Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Hate Luv Storys

"How long do you think?" asked the bearded man.

"Must be another 30 minutes" replied the man with the scar honking with disgust. He got irritated when someone pestered him with questions. At the age of 12, in a fit of rage, he had broken his teacher's head and ran away scared of police. The same anger earns him his bread with regular dadagiri and occasional murder.

"Bhaiyya. Stop for tea. I am feeling sleepy." the new recruit chottu just added salt on the scarred man's wounds.

They stopped outside an old dilapidated tea shop where Sardar drivers and their puny assistants drank tea and ate Parle G cracking vulgar jokes and laughing loudly. Chottu grabbed 3 biscuit packets and ordered 3 masala tea.

"So what is the number?" asked chottu.

"What number?" replied the irritated scarred man.

"You know. Like 'Ab tak chappan', do you keep count of the number people you tanked off?"

The scarred man had never given it a thought. The only thing he remembered clearly was his first cold blooded murder. That was thrilling experience. But the later ones were more mechanical and he just went through the motions. He probably got used to it.

He made a mental note to keep a score of his victims henceforth. Maybe like the Count of Monte Christo.

"Are you sure that our targets would be there as expected?"

"Yep. The source is quite reliable. They stay in a small apartment in the next city." replied the bearded man.

"What do you think they might be doing now?" winked chottu mischievously.

She lay her head on his hairy chest playfully wriggling them. He looked over the ceiling and saw the fan which was loud enough to hide the sound of their love making. He was not sure if he should be relieved or troubled about it. They were still getting used to each other physically although they could read each other's train of thoughts at that moment.

"Do you think we made a mistake?" she asked.

Like most women, she felt guilty and doubted her actions after an act. Like most men, he remained silent and neutral. The only thing he had learnt from his parents' marital life was to stay silent when in doubt. He knew that they were past the 'mistake' borderline.

"I dont think it makes any difference to our parents." He said bitterly.

He was angry with his parents and hers' as well. They had treated them like a piece of dirt and he knew that they deserved better.

"My papa would understand and forgive us." she tried consoling herself rather than answering him.

"Yeah. And Hitler had siesta with Jews. How long are you going to fool yourself?"

"How long can they hate us? I am their daughter and they love me."

"Do you even realize that they were going to get you married to someone you never knew just for the sake of society and pride?"

"Almost every second parent does that in our country. Your parents were not an exception as well."

"Well, mine were the second parents in this case."

They smiled weakly at this remark. He ran his fingers and adjusted her hair behind her ear. They knew that the first few months were going to be very tough emotionally and financially.

"You should have been living in a castle like a queen. Look at you now." He felt guilty.

"You dont understand. Its not a castle that makes a women a queen."

"Then what makes a women feel.....queenly?"

"Its....." she moved near him slowly and kissed him gently on his lips. "The King".

"That’s so corny" smiled Chottu seated on back of the car referring to a lyrics of a love song played on the radio.

The bearded man got irritated and lowered the volume. He sat upright as if he was going to deliver a sermon.

"Remember. As much as possible dont use the gun. It has to be used only if you find them out of your reach. Use your knife."

"But knife is so crude. And why should we use a knife when we have a gun?" asked Chottu still itching from using the gun in his hand.

"Because a knife is silent. Also, knife causes more pain. I want to see them shiver with pain and fear before they die." The beaded man mentally pictured killing them with his bare hands.

"I can understand your anger for the boy. But we can abduct the girl right? After all she is your relative."

"Dont even talk about that bitch. She ditched our family for that useless bastard. It will serve as a lesson for all the girls in the family. Also a reminder for the boys to stay away from our girls."He winked as if he had just shared the joke of the year.

Chottu made a mental note to check if any girl he loved or pretended to love had such crackpot relatives.

The man with the scar smiled to himself. After all this, people still called him savage for his grizzly appearance and behaviour.

These bastards were killing their own daughters and sons in the name of honor. Ironically, man had invented all possible gadgets and covered himself with fashionable attire, but still the age-old animal instinct to kill and relish was left untouched inside.

"Dont you think that the police will trace you? After all, your family will now be the direct accomplice in this case." asked Chottu as if he had just passed Bar exam in Loyola.

"Hmm. How many cases in India do you think get delivered hailing truth and justice? In most cases the accused and accuser die out of depression and old age. And the rich in jails are supplied everything including carnal pleasure. The police might be hot on trail for one week. The news channels will run it for 2 weeks. By third week, the public will be looking at some other hot murder like this or forget it in midst of an Indian team's victory over Bangladesh. So you can jump with joy and say "Fuck the justice system.""

"Hmmm. Sounds logical to me. Hey, what is that?"

"Thats salt. If I am not wrong, you add sugar when you make tea. Maybe your dad adds salt in his tea."

He made no secret of his hatred for her dad. Her dad had sent some gundas and got him roughed up in a hospital for only talking to his beloved daughter. And that is when he also started to fish out for grooms outside the city who did not know about his daughter's love affairs. And even if they did, the heavy dowry, Jewels and Maruti Swift car should make him forget it.

"You have never laid your foot in your kitchen, have you?"

"Except when I wanted fresh and hot parathas."

She missed her mom and her parathas. Her mom would miss her too. Atleast she thought she would. How many women even had a say in such a savage society?

He came and hugged her from behind. He knew that she missed her parents and he wanted to make her forget the pain. Forget the anxiety. Time as they say is the best healer.

"Hey, what’s the name of the theatre near our house?" he asked trying to change the mood.

"Alankar" said chotu.

"There it is." said the man with the beard. It was dilapidated theatre with possibly 10, 20 Rs tickets and where old hindi movies with sleazy titles used to run.

"Did you see the name of the movie running there?"

"No. Do you think we are here to watch some stupid yuppie flick?"

"Well. Ironically, it is called I hate Love stories."

He winked and laughed uncontrollably. The bearded man gave him a beastly look which promptly shut him up. They parked their jeep outside the shop next to the theatre and walked towards their "spot".

"So, are we all clear as to what we need to do?"

"Well. I hope to get that accountant's job for which I interviewed yesterday. The Manager seemed quite happy."

"Yeah. Lets hope we move out of this dungeon soon."

"Then we will enrol you in some college here."

"Why? You don’t want me to work?"

"No. Your mom wanted you to have Master's degree. Atleast someday when we show up at their door with a Master's degree and a kid, it should make them happy."

"You know, even after all this shit, you want to make them happy?" she asked quite relieved.

"Well. I hope someday we all live in peace. After all, everybody's life is short. And why make it shorter with anger, grudge and hatred."

"You know, I think of this and this song comes to my mind. Tum Bhi Chalo Hum bhi chalen"

They start singing together

"Chalti rahe zindagi.

Naa Zameen Manzil Aasmaan....

Zindagi hai...


They smile and embrace each other.

They hear someone knock on the door.

She walks to the front door and opens it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Goodbye Thanksgiving!

“Stop!” he yelled.

She sped out of their room, unmindful.

“You are dead, my lady!” He screamed, sounding venomous.

Why do you think I got a house on this haunted hill 50 miles from the city?”

His words hardly reached her, when a shovel plowed into her head and painfully split her skull into two.


It was thanksgiving for the entire neighborhood. But he had no smoked turkey, just a dead wife.

His eyes fell on her wedding ring. That’s when he noticed her open palm holding on to a call dialed to 911.

The police siren grew nearer.

-By Harish & Preethi

P.S: Thanks to Priya for introducing us to Magpie.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Inheritance of loss

"I am sorry for your loss." said the visitor. I did not know who he was, but then given the circumstances, I was neither concerned nor interested in knowing his whereabouts.

I saw him walk to the hall with a rose garland. She didn't like roses much, but anyway it did not matter now. He lay it on the glass casing enclosing her body and offered his condolences to my wife. My wife who was seated below the casing had probably dried out crying ever since the whole incident had come to light.

She had reasoned with god, then pleaded with him, fought with him, cursed him and just as every other human being, she just relegated to rejection. Our entire system of faith hinges on a tiny thread of hope and this very gruesome incident not just shook our's but also many of our relatives and well wishers hopes as well.

You could call me a creep for saying this, but I noticed failingly, that inspite of all the grief in the eyes of the people who came to offer condolences, I could spot a tiny fragment of relief. A relief that this did not happen to their son or daughter. You can sympathize with me, but its human nature to just feel safe telling yourself "Thank god, it was not me or my family.". No offence meant, but thats the truth. A bitter one, but still true enough.

I had not cried for the past 2 days. When the search was on initially, I did cry. I was furious. But then as the man of the house, I had to show resilience. Not that it was going to bring back my lovely daughter back. But just enough that it does not bereave me of my only left possession- my wife. Poor soul. Till that very fateful moment the news broke out, she had been one charming woman whose smile could wipe away all your fears. This just wiped everything out. Everything.

I felt pretty sick in my stomach. Laboriously, I traced my steps to the bedroom on the first floor. The room had not been visited in these past 2 days. Every morning, I used to come here to wake my little angel. I loved watching her sleep. She seemed so blissful and happy even in her sleeping posture.

Till she came into my life, I had not known that you could love someone even when they were in deep sleep unaware of your presence. The giant Pooh doll that she hugged every night lay orphaned in one corner of the bed with its arms outstretched as if waiting for her embrace. The room was filled with her photos right from her day 1 on earth till the annual sports day that happened about 2 weeks ended.

My gaze fixed on a collage that we prepared for her first birthday. It consisted of her journey right from her mother's bump, till her last birthday. My god! How she had grown in front of my own eyes and I never realized it. For every parent, their wards remain children even after graying out. Her little brown eyes looked deep into me and peeking into my soul asked me "Where were you when I needed you." I felt impotent. Bloody impotent.

I still imagine how surreal it was when I held her for the first time in my hands. She was wrapped in a white cloth and looked peaceful in deep sleep. Her fist was the size of my thumb and yet it seemed as if she led me around rather than the other way around. It was for the first time, I had experienced tears of joy. I did not want her to taste my salty tears and wiped them off the corner of shirt. Little did I know that 11 years later, I would find her body immersed in salty pond water.

Having a baby was a cause for celebration. We had celebrations for her first step, her first illegible "amma", her first day at school etc. We were proud of her in every other way. Not only was she a well behaved girl, but also well read. Her teachers openly envied us at the parents teachers meeting and she would just blush when they heaped encomiums on her. Her happiness was to celebrated with scoopfuls of strawberry ice creams and her sadness was divided with hugs, promises and lullabies. Now there was no one to hug. No one to sing a lullaby. Nothing to promise.

She could have had an excellent academic career. Who knows, she might have been the next Nooyi or Sudha Murthy. She would have made a lovely caring wife and mother. Everything was doomed. Everything was destroyed. There was nothing worth living.

I read about her killer's 'encounter' incident (one policeman shot that bastard while on way to court). Curiously, people ask me if I am relieved or happy. I dont know, but its mixed emotions. I know her death has been avenged, but will it bring my lovely daughter back? Some human rights activists claim that the encounter was brutal and uncalled for. Who the fuck gives them authority to judge right and wrong?

Atleast someone had compassion. Someone had a sense of justice. Maybe the policeman had a daughter and he felt our pain. I am not trying to say "an eye for an eye" is right, but where is justice today? An accomplice to the murder of the former Prime Minister of this country is languishing in jail still. An attacker whose antics were seen by the whole world on tape for 3 days in Mumbai is making mockery of the whole judicial system. Why should I believe that my daughter's loss would be rightfully and legally settled?

Feeling angry, I just turned my head around and found a CD we had recorded during a session where the parents were invited to the school. All students were invited to give a talk on their future ambitions. As her turn came, she walked gracefully to the stage and I recorded her every movement to the podium. She talked about her dream of working at ISRO. For some reason, she was obsessed with Space research and stars and quite ironically she ended up being one.

Her teacher asked "So, do you harbor any dreams to go to the space? Or say the moon?"

She looked at the camera. For one faint instant, I felt that she was looking at me for an answer. Her deep brown eyes now seemed to have broken the barrier of TV and seemed to question my soul.

As I watched it now at this wretched moment, I remembered her answer. I got a lump in my throat. All the emotions that I had held for the last 2 days poured from my eyes and I was sobbing uncontrollably like a child.

In midst of my wails and tears, she answered

"No Madam. I don’t want to leave my parents and go very far."