white complexion and petite physique could not be missed in the small and tight outfits she wore.

For a person like me who fell in love on every snap of the fingers, it took no time to fall in this pit once again. Yes, I loved her. In case you want to correct me and tell me sympathetically that ‘my boy, it was just lust’; let me assure you, in that case according to me, the hormonal attraction between the male and the female can be nothing but lust and the karmic connection of the hearts and the souls is all crap.

While not studying, I used to spend all the time just thinking about her. Her image that kept coming back and made me yearn for her was the one when on an evening, I had seen her grabbing some stuff from the terrace as it had started raining. It was pretty windy too and she struggled as her skirt fluttered, exposing much for a nerd like me to go out-of-control.

I wanted her badly. How I wished to clear my examination soon and barge into her house and ask her to marry me. I know, you must be thinking what a maniac I am. You must also be concerned at the sorry state of affairs that people like me can end up running the country. Well, don’t think that much. Even I knew that I am just fantasizing. But somehow deep within, I wanted at least some fantasies of mine to come true. After all, there was no harm in wishful thinking.

Many such days passed adoring her and the nights, beating the heat in her memories. With no access to television or internet, I had nothing better to do. Finally, the inevitable happened. Our preparatory course got over. Some of us decided to stay back while some like me had already planned to move back to our respective cities to prepare further. So with a heavy heart, for one final time, I woke up early to capture her in my eyes for eternity. The same afternoon, I took a bus destined for my city, Chandigarh.

*

Once back, I was engulfed in serious studies and by sheer hardwork, after just a couple of attempts, I cleared the examinations. I ranked decent enough to make it to the elitist services of the all – The Indian Administrative Services.

Suddenly there was a sea-change in the attitude of people around us. For some time, it was difficult to adapt to the change but soon, I started getting used to it.

As I shifted to Mussoorie for my training, my mother started hunting for brides. Already, I had crossed the average age at which most of my cousins had settled down. However, I was in no hurry.

As time progressed, we started receiving proposals for matrimonial alliance from unknown nooks and corners. The marriage market in India works on the simple economic principle of demand and supply. As the supply of the rare breed like me was low, the demand tended to be pretty high.

I had heard of a man who had topped civil services some years ago and went on to marry the then Union Finance Minister's grand daughter. In doing so he had dumped his girl friend who had been with him since college days, living with him in Delhi whole throughout his preparation and caring for him like a dedicated wife.

When I had heard this story from one of my fellow trainee at LBSNAA in Mussoorie, I had cursed that man. However, today I had started finding some logic in what he had done. Power corrupts, they say and it had definitely started corrupting me. Within two years, I had rejected 25 girls, that is on average more than one every month. Add to it, dozens of proposals that had been rejected at the first filtration level itself, which is by my mother, father or sister. 

If not for my newly acquired elite status, these girls would have just spitted on my face on the mere prospect of spending an hour with me and their rich fathers would have hanged me in full public view on hearing about such preposterous proposal. But today, I was the one who was rejecting them and I surely liked it.

Every time I went to see a girl in some lavish 5-star hotel or a sprawling mansion, I could hear a song playing in the background – 'I've got the power'. The parameters on which I evaluated them weren’t their beauty or intelligence but the status of their fathers and their ability to pull the strings at the centre to help me in my deputations, transfers and promotions.

Initially, I had wondered how these groom hunting scavengers came to know about me, till Arun had made an unbelievable revelation.

“Don’t you remember, after your training got over at Mussoorie, all of you were given an information booklet containing your contact details?” he asked me.

“Yeah, so what?” I had answered, puzzled by the odd question.

“So my dear friend, you don’t know that while you guys were just around 100 or so, the booklets printed were nearly 5000. Now don’t ask me where the spare copies go,” he had revealed as I saw a halo appearing around his small head.

This was a rumor or a fact, I didn’t know but it definitely had some logic to it.

Arun, who got through the civil services in the very first attempt had joined the bride hunting game a year earlier than me. Given his modest upbringing and ordinary looks, any girl would have been a prize catch for him. But now with the IRS tag, his demand had gone up by leagues.

"Are you a virgin," he had asked one girl, daughter of a wealthy businessman.

"Yaar, she was just too unbelievingly hot, that I had to confirm," he had later told me embarrassingly.

"Are you?" was what the girl had replied with a mischievous smile on her face.

Poor Arun was neatly trapped by this question. Both the answers would have embarrassed him in front of her; a yes meant he was a big looser, which he definitely was, and a no meant, he was a big hypocrite, which again he was to some extent. 

They ended up marrying and upon returning from the honeymoon, Arun proudly declared to me that she was teaching him all the moves.

*

It was a pleasant Delhi morning, a rare weather in the capital, when my mother declared that we have to go for yet another rendezvous with some prospective in-laws for me.

As most of the times, I enquired nothing about the girl but just her father. Though his credentials didn't sound so great, there was no harm in having a lavish lunch at his expense.

"Arre, this place must be pretty close to where you stayed while your preparation," my father exclaimed as we approached the area.

"Chalo, it's nice. I might give a courtesy call to Colonel Uncle," I said referring to the person at whose place I used to stay as a PG.

"It seems pretty close," my mother said as we passed the lane leading to Colonel Uncle's bungalow.

We took the next to next right and soon the driver honked in front of a massive gate.

"We've reached sahib," said the driver as I for a moment went blank.

As the gates to the mansion opened, I could just stare in amazement. For four months, I had loitered in front of these gates hoping to take a view inside. Finally, they were being opened for me, the gates to the abode where my dream girl resided.

I couldn't believe what was happening. The atheist in me suddenly seemed crumbling and I gave a sigh, 'Oh, Lord!'

We were welcomed by a horde of servants who led us to the door where the owner of the mansion was waiting for us.

“Hello, Mr. Arora. Welcome to my humble cottage,” he said extending his hands to greet my father, choosing that stale line from innumerable Bollywood movies but without any trace of humility to be found in it.

Soon we were seated in the drawing room which was big enough to accommodate my whole house back in Chandigarh.

I waited impatiently for what was next in store for me.

As I picked a glass of water, I heard a clatter of high heels and turned to my left to see a woman approaching through the lobby. I wore my spectacles to see clearly and was amazed at what I saw.

It was her, my dream girl approaching me with a huge smile on her face. I was seeing her after five long years and she definitely looked a little elder than what I had imagined her to be. Afterall, the distance between our homes had never allowed me to see her clearly and considerable time had elapsed in between.

However, she was undoubtedly angelic, someone from out of this world. Her long hair were left loose and I could smell their fragrance, sitting many yards away. Her body was toned just the way it used to be though she wore a little too much than what I was used to see her in.

“Here comes my dear wife,” announced my prospective father-in-law.

Suddenly, I felt floor slipping under my feet. I just could not imagine what I just heard. However, coming out of my dream and thinking logically, it all made sense. She by no means looked like a prospective bride.

I just kept staring at her as she came and greeted us and sat just across to me.

Soon, their daughter too joined us and my parents started talking to her, asking her about her likes and dislikes and everything possible under the sky.

“She is just 19 right. Isn’t she a little too young?” my mother asked my dream girl.

“Well, Mrs. Arora, when I got married, I was just 17. It’s a common thing in our families. The younger the bride, it’s easier for her to adapt to the new environment. Otherwise, my daughter has been good at studies. She’ll be completing her B.A. this year,” she replied with a charming smile on her face.

We sat there for about couple of hours, had lunch and had some discussions with her husband, the guy whom I envied the most today. Mere sitting in front of her was making me go crazy. I felt that same urge, I used to feel back in those days. Today sitting so close, I felt, as if I could just see her through. I could feel butterflies in my stomach on this very imagination. I wished everyone else just disappeared leaving two of us alone in this trance.

All this while, I was just lost in my own thoughts. I preferred not to have any tete-a-tete with the young girl who was also sitting there somehow uninterested, preparing herself to be slaughtered in this impersonal pact between a businessman and an administrative official.

Soon it was the time to leave and after exchanging some pleasantries, we were on our way back.

“So Beta, did you like the girl,” asked my father expectantly.

“Don’t you think she looks a bit too young for him,” commented my mother still not fully convinced.

“Maybe, I am a bit young for her,” I murmured, lost in my own thoughts.

“What?” asked my mother puzzled.

“Nothing. I mean yes, I liked the girl. I want her to be my bride,” I replied, deep inside wishing for an unthinkable as my parents gave a final sigh of relief.

***

Disclaimer
This is a work of fiction based on some ugly truths of our society. However, I have used the names of all the good friends I had made in New Delhi when I stayed there for half a year, preparing for civil services. 

Off-the-topic Reflections
I got the idea for writing this short story while travelling back from New Delhi after attending the Blog-a-Ton Anniversary Celebrations Meet. As I could not dilute the idea, I decided to write the story before doing any other writing. Because of it, I missed writing about the Meet on my blog. I'll take this opportunity to thank Richa for making all the arrangements for the meet in such an organised manner. I must also thank Geetanjali and Himanshu for the roles they played in organising the event. And not to forget all the fellow bloggers who attended the meet; thanks a lot.
While we were enjoying in Delhi, Rashi and Siddhesh organised the meets in Mumbai and Pune. I must thank both of them and all those who attended the meet for making this day so special for me and all the blog-a-tonics. I must also mention and thank Venky who did an update on Pune Meet.
Long Live BAT!!!

Image Courtesy:
http://media.photobucket.com (original)

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That



Today, driving back home a while back, I was immersed in my thoughts as usual. It’s wonderful, how the brain itself compartmentalises our different actions and as long as we do not delve into any particular one beyond a certain safe level, each action gets performed smoothly. So while a part of my brain was busy processing my thoughts, whatever those were, the other part was safely manoeuvring me towards my abode after yet another day at work.

It was at a roundabout, as I took my first turn in otherwise a straight road till now, that my thoughts broke for the first time. I looked at a young man in his late adolescence trying to make his way through the traffic on his bicycle. On the other side of the road,there was an auto-rickshaw carrying two passengers, a middle-aged woman wearing the typical bright Punjabi attire along with a child in red shorts. Nearby, on the pavement, an old man holding onto his stick was negotiating with a fruit seller. I saw all these people in just one glimpse as I drove further. But somehow, their images kept lingering on.

Suddenly, I had this urge to come out of my previous thoughts which anyway I was not able to recollect, and look at the people as I drove past them. They all were different, yet all were same. I would never recognise anyone of them if I were to drive past them just after an hour. The auto-rickshaw driver was just another migrant from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh with those same features which make them all look just the same. That middle-aged lady with her hair tied back into a long braid was just like any other woman of her age and similar taste or should I say, bad taste in fashion.

And then it struck to me, for all of those people, even I am just one of the millions of people that they drive, ride or walk past in their lives. We all have our own focal points, emanating from our self to our parents, siblings, spouses, children and moving beyond, encircling our friends and relatives and so on. Majority of these just brush past each other but some get intertwined and we get a new acquaintance. As time passes, many of them fade away while some remain intertwined for eternity.

My brain was not content with just processing this inevitability and it sprung up a new question. What must they be thinking right now?

As I saw a young charming woman ride past on a kinetic, I skipped a beat for a moment as happens to me every time like any normal human being. But then I moved to the same abnormal question trying to contemplate what all thoughts must be going through her mind right now. Was she thinking about the fight she had with her best friend or was she thinking about the excuse to make to her parents for going on a movie with her boyfriend.

How I wished, I was that guy.

But again pulling back myself from these fantasies, I saw around, a microcosm of humanity, all moving here and there with their own purposes and their own convictions.

I am just one of them, nothing great about me, I thought.

And this is the thought which sends a shiver down my spine. This is the one thought which has been recurring over and over again from past few weeks and this is the one thought that Kate Winslet puts succinctly in the movie Revolutionary Road when she says to her husband, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, “Look at us. We're just like everyone else. We've bought into the same, ridiculous delusion.

This thought has become more profound since I’ve started working. Till now, somehow I was protected from these thoughts as a student. But entering the real world, I realised, there are so many like me who think, somehow they are special. As Kate puts it, “Our whole existence here is based on this great premise that we're special. That we're superior to the whole thing. But we're not.” Yes, we are not.

We are all different, yet we are all same.

The sooner you realise it, the better it is for you. However, I wanted to escape from this thought as soon as possible. So, my brain automatically sprung up another thought.

Just like I am philosophising about everything, was that young lad on his bicycle, also pondering over it. Moreover, what about that old man? How many times in his life, he must have thought about this. Or did he ever care?

We’ve got such a wonderful thing known as the brain. It is not just a storehouse of such large information but also helps in processing it as and when required. But how many of us actually use it beyond the desired motions of everyday life. I believe everyone does. It’s just that the proportion of these different usages differ. While, I am using it to philosophise right now, someone else in another corner of the world will be busy fantasising and day-dreaming. The latter is definitely a great escape from the blunt questions of life, I thought; as I again got immersed in the thoughts  of that charming girl and gradually shifted to Kate Winslet's steamy scenes in The Reader or was I imagining that girl in place of Kate!

As all this was going through my mind, my car suddenly halted and I realised I was looking at the gate of my house. My brain had once again directed me well, bringing me home safely while I was busy contemplating a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Image Courtesy:
http://www.cumberland.lib.nc.us

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Escape - 2

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 10; the tenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.




Sometimes in the duel of love, Heart gets overwhelmed by the Brain
It’s high time, it says, to move on; than wasting your time in vain
Better things are there in future; just don’t keep spoiling your chances
To keep intact a rotten tree; which has even shed its branches
Forget those smiles and the meanings, you used to make out of them
Someone never cared enough, you were alone steering that helm
Than sitting here and expecting that one last miracle will take place
To a new life, to a new dawn, you must get up and set your pace
Miss this one chance and you’ll end up sulking, over and over again
That gift of life that you possess, in this sorrow will just drain
Person to person it depends, how they get over this emotional fight
All one needs to do is, forget the past and set priorities right
The time has finally come to put to an end this Heart and Brain's strife
Time to ESCAPE from vortex of emotions to a new blissful life


As I escaped from becoming a Fool last time, I decided to compensate for it by Escaping twice this time. So here is my second entry for Blog-a-Ton 10. This is another ACROSTIC from my stable after my recent attempt, Religion. Though, this poem is pretty amateurish but was pretty difficult to write as here, rather than the first letter, the first words of each line form a message. So do not miss the message in red which is how I define Escape in this post. To know more about Acrostic and read my previous attempt, click here.
And yeah, if you haven't read my first entry for Blog-a-Ton 10 as yet, just click here. That's the real thing :)


Image Courtesy:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27635621@N06/ by Collegium Kelowna (edited)


The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

Escape

This post was voted as the best from amongst the 60 entries for Blog-a-Ton 10 and won me the Blog-a-Tonic of the Month aka BATOM award. Click here to see the results page.



This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 10; the tenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


There was not a single speck of doubt in his mind. He looked sideways and then clutched his son, close to his heart. “It is the time to escape.”
 
*

“So you are Jayaprakash, haan?”

Ji Sahib.”

“Listen carefully. You will get a daily wage of Rs. 165 throughout this project. You are required to work for a 10 hour shift. When there is more pressure, you may have to put in more hours. There will be no compensation for the same. I believe Mani Ram has told you about the commission and all.”

Ji Sahib.”

“So you are alone or with your family.”

Sahib, my wife and son are also accompanying me.”

“So what about your wife? Won’t she be working.”

“No, Sahib. She is not keeping well.”

“Ok. Ok. You can put up in one of the vacant kholi there. Any questions?”

“Sahib, is there any provision for education of our children.”

“Not yet but I believe some local NGO will soon start conducting some classes. Chalo now hurry up. Put your thumb impression here.”

Sahib, can I have the pen. I’ll sign instead.”

“Oh, signature! Fine. Have it.”

*

Jayaprakash was just another migrant labourer from the state of Bihar toiling in the sun and mud of the Punjab plains. Born under the shadow of Emergency, he had been fondly named after the great socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan who led a student’s movement in his home state. His father, a marginal farmer had always dreamt of his son becoming as famous as JP but their circumstances never allowed their dreams to get better of their fate.

The seeds of Green Revolution bore fruit in the states of Punjab and Haryana while their state remained in darkness. Lured by the prosperity in this region, Jayaprakash too emigrated with a bunch of his friends at a young age of 15. For some years he kept moving from one village to another working on the fields of others, earning enough for his own subsistence and managing to send some money back home for his ailing father, ageing mother and younger siblings.

Soon, Punjab also saw a boom in real estate with new housing societies and malls being set up. It promised more money and Jayaprakash decided to break his agrarian roots.

Meanwhile he got married to Vimala, a coy girl from his village. Having remained away from his family for too long, the very idea of having a family filled him with hope. God blessed them with a son in the fourth year of their marriage. He had planned it that way to accumulate enough resources for proper rearing of his child. They named him Rahul

Working in the dust and sand, Vimala developed some serious allergies and had an attack of asthma. It wasn’t possible for her to work at construction sites. This added additional pressure on his resources. However, he was determined to provide his son what his father could not afford when he was young. This was only possible if he could dedicate all his resources to just Rahul and his ailing wife. So, he underwent vasectomy.

*

His son had now turned six and Jayaprakash was on a lookout for some work near the capital city which could ensure better medical and educational facilities for his family. It was around this time that he heard about a Metro project coming up in Chandigarh. Getting work at a government project always ensured mandated minimum wages and lesser exploitation. 

However, Mani Ram, the middle man made it clear to him that he’ll have to part away with nearly 20% of his daily wage to enlist his name amongst the workers. Moreover, he had to work for more hours than the stipulated time of 8 hours as by doing this, the contractor could enrol fake workers while getting the extra work done by the existing ones. However, it was a good bargain and Jayaprakash along with his family, moved to the City Beautiful.

*

Papa, this fountain is so beautiful.”

“You sit here and enjoy beta. I’ll get bhel puri for you.”

It was Saturday evening and Jayaprakash had brought his son to the Sector 17 Plaza, the heart of the city. Presently, he was working at the hub station of the Chandigarh Metro which was being constructed nearby. They had been in the city for over six months and by now Rahul had joined a make-shift school being run by a local NGO for the worker’s children. College-going students used to teach the children in evenings and weekends and by now Rahul was able to rattle A to Z in one go. Today Rahul had come first in his class test and as promised, his father had brought him to the Saturday Carnival in the Plaza.

“Hey, Rahul don’t lean over the railing that much. See what I have got for you.”

“Ice cream and popcorn! Wow, I love you papa.”

It had cost him nearly third of his daily wage but he wasn’t complaining. Afterall, even they had the right to enjoy the luxuries of the richest city of India.

*

Vimala, I’ll get a little late today. We might have to work through the night because this is the busiest area of the city and work needs to be completed before the morning traffic starts.”

“Take care of yourself. Don’t over exert, haan.”

“Yeah, I’ll take care. You too take your medicines on time and make sure Rahul doesn’t loiter around with the neighbouring kids. He should study for his test.”

Vimala was recovering well. The Government Hospital was in close proximity and she was undergoing a regular treatment. Their decision to shift to the capital city was bearing fruits. 

*

It was around two at night when Vimala heard some frantic knocks at the jittery door. She sprung up and hurried to open it.

Vimala, there has been an accident at the construction site. The crane operator felt asleep and the chain snapped, throwing the heavy girder on the labourers working there.”

“Oh, my God. Where is Rahul’s father? He is safe na?”

“Come on. Hurry up. That’s why I’ve come here. Even he got injured in the accident. We have to go to the hospital.”

Leaving Rahul in custody of her neighbour, Vimala rushed to the hospital with his husband’s co-worker.

*

The accident proved fatal for five workers while Jayaprakash escaped  the death. However, he could not escape misfortune as his leg got amputated. All of a sudden all his dreams came crashing down. From being the breadwinner of the family, he was reduced to a dependant. Vimala had to take up his role despite her own ailments.

Government had announced Rs. 1,00,000 for the gravely injured and Rs. 5,00,000 for the kins of those who expired. Without a leg and nagging pain in the back, even Jayaprakash felt like a corpse but he could only get a fifth of the amount. However, even that money was hard to come. The Metro Corporation told him to approach the Secretariat who in turn sent him back from where he had started. Despite his dozens of visits to both the departments, he could not get his compensation.

All his savings were dwindling fast. Even Vimala could not go to work daily due to her own health problems which had once again become acute. It was not even possible to move back to the village without getting the compensation. With the help of the local trade union, he was able to extract Rs. 20000 from the Metro Corporation after obliging some officials. Now atleast he could send Vimala and Rahul back to the village with this money, without any concern of his brothers or their wife’s treating them as a burden. He decided to stay back and wait for the pending amount.

But before he could arrange for their travel, Vimala had another asthma attack.

She couldn’t even breathe her last.

Jayaprakash was devasted. It felt as if someone had also severed his other limbs. He was left alone to care for their young son. 

What could he do?

*

It was First of May and the first section of Metro was ready. It was being inaugurated by the Punjab Governor who also acted as city’s Chief Administrator. Various dignitaries were to travel in the first run of the train from Sector 17 Hub Station to the metro station located at Chandigarh Railway Station on the outskirts of the city. However, one compartment was to be occupied by some selected labourers who had made this day possible. Even Jayaprakash was selected for it.

He was confident that he could meet the Governer at the inauguration and tell him about his plight. He wanted to get his compensation as soon as possible and move back to his village where he could start some small business and ensure that Rahul doesn’t get into any bad company. He was still too young but keeping a tap on him was becoming difficult in the absence of Vimala.

*

“Today is a momentous day in the history of this city. The city of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s dreams, has added another feather to its cap. To keep this city cleaner and greener, we now have our own Metro Rail network which will definitely help in decreasing the carbon footprint of the city.”

Everyone applauded as the Chief Administrator continued with his inaugural speech.

“Today also happens to be the Labour Day. We are proud of hundreds of workers who assembled from various parts of this region and made it possible for the city to achieve this feat in record time. Some of them are here with us who will accompany us in the inaugural run of the Metro train. However, I am really sorry that I’ll have to take your leave due to some emergency.”

Jayaprakash wanted to meet the Governer earnestly. He saw it as his last chance to get his due. He limped through the crowd but was stopped midway by the security personnel.

“Please, let me go.”

Arre are you mad or what? Don’t you see, he is leaving now. Go from here.”

Jayaprakash walked back dejected hanging on to his clutches. His son was waiting for him near the railing looking at the expanse of the underground station with amazed eyes. Soon, they were told to move towards the platform. They saw the escalator for the first time. Too afraid to step onto it, they proceeded towards the staircase. However, an official seeing Jayaprakash’s condition, told him to use the elevator.

As he along with his son, reached the platform, they were separated from their group. He looked at the beautiful interiors of the station and admired them for the first time since he had arrived. All this was the result of hardwork, the sweat and the blood of thousands of men like him. However, their fate was written; to build such marvels and then proceed to the next destination. They were not supposed to reside in the sprawling buildings they built or travel on the massive bridges they constructed. They were wanderers, moving from one place to another, selling their labour, getting exploited in return and accepting their fait accompli

He wanted to escape from this vicious circle. He couldn’t allow his son to become slave to this fate.

He quickly hurried towards the end of the platform. Elevator, being present a little away from where all the hullaballoo was, no one noticed them. He descended onto the track along with Rahul.

Papa, where are we going?”

Beta, wait. I want to show you this tunnel. From within the train, we won’t be able to see it.”

He limped across the tunnel along with his son. Rahul was pleased that his father had planned this surprise detour for him. As they reached the other end of the tunnel from where the train was supposed to experience its first rays of sun, Jayaprakash moved off the track onto the narrow platform. There he waited anxiously. There was not a single speck of doubt in his mind. He knew what he was doing was best for him and his son.

He could hear the noise of the approaching train. He looked sideways and then into the innocent eyes of his son. He clutched him close to his heart, blocking his vision and getting the warmth of parenthood for one last time.

Beta, it is the time to escape.”

***

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