Sunday, 26 October 2014


Story shared from my FB page


It was already 10 pm when she finally put away the heavy iron, sprinkled water on the smouldering embers and retired for the night.
For the last one month Rehana Bi had been working harder and longer than usual. The festive season was approaching so apart from the regular clothes there were a large number of curtains and bed covers also to be washed and ironed. By the end of the day, tiredness would seep to the core of her bones, after all she was not
 as healthy and energetic as she was in her youth. But she didn't mind the long hours and hard work because of the extra money extra work brought.
It had become very difficult to make ends meet with ever increasing prices. She had lost her husband two years ago when a firecracker shop had burst into flames in the nearby market. He had gone there to buy coal for their two irons and got trapped in the stampede following the fire and subsequent blasts. Some of her neighbors who had put up temporary stalls in the market to earn a quick buck during the festive season had also lost their lives that unfortunate and terrible day. The memories of charred bodies lying all around their dilapidated tenements and heart wrenching cries of the survivors still gave her the jitters, however hard she tried to shrug them away. 

Since the last few months however, the nightmares were gradually being replaced with some joyous dreams. Dreams for her children's bright future.
She would do anything to arrange enough money for the forthcoming festival. Last year she had not been able to buy anything for them but this time she desperately wanted to buy new clothes and some sweets for her three children. Her heart ached when they had to go hungry half the time though they had never complained. This year she was determined to give them at least one good meal and one set of new clothes for the festival, even if she bought them from the cheaper export surplus shop.
That day also she had literally fought with the '10 number wali Sharma madam' when she refused to pay her according to the prevalent rate for curtains' washing and ironing. She had pleaded with the '17 number wali bhabhi' to give her a bigger bakhsheesh on this Diwali. When she went to deliver the clothes of the 'paanchve maale wale bhaiya' who always addressed her politely by her name 'Rehana Bi' instead of calling her 'presswali' as others rudely called her, she had once again reminded him of his promise to give his old bicycle for her eldest son. With a cycle in his hands, they would save the bus fare to their school and he could also run some errands for her, Rehana Bi thought as she wound up her work. She could even request the teacher madam who used to give some old unused stationery and textbooks to her children, to teach the children how to converse in English. They were good at studies and would excel in their jobs if they learnt
Angrezi gitar-pitar, she liked to believe.
Squaring her sagging shoulders, she pressed her swollen feat as she lay down on her 'bed', still hot from the ironing it received everyday. With drooping eyes, the ageing widow saw the same dream again..... to provide the best for the three children Asheesh, Archna and Anil whom she had taken under her care after their parents and her neighbors Ramprasad and Rajni perished in the same fire which had claimed Rehana Bi's husband too. 
This Dhanteras, she prayed, would fill not only the hearts of children with the wealth of her love, but their shrinking stomachs with enough food too.

Wishing everyone A Very Happy And Prosperous Dhanteras.
May your lives be filled with the wealth of smiles. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Story shared from my FB page:

The Partition

Another burst of gunfire greeted the battalian. Both sides had been exchanging sporadic fire for the last ten days. No ceasefire in sight, the army command had deputed Major Rehamatullah and his troops to this freezing mountainous terrain to combat the enemy incursion.

Major Rehamatullah led his troops valiantly and succeeded in annihilating quite a few soldiers from the enemy side. All his men fought with perfect precision and coordination just like the cogs of a well-oiled machine. But the opponents were not novices either.....

Observing the direction of declining gunshots with his hawk eyes, the Major was sure that they had been able to cause major damage to the enemy. But then this sudden revival of shots worried him. He decided to go a little forward and see if the enemy had received some reinforcements. Instructing his friend and junior Captain Raman to hold the fort in his absence, he left the bunker.

Slithering stealthily, he moved forward inch-by-inch behind the thick forest cover. He had managed to cover just about half the distance between his troops and the presumed location of his foes, when he sensed something moving closeby. It could be an animal, but not one to ignore anything as insignificant, he turned to his left, pistol ready in hand to shoot.

In front of him lay the bleeding body of a soldier in army fatigue, but of the rival army. His first instinct was to aim and shoot but something inside prevented him. He crept closer but very cautiously lest it should be a trap. He turned the man on his back and checked his breath....he's alive. Captain Rajan Malhotra, read the badge on his chest.

Major Rehamatullah reflected much later.....He didn't know what had come over him but he took out his flask and sprinkled some water on the unconscious man's face. As he showed some sign of revival, Major opened his lips and poured a little whiskey down his throat. The Captain spluttered but opened his eyes in a few minutes.

The increasing roar of gunfire drowned his feeble voice but the Major caught a few words thanking him. The setting sun had dipped the temperature further. Major Rehamatullah tied his handkerchief on the bleeding arm of the Captain and offered him a chocolate, forgetting the boom of shots around them.

'You a Hindu?,' he asked a meaningless question.

The Captain nodded and added,'from Multan province.'

'Multan! Which village?' Major questioned him with a sudden glint in his eyes.

'Gujranwala', the Captain seemed to be gaining strength.

'Oh.....There was one Ashfaq Khan there, do you by any chance know him?'

'Why yes, my grandfather and he were the time of partition, he went to India with his entire family. My father Satpal was just like a son to him, he still remembers how he would play with Khan Chacha's son Rahim and even stay at their home the whole day.....he still rues the day the country was divided sowing permanent seeds of hatred, distrust and enmity between brothers, he has just one wish left now-to be able to meet Rahim Chacha once!..........he babbled on.
'But why are you asking? How come you know them?' The Captain queried.

'I am Rehamatullah, your Rahim Chacha's son!' Overwhelmed with a sudden gust of emotions, he hugged the Captain. He spoke on, unmindful of the purpose for venturing out of his bunker......
'Abbu is no more now, he died some years ago. But till his last day he kept hankering for one opportunity to visit his village and meet his childhood friend Satpal. On the way, grandmother and my father's brother were killed in an accident. On reaching India, grandfather and my father were given shelter by a Hindu family. Grandfather died soon afterwards and father was raised by his Hindu a devout Muslim.'

As darkness descended on them, the hateful guns fell silent slowly bowing down to the bone chilling cold. But nearby, two enemy hearts still beat loudly, warmed and united by the tales of mutual love and friendship that were going to outlast three generations, despite the cacophony of selfish political and religious divide.
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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Delhi Diaries

The Last Duty

'Your mother breathed her last just now!' an apparently emotional voice from the Vriddha Ashram in Punjabi Bagh, squeaked through the old man's ancient Nokia 1100 cellphone. 
'Oh no, but I won't be able to come, I have been hospitalized for the past two years and am completely alone here, you see', he protested weakly.
'Yes, we see. No, in fact, we have not seen you since the day you left her here ten years ago. But since she wished to be united with you at least after her death, her body will reach the hospital in an hour.' the woman spoke in a more firm and assertive voice now.
'Why? I wouldn't even be able to perform her last rites'.
'But she has performed her last duty towards you!'
'What? What now?'
'Mr Kumar, your mother donated all her organs to the needy patients and her liver to you! And also five lakh rupees in a bank account in your name, saved from the salary she earned as the Matron of the orphanage here.'
'Mom, I am scared, take me home with you!' He had clutched her hand and pleaded with her on the first day of school.

'Don't worry my son. I will never leave you. I will be there with you always', she had tapped his hand calmly and assured him of her love and support, forever.
As he grew up, got married and settled down in life, fear of separation was gradually replaced with irritation and then contempt for her words of concern for him.
'I can't live with you any more,' he had shrugged off her hand on his arm, and left her in the Old Age Home, ten years ago, forever.

'Beta, how will I live here without you all? Please take me with you!' she had pleaded with him. 
But he had lead in his ears.
After the death of Kumar's wife two years ago, his son picked up a job abroad and flew away leaving him in this hospital, in Punjabi Bagh, forever. Even the cheques stopped coming after some time. Since then he had been surviving on his meager pension, biding his limited time in the hope of receiving a liver from some benevolent donor.
His mother never left him. She had come back to him today, to hold his hand, forever!