She willed herself to not check her phone to see if he had replied. It had been about three days now. She hated that she was constantly checking his ‘last seen at’ status and yes, he had logged in just five minutes ago. Yet she couldn’t stop herself. This sinking feeling to find absolutely no communication from him was becoming unbearable, almost torturous.
And then, just as she sat down in her chair, her phone vibrated. With her heart thudding in her ear, she unlocked her phone and stared at the screen. Finally! It was his message.
But when she opened it and read it, she nearly stopped breathing. She didn’t know if he was joking or not. What was this?
The two words stared at her from the shiny screen of the iPhone 6S, ‘It is Done.’! Anita was dumbstruck, surely he could have called, if even for a minute or so. He was never the one who would have to fumble for words, in fact he had trouble in containing his loquacious nature and it was Anita’s favorite ploy to mockingly chide him while waiting for his usual rejoinder ‘Ok Ok. I get it, I will not speak anymore’.
Looking askance at the steaming cup of Cappuccino and the barely nibbled strawberry flavored Danishes on her table, Anita put down a 100 Rupee tip beside the plate for Joyeeta, her favorite waitress in Dunkin Donuts. Suddenly she stood up, closed her presentation and packed her laptop. She glanced at the phone once more, but there were no further pings forthcoming.
Brows knitted tightly together and with a scowl on her face, Anita strolled outside to the parking lot in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. It was 8 am and the persistent honks were already tiring her. With the bag flung over one of her shoulders, she quickly lit her Marlboro and took a deep puff. As she drove hurriedly to her Office, she quickly checked her watch. She still had 2 hours before the presentation to her client. The Director, Corporate Strategy of a pharmaceutical firm is not a man to be disappointed. Any other day and she would have been looking forward to her day, managing clients and deriving satisfaction from closing a deal. However today was different.
A belligerent honk brought her out of her reverie. She suddenly found an Ola Cab in front of her and the driver shaking his fists at her with some choice expletives thrown in for making a point. Anita apologized gruffly with a wave of her hand and stopped at the Security checkpoint in DLF Cyber city. She made a conscious effort to control her mind from wandering. What was more infuriating was the visceral fear which she felt in the pit of her stomach and not knowing why she was over-reacting so much. Her rational mind debated if she had taken the morning dose of Valium. Not able to recollect that either, Anita threw away the cigarette butt out of the window with a vehemence.
It was the hottest day in Kolkata “that” year. The fans and the air conditioners plied all day long. The client office cafeteria was comfortably cool. Anita had barely loaded her food tray with salad and eggs when she almost jumped at somebody exclaiming loudly beside her. Having recovered her poise, she turned around red in face and with a ready rejoinder, when she noticed him, grinning widely from ear to ear with exhilaration writ large on his face. Anita blinked a few times and somehow managed to put on a plastic smile on her still disheveled face, wondering who this guy was, who despite seeming strangely familiar was hard to place in her memory. She did not have to wait long though.
‘Hi, Anita! What a pleasant surprise!’ said the young man in a business suit with impeccably placed tie and cufflinks. He had a faint US accent, which meant either he was here on a business trip or was one of the show-offs whose fake accent persists even long after they are back in India.
Anita replied ‘Sorry, but do I know you?’
‘Of course, Anita. Well it has been a rather long time, 15 years, 220 days to be precise I guess’ said the young man.
Looking at the still bewildered expression on Anita’s face, he sighed and said ‘Well, I am Rakesh, Batch of 2000, Computer Science, JIT Madras’.
With the sudden realization, Anita gasped for breath.
‘Here, let me help you, the temperatures touched 46 degrees today, the last time I heard’, said Rakesh looking intently at Anita whose balance seemed to give away yet again.
Looking sheepish and flustered, Anita mumbled a thank you and sat down with Rakesh at a corner table in the cafeteria.
Once she had managed to rein in the galloping heart beats in her chest, she asked Rakesh if he worked for the client. Rakesh still had the glazed look in his eyes and confirmed that he was indeed working for Deviance Analytics. Anita gobbled her lunch, managed an apology for having a meeting with the client in ten minutes and rushed away after Rakesh had managed to get her phone numbers and a parting promise of meeting the next day for lunch in the cafeteria.
Anita had lied, but she did not have a choice. She walked out to the Smoking Zone and with trembling hands lighted a Marlboro. She could very clearly recollect Rakesh now from her undergraduate days in Chennai. Both of them were in the same class. Looking back now, it was no wonder that she could not recognize him. The man whom she had met just now was athletic, immaculately attired in business formals, with a charming smile and a pleasant and confident demeanor. Anita was surprised that her mind had registered the expensive watch and shoes. Rakesh had done well it seems.
Back in college, Rakesh was a simpleton, who swore by the study material and devoted all his hours to securing the top rank. He was scrawny, with big round spectacles and a sloppy gait which did nothing to improve his defeatist, nerd image amongst the batch mates. However Rakesh did have another passion in his tedious life. He was enamored by Anita’s beauty and intelligence from the first day of college. He nursed a secret ambition of winning Anita from the college loafers by securing the gold medal in the final exams. It was a typical topic in the college canteen and in parties, a fall back option to make fun of for bored minds.
Anita was a free spirited girl, her father was a Colonel in the Army and they had spent many years across North India before her father had decided to settle down in his hometown which was Chennai. Brash that she was, she however did not enjoy discussing Rakesh when the others made fun of him. It was not that she had any empathy towards him, it was just that she did not even want to acknowledge his presence, such an incongruous person in her world.
Days went by, Anita graduated with good marks. Rakesh won the Gold medal, but only in the successive year. Rakesh did not manage to graduate with Anita and her friends. Anita took another puff from her cigarette while she shivered even in the warm afternoon breeze.
Anita remembered only too vividly the honest and naïve proposal by Rakesh just 2 weeks before the final exams. She had not only managed to break his heart but had also made unkind, snide, inopportune remarks which had devastated Rakesh. Mortified, Rakesh could no longer seek refuge in his make believe world where Anita pined for him and was his only true love. Rakesh did the only thing he could, he jumped from the hostel terrace.
Everyone rallied to a general sympathetic wave for him in the college but nobody ever came to know what had instigated the modest kid to attempt something so presumptuous.
Anita remained disturbed throughout the day, with the renewed sense of guilt eating at her conscience after so many years. After reaching the guest house, she clicked on the answering machine. There were the usual calls from her work friends, urging her to join in the weekend fun, there was a call from home, a call from Anish….and a call from Rakesh! Changing her dress in the bedroom, she could clearly hear Rakesh’s rich baritone coming out of the machine. Rakesh had reminded her of their lunch next day.
Soon this became a pattern. Anita worked for an IT vendor in the client office and her project still had 7 odd months to go live. Rakesh or rather this new version of the old loser Rakesh made her life real difficult. He met her daily at the cafeteria, regularly came over to her cubicle much to her chagrin. Anita could already hear the different kind of rumors doing the various rounds. Rakesh was a senior executive in the client organization and Anita was forced to be courteous towards him.
It seemed like Rakesh had undergone a complete overhaul in some fancy medical clinic. It was not only the physicality but the remarkable difference in attitude which frightened Anita. She refused him for dates multiple times. Rakesh continued to be belligerent and plagued her for attention. Anita was forced to change her phone numbers and tried to avoid Rakesh as much as possible. Despite her repeated insistence of having a steady boyfriend, things only got worse. All her objections were met with feral smiles and haughty laughter.
Anita was petrified, her guesthouse security enquired the other day about a non-resident car being noticed almost daily making the rounds. Finding out the guest house address was of course too easy for Rakesh. Anita hung on for the next few months to deliver the critical project and was only too glad when she secured her next project back in Gurgaon. Rakesh however had other ideas; he managed to relocate to the Noida branch of his office and continued his routine of harassment.
Anita finally decided to confide in Anish, her boyfriend. Anish worked for one of the big law firms in Delhi and was a bright, career oriented young man. Anish too was from Chennai and he had been dating Anita for 3 years now. He was a rising star in his law firm, a strongly built, kind, well known and affable soul. Well, it was only a matter of time, before Anish was going to be formally made a partner. Anita was so proud of her fiancé. The one trait she disliked in Anish was his vanity, Anish was known to be ruthless when it came to winning.
Anish took in all the details from Anita over a cup of tea in her apartment near Galleria Market in Gurgaon. He was not his jocular self and was eerily silent, he did not interrupt her narration even once. Anita was unsure if she saw flickers of anger and pain in the deep, dark smoldering eyes. With his jaws tightly set, he asked Anita what she would like to be done in the matter. They could not go to the police, partly because Rakesh seemingly moved in higher echelons of power and had influential friends in the city. Anish could not jeopardize his prospects in the law firm.
When they seemed to be at a loss for ideas, Anita suddenly remembered that Rakesh was going to visit Chennai two weeks later. She thought it might be a good idea to talk to him in the city in which they had all grown up, had bitter sweet memories and families, wherein he might finally be convinced to see sense. Anita knew Rakesh’s family was a well known and widely respected business family with ties to the ruling party. Surely if they could somehow talk to Rakesh’s father, the Industry baron, he might finally be able to rein in the loose cannon, his son.
Anish mulled over the idea and seemed to grudgingly agree. He enquired about Rakesh’s travel plans and opened up the calendar on his phone. He decided to use the Diwali long weekend for a short vacation in Chennai. He said he had some other family matters to tend to anyways and he would also take care of the Rakesh matter in the same trip.
Anish had travelled to Chennai 3 days back and was supposed to be back in Gurgaon tomorrow. Anita had not been able to reach him over the last few days until the message from him today morning. It was already 7 pm when she finally left office. She was feeling sprightly now, the early morning dread had somehow passed over. She made a mental note not to grill Anish about the trip details tomorrow and instead finalize the plans for their impending marriage in a month. On the way home, she bought a few vegetables and fish which Anish loved and planned to look up a few recipes the next day.
She woke up to the alarm early morning next day. Being a Saturday, she did not have office to attend to. Anish’s flight seemed to be on time, so she hurriedly moved out of the comfort of her warm bed and turned off the heater.
An hour later she waited for Anish to show up in the Arrivals section in Indira Gandhi airport. Sipping her favorite coffee, she logged on to the airport wifi network and browsed a Chennai daily’s online version. Suddenly her eyes were glued to a news item in the screen. A dead body had been found in Mahabalipuram beach. The Police was still trying to establish the identity of the badly mutilated body, a male of around 34 years of age, it seemed to be a case of homicide by drowning. Amongst the few details, they had mentioned a mole in the left hand!
The coffee cup smashed to the ground, Anita stood up in a daze to look at the Arrivals section. Rakesh was waltzing over with a trolley and waving his hands. Apparently he had noticed her, standing white faced with a bouquet in her hands……..
his smile labored…
his happiness contrived…
his look animated…
he walked down the plank…
with a smile on his lips…
and humming some obscure song…
drumming his fingers even in the air…
unable to see anything, he dint even care
his destination no longer mattered…
the wind rustled his unruly hair…
and caressed his tear stricken cheeks…
his heart light enough to fly
cheered him on…
as he fell the depths
his flailing arms spread out wide
the wind cushioned his fall
and the waters embraced him…
for some time there was darkness all around
his eyes burnt and his body felt light…
breaths were short and came in gasps
as his body struggled involuntarily
he saw at last his dreams deserting him
blown away in the form of mindless bubbles…
as he let his mind drift
and closed his eyes to experience the bliss…
it was then that he heard
the soul stirring song…
mermaids or not…phoenix or what…
he couldn’t fathom…
suddenly his eyes were blinded
by a shining light…
beckoned… he moved towards it
and left his earthly existence behind…
If pain had a brother
Would he be called sorrow
If hatred had an accomplice
Would he be called malice?
If the stars had another choice
Would they become the moon
If loneliness had brethren
Would they be called tomorrow?
If happiness was a myth
Would it be like the nectar
If a smile was rare
Would it become extinct?
If darkness was the companion
Would a lamp be the enemy
If the winds were a storm
Would life be a lighthouse?
If expectations were alien
Would life be sympathetic
If loss was the only constant
Would faith still be benevolent?
If it pains to laugh
Would you be the stimuli
If my words never seemed to stop
Would you hear my silence?
It was outright pouring, visibility was down to a few feet. Rakesh was having a hard time managing the misty windshield of his car. With one hand clutching a torn cloth he attempted to clear up the glass vigorously. He clutched the steering with his other hand, deftly managing the water filled potholes on E.M. Bypass. He cursed out aloud at the civic bodies doing a shoddy job at the road mending work, yet again. It was the same each monsoon and it was a major headache for Rakesh who normally plied his fares in and around the Kasba area. His battered Ambassador grunted and labored to maneuver the road. The rain lashed against his car. The archaic wipers emitted more noise than they managed to clear up the raindrops.
There were flashes of lightning with deafening thunders. The traffic was hardly moving. The cacophony of the honks was already turning his headache into a nightmare. Rakesh quickly checked his watch, his wife had called him earlier in the day and he needed to rush back home. As the traffic light turned green, he pushed his old car into first gear and cut off the car in the front with a quick swerve and raced ahead. The ensuing stretch of road was in better condition and he planned to make up for the lost time. While his mood lightened, Rakesh switched on the radio. He often wondered what was wrong with the songs nowadays. He preferred the old melodies even though he was barely 24. His friends had coined a moniker for him. While he hated being called “Daddu”, he took it in his stride and used to mockingly chide his friends for calling him so. The fond memories of his friends brought a smile to his tired face. Humming an old Kishore Kumar number, Rakesh decided to beat the signal. With the light beginning to flicker to yellow, Rakesh’s old ambassador throttled full speed ahead.
He could barely see a small kid standing by the side of the road, beside another car. Rakesh quickly calculated the probability of saving the kid by screeching his brakes to the maximum. With the current speed on the wet road, he was sure to topple over even if he was lucky enough to avoid hitting the other cars. From the corner of his left eye, he could make out the silhouette of a lady shouting and running towards the kid. Even before his mind could register the eventuality, he felt the sideways impact of his car and a loud thump. With a quick glance at the lady who was wailing hysterically by now, Rakesh steamed ahead. He was drenched in cold sweat and his heart was thumping vigorously in his chest. He wondered if the lady had been able to notice the number plate on the car. He checked his speedometer, he must have been driving at around 60Mph. He felt guilty and relieved both at the same time. He was sure the lady or the other pedestrians would not have been able to get a look at his face. Rakesh kept cursing at himself. He always prided on having the best driving record amongst his friends. Of all days, this had to happen today!
Suddenly he realized he was parking the car in the garage. With the adrenaline rush in his blood, Rakesh quickly got down from his car to inspect the damage. There were bloodstains on the side of the car and some organic tissues still clung on. Feeling queasy and resisting a strong urge to vomit, Rakesh quickly got down to work. He brought a bucket filled with water and painstakingly started cleaning the remains. The body of the car did not have much damage from the impact. Thanking his stars, Rakesh made a mental note to get the left headlight fixed in the early morning the next day. He would also have to request Shambhu at the garage for another set of number plates and forged documents. It did not hurt to be cautious reasoned Rakesh.
Feeling calmer, he took one sweeping look at his car before he locked the car. He checked his watch, it was ten to 11 pm. Swati must be still awake. He knocked on his chawl door. He could hear Swati moving across laboriously inside, while he smoked the remains of his bidi. According to the local Doctor, Swati was likely to go into labor pain anytime now. Rakesh adored his wife who was a simpleton and an endearing woman. She looked in considerable discomfort, Rakesh served himself dinner, while listening to admonishments from his wife. Swati asked him if everything was fine and Rakesh quickly realized he was still tightly wound from the mishap. He forced a smile and caressed her face with sweet nothings. Post dinner they quickly went to sleep.
After what seemed barely minutes, Rakesh woke to his wife screaming.It seemed that she was in labor pain. Rakesh checked his watch, it was 4 am. He quickly dialed the local doctor and described the symptoms to him. The Doctor advised immediate hospitalization. Knowing with certainty that they would not get an ambulance anytime soon in the downpour, Rakesh propped his wife into the backseat of his car and stuffed the wad of notes into his purse.
As they drove through the deserted E.M.Bypass, Rakesh could not help but admire the beauty of the breaking dawn. The early light feebly lifted the veil of the darkness and Rakesh’s spirits soared. He quickly sorted the names which they had discussed multiple times earlier in his mind and hoped that they would have a girl. He parked the taxi outside and the attendants wheeled in his wife into the hospital. He spoke with the Doctor who asked him to wait until the initial checkup was completed.
Having heard that there was likely some time for delivery, Rakesh had no option but to linger around. He went down to have a quick tea and smoke. Suddenly he remembered that he had to visit Shambhu’ sgarage to get his car fixed. Dismissing the cigarette with a flicker of his hand, he quickly drove off to the garage. Having briefed Shambhu, Rakesh felt somewhat lighter in his mind. Shambhu assured him that the car or Rakesh were unlikely to be traced and placated him saying accidents are sometimes beyond the control of the mere mortals and souls are at the mercy of the GOD almighty.
While Sambhu was at work, Rakesh could not help but wonder about the kid. The kid was a boy of around 7-8 years he reckoned. The lady must have been his mother. He felt a sudden pang of guilt and again admonished himself for his mistake. He wondered if the kid was somehow alive and the lady had got him to emergency department in the nearby private hospital. Maybe the kid was grievously injured but alive after all. He kept thinking about his car’s speed and angle of impact. Suddenly his mobile rang. Rakesh returned from his trance with a start. It was a Doctor calling from the Hospital, asking him to make haste and fill in the paperwork.
Rakesh retuned to the Hospital and completed the various paperwork and payments required. It was already 2 pm and he was feeling tired from the lack of sleep. Swati was in the Operation Theater and some senior Surgeon was in charge inside. Rakesh quickly grabbed a bite from the hospital canteen and rushed back to the waiting area.
He must have dozed off and awoke with a start to his name being called on the speaker. He ran outside and spoke to the nurse. The baby was brought to him and he was overjoyed to see the angel like boy. The mother was doing fine and was to be shifted to the ward. Rajesh murmured “Hi Ajay, welcome to our world” in his kid’s ears and waited to thank the Surgeon.
The Surgeon walked out of the O.T 15 minutes later and was still dressed in the usual garb covering her head and mouth. Rakesh suddenly shivered in the warm building. He had a strange unpleasant premonition. The Surgeon had stopped in her tracks too. As she stood stupefied and removed her surgeon’s cap, Rakesh could hear the shrill plea for help and agonized screams of a mother who had just lost her son! Multiple thoughts raced across Rakesh’s mind. Evidently the Doctor had recognized him and would report him to the police. Should he make a run for it or plea for forgiveness? As Rakesh stood frozen in his tracks, unable to make a move, slowly the Surgeon walked towards him. She had swollen eyes, evidently from grief rather than a late night. Her face was eerily calm and he could not detect any flickers of anger or accusations in her eyes.
“Congratulations, you are now a father” she said.
With clasped hands, Rakesh pleaded for forgiveness. His voice was hoarse and sounded incoherent over his uncontrolled sobs. The Surgeon placed a hand over his shoulders.
“He was 7 years old you know. I save so many patients a day but could not save my own child! I would like to report you to the police and see you perish in jail for manslaughter.”
Rakesh mumbled apologies and kept pleading.
The Surgeon said “But it would be selfish and devilish of me to punish your newborn for your misdeeds. While I can never forgive you, I will let you off. I will not report you to the police.”
She did not wait for an answer and walked off. Rakesh was still in a stupor. He thanked the GOD almighty for his kindness and swore to drive carefully from now on.
He bought medicines at the pharmacy and bade his wife farewell for the day. Swati looked tired but radiant and could hardly stop smiling. Having promised to visit her the next morning, Rakesh slumbered off into the parking lot. He called up Sambhu and decided to have some desi alcohol to purge himself of his guilt ridden soul.
The rains had stopped and it was a bright clear evening. Rakesh switched on the radio and drove his taxi slowly. The traffic was moving at a snail’s pace as always. He suddenly realized that he was approaching the same ill-fated traffic signal. While he waited for the light to turn green, his palms felt sweaty on the steering.
The persistent honks brought him out of his reverie. He put the car into the first gear and moved ahead. Suddenly a child’s voice hissed in his cars loud and clear “My name was Ajay too!”……..
Rakesh panicked and his car crashed onto the tree beside the road. Bleeding profusely, Rakesh could barely see. He felt cold and could not feel or move his body. He could hear distant cries and heavy footfalls towards the car. He felt calm and uttered one last apology before everything blanked out.
The bystanders to the incident could not recall any cause for the eerie car accident while speaking to the reporters. Some however proffered that they had seen a little boy moments before the car crashed.
“Trust these people to always cook up something fanciful” mused the reporter as he readied his microphone, before going on air.
One of my all time favorite albums when it comes to raw and rustic music in Hindi space, has to be from the movie “Dor” by Nagesh Kukunoor of Hyderabad Blues fame (even though I feel Dor is his best work as of yet)….
Some superb tracks by Salim Sulaiman always touches a chord with the inner soul….ever since I watched the movie for the first time when I was in my Post Grad, all the songs from this movie have managed to stay with me…..the amazing music arrangement with flute and drums creates an amazing ambiance, the lyrics seemingly drawn out from some peaceful abode, untainted by the prejudices of normal existence.
When the mind is too tired to even engage in an idle soliloquy….I turn to a few favorite songs which helps me to get into my inner space and sometimes to catch a glimpse of inner peace.
Josh was perspiring heavily….he was surprised that it was almost Thanksgiving already and as expected there was a definite nip in the air, the usual New Jersey weather. He did not need to swipe on his iPhone 6s (one of his latest prized possessions) to check the weather app forecast. He had been a resident of Princeton for the last 15 odd years and loved the autumns and winters here as against the typical nonchalant weather in San Diego, where he had spent his early years.
Putting the car into auto-cruise mode on US 1 N. highway, he reached out for the tissue box on his Audi A6 dashboard. While mopping his beady forehead with one hand, he held onto the steering expertly with his other. He gave himself a moment to laugh indulgently at his pre-occupation with fancy gadgets, fast cars, guaranteed-age whiskeys and smart good-looking women…well the more the merrier he chuckled. He had done well, oh yes, nobody could debate that. He was born into a small dysfunctional family moving from town to town, a gypsy mother and a drug addict father, well nothing much good ever comes out of that he reasoned. He was average at studies and thanked his stars that he managed to stay focused enough to complete college with reasonable merit. He had started working for a small insurance firm in Santa Ana and quickly learned the ropes of the business. He used to mostly surpass his goals and earn modest commission, which helped him to step into some semblance of a normal adult life. He had rented a small condo nearby and finally had his own place set up, with his dreary past all but forgotten. He had got accustomed to unannounced visits from his father, which inevitably were veiled requests for cash. Well ever since his mother had committed suicide, his father had not bothered to keep up the pretensions of the non-existent family ties anymore. Josh paid him out more from an urge to minimize the interaction and to attempt forgetting the unhappy childhood marred by fights, quarrels and sheer abominable poverty.
Josh was quite a handsome guy (leveraged well in his professional life as well), with an athletic body, square jaw and intelligent blue eyes. He made sure he was always dressed for the part too. People were normally at a loss when they tried to size him up. Here was a guy who seemed earnest, had a boyish charm and a very pleasant demeanor, which would always put one at ease. However during the sales pitch they would soon wonder at what lay behind those deep, calculating and dark eyes and the sudden changes in mood. Josh’s genius ensured that by the end of the meeting, they would have dismissed the dark thoughts or any doubts whatsoever as a mere fragment of imagination of an over cautious mind.
Josh had done well at his work, however his life had changed after that one incident 15 years back…Josh did not often think about it, with all the pleasures money could buy and with the booming business he could hardly afford to spare a moment….and in any case he was not a guy who liked to ponder about the past. He lived in the now, the present and made sure that his future would be well secured. He was already pushing the late 30s and wanted to make enough many times over to plan an early retirement. He loved his job and had a great relationship with his boss, who had mentored him over the years. He was already a part of the elite team which was the “SWAT team” (a moniker coined by his boss) which his boss favored, when the time called for it.
Yes, he was happy but definitely not content, he had lofty goals set for himself which needed to be achieved, time was an element which had been mastered only by the so called gurus, not that he had ever met one. Switching off the cruise mode, he urged the car to accelerate to 110 mph and started weaving in and out of the early morning traffic. Josh was in a hurry, he had a high-profile meeting for sales pitch to one of Presidents of a multi national company. The net worth of the individual had made his head spin.
He was still fuzzy about how the contact had been made and the field visit got assigned to him. He had somehow never heard of this man, for he staked this area alone and knew the details of each person worthy enough to be allotted a slot in his busy schedule. Albert was free today and was in office tallying some reports. Josh wondered how Albert had let go of this opportunity! Josh had returned from the annual conference the night before and still had a bad jet lag. He was curious about how he had landed up into the picture for the meeting with Mr. Nick, yes that was the name mentioned in the file which he had been handed over this morning at the office with details about the address, personal life and financials. Josh always liked to be thorough in his dealings, he would probe into the details to examine the profile of the client before he would create the game plan. For the regulars with probable medium returns, he would be at his best official avatar. But for guys like Nick, well he would have to dig into his other more affable and overtly personal avatar!
He slowed his car as he neared the NJ Convention and Exhibition Center, his GPS had inexplicably switched off! He parked the car slowly and re-booted his brand new Garmin Nuvi model. Sheesh, barely 15 minutes left for the meeting and here he sat in his car trying to fix the GPS which had decided to suddenly take a break! Exasperated he picked up the mobile from the holder next to his seat. As he keyed in the destination address in google map, the app crashed…..swearing loudly Josh re-booted the mobile. This time the app responded, he was barely a mile away from the hotel. It was his first visit to the hotel in Edison. Josh did not have the luxury to thank the almighty, so he just plonked the Garmin down and drove to the hotel. Josh chuckled, for him the brand recall of this hotel chain inevitably centered around a particular femme fatale.
As he drove into the parkway of the Hilton Garden Inn, he noticed he still had 5 minutes. Having parked the car, Josh stashed his purse and phone into the pockets of the suit procured from one of the design houses in Savile Row, London. About to open the door of the Conference room, he had a sudden premonition and a feeling of deja vu. Stopping abruptly in his tracks, he almost collided with another person. He cursed under his breath, this was not the same composed and ever confident Josh about to make another Kill, he ought to have remembered to control the swigs of scotch in the morning! The profuse sweating showed no signs of abating, with the tissue to the rescue yet again, Josh considered the temperature which was somewhere around 31 Deg Fahrenheit. Well, all this was fodder for future circumspection, thought Josh. Having steadied himself Josh opened the door and strode into the large room, his usual swagger somewhat subdued, with a ready confident smile casually hung on his lips and a steady confident gait. What he saw made him gasp aloud….
So I finished yet another Keigo Higashino book! Well for the un-initiated I love to read….and write, well necessarily in that order, at least that is what it has been over the last few years. You see the urge to write never really dies, although it does manage to dwindle dangerously between sporadic to none! But that is another topic to ponder upon in a separate post…
I read everything and anything…..I do prefer googling on goodread’s ratings before I take the plunge….but sometimes it is a simple gut feeling, an 8th sense (Love being the 7th?) which has managed to serve me rather well over time. I do read Asimov and Tolkiens, Christie and Ludlum, Amitava Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri, Khuswant and J.K. Rowling, Coelho and Ruskin Bond…..
If you get where I am going with this, I am NOT a well read person…well there are so many renowned works which I have not even heard or managed to touch upon. It is sometimes a very sobering thought to realize that I am not even aware of so many authors whose work would enrich my knowledge and open up a plethora of new discoveries/realizations for me….But I manage to stay afloat….I mostly manage to allocate a definite period of time each day to read something which widens my thought process, removes a lot of my myopic vision and in the end learn something new each day.
I read a lot of new works as well….it is the synopsis which gets to me. Mostly I order a book having read the first 3-4 lines in the author’s synopsis, if it does not appeal then and there, there is seldom any real chance that I would be enticed by the remaining. One such book which I enjoyed reading was “Rustom and the last storyteller of Almora”….
Of late I have managed to dig into the Thriller or rather Detective genre….I have managed to complete Miss Marple series and am almost done with the Poirot series as well….
However that surreal moment when you read something extraordinary came with Keigo Higashino’s latest english translated work “Journey under the mid night sun”…I have read his other works as well (which I have managed to get hold of) and had become an instant fan….Here is an author who does not believe in the usual Holmes-que method of deduction….there is nothing flashy, nothing too dramatic which would actually hinder the growth of the story and distract from the build up of the characters….there is every sense of method imbibed into the process of solving a crime. Policework is given its due importance and a very thorough analysis is initiated right at the outset.
I was amazed when I read “Malice”…well who would have thought that there could be a motive to create a false motive and manage to achieve the planned results! Much has been said and done about “Devotion of Suspect X”,the latest being a Hindi movie adaptation of the same, which renders any thoughtful discussion on it rather perfunctory. “Salvation of a Saint” is another lovely read.
However it is the latest translation of his work which I believe is a masterpiece by all standards. I did not read another book for a couple of days, just to be able to soak in the surreal feeling derived from the book!
Since English translations of his work are not so frequent, I am planning to complete the Poirot series,grab Robert Galbraith’s latest in a couple of days and then catch up on an amazing book authored by my friend which re-traces the journey made by Lord Hanuman across India and Sri Lanka.
Stretched on the sunlit green grassfield
With limbs angled at disdain and
A gay abandon of the worldly pleasures
With a smile on the lips he lay idle on the ground…
He heard the cacophony, of the birds chirping
He smelt the fresh air fragrant with lilies
The rain soaked earth added a mystic flavor
The winds rustled the dry leaves on which he lay…
The wet grasses shone in the sunlight
The falling leaves created music in silence
As he lay with eyes closed and his soul peaceful
He realized heaven would be much the same.
At heart he felt lonely so
Some inexplicable reason made him long
He wondered if Lord would be so kind
As to fill his cup of happiness to the brimeth!
Then he heard her approaching footsteps
With the wind blowing in her long hair
A smile on her lips, mischief in her eyes
She sat beside him and caressed his weary face.
He felt his life was now complete
With her beside him, he longed for none
His life had come a full circle now
And he wanted this moment to last till eternity…
Just finished reading the book yesterday and I can’t keep on gushing all about it!
It had been a while since I last read any book in this genre and this one reminds me so much of Michael Crichton and Stephen Kings novels. The plot is really imaginative and one has to wait for the killer punch in the epilogue. The book is fast paced and the charachter development is excellent. The different layers in each charachter unravel as the plot moves on and there are surprises galore.
It is indeed one of those “unput-downable” books and am glad that I read this out in 2 days flat.
A drop of dry rain
a spatter of labored laughter
a golden ray of sunset over the water
and a grey landscape that abhors the colors
Surprised …bemused…disillusioned path
rocky terrain bereft of a hint of green
cloudy skies, thundering nights
cold hands clasped in some silent prayer…
Burnt and smelly candle wick
suspended air choking the lungs
clatter inside the head and heart
clamour of the voices begging to be heard…
Sunrise and cold breeze on the cheeks
dried pillows and falsified empty lives
endowing warmth inside and light outside
a clasped hand… never to let go…