Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Delhi Diaries


The Release
A short story

Bagging his biggest export order till date, he called the branded furniture showroom in Kirti Nagar and made the payment for the ornate sofa she had fallen for, during their honeymoon last year. 

'The sofa set must be delivered at our Dwarka home today itself, it's our marriage anniversary,' he ordered.

Longing to see her radiant, ravishing smile once again, he carassed the fragrant bouquet of red roses and pink white tiger lilies.



Photo courtesy: imgarcade.com

As he clicked the door open, a whiff of spicy veg biryani hit his nostrils. A bottle of his favorite French wine lay chilling in the ice bucket, tempting his parched throat.

'Naina', he drawled softly, entering the hall. And there she lay sprawled, frothing at the mouth......on their new sofa.

A radiant ravishing smile on a pale wan face taunted him, celebrating her final release. Her wedding band adorned the worn out wooden stick on the corner table........

Saturday, 23 August 2014

SPECTRUM OF LIFE


For me

Beauty

In the lone fragrant flower

In my tiny bower

Blooming with the sunrise hour.


Creativity

In the little cherub's colorful hand-knit woolly cap

In her innocent smile beaming through the milk teeth's gap

The baby snug in her mother's warm and secure lap.


Serenity

In the chirping of the mellow sparrow

Flitting out of her shady tree burrow

Only to fly higher and then suddenly dip low.


Gaiety

In the first rain of the season

Little ones splashing in the puddles with passion

Grownups soaking in the downpour unmindful of any tension.


Amity


In the community, in the society

In our Unity in diversity

Through congeniality and cordiality, not hatred and animosity.


Perspicacity

In braving life's nitty gritty

In living a life with pride and dignity

Without any gloom or self-pity.


Divinity

In every atom of this beautiful planet

Which the eternal creator, God has let

Us, the mere mortals be blesst!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 4

'Wow madam, our plan is successful. You are simply fantastic,' cheered the short, plump man with a cunning glint in his eyes.
'Our plan? It was my plan entirely, you were just a willing accomplice. For the love of some fat bucks. You just helped me in disposing off the properties. It was I who risked going to the banks and withdrawing such huge sums without raising any suspicions,' Janet glowered at the man insolently. 'It was I who got all the documents ready. So here is your share Mr Akhil. Take this and get lost', snapped Janet through clenched lips.
'What's this madam? Only twenty five lakhs?' screamed Akhil in his rustic English.
'Then what did you think, I would give you the entire five crores? Here, take ten lakhs more and leave. Just don't go back to your village, and now disappear from here, you foolish, uncouth villager!' thrusting some more notes in his bag, Janet picked up the currency-laden briefcase and drove away towards Terminal 3 with a delicious smirk on her face.....for a long sojourn in the Alps.

It had been only a half truth that Janet had told Neil about her growing up years in the convent and internship with Raul De Silva, the celebrity chef. The charming little girl had received much love from the nuns who protected the orphan from all ills, but she failed to honor their love and had fallen into bad company. The only good thing she had inherited from her mother was her love for and skill in baking.
When Raul De Silva saw a rare spark in the petite girl, the pathos in her deep blue-green innocent eyes appealed to him so much that he chose her as his intern over many other deserving girls and boys. And that, unfortunately, proved to be his undoing. Cleverly manipulating the guileless man, she made him sponsor her for an advance course in baking in the French capital. Her machinations won the heart of the terminally ill De Silva, making him emotional enough to will his luxe service apartment in the posh South Delhi suburb in Janet's name.

Being a realistic but ambitious girl with dreams of a luxurious life, she knew that the service apartment or her expertise in baking alone could never guarantee a stress free, wealthy, glamorous lifestyle she had always aspired for.

Then one day she read the interview of the new COO of the global confectionery giant, the dashing, handsome, eligible bachelor Neil Samson aka Neelotpal Patra with his story of a tragic childhood in an Odisha village.

And then she started cooking again.............a tempting plan for her new neighbour!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 3

Handing Neil a tall glass of cold coffee and a platter of fresh club sandwiches, Janet flipped through the yellowing pages of the notebook that Neil had taken out of the brown packet.

'Thanks Janet! This notebook has unfolded a veritable treasure trove of #memories for me........and a new goal in life', wiping a hesitant tear Neil held her hand tentatively.

'Neil, the village #photographer was absolutely shocked to see me alive. But he still didn't want to give me the notebook his son Akhil had borrowed from you that fateful day. He was sure you would come someday to ask for your belongings. But when I read your school essay, I realized your dream for the upliftment of our village. I insisted upon the photographer to give me the notebook and assured him that I would find you.........somehow, somewhere, some day! And I did find you.......or rather our destiny found us!'

After a whirlwind romance and courtship of two months, Janet and Neil solemnized their marriage in the ancient village temple under the benevolent and delighted eyes of the village elders.

'Janet, I have signed the power of attorney in your favor, the loans are sanctioned, the building has been acquired and the machinery has also been ordered. Here's the cheque book for our new joint account with my signature on all cheques. Now you can get all the documents and permissions for our #bakery as also make payments without any trouble.'

'Yes Neil, finally your dream is going to come true. I will set the #bakery rolling by the time you return from the US.......that's a promise! Our parents' #souls would be blessing us for generating this big employment opportunity for our dear village folks.'

'Hello Akhil, Janet this side. Kaam ho gaya. All documents are in order. Kal hi jaana hai. Be ready at 9 o'clock!'





Thursday, 14 August 2014

Happy Independence Day





Saare Jahan Se Achcha

Rajiv tightened the bolts and removed the jack. The tyre fixed, the customer paid the mechanic and thanking him, drove away whistling a merry tune.

It had been raining incessantly since morning. There had been a steady inflow of cars and bikes which had broken down in the downpour and so Rajiv had decided to stay for the night in his garage only.

Wearily, he washed his sullied hands and sat down to have his dinner, a cold and soggy vada pao and an equally cold cup of tea he was in no mood to reheat. Oh yuck! One sip of the 'tea' and he was ready to throw up. And then he noticed it......!

Grabbing a long rod with a hook, he hobbled outside on his prosthetics. Cautiously draping himself on the slippery moss covered tree trunk, he lunged at the topmost branch and caught hold of the soaked and crumpled tricolor still fluttering with the gusty winds.

Apparantly the 'tiranga' had been discarded in the open garbage dump nearby and then somehow found its way atop the tall, voluminous Gulmohar. He washed it carefully and hung it to dry under the rickety fan.


Photo courtesy: hdwallpapersbackgrounds.com

He woke up at the crack of dawn, the sun still played truant and the sky was still overcast, he smoothed out the wrinkles on the flag and inserted a rod in the fold. As he reverently hoisted the national flag that he had also held aloft proudly at the NCC Day parade, the strains of the national anthem being played in the school nearby echoed in the valley, making him hum along.

'Happy Independence Day Flight Lieutenant Rajiv', he mumbled to himself.

Saare jahan se achcha Hindostan hamara.....crackled the ring tone of his ancient Nokia 1100 cell phone, setting off a flurry of memories rushing through his veins again....

How he wished the cab driver had not jumped the signal that night the five ambitious engineering students with fire in their belly and patriotism in their blood, had gone to a friend's place to celebrate his birthday! How he wished someone had stopped and rushed the profusely bleeding boys to the hospital in time! How he wished he had not lost his parents in that car accident when they were rushing to their only son lying critically injured in the ICU of hospital! How he wished his leg had not got crushed under the errant driver's truck on that ill fated day and ruined his lifelong ambition of joining the Indian Airforce! How he wished he had got that crucial fee exemption from the premier management institute! How he wished..........!


And just then the heavens opened up again efficiently wiping away the silent tears trickling down his cheeks!




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 2

The Williams!.....how could the girl have this photograph?

'Who are you? And how do you have this photograph?' demanded Neil.
'Who are you and why should I tell you anything?' forgetting her injury, the girl sprang up from the sofa and retorted in a familiar nasal twang.
'Janet William! But how......alive and here! You had.........?'
'Neelotpal Patra!

The Williams house had been attacked and burnt down by masked fundamentalists who believed the missionaries to be running a conversion campaign in the village. An asleep Janet was picked up from her bed by one kind soul among the perpetrators and left on the railway station nearby. The station master heard the wails of the little white girl and took her to the city church in the hope of finding her parents. Sally was sheltered in the church orphanage, studied in the convent school run by the nuns and served in the chapel to earn some pocket money.

Always a bright student with a flair for baking and cooking, she had been selected to intern under Mr Raul De Silva, the celebrity chef, famous for his patisserie. She had honed her skills in Paris and had ventured out on her own only recently. Mr  De Silva treated her as his daughter and had willed this apartment in a South Delhi suburb in her name. Currently, she operated her business from the apartment, explaining the early morning sweet smells.

She had always longed to find out about her roots, her parents and her early days in the small village she only faintly remembered. She had searched all the similar names on the internet and finally located the ancient village temple on a travel site.

This photograph of the Williams was taken on her sixth birthday by the soft spoken village photographer and carefully preserved in his dilapidated, musty shop in the hope of finding a claimant. He was the one who had helped fill in the gaps in the fading memories of her childhood and the attack on that fateful night when two happy families were entirely wiped out with one cruel stroke of the matchstick....... except one survivor.

And then Sally gave Neil the brown packet!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 1

That familiar sweet smell of freshly baked cakes and cookies wafting across through the AC-vents from the neighboring flat woke him up again that morning. 
photo courtesy: hayasbakery.com

Rubbing his eyes, he stretched his tall lithe body across the bed and glanced at the clock.........6.40 am. Still feeling a little groggy having kept awake for a late night conference call with his company seniors in US and the Indian collaborators, he decided to go to for a refreshing jog along the artificial lake in the condominium.

30-year old dashing go-getter Neil Samson had only recently shifted to India from the USA as the COO of a multinational company introducing its chain of globally popular bakery and confectionery products in India. He was still trying to settle down in the plush service apartment on his first morning in Delhi, when that tempting smell of chocolate cake hit his nostrils and rekindled some long forgotten memories of his childhood.  

He lived in a small Odissa village with his parents and two younger siblings. They were not exactly poor. His mom and dad ran a small laundry. He went to the local school run by a Christian missionary couple from Scotland. The school children, along with her own six-year old daughter, would often be treated to goodies from Mrs Williams' clay wood-fired oven and that's how he had his first whiff of a freshly baked cake. 

One horrifying night, he was woken up by screams for help from the neighborhood, his parents had already rushed to douse the cackling flames shrouding the missionaries' thatched house. The cruel flames, emboldened by a severe wind, defied all efforts of the villagers and soon engulfed their own tenement too. Before his very eyes, the fire God snatched away his entire family.

Next day, the police scrounged through the still hot embers for some clue about the source of the devastating fire in which, they informed the villagers, the Williams couple had also perished along with their daughter. Some kind villagers tried to feed the inconsolable 8-year old for some days, then he found himself inside a city orphanage. Some months later, a childless couple adopted him and took him away to Glasgow.

Neelotpal Patra was now Neil Samson. But behind the stern demeanor of the COO, still lurked the fading faces of his parents, younger brothers and........Janet.

Sweating heavily after the five-mile jog on a hot sultry morning, he swiped the card-key to his apartment when he heard a faint cry. Turning around, he noticed that the usually closed door of the neighboring flat was slightly ajar. Curious but hesitant, he peeped inside the door. A beautiful girl in her late twenties was unsuccessfully trying to apply some ointment to her upper elbow. Knocking lightly to catch her attention, he asked if she was hurt and needed help. A little alarmed, the girl declined the stranger's offer and picked up the remote to shut the smartdoor. He turned to leave and then.........he saw the three happy faces smiling through the photograph on the wall!