Monday, December 7, 2009

One more chance

When I as done with watching Paa, in middle of all those obvious good things, I saw a chance. I chance to re-brand, re-establish and re-energize Doordarshan.

If you see the movie, you will very categorically feel a that it can be a good marketing tool for Doordarshan. When the character of Abhishek Bachchan pronounces, "Maine Doordarshan ko isliye chuna, kyonki isse sabse jyada log dekhte hain - I selected Doordarshan because it is watched by maximum number of users", it reaffirms the fact that Doordarshan still remains the Channel through which India connects.

Also, the way soberness of News on Doordashan is, I guess unknowingly, contrasted against the "Breaking News" Fever on all other channels, where only drama sells, not only daily soaps but in news, in sports... any and everything the other channels show.

Well, frankly speaking, I am not a Doordarshan support, or anything. I firmly believe that if they are not able to live up to the competition, they must die. But here, its not about this channel; its about the chance the movie has offered the channel to use in its favor. To gain publicity from a movie, that too a good movie with a good star cast, is generally sought after by media houses. Here, it comes for free, or for very low remunerations.

I am not sure if some Doordarshan fellow will read this blog and ant or react to this.
Just thought of sharing my observation and view point.

And to end, sharing one more point of view, I don't really think that Paa was an appropriate title. The story was of "Auro", and for some reason if the director was not comfortable naming it after him, it could have next best be called as "Maa", as Vidya Balan's character was pretty strong in the movie.

Anyways, with or without appropriate name, the movie is worth to watch out for.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kurbaan on Kurbaan!

Sometimes, its not important from where it starts; what matters is, where it ends and how does it reach it.

Yes, that's what Kurbaan is. A movie that executes itself with elegance and ends with grace. A movie where, you care to to notice even the suicide bomber who has a scene of few seconds inside the plane. A movie where not only characters talk but so does characterization. A movie where you don't find an unnecessary "Johny Lever" or too much of out-of-the plot song-&-dance sequences (I think, the opening song to US could have been avoided, but its digestible).

I am a huge Kareena fan. I definitely wanted to watch this movie because its hers. But when I came out of theater I knew I had liked the movie not just for Kareena but for Saif, for Vivek, for Om Puri, for Diya Mirza, for Kiron Kher; for Kulbhushan Kharbanda (Boy! his scenes are suffocative, as they are meant to be), for the story and screenplay writers, for the director, for the song composers, for the background score ( I personally think that is one of the important aspects of cinema, it makes or breaks the scene), for the cinematographer and for all those who had, in minutest way, had contributed to the movie.

Some Critics have shunned it as a copy from such as New York and Fanna. I say, let it be. The strength of Kurbaan does not lie in it being some First-of-its-kinda story. Rather it lies in the fact that when you are watching it, you don't care from where it is copied, but you enjoy every scene, every angle and feel lost in the beauty of it's execution.

I loved the classroom scene where the character played by Vivek debates with other students in Ehsaan's class.

So finally, I think, Mr. Johar has grown up to Cinema. The movie has been written well by him (I hated Kuchh Kuchh Hota hai & Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, except the Kajol Scenes, and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna even didn't offer that; the only good movie was Kal Ho Na Ho, and he was not the director for the movie! Here, I would not like to discuss Kaal, for the simple reason that it doesn't deserve even the mention).

The only issue is, which I think is an issue, in our movies, that the American Indians have such proper Hindi diction, which in reality I haven't seen in people I have interacted.

I just hope, we get to see some more better products from this production house in future!

Till then, enjoy the growth...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Random acts of kindness

“Alright! It was a bad day,” Drishti told herself, standing at Dhaulakuan bus stop, “In next five minutes, if I don’t get a bus, I’m gonna take a rickshaw and go home.”

She looked around. There were three others passengers waiting at the stop. An old man in half-sleeve shirt, a college going cool dude and a lady with a suitcase in hand and duppatta around her face. She stared back on the way from which the bus was expected.

“One more minute and I am gonna take a rickshaw. Huh!” She told herself again.

She was about to start walking towards the rickshaw that the bus arrived and she was about to get into the bus that the lady with the suitcase called up from the back.

“Can you please help me to get this suitcase up?”

“Sure,” said Drishti and pulled the luggage up.

Delhi Transportation Corporation is known for its pathetic services. From whichever stop one gets in, somehow the bus is always overloaded. However today, for a change, two seats reserved for ladies were vacant. Drishti took out Rs. 11 and extended towards the conductor, “Karol Bagh.” The lady with the suitcase also totaled her coins to eleven and collected a ticket for Karol Bagh. They both went on to sit on ladies’ seat, Drishti occupying the window seat. She thought, “How bad is that? I am a young woman and got a seat whereas the old uncle is standing,” then in the next instant she shrugged the thought off, “Whatever. Even if I offer him my seat, some other female at next stop will ask him to leave the seat. So better, I only use it.” She moved her face towards the window, rested her head on the window sill and allowed the breeze to kiss her. In the hot, sweaty Delhi, this was the coolest thing she could expect on the road. When the breeze caressed through the sweat drops, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and said to herself, “Aha!” This was a feeling similar to what she had experienced when had walked in the sun to reach Lotus temple and sitting inside on the bench near the door, a puff of air had passed through her with a soft flow of music played by some performers out there.

“So I had a terrible day. My work sucks! My boss is a Hitler! My family doesn’t understand me! Oh my, it’s not just the day; I have a terrible life, in fact!” She declared in her mind and the expression of an inner frustration appeared on her face which she cautiously hid.

“You going to Karol Bagh?” asked the lady with the suitcase.

“How the hell does it matter to you!!” said Drishti in her mind, but the words changed on the way out, “Well, yaa.”

“You stay alone?”

What the hell! Why the hell is she asking all this? She said, “Actually no. I stay with my family.”

“Oh ok. I thought of you stayed alone or in PG so I could stay with you…” she paused for a second and then completed, “actually, I am looking for a place to stay.”

“Oh! In that case, why are you going up north? You will find most of the PG accommodations in Gurgaon.”

“Actually my husband’s family lives there. I ran away from there. So if I stay in Gurgaon, they will find me.”

This was the first time Drishti had looked at her properly. She could feel that the dupatta was used to hide something and not as a general use. She asked her, “But why are you running away from your home?”

“That’s no more a home. My husband is devil. He used to beat me every day. Last night, he tried to put me on fire.”

Alright! The same old crap! Now she will ask for money. These rogues, my god! What to say! “So why don’t you go to your parents’ house?” she was shocked that she asked that. It’s none of my business to ask that!

“I don’t want to burden my family. My dad is about to retire and I have four siblings. My younger brothers study in different cities. They don’t know about this. My sisters are yet to be married. So…”

There she is. She is gonna ask for money now. The scene is all set. While Drishti was talking in her head, a cunning smile appeared in her eyes. However she ensured that it didn’t appear on her lips.

The lady with the suitcase told her story to Drishti, who was wondering whether she was being told a real life story of a sufferer or a fiction from a trickster.

When she got down, the lady with the suitcase followed her. They stood at the stop for a second and let the bus pass by. After it was gone and Drishti was about to take her first step forward, the lady called out, “Excuse me!”

“Yes?” asked Drishti.

“Aaa… can you please help me? Actually I have a number of this NGO for women. Can you please lend me your mobile to make a call?”

Now this is too much! Drishti said, “Well, you can use the telephone booth out there.”

“Actually, “I don’t have enough money.”

Drishti didn’t understand why but she took her mobile out and extended towards the lady, who then took a piece of paper out and dialed the number. From other side of the line a voice said, “This number does not exist. Please check the number you have dialed.”

Once. Twice. Thrice. The same response.

She handed phone back to Drishti, smiled helplessly and said, “I guess, the number is not right.”

“Where will you go now?” was the instant reaction from Drishti. What the hell, It’s not my business at all!

“Don’t know. I don’t know anybody here. I…” she looked around.

“Wait…” said Drishti and made a call.

“Akash, Drishti here. Need your help…” then she narrated the whole story to the guy on the other side of the phone line in a very subdued voice. “Can you do something?”

The guy on the other side of the phone said something after which Drishti indicated the lady with the suitcase (which was now kept on the ground) to pen down something.

2 0 9 3 2 0 4 8

“Thanks, Akash,” she said and ended the call. Then she took the paper from the lady and dialed the number.

When someone answered from the other side of the line, she asked, “Is this Gurdwara Sahib?”

“Haanji, who do you want to speak to?” a very manly but soft voice asked.

Drishti again narrated the full story of lady with the suitcase, in the same subdued voice.

The man on the other side of the line said something after which she disconnected the call, and asked the lady to pick her suitcase and come along with her. In that moment when she was picking the suitcase up, her duppatta slipped a bit. Drishti could see her burnt face and within no time moved her eyes off it. They crossed the road and took a left turn. After walking a few meters, they saw the Gurdwara Sahib board. They walked in and asked for the man Drishti had spoken to.

He was a tall, well built man, with long white beard and blue turban. He came forward and folded his hands to greet the ladies.

O ji, I am Kartar Singh. Please, come.”

Drishti had just begun to re-narrate the story that Kartar Singh said, “O Ji, no problem. Bibiji can stay here for as long as she wants. She can work with other ladies here, in the Lungar.”

Drishti looked at the lady, smiled and repeated the statement that Kartar Singh had said, as if the lady didn’t understand what he had said, “You can stay here with other ladies and work in Lungar.” Then she turned back to Kartar Singh and thanked him.

“Ok, then I shall leave now. It’s getting late,” she said to the lady with the suitcase, turned towards the gate and walked. She stopped after a few steps and turned back. She found the lady walking towards her.

“Thank you, didi.” She said to Drishti, “Thank you very much.”

“No problem,” said Drishti. There was a silence for a moment; moments where you want to leave from but you don’t want to go, moments where you want to speak something but you don’t find the right words or at times the right thoughts. Both of them were wondering what to say next and then Drishti said, “Note down my number. You can call me in case you need some help.” The lady put her suitcase down and noted the number on the piece of paper available with her.

When they were done with the chores of telling and writing the number, Drishti asked, “By the way, what’s your name?”


Aasha! That means ‘hope’ in Hindi. Hope for what? After what has happened with her, still? Drishti smiled, “Ok, Aasha. I will leave now. You take care.”

They both smiled to each other and parted.

Next day, when Drishti got up, she was smiling. She found herself free of all complaints.

A week passed and Drishti received no calls from Aasha. “She must be good there in Gurdwara,” she thought. On way back home, she thought, she will go and meet her once.

When she reached Gurdwara, Kartar Singh informed that Aasha had left the place a day before. He didn’t know where did she go but informed her that she was happy while leaving.

“Strange,” thought Drishti.

After around two months, she received a call from Aasha. “Where are you? I went to meet you a few days ago. Kartar Singh Ji told me that you had left? What happened? Did you not like the place? Are you fine?” Drishti asked all these questions in one breath and then suddenly she paused and thought, “Why am I worried? Who is she to me?” A strange smile appeared on her face.

She was brought back to conversation when Aasha asked from the other side of the line, “Didi, you there?”

“Yes, Yes. I am here. So how are you?”

Didi, I am very much fine. And I must thank you. Because of you only I am alive today.”

“But where are you?”

“I am back at my husband’s place, didi.”

“But why did you go there? He wasn’t treating you properly, right?”

“Yes, didi, it’s a long story. I must thank Kartar Singh Ji. He is a saint in true sense. He guided me about my life and how should I take it. He told me, it’s not my husband who is doing this to me. It’s my own karma which is coming back to me through him. I spent all the time in Gurdwara listening to his sermons. He told us that life is not about running away from something but standing still with courage and diagnosing the problem, solving it to its core. He asked me to go back home, understand the issues, discuss and resolve. And that’s what I did. And you know what didi, even my husband said that he missed me when I was gone. He said he loved me. In all his life before this didi, he had never said that to me,” she giggled and continued, “but he said this time. We also then spoke to my mother-in-law. It took some time but we now realize the importance of each one in the family. We are all happy now, didi.”

Drishti could smell the happiness in Aasha’s voice. She said, “very good, Aasha. You have done a good job.” It was the same statement her boss had said a few days ago.

A year has passed since then. While coming back home, Drishti passed the Gurdwara Saheb. She halted at the gate for a moment and looked at the gate.

She thought - What if I had not taken the chance that day? I was scared to get involved in her case. I could have been cheated. The probability was fifty-fifty. I do not know what made me take that chance. All I know is if had not taken that, I would have never got to know this side of life. I would have probably never known how beautiful my own life is. I would have never known there’s reason to every pain. Sometimes, we need to take this chance, a chance that has no scope for calculations of rights and wrongs but asks us to do what we find right in that exact moment, a chance that is born out of your gut feeling, a chance that is nothing but a matter of chance. That night, it was not me who helped her, but she who helped me. She helped me to look within the premise of my own life, to think and understand the purpose of each moment I live by. When she had smiled that night before leaving, I had smiled back at her, and in that moment I realized, I had not smiled for long, not such free smile - a smile that was pure and was there on my face for nothing else but for its sole purpose – to express my happiness. Sometimes, we need to indulge is such random acts of kindness, not towards others but ourselves. I don’t know if I was of any help to her that night, but I am sure she has helped me to re-look at my life, from a new, fresh perspective. Now I live a life, where I see hope against every oddity. And with this hope, I live every moment of my life. Thank you, Aasha.

She let her hairs fall back, when she turned towards the road. She was walking as if enjoying every step taken; was smiling as if celebrating every moment of her existence. Now that’s some life!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


मैं दरवाजे पर आस लगाये खड़ा हुआ था...
दो घूँट पानी और एक प्याली चाय पीकर अभी उठा था...
गुज़रते धूप की कुछ छींटे,
कहीं कहीं पर गिरी हुयी थी...
कुछ पंछी यहाँ-वहां पर बैठे हुए थे...
घुलाम अली के कुछ चुनिन्दा गानों की धुन,
कुछ यादों को दोहरा रही थी...

" ये दिल... ये पागल दिल मेरा...क्यों बुझ गया... आवारगी॥"

हाँ, ये पागल दिल ही तो है,
जो ज़िन्दगी को हर वक़्त नए रंग में रंगता रहता है...
कभी लाल, कभी नीली, कभी काली और कभी बिलकुल सफ़ेद;
जैसे दिन के पहर बदलते रहते हैं...
हर शाम एक सी नहीं रहती...
कौन जाने आज शामँ का रंग क्या होगा?

ये सोचता रहा मैं, और ना जाने कब,
शामँ दबे पाँव मेरे गलियारे में चली आई थी...
धूप की वो छींटे, जो कहीं-कहीं पर गिरी हुयी थीं,
वहाँ-वहाँ से सिमट रही थी...
वो पंछी, जो यहाँ-वहां पर बैठे हुए थे,
वो इधर-उधर अब उड़ने लगे थे...
चाय की प्याली, खाली-खाली सी पड़ी हुयी थी...
मैं मेरे छोटे से घर में,
भटक भटक कर घूम रहा था...
कोई आवारगी-सी थी इस मौसम में,
घुलाम अली के गाने जैसी...
उसकी हर चाल समझ में आती नहीं,
पर एक रिश्ता सा पाता हूँ...
ठीक वैसे ही, जैसे उर्दू के हर शब्द समझ नही आते,
पर कुछ तो बंध जाता है दिल के अन्दर...
जब वापस आया दरवाज़े पर,
खिड़की पर रंग-बिरंगी शामँ को सिमटते हुए पाया था...
एक अँधेरा-सा छा रहा था वहाँ आसमान में...
जैसे बुझा दी हो किसी ने बत्ती वहाँ...
तभी याद आया, मुझे घर में रोशनी करनी थी...
कभी-कभी बाहर की रोशनी ख़त्म होने पर ही,
अंदर के दिए की याद आती है

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

... not in my house!

I hate pigeons!

Well, that’s quite a negative statement to start with. But that’s the truest statement too. So I reaffirm the true hatred – I hate pigeons!

Now, the obvious question – Why? To which my obvious response – Why not? Would you like if somebody stays in YOUR house without YOUR permission to your extreme dislike and treats it as his? I won’t. And so I hate pigeons! They live in my house – my kitchen, my balcony, my bathroom, my drawing room and at times my bedroom, all around. And they not just live; they shit, they pee, they cry and they shout. This is me who can’t wake up even if my phone rings in full volume more than forty times and my doorbell rings 100 times but the same ‘me’ wakes up on the first wing-flapping of this bird in my balcony or on the window and run to close it all. I have to jail myself to be free from the discomfort of existing with this bird.

The other evening I opened the door to my bedroom, and guess what, I found a broken egg on my window and a pigeon on my bed. One can’t expect such a welcome after a day’s long work. I looked at it angrily and was stunned to be stared back with two red, angry pair of eyes. It needs guts to look into someone’s eyes. One can do that only in three circumstances; first - when one is not guilty and knows that, second - when one is guilt but doesn’t care and third - when one is ignorant about the mistake. I hope with this bird, third was the case and I took the redness of ignorance and unknowingness as misbehavior of insult imposed upon me.

“What the fuck!” I ran towards it to make it run out of my room. Instead it flew a little and sat on my non-revolving fan. I jumped onto bed with a stick; it flew down and sat on the cupboard. I ran towards the door and stood there for a second, my body and mind shaking with anger. “Fuck you!” was all I could say. I sighed and thought, “Bloody hell! This is my bedroom and only I have the right to produce children here and not some filthy pigeon.” I know that’s a strange thought, but trust me, the situation was no less strange – That bloody pigeon couldn’t fly well, in fact not much. And here, it was in my bedroom and I at the door with a stick in my hand.

I am a person who doesn’t like even clean, nice pets (not that I hate animals, but I firmly believe I can’t coexist with them in my place of living. I really don’t mind them existing outside it). And I was supposed to catch hold of this filthy bird!

“Oh, god no,” I screamed in my mind. I guess the scream had originated in head and had gone to god, up there. The door bell rang and when I opened the door, I found my flatmate standing out. I thought, “God, thank you for sending him in this moment. He has walked in as an angel,” I smiled.

“What happened?” he asked.

I pointed towards the bird that had flown down the bed and was sitting in the corner of my bedroom. He smiled, looked at me, and his smile exploded in a profound laughter.

“Asshole, don’t laugh and please takes it out!” I screamed, open and loud. ‘Asshole’ and ‘Please’ are two words I can’t imagine going hand-in-hand in a sentence, except when you don’t really care what you are saying and to whom; what mattered in that moment was I wanted him to take the bird out of my room. When he walked in, I walked out of the room to let the room be an open ground for the catch-hold-throw game.

He jumped up and down and left and right. In around five minutes, the bird was in his hands. I looked at him in appreciation or relief, I would not know. He looked at me and smiled. How would I know the reason behind his smile? How was I supposed to guess the angel had turned into a devil in those five minutes? People I say! It’s difficult to guess what plays in each one’s mind. He started walking towards me rather than to the window. He forwarded his hand in a gesture to release the bird and said, “Take it.”

Before he could actually throw the bird at me, I ran into the other room and locked it from inside. Once sure that I was safe, I shouted, “Man, you are mad! What the fuck you think you are doing? Why can’t you simply put that shit pigeon out of the window? You know I can’t… I just can’t stand this bird! Please yaar, take it out.” Hearing no sound from the other side of the door, I assumed that he did what I asked him to and to confirm this I slowly opened the door. And before I could realize, he pushed the door open with and threw the bird on me. I was so bloody freaked out that lost my control and almost fell off on the floor. The bird tangented over my head and went to sit on the CPU. The dude ran to catch it and was successful. He then placed it out from our balcony. In the background, I was screaming and shouting, “You asshole… you fucker…@#&*$” and he was laughing his guts out.

At times I think, “Why cant these birds, or for that matter any other living being, live in their own space. I don’t intrude in their then why do they do in mine?” I know it appears childish to think that way, and to an extent, it is. I know we, as human beings, have intruded in anyone’s and everyone’s space and have eaten up their share. I know that these creatures can’t differentiate between a ‘Rohit’ and a human being who trespass in their area. But all this gyan doesn’t appear my mind in situations like this. The only thing that plays in my mind as a stuck record is – I hate pigeons and can’t love them, not in my house.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Healer

He couldn't get a sound sleep last night; had a bad altercation with an office colleague. He was angry; and confused and disturbed. “I don’t know if I was right when I shouted at him. I don’t know if I am right now when I repent about my shouting.” He wondered. The night had passed in turning from one side of the bed to another, looking at the fan and such activities.

It was 5:00 AM, early Saturday morning. He got out of his bed, logged into his computer, opened the web browser and keyed in in address bar and hit “Enter” key. Once the home page appeared, he typed “Was it my fault?”

He read through the first few results. Then keyed in “Am I ok?” And hundred such questions. He didn’t know what he was seeking. Sometimes we do not know where we want to go, how to reach there, but a random running around helps. At least this way we at times get to know where wedo not want to go. In his random searches and umpteen typographical errors, he keyed in “Khaled”.

The first result was “Khaled (musician) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”. He opened and read. “Interesting,” he told himself. The next search result was a Youtube video. He opened it. He didn’t understand the song much but by the time he figured out the word “didi” in the song, he found his fingers playing an orchestra on the table. As the song progressed he allowed his feet to dance. With hands and feet, he slowly moved his shoulders. Hey keyed in “Khaled Songs” and there was a whole list of Arabic songs. He got up from the chair and closed the windows. The sun was yet to appear in the sky which was turning to purple from black. He put his left leg forward and then dragged the right one from window to the computer in compliance with the rhythm of the song. He pressed to F10 key to increase the volume to fullest of its capacity, then lifted the chair up in style, and pushed it back. Now with his legs, his whole body was dancing… to the tunes of Khaled, from one to the next song of his.

In that room then, there was no pain and no painful afterthoughts of an altercation. There was no hurt, agony, anger, or repent. It was full of dance and music. He felt every move of his body – how his hips shook, how his hands moved from left to right and back, how he jerked his head, moved his looks and how shook his legs. He was not present in the room, but was absorbed in his moves and was living in the flow of the music. When you find a connection with the sound, the words do not matter, it seems. Despite not understanding much of what was being sung, he could feel the music, piece by piece, tune by tune. And in the process, his sadness was gone. What remained was a soul full of life.

It was 6:30 AM when the doorbell rang. He dropped himself on floor, rested his body by placing his arms back. He could feel the pinch of a small pain and he founds a hint of a smile when he moved his face from ground to the fan up on the ceiling. He then got up suddenly and ran to open the door. The milkman was about to leave, after putting in the milk packet in the bag on the door. He called, “Good Morning, Shyam Bhaiya.”

“Arre, Good morning, sahib,” the milkman greened. “Too early today, you got up! Going to office?”

“No bhai, today I got up not for office but for life.” He smiled and said bye to the milkman.

When he closed the door, the speakers were still singing… from the few words he could only understand “Allah, Allah…” On his way to kitchen, he looked in the side mirror, smiled and moved forward, dancing with milk packets in his hands. His wound was healed by a doctor he had never known before, by a medicine he had never thought could work as a medicine.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today, What are you escaping from?

I walked out of office last night at around 8:30 PM and called for a rickshaw.

Bhai, we will have heavy traffic on the way. Today, it’s Ganesh Visarjan.”

“No problem. Have to go. Can’t help. Chalo.” I could hear painfully loud music on streets.

A few meters ahead, I saw a troupe with a Ganesh idol. It was a beautiful idol. I love the craftsmanship involved in making of these idols. Yesterday was the fifth day of Ganesh Mahotsav and in Mumbai it’s more than a festival. If I say its madness, It won’t be wrong.

But then madness about what? One case could be that these people are madly in love with this god and its time to rejoice about their love. To justify this I looked a little closer to their faces and listened carefully to sound of music. But I neither could see nor hear love. All I could find was a celebration of our escapist attitude. I felt that the dance was not for Ganesh but for them.

Ever wondered why do we have endless list of festivals in India? Can it be a reason behind us being escapists? Are we the people who need to run away into something else to suppress the boredom of routine life or to fight our sadness?

We celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi or Durga Pooja and dance to the tunes of “Bidi Jalaile jigar se piya… jigar ma badi aag hai”. We celebrate Diwali and loose ourselves in noise pollution from crackers. We celebrate Holi and cover our faces with loads of colors so that for at least one day no one can see our real faces.

I appear cynical about our festivals? Ok then. Lets check out some other mode. Say Bollywood? The biggest hits in our country are movies like Hum Apke Hain Kaun and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and a Raincoat or Zakhm would be floored on the box office. Why? We love to watch happiness; grand, out of the world happiness. We enjoy this second hand happiness because we not only think but strongly believe that we can’t live that kind of happiness. We are genuinely sad people.

More arenas? Lets talk Cricket. We have proved ourselves as Cricket-crazy nation. The maximum watchers of this game in the world are from our country. But the best players of the world? Beyond a Sachin or Kapil Dev, no we can’t produce such people. That’s not our breed. We are the people who sit back and admire good things in life but are coward enough to try making it happen to our own life.

So the point is – we need a reason to be happy. We don’t think that our very existence in this world is a reason to happy. Our existence is so routine, so unimportant that we seek for some special occasion to be happy. And it has been routed in our society so deeply that if we find some genuinely happy person, we can go to the extent of calling him or her MAD. We need to be told by someone else that when can be happy. A Pundit says that Ganesh Chaturthi is on so and so date. We choose that as our date for happiness. A movie director decides that our country should be happy and makes an ultra stupid movie. We choose that as our medium of happiness. The match fixers decide who will play good in one particular match. We choose that as our reason for happiness.

And it’s not only that we fix our days of happiness. We also fix these days for “Cannot be Unhappy”.

I remember from my childhood days that my sister would always complain about me being sad on every Diwali. I could never understand the reason what used to happen and why. She would tell me, “Today is a day of happiness. Be happy.”

I believe that the festivals have the sole purpose of identifying an event, cause or issue. And it’s upon us how we associate with that day. So when I was told to behave in certain way on a certain day, I would always wonder how one can BE HAPPY if he is actually not feeling so, just because it’s a day that the society assumes it to be a day of happiness? Why can’t the day I choose to be happy be the day of my happiness? Why can’t all days of my life be the days of happiness?

And I still do not understand this.

The bigger pain point is – now I try to escape from the reasoning as, at times, its unavailability makes me sad and at other times, I am not too sure of its availability and authenticity. So from this context, everything that I said above remains an idea or a thought and not a logically or mathematically proved theorem. So, you can go ahead and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi for the reason you want to. Even if the reason be an escape from something that you desperately want to.

Happy Ganesh Utsav!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

रात और भोर

एक काली, स्याह रात
और एक सुनहरे भोर में,
करो अंतर, कहा उसने
मैंने पूछा -
किसी वेश्या के पल्लू
और माँ के आँचल में
कर सकते हो भेद?
तुम रात भर, मंचल कर,
काला कर मुंह उस पल्लू में,
घर लौट सकते हो सुबह
ममतामयी उस गोद में

पर कभी सोचा है,
उस अंधियारी रात को भी
हो सकता है इन्तज़ार उस भोर का?
ठीक वैसे ही
जैसे कोई वेश्या याद कर बचपन के दिन
तिलमिला जाती है माँ से मिलने को;
पर है ये उसके लिए
एक स्वप्न की बात
यूँही रात कितना भी तड़प ले,
भोर को आना है
उसके ख़त्म होने के बाद

...We live in different worlds!

I was about to miss the 7:04 PM fast local for Thane. And if had, I would have to wait for another fifteen minutes. It was 7:03:35 PM in the station clock. I ran. I had to reach the first class compartment. The train was about to catch on speed. That was when I jumped into the train, pushing behind the gentleman who was standing on the door, despite the compartment being decently vacant. I caught my breath and held my knees with both hands. When found myself relaxed a bit, I straightened myself up. In the process of moving up, my eyes met with another pair of eyes who were staring at me. Well it’s not a great idea if you are stared at by a man in a general compartment. But that was a different stare, the kind of those which we throw at people we think we know, but are not able to recollect who they really are. My eyes responded with the same stare.

It took a minute before I realized who that guy was. The ghost from my past was smiling at me. I walked up to him and asked, “Sainik School?”

And we both laughed. He offered me a seat beside.

“How come you are here in Mumbai?” I asked him.

“Am commissioned here for next two years. How about you?”

“Am working with TCS.”


“Tata Consultancy Services? Haven’t you heard of it?”

He shook his head in a ‘NO’ and smiled. I smiled back. Probably this was the first time when I had introduced my company and had got such a response. But the kind of background he was from, I think that’s ok. We live in different worlds.

“So what rank you are at?”


“Wooah! Congrats, boy!” I shook his hand.

“Thank you, bhaisaheb.” And it smelled like my school. As juniors, we used to address our seniors that way – Bhaisaheb.

We talked about our teachers, our friends, our school and our childhood; people, places, and lives common to us.

“So, does Singh House still win the Cross Country Race Trophy?”

“Hahaha…” He laughed out. “Well, not sure but I guess it must be. After you left, we won for the next two years. But don’t have such detailed information as I myself have not been to school after that. And moreover, the school has all new teachers. Those we knew have all retired. M.C. Pandey Sir… Joshi sir.. Takla… Varma sir… Dudhdhu sir you name it and most of them are gone.”

“Kapoor Sir?”


“Ghoda Sir?”

“No, he is still there.”

“Bisht sir.”


“And Geeta Mam?”

And we both looked at each other and sighed. “She is still there.” There was naughtiness in his response.

“So where are you headed towards?” I asked him.

“I am going to Mulund. Actually this is the first time I am traveling by local train. I have my own vehicle but had to offer that to brigadier who is in town today. I have to meet someone out there. The guy told me this was the fasted mode of transport.”

“Well, that’s true. This is the lifeline of Mumbai.”

“So you travel by local every day?”

“Yeah. My office is in Colaba.”

“So you must be having a pass or something. It paid Rs. 150 for my ticket. How much does it cost otherwise?”

“Well yaa I do have a quarterly pass. And it doesn’t cost more that 15 bucks for a general ticket from here to Mulund. So what work you are on here?”

“I will tell you some other time. Give me your number. I will call you and we will talk.” He looked around in calculated manner. I smelled Army in his behavior. I felt good that he was not carried by the emotions of meeting an old friend but was disciplined.

“9833…..” he keyed it in his phone and dialed. I received a call from his number. I wanted to save, but wasn’t sure what was his name and didn’t wish to let him know that I don’t remember his name, so just let it be. But sometimes, things are very obvious. He asked me, “Do you remember my name, bhaisaheb?”

“Varun, right?” And he smiled. I thanked god hundred times in that split second for saving me from the embarrassment. I had got it right.

“Varun Rathod... Am I typing your name right?” He showed me his phone. It read – ROH.

“If it is going to end with I and T, then yes.” I smiled. He remembered my name.

“It’s all fate, bhaisaheb. Had never thought I would meet you after nine years since your left school, here in Mumbai, in a local train that I had to take as a matter of chance. And on top of it, we both recognized each other. You don’t look much different.” He said, in his childlike smile.

I smiled back, “Yes. Neither do you.”

“So which station will you get down at?”

“I will get down at Ghatkopar.”

“Is Mulund far from there? I am going for the first time.”

“It being a fast train, it will stop at Mulund only, after Ghatkopar. So yours is the next stop after I go. Chal dude, my stop is arriving. Keep in touch.”

“Yaa… sure… bhaisaheb. We will meet someday. I will call you.”


I went to the door. There was still some time before my stop would arrive. I looked back at him. He was sitting in attention; small hairs, hands closed. He appeared cautious and hesitant, the way we would be on our first day in school. Strange it was – A Caption from Army nervous in a civilian public transport! Well that’s how it is, I guess. We live in different worlds. If it would have been a mission of killing some terrorists, the same train would have been his easy battle field. But today, he was trying to make sense out of a civilian moment that was not his, an environment he was not accustomed of. I smiled to myself. I tried imagining him in the school days, but couldn’t.

My station had arrived. I moved a few steps back to him, and called out, “Varun, yours is the next stop.” I don’t know why, but I felt caring, as I would have towards my younger brother. Now when I think back, I know he would have managed without me telling him, but in that moment, I just wanted to make sure that he does. He was the same guy, I must have ragged and punished in the school. But that was then. Now we live in different worlds.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An exact life

“Have you had your dinner or shall I fix a plate for you?” she asked from the kitchen when he got home, opening the door with his own keys, and was on his way to his room.

“Mom, I had my dinner. And how many times do I need to tell you that you don’t have to wait for me. I get late these days and hope you will understand. These are my last few days at college. And I have to go out with friends... You know how these last few days be, right?” he replied, kissed her forehead and walked to his room without waiting for a reply to his question.

“This is not a hotel that you walk in and out anytime you wish to. And I am not your attendant but your mother! You have to give a decent attention to my existence in this house. You can’t ignore me like this,” She wanted to shout aloud but she restrained and just said “Right.”

It was thirty minutes past midnight. Her husband was not home, her daughter had called up to inform that she will not be coming tonight and her son, though returned, was not bothered to spend a minute with her. She put a plate of food for herself in the oven. She didn’t remember when was the last time she had her food with any of her family members.

For her, it had been twenty years of marriage with Shailendra Vajpai, a highly reputed businessman, who was always short of time in life. At times she used to wonder – Did he take off to produce our children for the very purpose of having children or he do under a plan to make me busy enough with them so that I don’t need him much of his time? And her children, Nilesh and Neha, too had somehow inherited from their dad the quality of being busy. She was not sure if it was the quality of being busy or the attitude of not bothering her presence around.

Sometimes it’s not about being lonely; rather it’s more a matter of being neglected, intentionally or unintentionally. “May be they are not wrong. May be it’s about their age, it’s about the way they are growing up.” She used to tell herself when her daughter would keep herself locked inside her room or would not talk to her for days except the routine discussions but be busy talking to her friends over the phone for hours. Or when her son would not be home for days and whenever be, would engage himself in some kind of sport on television or computer. About her husband? She had lost all hopes of having his attention, long time back.

“But for long someone can keep cooking food which is not being eaten? Or make calls which are not being answered? For how long?” One day she questioned this to herself, and introspected. “Do I really deserve this?”

She had forgotten when was the last time she woke up happy about being alive. She had forgotten if she had a hobby. She didn’t know if she enjoyed watching television or cooking or dancing or singing. She didn’t know what kind of person she was and what kind of person she had become. In the crowd that she wanted to live in, she had lost her own self. So she decided one evening over the cup of lonely tea that she had to move on. She packed her a small bag of most essential things that she thought she would need. And sat on the desk to write a note –

My dear family,

Yes. You all are very dear to me. I have spent my twenty years to develop a life around you all. And I must say it is not wasted. I say it is not wasted because I find I have a few learning from it. The most important one is – never to waste any moment of your life on waiting for others.

I am sorry, if it sounds as if I am regretting my moments of wait for you all. I don’t mean it that way. I don’t know if you all are nice people for the simple reason that I don’t know you all enough to make an opinion on your type, but I am sure you people have been good teachers to me; my teachers for the subject called life. In fact, when I look back those were some beautiful moments. I grew up in those moments; I became more patient with you and with my own self. I would, probably, have never appreciated the beauty of the vase on the dinner table as well as I do now, if I had not to wait there for you all. It was wasteful from the food’s point of view to cook your food which was not to be eaten but it was a lesson as I bettered my cooking skills, by every meal I cooked. I am sure that almost all the shopping I did for you, none was worth your consideration, but I learnt a lot about the kinds of clothing materials, different brands and the sense of fashion.

However I think I have learnt enough; enough for this life, from what all the domesticity of this house could teach me. And I thank you all for the same.

Now, I need to move out. I don’t know to where and for what. But I guess I will figure out on the way.

And on the same way, I will miss you; if I choose to live. Though they will be called good habits but I will not enjoy cooking the exact amount of food that I would require. I will miss throwing food down into the dustbin. I will miss going back to shopping center and exchanging the dress I bought for you all for curtains, bed sheets and towels.

Life would definitely not be the same but that is what I want it to be – Not same at all. Not for the reason that I don’t like what it was but simply for the reason that I want it to be what it is. When I was here, I was alone but it didn’t appear to me that way and I would spend my days to prove what it appeared. Now I want to spend my life for what it actually is; with no pretense, no regret and no remorse. ‘Lonely’ in the sense that it is; exactly and completely.

With love,

Before leaving the place she called home before this very moment, she folded the paper carefully; ensuring that her signature was visible, though she wasn’t sure if that meant anything to anybody. After all, when she didn’t mean much in person, what value would she hold in her name? By the way, her anonymity in her own stories was so profound that, while narrating her, I forgot to tell you all her name. She was named Ashmita. It’s a different story that not many people knew it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A boy who couldn’t become a man

He walked to the mirror after the bath, naked, and stared into it. He wished to smile but couldn’t, went to the cupboard, took a dress out. It was a red sari; deep, stark red. He draped it around and walked to the dressing table, put on a pair of earrings, applied a lipstick and pinned up his blouse.

Once ready, he picked up his bag and locked his room. Turning back, Chand stood still for a second and took a deep breath. He glanced on the streets with a distant look. By this time, his friend Resham too was out of his room. They smiled to each other and started walking out of the chawl.

‘The Bombay Groceries’ was the first shop around the corner. They walked up to the shopkeeper, Mr. Jignesh Shah.

“Ei Raja,” Chand clapped his hands in a special manner and called out. “la dede. Aaj bohani tujhse hi karti hoon” Hey dear, give it to me. I will start my day’s income with you only.

“Chal, abhi meri khud bohni nahi huyi. Baad me aa.” Leave now. I haven’t earned my own day’s first earning. Come later.

“Aisa kya karta hai re raja. Dena. Bhagwaan tere ko salaamat rakhega. Laa de.” Why you do like this dear. Give please. God will keep you safe. Com’on, give me.

Chand caressed his cheeks to which Mr. Shah smiled and Resham laughed. Mr. Shah took out a Rs. 5 coin and extended his hands to Chand, “Ye le. Abhi jaa.” Take this. Leave now.

Seeing the Rs. 5 coin, Chand acted as if angry. “Kya bhikhari samajha hai kya? 10 Rupaye se kam nahi loongi.” Do you think of me a beggar? I won’t take less than Rs. 10.

“Rani, jyada naatak mat kar. Ye leke ja. Raat ko aa aur doonga.” Sweetheart, don’t make a fuss. Take this and go. Come tonight and I shall give you more.

“Rakh le ye khud hi. Apni rakhail ko dena. Kanjad saala.” Keep it with you only. Give it to your keep. Bloody miser.

He turned to the road and so did Resham. Mr. Shah called out but they didn’t return.

Almost like this, each day would start for Chand. On some days, he would earn decently; on others, almost nothing. And since the rains had started, it was even worse. Rains mean less customers for shop owners and hence lesser earnings for Chand and his friends. Each day he would undergo such humiliation and would laugh unnecessarily on silly things to wash it off. He was taught and had lived this life since the age of seven, the age of his kidnap and making of a boy into Hijra, a member of third sex family.


Chand was not Chand, then. He was Chandrabhan Singh; a bright, brave and energetic second child of Singh family from Jaunpur, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. He was studying in class two in the Jaunpur Public School. His grades in previous year were impressive and his family was very proud of him. Mr. Singh would talk about his son’s achievement at every possible occasion and boast about his own fatherhood. Chandrabhan’s cheeks were so full and red that everyone in the family, relatives and friends would love to tweak it with love. When done that, the kid would be embarrassed which created a moment of laughter and entertainment for others. In life, we hardly acknowledge the self respect for children. For most of us, the general society, they always remain an object of entertainment. The irony of this is the fact that many of us would have gone through such embarrassments as child but we either take our share of revenge or just forget our childhood and join the gang of so called adults.

In those days in Jaunpur and such towns of Uttar Pradesh, it was a ritual to call upon the Hijra community in marriages, child birth and such functions to make the day auspicious. They were paid and gifted for their song and dance performance, as per the affordability of the family. Chandrabhan’s birthday was a proud day for Mr. Singh to celebrate and to make the day truly auspicious he had called for the Hijra group to perform. Clad in colorful saris, they danced and sang in their manly mannerism. And to bless the child of the day, they would touch him as much as possible and wherever possible. Mr. and Mrs. Singh were profoundly happy and served the guests merrily. Chandrika, their ender daughter, showed the beautiful paintings of his brother to her friends and felt proud. The day was beautiful in every sense, for everybody present in the function, except Chandrabhan. He was deeply irritated with the mannerism of eunuchs. Once the party was over, he went to his father and sat in his lap.

“Papa, please don’t call these people in my birthday next year.”

“Which people, my dear?”

“Those men who were dressed in saris and dancing like females. I hate them. They would pull my cheeks and irritate me.”

“Hahahahaha…” Mr. Singh laughed aloud. “Don’t worry son. They are eunuchs. They can’t hurt anybody. There presence makes the day auspicious. Now you will see you will top not only in your class but in whole school.” And he laughed again.

“But I don’t like them,” said Chandrabhan and got down form his father’s lap. He went to his mother who was taking a nap after the day long function. He lay down by her side and held her tightly. In response to that his mother too put her right hand around him. He mumbled, “Maa… I don’t like them. I don’t like the way they look at me. I don’t like the way they touch me.”

“Hmmm…” being in sleep, his mother didn’t respond to his confession, but only to his sound.

A stream of tears flew out from his big, black eyes. He didn’t realize when he went to sleep. When he got up, it was already dinner time. He ran to the drawing room. And started looking into each box of gifts he had received. That was his favorite activity after his birthday party.

It was 19th July, fourteenth day after Chandrabhan’s birthday. Mrs. Singh was preparing lunch for him. His school used to end at 2:00 PM, two hours before Chandrika’s. At around 2:30 PM, the call bell used to ring continuously till Mrs. Singh would open the door. And when she did, she was always greeted by a warm hug, as if a soldier returned from war front and embraced his mother. Then they would sit for lunch where Chandrabhan would narrate the full day’s story in most articulate way possible and his mother would respond to it with appropriate expressions and nods. But today, the bell didn’t ring till 4:30 PM. She was sitting worried, but assumed that for some reason he will return with his sister. And when the bell rang, she rushed, opened the door and asked Chandrika, “Where is Chandrabhan?”

“Didn’t he come home? His school ends at 2:00 PM!”

“No, he didn’t. I thought he might have waited for you to come along.”

“No maa, rickshaw-wallah doesn’t let any other kid go in different shift.”

Now Mrs. Singh got tensed. She phoned Mr. Singh.

“Chandrabhan has not returned from school!” She sounded scared.

“Arre, he might be playing with the kids downstairs. Check there.” And Mr. Singh cut the call. He was in a meeting.

Mrs. Singh rushed downstairs. Few kids were playing there. He asked them if they knew where Chandrabhan is. None of them did. One of the kids told her, “Aunty, when he comes, send him to play with us please.”

“Sure, son.” She said and ran outside. She checked around. He was nowhere. She ran up again and phoned his father.

“He is not there, nowhere. I checked all around…” And she started crying.

“Don’t cry… I will go to school and check. Don’t worry, we will find him. Stop crying now. I am going to school, right now.”

She served food to Chandrika and sat by her side. Chandrika eat her food, slowly. Looking at her worried mother, she asked, “Maa, where do you think he would have gone?”

This question was irritating, but Mrs. Singh was more sad than irritated. She didn’t reply but gestured to tell her that she didn’t know.

After sometime, Chandrika asked again, “Maa, our school closes by this time. Nobody would be there. What if papa doesn’t find him in the school?”

“Eat your food, silently.” The irritation won over sadness.

At around 7:00 PM, the phone rang. It was Mr. Singh. “He is not in the school. I spoke to the principal and his class teacher. They don’t know about him. His travel teacher said. He was not there when the rickshaw left,” he paused for a second to take a breath, and then continued, “I am going to police station to file a report. If he comes home, call me. Meanwhile call up some of his friends and ask if he is at their place.”


Mrs. Singh called every possible number which she thought could be his friend’s. The answer from everywhere was negative. Mr. Singh on his way to home, looked into each street, each gully, just in a hopeless hope to see his son. Neither had he ridden his scooter so slow nor taken such a long route back home, ever before.

“A father has to be strong,” He told himself, “Chandrabhan will come home. I have to be strong. I have to take care of the ladies in the house. I can’t cry.” By this time he already was; just that it had started raining heavily and the raindrops wiped those tears off the face.

“Don’t worry. I have filed the report. They will inform us if they find something. Did you call his friends?” He asked Mrs. Singh on reaching home.

“Yes. He is not with them. They don’t know.”

She couldn’t think of giving the glass of water that she was accustomed to on arrival of Mrs. Singh from work. She simply, lifelessly sat on the chair.

The night passed in waiting. Next day, Mr. Singh readied himself for police station. Mrs. Singh asked if she could come along.

“What will you do in a police station? I will find out. Don’t worry. You take care of Chandrika. She will not go to school today.” And he left.

Twenty years passed since then but Chandrabhan never returned.


It was a monsoon again, after all these twenty years. Chand couldn’t forget that monsoon, when he was kidnapped by a bunch of eunuchs and castrated to be a part of their community. He still used to shiver on reminder of those moments. In his loneliness, he used to cry; sometimes silently, sometimes aloud. He had saved his school bag and his second standard’s books, his last link to his life, his family. He opened his back. The pages had gone stale, yellow. But this stale smell was the oxygen for his life. When deeply hurt by the daily execution of life, he would close his doors, open his bag and smell those books. When walking on a road, you fall down and hurt yourself; you take care of the wound till it is healed. How do you heal the wound, which is caused by the way you talk, the way you walk and the way you exist?

His castration had killed the man in him, but not the human being. He was still alive and his mind was still functioning. He had to leave formal education after he was kidnapped but he didn’t leave learning. After all, who can teach better than life itself? In his spare time, in the trains, off the streets, at the tea shops, anywhere he could read, he did. He read newspapers, magazines, old and new, and developed his own thought process. Though most of the memories had gone faint of his early childhood, this was one of those few he had saved dearly in his heart. His father had asked him one night after telling a story of the pilot, “What would you like to become in life?”

“Papa, I would like to become a pilot, too. But what if I drop the plane?”

“Why do you think you will?”

“I don’t know.” He had looked at his dad, puzzled by his question and his father’s counter question.

“Don’t worry, you will not. I will be there to stand by you, always.” And he had smiled and hugged his father, holding him tightly.

Memories as such are strange. They bring smile and tears at the same time. Chand would wonder at times, “I was definitely incapable of saving my manhood then. I couldn’t fight with those bastards. But am I still incapable of leaving all this and live a life which I would like to call my own?

Don’t remember when was the last time I lived the way I wanted to and had proudly exhibited that. Either I live the way this world wants me to or I live the way I assume this world would want me to. If at all I dare to live by my own desires/standards I ensure I don’t display that.

An ideal life? What is that? Who decides what should be the ideology of one’s life? We live by stories, of others and our own life. We find reason in these stories but the fact remains is these are mere manufactured representations of situations, which may or may not contain any degree of fact. And what is a reason without hundred percent factual data?

I declare I fear. I fear to experiment what has never been done. I fear of being unaccepted in the territory I want to enter. So I surrender. I surrender to those I don’t wish to. I surrender to save something I don’t wish to, the life I don’t love, and in that I loose more. Just that I don’t realize this in that moment. By the time I realize, I am ready to make more compromises. And the cycle goes on.

Life lived in those few fearless seconds, when I live my dreams –dreams of flying an airplane, dreams of winning trophies in my schools, dreams of looking at a girl and wondering how would I have felt if I were not what I am - is the only true part of life. And such moments are rare, same as we rarely find diamonds in coal mines. Rest all is fake, is farce. At times I wonder how strange the production of diamond and coal is. They are composed of same atom, carbon; the difference comes when it bonds differently. Same as true and false moments contain us and the situations. The variations happen by how we react to those situations, how we bond with them. And we seek easiest bonding.

I have lived a whole life for the sake of others. I danced when they gave birth to a child, when they got married, when they bought a new house and so on. They said it’s auspicious for them to have a Hijra do it. And then they would feel insulted when the same Hijra would touch them. I lived my life for others, not because I was a saint and wanted to do some social service, but I was too weak to take a stand for myself; so weak that I easily succumbed to others expectations by pressing my own, down. And I pushed my expectations so badly that after a time, I stopped having any expectation from myself. Then others’ expectations became a fuel to my life’s engine. Now I couldn’t live without that. And they became the reason of my survival. Now when they don’t need me and have moved on, I wonder what I should live for. Now after all these years being habitual to live by other’s standard, I find myself incompetent to set my own. And what a life will be without a standard?

After all these years, when I retrospect, I wonder why it was so difficult to stand up against the world to hold my own self. Did I not go through a high intensity of pain in killing the person within and at times breaking them into pieces for them? Why it was hard to face the pain that was outside whereas I imposed a greater degree of pain within? Or had I gone so accustomed to torturing my soul that I didn’t realize when I was doing so? Probably the later is the case. I have found a solace in living by the way dictated by others.

The only thing I can’t do is procreate. Does it also imply that I can’t fly a plane? When and how did I start believing that? Who knows?”

Someone knocked the door. When Chand opened, he found Resham standing there.

“Aaj baju ke building me, satwe male pe god bharai hai. Aati hai kya?” In the next building today, on the seventh floor, there’s a celebration. Are you coming?

“Nahi. Main nahi aaunga.” No. I will not come. [Referring, himself as a man]

“nahi aaunga? Aai hai! Mard ban ri hai tu aaj!” He laughed out loudly, “koi nahi. Chal hum sab to jaa ri. Tu soch le. Jaate huye fir se poochhane aati hoon. Bade paise waale log hain.” [Commenting to Chand’s reference of him being a man] not come? Oh my! Today, you are trying to be a man! No problem. We are going. You think over. I will come again to ask you. They are rich people.

After closing the door, Chand banged his fist on the wall. He was angry. Angry at what? He didn’t know.

An hour later, Resham knocked again, “aati hai kya?” Are you coming?

“haan, do minute ruk.” Yes. Wait for two minutes.

They were a group of four. When the door opened to their ring, they all started singing and dancing. They entered the house forcefully. These days, it seems, people don’t wish to invite good fortune through eunuchs. Upon seeing the lady of the house, something struck within Chand. He found the face familiar. He searched back in his memories but couldn’t recollect. He looked around. There was a wall full of pictures. He slowly, with his dance steps, moved towards that wall. Browsing through the pictures on the wall, his gaze stuck at one. His hands were about to clap; they stood still halfway. Sometimes, memories hit on us so badly and so instantly that we don’t realize the fact that we are hit. We go numb. And how else could Chand react on seeing his own face after twenty years? There was a family photograph of the Singhs on the wall.

He ran out and didn’t stop until he reached his room. He locked his room and took hold of his school bag. He cried and cried again. Sometimes we cry out of pain, some times relief. At this moment, Chand neither knew which feeling was more prominent not did he care. He simply cried until he went to sleep just as he had done some twenty years ago in his mother’s lap.

It was July 5th again. No one in his current circle knew his correct birthday. Some how, it had passed on from one group to another, and they all celebrated the day when he was castrated. They called it ‘the birth of a new Hijra’. Chand didn’t get up till everyone was gone and when he did, he was happy; for the first time on his birthday after 20 twenty years. He went to a hair dresser, got his hairs trimmed like a man. Then went to a cloth shop, got a pair of men’s formals. When ready to go out, he looked at his school bag, took it up, cleaned it and put the books inside. Looking into the mirror, he combed his hairs properly, just like he did before going to school. He could see the child of seven years he was, in him. He, then, walked out of the room.

On the road, he watched his steps carefully, ensuring that there was enough straightness in them. Turning at the corner, he looked into “The Bombay Groceries”. He saw Mr. Shah looking out. When their eyes met, Mr. Shah looked away as we do when our eyes meet with a stranger’s on the way. Chand smiled to himself. A few steps more and he reached the building where his sister lived. He stood at the gate, looked up at her floor. He remembered of the days of his childhood, when he would look up from the ground and wave hands to his mother when leaving for school. His heart ached. He was brought back to the present by security guard’s queries about his purpose of visit.

Chandrika opened the door five minutes after the bell rang. She had probably washed her hands before opening the door; the towel was still in her hands. It took some seconds before she asked who he was; she was a little uneasy by the stare fixed on her face by a stranger. Chand took another ten seconds to before he was ready for a reply. In his reply to her question, he opened his bag and took a book out where the name slip, though a lot faded, still had his name written on. He extended it to her. She was jolted by a huge force of reminiscence brought back so suddenly that it was not easy to handle. When she moved her head up and look at him, there were tears in the eyes; hers and his, both.

“They waited for you, till their last breath. Papa died two years ago. Maa was here with us for around six months, and then she too passed away. There wasn’t a single day when they didn’t look for you when the door bell rang or a message from you when a postman delivered a letter. Papa ran around the police stations till his last days. We couldn’t find you. I had protested a lot when they decided for my marriage. I didn’t wish to leave them alone. But they forced me into it. Why, my dear,” she held his face with both her hands, “Why didn’t you come back? Why?” she looked away. Chand got up and walked up to the window and opened it. He was feeling suffocated, of his own truth and of the fact that he was chained in it so badly that he couldn’t see his parents even when they died.

“I couldn’t, didi.” He stood still and stifled. Around after ten minutes, Chandrika walked up to him, put her hands on his shoulders, and asked, “Are you ok, bhai?”

“Bhai? Does this word hold meaning anymore?” He thought and felt an intense twinge in his heart. He turned towards her, looked into her eyes. They were looking forward to an answer from him. He repeated, “I couldn’t, didi. Something within me had died; rather was killed… murdered brutally. I was no more their son.”

“Why do you say so, my dear? Where did you go after school that day? What had happened?”

“I was kidnapped, didi.” He went silent. He wished to but couldn’t say what had happened next. His face was plain, emotionless and he was looking past her, into the void of her own mind.
“And then? Then what happened to you?” she asked. He kept quite. She asked again, “bhai, tell me. What did they do to you?” she was already horrified with his silence, not know what was coming next.

“They made me a Hijra.” His voice was almost a whisper. But it was a sincere confession, with no apologies. He knew he was not at fault for what had happened to him. His existence, whatever it was, was not a choice but enforcement. He continued in same tone, “They castrated me, kept in a small house in Jaunpur for days. Then took me to Lucknow. There, they sold me to an old man. There were other kids like me. We were, then, taken to New Delhi. I spent a few months there. Then I was taken to Calcutta. There I spent around eight to nine years of my life. They had a gang sort of. They function in groups. They used to take me to different functions. Many a times they sold me to foreigners who would beat me, harass me and do dirty things to me. From there, I was brought here, to the city of Bombay. I don’t know when and how I accepted it as my life, outside. Inside, I always remained that seven years old kid, waiting for his school rickshaw to go home. How could I come to meet you all in that condition? But when I saw you that day… I know you would not have recognized me. I was here on your godbharai, to bring good fortune, with other Hijras. That was when I saw our family’s photograph on that wall… and that’s how I found you.”

When he looked at Chandrika, she had moved away from him to the door and was standing there keeping it open, looking outside.

Chand looked at her. He didn’t understand what it meant, at first. It took few minutes for him to decipher. And when he did, he didn’t know how he should have behaved. He started walking towards the door, slowly. Outside the door, he realized his notebook was left on the table. But he didn’t take it. His back was facing Chandrika, they both stood still, not knowing what to do next. He pressed the lift’s button and turned his face to look at her. She was showing no trace of emotions. He tried to give her a smile, but couldn’t. The lift had arrived. He turned back and entered into it, and closed the doors. The downward movement of the lift was supplemented by a loud cry from the seventh floor.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


In the month of March, 2000, on the last day of my XII exams at my boarding school, I had signed off from my school. But somehow the school life and its memories could never do the same. They stayed back close to my heart.

Today evening, while playing a game of Football with Parimal, my eleven years old nephew (please note I don’t know the game. I play just to give company to my favorite kid), somehow the memories signed back in my mind.

It was drizzling, the first drizzle of the season. The atmosphere was filled with mist. Standing in middle of the ground, it felt like I was standing in the Assembly Ground, in blue, full sleeves pullover, by the side of the railing, trying to figure out the lake in the valley, whose existence I was aware of. I have spent many such evenings in my own company. I probably I loved my company too much or didn’t like the kind of companionship available to the extent that I preferred my own more. Whatever was the reason, those were good moments, and I call them good because now when I recall them I find a smile on my lips.

My nostalgia was hit by the ball Parimal threw at me. I looked at him. He was calling out, “Mama, hit… mama, hit the ball.” I smiled at him. He reminds me of my days at school. He is of age that’s exactly same as when I had joined school. I could see my childhood in him. Just that he is a little fatter than me (I wished to say ‘a lot’ but avoided as it could embarrass him) and he plays. He is a child of his age/times. I have always lived a different age than the one am supposed to. At that age I was supposed not to stand by the side of the railing and look for the lake through the rain. Rather I should have played the game of adrenaline-high football with my other classmates. And at this age, I am probably not supposed to run wild after a ball but watch news channels instead.

I guess that’s ok as the fun lies in living the age that you “want” to than the one you are “supposed” to.

But hold on! Does it appear as if I am complaining about something I didn’t do or am placating myself with the idea that I have lived my life as I like it?

Well I guess none is the case as I think my dear nephew lives his life exactly the way he wishes to. The thing is he wishes the same things as most of the children of his age wish, and which I didn’t when I was of his age. So it’s just a matter of different choices that we make and understanding those differences.

The evening was setting down. We were almost wet as we had a taken a bath with our cloths on. If played a little longer, we could have fallen sick. I asked him, “Shall we go?”

He replied with his trademark smile, “You tired?”

“Not really. But we are drenched and may fall ill.”

“Ok. Let’s go.” He hooked the ball up with his toes and held it in his hands. On way back home, he was talking about the game.

“Amazing fun, mama. Today I defeated you in both batches… hehe… you know in my school, I play as a defender mostly…. Most of my friends copy my style…” And he went on. I would look at him, smile and nod time to time, to be a part of the conversation. But I wasn’t there. I was lost in the reminiscences of my own childhood.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Desires, Shattered... and Reshattered

She kissed him and moved out… The wetness from the kiss lingered on her lips longer than it generally does. She smiled to herself…

Valmiki tore the paper and threw it in the dustbin. “Perfect shot,” he said to himself when the paper dropped in the bin.

Valmiki Mishra was on the verge of being frustrated. After all it’s not easy to have an idea and not being able to transform it into a good story. That too when you are a celebrated writer. Being a fan of famous Bengali writer Mr. Sharat Chand and having read a lot of Bengali literature, he had decided that he could actually write something with Bengal as the backdrop. So he had started working on a story of a woman from Bengal who had settled in Uttar Pradesh after marriage. He wished to write about the contrasts of two societies and its impact on this female’s life. But till now he had not got a nice start, not even a suitable name, to his story in last two years.

So today morning, he was on the verge of  being frustrated. He had got up at 3:00 AM, pushed his thoughts east-west-north-south; but nothing came out that was satisfactorily good.

It was seven in the morning when his wife, Lata Mishra, came in with a tray of tea and biscuits. She asked with a smile, “Any progress?”

“Story development is not a bloody manufacturing business! It takes its own time…” He had started with a high note (that almost matched to the note of a shout) but had then lowered his voice appearing it to be loaded with his own new frustration and guilt of shouting on someone who doesn’t deserve it. After few minutes and few sips of tea he looked up at quite Lata whose morning smile was gone and she was sitting there as if she had an option to go, she would have run away. He whispered, “I  am sorry… I guess… am a little worked up…”

She gave a forced smile and a forceful lie, “I understand.”

After they finished their tea, Lata carried the tray back to kitchen. She got herself ready for office.

It was afternoon 3:00 PM. Not many people feel like taking a walk at this hour in Haldwani in the month of May. But Valmiki, after having his lunch alone, wished to have the company of some books. He usually visited nearby bookstore at such hours when not many people would be there, except some young college students who would come there to flourish their romance in the corners of the store. So he decided to walk down.

“So what’s new in the store, Raju?” He would generally start a conversation with the storekeeper without any formal greeting as if just continuing from a previous conversation left half done.

“Hello, Sir!,” and his face broadened into a big smile, “Nothing much actually. Not many people write these days, it seems. Even you have not written for so many years now. Moreover not many people read these days. Our small CD’s section gives more business than the books sections put all together.” He continued without realizing that Valmiki was not listening him but was looking around. Catching his gaze at Indian Fiction section, Raju added, “There are three new books in this section, sir. One is a travel book on Himalayas, other a cook book and third one is a fiction called ‘Desires, Shattered… and Reshattered’ It is by a first time writer. Delhi News has given a good review for this book. But you know our readers, right? They prefer English names over Indian in the author list.” By the time Raju could realize, Valmiki was already near the book shelf . He looked at the cover. Read and reread the title. Something struck in his heart.

He hesitated  for some moments. He wanted to pick that book out, but he wasn’t sure if he should. After those few moments of uncertainty, he decided to go for it. He picked it up. The book was credited to some Sudhanshu Sagar. He turned the book and started reading the brief on the back –

… This is a new place for her. She has lived her twenty one years in Kolkata. It’s a new world. She does not know how it will treat her… nor does she know, how she will treat this place…

… And twenty five years have passed since she arrived in Allahabad. Now when Parbati Das looks back, she smiles… in the colony of Gupta’s and Shrivastava’s, Das’ has made their own life… and in the process some desires are lived… some shattered… and some reshattered.

 What sort of feeling it would be to realize that you are not standing in front of a mirror but your own clone? And what sort of feeling it would be to find  a feeling or thought, very personal to you, unexpressed till now, one that you have not been able to tell yourself clearly, is presented in its exactitude in the work of someone else? How should you react? Happy? Amazed? Shocked? Surprised? How should you behave when your thoughts attain shape in the words of someone else?

Valmiki didn’t know for sure. He was just stilled. He opened the book, flipped through the pages, but didn’t read a single word. To some observer it could appear that he was looking at some picture book. Few minutes later, he walked up to the cash counter, paid the bill, bagged the book in and walked out.

When he reached home, Lata was back.

“Where had you been?” She asked.

“Had gone for a walk. How was your day??”

She was surprised by the question as she was rarely asked about her days. And in last two years, never. But hiding her surprise, she responded happily, “It was good. Had some strange customers. Very entertaining in fact. There was this kid all of ten years who wanted to open his own bank account with a saving of 17 rupees.” And she laughed.

“Well ‘child’ is better word, ‘kid’ is more of a slang.” He commented with a straight face and then added with a smile, “I would love to have some tea.”

Valmiki listened to Lata’s elaborate details of the day with a smile on his face, while they had their tea together.

 He wanted to spend these moments like this. Not for her sake, but his own. He didn’t know how to spend these moments alone. At time we actually fall short of ideas for spending the time we have in hand.

 It was midnight. Valmiki had requested Lata that he would like to spend the night in his study. She was used to such requests. He was lying on a small couch in the corner of his study. He had switched off the light in a hope to get some sleep. But the attempt was of no help.

 He switched the light on and opened “Desires…” He never read prologue of any book. He believed they kill the aroma of the story being told if read beforehand. He opened chapter 1, ‘The last night of bachelorhood’.

 The chapter opened with the night before the day Parbati was to be married. It was a conversation between her and her mother. They talked about their childhood, the fun, the fights and her mother’s teachings. They cried and laughed, and cried again. Valmiki could smell Bengal in each word, in each sentence.

 He didn’t realize this thirst till he happened to read a passage where Parbati talks about it to Mr. Das.

“Deb, what is more important – the thirst or the liquid that satisfies it?”

“Depends.” Deb had replied with I-am-not-here look on his face.

“Which part of the body expresses it the best? Eyes or the lips? Tongue or the throat?”

“Again… it depends.” The straight lips on his face had curved in an enigmatic smile.

Valmiki looked around. There was a jug of water and a glass on the table. There are times when you know your requirement, can see your destination, but still to take an effort to reach there becomes an issue. He closed the book, putting in his fingers as bookmark. He took two minutes to decide before he actually got up. He poured the water in the glass, took it up and took the longest route back to the couch. Sometimes we do things deliberately but we do not know why we deliberate.

When he got up from his seat, it was late afternoon. His wife and staff in the house were instructed not to disturb him when the door is closed from inside. When he opened the door, his wife smiled at him. Then he realized she was smiling in response to the smile he gave her.

“You didn’t go to office today?”

“No, I don’t work on Sundays.” She replied jovially.

He grinned and said, “Ok then. We will have lunch together. I shall get fresh in another thirty minutes,” and returned to his room. 

“Parbati Das,” he said to himself under the shower, “you walked straight out of my thoughts and made this book your residence. But why? You were mine. I had created you. I gave you a beautiful house – my mind. Though abstract, it was full of you. What made you leave me and go to him?” His tears were washed away by the shower.

Post lunch, he sat with the book again. He read and reread it in parts. He had loved the parts of the book that elaborated on the various moods of Parbati. At one place, where the author had compared the colours of the evening sky to the various layers of her mood, Valmiki read it again and again.

At dinner, he announced, “I have to meet him.”


“Mr. Sudhanshu Sagar.”

“Who is this?”

“The author of Desires, Shattered… and Reshattered.”

“What book is this?”

Valmiki didn’t reply, just smiled. Then he asked, “Can you find his contacts for me?”

“Sure.” Said she, expressionless.

After dinner when Valkimi was studying by the window in his study, Lata knocked.

“Its open.”

She entered in and handed him a piece of paper. It contained Sudhanshu’s contact details. He thanked her which meant ‘You may go now’. Lata walked out of the rook and closed the door behind her.

Though it was a small piece of paper, Valmiki held it by both hands. He was staring at it, without any feelings.

It was 11:47 PM in the clock when he finally decided to call.

“Am I talking to Mr. Sudhanshu Sagar?” He almost yelled on hearing a ‘Hello’ on the other side of the phone.


“Oh, hello! Sudhanshu. This is Valmiki speaking. Valmiki Mishra. I write.”

“Valmiki Mishra? The author of ‘The water and the sand’?” Sudhanshu almost exclaimed.



“Oh, My god!! Sir is it really you? What a great surprise it…”


“ I called up to congratulate you for ‘Desires…’, Sudhanshu.” He said, “… and I would like to meet you.”

“Anytime, sir. Just tell me when and where.”

“You live in Delhi, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You OK with a little traveling? I am avoiding going out of Haldwani. You will be personal guest, here at my home.”

“That’s my pleasure, sir.”

Then Valmiki briefed the meeting details and hung up.


Next morning he announced at the breakfast table, “We are having a guest from Delhi on coming Saturday.”

Lata waited for a little more information.

“I invited Sudhanshu.” Valmiki smiled.

“OK.” She said and called for the maid, “Geeta, come here.” When Geeta arrived, she was briefed to clean the guest house and prepare it for the guest before Saturday. 

When the clock ticked 06:30 PM in evening, Valmiki opened the door. He was eagerly waiting for Lata. With the help of Geeta, he had prepared some tea and snacks. Lata was amazed to find him at the gate to welcome her.

While having their tea, he looked at her and said, “I met her,” waited for a few moments and continued, “I met Parbati Das, the woman who was hiding in my thoughts all these months and years. I met her finally.”

Lata had not seen Valmiki so happy in last two year. His face was warmed with pure happiness. He came closure to her, kneeled down, held her hands and kissed them.

“Lata, I am very happy today. I FINALLY met her. I sat with her, spoke to her, laughed with her and at other times cried with her.” Its great to hear your own name from people whom you love but who rarely call you by your name. Though the discussion was not about her, Lata felt important as he had started an important  conversation by her name.

Since then, every time they sat together, Valmiki always talked about Parbati and various facets of her life. It was Friday night at dinner when Valmiki was talking about the love scene between Parbati and Gupta’s son who was ten years younger to her. He remembered every details about Parbati’s body mentioned in the book, its curves and moves. For a moment, Lata thought, “Does he know my body in such exaggerated details? How can somebody be excited about someone so fictitious and happily ignore a real woman around him?” Her stream of thoughts was broken with a loud applaud that followed a happy appreciation for Parbati, “That’s the kind of woman, I always thought of. That’s my lady!”

Lata was had picked up the plates and was moving towards the kitchen. She turned half back and said, “Really?”

“What do you mean?” asked Valmiki, raising his eyebrows.

“She is Sudhanshu’s lady, my dear.” She smiled, fixing her eyes on Valmiki. Before see could see the change of moods on his face, she turned back and went into kitchen.


Next morning, at 8:30 the doorbell rang. Lata opened the door.

“Hello, Mam. I am Sudhanshu. Sudhanshu Sagar. I was invited by Valmiki Sir for a meeting today.”

“Hello, Sudhanshu. Please come in.” She greeted him with a smile and directed him towards the drawing room. Guiding him to sit, she went to the kitchen. After some time, Geeta came in with water.

“Would you like to have something to eat first or get fresh and then eat? She asked.

“I guess, I would like to meet Valmiki Sir first.” He said with the same eagerness as a child would seek for his hero on a prefixed date.

“Sir, is not ready yet.”

“In that case, I guess I will get fresh." 

“Come, I will show you your room.” She picked up the luggage bag which Sudhanshu requested to let him carry that.

It was 03:00 PM post lunch. Sudhanshu already had two rounds of food and a small nap in between. Lata was not sure if she should knock on the door of the study. It was locked from inside since last night. Finally she decided to knock when it dusk.

First knock. No response. Second Knock. No Response. Third Knock with a call for his name.

“Yes?” a question popped out of the room.

“Sudhanshu is here since morning. He is waiting for you. You may like to meet him.”

“I do not. Ask him to go back. You may extend apologies from my side.”

“But that’s rude!” She whispered.

“I guess we have discussed that you will not teach me interpersonal skills and will keep it for yourself. Now you may like to stop disturbing me.”

There was a silence on both side of the door.

In the guestroom, Sudhanshu was sitting on the bed, in a ready position to meet Valmiki when Lata knocked the door.

“Please come in.”

“I am sorry but I am afraid Mr. Mishra may not be able to meet you.”


“I am really very sorry. But he is not keeping well. He…”

Before she could continue her excuse listing, she was stopped by Valmiki.

“She is lying.” Valmiki announce with a false smile. “I am well but was in no mood to meet you and had asked her to say so. But after she left my door I realized, I actually may like to meet you.”

Sudhanshu didn’t know how to react. He was standing by the bed side in attention. Valmiki walked up to him and shook his hand, “Congratulations. Your book is wonderful.”

“Thank you, sir. Its indeed a pleasure…” he too was cut before he could complete his sentence.

“Don’t bother. You relax. We will meet after your dinner,” said Valmiki and turned to his wife, “I will not have dinner tonight. Going out. Not sure when will I return. In case Sudhanshu wants to sleep before I come, please make his arrangements.”

Lata shook her head to express her agreement to the said directions and walked out of the room after Valmiki.

When Valmiki returned, he found Sudhanshu waiting for him. He smiled and asked him to follow him to the study. Once inside, he asked him to close the door.

“Come sit, make yourself comfortable,” Valmiki said and roamed around in the room replacing a few things here and there.

“Sure, sir.”

“First of all, I am very sorry I wasted your day. I was not in a good mood.”

“No problem, sir.” Sudhanshu gave a forced smile.

“Well, I loved your book. Word by word. Sentence by sentence. I called you because I wanted to see who is the person behind this masterpiece.” Valmiki had lifted to book from the table.

“Thank you, sir. That’s an honour.”

Valmiki smiled, “Thanks to you for writing  beautiful book! Tell me more about it.”

“I didn’t get you sir.”

“Tell me about the idea, the concept behind the book. How you thought of this, and why only this as your first book… and yes, first relax yourself. Forget the day. We have the whole night with us,” Valmiki said with a smile.

“Actually sir,” started Sudhanshu, “ I hail from Bengal. And I love Bengal. I have read almost everything written on it. In fact I have read all your writings. I find Bengal in them,” he widened his grin and continued, “ I have read your ‘The water and the sand’ more than twenty times.”

“So how you decided upon the characterization of Parbati the way you have done? Let me tell you, it has been done beautifully.”

“Thank you, sir. Parbati was a kind of my dream girl. She has evolved out of all my stories I have read since my childhood, from all the Bengali women I have met in my life. In fact, she was also inspired by Aparna from ‘The water and the sand’, specially her moods during the days of her infidelity towards Mr. Das.”

Valmiki looked up, focused into Sudhanshu’s eyes and asked, “And?”

“And.. and that’s it sir.”

“Do you really think you can evolve a character, that appears so original, out of some previous reads?”

“Well, if it appeared original to you, that’s really an appreciation I am going to be proud of for rest of my life, but I understand that how she came into existence.” He replied and smiled confusedly.

Through rest of the night, they talked about Parbati, in and out. When Sudhanshu left his study at 05:00 AM in early morning, he had not realized that everything they discussed was recorded by a tape recorder.

Next day, Sudhanshu left for Delhi.


A month later, on a Tuesday morning the doorbell at Mishra’s rang. When Lata opened the door, she was faced by Mr. Ranjan Upadhyay, the best advocate at Delhi High Court.

“Hello, Mr Upadhyay. Nice to see you.”

“Hi, Mrs. Mishra. Is Mr. Mishra at home?”

“Yes, please come in.” She guided him to the drawing room and called for Geeta to bring some water.

“May I know what it is regarding Mr. Upadhyay?”

“Frankly speaking, even I don’t have much idea. Mr. Mishra said he had something important to discuss.”

Geeta had arrived.

“Mr. Upadhyay, please make yourself comfortable. I will inform Mr. Mishra that you are here. I will take a leave for office.”

Then she instructed Geeta, “Take care of Vakil Saab.”

She went to Valmiki’s study and knocked.

“Mr Upadhyay is here. You called for him?”

“Oh yes. Please ask him to wait. I will be there in a minute.”

When the door opened, she asked him, “What for?”

Valmiki smiled, “You are getting late for your office, don’t you?”

Lata looked at him for a while, then walked towards the room to collect her bag to leave for the day. 

In the drawing room, after greeting each other, Valmiki started the conversation.

“He stole my story.”


“Sudhanshu Sagar.”

Then he briefed Mr. Upadhyay about the whole thing. By then, Geeta had set up the table for breakfast for both of them. After breakfast Valmiki played the tape recorded while conversing with Sudhanshu. He also made them read his comparative analysis of his previous work with ‘Desires, Shattered… and Reshattered’.

“But Mr. Mishra, it doesn’t prove that he stole your story. It can be a simple case of drawing inspiration, that’s it. It cant be proved illegal.”

“I didn’t call you here to tell me this. If its not illegal, make it. That’s what your job is.” Valmiki smiled.

Ranjan looked confused.

“If you think you can’t do it, let me know. I will hire someone else.”

“Mr. Mishra, it’s a case nobody will win.”

“Tell me, who is nobody? I will hire him.” Valmiki laughed as if he cracked the best joke in the world. Then shading his tone with seriousness, he said, “I have to win this case, Mr. Upadhyay. And I can pay anything, I mean ANYTHING, to win this.”

There was a silence for next ten minutes. Only a few birds chirped outside the window.

Ranjan looked again at the comparative analysis, this time studying it closely. Then he listened to the recording again. After investing another one hour, he replied, “I will fight this.”

Both of them smiled to each other. Valmiki handed a copy of the analysis and recording and said to Ranjan before he left, “She is MY lady. I HAVE to win her back.”

A week later, Sudhanshu received a court notice.


When appeared for the first time in the newspaper, that was when Lata got to know the purpose of Mr Upadhyay at her place. She ran to Valmiki’s study and banged on the door restlessly.

Valmiki opened the door. “What’s the matter? Have you gone mad? I have told you not to disturb…”

“What’s this?” Lata showed the newspaper article.

“Don’t bother.”

“What the hell you mean by ‘don’t bother’? You are fighting a case. It is in the newspaper. And you want me not to bother?” She almost shouted.

“Yes.” Snapped Valmiki and was about to close the door back that Lata opened it forcefully.

“You cant get away like this. I need an answer. What is this?”

Valmiki looked in her eyes for a moment. Then he gave a slight hint of a cunning smile and said, “She is my lady. And I will win her back.” Before he could hear any response from her, he closed the door from inside.

“You mad fellow! You goddamn, mad fellow!!” She was shouting.

Till now she had only heard about Parbati from Valmiki. And she was convinced that she is not worth reading. But today she felt an extreme rush to read the book. She rushed to the book store.

She read and reread the book. She didn’t understand whether it was the strong dislike she had already developed for the character or it was a reality, but she didn’t find anything special about the character of Parbati.

The case went on for an year, with a hearing or two per month. In each hearing, Mr. Upadhyay would present a new angle to the case.

Lata, in all possible opportunities she got to have a word with Valmiki, she only talked about the case and reasoned that why he should take the case back for his own good.


But the power of status and money played its role beautifully. The decision was given in Valmiki’s favour. ‘Desires…” was declared a copy-in-parts and the publisher was asked to call back the stock available with bookshops to be re-floated in the market with credit for the concept and characterization of the lead character, Parbati to Mr. Valmiki Mishra and an apology by Mr. Sudhanshu Sagar for lifting the idea from Mr. Valmiki Mishra.

The newspapers reported this case as a corruptness infused in the young generation of writers and how they plagiarize the work of old, renowned writers, assuming that the audience is stupid not to find this out.


After the declaration, Valmiki didn’t return home for two weeks. Finally when he arrived one night, he found Lata sitting in the drawing room with no lights on.

He switched on the lights. Looking at her, he said, “She is my lady.”

Lata was looking away. Without looking at him she asked, “Really?” This word had the summation of all the pain she had gone through during the whole processing of the case.

She didn’t look at Valmiki at all and walked out of the room. She went to her bedroom and came out with a packed suitcase and started walking towards the exit. Valmiki had come out and was standing on the way.

“Where are you going?”

“Doesn’t really matter. Don’t bother” she walked a few steps then stopped and turned back, “Wish you a good life with your lady. Goodbye.”

She turned back and walked out.