Monday, 19 December 2011

Bhagatji learns driving!!

Mr.Bhagat is my protaganist,my new -old age hero..You might not have seen anyone like him.Such men are not made anymore.
A man of blunt honesty ,family values;highly intelligent,quick,innovative,creative mind ,a good sense of humour .All that he lacked was the sense of worldy wisdom.I sometimes wondered and wanted to educate him with some cleverness and shrewd cunningness.

The incident on my mind is when I got a fortunate chance to see his driving skills,I mean if there were any.

At that time he was a man of thirty -seven .You must be wondering why the hell  didn't he learn to drive till that age.The reason was simple.Mr.Bhagat lived in a world of ideologies.

Ideology No-1:Live a simple life.What simple meant was travelling by autos,buses and metros no matter how much you suffer everyday.(Atleast someone should think of the Mother Earth.)

Idelogy No-2:Keep yourself busy.Busy meant sleeping on weekends,eating a completly unhealthy food and listening to old Hindi film songs and living by them.(Muflisi me maza hai:there is pleasure in being poor.)

Ideolgy No-3:Be different( whatever it may mean).He could argue for anything that he believed in..If people are learning to drive cars at the age of 18 or 20 ,why should he?? 

So enough of a good introduction of my hero-Mr.Bhagat.
Being a Copywriter by proffession ,he lived a busy life .As he started earning quite early in the ninety-ninetees when he just passed out of college(he did English (hons) from Delhi University,)he didn't get a fair chance to learn driving.He was hardly twenty one at that time .He would take DTC buses ,(autos when getting late after the late night shifts).He was quite a genius in creating ads.

Remember the polo ad (the mint with the hole)All due credit to him.The frooti ad(Mango frooti,fresh and juicy)It still resounds in my ears.
What I mean to say is that professionally he was awesome.He went on climbing the ladder of success but never got free time to learn driving.

Mr.Bhagat finally decided to learn driving when he was on a break from his over busy schedule after fifteen years of working nonstop.He owned two cars,two houses and a good bank balance by that time.  He never bothered to learn driving because he always had a chauffer.Once the chauffer left for a break just when he was on one,he finally decidedto try his hands on it.

I just happen to be a good neighbour and a childhood friend.I couldn't do much professionally (I'm a lower divisional clerk in a government school) but I learnt driving ten years back when I bought my first Maruti 800.

So that morning I was coming from my morning walk when I saw him returning from driving classes.I was a witness to his recent classes and was genuinly grateful at the fact that his good sense had prevailed and finally he was taking it up.He shook hands and sweetly said,"Amit yaar,You know its been a week that I have learnt driving ,could you let me practise on your Maruti 800 which you don't use anymore.You see I don't want to ruin my new D'Zire.As I have a Hyundai I10 also , I agreed quite happily.
There came another request,"Could you please sit with me?Won't you help your brother like old friend?"I agreed again.

We sat down :he on the driving seat of my old Green Maruti and I beside him.I told him to start the car.But where were the keys?"But you just opened it?,"I said confidently.He fiddled in his trouser pockets and looked inside the car if he had made them fall.They weren't there.After much of a hunt Mr.Bhgat realized that the key was hanging outside at the car door.How funny ,I thought  taking condescending pleasure in my superiority but was quite unaware of what was to come next.

After a series of trials ,the car finally started."How is the gear put?,"he enquired.I told him that it has to be in the neutral and then shifted to the left above.He did that and the car made a cacophonic sound.
 Wondering why I asked him if he had put his foot on the clutch."Yes ,"he said but I noticed that he also had put his right foot on the accelerator simultaneously.
My car was in trouble.No matter how old my greenie was ,I was still in love with her,afterall it was my first love.
Anyway, finally we were out of the society gate and turned left.I was giving him clear and loud instructions to save my life and his.
"Our life was in danger",was the only thing on my mind.Suddenly I noticed a small tempo coming towards us with a sneering smile.I told Bhagatji,"Yaar Bhagat ab slow karke ,second gear me daal le gaadi ,aur is tempo ko pass karne de".
"I don't know how to come back to the secong gear from the third one."The tempo was almost there .When I looked through the corner of my eyes,I turned stone-still.I didn't know what to do.I shouted in his ears ,"Hey tu break maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr."

The noise of mirror cracking pierced my ears like a dart.But the tempo had gone .Then why was there this crashing sound??? I noticed that a Santro was behind  us and had smashed my sweetie due to sudden stop by us.
Mr.Bhagat quickly came down and apologised to the Santro driver."Thankfully it is a lady who would not indulge in  a road rage murder,"I thought.
I heaved a sigh of relief and listened to what Bhagat had to say:"This man is new learner ma'am.I was teaching him how to pull a break in emergency situations.It all happened because I wanted to teach him how to drive.The lady made a face and called up someone."

She might be calling a relative or her husband ,I thought,After fifteen minutes of silent wait I saw a police gypsy arrive with a tall policeman shouting ,"Haan darling.key baat ho gayi ??kaunsa sai jisne meri daarling santro ki headlight todi hai?"

Mr.Bhagat pointed at me"Ji sarkaar, yeh Maruti Amit Mishra ji ki hai.Mujhe to driving aati bhi nahi."

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Compensation

She felt lonely.She felt cheated.She felt as if an invisible hand was suffocating her breathing space.

It happened like that.

Aditi's usual mornings were full of excitement.She had  loving parents,a sweet sister Neeti and a responsible brother Aditya. She was in class VIII at that time -the most unfortunate year of her life-1990.That day was a just another day in her life.She dressed up for school.She helped her mother pack her lunch for the three siblings and papa and then started for school.

Aditi's school was at a walkable distance from her home(hardly 3-4 minutes).It was a pleasant October morning.As soon as she reached the school premises ,she was exuberantly delighed to see the gate shut with this"The school will remain closed due to the Mandal Commission Riots taking place all around Delhi till further notification by the government."

"What is this Mandal Commission ,"she wondered for a while and discussed with all her friends going back .None clearly knew.
How could they?They were hardly thirteen or fourteen years of age.
But one thing was sure.It must have been something serious because as they all reached their homes ,their parents heaved a sigh of relief .

Days passed .
The first few days were like summer holidays in October.Surprisingly there was no holiday homework.The days would just pass in idle conversations with Neeti and her mother(she being a teacher was also lucky enough to have this sudden holiday fun).

Mother was glad that they were safely home.She explained to the children that India was burning.
The new VP Singh Government had implemented The Mandal Commission which gave the people from the reserved category a higher reservation in educational institutions and jobs but the other ones, espeacially the middle class and poor yet elite caste general category people were commiting suicides against the VP Singh government to take back their decision.

The hired mercenaries :policemen were using all kinds of ill methods from lathis ,dandas and teargas shells to disperse the angry crowd and defeat themwhenever they showcased their solidarity.

"But why is mummy telling me all this ?How does it matter to me?We are safe at home,"mused the bored Aditi.Neeti was busy in chewing her nail disinterestedly.Aditya  Bhaiya was out with his friends.He recently had made a new girlfriend.In the days of no mobliles and facebook the only way to carry on with a relationship was  meeting secretly which was surely quite a task.They would meet in shoddily made restaurants and public parks due to the strict monitoring of the one hundred and fifty rupees a month pocket money.

As Aditi moved away from her mother so that she may further not be instructed and enlightened about the Current affairs of Delhi,the doorbell rang.It rang and it rang.Which idiot is pressing the doorbell again and again...even mother was losing her calm.

She went up and opened the door.It was Sahil,Aditya's friend.He was in a bad shape .His dull brown complexion was full of dirt ,sweat and blood.His blue shirt was torn at places and his nostrils were oozing out filthy half-dried blood.
"What happened Sahil?,"asked Mother in desperation.
"I'll explain it later aunty.Please come with me."

He held mother's hand and took her out .Just outside the house were standing two hefty policemen with Aditya's body in their hand.Just behind them was a police jeep.
Mother was aghast .Her pale face got paler and fear stricken .She quickly turned back to Aditi who was peeping through the half open door with fear.
"Inform papa  that we are going to AIIMS Emergency."

Aditi saw her mother ,Sahil,and the two policemen leave hurriedly in the jeep.For a moment she couldn't decide what to do.Was she dreaming?

NO.That was real.She mustered the courage to look for the phone book to locate papa's office number.He  who  worked as a Scientist in DRDO .She dialled the number and explained to papa what had happened.

She didn't realize that it was late in the night and the both of them need to eat and sleep.Both the sisters finally made Maggi  at one in the night when mother called them to tell that they would not come and they have to spend the night alone.
They slept hugging each other in the fear of the unknown.

The next morning their maternal aunt came up to pick some clothes of mother and father.
"What has happened to bhaiya?Is he alright?When will mummy-papa come back with him?"
Aditi bombarded Suman masi with her innocent questions.She got no answer though.

The sisters got used to their new lifestylein afew days.The bai would come in the morning to do the dusting ,mopping and utensils.The neighbours gave them food three times aday.Masi would come and go off and on to the hospital.
"Would somebody tell me what had happened?",Aditi's mind was always bothered and tensed .She forgot to smile ,to dance and watch T.V.She would just keep Neeti busy in something or the other.

Eventually Bhaiya came back after one and a half month.
He was covered with a white shroud and he carried the same smile on his face which was loved by his girlfriend.The  unfamiliar rites and rituals assosiated with death became known to  the fourteen  old Aditi.How the dead bady was washed,flowers showered and then taken for the final ritual at the Nigambhodh Ghat .
Neeti was the same.She also metamorphosed like her elder sister and consoled mother who had not spoken a word since the day she had gone to the hospital .

Aditi asked papa what had happened to Bhaiya after everone had left the family alone.

Papa was silent for a while and then said,"As per Sahil,Aditya and a few of his friends were sitting atop Rajesh's car and having some fun cracking jokes.At that time the police jeep with four people sitting inside drove up .Mistaking your Bhaiya and his friends to be some sort of hooligans,they fired some random shots.Aditya was the most unfortunate that the bullet hit his head and he fainted.Since the day we had gone to the hospital ,your Adi bhaiya was in a state of coma.We were hopeful but we were not lucky."Papa broke down hugging Aditi .

                                                                       * * *

The doorbell rang with sharp tingling pain.The postman gave a courier to Aditi.She opened the envelope with careful deftness.
It had a cheque  of rupees one lakh for her father with the following note:

'In lieu of the accidental death of Aditya Narayan Sharma,a compensation for his family.'

She felt lonely.She felt cheated.She felt as if an invisible hand was suffocating her breathing space.

Aditi had tears rolling down her soft brown cheeks"Can I celebrate Rakhi and Bhaiya Dooj with this money?She wiped her tears off and woke up mummy to tell her about the compensation cheque.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Favourite

Aakash was a sharp -witted,brilliant,exceptionally talented student whom others were envious of.He would score an A1 grade in all the subjects and was the teacher's pet.He would enrich the class with his witty questions and sparkle the entire teaching -learning process with his superbly intelligent remarks .Yet he lacked only one thing- a knack for Hindi.But slowly and steadily,he worked on that as well and became a formidable competitor for everyone in his class.

Ms Stuti became his favourite teacher since the day she joined.She  was slim,tall and pretty.Above all she had a hold on her subject.He longed  for the first period to get over to attend her class.As he had recently shifted from kolkata  and had a better hand at the English language than the entire class  , he started  to enjoy more and more attention in her class .It was here that he was the king . He could defeat any Tom,Dick and Harry and reign supreme.Ms.Stuti was not only impressed by his grammatical accuracy but also his flair and vocabulary in writing skills .No doubt he was the best.

"Please pick out the error in this sentence",Stuti announced one day during verbal revision before the Cycle Tests,"I did not finished my work ".
There was complete silence in the class till  secomds ago but now it was as if a hell had broken loose.Amidst the chitter-chatter,there was one conspicuous hand decently raised .It was Aakash.As any sensible teacher would do in such  a chaotic ,noisy situation;Stuti  asked  the most suitable one .He answered in a confident tone ,"I did not finish my work".He further explained to the class that it was a gross  error to put a past tense with did.Did was always accompanied with the root form of the verb. 
Stuti smiled with her dimpled cheek flushing with joy and satisfaction  at the response.She was sure that atleast a few would explain the rule.She was sure that Aakash would.

Each passing day saw a bond being developed between the teacher and the  pupil.Stuti would ask more and more questions to Aakash and he would (rather he could )never be wrong.She nick-named him Mr.Encyclopedia as he would hunt down all the information on each author that they did.

Everything was going fine with Aakash but never did he realise that he was falling in love .Ms.Stuti was his first love.He would peep through the staffrooms to have a glimpse of her glowing ,pretty face. Her soft smile and perfect intelligence had left him smitten.Like a lost lover,he would mumble at his friends' jokes about his plight.All could see into his innocent yet soulful loving eyes.

His condition became more and more deplorable.He started neglecting other subjects for the love of Queen's English.He would meticulously plan what might be asked the next day in Stuti's class.He would get up early in the morning to scrub his sweet face with his mother's walnut scrub and gel his dark hair with his father's gel.He wanted to grow into a man and hold Stuti's hand .He desired to be his saviour ,the knight in the shining armour who would treat her as a princess.

One fine day while Aakash was coming back from the Music room, he heard someone  congratulate Stuti.He thought it was her birthday .He rapidly rushed back to the classroom and sneakingly drew a lovely birthday card for her Stuti ma'am during the boring Social Sciences period.He also planned the way he would give her a red rose,(kneel down ) the next day and apologise for not knowing her birthday date.

Finally the sixth period arrived.
Ms.Stuti entered the classroom .The entire class rose to wish her a good afternoon in a monotonous sing-song voice.Like always,she also replied in a musical tone,"Thank you children.Sit down".
She looked exceptionally beautiful today with a bright white salwar kameez ,matching high heels and and open wavy hair.Her ears were bedazzling with small diamond earrings.
Aakash shyly took his card and went up to her idol.
"Happy Birthday ma'am.May you have a great day".
"It's not my birthday Aakash.Why did you think it's my birthday today?",Stuti exclaimed in startling surprise.
"Maam ,everyone was hugging  and wishing you  in the corridor. And you are not married so it can't be your anniversary.I thought it must be your birthday."

"Oh Dear !! It's so sweet of you Aakash  .You are right that I 'm not married so it can't be my anniversary but you forgot that it could also be my engagement  that they can congratulate me on.I 'm getting married in the month of February.",Stuti shared with her favourite student.

Aakash was  silent,he quietly moved to the desk assigned to him.

The next day when Stuti looked for Aakash , he was not there.Some days passed and still there was no sign of Aakash.
"Is Aakash not keeping well?"she asked the class finally.
Aastha who was the most hyperactive of all spoke",Ma'am Aakash has changed his school."
He has got a scholar badge too.He's now in D.P.S."
                                                                     * * *
Stuti was teaching class IX when somebody knocked at the door.There was a tall,dashing  man standing outside,waiting to be recognized.
"Is it you ,my dearie Aakash  Banerjee?
Yes ma'am ,That's surely me.I'm glad you recognized me.
How could have I forgotten you?There's no one like you even though scores of batches have passed out"
"Did I never tell you?"
"What ma'am?"
"That you were my favourite ".

Aakash quietly opened up a paper bag and took out an invitation.Ma'am I'm engaged.You have to attend my wedding .

There was a smug solace on their smiling faces.

Saturday, 3 December 2011


She loved to ramble.She just couldn't stop herself.She opened her heart to everyone she knew .No malicious intentions,no diplomatic strategies;what should be shared and what should be retained;she  just had no idea.
She  behaved this way because that's what she was.Away from the cunning,cruel world;her world was a world of freedom,of innocence,of trust,of complete lack of superficialities.

Once when she was seven,her father's friend visited them .His name was Mr.Iyer:a typical South Indian man with a thick moustache and a dark ,uneven complexion .He was doing a research on Twentieth Century Criticism .Her father who was a proffesor with The  Delhi University was this man's guide and mentor.

Every other fortnight he would appear at their home to show him the progress made in the research .His mannerism and language  were quite funny to her.She would peep through the drawing room curtain and found the two of them engrossed in  some sort of intellectual discourse.While her father dictatated notes ,Mr.Iyer muttered something in his own language  as if explaining the entire literary history to himself.

It was then once when she barged into the drawing room and questioned him innocently,"Uncle,why do you come here every now and then?Have you no house?Papa and Mummy are  so upset just before  you come .Mummy says that this idiot would again spoil my weekend.Papa says something else and then they start fighting.Why do you do this to my mummy?Everytime you come ,she is always in the kitchen and a very bad mood.Uncle , please go"She finally demanded.

The poor father was smiling sheepishly to curb the embarrassment she had caused."The man would think that I'm uxorious ,hen -pecked ,sissy of a man ",he thought .To save any image that was left ,he
announced,"my lil' girl is a bit stupid and cocky.She speaks what comes to her mind.I hope you don't take her too seriously.
"When the man finally left the next morning,the mother asked her to be presented before papa.She had still not realized what had she done.But when she did come papa said lovingly"My daughter is the epitome of truth and honesty.And mark my words Kanta ,she would always be like this."

Now another incident .

Dr.Bhardwaj ,her father was a man of great likes and dislikes.Teaching criticism and history of literature,he had slowly become a man of opinions.Their next door neighbours were some Mr.and Mrs.Dutt with five children(four sisters and one brother..That's how Indian families were then..hungry for male prodigies).

So it happened that her father had a disgustful  opinion for people who would do nothing else but show off their potted plants .He once announced with irritation,"These Dutts are just like malis,can't they ask their children to study or do something worthwhile.All the time they are just watering the plants -one child, then another- and chatter aloud when I'm reading something.On top of it they play their music as they are in some barber's shop."

The lil Binny was confused.To clarify her doubts,she straightaway went to Dutt aunty the next day and retorted,"Aunty ,aunty are you some sort of malis or  you have some connection with the  barbershop ?I am a bit confused."
She then narrated the complete incident to that four feet housewife who came rushing in as soon as Mrs Bhardwaj came back from her office.Another embarrasement and injury to the parents.After this episode of blatant truth ,Binny was told not to speak what was discussed at home to the neighbours.I don't think she understood why.

Once during the summer break ,Binny went to her mother's office in Cannaught Place.They were to attend an engagement ceremony .
 While meeting the prospective bridegroom of her cousin,Binny remarked,"Simmy,Is this the boy who used to jump dowm your balcony when masi was not there?"
Poor Simmy who was about ten years older than Binny just smirked and smiled at the angry hateful looks given by all the relatives standing there.What a shame,everyone commented in whispers who all had come to the ceremony thinking  it to be properly arranged by the parents and khaandaan.

This was not enough.She would quite easily be lured by all her friends into telling what they were bitching about each other.Binny would tell all,without ant deletions or additions to their scornful,envious remarks.
This was why ,she was loved  yet hated by all in the beginning.Slowly all her friends used to  realize her inability to be nasty and mean towards anyone and they would laugh it off.

Her heart was as pure as a free flowing stream of water.Her wheatish complexion glowed even more when she was sharing to someone. She had no malintentions towards anyone.Most of all she was jubiliant when she was not hiding any stuff.She couldn't.

                                                               * * *

Binny who was now getting ready in a parlour for her wedding was glowing with beauty and radiance.  
Her best friend Ruby who was with her asked her a question,"Hey Binno.Will you be happy with this man?He's so silent and you are so bubbly."Ruby who had met Binny's fiance many times had her doubts about the man."He seems so cold and distant."

"Oh! Ruby,come on.I know him for eight months now.I needed a man who could just listen to me.It's good that he's reserved.Atleast I 'll be the chattering queen of the house,"Binny expounded.

                                                                     * * *

"It has been a year that I met Binny."
Ruby rang the doorbell with a lot going on her mind.
"My bindaas friend should be happy."

A very feeble lady came at the door.She had dark circles under her eyes .What a careless,shabby sense of dress , thought Ruby.This dilapidated woman looked through the netted iron door and finally opened the door.

It was none other than our very own Binny : the carefree spirit,the loved  and pampered by all ,the propagater of truth and honesty;the lovely ,glowing charismatic Binny.
A year of marriage had transformed this chirpy ,rambling girl into a silent witness of things .Ruby hugged her darling friend and they both sat down in her bedroom for a little chat.

"Whats happened to you,Binny?,"Ruby inquired with concern".Does he not love you anymore?Are your In-Laws tormenting you in any way?Please tell."

After a few minutes of  unbelievable silence ,Binny spoke her heart out,"I can't be myself in this house.It's claustrophobic.I can't breathe if  I can't have the freedom of speech and expression .All I am is Mrs.Kaushik and no more.You know ,he loves me but he's always judging me.I can't take this anymore,"She finally broke down into sobs and wetted her friend 's crisp cotton saree.

Ruby was speechless for a while.She then gave Binny this huge lecture about compromise in every Indian wedding.She asked Binny to share all her troubles to her friend,to her.

She knew that Binny needed a listener all the time.May be her husband was not interested in her foolish,frivilous crap .May be he'll take some time to understand her like most of her friends.

                                                                        * * *

That night when Binny waited in the balcony for her husband to come back ,she  promised herself to be happy and give it a good try.At the doorbell ,she rushed smilingly to the door and embraced Lokesh .
"Can't you ever understand,you fool?I 'm not some Mills and Boon hero that you have been dreaming and reading about all your life.I'm tired and hungry.",he blasted her as usual.His pragmatic approach
had killed Binny's carefree spiritedness.

All the excitement  to share the nice time spent with Ruby just vanished from her face.Binny quietly moved towards the kitchen to make tea and some snacks  for her irked husband.

Again that night in the bed when Binny wanted to make the first move,she was pushed aside,"Can't you ever give some space to me?"
She failed to understand him.

He wanted her at his own convenience.
He listened to her when he wanted to.

 He loved her and hated her  and so did she.

smita sharma dabas: He's so lucky!!

smita sharma dabas: He's so lucky!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

He's so lucky!!

It was a Sunday morning.Lazying up in the bed, he looked around if she was there.She wasn't; as usual,she must have woken up at six,brushed her golden brown frizzy hair and headed for a morning jog .She was lovely-green eyes,impeccable peaches and cream complexion,an athletic figure.What else can a man ask for in a wife?
Everyone was so envious of Micheal who had been recently married to this charming woman with stricking beauty.

He woke up with a smile smuggly placed on his thin lips.The last night was awesome,he thought .They had been to Rockman's Beer Island in Ambience Mall to celebrate the culmination of a year of marriage .They had had so much beer that they both laughed and it was quite a task  to reach back home safely.She had ordered fish and chips,a dish she loved despite its calories.He had recently turned a vegetarian because of the high cholesterol levels depicted in his regular medical check-ups .He just ordered some sphaggeti in red sauce.But who wanted to eat?They just wanted to fill their hearts out by looking at each other,making loving movements towards each other,hold each other tightly and just merge into each other.

His thoughts were suddenly broken by a knock at the door.

"Hey you are up?"

"Yes dear.Would you mind a cup of green tea?",he offered.
"No baby.Just a minute, lemme change ."

Just as Tina turned around to reach the washroom door,she was trapped in his muscular arms.She could sense he was getting naughty again so she swerved and rushed into the bathroom and locked herself in.He kept trying hard,he pleaded and requested but all in vain.

Come out and then I'll tell you,he threatened .

She came out in exact fifteen minutes and found him waiting on the dining table with a full-laid breakfast tray.She always liked the eggs hard boiled and muesli crunchy.

He loved her so much that he laughed at the comments of typical Indian MCP's at his office.
If they would have married someone as adorable as Tina,they would understand.They are all bloody jealous.They eye her from top to bottom on the  Family Days ,whisper out in each other's ears,"Look, how lucky this chap Micheal is.Even though he is nothing but ordinary,he's bagged a fortune in Tina."

It ddin't bother him at all.He was content and happy in the fact that she married him for his intelligence and expertise in his job as a Regional Manager , not for his six figure salary.She had agreed so swiftly and smoothly when he proposed marriage to her that even he was amazed at his good fortune.

The door bell rang.
It must be the driver.
They were to go for a Sunday brunch at a five star hotel as always.They always lived in style,making people J.
He opened the door . Kamlabai entered."Saab ,berakfaast abhi talak rakha hai?

"Arre bai ,tumhe dikhta nahin,maine aur memsahib ne breakfast kar liya?"

"Saab to satak gayele hain ",Kamlabai whispered to Raju,the driver who just entered with the medicine box through the porch.

The driver rankled in pain,"Aissa ichh hota hai jab aapki nayi wife ka first anniversary par hi accident main death hojaye.Saab abhi talak bhool nayi paaya unko,woh thi hi aisich.
Tum jao bai,main saab ko khana khila dega."

The next morning Micheal looked lazily from the bedroom window  ",Why does she have to so be so beautiful?"People will be jealous and say,"He's so lucky!!"