Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

As India lifted the 2007 T20 World Cup, Prem had fallen hook, line and sinker with two things – Dhoni and his long locks of hair. Prem decided to grow his own locks replicating his hero Dhoni. A year’s investment and Prem was flaunting his beautifully grown mane to all and sundry. A bike ride on his pulsar was enough to make him the cynosure of the locality. Happy days but his joy was cut short!

A mandatory rule by the government to wear helmets meant Prem’s mane had to be hidden beneath the protective gear. But Prem was in no mood whatsoever to follow this rule. He did not grow his hair to leave it hidden. He did buy a helmet and used it only on seeing a policeman. It meant more or less the helmet was always on the petrol tank of the bike he rode.

On a fateful Sunday morning, Prem was on his way in his bike and the helmet neatly placed on top of his bike’s petrol tank. The cool breeze was fondling Prem’s locks as he rode faster and faster to relish the wonderful climate which was a rarity in Chennai. He soon reached an underground bridge and accelerated to reach the top. As he did, the bike hit a manhole on the way up and Prem lost balance for a few seconds. The helmet that was on the petrol tank fell to the ground as Prem struggled for balance. He managed to bring the bike to a halt and stopped to pick up his fallen helmet. Just then he saw a young couple, with a baby, who had been travelling behind Prem in their bike, hit his helmet that was lying down on the road. The man who drove the bike lost balance and the lady with a baby in the hand had to take evasive action. Luckily they were not riding as fast as Prem did. The lady had the presence of mind to jump with the baby in hand and had managed to escape unscathed. The man who drove the bike was not that lucky as he hit the ground and lost complete control of his vehicle. Prem was up and running to save the man who fell down as he realized the cardinal sin he had committed.

There were a few other riders who stopped by then and a small crowd had formed. Expletives were thrown at Prem generously and he deserved it all. The man who fell down was back on his feet now with few scratches on his hand and legs. Prem had the presence of mind to help him out even as people were ready to beat Prem up black and blue. Prem knew there was more coming his way once the man was stable and back to senses. Amidst taunts from the crowd for beating Prem, the wounded man simply told Prem “Wearing helmet will surely save you and it can also save others.” A little pat on Prem’s cheek with a smile, the man drove away along with his family.

Recollecting what had unfolded few seconds back, Prem by impulse wore his helmet and drove to the destination he had never planned to go for a long long time – “Royal Salon”!  He sat quietly and requested the barber to cut his locks neat and short!

(I wrote this story for telltaleclub – a blog that holds a trove of short stories )

Live & Love!!

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Fiction, Story
Tags: ,

For the Tell tale Contest!!

“Coffeeee!! Teaa!!”

“Coffeeee!! Teaa!!”

The vendor called out as he passed the coupe.
“Thuddd!”
The baby fell on its knee trying to walk across to his mother.
The mother ran to pick up the child and is busy placating him.
Ravishing young lady sat across him checking her flock of hair in the mirror of her mini clutch bag.
The chatter from the group of young boys engrossed in a card game relayed from above.
The train had halted at Varnasi for 15 mins. He hadn’t moved or uttered a word from the time he got on.
The newspaper covered Sanjay’s face; his eyes peered through his bi-focal spectacles and his hair rested neatly combed sideways.
A pencil in his hand was losing his grip.

The pencil fell down. Sanjay observed the motley crowd in his coupe– the cute baby, the caring mother, a good looking young lady and an energetic group of young boys.  He slowly knelt down to pick up the pencil and wanted to continue scribbling a letter but he could not write anymore. He folded the newspaper and closed his eyes. Rest would help those tired eyelids that have been hyper active and over worked in the last 48 hours. He knew he was near and yet so far.

The train gathered steam slowly and left the Varnasi station. Hearing a loud wail, Sanjay’s eyes jumped to life. The baby had again fallen down but this time the impact seemed larger; at least the wail was loud enough to send the alarm bells ringing within Sanjay. The mother picked up the little kid and slowly started singing lullabies. The baby was in no mood to sleep and every time the mother would stop singing, the little brat would wake up and start crying. Sanjay’s forgotten smile broke out for a second but flash it was gone. He started visualizing the moments when his mother had taken care of him, singing lullabies and telling fascinating stories, making him believe that the world is a place to live and love wholeheartedly.

A loud cheer from the group of boys playing above disturbed Sanjay’s seamless transition into the past. One among the six had just won the game. The energy, spirit and liveliness had the power of youth written all over it and Sanjay could see his group of friends playing with him right in front of his eyes. Sanjay was sitting with them, laughing and egging one of his friends. Friends form a special part of one’s life and Sanjay’s friends – Ram, Surinder, Mankad, Vivesh and Kalyan all shared a special bonding. He wanted to meet them all today as today was the most important day in Sanjay’s life. He lived his best days with these friends and loved them so much. “Live and love”! He wanted to press that pause button of his brain box to simply stop these digressing transmissions.

The Phone rang sharply! With a sudden fit of rage, Sanjay jumped from his seat and lost balance completely. Thud! He hit the ground and the mobile phone in his shirt pocket popped out. The mother in the coupe immediately tried to lift Sanjay as the group of boys from the above berth jumped down to help the mother. Sanjay was surrounded by people now. The young lady, whose cell phone had rung, joined the helping party with a bottle of water and Sanjay gulped the water to his heart’s fill. Sanjay was back on his feet, assuring others that he was absolutely fine and carefully pocketed his cell phone. People went back to their respective activities. The young lady dialled back to return the call she got. Sanjay poured himself into the newspaper and observed the young lady very keenly as he kept flipping the pages slowly. The fluctuating emotions at every flip of the page kept him hooked. He was in rapt attention listening to what the young lady was speaking. He understood she was just engaged and was talking to her fiancée. Sanjay thought to himself “The period between engagement and marriage is one of those moments when two people start loving and living in each other’s cocoon.”  

The trauma of the loss was unbearable as the words love and live kept haunting him. He saw every life in front of him as an epitome of living and loving. Why was he born? Why did his mother shower so much love on him? Why his friends always wished the best for him? Why did his girl of dreams love him so much? Why did he have to lose them all? A bomb blast and all was over! His engagement celebrations came to a rude end. Could they have avoided going for shopping that fateful day? No one really cared and compensation can never compensate life. I wanted the world to take notice and what did I do? It might have been a religious factionalism that took my dear ones away but how did I think that this was the appropriate answer to my loss. Who are these people? I don’t know them but somehow the entire crowd reflects the family I lost. He rushed out of his coupe and every other person resembled the people who made Sanjay’s life colourful.

Two more minutes! Sanjay pushed the lavatory door close. He pulled out the bomb from his pocket. The devil was in it! A tight press and the mobile was diffused and switched off forever. Sanjay took one last look at it and dropped it through the hole.

My Nominations

Deepak 

Divya

Anand

An Overnight Star!

Posted: October 1, 2011 in Fiction, Story

Deafening loud cheers filled the atmosphere as I prayed for one last time and stepped into the bullring. There were 11 men waiting for me and another 11,000 cheering those 11 bulls. I knew that the deafening cheers were not for me and it was for the batsman who was just dismissed.  Sachin Tendulkar was out for a well-crafted 120. As we crossed each other, our eyes met for a moment and the great man was gone for good. As I continued taking those measured steps of mine towards the 22 yard battle strip, the pictures of the day I made my debut as the 779 Indian Test Batsman was flashing spasmodically back and forth. It did bring a smile but the smile died as quickly as it bloomed.

27th Nov, 2000 was the happiest day in my life as my captain Sourav Ganguly presented me the prestigious India cap. As a 19 year old, I was considered the next best thing which could happen to Indian cricket. I took to cricket as an iron to magnet at a very young age and a solid stint of 2 years with truck load of runs in the domestic circuit earned me the moment I dreamt as a child. We were playing Australia in its den and the venue was Perth. I knew it can’t get bigger and better than this. If I perform here, then nothing can stop me. We won the toss and elected to bat. With the cool breeze behind him, Glenn ‘Mean’ Mcgrath ran in hard and fast to jostle us. Soon we were reduced to 48/4 and it was lunch. The dressing room was in a state of shock and my happiest day was slowly turning out to be an anticlimax for us. In the first over after lunch, the 5th wicket fell and my wait to be a part of Indian Cricket history was over. 49/5 and I get my first opportunity. Truth be told, I was rattled and if I saw a silver lining amidst the darkness, it was obviously to stand in the non-striker’s place and not face the seething Australians directly. Luckily, Laxman took a single of the last ball. That gave me few minutes to compose myself and tell myself that I did belong to this place deservedly. After 6 balls, I took strike to face the wrecker-in-chief of the day, Glenn Mcgrath and the first ball I faced was a peach of a delivery. It breached my defense and crashed the timber behind. My first tryst with Cricket in International level was anything but a disaster. 27th Nov, 2000 was supposed to be the happiest day in my life. The scorecard read 50/6.

Today as I walk in, the scorecard reads 180/5 and needing another 220 runs to win the test match and with that the series. We played quite well in the first innings to muster 452 runs in response to Australia’s 430 but I ended up getting a miserly 2 runs of 40 deliveries. Australia hit back in their second innings setting us a monumental 401 to win. The series stood at 1-1. Everything was at stake – India’s pride, a billion people’s dream and also an unknown batsman’s career. I knew that this would be the last chance I would ever get to prove myself at this level. In fact I was lucky to get this chance as a string of injuries to the first choice batsmen forced the selectors to pick me and I don’t blame them.  

Blame reminds me of my debut match that ended in an innings defeat for us. I was run out in the second innings without even facing a ball as the striker’s straight drive clipped the bowler’s fingers and crashed into the stumps. I was backing up way too far and was caught napping. Thus, ended my debut match and with that the confidence that the selectors had in me. The selectors, media and cricketing experts who held me as a child prodigy just 5 days before, wrote me off stating that I lacked the right temperament to play cricket at this level. At 19 years, I realized the ways in which ‘The World’ works. Fickle World! I was not picked for the remaining matches in the series and I was dropped from the team at the end of the series. I joined the list of batsmen who had promised a lot, shown enough potential but failed to deliver when it mattered. I wanted to prove I can deliver and I set about repairing my fractured cricketing career. Three fruitful years of destroying many a bowlers’ confidence in the domestic circuit and a rage to succeed kept me going. The wilderness ended and I was picked as a part of the team to play against England. It was a 3 test series and I got my chance only in the second test. I was still searching for my first international run going into my second test match. After facing 23 deliveries, I opened my account in International Test Cricket with a simple push to mid on. It was a significant moment in my life.

Significant moments in my cricketing career have been few and far between. But every time an opportunity beckoned me, it was always in a match or series that had great significance. Needing 220 more runs and no specialist batsman to follow, I knew this match was also significantly poised as the series can go any way from here. I reached the pitch, had a chat with the senior partner at the other end and took an off stump guard.

After successfully opening my account, I took an off stump guard to face the off spinner. The ball spun, took my bat’s edge and flew to the first slip. My wicket opened up the lower order and the opposition was on the offensive. Three years of hard work yielded in 1 run. If my first innings was tragedy, my second innings was unfortunate to say the least. I stood there on zero notout as I saw batsman after batsman succumb and bite the dust. I was getting used to being a part of the losing side and the same script was re-enacted but with a different screen play. I was picked for the third and the final test and one thing which I badly wanted to do was to stay there in the middle and face as many deliveries as I could and then slowly take it from there. I knew I could do that because I had a glittering domestic career resume with 15 centuries and 20 fifties in 52 matches at a sky rocketing average of 64.47. Staying in the middle should never be an issue. Determined as a rock that cannot be dislodged, I stood facing delivery after delivery, playing dead bat and showing caution. I had eaten up 40 odd deliveries and was feeling confident to get off the mark and then came the howler – a ridiculous leg before decision especially considering the fact that the ball hit my bat and thudded into my pad. I felt cheated and at that moment I thought the powers above and the world in front of me have conspired to see me crumbling. Yes.. I crumbled and fizzled out completely in the second innings as I faced the bowler resigned to the fate that I would never be picked again. A furious swing of the bat to the very first ball and the wicket-keeper gleefully caught it and sealed the coffin with my career dead and buried inside! My test career innings’ read – 0, 0, 1, 0*, 0 and 0 – a potential that never prospered. I was dropped from the team for good and I thought it was forever. At 22 years, I was a done and dusted cricketer, soon to be former cricketer. I convinced myself that I lacked something but it was not the ability and if there was someone who believed in me, it was my coach who stood by me when I was down in dumps physically, mentally and emotionally.  The immortal words of wisdom, my coach kept hammering into my head helped me recover from the rustiness I willingly got into and I decided to play and enjoy the game again. My coach said..

“There are times in life when the ability really does not matter. What matters is the attitude to absorb the pressure and thrive in it – suppressing all those doubts within, fighting all those fears within and killing all those distresses within. After all you need to simply hit a piece of leather with a chunk of wood and that is something you have always loved doing!”

Yes.. I loved hitting the piece of leather, high and handsome, with a beautiful chunk of wood. At 22 years, I knew nothing other than cricket and I loved the game sincerely and passionately. So what if I cannot play for India, at least I would do what I love to do and stay in peace. The next four years were bliss as I remained in peace and played the game I loved with lots of rigor and passion pocketing every record and cherishing every win in my career in domestic cricket. The call for national duty came and I was rushed to the same Australia where I went 8 years ago. This time I was not the celebrated child prodigy but a secluded growing-old batsman who was coming in to fill the batting order simply because the preferred ones were injured. But I respected the call and joined the team with nothing to lose.

I knew I had nothing to lose. I wanted to enjoy the moment however significant the match stood. 220 runs on a fifth day pitch with 85 odd overs to be bowled and 5 wickets in hand, the Australians were slowly choking us. My coach’s words kept replaying in my mind as I saw the bowler gather steam and run in towards me. It was my first solid defense and ball went rolling back to the bowler. He picked the ball and muttered a sequence of numbers which obviously were my scores in International Cricket till date and the game was well and truly on. I kept blocking ball after ball. It was frustration for the Aussies and I was obviously enjoying it. But we needed runs and I knew I cannot keep blocking all day. The barrier was broken and the suppression of 8 years of pain, agony and suffering exploded – I hit that piece of leather hard and it soared beyond the boundary ropes. It was a six!

Epilogue:

Next day as I was having my breakfast, Sachin Tendulkar came up to me and showed me the headlines of a newspaper. It read “India wins a thriller… A star is born overnight” and the photograph of my first six was below those lines. I scored a maiden century and we won. It was my first victory! I retired to my room with the newspaper and somehow I was not able to take my eyes of that page in the newspaper and specifically that word ‘Overnight’.

‘Just that in my case the overnight took 8 long years to happen!’

(The above story is a work of fiction but the protagonist is one among us who keeps fighting failures and wants to succeed in life. Cricket and cricketers are just the medium I have used to tell a story which applies to everyone who wants to stand up a midst the ruins. Hope you had an enjoyable read!)

Happy Diwali :)

Posted: November 2, 2010 in Story
Tags: , , ,

I looked at my watch. Time was running out. Worry, agony, tension and fear of losing out was written all over my face. I rushed, pushed and plunged. Luckily, I made it to the flight. The beautiful looking American air hostess greeted me in. “Ooo.. that was a close shave wasn’t it”. Yeah..I replied. She asked me.. Indian? Yeah.. Happy Diwali!! She said. Oh thanks.. thanks a lot.. I replied!!

Yes.. It was Diwali in five day’s time in India and I was desperate to return home. Happy Diwali!!! Happy Diwali!! Happy Diwali!! These words always brought back the fond memories of my childhood. I settled into my seat and fastened my seat belts. My journey took off and I went straight into my life when I was just ten years old.

The year was 1995. I was this little plump kid whose cheeks were liberally used by all the aunties of my apartment. I had an entire gang of friends with whom I played, fought and enjoyed many evenings. It was Diwali time and all of my friends got a week’s leave. No school. No books. No exams. I always looked forward to Diwali not just to enjoy the holidays, burst crackers with friends, eat lots of sweets.. but that is when my father would come back home from Dubai. My father was working with an oil company in Dubai and he came to India only twice a year – for my birthday and Diwali. In fact that year, he could not make it to my birthday but promised me that he would be taking a long leave on Diwali eve.

It was four days to Diwali and my father was to arrive on Wednesday. My apartment was already getting into the Diwali mood. Few of my friends started bursting crackers as early as Monday. I too had bought lots of crackers as my dad had promised me that he would burst crackers along with me as a compensation for not coming for my birthday this year. So I was very excited and I decided not to burst any crackers until my dad came home.

Monday went. Tuesday went. I knew Wednesday was my day and I reserved all my energy for this day. I got up early in the morning and was eagerly waiting for my father to come. Sun rose, sun peaked and finally the sun was setting. But my father did not come. I was getting restless. My mother was anxious too and she was trying to find the cause for the delay. Finally at about half past six, my father had called from Dubai. Due to poor visibility, the flights from Dubai were delayed and it may take two days for things to restore is what my mother told me. I just knew only one thing. It meant my father will not come for Diwali. I was heartbroken and sad.

Thursday came. One more day for Diwali and I decided not to celebrate Diwali any more in my life if my father did not come tomorrow. The sun set for one last time before Diwali. The beautiful moon was out. I saw my friend Rahul along with his dad bursting crackers, there was Nithi setting the flower pots on fire with her sister and father, there was Sanjay, Praveen, Dev and Vijay. I looked at my crackers and slowly the pain of missing my father struck me hard and tears overflowed from my eyes. I suffered in silence. I still remember my mother trying to put me to sleep that day telling stories, convincing me, cajoling me and consoling me. It was a long night for us. Finally, I fell asleep.

Amidst the thunderous bursts of crackers, I woke up on the Diwali morning. Happy Diwali!! These were the words I heard as I woke up looking surprised, shocked and stunned. It was my dad. I did not know how or when he reached. But that did not matter. He was here and that was enough for me. My world was back. I hugged him, kissed him and held on to him tightly.

The announcement from the plane captain woke me back to the present. The flight landed in Chennai in few minutes. I wiped the tears which had welled in my eyes. As I headed towards the exit door, I saw a little girl running to hug her father. I knew what that meant and I went straight into the wide waiting arms of my dad and both of us spoke the same words in each other’s ears – Happy Diwali!!! 🙂 🙂

(This story is dedicated to all those hardworking fathers who keep toiling hard, staying away from their family) ~ Krishnan

Cycle

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Story
Tags: , ,

Hi.. I am Raj. This day June 7th is a special day for me. It has been special for 35 years now.

<35 years..34..33……………4..3..2..1.. rewind>

I was studying in my class 6 then and the best thing about going to class 6 was that my school allowed students to come to school by cycle from the 6th standard onwards. It was their way of telling that you are grown up! If my memory holds well, I first saw this marvellous peddling bike when I was in my class 5. It was the ‘Street Cat’ Cycle Event. One look was enough to start my pestering at home. I went back home that day and send down the first of my many ‘Operation Buy Cycle’ mission requests. It was turned down blatantly. My 5th standard mind told me – ‘If Muhammad Ghazni can do it, why not me. Nothing big!’ Learning history was handy then!

From 5th to 6th I progressed. If Ghazni tried 16 times to break the shackles to plunder Somanth, it took me about 470 requests, 546 pleas, 389 I love you Moms and I don’t remember how many tears to reach the ultimate prize. (Move on Muhammad Ghazni.. I am here.. Raj). The D-day came and my dad along with my grandfather took me to the city’s biggest Cycle Shop – My destiny I thought. I chose the cycle which I liked the most. But immediately came the heart breaking moment. I never knew how to ride a bicycle. Gloom spread across my face. My grandfather, realizing that my joy was short-lived tried to perk me up and as if he heard my inner voice, he told ‘Raj.. dear.. I will teach you how to ride the cycle. It is easy and stop worrying now. Be happy – You got what you yearned for. It is time to cheer up dear’. Those words were comforting.. more comforting when I  recollect it today.

My whole family got together to work out a proper plan for my cycle practice – a plan to make sure that my studies aren’t affected and convince my mother of the same. The Plan – I will start from school as soon as the last bell goes (I had to sacrifice the cricket matches we usually play after school) and come home by at least 3:30, have some snacks, then complete my homework (read as mother’s order) and finally at 5:00 pm will leave for cycle practice.

Next day – As planned things fell in place and the clock struck 5:00 pm and though my homework was the only one which was accomplished partially as per the plan. My mother, looking at my enthusiasm allowed me for my first day’s practice. I took out my brand new cycle and started from home with my grandfather. My grandfather took me to a deserted road and believe me I had never seen such a deserted road and that too in the heart of the city. Yes.. deserted in every sense – ‘The West Circular Road’. The entire road was punctuated with beautiful independent houses, chirping birds, green plants, colourful flowers and to top it all a serene atmosphere – Ideal place to learn anything I thought!

Learning Highlights

 Day 1 – Fear to sit on the bicycle and the bicycle pedal felt like an unmovable piece of iron. 😦

 Day 2 – The first of the many falls. My cycle went unscathed but I was not that lucky. 😦

 Day 3 – Never did my cycle head the direction in which I wanted it to move. But at least it started moving! 😦

 Day 4 – Second fall was avoided courtesy a cute looking girl 🙂

Day 10 – My bending towards the sides of the seat was spoiling my control and also damaging my reputation. How? There were few girls who practise regularly in the same road and they were looking at my cycle driving gimmicks all along. They should have had a nice laugh that day looking at my driving skills. 😦

Day 20 – Bending reduced but my grandfather was threatening to not support me by holding the cycle from behind. 😦

Day 27 – I fell for the second time courtesy my grandfather who was a little over ambitious and decided I can drive without his support. 😦

Day 34 – The best and the worst day! I was driving my cycle and one moment I turned back and to my surprise my grandfather was not holding the cycle any more! J I was ecstatic but then forgot to look ahead. Thump! Thump! FALL!!! 😦 😦

Day 35 – I was waiting for this day! Without my grandfather holding the cycle, I drove for the first time. It was my EUREKHA moment – BALANCE is what I achieved that day. What a Joy! The first balanced ride! I crossed the same girls who saw me struggling a month back. They smiled and I smiled back! 🙂 🙂 🙂

 Today after 35 years as I walk in the same ‘West Circular Road’, it seems at least this little piece of the world has not changed for young people learning their first driving lessons. Even today, I could see another grandfather teaching his grandson how to drive his bicycle. His grandson also would have a story to tell like me. 🙂

 Memories are like oxygen.. They keep us alive!