Tag Archives: short-story

Short Story: Through Thick and Thin


Babies haven’t any hair:
Old men’s heads are just as bare;
From the cradle to the grave
Lies a haircut and a shave.
 – Samuel Goodman Hoffenstein

 Stages of Hair

Nakul and I are not too different.

We have been friends forever. And we’ve been forever obsessed with our hair.

It all started in Primary school, when the blue eyed Aarthi told both of us how much she liked our hair and how nice it smelled. Our families did not realize that there was something wrong, until Dad’s aftershave, Mom’s skin lotion, the expensive perfume that was gifted for their wedding, started disappearing mysteriously. Nakul’s mom once even complained of losing the Phenol bottle from their bathroom. It was only when my mother broke 3 combs while combing my hair, and Nakul’s mother found his head smelling like the toilet, that they realized that something was wrong. Of course some violence at home ensured that we were back to our normal self, and Aarthi went on to like the tonsured Prabhu. But then, that was the start of a lifelong obsession.

I hated taking a shower as I was scared, I would wash off my hair. My mother, a very qualified 5th Grade Science teacher, educated me that it was common for us to lose hair every day. I knew how dumb the Class 5 guys of my school were and hence did not trust her at all. Nakul told me that he would collect all the hair he lost and then ‘re-insert’ them back. I tried it too, but it was too difficult to keep the head still or risk the inserted hair falling off. I ditched the idea and decided to stop combing my hair completely.

There were two things that I absolutely hated as a kid. One was the vacation trips to Tirupathi, and monthly haircuts. I had nothing against God, trust me. Considering the daily prayers I chanted to keep my mane strong, dense and healthy, I had the utmost respect for the almighty. But I cringed at the thought of offering hair to God. I considered it as evil as sacrificing animals in the name of God. I tried fighting off the trip, but then parents are parents. Every year, for 2 months after the vacation, I would wear a new, super cool cap that an Uncle had bought me from ‘Foreign’. Nakul would vouch for me every time and make the kids feel as if I was cool, even though he knew that the most distant relative I ever had was working in a bank in Bangalore. But then, what are friends for? As if this wasn’t enough punishment once a year, every month I was duly forced into the Barber shop down the street. Sasi Anna was only just learning the ropes from his father there, and Nakul and I were his favorite ‘lab rats’. But then with the years, the three of us grew very close to each other, and in our early teens, we became very very choosy with the way we wanted our hair cut. In fact, we became sort of the in house experts as far as hair style was concerned, and Sasi Anna’s customers began seeking our suggestions. We learnt a bit of the trade too, and once, I even tried cutting my Dad’s hair. That it had serious repercussions, is another story altogether.

Also, I hated my Dad… Seriously. He was definitely the most greatest father any boy could have growing up and my most trusted friend after Nakul. But then his receding hairline kept rubbing it in, that hair loss was hereditary in my family. Every time, he would comb over those few strands of mane to cover the barren patch over his forehead, tears would roll down my eyes watching my future laugh at me. The Autumn of my crown, wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. I also realized later that Appa was as angry with his Dad because of the very same thing. The bald portraits of grand old men hanging in the hall was a testament that the men in my family were blessed with hair loss. And that’s when I decided to become a genetic scientist and find a permanent cure for hair loss, and save the men of this world from insanity.

Sadly the world then taught me, that having an ambition alone doesn’t really help unless you have the brains for it. Nakul was no Einstein either. Thus sitting in the last bench of our class in the Computer Science building, we pursued the 3 year Bachelor of Science course for 5 years. We were the cool dudes of our college. Our silky black, shoulder length flowing mane was the talk of the campus. Our HOD loved our hair so much that he would run his fingers through them, grab them and drag us out of the class, every day, for no reason at all. We hated him for it, but then that’s what a college kid is supposed to do. We wore tight, black t-shirts, cool shades, and were practically Rockstars.

Everything was cool until that day in the theater when, a friendly neighborhood Romeo, sitting behind Nakul tried to run his fingers through his hair, mistaking ‘him’ to be a ‘her’, only for Nakul to turn back and give him a heart attack. Not just the Romeo, the girls in the college loved us too. It kind of got a little strange, when we realized that we were beginning to be surrounded by them much more than we really liked. It reached a new low when this first year girl walked up to me and asked in full public view of the entire male population of the college for any tips to keep hair strong and shiny. As flattering as that short conversation was, it also bordered on ‘total damage’ to our Guy ego. Nakul who stood a few steps away from this incident, apparently, bunked the next 2 hours to run off to the Barber Shop. Sasi Anna told me later, that he cried as much as I did when I went there in the evening for the same reason.

After college, I began to work in a small company that didn’t pay too handsomely as some of the other ones did. The work was equally less too, so I didn’t really mind. “Less tension, less hairloss” was what I cited as a reason when somebody questioned my choice of job. That I couldn’t clear any of the interviews in the other big companies was strictly between Nakul, Dad, the old bald interviewers and Me. 🙂 Nakul fared well in this aspect though and landed a job in an MNC with a handsome pay. I was happy for him. Happy that there was someone now who could sponsor those costly hair lotions for me. Working around serious 30 somethings at work, who were just getting started with the fall season of their heads, can be a terrifying experience, you see.

And then slowly, what we had dreaded began happening. It was in no way instant, but hit us slowly like age. In fact it was exactly that – age.

Don’t get me wrong, but both of us were not exactly, what you’d call old. Creeping up on the wrong side of 20’s this was when our families tossed the dreaded ‘M’-word around. Photos were requested, and I went deep into research to find out the angle of the photo that showed the most amount of hair on my head. I honestly felt it odd that my parents screamed, when I gave them a photo of me in a helmet on my bike.

Ah Helmet… Us and that wretched thing go back a long way too. As with any normal guys, we also had the best bikes that we could emotionally blackmail our parents into buying for us, as soon as we entered college. Little did we realize, that with great power, came a stupid responsibility. Helmets… My parents wouldn’t let me touch the bike without a helmet. But there was this sinister, urban legend about the helmets that scared us out of our skins. Apparently there was this powerful curse that anyone wearing a helmet would lose hair faster than you could say ‘aiyayoo’. Just to please Mom and Dad, I would wear one till I left the gates of the apartment, after which it would proudly sit on the fuel tank. I knew it wasn’t safe to drive without a helmet, but I never crossed 45kmph in the city traffic. I was scared, the wind and pollution would blow off my hair. 🙂

But then, one fine day, it became a law to wear a helmet. Nakul and I had this thing for challenging the rules, and we were promptly stopped by this ‘abdominally unchallenged’ traffic cop near the Mount Road signal. It would have been easy if we had just nodded to the sermon administered on road safety and importance of helmets, and paid the 500 Rupees fees for it, but no… As soon as the cop took off his cap and advised us that life was more important than hair, Nakul winced his eyes, put on his shades, looked at the shining second Sun before us and said as sarcastically as humanly possible – “Oh yeah, you would know, won’t you…”. 2 hours and 2000 Rupees later, we were still not convinced that we were wrong. At least we did not land in the jail. 🙂

And as time passed, life moved on, barren patches of experience began dotting the lush thicket of youth, and we began to accept the changes. I married Lakshmi and settled down in Chennai. Nakul on the other hand moved to London with Suja. We kept in touch with each other on Facebook, and rejoiced in watching photos of each other seeing who had more hair. Gradually, a good ‘hair day’ became as simple as having enough strands on the head that day.

And after a good three years he landed in Chennai. We decided we will meet at the beach, our regular hang out. I drove in to the parking lot, helmet and all, checked the hair and marched to meet someone who had seen through the thick and thin with me. Nakul stepped out of the car looking dapper and with much more hair than I expected. We shook hands, grabbed a coffee from the nearby stall and walked towards the beach. 3 years was a long time, and there was way too much to talk. It was a delight to again be hanging out like a bunch of teenagers. Friendship was in the air.

And then, without warning, a strong gust of ‘unfriendly’ wind blew.

Few minutes later, after we fetched our ‘stuff’ from the sand that the cruel wind had knocked down, we looked sheepishly at each other. We were silent for a while and then laughed our hearts out. No, Nakul and I weren’t too different at all.

I don’t consider myself bald, I’m just taller than my hair.
 – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

-x-

Fly Away Hair

2 Comments

Filed under Friendship, Humor, Stories, Uncategorized

Short Story: Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani


Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani

 

Mohan sat there watching the coy Jaya listen to him. She was beautiful, smart and very intelligent. He… was no match for her. Their parents had tried to fix this alliance. He liked her. Marrying him wouldn’t have killed her either. So it was almost finalized. Everything was fine… Until…

Jaya shook her head… Mohan clutched his… His world collapsed… Yet again…

A lot of muted conversations, faked smiles, and ‘head-shakes’ later, Lakshmiammal broke the silence and uttered a very ‘HR interviewer’-ish line.

“We will get back to you later…”

That was the third time this had happened with Mohan and Lakshmi Aunty was clearly worried about her only, 30-and-showing-no-signs-of-getting-married, son…

And all Mohan had asked Jaya was “Do you know cooking?”

Lakshmi Aunty almost cried on the way back in the Car. Mohan was miffed with her. Despite having told his mother a zillion times she had looked up a girl who didn’t satisfy his preliminary requisites. She looked beautiful, was from a rich, well to do family, worked in a bank, and earned a decent salary. But it just didn’t matter anymore. Boiling water in an induction stove was perhaps the only thing that Jaya had done related to cooking. If she didn’t know cooking, how on earth, or heaven or hell, could she make him what made his world go round – Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani. “Loosa ma nee?” was the best way he could sum it up to his mother at that instance.

Mohan and Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani go back a long way. He and that seraphic plate of dry, oily rice with a heavy helping of spicy chicken pieces, shared such a deep bond that nobody could explain. He had grown up hating veggies like all other kids. But as he grew, the ‘veggie-hater’ kid in him refused to. While kids his age would crave for chocolates and ice creams, Mohan would crave for a ‘leg-piece’ in his Biriyani. Chicken became his favorite animal, and he showed his love by doing what he did best to them, devouring them every weekend. As Ravi Shastri once said about Sachin’s batting, Mohan was sent into this world for only one thing. To savour and devour the best tasting Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani. He loved Chicken Biriyani so much, that his friends swore that he had onion Raitha running in his veins instead of blood.

His mother wanted to see him married off. After Mohan’s father passed away, he was the only thing that meant the world to her. She wanted to see her only child settled in life. Also making Chicken Biriyani this regularly, wasn’t too easy you see. 🙂 She had tried her best to find a suitable girl to ‘outsource’ this off. The best alliances were looked up, photos exchanged, horoscopes matched, and sifted through proposals until she discovered Meera, a very traditional South Indian girl. She had double checked if she knew how to make Biriyani and only then had called on them at their home. Mohan was excited, but 5 minutes later, he walked out disgruntled. It turned out, that she could only make vegetable Biriyani, as Meera was a vegetarian. Mohan dropped the idea of marrying her, faster than KKR dropped Ganguly in IPL4.

Aarthi was a bit different. She knew cooking and made good Chicken Biriyani. It seemed a match made in heaven. But Mohan rejected her after she wanted an undertaking from him, that she would want an equal helping of all Biriyani that she cooked, and any ‘leg-piece’ was to be equally shared between them. “The Government gives 30% only and you want 50?” he had frowned at her before walking out.

Jaya, was someone Mohan had known in school. She used to be his neighbor and they had studied together till 8th grade, where she used to bring him delicious Biriyani for lunch from home on Wednesdays. So when Lakshmi Aunty told him about her, he was assuming that she would have picked up some skills from her mother. But then, she apparently had spent a good deal of time in the US, and had no exposure to cooking at all. “How people change?” he wondered to himself as he drove back in his car that day. His mother tried to convince him that she could teach her how to cook Chicken Biriyani over the phone, as she had done to many other people. Mohan was just too distraught to listen.

This ordeal with Women had plagued Mohan’s life forever. College wasn’t too kind to him either. Oh yeah, he had his sweetheart in College. But the relationship broke down before it took off after the girl became a Vegetarian. And he had a thing for Vegetarians you see.

“No meat? What do you mean no meat?” He had argued with a friend in college. He had this theory that the world was coming to an end, thanks to Vegetarians.

“You guys are disturbing nature’s food cycle man.” he had claimed. “If the top of the food chain ignores what’s under it, there would be no more a pyramid.” He made it sound so convincing that he had Parthu, his college roomie, ‘convert’ from a ‘yuck omelette!’ guy to a ‘what no omelette?’ guy. Left to him, he would have published a paper on how vegetarianism leads to Global Warming, and have Dr.Manmohan Singh appoint an Anti-Vegetarianism Task Force in the country. He was, what his college mates called, ‘Menaka Gandhi’s Worst Nightmare’.

The Biriyani mania continued to office, and his love for the food became folklore. He became the ‘Customer of the Week/Month/Year’ at his Office Cafeteria’s Biriyani stall. On successful completion of the project, his team lead, Prabhu had promised him a double plate of Chicken Biriyani at his house and Mohan’s Uncle just had to keep his son’s wedding on that date. Mohan had to decide between a plate of Biriyani and his Cousin, and he immediately had decided on Biriyani, before his mother threatened to sever all ties with him if he didn’t make it to the wedding. And so while all his project mates were at Prabhu’s house, gorging on a delicious mountain of Biriyani, Mohan had to sit at the wedding eating Sambar rice and potato fry.

He had now rejected 3 girls, and that wasn’t a good sign. His time was running fast and his hair-line receeding faster. Now rejections do also take a toll on the groom’s prospect as well. No girl’s father wanted to have his girl be rejected by a ‘Biriyani junkie’. The proposals almost trickled down to absolute zero. Lakshmi Aunty used every wedding, reception and Social gathering to do some bride hunting for her son. When she found a girl who could cook, her horoscope did not match. Whenever the horoscope matched, the girl’s height didn’t. When the height did, the weight didn’t. It had reached a point when Lakshmi Aunty had almost resigned to the fate that she would have to cook her Bachelor-for-life son Biriyani for life, when Mala happened…

Mala was her close friend’s daughter, who had moved in to Chennai from Hyderabad recently, and that was the first thing that grabbed Lakshmi Aunty’s attention. She was very beautiful, had studied Engineering in Hyderabad and with her father’s retirement, had decided to come back and settle down in Chennai. Aunty just hoped that she had bought with her some of the spicy, culinary skills from their Telugu speaking neighbors. She made a few calls, made some checks, and one fine Sunday morning, dragged a very reluctant Mohan to Mala’s place at Porur. After the customary greetings and snacks, Mala and Mohan were left alone to strike a conversation and ‘know each other’. Lakshmi Aunty uttered a zillion silent prayers.

Now this wasn’t new to Mohan and he usually knew how the events would fan out. Like a seasoned recruiter of an IT company, he had now the expertise to size up the person in front of him. He had made it a habit of showing no remorse in the questions that he asked her. But just a fleeting look at Mala changed all that.

She was beautiful, smart and very intelligent. He… was no match for her.

He was tempted to forget this interview and say ‘Yes’ at that very instance. But then, his ‘Biriyani-eating’ counter-ego, kicked in. His previous three outings had taught him good. He decided to tone it down just a bit.

“So Mala, do you cook?” he asked gently. His fingers crossed, almost on the verge of getting dislocated.

Mala smiled.

“Cooking… you know…” Mohan motioned his hands as if mixing a big pot of steaming Biriyani…

Mala took her time, and then moved her head in all directions…

Mohan sat there fixed in anticipation, and asked “Nodding is good… But is that a yes or a no?”

“Yes!” she smiled almost immediately.

“Stage 1 cleared.” he told himself and continued “And are you a vegetarian?” he popped his next question.

“Only on Thursdays” Mala replied.

“I can live with that” a desperate Mohan consoled himself, before Mala added “But I have no problem cooking it whenever you want” she smiled.

“Oh my dear Angel” Mohan was ecstatic, this might just work. But he had one more question.

“So… What do you…” Mala interrupted Mohan before he could complete his question.

“Appa Amma say I make the best Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani they have ever tasted. We were in Hyderabad you know. I learnt it there. Do you like Chicken Biriyani?” she asked…

And so, like Dosa and coconut Chutney, Biriyani and Raitha, Rotis and Dal, Mohan knew instantly that they were just made for each other…

“There is a God…” Mohan looked at the heavens, tears in his eyes and uttered, “Thank You.”

As Mohan walked back to that crowd that sat in the living room to express his whole-hearted approval of the match, and perhaps even check if they would serve Biriyani for lunch, Mala took out her mobile, went to Contacts Manager, renamed the contact ‘Lakshhmi Aunty’ to ‘MIL’, smiled and muttered “Thank You Aunty”. Her laptop on the table displayed 34,200 Search Results in Google for “Beginners guide to make Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani”. 🙂

After all, all was fair in Love, War and The Great Indian Arranged Marriage.

–x–

12 Comments

Filed under Humor, Stories

Friday the 13th Special: Overtime


“Some time to be back from a vacation.” Viji thought to herself, in her deserted cubicle of her deserted floor, as she saw the clock creep past 11.00 PM on a lazy Friday night. “Friday is the most horrible day to come back after Vacation.” she mused. “Oh, Why wouldn’t Sathish Sir just give me this day off too.” But Viji herself knew the reason. It was the end of the year, and almost everyone she knew planned their vacations around this period. She was lucky that Mr.Sathish Raman, her boss at office, allowed her the indulgence of a week’s leave on the condition that she would be working overtime from Friday, to cover for the thin workforce at office. The joy of a possible vacation had blinded Viji’s little eyes so much, that she had immediately agreed to the condition. And hence, the sullen soliloquy was a direct consequence of that. She felt worse especially today, when not even a single soul was available in office.

She waited for her printer, to start printing out that 200 page report, as she loaded sufficient paper into the tray, and hit the ‘print’ button. Despite the real-estate boon, Raman Builders could only afford large, primitive, ink-jet printers. She had so wished, that a company like hers, which had grown from a single room establishment near Vadapalani to afford itself a couple of floors on a sufficiently posh commercial building on TNagar, could have thought about investing in a Laser printer. She imagined how simple her job would have been then. Simple, fast and noiseless. Perhaps, a Laser Printer could have saved her from what was about to happen to her that night. Perhaps…

As the inkjet printer commenced the monnotony of churning out hot printed sheets from the slit at its top, something pierced the eerie silence, like a hot knife through butter. A shrill, cry of a man in pain, echoed through the building, sending a cold chill through Viji’s veins. “Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh…” The shriek lasted a few seconds, followed by something hitting the ground, hard. With the air conditioning turned off, and not a soul in sight, one could hear the faintest heartbeat. The eeriness of the sound, made her heart go into overtime, and prompted cold blood to go rushing through her body. She gathered only her wits, leaving the bundle of paper that she had dropped spread across the floor, and rushed to the nearest exit. She ran as fast as her delicate legs could take her, with a fear of someone following her. Now Viji was in no way, a scary cat. No Sir, not by a long shot. She had once walked around mid-night, through her notorious street, dotted with several bars and wine shops, with drunk mortals, allowing a few drops of smelly liquid become more powerful than the muscle in their heads. A lame and foolish act of Viji’s, no doubt, done more in desperation than choice, with which she tried to advertise her bravery to all her friends who were amazed at her courage. But tonight, it was different. Tonight was going to be very different.

As she walked by her floor’s access door, the empty hall-way, which echoed with eager and chatty employees in the morning, reverberated now with the unsure footsteps of a young lady playing Agatha Christie. The printer was still printing that report of hers, and she was secretly glad, that there was something she could hear, to which she could attribute a source to. She moved slowly, measuring each of her steps, with a prayer on her lips. As she approached the switched off lifts, she heard someone running in the stair-well. Fast hurried steps, and heavy panting, which sounded like someone was being chased. Chased, by someone, or perhaps some ‘thing’. The footsteps passed through her floor, and Viji just stood there out of fear. Slowly the sound of the steps faded out. The lifts weren’t working, and her only way out were the stairs. Although, her mind felt otherwise, her footsteps crawled towards the stairs to figure a way out. As she inched near the huge white door with the round glass window, she prayed that she found only an empty stair-case on the other side of the door. As she pushed the heavy door open to a spooky, creaking sound of the hinges, her heart almost stopped beating. Just outside the door, a dark, brooding figure stood with a torch shining at her face. Thankfully for her, she recognized the silhouette before she could pass out of shock.

“Aaaaahhhh! Kannan Thatha? What the hell?” She cried, more out of relief than anything else…

“Aaah… What? Who? Who’s there?” Clearly she had scared the poor, old, Security Guard – Kannan, out of his wits.

“Viji? Viji madam? What are you doing here at this time child? You almost gave me a heart attack there.” said Kannan, as he recognised her lovely little face in the glare of the torch.

Kannan Doraisamy, was an old timer at the office. A security guard by profession, he pre-dated most of the employees at Raman Builders. He sat on his little desk at Ground Floor, and carefully kept a watch at any one or any thing coming into or going out of the building. He had this old world charm around him that made everyone passing him greet him with a warm smile. He called the employees, almost less than half his age, as Sirs and Madams, and they in return honoured him by calling him Thatha or Grandpa. People said he came from a Military background or something, which clearly reflected in his nasty temper. But age had caught up with him. He had withered over the years, shoulders had began to sag, and his imposing baritone was punctuated with bouts of dry cough. But Kannan Thatha, was clearly, the man who protected the employees of Raman Builders. Someone, who Viji was glad to have around her at this time.

“Overtime, Thatha… I was about to leave in another half hour, when I heard someone shout. I got scared and ran out. I am so sorry for having startled…”

Even before Viji could complete her sentence, they heard footsteps again at the floor above them.

“You stay here child. I’ll check that out.” Kannan ordered, as he marched with an absolute resolve to put an end to this.

“No Thatha, I am coming with you.” yelled Viji, as she tried her best to keep up with the aging, yet fit frame of her hero of the moment. Kannan tried to shoo her off his trail, but Viji was way too scared to stay anywhere alone. She tagged along.

As Kannan led the way shining his torch through the dimly lit stair way, he mumbled reassurances to Viji. “Don’t you worry ma, I’ll take care of this. I’ll see who has the guts to enter my building under my watch.” Viji felt comfortable with those words of re-assurance. She was so calm and composed, that she almost did not shriek, when she saw a dark sinister figure standing at the exit of the top floor of the building, shining a torch at them. The figure had a strange build, almost human. Except for the head which looked un-proportionately bigger. The scary silhouette was clearly startled by their presence, and darted into the floor, bursting the door open and blinding Viji and Kannan temporarily by the light from the fully lit fifth floor. Kannan winced for a second, and then darted behind the figure in equal gallop. Viji, needed more time to get her eyes accustomed to the light, and gingerly followed in the direction where the two had disappeared.

As she entered the fifth floor lobby, her heart was pounding like a jackhammer. It was insanely silent there. Silent enough to drive her mad. She thought twice before taking a breath, lest she advertised her whereabouts to that mysterious thing in the fifth floor. She tried to shout out to Kannan, but not even a whimper escaped her terrified lips. as she reached the middle of the lobby, trying to peak in at the other side for any sign of Kannan Thatha, the uneasy silence was broken by the lifts coming to life. As her body trembled at this sudden development, she pacified herself that Kannan might have flicked the switch of the lift. While trying to drive fear out of her mind, she heard hints of a struggle from the direction of the electric mains. As she limped towards the direction of the commotion, she was stopped in her tracks, by a torch being flung in her direction. She immediately recognized the torch as Kannan’s, as she had seen him carry that a lot of times during his inspections.

By this time, Viji decided that she had enough. She wanted to be as far away from this insane commotion, as humanly possible. Gathering all the energy that she could muster, she turned around and hit the button of the lift. She did not want to take the stairs, as she knew that her heart could not handle another scare. The lift reached her floor soon, and she ran into it amidst fast paced footsteps in her direction. She pushed ‘0’ and kept on hitting the close button. “Close… Come on Close the door… God, save me. Please…” she prayed as she kept hitting the button. As the door was about to be closed, a hand jammed in to open the door. Viji’s legs couldn’t hold her now. She collapsed on the floor of the lift, and with her tear laden eyes, she saw a middle aged man enter the lift, forcing the door open, with an expression on his face that could have scared even the boldest on Earth. He wore a monkey cap, with a cheap shawl folded up as a turban on his head, and another shawl covering up his body. He seemed to be trembling too. Viji realized the silhouette. It was the ‘thing’ that stood at the door.

“Don’t hurt me. Please don’t hurt me… Please, God, Please…” She begged, crying her heart out.

He said nothing, looked at Viji with shock, and went to repeat the same exercise that Viji had indulged a few seconds ago. He punched the close button as hard as he could, and waited for the lift to reach Ground Floor.

Those were the longest 30 seconds of Viji’s life. As the lift hit Ground Floor, Viji dashed out of it like a raging bull. The other guy also followed suite, as Viji dashed towards the front exit, she found it locked from inside. Before she decided to give up on her life, she heard a deep, yet trembling sound behind her.

“That gate is closed madam. Please use this.” said the guy who shared the lift with her.

He had got rid of his ugly shawls and stood there wearing a blue full hand shirt, with a logo on his pocket that seemed vaguely familiar. ‘The Creature’ was human after all. Viji strained to look at him, and relaxed after she saw the logo. “Raman Builders Security” it read in bold, as Viji came out of the building, onto the busy TNagar road along with the guy.

“Building Security?” She asked him gingerly, still keeping some distance from him.

“Yes Madam. You must be an employee? I see your ID card.” he enquired.

“You bet I am. And what the hell just happened there? I saw Kannan Thatha running in…” she was cut short.

“Madam. You are right. I saw him too. It was horrible. He just went about running over there. I was so scared that I just screamed my guts out.” he explained.

Viji hinted a smile. Some security guard he was. Scared of just looking at the other Security Guard? Creating such a ruckus and giving a poor employee a heart attack. She shouted at the guy.

“Are you crazy. Don’t you know that it is just Security Thatha, our Kannan Thatha, your senior. Why the hell did you have to shout like that. Look, you must be new, and you are just too paranoid and unfit for this job. I’ll complain to Thatha once I see him. What is your name? Where are you..” She kept on saying, releasing her vented up fear as anger directed at this guy.

“No Madam. Wait. You don’t understand Madam.” the new guy tried to composed himself unsuccessfully, as he continued with a tremble…

“Kannan Mama died 3 nights ago while chasing someone in the fifth floor. He died of a heart attack, running those stairs. I am his Nephew – Karthi. I am supposed to be his replacement.” he whispered, looking at the building, bathing in the full moon’s light, as if sporting a sinister smile.

Viji stood there stunned, fighting the temptation to conveniently fall into the comforting arms of unconsciousness. She realized, that she wasn’t the only one. Someone else had also stayed Overtime at Raman Builders tonight.

*** THE END ***

2 Comments

Filed under General, Stories

Critically Yours !


Team This post has been published by me as a team member of Tiger Trails Team for the SUPER 3 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The first ever unique, elite team blogging event in the history of blogging world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

 

Yes Dear I’ll start in next half hour or so. I’m in a small interview. No they are interviewing me. Honest. I swear Dear. Err… Listen I’ll call you back. Half hour max. Text me the address. I will… Listen… OK gotta go honey… Bye… Bye bye…
 

Err… Eh he he, sorry dude. That was the Missus. Have some family function to attend tonight. Some distant relative of her is opening some store somewhere. You know how crazy these things are, don’t you? Alright, let’s get down to business. I’m still not sure if you are serious Sudhi. Hey before that, Coffee? These guys serve the best coffee in town. Take my word for it. 😉 Excuse me, two coffees please? Thank you.

Alright, so let me get this straight. You want my story for a Blogging Competition? You’re kidding me right? Did Sasi put you on to this? And did he tell you everything about me? Everything? Even the beach house… Oh boy, that guy is so dead the next time I see him. Anyways let’s get started then…

It all started when Yours Truly came into this world naked and crying. Mom used to say how much of a commotion I would create. I’d keep wailing every time someone would come near me. But strangely, I would fall quiet, and even hint a smile, when placed with other girl babies or when that good looking nurse would lift me to change my diapers. I had an eye for spotting the good stuff, my dad used to say, and more importantly the talent to find faults, which is why perhaps; I would cry the loudest when that plump, old, matron was on diaper duty. 😉 Karthik… Karthik Rajan was what they named me. Fault finding was in my blood. 🙂

It was in my childhood is when I realized that I had this sinister knack of calling a spade, a spade. Fortunately that’s an age when the children don’t really mind if you are frank and honest. Unfortunately, their grown up parents do. Once I told Raju’s father that he looked like a big water tank on a lorry, when he drove his scooter. Another day I told Subha Aunty that she did not look like Deepa’s Mom at all. She was pleasantly surprised, expecting perhaps that I’d say she looked like her elder sister. I said she looked like her Granny. Hell broke lose, angry stares were exchanged, my little ears were promptly pulled, and other kids were told to stay away from me and my ‘bad influence’. Countless sermons on how I should talk to adults were administered to me by the entire neighborhood. Oh yeah, I was the little devil with a big mouth.

College wasn’t too different either. In college I would flatly tell the lecturers when they really made no sense and hence was quite popular with the rest of the class. This popularity did not extend to the HOD though, in whose office I spent a good deal of my time, helping him give his hoarse and guttural vocal chords some exercise. I was also quite famous for my Hot List 10. That was a weekly top 10 list of good looking girls of the college. I was the only guy who could do the fairest assessment of the maidens of my college. I was also perhaps the only guy to have been slapped by the most women of the college. On one such assessment, I rated an absolutely gorgeous looking girl as number one right on the day she entered college. Everyone seemed to agree, but there were only two miniscule problems. Turns out, she was the newly recruited lecturer for Advanced Mathematics for the first year students, and she also happened to be a relative of the Principal’s. I never saw her after that day; or anyone else from that college for that matter. I was politely asked to leave, but there was nothing polite about the manner in which Dad reacted to that. Years passed, Colleges changed, but I didn’t.

I was a good student in college. Maybe that’s why I never used any of the skills learnt there in my many jobs. I started my career as a Software Tester in a small IT company. My job was to find where they had screwed up during coding, which they politely called defects. And they didn’t call me Mr. Defect Google for nothing. I had some fun initially, but soon it became way too boring. One day when I openly panned a module calling it the worst piece of programming ever. Turned out, the Manager had coded it. He said nothing, but his stare seemed to say everything. IT wasn’t cut out for me, but I really had no other skill or no other source of income to afford losing this job. Hence, I toned myself down and hung in.

I had always wanted to be a reviewer. In fact, every one of us tries to be one at some point of time. When elections happen, when India loses a big cricket match, when budgets are announced, or even when a new family with a good looking girl moves into the neighborhood, the hardcore reviewer in each of us surfaces. But I wanted to make a career out of it. “When you are good at something, never do it for free” a wise man once said. But a reviewer of what, I did not know. I had always loved books, so I started blogging my reviews of them. It wasn’t a huge hit, and there was no moneyin it. But it was liberating. Tearing a book apart in a review, gave me a high like nothing else. A friend of mine recommended me to a local book store and they hired me to do reviews of some books and put that up in their website, hoping to perk their business up. I relished the opportunity. I decided to concentrate on new Authors, because they were a safe bet. The first few books I read were really good. Swaroop, Aarthi S, Pradeep Prasanna and some other guys were truly good. But the rest of them were stale and very clichéd. And I minced no words when writing about them. I was beginning to get noticed. Well perhaps a tad too well noticed, as I found just a few weeks later. Apparently, my reviews were so effective that people stopped buying the books I had reviewed badly. And it was a good number that fell into that category. The book store began to notice that and the owners began pulling their hair out. They told me that I had excellent skills as a reviewer. So much so that I could even make the Bible go out of sales if I ever reviewed it. It sure did prove my power as a critic, but sadly it also cost me that job. I later realized that reviewing books was not for me.

I can review absolutely anything on the planet. From cigarettes to ‘after smoke’ mints, the best watering holes in the city, the most happening place in town to do a bit of, err bird watching, the best joints to hangout with friends without spending any money, to even the people who will lend you money when finances are a bit dry. I’m not too much of a sports guy though, but thankfully, this country of ours isn’t short of critics in that department. I once tried reviewing a politician when he was giving a speech near the bus stand, but I decided to not do that anymore after his crazy follower threatened me at knife point that day.

But one thing I’ve enjoyed doing more over the other things I do, is reviewing and tearing movies apart. After having spent a decent amount of money and a few hours of my time, if a movie doesn’t live up to my expectations, I find nirvana, in tearing it up like there is no tomorrow. Having seen the critic in me from boyhood, Sasi gave me a chance to put my reviews up in his website that was quite popular among his friends. I became instantly popular. Some movie websites would call for reviews from the public, and I would invariably have the reviews of all the movies releasing on Friday, penned and sent on the same day. Slowly, one of the leading movie review portals of the country, FlickBox, offered me a full time role as their in-house movie critic. I gave up my software job, and began to watch movies for a living. 😉 I was loving it.

My reviews were usually cut-throat and spared no one. I was blessed to have employers who believed in being equally forthright. One day there was this over hyped period flick which was releasing to huge expectations. It was made by this new, rich producer, who spared absolutely no expense in promotions for the movie. I hated it to the core. I hated it so much, that I could not even sit till the interval during the preview show. I started typing out the review on my mobile and by the time I reached home, I had my review ready to be sent out to be published. We were the first web site carrying the review of the film. “A Guide On How Not to Make a Film – A Review by Karthik Rajan – A FlickBox Exclusive”. It was a hit. And that was unfortunately, a problem.

A couple of extra strongly worded lines, in my equally strongly worded review of the movie read – “I imagine the Producer of the movie must be one of those rich, plump, dumb, dhoti-clad, business man from a remote village, who has so much money lying at his palatial bungalow, that he does not know what to do with it. After having decked himself in gold, and buying himself some well built, 8 pack endowed, henchmen to move around him, this movie must be his way of challenging the other wealthy, show-offs out there, that he has some mighty big, gold plated balls to make the biggest flop that this country has ever seen.” Turns out I was absolutely right in every respect. (Except perhaps the gold plated balls, which was only a figure of speech, you see) But I had missed one small yet crucial point. The Producer Govardhan Sachidanandham, was also an MLA from the nearby district.

And thus, in true filmy style, I was kidnapped from the parking lot of my office, my face covered with a black cloth, and delivered to the beach house of the MLA. The table with a single bulb hanging from top, the gag on my mouth, the goons brandishing knives, sickles and other sharp objects the size of my leg, looked straight out of a movie torture scene. The lighting could have been scarier, but then, I was not exactly in a position to point that out. Even the MLA standing before me, looked every bit a menacing villain, I’d seen in Bollywood movies. I nearly felt that it was ‘The End’ of my story, when my past came back to save my life. Aarthi, the girl from my college, whom I had never rated above 5 in my Hot List 10 in college, and whom I had once given a big lecture about creative writing and why her writings sucked, happened to be his only daughter. She noticed me being brought in and spoke to her father about me, who I was, and how much I was responsible for her success as a writer. Oh yes, Aarthi S was now an emerging author and was even reviewed favorably by me when I was doing book reviews. She was the angel of the Sachidanandham family. In the huge family of business magnates, she was the only spark of creativity, and the entire family loved her for that. Soon the hanging bulb was replaced by chandeliers, the henchmen replaced with family members, and the gag in my mouth was replaced by laddoos. This was one crazy family. Aarthi’s dad’s ‘loving’ thump on my back had me confused if I was still being tortured. But I was alive, and I had only Aarthi to thank for it. I smiled at her with gratitude in my eyes, and she acknowledged it with a simple smile back. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Now Aarthi and I, we weren’t exactly made for each other. Aarthi Sachidanandham was a girl who was fed on fairy tales and stories of brave, young princes fighting for love and slaying dragons. Sadly, all I’d ever ‘slayed’ were a few mosquitoes with that ‘Made in China’ mosquito zapper bat. And I wasn’t even good at that. She was the most diplomatic, and the most politically correct person, I had ever seen in my life, while I could not even spell diplomacy. However, she would tell me that she was in love with my no-nonsense attitude, and the frankness in my mind. She admired my honesty and outspokenness, and my lack of thinking about consequences. Oh, the things that love does to a person. This was what I’d call being blindly in love. But trust me, Aarthi is a wonderful girl.

I had once remarked to her, on the day that she had saved my life, that I would be indebted to her forever. I told herthat I wouldn’t mind to be her slave for eternity if she wished. I guess she took it rather seriously and proposed marriage one day. Now I sure did love Aarthi, but was in no hurry to get married. But, having seen her father from quite close quarters earlier and the love he had for his daughter, I had now understood when to open my mouth and when to simply nod. And soon enough, the same Govardhan Sachidanandham, who played a cameo as a villain in my story, had now turned character artiste and thus an even bigger baddie in my Technicolor life. He had become my Father-in-Law.

After my marriage I continued to do movie reviews, but had toned down my language significantly. “The director must have been an idiot to have done that” became “With all due respect to the director, he could have handled it differently.” The Sachidanandhams continued to make awful movies, and I continued to avoid them. I felt sorry for the many young men being paraded into the beach-house, their faces covered with black cloth. And besides, everyone was trying their hand at movie reviews, so I thought I’d try something else.

And that’s how Foodline happened. I have been a hardcore foodie right from my college days. So when I decided to leave movie reviewing, Aarthi suggested I pick up food review. It sounded like a fantastic idea. I jumped right in and tried to review a few joints I had been to. It came out brilliant. Aarthi pulled up some of her contacts in a leading magazine, and they gave me an okay to feature my column in there every fortnight. They’ve made me quite a star. I get called by all the big restaurants in the city on opening night, and they usually have a table reserved just for me. I got my ruthlessness back and if some joint doesn’t live up to its promise in quality of food or its decor, one 500 word write up in my column, and they’d be thinking of moving shop. Like that awful Italian restaurant that closed business recently. But if some place manages to impress me, like this place did, I put in a few good words about them in my column, and their business simply takes off. You must read the latest column I’ve written, that comes out tomorrow. Its on this new posh joint called Rendezvous on Khader Nawaz Road. Awful, I tell you. Bland, Pricey and Awful. If you want to see how ruthless I can get, you should read that. I’m now considered the leading food critic of the city no doubt. But behind this success, there is a lot of struggle and a lot of hard work.

What would I tell your readers? Never give up your dream, even if it changes every month. 😉 Be the best in what you do. Speak your mind, but remember this. The key to success is to know when to open your mouth and when to shut up.

That’s all I’ve got to say. Alright boss, gotta run. Say Hi to Sasi for me. Got to attend this function with the Missus. Let me see where that is, she must’ve sent me a text. Khader Nawaz Road.. Rendez…

Give me a minute, I’ve got to make this call.

Hello? Hey Jose, Karthik here. Dude what was the name of the guy who owns Rendezvous that we are tearing up in tomorrow’s edition? Bharathan S? What does that S expand to???

Oh bloody no…

–x–

24 Comments

Filed under Review, Stories, Uncategorized

Short Story: Humor: A Trunkload of Love


You know what? The toughest part of a Love marriage is not convincing your parents. Oh no, that can still be managed at a later point, by emotional blackmailing, silence treatment, hunger strike or perhaps any other method that Indian Cinema has unleashed upon us. The toughest part is breaking the truth about your love story to them. Telling them on their face and watching their reaction. Guessing if its going to be an Alaipayuthey type of “Veliya po di” (Get out of here) sort of a reaction or a Sooraj Barjatya type of smiling, “ask him to come and see us tomorrow” kind of a reaction. It is harrowing. Especially if you are a girl, from a strict, middle class family in Chennai. Especially like the one I was from. And I was going through the tremors as I stood there before a very nervous Amma and Appa, who thought I was going to tell them that I did not get promoted.

My name is Aarthi… Aarthi Chandrasekar. Or AC as my friends call me. A regular 26 year old, free thinking, salary hike and promotion seeking, deeply in love, software engineer, who’S like anyone you would have seen on the busy OMR working in one of the many IT companies in Chennai. I earn a decent buck, fight with my brother, love my parents and most importantly to this story, had fallen in love with a guy of my dreams. Well… sort of.

Ok. The hero’s name is Atul Kumar Rajendran. Smart, geeky looking, B.Tech Chemical guy who found his calling in dotNet programming in another IT company a few minutes drive from mine. Curly hair, thin rimmed glasses on an oval face, almost 6 feet in height on Fridays when he is wearing his thick Woodland shoes :), shy, not really a social butterfly, but a voracious reader and a wonderful human being. It was surprising that I had grown so fond of him, considering that we had met each other, through a common friend, less than 2 years ago. There was no official ‘proposal’ from the either of us, but we grew so deeply in ‘love’ with each other, that we decided that it was time to tie the knot. Apparently his family were ok with his decision, which left me with a scary thought of breaking the news to my parents. And it was on a cold, January morning, that I belted out my well researched, well practiced, but poorly executed, “I am in love” dialog to my parents.

“Hmmm… What did you say his name was again? Amul Ramarajan?” Appa shouted after a long spell of silence, after I told them about Atul. Silence that was punctuated by hushed up giggles from my younger brother in his nearby room who was now contemplating about taking over my room after I was kicked out of the house.

“Atul pa…” I corrected him. “Atul Kumar Rajendran. From Alwarpet. Software Engineer pa… Good Family… Monthly Salary is…”

Appa raised his hand and asked me to stop. I faithfully agreed. My throat went dry. Amma stared at me as if I had just tasted her delicious Sambar and said it was horrible. Paati in the nearby room came in, wanting to know what was happening. Appa and Amma spoke to each other in hushed voices, while I began to make a mental plan of action on what to do if I was thrown out of the house. I was trying to remember a few hostels in the area, and if I would be allowed to pack my bags before leaving, when Appa cleared his throat…

“Aarti ma. Tomorrow evening 5pm sharp. Ask him to come here. I want to meet him. I am not saying anything at all until I meet him. Tell him not to bring anything with him, just ask him to be here at 5 on the dot. I’ve got something else to take care after that. Clear? Go to your room.” Appa said.

I smiled and in true filmy style wanted to hug him tight, yelling “Appa!” with the veena playing a happy tune in the background… But better sense prevailed, and I marched up to my room, content that the worse was over without major damage. It was all in Atul’s hands now.

And true to his word, Atul’s bike growled to a stop before our gate at 4.45pm. I sneaked a look through the window, only to find him, wiping his face with a tissue paper, combing his hair, and praying like a 12th student about to enter his exam hall, before opening the gate and stepping in. I told Amma that he was here, and she went with Appa to answer the door. I tried to peek at the proceedings from the adjacent room. Amma and Appa welcomed Atul in with a smile. Amma dropped the tumbler in her hand which made a funny noise as it rolled over on the floor, providing some situational background music to enliven the proceeding. Appa invited Atul to the sofa, while Amma walked back towards me, tumbler in hand, sweating profusely, and with a very very serious look on her face.

“Come inside di…” Amma signaled to me as she walked past me towards the kitchen. I saw Appa examining Atul as if he was an alien species that had just knocked at a scientist’s door. Atul was clearly uncomfortable and sat there twitching in his seat.

“So what do you do pa…?” I could here Appa asking Atul, before Amma yelled at me to come in.

I rushed in to Amma in the kitchen as she was preparing tea there, and stood there silently.

“SO…?” I asked quietly.

“GO get the new saucer set from the cupboard.” Amma replied, almost expressionlessly.

I obeyed quietly, hoping she hadn’t heard my question. I brought out two beautiful cups from the cupboard, washed it, dried it clean and placed it on the table.

“So… How do you like him?” I asked again.

Mom did not utter a single word, as she removed the milk from the stove and banged it on the table. I kept watching her lips expecting her to utter at least a “hmm” of acceptance… Nothing came. I waited for a few minutes till she poured the hot tea to the tea cups.

“Amma!” I screamed, clearly frustrated.

“What?” She shouted back, equally frustrated, only to make me realize that after all ‘screaming’ was in our gene pool.

“Atul ma…? How is he?” I almost pleaded for a reply.

Amma looked at me straight in the eye for a few minutes, before she continued with her work, and muttered – “I don’t like him.”

I was confused, and hoped that I did not listen to her properly, before Amma gave me that tray with two cups of piping hot tea, to be served to Appa and Atul.

“But why?” I asked her, almost crying, like a little girl who was told that she can’t have that doll that she had wanted at a toy store.

“Now go, give this and come back” she ordered.

I walked slowly towards the living room, the tray in hand, slowly thinking that Atul was going out of my life for good, when I heard Appa laughing out loud in the living room. And that too, with a stranger he had just met. Suddenly the future did not seem that dark at all. My pace quickened as I almost spilled the tea before I reached them. Clearly Appa was impressed with Atul.

“I trust my daughter pa. I always have. I trust her enough to make the right decisions. So when will your parents….” Appa stopped as I approached them. There were smiles all around. A stark contrast from the situation in the kitchen. 🙂

“Aarthi ma, I’m just stepping out with Atul thambi. He has offered to drop me till the 3rd street. Tell Amma that we are leaving.”

This was huge. Atul ‘thambi’? Atul had seriously impressed Appa. I couldn’t stop giggling. Things were looking up and how. I went in and called Amma, and she put on her ‘difficult smile’ to come outside and see off Atul and Appa. I was happy that Appa looked happy, as he sat behind Atul’s Pulsar and sped off down the road.

But when I turned back to Amma, that ‘difficult’ smile had disappeared completely, only to be replaced, with an expression of angst, a mild touch of dejection, and a good measure of disappointment thrown in.

“What the hell is wrong with you ma?” I pleaded.

She turned to go in quietly, unmoved, untouched.

“Aiyo. Amma!!!” I screamed, standing in front of her now.

“Stop it now… I told you right. I don’t like him… Now move.” She pushed me aside coming inside the house..

“But whyyy?” I said in the tone that I had forgotten to use after my class 10th exams.

“See, I can’t give you explanations for everything. I don’t like him, and I won’t let you marry him.”

This was now officially, War. I mean I could have argued with her, if there was a reason for her to not like him. But clearly, she had none. And I wasn’t going to give up this easy.

“What? Don’t you see Appa likes him totally. I’m sure he’ll agree.” I argued.

“I can see that… Your father looks unusually happy. Not sure if age has damaged his brain or something. But whatever he says, this marriage is not happening. I will never agree to this.” My mom declared. I began crying.

Filmy dialogs ensued, suicide threats were followed up by ‘I’ll run away from home’ threats, tears flowed in abundance, but my mom was unmoved. My dear old Paati, with her ears that were now being used only to support her glasses, sat patiently in the pooja room, unmindful of the commotion created in the living room. After I had cried my eyes red, I crawled to my mother’s lap, hug her tightly and pleaded.

“Please ma. He’s a good guy. He loves me a lot. He’ll take care of me well.”

My mom began crying now. But moments later, she regain her composure and looked at me.

“I know di. But… But there is something that you should know.” She peeked to see if her mother was still in the pooja room. Satisfied, she took me by my arm and dragged me to the store room.

“Come with me. I have a secret to tell you…”

We reached the store room and moved a few broken chairs, old photo frames, and cleared the cobwebs, to reveal a small loft in the end of the room. A loft that had a few brown coloured, iron trunks, neatly arranged on top of the other.

“That one…” Amma pointed to a green coloured trunk in that loft. “Help me get that one down.”

We slowly managed to drag the big old trunk from the loft, to the floor. It was surprisingly light for its size. Amma sat there, feeling her initials on it, and tried to clear years of dust that had formed its surface now.

“Now listen to me carefully. Not many people know this, but I trust you di.” She started. I was confused like an insect in a glass box. “Back in the late 1970s, when I was studying BA in Rajaji College… I… Well… I really used to like a guy. He was my senior. He helped me a lot with my English in college and I used to do his accounts assignment. We met very often and slowly it developed into friendship. We used to like each other a lot and were in absolute awe of each other.” I saw a trace of smile on her lips as she narrated this to me. I was now giggling like silly.

“Ammma… :D” I teased her, surprised out of my senses, that this was my mother I was talking to. I had nothing else to say. “So what was his name?” I asked.

Amma’s smile slowly faded away, she opened the trunk, went through a a few books that had pages almost disintegrating when they were touched. She looked deep, searched hard and finally found what she was searching for. She took a little, old, black & white photo, saw it for a couple of minutes, and then passed it on to me. “We wanted to marry each other. His name was Anand..” She began, around the same time I turned the photo passed on to me. I was not prepared to see what I saw.

Out of the photo, peeked a geeky looking, young man, Wearing a floral printed shirt, straight out of the seventy’s, with a curly mop of unkempt hair on his oval face. A big framed spectacle adorned his face. He looked like any young man from the seventies, except… Well… Except that it was the face that I had come to love the last couple of years.

“…Anand Kumar Rajendran.” Amma completed. “Now you see what I meant?” Amma added sobbing “I bet that’s Atul’s father’s name.”

I was blown away. I was hoping that this was some Photoshop trick that my totally computer ignorant Amma was playing with me. It was undoubtedly Atul’s face on the photo, only with a very seventies, funny, hairdo and printed shirts. But it was Atul no doubt. I had seen Atul’s father earlier, but the resemblance never struck me at all. But now that Amma mentioned, they did infact look similar. Oh come on, that can’t be. These things happen only in movies. For God’s sake – ‘double role’?? Father and Son?? You’ve got to be kidding me. And Amma? In love during her college days. Man, that was even bigger. That innocuous little trunk stood there, apparently as a testament to a beautiful little love story. It was as if I was being bombarded by a hundred questions from every side. I stood there for a long time, trying to breath everything in. A few minutes later I asked Amma.

“So Appa knows?”

She nodded in agreement saying – “I told him before the wedding itself. Your Appa was a gentleman, he said he didn’t care about my past at all. And true to his word, he has never spoken a word about this, these 28 years.”

My Appa was the dude. I soon began seeing the funny part of it. I had enough material to pull Amma’s leg to eternity. A smile returned and I felt light. But then I suddenly realized that I had skipped to ask the most fundamental of the questions.

“Amma! But why didn’t you marry this guy?” I asked inquisitively.

Tears trickled down her eyes. She waited for a while to gain composure.

“Your Thatha and Paati didn’t agree di..” she explained.

Well that figures. Parents are parents after all.

“But why!!!” I asked her again.

Amma wiped her tears, looked to the floor, and slowly raised her hands, pointing her fingers at something in the distance.

I followed her finger, and realized that she was pointing at another innocent looking, slightly bigger, even dustier trunk in the loft, nestled between a few boxes and some old utensils. I walked to it, and used my fingers to wipe the dust off the initials carved on it, and shrieked.

“That’s Paati’s???”

Amma looked up to me with her red eyes, said nothing and smiled. Everything went silent. I could only hear my Paati doing pooja in the nearby room. I smiled back.

P.S. – Story idea based on a tamil short film seen on TV. Was so impressed, that I thought it deserved a short story.

15 Comments

Filed under Humor, Romance, Stories