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
, 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! Bangalore
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!
“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.
“Are you giving me a
darshan, my friend? Where is this office?” yelled Navdeep. Bangalore
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.
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!
“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.
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.
accomplished. As I had promised you! Now sit back and enjoy the view as Ms.Zing
takes us home!” an enthusiastic Ayyanar was whistling. Mission
“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!
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!
- A SHORT STORY BY RAJ