The Mysterious Little Boy

Jamie is back :p… do not ask why I posted after such a long time… I will not be able to answer you :)…

(Hope Pingieeee is gappyyy)

 

“Can you lend me a few rupees, Ma’am?”

The feeble voice that sounded near the window of my car was almost drowned by the noise of the evening traffic, but was audible enough to get my attention. The mention of money triggered in my mind a natural wish to ignore the call. It was so common to see beggars at the signal, I had almost trained my mind to avoid them without much concern. But there was something in that request that made me turn toward its source.

There was a little boy standing before me. I tried to read his age, and guessed he could not be more than six. I judged it by his height, his face was not very clear, thanks to the poor lighting in the road.

“Why do you want money?” I must have been out of mind, asking this question to a child beggar. I asked him first, before I asked myself, something I had never done before.

“I want to buy flowers for my dog, Ma’am.”

I felt a bit irritated. I thought of my long but busy day at work, the kids who would be home by now, waiting for Amma to come back and make their dinner, my husband who was probably on his way home right now… and here I was, listening to a silly request from a child who could not find anything more important to do than buy flowers for his dog. A dog that fancies flowers??? I needed to break away from this!

I turned my eyes toward the road in front of me. The boy, who seemed to have noticed that I had lost interest, pleaded, this time in a more audible voice “Please, Ma’am”

I decided to work off my possible guilt by reaching into my purse and picking out a few coins. That was all I had to do. Or so I thought…

“Can you give me a ride home, Ma’am?”

I almost dropped the coins in my hand. I recovered from my shock as quickly as I had got into it. I should have guessed this much. I was perhaps the first person to stop and listen to this boy. So, as is the case with all poor children, comply with a request, only to have it immediately topped by another. My mind raced again to my home, and I glanced at my watch.

“It is only two kilometers away, Ma’am. I am too tired to walk.”

He seemed quite harmless. And two kilometers will not take too much of my time. But was it right to help this child?

Seeing no possible reason as to why it could go wrong, I decided to let the child in. I opened the door of my car and let him sit in the seat next to me. I could not let him sit in the backseat. I wanted to keep him within my sight. I still had my doubts.

Once he was comfortably seated, I leaned a little to my right to get a good look at his features. A sudden wave of shock swept over me!

These was a big burn on the left side of his face. I found it quite repulsive. What had I got myself into?

The boy seemed to have read my thoughts. “It’s okay, Ma’am. A lot of people feel that way.”

I did not know if I should have been feeling right or wrong at that moment. But it was hard to get out of the situation, so I started the car, and let the boy direct me the route to his home.

It was a short drive, but seemed to take ages. I did not speak a word to the boy, except for acknowledging that I understood his directions.

He seemed to know his way well, making me stop at a florist shop. It looked quite posh, by his standards. I walked in with him. It looked like a good place to shop for flowers. But considering my company, this would probably be the first and last time I would be able to show my face here.

“That little rose…” the boy looked at me, with a crooked smile. A smile that seemed so creepy, my heart stopped for a second.

I almost snatched the flowers that he asked for, paid the bill, and hurried out, lest I run into someone I know, and become the laughing stock of all my friends.

I started driving again. In about ten minutes, the boy made me stop at a little ground, in the middle of which was a small house. I stepped out of my car, half wishing I had not paid heed to the boy at the traffic signal. My mind went back to my family again.

I just stood there, the boy standing beside me. I was staring at the distance and expecting a dog to come running out any second, for its flowers. Sensing in a few seconds that nothing of the sort was going to happen, I turned down to see the boy. My heart stopped for a second, as it had at the store. That creepy smile again!

He held my hand. I did not know why I was letting myself into all this, but before I knew what was happening, the boy was leading me to a corner of the ground.

Here I was, alone with a mysterious little boy, whom I did not even trust very much, flowers in my hand, in the corner of a ground with no soul in sight. At least not as far as I could see…

“There is my dog, Ma’am. You can give me the flowers now, I will give it to him.”

I squinted my eyes to see where the dog was. I had no problem with my vision. I was sure there was no dog there, or any other living being there for that matter. I turned toward the boy to ask him where his dog was. But the words never came out of my mouth. He had already been pointing, I knew where, and I did not want to see…

He was pointing toward a little mound of earth.

I closed my eyes that night, in the comfort of my home, where there would be no mysterious little boys, with strange requests. I said a little prayer of thanks to God, for making me stop that night, and showing me, the youngest teacher in my life.

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The Loan

“Sir…”

“Go away you fool. I cannot do anything for you. Who let you in?” the bank manager shouted at the man in rags standing before him.

“I need the money very badly sir. Just ten thousand rupees” the man named Kumar begged, tears welling up in his eyes.

“You are standing in ARD Bank. Do you have any idea how big this bank is? If I agree to give a worthless person like you a loan, then every mongrel on the street will walk in asking for money. Go find some local seth and pester him.”

“Sir please, just this once. My family is in a very bad state… I…” Kumar looked at the manager with the look of a downtrodden man etched all over his face.

“Security…” shouted the bank manager.

“Sir… no need to force me out. I will leave.” Kumar walked out slowly, his head hung in disappointment.

When he reached his slum, he was welcomed to a great celebration. His neighbours and the children were dancing with quite a lot of energy. Even the dogs roaming around in the slum were having a good time enjoying the pieces of meat thrown to them by the slum people.

Even with a lot of sadness in heart, the scene he was witnessing made Kumar wonder what could have happened. Shanta, his wife, came running toward him.

“You won the 10 lakh lottery” she said, happiness spreading to every part of her face.

Kumar could not believe what he has just heard. This could not be true. Was this a joke?

When Shanta realized her husband’s disbelief, she showed him the newspaper that she had brought along to show him, and the ticket.

Kumar looked at the ticket and the winning number. He was stunned into silence for the next few seconds.

One year later…

Kumar was sitting in the verandah of his bungalow. A cool breeze was blowing over his face.

He silently recollected how his life had changed in the past few months.

He had used his prize money to start a small hotel named after his wife. His hard life had made him wise enough to treat his customers well, making a good number of them loyal. His hotel became very popular and his business grew greatly. He opened many new braches around the city.

He was brought back to his senses as he felt something vibrating in his shirt pocket. Then he heard a ring. He put a hand into his pocket and took out his brand new mobile phone. He looked at the number in the display. He could not recognise who it was.

“Hello”

A smart–sounding lady voice started speaking at the other end.
“Good morning Sir. I am calling from ARD Bank. We would like to know if you are interested in taking a home loan from us. We have low interest rates and…”

“Sorry, but I am not interested right now” Kumar said politely.

“Alright sir. Thank…” before the lady finished her sentence Kumar cut the line.

As he placed his phone back into his pocket, Kumar let out a silent laugh thinking of what had just happened.

The Gift

Diwakar read through the document he had just typed out in his Word Processor…

Violence and Young Minds

by S Diwakar


The seeds of Violence and Injustice have been sown deeply in today’s society. And it has affected none other than our children – the vulnerable young minds that are about to be thrust with the responsibility of taking us forward into the future. Indeed, the future looks grim when the little ones are being taught to rebel to satisfy their whims, rather than learning to accept that some things are just not right.

A part of the blame lies with the media. Quite often we find scenes of violence around the world in the name of ‘sensational news’. They care little about viewers and more about raking in big bucks. It is hard to find an exception to this scenario. Gunshots resonate across living rooms when we turn on the news, and the increase of news channels isn’t making things any better.

Maybe we should turn our attention to cartoons. They are pretty safe, aren’t they? Unfortunately, that is not true. Even the field of animation that has given clean and harmless entertainment for decades, is now caught under the ‘violence mania’. Infact, a significant majority of kids looking up to violence as a virtue, are motivated by cartoon characters who seem to have no business other than using their powers to blow up everything that is evil. The theme of ‘Good vs Evil’ depicted in all of these cartoon shows is definitely not mistaken. But is violence the only way ‘Good’ can rid of ‘Evil’?

Schools are not doing anything to improve the situation. A teacher who punishes a child for a mistake he/she committed is indirectly telling him that ‘To forgive is ineffective’. And when the child sees someone else committing a mistake, he/she assumes that the person must be punished. Note that a mistake here, according to an immature mind of a child, is anything that does not adher to his/her point of view.

Face it, children are not exactly wise enough to accept that everything and everyone is different. It is up to parents to make them realize that one is not ‘wrong’ because one thinks in a way different to your own. But when adults themselves show hatred when confronted with a difference of opinion, how can we expect the children to learn that it is wrong?

What happened to the feeling of patience? What happened to the art of ‘Defeating-your-enemy-by-love’? Why aren’t we teaching our children the only way to find happiness is to make others happy?

Drastic steps need to be taken to cleanse the little minds and make them realize that violence is not the right way out. That is the only way to save our children – and the future.

Diwakar gave a satisfactory smile. He opened his outlook client and mailed his work to the Editor of the Daily Metro.

‘The editor will like this’ he thought to himself.

He glanced at his watch. It was 5.30 pm. It was getting late.

***

That morning, his son Rahul came running up to him and demanded in his special childish way.

“Daddy… It’s my birthday… Where is the gift I asked you?”

“I’ll buy it for you when I get back from work, Rahul.”

Rahul pouted his lips and walked away with his eyes on the floor.

Diwakar understood perfectly well how his kid felt. But he could hardly do anything. That last few days had been hectic. With the State Elections coming up, finding free time was not easy, let alone go for shopping.

***

Diwakar stepped out of the office building and walked up to his bike.

‘I can make it in another fifteen minutes’ he thought.

Buying the gift was not a hard task. It took him just five minutes at the supermarket nearby. At 6 PM, Diwakar stopped his vehicle in front of his house.

“Daddy…” Rahul came running to him as soon as Diwakar stepped into the house. His face glowed when he saw the bag in his father’s hand.

He snatched it, and ran in squealing with delight.

Ten minutes later, Rahul came out wearing his ‘gift’.

Diwakar looked at his son and smiled.

“Dishum… Dishum… Vroooom” Rahul made strange noises as he ran around with his new military costume, holding a toy gun in his hand.

Diwakar’s mobile started ringing. He looked at the display, and then took the call.

“Hello”

“Hello Diwakar. That was a very interesting piece about the effect of violence on children. I will get it published in the morning edition tomorrow.” spoke his Editor

“Thank you Sir”

Diwakar could not help but smile at the irony of the situation. As a journalist, he wrote his on his views against harbouring violence in children. But now here he was, a father, who simply could not say ‘No’ to his child.

The Competition

The atmosphere in LG Park was charged with excitement. And why not? The ‘All-you-can-eat’ competition for the residents of Gandhi Nagar was a once-in-a-year event. Everyone, young and old alike, came to demonstrate their eating skills in exchange for great prizes.

It was a Sunday, so people had turned up in large numbers. 20 participants were lined up behind a table, with a large amount of delicious food stacked in a huge bowl in front of each.

It was 9 AM. Sundaram, one of the friendly guards in the locality, blew his whistle signaling the start of the contest.

The participants dug into their food.

“Come on papa…”

“Eat fast… fast…”

“Yes… do it”

The noise made by the crowd during the next few minutes might well have been heard by the entire city. And the eaters did their best to make the most of their 15 minutes of fame. The food before their eyes was so much that some started worrying if they were going to be sick. But, the will to win kept them going. Some people were also posted to stand around the participants to make sure no one cheated by throwing away food. Occasionally, someone choked. But they took some water from the glass that was placed next to the food, and got back to eating at top speed.

When all this was happening, a pair of amazed eyes – hiding behind a bush – silently looked at the goings on.

When Sundaram’s watch showed 9:15, he blew the whistle again. The crowd went silent.

The judges, Harinath and Ram – two senior residents of the locality – walked around the table and noted how much food had disappeared from each bowl. Then they discussed among themselves for a few minutes.

Soon, Harinath announced in a booming voice – ”The winner is… Peter from Akshaya Apartments.”

Peter, a young man in his 20s, jumped with joy and came forward to accept his prize of 500 Rs. The sickening effect of the amount of food he had taken was slightly beginning to show on his face. But it was easily overridden by the joy of winning.

In the next few moments, the crowd dispersed. The participants staggered out with some difficulty – thanks to the huge amount of food they had taken. Some servants stayed back to transfer the food left behind into the park’s garbage bin. Once they were done, they left the place, leaving it totally empty.

The silent eyes, that had been looking at the people all along, glanced toward the garbage bin. The face that owned the eyes came into view slowly.

It was a little boy, around 8 years. He was thin as a stick. There was no doubt that this boy hardly had one meal a day. His tattered clothes told more than was necessary about his poverty.

With hunger pinching his stomach, he walked up to the garbage bin and peered in. He put his hand into it, and greedily took out as much of the food in it as he could; luckily he found a big plastic bag in the bin on the right.

“Who’s there?” the voice of the park watchman reached his ears.

Scared, he turned around, and bolted toward the exit. He did not run just for his own safety. He ran for his family… for his starving mother and baby sister… he ran toward his home with the ‘garbage’ that was to be their only meal for the next few days.

Separation

Pre-Blog Statement: My first attempt at the mini-story format. I love reading them, and now here is my work.

How I had cared for him, all these days.

I gave all his wishes priority over my own. Guarded his interests as dearly as I guarded my own life.

But now, he is gone. All because someone better came along. She took him away from me. And he went with her, without a sound.

He left behind an empty, broken heart. How I wish he would come back.

When we were together, everything – rain and shine, flowers and trees, day and night – seemed like a beautiful work of nature.

But now I am alone, and the world outside seems so strange… so lonely. The rain and the flowers are not beautiful anymore. I know it is my heart that makes me feel so, but does he know how I feel?

It will be long before I forget him. Oh! How I miss my sweet, sweet Alsatian!!

Memories

Ramachandran had changed quite a lot – for better or worse, nobody knew- after his daughter Priya’s death.

Priya was all of 20 years, and a famous Carnatic singer, who basked in the glory that the Southern Musical Society showered on her. Her voice held millions of Carnatic fans together. There was even a time when the media started comparing her to that of the great MS Subbulakshmi. And Priya was delighted with it too, as MS was her idol.

Ramachandran, who considered Priya to be the little diamond of his eyes, was an avid music fan himself. His wife had died 10 years ao, leaving him alone with his little daughter.

When Priya first expressed an interest in singing, Ramachandran had hesitated. But later on, he realized this was not how he wanted to bring up his child. So, he let her follow her dreams. And follow she did, and became the voice loved by millions.

Priya’s favourite bhajan was “Vaishnava Jan to“. She made it a point to sing it at every function where her presence glorified the stage. And her version of the song was considered no less than the one sung by MS herself.

One cold December evening, Priya had just finished singing in a concert that was one among the hundreds held as part of the Music Festival – the crown of Chennai’s musical tradition. She had as always finished her performance with a heart-touching rendering of Vaishnava Jan to, to a tremendous applause. The crowd had phsically left the hall, though their minds were in all probability humming happily as Priya’s voice just refused to fade away. Once the hall was empty, Priya called her driver’s cell phone. But he did not seem to reply. She was very tired, and could not stay back much longer.

Priya’s manager Rangaram came running to her and said “Anything wrong, Madam?”

“I can’t reach Raju. Where is he? I am getting late.”

“Shall I drive you home in my car Madam?”

“No… Maybe I should go by myself. I’ve got a spare set of keys.”

“That is ok Madam. We will take your car. I will drive. It’s not good for you to drive at this time. It’s raining too.”

“Oh ok…”

Priya packed her things and walked up to her car. She waited for her manager to come, who was strangely taking a long time to arrive. After a good 10 minutes, he came. Priya wanted to ask what the problem was, but decided against it. Ranga seated himself in the driver’s seat, hoping that Priya did not find out that he was drunk. He started the vehicle and drove ahead as carefully as he could. But fate had other plans.

The next morning, the nation was horrified to learn that Priya was no more. The voice that held many hearts under a spell, was now no more, thanks to her careless manager and an equally drunk truck driver.

But nothing upset the relatives and friends like the way Ramachandran was behaving, from the day his daughter passed away. He was listening to music in his walkman and smiling to himself when there was much tears being shed all around him. Nobody noticed it much in their grief earlier. But after her last rites were done, everybody finally woke up to what was going on.

Everybody knew how precious Priya used to be to Ramachandran. But his actions now made them flare up in anger. There was much talk behind his back.

“Why is that old man like this? He has no affection for his daughter.”

“I think it was all a drama. If he loved her why should he be so indifferent?”

“When she became famous, he must have wanted to show the world how much affection he had, so that he could be popular too.”

Whether Ramachandran was aware what was being told about him behind his back – nobody knew. But he might have sensed it well, for the people who talked about him held back no emotions when approaching him like a kind of traitor. But, even if he did, he did not seem to care. Music was always playing into his ears, and he seemed quite happy to hear it. He had been listening to music earlier too, but not with so much devotion.

It was hardly a month after Priya’s death, and slowly the people around Ramachandran started noticing that his health was detoriating. The people who were angry at him now felt a little sorry for him. Even now, he did not let go of his walkman. The anger now turned to a kind of awe. What kind of man was he who listens to music now even when he seems to be dying?

As days passed, Ramachandran’s condition became worse. Treatment was arranged for him and the best doctors in the city were called in. But they could do little to save him.

One day, as his breath was evidently slowing down, they realized he was dying. His friend tried to pull out the earphones of the walkman he loved so dearly, so that he could talk to him. But to everybody’s shock, he stopped his friend from pulling it out even at his last moment.

In a few seconds, his soul had gone out of his body. The family slowly started absorbing the grief of a second tragic death in the same year, and started wailing around Ramachandran’s body. One of his nephews, already in tears, slowly pulled out the earphones from Ramachandran’s ear and put them into his own to see what was it that his uncle had been listening to all these days.

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je…” Priya’s sweet voice drifted into his ears.

15 Rupees

Pre-Blog Statement: This is something that I wanted to write for quite a while… and here it is… intended to be something big but ended up as a really messed up story… :). My writing has lost that punch I feel… which is exactly the reason for my appeal in the previous post.

Radha was hurrying up her chores. Despite being a 30-year old mother of one, she was as energetic as she was in her younger days.

Her daughter Seema came running up to her.

“Ma, today we have to go to T Nagar…”

“I know!” she said, snapping at the child, who blinked, wondering at her mother’s sudden change in mood.

Seema let out a soft “Ok…” and ran out of the kitchen in her own childish way.

Once all the chores were completed, Radha called out to Seema “Seema… We are starting now. Come…”

Seema hurried out, lest her mother’s mood change again.

They walked out together, and once they were at the end of the street, Seems said “ma, we are taking an auto no?”

“Yes…” her voice was almost a whisper.

“Then why did we walk past that auto?” she asked, almost pointing to the auto-rickshaw that was parked just a few feet behind them.

“Shhh. We will not get an auto here. If we walk till the main road, we will get one for 30 Rupees. If we go from here the driver will ask atleast 45.”

“So what ma? It’s just 15 Rupees no…” Seema said with a childish frown.

“Keep quiet. You will not understand.”

Seema simply nodded. As Radha had just said, she really did not really understand what logic her mother was trying to convey. All she understood was somehow spending more was wrong. Not many kids do understand the concept of saving.

Once they were on the main road, Radha waited for a free auto to come by, which was very difficult considering it was peak hour. The drivers of the ones that did come either suggested high rates or simply refused to go to the required destination. Some autos that appraently seemed free from a distance only disappointed when they came closer, as Radha saw someone sitting on the extreme of the seat that was invisible earlier. Finally, after 5 minutes of waiting, an auto came by, whose driver – to Radha’s relief – agreed to come for as low as 25/-. Radha got into the auto and the driver patiently waited for Seema to get in, and started driving.

The ride was good, until there came a lorry which crossed them. The driver, who suddenly felt a strong urge to overtake the larger vehicle in front of him, accelerated. Not only did the driver manage to go at a high speed past the lorry, but he went right in front of it. And in a few seconds, something hit the auto and it fell on the road.

Radha was unhurt, she turned to check if her child was safe. To her horror, Seema lay there with blood trickling down her head. She seemed to have fainted. The driver was saying something which Radha was paying the least attention to. She lifted her child, turned around and ran to another auto and asked the driver to take her to the nearest hospital. The driver, sensing the urgency, did what she said, and reached a hospital in 5 minutes. Radha paid the auto driver and ran in to admit her child.

Seema was in the ICU for a day, and when she finally opened her eyes, Radha’s joy knew no bounds. Her child was saved. In a few minutes, the doctor came in and said “You can take your child home. A nurse will come and give you the prescription along with the bill.”

Then, after giving an account of the things that should be taken care of, the doctor left.

In a few minutes, a nurse appeared and gave a prescription slip and bill to Radha, and left, but not before saying “Won’t you be careful… Grown ups can easily take in such shocks. But you need careful when you have a child with you…”

Radha felt the urge to respond that the accident was not really her fault, but stayed silent. The hospital was the last place where one had an argument.

“Ma..” Seema called out…

“What is it dear?”

“What has happened to me? My head is paining ma”

“No dear. Everything is ok. We will go home in sometime…”

Seema was silent for a while…

“What are you looking at ma?”

“The bill dear. It’s 1000 Rupees.”

“But how will you give so much ma?”

“No no… It is not difficult for us to pay this…”

“Then why did you tell yesterday that we cannot spend 15 Rupees more for auto?”

Radha simply said “Let us go home…” not being sure of how to answer this question from her little girl.

The Big Story

“Medha Sen has just dropped into Lifestyle in Adyar for a promotional campaign. We can’t let go of this, can we?” These words were said to Meena, a famous Page 3 reporter of the Chennai daily, The Daily Metro.

Meena felt elated. Medha Sen was a famous actress of Kollywood, whom she had always admired. Getting her interview was one of her dream assignments. A lot of others of the same profession as hers also thought the same – and that was the reason why they rushed to the mall the moment they heard Medha had set foot there.

When Meena was about to leave the editor’s room, the phone rang.

“Hello”

“…”

“Oh! Really?”

“…”

“I’ll send someone over right away!”

Then he hung up the phone.

He told Meena “There has been an accident at Anna Nagar. I need to send someone over there immediately. Can you go?”

Meena showed a look of hesitation and said “But I don’t want to miss this great opportunity of talking to Medha. It will really do a lot of good to my career. Besides, Anna Nagar is so far away – by the time I go everything would have been cleared out anyway. Accidents happen all the time, Sir. But meeting Medha is very important to me.”

The editor said “Very well, you go on. I’ll call up Sudhakar and ask him to cover the accident story.”

Meena, heaving a sigh of relief, rushed out and, getting into the media vehicle, rushed to the Lifestyle mall.

She got there just in time. Medha was talking to journalists answering all the questions thrown at her. And the emotions in the faces of the reporters were nothing less than delight. Meena struggled through the huge crowd that had gathered and managed to thrust her mike in front of Medha… And asked her “Ma’am, do you think film starts should get involved in charity?”

“Yes. Definitely, charity should be a priority with everybody. We must all help when someone is in need.”

“And one more…” Before Meena could complete, another reporter started his question, and that was the end of it, as Meena sensed that her turn was over.

When the press was done with it’s persistent questioning of Medha, and some friendly reporters had even swapped notes of the interview of one of their favourite actresses, there was a big party thrown for them.

Meena was doing her best to get the attention of Medha again, her phone started ringing. She saw the display. It was Sudhakar.

“Hello.. What is it Sudhakar?”

“Meena I have something… to tell you…”

“What? I can’t hear you… there’s a lot of noise here”

“…”

“I don’t hear a word Sudhakar. Look, I’ll talk to you later ok? I have to get a good interview of Medha somehow… My report of this party must be the best tomorrow…”

“…”

“Bye…”

A few minutes after hanging up, Meena finally managed to catch Medha’s attention and boldly walked up to her.

“Hi… Have you heard of me? I’m Meena from the Daily Metro.”

“Yes… I think so… I’ve heard people in the industry talk about you. You do know a lot of people in Kollywood, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. Can we take a picture?”

“Yah Sure”

Once the picture was taken, Meena asked a few more questions to Medha. Once she was satisfied with her work, she left the party.

On her way back to office, she remembered that Sudhakar had called her up for something. Feeling a little bad for not talking to him properly, she picked up her phone to dial his number. Just then, she saw that a message was received. It was from Sudhakar. What she saw on the screen shocked her.

“Driver, please go to Anna Nagar GH, quickly.” she told the driver.

The driver nodded and increased the speed of the van. Within a few minutes, they were at the hospital. Meena ran in, and talked to the receptionist…

“Where is the accident victim??”

“Vipin?”

“Yes.” she replied with tears in her eyes.

“He is in room 101 ma’am. Casualty Ward. To your right.”

“Thank you.”

Meena ran as fast as her legs could take her. Sudhakar was waiting outside the room. When he saw Meena, he gestured her to go in.

Meena slowly walked into the room, and broke down, when she saw her 8-year old son Vipin with his head and arms severely injured, red with blood.
“He is very serious” the nurse said. He was on life support.

The mother in her cringed with shame. Her little boy, who kept coming to her saying “Amma, Amma” with love, was battling for his life. And when that was happening, she had been trying her best to talk with a woman who, at the best, would just say a “Hello” the next time they met.

She noticed that she still had her notepad in her hand, clutching it tightly. She slowly turned the pages, took out her notes for the day, and tore them to pieces…

The Aim

Pre-Blog Statement: Here it goes… story No. 4 🙂. Don’t expect frequent posts from me because I’m posted in Bangalore and I’m not able to access Internet often. I’m home on leave right now… going back to Bangalore on Thursday. Forgive the bad writing… I’m mentally exhausted.

Eccentric is a confused word. And nobody confused it more than Raju, who was so different from the rest of the population around him, wherever he went. His was a simple job, a self-employed carpentar. Simple, but rewarding enough to feed himself everyday. He was lucky, he had no family, and hence no more than one mouth – that is, his own – to feed.

Raju was not very popular, did not have many friends. But the closest friend he had, Somu, he respected a lot. In Somu, he found someone he could always confide in, and rumors went around that Somu knew a large amount of information on Raju that the rest of the world did not.

Raju’s neighbour Ravi was, like everybody else, amused and amazed that someone like Raju can actually exist. It reflected well when he started an interesting conversation with his brother-in-law Jeeva, one fine day.

“That Raju is very strange indeed.”

“And how many times have I heard that before?”

“No. This morning I saw him standing outside his home and staring into the distance as though he had lost something.”

“Maybe he has a problem. Or he may be ill.”

“If he had, chances are we would never know. He is a hopeless introvert. Why does he not think about talking out freely?”

“It’s not wrong, Ravi. Anyway, does he not share his troubles with Somu?”

“Yes he would. Shall we go and ask him what is wrong with Somu?”

“Glad to see you care so much about him.” said Jeeva with a mocking look.

“Good joke! Why would I care about him? I just want to know if there is anything worth knowing, so I can spread it to everybody.”

Ravi let out a small laugh.

The two of them had a good lunch and then set off towards Somu’s home. Ravi did not find Somu very strange, as he was a normal person – normal as normal could be.

“Somu…” Ravi called out.

“O Ravi! Come in. How are you? Jeeva is here too. Why such a sudden visit? Anything important?”

Ravi paused for a while and then went on to explain to Somu the state of Raju that morning and asked, tried to sound as convincingly concerned as possible, “What is wrong with Raju?”.

Ravi saw a slight expression of fright in Somu’s eyes for a moment, which vanished immediately thereafter.

“Oh. It’s nothing, Ravi. Raju is just running short of money. Business if not too good for him you see…”, said Somu trying to explain the reason.

Ravi was doubtful. Raju was not someone who would worry about a money shortage. ‘That is what normal people did. Not Raju…’ thought Ravi.

Somu seemed to have noticed that Ravi was thinking about his explantion. He tried to change the topic.

“Do you want to have some tea?” asked Somu.

“No…” Ravi said, still very thoughtful. He was convinced there was a big problem.

“Looks like it’s going to rain…” Jeeva spoke up all of a sudden. And indeed, dark clouds were gathered in the sky outside. Ravi got up hesitatingly and took leave of Somu.

For the next few days, Ravi was trying his best to find out what had happened to Raju, all in vain. Somu kept repeating the same statement he had made earlier. Ravi knew nobody else would be aware of the truth. After trying a few times, Ravi dropped the idea of getting out the facts. After all, as Jeeva asked him many times during his efforts, why did he care so much?
Ravi soon saw sense and stopped thinking about Raju’s problem.

On a fine July morning, Ravi noticed something strange going on. Raju had not come out of his house for a while.
‘He usually starts work at 8. Now there’s no trace of him.’ Ravi wondered. But the next moment, he forgot about it. After all, he couldn’t care less…

“Ravi! Ravi! Come out! Come to Raju’s house.” He saw one of his friends calling out to him from outside.

“Why?” asked Raju.

“Don’t you know? Raju is dying. Somu told us that he had cancer. Poor chap, he did not tell it to anybody.”

Ravi did not, for a moment, expect to be in this situation. He did not knwo whether to think or cry. He had no time, he rushed to Raju’s house with his friend.

He met Raju’s eyes, and then Somu’s.

Somu said with the slightest of smiles, “You wanted to know what was wrong with Raju… I hope you know now. Your friend had told you I suppose.”

Ravi felt a large sense of shame and embarassment rush through him. He felt as if he had to apologize to Raju for the way he had thought about him. True, he couldn’t care less. But now he realized that he did care a little, for Raju had been brave enough to hide his illness and was infact having a smile on his face even during his last moments.

“Raju… Why didn’t you tell anybody about your condition? You could have got help and lived longer.” Ravi asked in an almost threatening voice to Raju , as he wanted to know it immediately.

Raju smiled at Ravi.

“Why do ask me now, Ravi? When you could have asked me earlier instead of asking Somu?” Raju asked in a timid voice.

“Because of your condition…” Ravi spoke with much embarassment.

“Right, Ravi! You care for me now because of my condition. You are not showing care, Ravi. You are showing me sympathy. I did not want to create sympathy for my myself and live with it…”

Ravi felt all his apprehensions about Raju melt away, and as he opened his mouth to speak, he noticed Raju was looking up at Somu. None of them there spoke. Somu looked at Raju in an understanding way.

He slowly looked at the crowd gathered around and said, “Not much time is left. Raju always had only aim in life. I will now help him fulfill it.”

Ravi, and the rest of the people present there, were surprised. How can an aim be fulfilled at the last minute? What did he want? Was his aim so easy to achieve that he could see it happen the last few minutes before dying?

The entire room was deep in silence.

Somu slowly bent towards Raju’s ears, and spoke softly “You have been a very good friend, Raju. You have helped me a lot. I will never forget you. You are a very good person indeed.”

Raju’s eyes filled with tears on hearing these words. But they were not of sadness. He was happy. He had heard what he wanted to hear as the last words in his life – he was a good person, and he had made someone happy. He let a big grin form on his face. And slowly, his eyes closed, and he lay… as a soul with no worries left the body.

Moral: (i.e what I meant to say… in case you didn’t get it 🙂 ) At the end of it all, nothing – I mean nothing – that you achieve is as important as being remembered in the world for your goodness. Because, memories are the only thing – not money, not fame – that last forever… somewhere, in someone’s heart.

Other Life

Pre-Blog Statement: If you came in search of good fiction, then this is definitely not it! I took about 15 minutes to think and write this story… which means it’s not very good… and the fact that I was writing this with a headache didn’t make matters any better. So let this piece stay for a while before I get my lazy-self to refine it later…

“This has got to work!” Ravi spoke with a look of anxiety, “I’ve been spending months on trying to build this system.”

“Stop being so paranoid, Ravi. You know hard work never goes to waste…” said Murali, his fellow scentist at the Akshaya Space Centre.

“Sure hope you are right. Well, do you believe that there is life on other planets?”

“Maybe…”

“What do you mean ‘Maybe’? There have been so many signs over the past few decades… there may be something out there… maybe humans like us… or maybe better evolved…”

“Yes, yes. I’m sure there are people out there in some distant planet… and maybe there’s someone named Ravi there too, who wants to know so much about life here!” said Murali, grinning at his colleague.

Ravi, however, did not seem too impressed with the joke. “Don’t try to insult my work! Do you know how wonderful and exciting it would be…? To realize, one day, that there are many more people like us, in some place far away. It would be great… communicating with each other… exchanging ideas, and technologies… can you even dream of the possibilities of the impact on our people, knowing that there is another world… all that ‘science fiction’ coming true one day…”

Murali, certainly, had not expected that the follow-up to his simple joke would be a miniature speech by Ravi.

He tried to change the topic “Relax, Ravi! I’m sure your efforts won’t go to waste… Do you remember you invited me to dinner at your house tonight? It’s almost 6! We better start now…”
Ravi, after a slight expression of confusion at Murali’s words, remembered that he had indeed called him to his place for dinner that day.

In 30 minutes, they were at Ravi’s place. His wife Shyamala was busy in the kitchen, since she had to cook for Murali too, apart from her husband and two children.

Murali looked around the house. The children, Santhosh and Radha, were doing there homework with a tired expression in their face.

“We never had so much work to do when we were at school, right, Ravi?” Murali turned to him and asked.

“Yes, but they’ve got no option. Got to do hard work if they need good marks.” replied Ravi, who always thought himself as a good father, teaching his children to aim high. But the hard work of his children was not the only thing on his mind. The thought of discovering and meeting life in other planets had really occupied his mind a lot lately.

In about 10 minutes, dinner was on the table… the children were done with their work… and everybody were ready to eat.

“Appa, you know something very exciting happened today…” Santhosh said excitedly looking at his father.

“Really… what? Did you get your test marks?” Ravi asked

“No Appa, what is so exciting about that…?” Radha asked back, wanting to join in at what her elder brother had started.

“Then…?” Ravi seemed somewhat disinterested on what the children had to say.

“Even Mummy knows, pa.” Santosh glanced at Shyamala

Ravi looked at his wife, let out a sigh, and his eyes went back to the plate.

Shyamala could sense that her husband was in no mood to play guessing games, and started speaking “We have new neighbours…”

“Oh I see…”

“Hey that’s very nice. Is it a big family?” Murali seemed more excited than Ravi at this point, to know about the new neighbours.

“No, just a couple of newly-weds. I spoke to the wife. Her name’s Sita, she’s very sweet. Seems her husband got a job in a software firm in Chennai. So they have moved here from Madurai.”

The children seemed very confused by Ravi’s silence.

“Appa what’s wrong?” Santhosh asked his father

“Nothing.” Ravi replied

“You don’t want to know about the new neighbours?”

“No… what’s there to know…”

“But Appa, it will be wonderful… we can talk with them and learn many new things… about them, their family, their cities… it will be interesting knowing everything. Why are you like this, Appa? Why don’t you find anything exciting about knowing new people?”

Murali could only laugh at the strange similarity and yet, the irony, that was present between what the child had said, and what he had heard from Ravi at the office. Ravi, however, continued to be interested in his meal, with least interest in his son’s words.