*) - Ambiguous Love
Jai was a sincere student in a college in New Delhi. Focused on his studies, he was also passionate about music. Because of his average looks, he never tried to enter the high profile singing contests of college which were fiefdoms of the sons, daughters, nephews and nieces of Principal and Vice-Principals.
For his hobby, he used to write songs and poetry and his limited friends-circle cheered for him. Usually he was singing the songs of Rhythm & Blues (R&B) genre. Or he was involved in comics and superheroes.
Though a good student, sometimes in lectures, he was lost in his poetry and songs while in lecture. Often he missed things while other students are writing notes. But he did not need to worry about missing because always ready to help him, was the good natured Tina. She was a happy, positive and cheerful girl. Tina‘s best friend Renu also a good friend of Jai.
Though best friends, Renu and Tina were polls apart. Renu was more involved in studies while Tina always maintained balance between studies and having fun that college life.
One day, Tina requested Jai to give her some commerce notes. Jai happily agreed and said, “Of course you can take my notes! It is not every day when Jai Anand gets to help Tina Tiwari.”
Next day, Jai needed his notes back. So instead of writing the notes, Tina photocopied the notes and returned the notebook to Jai saying it would take long read and write as the handwriting of Jai was not readable. Jai asked her, “If my handwriting was so bad, why did you borrow my notebook?”
Tina replied, “Because you were the only student who sincerely attended all lectures.”
The final semester exams of Second Year were coming. Tina asked Jai, “Do you have the Time Table? I will not be coming to college regularly from tomorrow!” Jai replied, “From next month, I will also study at home! If I get the time table, I will call you! Can I have your phone number?”
Tina replied, “Boys are not allowed to call at my house!” Jai asked, “Why?” Tina said, “You don‘t know how conservative my parents are!”
Few months later, exams happened. On the last day of exam, Jai, Tina and Renu met each other. All of them were relieved that their exams had gone well. Jai and Tina were not aware that they were seeing each other for the last time.
After the results were out, Tina was out of college. She was studying her third year in another college. Now she was out of touch with Jai. Nor she was talking to Renu, her best friend on regular basis.
Jai was upset whether Tina‘s parents took her out of college due to their conservatism. Focusing on studies, Jai forgot about Tina.
After college, Jai went to Mumbai joined a post-graduate course of Video-Production. He got in touch with Renu through a social networking website. They used to chat regularly. After the completing the studies, Jai joined an ad-agency which was into event management. Jai was shooting and editing videos there.
One day, while chatting with Renu, Jai was reminded of Tina. He asked Renu to link her to Tina‘s profile. Renu dropped the bombshell on Jai by telling him, “Tina is not in my friends-list! Missing for past one year, she got me into trouble!”
Jai was shocked, “No! Tina was a very good person. She could never get you into trouble! You were her best friend!”
Renu said, “Tina eloped with a 50-year old man! Her parents caught hold of me in a bid to find her! I was not even aware of Tina‘s act!”
Jai was shocked. Tina had been an obedient daughter to her parents. She was always strict about her principles of honesty and sincerity. Such act by Tina was difficult for Jai to believe. He did not reply Renu‘s last chat. Renu asked, “What happened? Are you shocked like a broken hearted lover?”
Jai said, “No! I never saw Tina that way! I knew about her parents! She would have never accepted a guy like me! But this is something difficult to believe!”
Moving on with life and job in Mumbai, Jai had forgotten about Tina. However, after this conversation, there was not a single day when thoughts or memories related to Tina would not come into his mind. Sometimes in office, sometimes at home, he was wondering where Tina would be or how she would be.
One day, while returning home from office on his bike, Jai urgently needed to take a pee. However, he could not find any public toilet nearby. When he could not hold any longer, he found a lonely road and a huge bush at a corner of the road. While relieving himself, he could see a railway track that was on the opposite side of the road. Suddenly, a train passed by and Jai was shocked to see a girl jumping from the train.
Zipping up his pants, Jai ran towards the railway tracks. Train had gone. By the time, the girl was unconscious. Jai turned her and was shocked to see that the girl was Tina. He wondered, “What is Tina doing in Mumbai? And why did she jump from the train?”
Next moment, his inner conscience told him, “This is not the time to wonder! You must take her to hospital!”
Jai wrapped his handkerchief on the head of Tina to stop bleeding. Using his belt, he tied Tina‘s hands and put her on his bike. He put her tied hands around his neck and sped off to the nearest hospital. He got Tina admitted to the hospital and went home. Next day, he took half-day from office and went to hospital. Tina had regained consciousness, thanking doctor. Doctor saw Jai and said, “You should thank this young man who brought you here!” Tina was shocked to see Jai. Jai offered Tina come and have a walk with him. Tina agreed.
Sitting on a large stone, looking at Arabia sea, Tina told her story. Jai was standing behind her, listening. Tina told the following story to Jai:
Tina‘s parents were very conservative! They made her leave college and got her admitted to another college because that college was closer to home. Earlier, she used to travel in Metro Rail and an old man patiently heard her stories about the restrictions that her parents had put on her. Tina‘s anger always simmered inside her because in college, she cannot share this with anyone. Not even with Jair or Renu.
That old man often saw me in train and observed my sadness. He started calling her “beti” told her to tell him her problems. Tina was happy that she could share her problems with someone. Old man was always sympathetic and he motivated her to be positive! Tina and her new friend exchanged numbers and talked secretly!
[DICLAIMER: In English, “Beti” means daughter]
Old man said that had Tina been his family member, he would have given her every freedom that girls of her age had! Tina fled from house in search of freedom which she found with that old man! She was happy with all the freedom she got with him! He brought her to Mumbai! She could go to any restaurant she wanted! She could watch TV as long as she wanted! She could watch any TV show! Only later she realized that it was not freedom when the old man imposed his own restrictions on her!
Tina was a prisoner! She was given food when the old man wished! He forced himself on her! Violence and forced sex became a part of her daily life! Tina tolerated all this as she had no place to go. Then one day, a miracle happened! Old man arranged good food for her! He took her for a movie! He apologized for everything that he had been doing for past few months! He said that in order to make it up for every bad thing he had done, he would take her for a vacation! He said that they would have to go to New Delhi from Mumbai and there, we will take flight to UK! Tina was given a ticket and a coach number! On railway station, he asked her to get into train while he would buy snacks! The bogey was empty! Train started moving when an Arab sheikh came there and said that his men had messed up the mechanism of chain that could be used to stop the train! Sheikh said, “The man who brought you here got bored of your body! So I paid him a handsome price and asked him to give you to me! He agreed! He sold you and I paid extra to book this entire bogey for us which is our honeymoon suite! When train stops! We will take a flight to Dubai!” Tina was shocked to hear that. The sheikh was undressing himself. Tina ran and jumped from the moving train. This is where, Jai had found her.
Jai dropped Tina back to hospital. When she was discharged, Jai took her to his office and asked her to wait at reception. He talked to Mona, one of his colleagues to arrange an accommodation for Tina. Mona lived in a house as a paying guest with three other girls. So Jai thought that this could be a perfect place for Tina. In Indian society, Live-In Relationships are frowned upon despite being legal. That is why, Jai could not ask Tina to live with him.
Jai paid the rent of Tina with his salary. Tina could not go back to New Delhi as her parents would not accept her.
Jai talked to his boss and got Tina, a job in the office. Jai started teaching Tina everything he did in the office. Tina got her first salary and now she could pay her rent.
Jai and Tina started working together. Jai asked Tina to call her parents, talk to them and celebrate upcoming Diwali with her parents. Tina refused as she was scared.
She said, “Don't call my parents! Because of me, they were embarrassed in society! If I go back, they will be more embarrassed! I can never go back. I will celebrate Diwali alone!”
Jai felt bad for Tina. He said, “You can celebrate Diwali with my family! I got you job! This is the best way for you to thank me!”
Tina: How can I celebrate with you! Your office mate lives with me. What about other girls in that house! They would spread rumors that we are dating.
Jai : You don‘t need to tell them what will you do on Diwali! They do not need to care! They need to go to their hometowns to celebrate with their families.
Jai decided to cheer her up and told her to join him for lunch in a restaurant. During lunch he asked her to come to New Delhi with him. On the day of Diwali. Jai and Tina were in New Delhi at Jai‘s house. Jai did not burst crackers. He shared sweets with Tina.
Some other guests came to Jai's house. Jai‘s parents entertained them. Jai took Tina to the terrace of building from where the sparks in the sky could be seen by Tina. She was happy.
Tina asked Jai to sing something as she had not heard him singing for years. Jai loved superheroes and started singing a song from Spider-Man 2 by The Ataris.
The Lights went out in the city tonight
So close your eyes
Gaze up in the heaven
And see if you can point me out.
If I could have one wish tonight
I wish before the sunrise
To bring me back to you
Bring me back to you.
We spend our whole lives searching for
All the things that we want
But never really care for what we have
Be careful what you wish for
As these stars are fading away.
Tina clapped after the song and appreciated the beautiful voice of Jai. Then she said, “I really wish I could celebrate Diwali with my parents!” Jai told her, “I asked you to call them. You refused! Take my phone! Call them! Talk to them! Your mom will certainly forgive you as she gave birth to you! We are in the city where your parents live!”
Tina took Jai‘s phone. She was about to dial the number but she stopped.
Jai asked, “Hey! What happened?” Tina said, “I can't do this! Why can‘t I have what I want?”
Jai told Tina, “You heard my song and forgot it! You think about what you want but never care about what you have!”
Tina replied, “I had got used to live without friends. Violence was something I suffered everyday. After a long time, an old friend got me job so that I could be independent. This gave me a reason to be happy. Now this happiness pricks as I forgot to be happy.”
Jai said, “You were always happy and cheerful and cheerful in college! You always smiled! The artist in me was charmed by your smile! You need to be my old friend! I can give you many reasons to smile in office.”
Tina said, “I feel I need to go back to the lonely life as your friend was a good girl. I became bad by fleeing. I am not worthy of your friendship. If I return to my parents, they will kill me.”
Jai said, “Please don't say that! I have few friends! I value your friendship! I promise I will never ask you again to go to your parents! But you don't need to go back to your old life.”
Just then Jai's phone beeped. Jai's brother was calling. He said, “Dinner is ready! Both of you should come down now!” Jai and Tina went for dinner. Jai was busy with the lovely food but Tina‘s eyes were on Jai while she was eating.
After dinner, to cheer up Tina, Jai took her to terrace again.
There Tina said, “I enjoyed the dinner! You have a lovely family! I wish I could have such warmth in my house! I have no reason to be happy!”
Jai replied, “Actually, you have two reasons! One is me, a friend who is ready to help you. Other is your job!”
Tina just smiled. She did not say anything. Jai asked, “You still don‘t want to meet your parents? Is there anything I can do to make you change your mind?”
Tina said, “One more song for me! If I enjoy it, I will think about it!”
Jai started dancing like R&B singer Ne-Yo, singing:
I don't play no games (I don't play no games)
So when I'm in that thang (when I'm in that thang)
Come see what I mean (see what I mean)
See what I mean, owww (see what I mean)
Said lil' mama put me on (baby put me on)
Bet I'll have you gone (bet I'll have you gone)
Come see what I mean (see what I mean)
See what I mean (see what I mean)
Come see what I mean, come come come
Tina said, “Today you have many friends! Will it be possible for you to rekindle old friendship?” Jai said, “My good friends are still few and you are one of them! You became bad but there is good inside you. You need to awaken it.” Jai asked Tina, “You have net in your phone?” Tina said “Yes!”
Jai downloaded the song Everything by Lifehouse in the phone to cheer up Tina. Jai played the song on the phone and said, “Come! See my dancing skills! Join me for dance.” Tina hesitated. Jai said, “This is just a dance. Tina danced with Jai with the song playing in her phone.” Tina asked, “Why did you want to dance with me? Is everything OK?”
Jai said, “Perfect!” Jai did not know what Tina was thinking. But he was thinking, “I made her so happy. Now I hope God brings happiness in my life.” The dark sky of Diwali night was shining with the sparks of fire crackers, Jai and Tina looking into each others' eyes.
Jai asked Tina, “Does your father has a gun!” Tina said, “No!” Jai said, “Then he cannot kill you! Come with me! It is not every day Jai Anand gets to help Tina Tiwari!” Jai took Tina to her house on his bike! Tina‘s mother was shocked to see Tina. The plate filled with diyas (earthen lamps) fall from her hands. She ran and hugged Tina. Tina‘s father came out and he was visibly shocked and angry. Then he ran and hugged Tina.
Jai was happy to watch this family reunion.
*) - Anecdotes
(Srishti Yash Mudaliar)
The Unexpected Help!
It was sunny month of March in the year 2007. I had just finished my examination for the second year of my graduation. The days were zealous and that day I was just waiting for the result of my audition I gave the day before for the “Indian Idol”, a television reality show for the emerging singers and finally I got a text inviting me to collect my registration number and the entry pass for the main audition at Mumbai. So, I was left with a sudden plan to visit Mumbai. Usually my mother accompanied me whenever I moved out of town but she was a little busy and left me with my backpack at the station. I could not get a confirmed sleeper reservation in such a short notice. I cursed the mothers and sisters of the railways and just got my tickets and boarded the train with lots of zeal, nervousness and anxiety. It was for the first time that I was traveling alone and all that was in my mind was the picture of my relative coming to pick me up at the other end. It was an evening train and soon people started bringing down their sleeper berths. Soon the berth above my seat was laid and I was left with no place to sit. A generous lady let me sit by her side as she slept. But since the birth above was laid I had to sit bent and the bending caused me ache in the neck.
"You may...sit here if you don’t mind”, a voice came from the double windowed berth couplets that are found on the either sides of the passage alley. "This seat is higher and it would be easier for you to sit here." It was a youth in early twenties. Why would I mind after all, a more comfortable journey? I jumped into his seat and asked, though very unwillingly, since I did not want to lend him a chance to change his mind, “Won’t you sleep?” He told me he’d do that later. He then kept reading comics. I wasn’t sleepy either. He had original Lee Falk Phantom tales and I asked him if I can see some. He gladly showed all. He took off his luggage and showed me more from his collection. He said he got them from Delhi. He was from Allahbaad, he told. His name was Rohit Kumar. We got into conversation and he started telling me his history. He liked my company, seemed. I was also amused by his funny accent and decent and informative talks that ranged from comics to Tata and Bidla. “Where are you going?” he finally dared to ask, though he hadn’t asked my name yet. I told him that I was going for the audition of “Indian Idol” that would be held the next morning. “Oh! You must be in the need of some rest, then.”, he said and suddenly moving aside he said, “Please feel free to sleep.”. I hesitated (at least I acted so); after all it was his seat and berth. “I would get enough time to sleep at my uncle’s 'morrow. I don’t have to go out. I can manage with a little sleep tonight. Please feel free to sleep.” Without waiting for him to change mind now I occupied the whole berth while he sat in a little place in the corner. He shut the window near my ears and said “You shouldn’t catch cold or you cannot give your hundred percent in the auditions”. He also lent me his blanket since I didn’t have any. Soon I fell asleep. I remember seeing him sitting in the same manner as he did before I slept, when I was alerted as the train paused at a station and I was woken up for a while. I have a huge bed at home and the berth was a little uncomfortable for me and I had a habit of throwing kicks in sleeps and I accidentally kicked him off the berth. I soon realized what I did but pretended still being asleep. I waited for his reaction. I thought he is going to wake me up. But he didn’t! He sat there, down on the floor of the alley. I pretended unaware and occupied the whole place and stared enjoying my cozy sleep. I slept sound for hours.
It was around four that I heard a din and woke up. I saw another boy of Rohit’s age arguing with him. As soon as he saw that I’ve woken up he started, “Get up!! Get out!! This is our seat!” This boy was Rohit’s friend who boarded the train at some stop; I still don’t know what stop! I was irked by his behavior and told him that his friend himself asked me to get the berth. Soon we started fighting a typical Indian verbal war. He scolded Rohit for letting a stranger occupy his place and accused him of trying to impress a girl. People trying to gooseberry in the matter kept eying Rohit in suspicion. A woman even asked me if he bothered me. Rohit kept explaining him things and tried to calm them all down. In anger, I refused to leave the place and the friend kept insisting Rohit to ask me to leave the place at once. Rohit was perplexed and couldn’t choose between both and rather tried to settle the matter. But there was no scope of settlement. Soon the T.C. was called. I thank God by that by the time he showed I went and took a seat below an emptied berth that I unchained from its holders and the T.C. didn’t have any major issue regarding my illegal occupancy. He calmed both of us and went away. After the T.C. parted I gave a last blow to the ‘irritating friend of Rohit’ as I then called his name in my mind and abused all his sisters and in turn he targeted women from my state, women from the whole country and Pakistani women. “Khadoos!!” I named him and after that whenever I talked about him to anybody I referred to him by this name
The berth I now occupied was vacant and I slept until I unboraded the train in the morning. Rohit came to say sorry to me. In anger I said “Thank you BROTHER! It was not your fault. You only tried to help.”, while his angry friend dragged him back and scolded him again for talking me. I noticed that Rohit wasn’t upset over being referred to as ‘brother’. I became sure then that he wasn’t trying to ‘impress a girl’ as his friend suspected but was trying to help a needy. He came to me as a help. And this UNEXPECTED HELP made my journey easier and comfortable and of course I could do better in the auditions than I could have done otherwise.
A year and a half passed. It was December 2008. There was a minor communal riot in my city and some tourists and localites were detained. By that time I had graduated and had joined as a journalist in a newspaper in the city. I didn’t qualify above the level called ‘top fifty’ in the show, so I was back to the city. I was being trained in reporting at that time and went to interview the commissioner of police with one of my seniors. A curfew was declared in the city and some the detainees were not even allowed to make calls. As soon as I entered the commissioner’s cabin I saw Rohit and his friend sitting in front of him. “Rohit Kumar!” I said. “Do you know him?” asked commissioner Mahatme. I restrained for a while but then some sudden instinct made me tell that I knew him. The Commissioner lived in my neighborhood and trusted me. He asked me a few questions about Rohit and I answered. “Aah!! So this is exactly what he told us!! So we believe that the identity he gave is his and genuine!! And we shall let him go!!” he said. “She also knows me!!” said his friend. Commissioner Mahatme asked me his name. I didn’t know!! So I couldn’t tell! I knew him by one name ‘khadoos’. But I couldn’t tell them that he was ‘khadoos’, could I?” “My name is Prajwal Kumar!” he said. “Shut up!! I don’t trust you and can’t let you go unless I hear from your kins!” warned Commissioner. They then asked Rohit to fill up some papers and relieved him.
When asked, Rohit told us that they had come to the city for some sort of assignment they got from their office. He had to travel for work, I knew! They were victimized by the riot and their luggage and belongings were lost. They were detained along with the communists and other victims and they were unable to prove their identities and they were not allowed to make calls so they were not let free. I took Rohit to the head office of our newspaper. We helped him get tickets back to his place. We also called in help for Prajwal. But his people took several days to come and rescue him. He was detained for 21 days. It is quite difficult for the non criminals to stay in captivity for such a long period. He suffered a little depression, we were told later. He paid for his unfriendly behavior while Rohit was rewarded for his kindness.
Later, in 2009, I started with my post graduation and went on a study tour to Mumbai with my class. In the train I chose this double windowed side berth as we had the whole compartment booked and we could choose. Late in the night we were all asleep when a commuter boarded the train. I never realized that he was sitting besides my feet in my berth until I kicked in him down in sleep. I woke up and so did my classmates, teachers and the other passengers since I gave a cry “Who, who?” The poor young fellow looked flabbergasted and everybody looked at him in anger. “What did he do?” asked some suspicious passengers in anger. He replied with innocence “I sat at the little space by her feet. I didn’t know it was a girl!! I swear!! And...” “And what??” asked other passengers. “..and she kicked me down in sleep”, he said. Everybody laughed and believed him. It was cold month of December and I was wearing several blankets so he really couldn’t have made who was sleeping. I saw that the bogie was full with passengers and their luggage and he had almost no place to sit, not even the floor. “Koi baat nahi bahiya!! Baith jao”, I asked him to sit where he sat before. He hesitated but on being insisted also by others he happily sat down on it. I slept again. That day I was reminded again of Rohit!
When I was in my junior college years I had a friend called Shweta. This girl Shivani was her friend. This Shivani was jealous of many people and she never liked me for unknown reasons, though she told me several times that she was fond of me. We were never into verbal arguments but I knew what she did on back!! “B****!” I’d call her. Most of the people hated her because teachers liked her though she was not a good student. So there were several conceptions and misconceptions regarding her. Everybody hated her. Some hated her for she caused them blasphemy, they said. I hated her for she was rich and pretty. She’d try to behave good with me but I was always aware of what lurked behind and so we never became friends despite being classmates. I seldom approached her. But she’d come and talk. She’d always appreciate my dressing style. She loved a turquoise colored pendant I had and would always seek asking me let her wear that!! Now why but would I let her take my jewelry when she could afford much more than I had?
One day we had terribly good news in the college and all of us were happy to hear that she is leaving for Lebanon. Shweta was her close friend. She took me with her to see her off... 'The scum is finally out!!', I wondered. I was told by classmates that I got two marks short of the full score in the practical examinations in the previous years for she bitched around creating misunderstanding between me and the teacher assigning the marks. So, I hated her more, though I still don’t know what was the ‘misunderstanding’ that she created and which teacher misunderstood!!
For the first time in two year I saw her crying. She hugged me as if we were best buddies. I felt irritated by her artificiality but the tears moved me. I gave her my turquoise pendant that she liked. ‘Oh!! What is this??”, she asked. She was surprised to see me give her what she always wanted but I never gave. ‘A KEEPSAKE!’ I said. “Oh!! Oh!! You loved it so much!! You never gave it to anyone!! And now you’re giving it to me. I am overwhelmed”, she said and shredded a gallon more of tears before she boarded and flew off. Shweta said that it was really nice of me letting her have one of her favorite things as she parted “She seemed very emotional so I couldn’t resist!!” I said with a proud smile. That pendant cost less than ten bucks and I didn’t use it anymore and that I found nothing cheaper to gift her was the real reason though.
Several years later I completed my studies and was working for an international publishing firm then. I managed life with the few bucks I earned. I was also doing my graduation in literature. Meanwhile I started seeing a guy and as time passed I fell in love with him. Life seemed changed. New hopes bloomed and the forlorn was lost. But my schedule was very busy those days and I had to refrain from seeing my boy. The differences arose and I couldn’t keep up with the relationship for long. Soon we broke up. I was very upset with this and was not able to concentrate on my studies. I was worried that I am not going to do well in my upcoming exams.
There was a swine flu outbreak and people with high immunity against swine flu were in demand. I was one of them and since I had quite enough free time after I broke off the relationship, I once visited camps to assist doctors. I demanded a neat and clean hospital and so was assigned duty at a rich, privatized hospital. Though I was a student of biology, I wasn’t into pathology. So I was given some paper work. While checking the list of the patients I found a name Shivani Pandit, 23 years. In shock and astonishment I asked for the details of the patient and found that she is my old classmate. I was told that her case was serious and she was almost loosing life. After I finished my assigned work I waited for the visiting hours and went upstairs to see her.
She was lying semi-unconscious. I fastened my mask more firmly and went in. “Hey!!” I hailed her “Remember me?”, I asked. She immediately recognized me. We started talking of the old days. She then started with her sorrow. She said that she doesn’t want to die this young and that she’d miss her parents. “This”, she showed my pendant, she was wearing it “you gave me as a keepsake, but what keepsake has this life to give me?? Can I at least take a photograph of my mother as I go? They say I’ll forget her when I die. I don’t want to forget her”. She started to cry loud. Nurses rushed in. she told them she was alright but she fell unconscious. A nurse sped up her saline bottle and injected a few doses into it and asked me if I can stay and alarm her when the bottle is about to empty. I agreed to stay and sat besides her reading a magazine.
I wasn’t reading then actually but staring at the book, my mind was thinking. I thought of the situation I was in and the reality of life and wondered, “Why shall I upset my head for my lost boyfriend? I am not going to carry him to the heaven, am I? In this world, there is nothing to get upset over, nothing is permanent. When I die I leave everything that I horded, here. Everything comes from earth, goes back into it! All I can do is leave mark here. My little achievements would accumulate to form something that would help my future generation that would live, after I go. I must move on and only try being constructive! Working for the society!! That would be life!! Expectations are useless! Even when I achieve material happiness, I leave it here. My name lives, my work lives, but nothing lives forever for me!”
I jotted down
By Ms. Srishti Mudaliar
The force of the air is sweeping me away,
From my land, it’s environs, under siege of these fences,
Then why the same air does bring to sway,
The sweet smell of the soil over my senses?
The memories are all that would be accompanying me,
As I move, though much more was that I hoarded,
Of the same land that supported me, while I ran upon the monsoon spree,
And a blur memo that the same gave my survival all that it needed.
My land is not so arid, but is trying to conceal the pain,
The pain, similar to that in my heart,
It needs me, but makes no effort vain,
To stop me, as I proceed to part.
This mighty land has got my words and acts,
The stupendous figures that I carved on the rocks of it,
That would kindle into its heart, the percept of those beautiful feuds and pacts,
That’s why it smartly scuttles begging for time, more a bit.
The “memories” I carry would vanish as soon,
As I get lost into another element,
But, this coarse land doesn’t whither to place, upon me its dusty boon,
Nor does this air agree to get stacked into my perpetual garment.
A delicate urge I play on my fiddle,
Le’mme scrape a bit out of this hardened landscape,
Gi’mme a club or a dagger li’l,
Let me dig out an eternal lump, a “keepsake”.
After a short while, Shivani woke up. I called in nurses to take off her saline supplement when the dose was complete. After that I talked a little with Shivani. She talked of her nearing death. All she wanted is to take the memories of the beautiful days she spent, she said. “No one can take a thing from here”, I told and suggested, “We can leave our glory, but we can take nothing!! Tuten Khamen wanted to take his gold with him. He buried it along his corpse. The gold is still there!! But he isn’t!! He was a great king. His name lives. You cannot take, but you can give. And ‘m sure you’d live more to give more”. I started to head for home. “You’ll live!! God bless you!” I said to the girl as I shut the exit door.
I gave my papers for the literature. I forgot the things lost and only thought of that could further be achieved. Three months later I read in the newspaper that I’ve cleared my examinations with good grades. Along side I read a headline “Swine flu victim survives.” “So the b**** survives!! Ha ha!!” I said. I was really very happy all the day.
Our milkman Shyamlaal has an amusing personality with a very cute sense of humor. He never rang the bell. “Vahini DOODH!!” he would shout and someone would open the door to get the milk. Vahini means sister-in-law in Marathi. And all the ladies in the locality were his Vahini. One day he delivered us milk with astonishingly thin consistency ‘Shyamlaal!! Kal se DOODH ki jagah PAANI aawaaz lagana” (Hail “Water delivery” instead of “milk delivery”), my mother teased him. We expected him to get mad on being sarcastically criticised and thought that he’d start with a funny argument. To our amazement, he didn’t! He only smiled shy in reply. He did not give any justification or made arguments and went home in as jolly a mood that could ever be! Only thing he did was the next day he came to deliver and shouted “Vahini PAANI”
“Packed milk is adulterated” was the belief of people at my home. So Shyamlaal continued his service. One day I went on short drive with family. Suddenly I noticed someone very familiar “Is that Shyamlaal?” I asked. We put our car to halt and observed from distance. We saw Shyamlaal in his usual white dhoti and his white cotton shirt. He had a few packets of packed milk with him. He tore them open with his canines and emptied into his delivery cans. And then what we see!! He collected a bucket full of tap water, emptied it into the delivery can and mixed it well with the milk in it!!
“Hail Shyamlaal” shouted my cousin. My mother nodded her head in disgust and said, “Iss Shyamlaal ka kuch nahi ho sakta!!” (No one can help Shaamlaal!). And I sat down to write my rhymes “The Milkman”
Judge's Rating : Srishti - 80/100 (40/50), Avijit - 75/100 (37.5/50)
Members Poll : Srishti - 12/19 (31.5/50), Avijit - 7/19 (18.5/50)
Word Limit Penalty (Minus 10) - Srishti Yash Mudaliar
Combined Final : Srishti - 61.5/100, Avijit - 56/100
Srishti Yash Mudaliar wins the match and qualifies for Round 3, Avijit Misra is eliminated from Freelance Talents Championship.
Judge - Mr. Vivek Goel (Artist, Publisher @ Holy Cow Entertainment)