Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

The Waiting Lady

Posted: May 27, 2012 in Short Stories

It was a bright winter morning in Delhi, it was December, with the birds twittering in the trees, it was a perfect morning, free of fog and Sun was to hit the sky after three cloudy and fog hit days.

She turned at the corner, swept a lock of her face. She was strikingly beautiful, someone interesting, with a pointed face and sparkling eyes. She was dressed in a yellow Salwar Kameez, and a light pink pullover, she crossed the road holding onto her Dupatta which kept being blown around by the wind.

She walked into the restaurant and sat at the corner table, with a slight look of anticipation and excitement. The newspaper guy on the corner pavement turned back to his stand. There was a guy with a camera in his hand who too seemed to not take away his eyes from the lady. He was in late twenties, a tall handsome man, with a ‘well to do’ look about himself, clad in blue jeans, and a leather jacket with long hair, overall he was handsome.

The newspaper guyy cleared his throat, the ‘ahem’ of clearing a throat to get attention. The guy with the camera turned with a sheepish expression.

Uh…, Times’

The newspaper guy gave him the paper and his change.

‘Every day the same thing’

‘Excuse me..’

‘Well Every morning she comes and sits at the same table in the same corner of the restaurant. Then after a couple of hours wait she goes back’

‘Every day?’

‘Yaa, every day’

‘For how long?’

‘About a month’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know.’

The guy with a camera was a reporter who could sniff out an important story, a story close to life, a story that could be his chance to fame. He walked into the restaurant and tried to strike up a conversation with the lady who just looked away disinterested, somehow his boyish charms were of no use on her, maybe she was meant for someone else, waiting for someone else. He immediately clicked a picture.

The next morning the paper guy was most surprised to find the photo of the restaurant lady in the newspaper and that too on the first page. There was a column by a person who wrote about the mystery lady who for more than a month had been sitting at the same table in the same restaurant just waiting, waiting for a month, the same solitary routine each day. The author left the ending open.
The article said ‘… What is she waiting for? a lover who jilted her? Who would do such a thing in such a great city? A lady with a painful wait, a wait that grows heavy each day… Who’s she waiting for ?’

The next day the newspaper guy was unloading his newspapers from the autorickshaw when a news van drove up to the restaurant, the one with a satellite antennae on top of it. A news crew unloaded their equipment in a hurry. Around half an hour later, the same lady appeared, Salwar Kameez and dupatta again, somehow she looked perfect in it.  She turned the corner to find an entire camera crew waiting to pounce on her, with a reporter trying to stick his mike into her face.

“Ma’am what’s your name?”
“Where are you from”
“Is it true that you come to the same restaurant each day, and wait for someone for a couple of hours”
“How does it feel? to wait for so long”

She gave him a stare that had him out of the way instantly and then walked back to the table. And all the cameras made sure to capture the pain and distress on her face, the mysterious blue eyed lady with a painful, long wait.

That evening the news channel did an exclusive on the lady by the corner table. They spoke about the pain, the suffering that was seen in those beautiful eyes. About how she walked to the restaurant from her house about 100 meters, each day. About how she hardly spoke to anyone. About how pretty she looked. And there were psychiatrists, explaining how this wait can turn lethal for her in future, how she must learn to move on… and much more.

The girl’s name was Meghana and she was 23 years old. She had just completed her masters in science from Delhi University. There was an interview with her college principal who had wonderful things to say about her, which was odd because he had joined about two months back, six months after she left college. She was a topper in school and college, a trained dancer, and a good debater. There was another interview with a friend, Meenal, her childhood friend who hinted about some deep dark thing which may have caused this. She did not mention what but she was a friend and friends never tell.

The next day the newspaper guy added a refrigerator to his stand, full of cold drinks and ice tea, and also added a coffee machine. These were a gift from a manufacturer and fitted in snugly with the chips stand he already had. Within a week, the area was teeming with news vans with reporters from multiple channels. The ‘Parent’ news channel added to it’s previous coverage with interviews from friends and relatives. Meghana’s parents were most polite to the reporters but refused to open their doors though the neighbours complied most beautifully, and explained everything from her childhood to adolescence, how good a person she is, how her dog died a couple of years ago, how some eve teasers created havoc for her during her graduation, and how the family keeps to themselves these days.

By the next day the local corporator had promised to get justice for her, though he hardly got any airtime thanks to the human welfare minister. The expert on woman psychology got a new hairdo and a coat of make up just before she spoke about how the trauma of separation or the trauma of not getting a job or the trauma of not being admitted to a foreign university could have caused this reaction. The NGO behanjis were in the news too, but more than her, they were concentrating on women equality and hateful menfolk.

That night people began a candle light vigil from her house which continued till India Gate. News channels renamed her to ‘The Lady who united India’. Students from the music academy just across the restaurant joined in with music performances. The wall outside her building was adorned with signatures from a zillion people. On line bloggers were writing poems for her long wait and will power, and she was trending on twitter.

The news people were getting worried, the lady had caused a spike in ratings but the lack of soundbytes was hurting. There were already articles in newspapers about the media circus. That evening they managed to track down a maternal uncle who hinted that she had a wicked streak as a kid; about how she took pleasure in harming little creatures. Being a ‘sociopath’ was on the cards for the girl.

However to her luck, the next morning a kid from a village in Andhra mistakenly fell into a pit. The news crews vanished from outside the restaurant. The newspaper guy had just added a sandwich toaster to his stall when this happened. He cursed the little kid on his TV. The kid had probably ensured for a comfortable life for himself and his family for the rest of their life. The newspaper guy wondered if he could find some ditch or bore-well where he could get his son trapped without hurting him. Pity his son was so fat.

Next morning, the lady walked past the gate adorned with now fading posters, past the musicians who did not seem as sympathetic as earlier. She was dressed in a red salwar kameez today and was looking as pretty as always. The newspaper guy looked at the lady who had almost paid for his retirement then turned to his shop figuring out how to return all the unsold stock.

The lady went in and sat at the corner table and looked out of the window fidgeting with her fingers. She sat there for over half an hour. sometimes reading the newspaper lying on the table, sometimes looking out, then finally a waiter came to her table gingerly balancing a half filled cup of vile looking coffee and looked at her.
‘The usual’  she replied with a smile.

He turned back, appearing only after almost an hour. She was busy with magazines on the coffee table.

He stared back at her and most nonchalantly put down her cappuccino, and went away. The girl sipped her coffee, deep flavoured and warm.

This was Delhi and service usually take some time, sometimes a couple of hours 🙂

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Posted: October 2, 2011 in Fiction of My Mind, Short Stories

It was a warm day, dull and cloudy but not raining, at 4 P.M. the world outside the dirty window pane is looking more dark than usual, but not gloomy, it was little cheerful, or at least she felt so because she was cheerful. Whatever be her name, the story teller either don’t know or don’t want to tell..
All the movies I’ve watched, all the novels I’ve read, failed to fail not to come true, even a little scene or a coincidence, she thought, deep inside her mind, engaged in her book.

A moment later,
A young man walked in, a family friend, with her brother to check upon the little baby her sister, a while ago, gave birth to. She was sitting by the table, reading, or wondering now, or just sitting…
After finishing their hellos, the visitors sat in chairs by the baby, their backs to the table. They were very occupied with the baby, they didn’t notice her staring at them, at ‘him’ to be specific.
He was wearing a light green shirt, and light brown pants. She couldn’t help to notice his new hair cut and the way he was smiling, nor could she help to notice how dashing and astonishing he was… or at least she felt so, or maybe the story teller felt so…

She forced herself back to focus on the book in her hands, she was reading but failing to follow the author with the exciting events that were about to take place, she was just reading and not following. They left earlier than she expected, and her sister was back afterwards, so she returned to her comfy room.

Months later,
She was the same, if stubborn then she remained the same, if sweet then that’s what she remained. -The story-teller has not gotten to know her well, so the story will be continued the same way it begun, no deep feelings, writing what is obvious to the eye.

One day, in the early morning, she woke up and made plans with her friend to go out. After doing what she usually did that very hour, and then she went to sit with her mother awhile.
“You know why do you keep yourself buried in that room of yours? Go visit your sister, go out with your friends, do what people are doing in your age!”
“What do ‘people at my age’ doing mom?”
“I don’t know. You’re the one who’s their age!”
“Well, I don’t know too. They’re all obsessive and shallow! All they care is what trends so called cool people are following, and what certain people think of them!”, She said that very passionately, then keeping her cool attitude, she continued, “You know I’ve got no interest in that!” And the story teller knew she was telling the truth..!!

“Yes, that’s why you keep at that little room and never go out.”
“Listen mom, it’s not bothering me, and neither should it bother you. Listen I’m going out with V today. So don’t wait for me at lunch.”
She went to her room to get ready, leaving her mother smiling to herself.

At a bench, she was sitting with her friend, they were talking and gossiping about recent events. Then, she noticed a guy, smiling at her, she suddenly realized that this was ‘the dashing, astonishing one’. Quickly she nodded and half smiled to him. He immediately understood her nod and changed his way.

A week later,
She received an anonymous message : “You’ll never know. But the possibility remains. It’s no great mystery who I am but I’ll remain unidentified maybe for long. And if you return I’ll know what I need to know from your eyes, No replies needed”, an hour before her flight took off to nowhere, or somewhere. She was confused, she tried to think who he was, now whether she knew who he was, the story-teller cannot say because a promise has been made to her to keep her ending, but she has given her permission to this part:

She enjoyed the first true love words she’s received in her life, she thought them to be perfect because they were from the heart and went straight forward to her heart..!!

My eyes open. Its Monday and five past 7 in the morning. I turn to see that she’s still sound asleep. I move her hair away from her eyes and gently kiss her forehead. That’s how I usually wake her up, and she loves it. We slept late, she love gossiping… and upto some extent I too… may be because of her company only, and still after all this time, while talking to her I can never keep track of time.

She twitches a little, moans a little and turns away to sleep again. That’s how she usually responds.
“Honey, I’ll be late. Again. Wake up”, I whisper.
She twitches again; half opens her eyes and pulls my shoulder towards her.
“Five more minutes”, she mumbles “Pleeeez”. It is too much for me to resist. And she knows it.
I lie down again for two minutes and then grumpily pull myself out of the bed.

“Honeyyyyyyyy”, I let out another wakeup call as I’m putting toothpaste on my brush, but hear nothing.

After a couple of minutes, I come out to see her finally up, sitting on the bed, still under the sheets. She is stretching her arms slowly, like a bollywood heroine. With still half open eyes, she gives me a ‘come hither’ look. When I reach her, she pulls me next to her, pulls up the sheets on me and snuggles up next to me.
Two more minutes of sweet gibberish follow ending with “Don’t go to office today… Pleeeeeease”. It is accompanied with those sad kitten eyes for extra impact… I love her eyes, deep and big. Even though I hear it every day, I still consider it every day.

With great difficulty, I get her out of bed and push her into the bathroom. I then proceed for my morning combo of online news and Sportscenter. Ten minutes pass. I feel her arms wrap around me from behind the couch and she plants a big kiss on my cheek. Before I even turn around, she’s off to the kitchen. Now that she’s fully awake, she’s realized that it’s getting late for me.

“Will you drink milk?” She asks.
“No” I reply, as always.
She hands me a glass anyway, followed by two minutes of explanation on how milk is good for my health.
“Yucckkk, there’s all sort of things floating in it. I don’t want it”
“That’s just malai (cream). Shut up and drink it”
I take five full minutes to carefully avoid all the malai and finish the milk.
“Gawd, what a baby!”, she smacks the back of my head before taking the glass away from me.
Halfway through reading the day’s editorial column, I hear her voice, “Aren’t you getting late?”

Yes, I am. I rush to the bathroom. 10 minutes later, as I am getting dressed, she walks in with breakfast. It’s my favourite: Poha with curd and kaccha aam chutney. She knows that I’m already running late, so she spoon-feeds me half the food. Finally, I’m dressed and I take the plate from her and start eating while returning to the editorial.
“God! Can’t you read that after you reach office?”
“Okay, Okay”. I gobble up the last 2 spoons together, place the plate in the sink and proceed towards the glass of orange juice.

“Honeyy..”
“.. I know. I’ll get your bracelet in the evening”
“So said that on friday too…huh”
“Come on.. I was busy, you know”
“You are like this only, never pays attention to what i say…”
“Promise… today I’ll for sure, look I even put a reminder her in my phone”
“We’ll see….sand yeah don’t forget my Domino’s Chocolava too” (She loves them, her batch mates told me back in college… She looks so cute while eating it)
“Ohh, I know, you and your Chocolava”

I wash up and come back to the living room to see my bag packed.
“Will you come early today?”
“Yes, I’ll definitely try!”
“That’s what you say every day”
“No, today I will definitely be home before 6:30”.
“6:30?? That’s early??”
“Then what? You want me to come back at 4?
(Giggling) “Hmmm”
“I’ll stay home instead, why bother.”
“Yayyyyy!” (She’s like this only… right from college, I love her smile, that big smile and the way those white teeth shine)

“I’ll make up some excuse to my Manager and try to sneak out early, Okay na?”
“Tell your Manager that you have someone who’s waiting at home all day thinking about you”
“Why don’t you tell him that?”
“Sure. Give me your phone”, and she plucks the phone away from my hand.
“You’re crazy!! Give me my phone back”
“Only if you promise to come at least half an hour earlier than usual”
“Okay, I promise”
“Okay, take it.

Some moments later, I hug her and wave goodbye and head out towards the car. As I’m settling inside the car, I see her on the balcony. It’s raining here, but she’s there, just like every other day, waving goodbye and watching me till I’m out of sight.

While driving, I keep smiling at the thought of her trying to call my boss & getting him to send me home early and suddenly, I realize that I forgot to tell her how great the Breakfast was.

I feel that a phone call isn’t good enough and decide to turn back home… to look at her face once more, those big eyes, that smile and to hear that voice…

“kikikikik… kikikikik…. kikikikik …. kikikikik … kikikikik”

My eyes open.

Its 9:15.

I turn, hoping that she’s there, but that’s when I realize…

I am alone.

Dying Dreams

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Fiction of My Mind, Short Stories

Between 8 and 10 P.M. they all are back from office, all four of them. They work at this consulting firm, analysts for one of the big four, had to attend office from 9 A.M. till, till whatever it takes to get the work done. Every day being suited up in formals, full sleeve shirts,  clean shave, shining leather shoes. After months aditya is again wondering over the same question….Why??
“Because the impression on client is very important. they shouldn’t get a notion of distaste in work on part of our employees. Plus studies have proved that you feel more responsible and productive wearing formals.” That’s what Reddy then lead and now Associate manager had told aditya when he joined the company as a fresher 4 years ago, and Aditya, well he’s still an analyst.

Manoj, the timid shy fellow from U.P, aditya’s batch-mate… once again after months of hard work and passion he’s been placed in that under performer bucket, meaning – no appraisal, no promotion… again. He’s the one who came back early today… early 7 P.M.  10 hours at job, yes its early for him, not for him but for all of them. He was among the toppers of his batch, good at writing but hesitant owing to his childhood spent in his village. 4 years in that engineering college he worked his heart out to cover up for the communication skills, people had asked him not to go for this company during placements, but as usual he was insecure, not willing to take chances, plus the suit clad consultants had got him fascinated with the work culture videos of guitar playing CEOs and giggling people in cafeteria of the company.
By 9, both manish and arjun are back too. Like a typical day they are silent, looking over in kitchen what surprises their cook had got for them. Well nothing… hadn’t he told them yesterday that he won’t be coming ?? “Lets order some pizza” said arjun, aged 26 spectacled, the sleeves of his t-shirt hugging tightly over those biceps shows glimpses of a fundamentally strong physique, but a look at the growing tummy, and one can bet that the glory is all gone. One simple look is enough to tell his profession or at least the nature of his profession… a 4×4 cube with a computer monitor… that’s it, that’s the life for now on…

It was manish who brought out vodka from the fridge, they are all sitting in the hall of their rented 3 BHK apartment in mumbai… from the standard of 4 bachelors, the place is way too clean and well maintained, kudos to Manish. In the course of silence they switch on their TV, just remembered there is that cricket match b/w India and SA. They don’t even read newspaper now-a-days… what’s the point they’ve already got enough data to analyze on their monitors, who cares for the political disbalance in Andhra or for the Duckworth Lewis Method. Pizza arrived, the chatter begin, with couple of drinks down they were “warm and human” again. “Any news about Kavita??” Manish asked arjun… Arjun just smiled… “Lots of, but nothing interesting” Kavita was Arjun”s college time girlfriend they broke up few months back, technically she dumped him, but still male ego… they take it as Breakup. They started talking, everything from bitching their managers to cutest girls in office, but still there was this tiredness like they were fooling somene… time was passing slowly and so does the contents of the vodka bottle.

“Main ye job chod dunga” Aditya spoke out of context. No response from others, they all have heard and said it before.
“Kya karega fir”
“Kuch bhi, apna passion follow karunga, Music… Singing”

 

Silence follows for some time.

Manish chal hum bhi MBA kar lete hain”
“usse kya hoga, karega to tu fir bhi job hi”
“toh kya karun… mera to dream hi hai vo startup hai, par funding kahan se laun, IIM ke naam pe koi to invest kar hi dega”

 

Aditya gets out his guitar and starts singing something, others are listening. “Aditya tu sachme apni life bekar kar raha hai, nikal ja yahan se, kuch aur try kar, accha khasa talent hai tujhme” Manoj says refilling their glasses. “I had always that thing for books, I had always wanted to became a writer, I screwed it up, its time I want to change it all”
Manish: “Arjun chal GMAT likh dete hain, 4 mahine me nikal lenge yahan se”
Arjun: “Haan dost, bahut ho gaya kab tak baithe rahenge, acche college me entry marenge to startup ke liye bhi funding mil jayegi”
Manish: “Haan yaar chal kalse padhai start karte hain”
Aditya: “main bhi kalse practise start karta hun, bahut ho gaya ab kab tak 5-10 % ke appraisal me uljhe rahenge, there’s more to life”

And all of a sudden there was this hysterical laughter, they were laughing, laughing like mad man, they laughed and choked till their stomach hurt. They all knew this talk… they had the same conversation when Sumit left, they had the same conversation when Roshni was promoted to an associate level, they had the same conversation when Murthi was appointed the Management lead in despite the recession, they even had the same conversation on last Saturday…

Five minutes of silence, all four are looking at each other, no one had the courage to say the next thig, to make the next promise, the drinks are over, the clock is ticking 3.13 in morning, the half eaten pizza is lying there unattended, their eyes are heavy, sleep is taking over them, their soul is mourning and grieving, something is dying slowly and they don’t know what, It was when one of them said – Chlao yaar so jaate hain, subah office bhi jana hai, Silicona wale client ki file complete karke deni hai…