(I've posted this on WL, dint want to post it here, but then this is one of my personal favourites. I loved writing this. Again, an attempt made trying to drift from humour..!! Thank You.)
Darkness engulfed the horizon, enveloped with dull red clouds throwing an impression as though the stars were hibernating behind the red blanket when a small thunder erupted, and the first drop of rain raced on its descent, as it splashed on Mr. Aravind’s forehead. Withdrawing his legs from his recliner, he stood right there in his small garden and threw a pale stare at the red sky which was beginning to cry. He snatched his glasses and his half sampled novel from the rain, and headed back to the door into his simple little home for dinner. His cook, a man in his sixties, the only other person who lived with Aravind, rushed to him to inform- “Sir. You have a call on your phone. It’s from London.” He passed the phone and evaporated into the kitchen.
“London? Shriya! Who else would it be? I don’t know anyone from there. And Shriya would never call, she vowed to never call me again. What the hell is this call for?” he began to disturb his mind. “ Or, maybe it’s Mr. Singh, Shriya’s only family friend and a mentor.” He thought. He unwillingly drew the receiver into his ears and said- “Hello.”
“Hello Aravind. I’m Mr. Singh calling from London.”
“Oh, Mr. Singh! What made you to be reminded of me all of a sudden?”
“Aravind….” With a small pause surrounded by the sounds of heavy breath, he continued- “ Shriya.”
“What about Shriya? She’s gone. It’s been 10 years since our divorce Mr. Singh. What about her now? What’s her problem? Tell her that she doesn't deserve me anymore.”
“Sorry, but she is actually dead Aravind. Last night. Called to inform you that.”
Aravind felt a cold shiver run through his body. He dropped himself onto his bed and mustered his voice and said-“ Okay.”
“One more thing, Aravind.”
“She has a kid, a boy of 9 years old. And more importantly” he paused and continued-“He’s your child too.”
For a moment there was a silence across both sides of the globe. Aravind was stunned beyond speech.
“Aravind, are you still there? Hello.”
“Yeah. What on earth are you talking about?”
“I know you must be shocked by this Aravind. But it’s true. It came to light just after you both separated. Shriya insisted in not letting you know about it. But now, I feel, after being her only confidant, it’s my duty to tell you about this.”
“ Aravind. She’d never had too many known people around here. What I mean to say is- would you like to keep the boy with you Aravind?” Mr. Singh asked shakily.
“Mr. Singh, I’m just hating myself, her and you for this situation. Why should I believe you that he’s my son? Even if I do, I’m not responsible…………..” He stopped without saying anything further. “No thanks Mr. Singh.” He said and cut the line.
One week later, at the Bangalore International airport.
Aravind was pacing back and forth in the Arrivals’ Lounge of the airport waiting for his son’s arrival. After a hard battle between his mind and his heart, he had finally called Mr.Singh to convey his agreement to guard his own son. And here he was, in the airport waiting for his son’s arrival. He was told by Mr. Singh that the boy was never informed about Aravind as his father. “I’ll take care of that. You don’t tell him anything.” He had ordered, replying to Mr. Singh.
The announcement was made that the Air India flight from London had just landed. A crowd began to form around the exit area. And suddenly Aravind felt nervous. He had been too distracted to allow himself to think what he might feel when he would actually see his son in flesh and blood.
He noticed that people began coming out into the exit area as he began craning his head to catch a glimpse of his son. A minute later, he noticed a young lady of ‘Air India’ approaching, along with a small boy, holding his hands, towards the exit area where Aravind was waiting. Aravind approached her, confirmed her that he was that Mr. Aravind and the lady obliged, kissed the little boy on his cheek and walked back. Now, suddenly, the two of them were on their own. Aravind, glanced down the boy. Does he look anything like me, he thought.
“Thank you, Sir, for offering me to stay with you awhile.” He said in a cute, British accent.
Aravind felt his blood rushing. He had just heard his son’s voice. “Yes my dear.” He smiled and tried to carry the little boy but in vain and said with a smile- “oops..You are a strong boy! What’s your name?”
“Sorry sir, forgot to tell you. I’m Aryan.”
Aravind couldn’t help a smile as he clasped the boy’s luggage bag with one hand and held the boy’s, his son’s, little hand with the other and began to walk to the parking bay.
“How far is the Taj Mahal from here, Sir? Can you take me there?” the little boy asked.
Aravind couldn’t control a smile as his eyes began to become moist, said- “ Surely. I’ll take you to all the famous places in India. Alright?”
“Thank You, Sir.”
They reached their car, put the luggage behind and took the front seats. As they were about to leave, the little boy asked- “ Sir, Singh uncle told me, you were my mother’s best friend? She was my best friend too.”
Aravind controlled himself, held his palms on the boy’s little cheeks and said- “ I liked her a lot, Aryan.” He smiled as a drop trickled down his eyes.
“Sir, can I catch some sleep here? I’m sleepy. Would you mind, Sir?” he said again with his cute British accent.
Aravind couldn’t control it anymore, he grabbed and hugged the little boy tightly, kissed him on his forehead, then on both his cheeks and said- “Aryan. Dear, I’m not ‘Sir’. Call me ‘Daddy’”
They headed home, drawing a lovely picture of their rekindled future.
(I've posted this on WL, dint want to post it here, but then this is one of my personal favourites. I loved writing this. Again, an attempt made trying to drift from humour..!! Thank You.)
(Recession everywhere, damn, even in my comments page (“_’). There’s no one in this world except me, who would have shooed away their readers by posting so called thriller series (hinting at Tara). Anyway, trying to get back to normal, which means some sensible crap, whatever that means. Enjoy)
Reading the newspaper as a first thing in the morning isn’t a great idea, trust me. It was a lovely morning that day, the 14th of February, a day of profits for the ‘Archies’. The previous night, I was enlightened by a business plan. In pursuit of anything red and resembling a heart, my eyes almost popped out like popcorn onto my ex-pillow. On a mission- “Steal the knife from the kitchen”, I crawled into the kitchen, but was late to realize that mom was as sharp as the knife. My business ambitions were pounded into the gutter. Anyway, that’s a long tragic useless story. Back to the present, I picked up the newspaper and read on- “ Sanjay Dutt enters politics.” In India, you can commit a crime and have grandchildren before you’ll be punished. My ever-vigilant mind began picturing a silly court scene inside my head- “ In a courtroom, the lawyer asks- “What were you upto on that fateful day on the 23rd of March 1960, Mr.X?” Mr.X replies- “ I was playing ‘ball’ with my grandfather, Sir.” The judge intervenes- “ What were you up to last week when the notice was sent, Mr.X?” Mr X coughs and replies- “ I was playing ‘ball’ with my grandson, your honour.””
Anyway, I moved onto the next headline- “ We will marry off any couples found together in public today- Mr.Muthalik, Rama-Sene chief.” I began to think about concepts like ‘Time saving’, ‘Money saving’, ‘energy saving’ and so on, but then I kicked myself, passed the paper to mom and breezed into the bathroom to get ready for college. Came out, found a T-shirt on which some nice words were intelligently written- “fcuk.” If I was as brave as I appeared to be, I would have changed it to- “fcuk muthakil.” Anyway, as I finished breakfast and was jumping onto my bike, my mom came and told me- “ Why not skip college today? We can go out somewhere.”
“What?” which appeared more like a joint question of- ‘Why? Whats the reason? Whats wrong? It’s not April 1st today….’
“Just simply. Getting bored.”
“No thanks mom. Go out with your lovely daughter. Cya” I sped away.
I reached Roshan’s place. That damn fellow was like the ‘kanjoos of the millennium’ types. I had to take him to college though he had a bike, but because his bike drank a lot more petrol. Anyway, I entered his home, his mom smiled at me though I wasn’t sure if that was artificial or genuine, I found a seat and the same newspaper. “What’s the weather forecast for today dude?” Roshan screamed from his room as if he was preparing for some ‘Mission Impossible’. I checked it to find- ‘Clear skies. Avg- 32degrees’. I screamed back- “Carry your Rain-Coat, dude.”
After his ‘dressing-up’, he came by and sat next to me to finish his coffee. As always I wondered if he had taken bath with water or perfume.
His mom passed me another cup of coffee and said to Roshan and me- “ Why don’t you guys skip college today and stay back at home. I’m preparing carrot halwa today.”
Roshan replied with the same- “What” exactly the way I did to my mom. When did parents in India start saying things like– ‘Bunk College my boy’, I thought.
“No ma. We have an important presentation to make today. Can’t skip.” He replied like Mr. Scholar.
“What presentation, Roshan?” I asked with a tone.
He came close and whispered- “Fuck you. Just shut up.”
Meanwhile, his mom was getting vexed and said- “ you both are staying back, that’s all.”
“No ma” our scholar replied again. Roshan walked out of the house like how a disappointed boss walks out of a staff meeting. As I too began to walk out, his mom came and enquired softly- “Does he have a girl-friend? He’s acting weird nowadays.”
“No aunty, don’t worry.” I said and walked out perplexed to the bike and we left. Only as we rode along that I could paint the actual picture. I could now come to terms with the weird behaviour of both our moms. The moms didn’t want their sons to come back home with wives. Just then, I got a call from my mom.
“Hello. You reached college? Just called to find out.” She enquired innocently.
“No ma. Someone from ‘Rama-Sene’ it seems. They’ve caught me and a girl who was with me. Now they are taking us somewhere ma.”
“What? Where are you? What the hell? Whats happening? Dint you go to college? I told you to stay back…..” and another billion questions pounced on me at a time.
“Relax mom. Just kidding. I don’t have a girl friend.”
She got the point, laughed and then we disconnected. I explained all this Roshan but he could understand it only after three repetitions. He called up his mom (of course with my phone) and tried to play the same prank I tried to play with my mom, it became a perfect flop show as his mom exhibited her verbal skills and it finally took my intervention to claim calm and peace.
At that very moment, Roshan announced- “Dude this is unfair. We all have to do something. Something soon. We shall organize dharnas, strikes…..” he went on. And finally he said- “ We shall start an organization contradicting Muthalik’s ‘Rama-Sene’. We shall call ours ‘Sita-Sene’.” So ‘Sita-Sene’ was formed and inaugurated by yours truly and as expected it lasted for less than half a day.
One hour later, a ‘spark-plug’ resembling Roshan had lost all his spark as he feared to even talk to girls that day making them wonder if his head was alright. By the end of the day, he resembled a punctured tube as his mom sighed relief that she was lucky enough to not meet her daughter-in-law yet. I, in the meanwhile, like Mr.India spent my evening in a temple with my paranoia struck mom.
An untidy man of 6 feet height, clad with dirty clothing and long messy hair motioned his hand on spotting a small green scooter approaching him, as in to ask for a drop further down the street. The person riding the scooter who looked equally dirty and messy obliged for the drop. “Thanks for the ride, Sir. I’m Ghani” the man announced. “I’m Rajesh” cutting across to the left trying to avoid a speed-breaker, he replied. They rode along at a steady pace.
Mr. Ashok put the polythene bag of ‘cut-off’ human fingers back into the fridge, patted on Syed’s and Vishal’s backs and said- “ Give me the torch.” They creeped by the walls into another room, which when illuminated revealed a name- “Geetha” written with blood on all four walls of the room. “Now this is getting real easy.” Mr. Ashok announced contemplating the writings on the wall. They then, found the back door and walked out through it, the path of which seemed like it was carpeted with blood. “ So. GEETHA…hmmm..” Mr. Ashok exhaled and continued- “ Okay, we should go to the village limit police station now.” As they were about to leave, a local police constable arrived and saluted, as Mr. Ashok ordered him- “Stay here. Lookout for anything suspicious, Okay?” The three headed back to their ‘Qualis’ to drive to the Police Station. What they dint realize was that the wooden sign and the metal barricade that had vanished was put back in its' original places.
The scooter puffing away smoke steadily moved along. Rajesh enquired- “Where do you have to go?” but he could hear nothing except Ghani’s audible breath. “ Where are you from?” he asked again, but still experienced no reply. With every passing second, Ghani’s breath only got louder and faster.
At the police station, Mr. Ashok learnt that Geetha had committed suicide a month ago. “Her post mortem said, she was raped before she died.” After a silent gap, the village inspector continued- “ though that was kept secret due to pressure from a higher authority.”
“Was there an investigation held to find those rapists?” Mr. Ashok asked looking a bit upset.
“No sir.” He dropped his head.
“Okay. Now about Geetha. Her personal life. Go on.”
The scooter came to a halt, when Rajesh saw the wooden “Dead End” sign and a metal barricade blocking the road. “The road is blocked” he said. Ghani stepped down, walked forward to face Rajesh.
“What shall we do now?” Rajesh enquired.
“I’ll tell you.” Ghani replied, pulled a sharp knife from behind and pushed it right into Rajesh’s abdomen.
“ She was reportedly in a love affair with a person called Ghani when she died, Sir.” The inspector informed. “ Ghani somehow knew the fact that she was raped.” He continued-“ Ghani came here everyday in the beginning pleading to take up the case.” He dropped his head again and continued- “ But we were helpless.”
“Okay. So it is Mr. Ghani, the killer.” He stared at the inspector and went on- “ A disgrace to be a policeman if some bloody higher up wants to play his cards on us. I want the name of the person who influenced you, but before that, we need to catch Ghani. Inform everyone. Make it fast.”
“You will now join your other two friends in hell. You bastards raped my darling, my life- Geetha.” He screamed pushing the knife further into his abdomen, cutting off nerves like wires. “Go to hell, you bastards.” He screamed as Rajesh, now a dead-body fell on to the ground. He grabbed Rajesh’s hair and pulled him along towards the house. “You fucking policemen.” He said to himself as he saw a constable at the door and pounced on him.
“Put the constable at the house on line, I want to speak to him” Mr. Ashok ordered the inspector. The phone rang, but it only rang. They repeated calling him twice, thrice but no reply. “If this is carelessness, I’ll see to it that this will be his last day at work. If it’s not- he is rather killed by now.” Mr. Ashok said with restlessness. “Lets move. Fast.” He said and everyone got back to the ‘Quailis’ and Syed hit the accelerator as they flew to the spot.
As he slit the throat to death of the constable, he continued to drag Rajesh’s body into the house, closed the door behind him and dragged him further into the small room. He dipped his hand into the flowing pool of blood and wrote- “GEETHA” on all four walls. Then, he sat next to the body, and drew out his knife again.
The crew arrived and Vishal alarmed- “ God! The wooden sign, the metal barricade, it’s back here.” Mr. Ashok heard him, but ignorantly jumped out, drew out his pistol and breezed towards the house followed by the rest. They observed that the dry, withered leaves on the ground were disturbed. “Somebody was dragged from here” Syed indicated. They began sprinting and as they reached the door, they found the body of the constable laid dead, flat across the door. As Syed dragged his body to the side, Mr. Ashok broke the door and hurried into the dark little house.
As he reached the room, he was shocked to witness a person cutting off a dead body’s fingers. Meanwhile, Ghani realized that the police had arrived. Mr. Ashok observed his face closely only to discover a freshly attained glow on his face instead of an expected fear. Cutting through one of the fingers, Ghani smiled and said to the police- “ Two minutes Sir. These bastards raped my darling. They killed her. With these bloody same hands. Wait for just 2 minutes sir. This bastard is the last.” He cut off the fingers, put them into the polythene bag and screamed as he surrendered- “ Geetha, I love you.”
2 Days later –
At the restaurant at the “CrossRoads Inn” Vishal and Vijay ordered two taps of beer as Vishal lived the moments all over again. As and when he finished and as they were about to leave, Vijay remarked- “ Sounds cinematic. But it’s proven- ‘Love rules the world’.”
His friend, Vijay arrived at the “The CrossRoads Inn” and walked briskly through the parking lot. He tried to spot Vishal’s car, but he didn’t. “Bad sign” he said to himself and continued breezing through. He pushed through the front doors of the in-built multi cuisine restaurant. The restaurant was less than half filled and it dint take long for Vijay to realize that his friend wasn’t here. Pushing through the doors once again he walked into the reception area and waited for the elevator. The elevator arrived and he entered as it rode to the third floor. Searching for room number 305, he brisked up. Finally, as he found the room, he knocked at the door for which silence was the only reply he got. He slipped out his cell phone and dialed Vishal, but it wasn’t reachable. He ran back to the elevator, descended into the reception area and asked the Receptionist- “ Where is the person in room number 305?”
“Sorry Sir. Our shifts changed and I’m on duty only since 5 minutes. I’ll check the records.” She turned some pages and said- “ The room got vacated 15 minutes ago, Sir.”
Asking too many questions wasn’t going to help his case, so he walked out into the parking lot, approached the watchman, counted out two 50 rupee notes and asked- “What happened to a silver coloured Ford that was here? KA-05 MB 4248.” Trying to get the watchman out of his ambivalence, he slid the money into the watchman’s pocket and gently patted on his back- “Please.”
“Shit…..” Vijay let out a frustrated kick on the hotel gates.
At Perambadur Police Station
Inspector, Mr. Ashok (Crime Branch, TN) crossed his legs, sipped his tea and said in his crisp voice- “ Why should I believe you?”
Vishal, with dignity replied- “ All I can do is tell you what I know, Sir. Incidentally that is what the truth is. And I believe that’ll be very scarcely helpful to you.” He wiped his sweat and continued- “ I offer to be helpful, now that you’ve spotted me anyway.” He smiled.
Mr. Ashok played in his hands, with the toll receipt paper through which he could discover Vishal’s whereabouts and fixed a long stare towards him. It took him a long minute to change his stare into an almost invisible smile and then stood up, clapped his table and announced- “ Okay. Vishal, you’ll be accompanying me and my assistant Mr. Syed to the spot. You’ll show us the house that the victim pointed towards before he died.” Trying not to sound too nice, he continued- “ Until then, remember you are under custody, your cell phone and your car will be here.” He finished his last sip of tea and warned- “ No tricks. No funny business. Okay? Lets move”
An hour later—
“This is the petrol bunk where I refilled petrol last night,” pointing towards the bunk, Vishal informed Mr. Ashok and Syed as they almost reached the point where the body was found. In a couple of minutes, Syed applied brakes to halt the Qualis, as they had arrived at the spot. The place wasn’t dense with people as Vishal had expected it to be, but it was empty as the post murder procedures were done with and only a constable remained at the spot. It was almost noon, but with the surrounding heavy woods, the sun hardly penetrated and that made the atmoshpere cool.
Vishal scanned around the place and was startled to find that the wooden- “Dead End” sign wasn’t there anymore. He further glanced along the road, gasped when he dint find the metal barricade that had blocked the road that night. On learning this, Mr. Ashok informed Syed to enquire with the highway Patrol Police and the local village police if the two sign-boards were detracted by them.
“That’s the house there, that the victim pointed towards before he fell dead, Sir.” Vishal informed as he pointed towards the old, tile-roofed, modest house. It was about a hundred metres from the road, with no particular pathway. They walked through the trees, the path layered with withered dry leaves towards the house.
“There doesn’t seem to have been any recent human activity here.” He said to Syed, looked at Vishal, turned back to Syed and continued- “ But with these winds, it’s hard to conclude.”
‘knock..knock’ Syed knocked at the door, as Mr. Ashok held his right hand on his pistol. Without wasting any more time, Syed broke opened the weak door and the three entered in. The house was dark and empty. With the help of torches they moved in slowly by the walls, alert to any human retaliation. The room smelt filthy and a bit different from most unused houses. “Sir, bloodstains.” Syed pointed out to Mr. Ashok. The blood stains continued along as a path into the back door. “Somebody was dragged out of here.” Vishal said astonishingly with his heart beating in a hurry.
“Don’t talk. Shut up.” Syed replied with an irritated whisper. “A refrigerator.” Syed illuminated it with his torch.
In a deserted house of a supposed killer having nothing, not even bulbs, spotting a refrigerator, Mr. Ashok knew it was never going to be an auspicious discovery. He could almost paint the picture now. Syed hesitantly stepped forward, clasped his hand on the fridge door handle, looked around and pulled it open gently and the three were exposed to a horrifying scene. Vishal, held his throat, ran to the window, pushed it open, coughed hard and vomited. Cut-off human fingers in a polythene bag.
To be Continued......