Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Fruitful Chase

This piece of fiction is my entry for the contest 'Go further to get closer

That day, when Gouri waved me a poignant goodbye and looked at me innocently with those wide blue-green eyes as if reminding me of an invaluable loss, I found it hard to smile at her. Finally, I clutched her tightly; I did not want her to go. She pulled me downwards and murmured something in my ear that made me go pale but I carefully recorded all that on my mobile. My mind began racing in a very different direction, devising a plan to checkmate the evil queen, Divya, who stood in a corner, smiling to herself. I glanced at her and felt a pang, as if someone had backstabbed me. Her fake concern made a poor veil over her impatience. 
Varun bent down and tried hard to cheer up the child.
“Papa…I don’t …” Gouri sobbed.
“You will find many good friends there” he said patting her ruddy cheek.
Had Bhavna been alive, they would have made a happy family. I recalled our happy moments and felt choked. I wanted to make Gouri smile but could not.
The announcement for the British Airways flight to Edinburgh was over. Varun, with a heavy contemplating face, proceeded with Gouri and chuckling, Divya as if celebrated her victory.
After they left, she walked off, smiling ear to ear, leaving me to smolder in the embers she had thrown in our lives. I sat on a bench, alone, somberly sipping my coffee and thinking about this mayhem.
Even though Divya is my third cousin, I came to know her properly only when she married Varun, some four years after Bhavna died. She was closer to her and thus stepped in to save Gouri from some evil stepmother who might make child’s life miserable. We took a lovely illusion for a solid reality and failed to understand the farce underlying her charming exterior. A shrewd game changer, she mastered pulling the right strings at right time and manipulating emotions with utmost dexterity.

“I have married Varun only because of this motherless child” Divya said with tearful eyes when people showered praises on her for celebrating Gouri’s birthday in a grand way, making Varun feel proud of his decision. However, very soon, harsh winters arrived after a cheerful spring.
“I want to fulfill Bhavna didi’s dream. I want Gouri to have the best education we can give her” the devil incarnate began rambling all the time.
“Edinburgh is the land of opportunities and I will make sure my child reaps everyone of them” she said putting her foot down.
“I am answerable to didi in that life” she said looking at my old grandmother.
“Edinburgh is something else! Moreover, my brother lives there. He will be the local guardian. I would not settle for anything less than the best for my daughter” She cried putting a little stress on last two words.
After a month of pottering around sulkily and accusing people of doubting her pure intentions, she had had her way. Varun decided upon a good boarding school in the UK. The most depressing fact was that how a six year old would feel was no one’s priority. She had won. I swear, that day, I wanted to shoot that woman at point blank range.
I opened my moist eyes and came out of the airport with heavy steps, planning a way out to bring Gouri back. After all, she was a part of my sister’s soul and in her I saw Bhavna looking at me with those curious blue-green eyes.

Time slipped like sand in the fist but God helps in His own interesting ways! Only a few weeks later, one of my friends spotted Divya with a tall man, in a high end hotel. That cue was enough for me to jump in action. I played that recording again and geared myself for some solid action. My next two months were spent in playing a spy, following Divya like a phantom. I went wherever she went and made detailed notes of her secret life. She would visit spas, clubs, malls, restaurants and sometimes theatres with one of the three men she was regular with. I also found out that while one was her college dropout ex-boyfriend, the other two were married businessmen, one in real estate and the other in garments.

One day I saw her entering a mall …‘Click...click…click…click’, she walked like a ramp model in her high pencil heels right up the first floor where a tall, clean-shaven man,(that garment businessman) waited for her quite impatiently. After hugs, laments and some jewelery shopping, they went off towards a hotel.
I followed them eagerly, noting down everything, from car number to route description, even the time. This spying became my routine for next several days. However, even though I was a bit nervous, I tried doing the task with utmost secrecy. When I had gathered enough evidence to raise a finger, I approached someone. No, not Varun, but his younger brother. Playing a bit smart, I decided to involve him in spying in order to lend credibility to my case. He gladly obliged!
On a sleepy Thursday, we followed Divya, whose car stopped at a five star hotel.
“There…there goes that heroine” we muttered grudgingly, hiding our faces behind the magazines as she took the lift up with that real estate lover of hers.
“Recorded” I replied.
“Is it the time we tell bhai?” he asked.
“Yes” I said and we went home to arrange the evidence chronologically and then straight to Varun’s office, situated in a prime commercial business centre.

While waiting a few minutes outside his cabin, I tell you, I was seriously nervous. I wiped the little drops of sweat on my neck and forehead but it seemed his brother was seething inside, like a volcano about to erupt. He sat patiently; hands folded on his chest staring at the floor, with strange expressions of resentment.
“You may go in, sir is free” said Varun’s secretary, coming out from his black glass cabin, with files and laptop.
We stepped inside and as usual, saw him totally immersed in work. A half filled cup of coffee lay ignored in a corner while he was busy sending an urgent mailer to a client.
“Sit” he muttered making a gesture.
“Three coffees please” he told someone on intercom.
“Yes, tell me, what is so urgent?” Varun asked, finally paying attention to both of us.
“Here” we replied without beating around the bush and spread all the pictures, phone records and video recordings etc on the table.
“What? What is all this?” he asked perplexed
“The truth. Did you ever wonder why Gouri was sent off abroad for schooling?” I asked, looking into his eyes.
“Because she had come to know of Divya’s affair. Gouri had spotted her with a man in your bedroom. Listen.” I said as I played the same recording in which Gouri had confessed the same to me before leaving for hostel.
“So, she wanted to kick the child, the entire trouble, out of her life and spend her time here and there…We hope you are getting the thing. She has married you for money and not for Gouri.” We said
Varun looked as aghast and shocked as someone slapped tightly in full public view.
Bhai, when you are here, working hard, she spends her days in spas and nights in hotel rooms. Now, she has none to take care of. Being too far, Gouri would hardly visit even in holidays. And now, Divya has become a free bird, can’t you see?” said his brother.
“And we have the evidence. I wanted to be sure of the child’s accusations before pointing a finger at your wife and that’s why all this” I said showing him the photocopies of receipts we managed by bribing the receptionists of the spas she frequented and also told him how we did all that.
A mixed hue of frustration and anger filled Varun and he stood up in anger, taking his reading glasses off. We wondered how he would handle the biggest shock of his life.
“Here it is. We do not have words to tell you the details” we said
“Now what?”

We showed him a photocopied report of Dr. Mehta’s maternity clinic where Divya had got an abortion done, some two weeks before marriage. This was enough to break the thread. He put his phone on the loudspeaker and called her. She claimed to be at her friend’s place whose son was sick. We then went straight to that hotel room where she was having a fun time with one of her boyfriends and pressed the doorbell hard. Although, mentally prepared for the tempest that would ensue, I had never seen this face of Varun; he looked mad with rage and fury. He was not only heartbroken but the manner in which Divya had backstabbed him was too much for an emotional soul to bear. Divya, whom he had started liking.
On the grounds of infidelity, he was granted a quick divorce. While Divya and her parents still blame me for the ruckus created in their lives, I am alright with it as long as I can save Gouri from Divya’s devious plans, which had begun taking shape. A young, motherless child just needs love and attention.

Today, I find it hard to suppress the cheer! I look at the joyful faces and feel proud! If you have an undying will to change the wrong, no one can stop the good times from smiling at you! Months back, on this very same airport, I was trying hard to control my tears. I wonder how fickle fate can be! It’s never in one mood for long.

All of us, along with my old granny, are here; eagerly awaiting our British Airways flight, to bring our little fairy, the apple of our eyes back! Look! Somewhere in the bright horizon, Bhavna is smiling at me!

Check out this sweet video!

This piece of fiction is my entry for the contest 'Go further to get closer

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Dark Tunnel

Generally, I have little patience and appetite for political news; rather I abhor cacophonic political debates where participants howl at each other, all at the same time, leaving viewers annoyed and perplexed. Except very few ‘honest netas’, a breed that literally vanished in the last generation, none is worth discussing. Yet, I would like to discuss Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, who commendably, never lusted after Chief Minister’s Post. Made the public butt of jokes and tagged a loser, he has faced much humiliation in his efforts to bring transparency at all levels and especially in pointing holes in the top most one.

However, if we notice carefully, this Kejriwal-bashing trend instead reflects the shallowness and myopia of our own thinking along with our resistance towards change and infusion of fresh ideas. Be it any big political party, two things- corruption and harping on centuries old democratic concepts, are common. Kejriwal has been a bit novel with democracy. I agree he is not a great administrator but he has blown important whistles and has also made the common people realize their power. Accusing his incompetency and cheering on his resignation can wait. First, we need to come out of our stifling mental cocoons and realize his ability to comprehend matters in a novel manner unlike stalwarts of BJP and Congress.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to Kejriwal, rather it has become our usual attitude towards all those who try to divert our attention to new paths. It seems we enjoy leading a moribund life; spending days waiting for a sudden miracle to happen and meanwhile cursing the sleepy and rotten government, just like our forefathers. This attitude needs fast repair before it swallows our progress like a sinkhole.

Kejriwal’s resignation proves that corruption and ‘approach’ sit on a higher pedestal exerting a force greater than the entire government. Also, the political parties always at loggerheads unite with a tacit understanding in protecting their ‘sources’ of profit and needless to say, all Kejriwals stand out like a sore thumb. This can be quite disheartening for the young leaders emerging solely on merit amongst ourselves, the non-blue blooded stock. In the long run, such a short-sightedness will not let us leap towards growth and development.

This also reminds me of a famous preacher named Rajneesh aka Osho. I do not follow his teachings but if looked closely, they too were very different from the same teachings of Geeta or Ramayana or Purans that most religious preachers serve us in different plates. I am not out to judge him but I admire the fact that his thinking was fresh and original.

Ideas must be embraced, discussed and debated upon, analyzed and contemplated without any preconceived notions and not chided or poked fun at. After all, this myopia and tunnel vision will lead to nowhere but darkness.