Saturday, October 20, 2012

A SMILE’S CURSE


It is a strange feeling to be a stranger at home. Navdeep had an eerie uneasiness that engulfed the vacuum of his mind as he and Suhana landed in Bangalore, a city whose lush greenery and verdant trees once shared every secret desire of his. Today it was just another city whose gardens appeased his heart no more. The inner connect had been lost for years, there was no nostalgia in the air and he no longer yearned for the petrichor. Had it not been for his ailing mother and the impending registration of his new house, Navdeep would have preferred to stay away from this epicenter of trouble, doubt, discomfort and dirt, out of his own guilt rather than intent. It is quite incredible how perspectives change when idealism of the mind and serenity of the heart are blitzed by the practicality of comfort and the brashness of wealth. But again, every time he set foot in the land of his fathers, his heart would get entangled in a quagmire of memories and would relive the magic of the past thereby forcing his mind to a perennial coma of confusion, doubt and desire. A strange conundrum is Life!
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Navdeep’s left eye waged an hour long battle to separate the intertwined lashes and lift the heavy eyelid to let some light in. It took some time for the photons to take shape and for his neurons to put them in perspective. He didn’t know where he was. He looked at an animated Suhana who seemed to be in a rampant fit. His mother’s eyes said a silent prayer and his dad held his hand so tight which made him feel the excruciating pain in every other part of his body. Suddenly he remembered something! He slid his hand to his left pocket. He found a crumbled 500 rupee note!

“Ayyanar…” he mumbled!
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 “Hello Sir. How have you been? It has been ages since I saw you.” Ayyanar had a forgotten innocence in his smile.
                    
“I am okay. Can we do this quickly?” Navdeep was in no mood for niceties. He was already furious at his builder who didn’t consider it important enough to help him out personally. “How dare he send a helper instead!” he fumed inside. But seeing Ayyanar comforted him as he was a very nice and sincere chap and had helped Navdeep a lot, earlier during the construction of the house.

“Of course Sir. But you know the custom here. Taluk offices hardly work the way we want to. But you don’t worry Sir. I shall get everything done for you by today. Shall we leave?”

“In this?” Navdeep asked jokingly pointing at the rusty Kinetic Zing which stood laboriously as if it was on crutches. Ayyanar grinned sheepishly.
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“Are you giving me a Bangalore darshan, my friend? Where is this office?” yelled Navdeep.

Meanwhile Ayyanar was lost in wonderland as he was drooling over a gorgeous Katrina Kaif who was selling some trendy designer watch in a larger than life cutout. Ayyanar would have bought just about anything!

“You are going to kill me. Stop ogling at your Chikni Chameli and watch the road fellow!” Navdeep patted Ayyanar back to earth.
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The thought of Katrina Kaif brought a temporary smile in Navdeep’s face. But then reality came back to him again. “Where is Ayyanar?” he muttered again. There were blank faces all around but his mind was still numb to register anything. He couldn’t hear what his father was saying but he saw him shake his head!
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 “What do you mean you need 3 witnesses? Didn’t you talk to our builder and agree to everything? Now why this nautanki? And don’t give me the officer-on-leave crap. I am sure you can get a signature can’t you?” Ayyanar was at his animated best.

Navdeep dragged Ayyanar away to the next room. “Just give the money he asks for and get it done with”.

“I will Sir. But he is asking for 1500 rupees which is outrageous. He says he needs it for other people as well but I am damn sure he never gives anyone else a dime. That’s not fair”, Ayyanar argued very religiously.

“Fairness in bribery! Anyways this is your territory. I won’t and can’t interfere.” Navdeep thrust three 500 rupee notes and put his hands up as Ayyanar stormed back into the office again. He came back in half an hour with a devilish grin in his face.

“Here you go Sir. Your 500 rupees! That guy doesn’t even deserve the 1000. And I won’t give up your hard earned money so easily!” There was a sense of satisfaction in his tone which amazed Navdeep. It was strange to him that someone cared more for his money than he did. He felt that if anyone deserved the 500 rupees, it was Ayyanar.
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Navdeep’s eyes welled up in tears as reality slowly sunk in. His mind went blank and the image of Ayyanar froze in front of his eyes. He tore the 500 rupee note into pieces.
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 “See... Mission accomplished. As I had promised you! Now sit back and enjoy the view as Ms.Zing takes us home!” an enthusiastic Ayyanar was whistling.

“Yeah.. all credit to you Ayyanar. Thank you so much. Without you, nothing would have been possible. I would have been circling this office for days. Heyy… check that out. Your dream girl Katrina again! She looks even more beautiful sipping that mango juice over there!” Ayyanar almost instantaneously rotated his head to the direction Navdeep pointed. Then it happened!
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Navdeep gasped for his breath. Finally the one memory that will remain to haunt him for the rest of his life unfolded in front of his eyes.

“In this?” Navdeep asked jokingly pointing at the rusty Kinetic Zing which stood laboriously as if it was on crutches. 

Ayyanar grinned sheepishly. “Sir.. Don’t make fun of my Zing. It is my sweetheart. I love her more than Katrina Kaif. Here... take my helmet. You will feel safer!” Ayyanar pummeled the kick start as Navdeep casually inquired: “And what about you?”

Ayyanar smiled back innocently – for one last time!

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                                                                                   - A SHORT STORY BY RAJ

63 comments:

  1. I loved the name Navdeep :) my best friends in india , his name is navdeep ..

    and oh yeah i rememeber the Ad.. the ZING thinggggg ..
    and for one last time .. why what happened then :)

    Part 2 I bet after this can be interesting
    Bikram's

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  2. Sirjii.. :) oh.. nice to hear that your best friend's name is Navdeep. :)

    err.. I guess I didnt do a good job with the story. Sorry for the confusing narrative. I tried to do something different here and seems like it didnt work. Ayyanar gets killed in the accident while Navdeep is saved because he has Ayyanar's helmet on. Wanted to try a different style of writing here..

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    1. No its not ur fault .. obviously I did not grasp what you were saying .. so I shud be sorry ..


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    2. Areyy Sirjii... Please don't say sorry and all. :( This was one of my experiments in trying a new story telling style. To keep it short I had left too much for assumption. That is the reason for the confusion. Will make up with another story. :)

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  3. Fragmented images flashing in a circular manner hint at a trauma or an accident. You have squeezed in feelings and characters well.

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    1. Thank you so much Umashankar for the lovely compliment. I am glad you liked the rendition. :)

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  4. I got the end...but as you said it was little bit confusing...

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    1. Sorry Ranjana for the complex narrative! :(

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  5. Hmmmm :( such sad story Raj, transition in the story is very nice it easily took us back and forth you are magical story teller Raj! Loved it :( still sad for Ayyanar

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    1. This post can also be named as :D "KKK" ... Killer Katrina Kaif!!! :D
      (I have changed my address so no use you coming to bangalore to hunt me :D )

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    2. Ramya... thank you so much for the lovely comment. Am so happy that you were able to follow the transitions of my skewed narrative. And am so glad you liked the story. :)

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    3. KKK!! you are a master at coming up with fancy names. ;)

      Well.. it is no big deal to find an address in Blore. ;) But guess that is not the point.. we surely know who will be the hunted and who will be the hunter! :P

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  6. Goosebumps! Helmet should be worn at all times. People have thi weird thing in Pune, I will wear an helmet only if I am going to office else not! Ridiculous, as if accidents will happen just then. I liked the flashback and the current and the flashback too and fro! Great one!

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    1. Thank you so much for the wonderful comment. Am glad you liked the story. And yeeah... you have said it very well. Helmets are indeed a must and that too the kind of traffic and driving we see these days.

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    2. oh.. I didnt know that.. weird logic indeed.. wearing helmets while going to office. :( Guess because of the rush/stress, but still accidents don't come after giving telegram. So as you said.. it is better to err on the side of safety.

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  7. The feelings are coming through very well and that for me is the high point of this post.

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely lovely compliment. :) You made my day.

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  8. Hello?? where's part two sir? late already..soon :) good one, Raj. gripping narration as usual.

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    1. Sorry to disappoint you Latha.. there is no part 2 to the story. :( I am sorry if the narrative was confusing to you.

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    2. Hahah...no I was not confused..only expecting more..:)

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    3. Oh... that is so nice to hear Latha. :) Thank you so much for making my day. :) I will write more (come up with a new story). :)

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  9. That was a very nice web Raj.I am so thankful that sincere persons like ayyanger exist ( although in the story he dies).The last para clarified what happened-clever suspense there-the readers were forced to read again!!!!

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    1. Ahh... thank you so much Indu for the lovely lovely compliment. Am glad you liked the narrative and the suspense. Yeah... it is so hard to find such sincere people and we feel blessed when we come across one. :)

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  10. Nicely narrated though I did not understand it perfectly. Did Ayannar meet with an accident? Was that why Navdeep was so sad? I thought he was going to have one when he turned to look again at Katrnia, but it didn't happen then.

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    1. Thank you very much Rachana. Am sorry for confusing you. :( Yes.. Ayyanar met with an accident as you said when he turned to look at the Katrina poster. It happened them, but I guess I was not clear enough. :( Sorry. :)

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  11. honesty in bribing! That is the fate of our country today. When we know that a 'cut' has to be made to get some work done, a few rupees 'saved' seem like a big victory. Ayyanar is true to his conscience indeed.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head Zephyr. Victories indeed come in strange forms. Ayyanar is a conscientious man and it is difficult to see such people.

      Thank you for the lovely comment as usual. :)

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  12. Complex experiment, indeed! Took me a couple of reads to get it! But your prose is good enough to make a re-read as interesting as the first one.

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    1. Ah... that is such a lovely comment Suresh. :) You really made my day with that. :) Yeah.. I agree.. it was a complex experiment.. was trying a different style of fusing places and time. :)

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  13. a loong post ! but nicely written!..:)

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    1. Thank you so much Sahi. :) And sorry for making it long.. The design of the story didn't allow me to write it shorter! :(

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  14. Few days back I was asking someone how to swift between emotions in a short story. I wanted to write it and found the answer in yours. BTW, nice KK touch in it. A meaningful story, lil sad though but you kept the readers hooked to it.

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    1. Saru.. you just made my day with your lovely comment. :) Well.. you do that always with every comment actually. :) Well.. I tried a slightly different than usual narrative this time and tried to fuse both time and place here. But I guess I could have done a little better as I ended up with Christopher Nolan like complexity but of course without his quality. :P

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    2. I really liked it. Actually we have to experiment with writing or else we will loose the charm in it.

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    3. Ahh... thank you so much Saru. Am really humbled! :) Very well said.. I guess we have to experiment to make it interesting for ourselves as well as the reader.

      I certainly intend to experiment now and then but I hope I don't bore people to death with my writing. ;)

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  15. Good read this! Interesting blog you have :)

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Nikita. Am glad you like the blog and hope you find it interesting enough to come back. :)

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  16. Hmm...this was like a little novelette with tiny little chapters and all. I thought you did a good job with this style. Honest. I felt you did help us tie it all up at the end of the story.

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    1. Thank you so much Divya. Am so glad you liked the narrative style. :) Your lovely compliment has elated me. :) You are too nice to compliment this complicated story of mine. :)

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  17. Oh God! Poor Ayyanar! In India, riders dont wear helmets leave alone pillion riders and hence no one sees a need to have two helmets on their two wheelers! Message conveyed in a touching manner Raj! and liked the way you kept switching from past to present.

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    1. btw i learnt a couple of new words here...Thanks for that :)

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    2. I totally agree.. wearing helmets is still looked upon as something strange or uncool at times. And yeah.. pillion riders rarely wear helmets. Even if they want to, I don't think anyone has 2 helmets. But I guess for our roads, helmets are a must. Thank you Jaish for the lovely comment. Glad you liked the transition of the story. :)

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    3. ohh.. btw.. what are those 2 new words? ;)

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    4. 'Petrichor' is one. Had no idea about that one :)

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    5. ahh.. Petrichor! :) Even I didn't know about that word. Got to know of it only when I was writing this one. Quite a unique and nice word.

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  18. Nice post. Very interesting read. I started and couldn't stop. Checking your other posts as well.

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    1. Thank you so much Sabyasachi for the lovely lovely comment. :) Am so glad you liked the story.

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  19. This is the very reason why you are regarded as one of the best story tellers in the blogosphere. :) Even though at the end of the story I was a bit confused, I went back and read the second paragraph and everything was clear again. Come to think of it, it was not confusing at all, a brilliant style of story telling needs a brilliant mind to understand it clearly at one go. :) Keep it up, Raj.

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    1. Akshay.. I am humbled. :) That is such a sweet comment and I am elated. Am so glad you found the story telling interesting. It was just a new attempt and I guess I could have done a better job. But very kind of you to appreciate it. Means a lot. :)

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  20. Visiting your blog for the first time and i am inspired :) Truly a great blog this is... Ended up with a confused mind while reading for the first time. Went back and read again and now its clear! Your way of narration is superb :) Gonna read every other post!

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Harikrishna. :) Am elated to see your effusive compliment. Thank you so much for making my day. Hope you like the other ones too.

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  21. Wow. Such a brilliant Storyline. I loved it Raj. I liked the way you have portrayed Ayyanaar's character. I truly believe there are many people like him in our midst, but they are outnumbered by the other sly souls out there. You keep challenging yourself every time and now you keep getting better than yourself, if you understand what I'm trying to say.

    Keep the great work and the great spirit going :-)

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    1. And I did not have any doubts anywhere in the Story :-)

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    2. Wow... Such a fantastic comment. I am delighted to hear that you really liked the story. :) Thank you so much for the lovely lovely compliments. :) You really made my day. I totally understand what you are trying to say. I do try to differentiate each of my writings and hence try to do something different every time. Sometimes it ends up a bit complicated. I am so glad you liked this attempt. :)

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    3. And yeah.. you said it very well.. People like Ayyanar are still there in the world but are a rare species and are easily outnumbered. I wish we find many of those in our midst.

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  22. Raj...This is a beautifully written story...though it makes readers a bit sad towards the end!!You are such a talented writer. And I mean it!!
    I feel bad for Ayyanar...it is sad that he also eventually learns to break the laws..:((

    BTW, what did you do with my earlier comment...?? grrrr...

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    1. Panchali... thank you so much for such a wonderful wonderful compliment. You really made my day. :) I am sorry for the sadness. :( I know.. Ayyanar is a wonderful person and such people are hard to get.

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    2. And I am soo sorry. I didnt get your previous comment. Probably it didnt get posted. :( What was it?

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    3. Raj, It must have been a similar comment, as I don't think I have enough competence to post critical comments in your posts!! The thought of it scares me...LOL..
      :))

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    4. Hi Panchali.. you are such a wonderful writer and thank you for such wonderful compliment. :) Plzz post critical comments as and when you feel. :) I would love to hear those from you. It will definitely help me improve my writing. :)

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  23. At first I did not understand it but I read few comments and got to know that this story is about two different times and then when I read it for the second time I felt that there was no complications at all in the story.. It is written in a clear and brilliant way..
    The narration is amazing and last para is just mind blowing.. It creates a strong impact on the reader Raj.. Awesome one :)

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    1. Thank you so much Sonia. :) Thank you so much for the effusive praise. You really made my day. :) I am so glad you liked the story as well as the narration. :) It was indeed an experiment and I could have made it a little more clearer. But I shall work on it. :)

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  24. brilliant narration!! we could actually feel the anguish Navdeep was going through.

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