The Howrah Bridge…


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In continuation of the story(Pune to Howrah) https://randomwithlife.com/2020/05/04/pune-to-howrah/

26th of December, 2010

Mr. Paritosh was deboarding the train at Jamshedpur Railway Station, and I was thrilled to see the scope of an uninterrupted conversation till Howrah. Her generous smile was indicative of her being able to read my mind. Or maybe the childhood inability to suppress the devilish happiness was getting prominent with age.

I offered my assistance to him with his luggage(the demon was actually carrying hell lot of it), which he could not refuse seeing no one else to help.

“All the best my friend.” He said the moment before the train started to move and I was still at the gate.

I was taken aback. I mean what exactly he was wishing me luck for. To carry forward his failed legacies of the single-sided fascination towards a lady who was traveling alone.  I went back to my seat with an internal quest and a much lesser enthusiasm to talk to her.

There were many who deboarded at Jamshedpur leaving the compartment semi vacant. So, I chose to sit on the side lower birth rather than the usual one which made me sit face to face with her. She looked at me a little puzzled as if she wanted to read my thoughts again, but I was already in a deep state of melancholy.

Soon, I started enjoying the scenic beauty from behind the glass window. There were kids playing cricket in an open ground adjacent to the railway track in the twilight, some of them were flying kites by holding the string with one hand and their pants from another one, and running carelessly in muddy water.

“Do you mind if I sit over here?” I had no idea about when she came over there. The fragrance of her perfume was so maddening that I entirely forgot all that I was thinking and for how long I was sitting over there in the corner. I quickly wrapped up my legs to make space for her without speaking anything.

“Are you alright?” She initiated the conversation.

“Yes, I am fine. Thanks for asking!!” The soul-nourishing fragrance was making it difficult. It was like I was surfing over the waves of some musical random thoughts.

Perhaps, it was discouraging. That’s what I thought, but in contrast, she seemed to enjoy reading my thoughts.

“I am really not sure what causes the sad state of your mind but all I saw today was the impact of your dry humor. People literally got down the train without completing their journey.” And she burst out in laughter.

I too wanted to laugh but was quite unsure of those remarks. It became difficult to decide whether my attraction towards her was simply an outcome of the law of nature or was it the byproduct of a bachelor’s desperate mind who recently had a break-up? My subconscious mind was able to read those questions profusely.

I continued my conversation with her, “Are you talking about the king of cheap jokes from Jamshedpur, who made you smile with heavenly PJs? I am really sorry for your loss in case you are missing him so much.”

“Maybe I am celebrating your presence more than his absence,” She said shrugging her shoulders off.

“Oh really. Then why do we even need to talk about him?” I guess my question was valid.

“Come on. At times you need to encourage boys for their efforts and he was doing quite okay to impress me. But your witty response against the stereotyping of your native state was the real show-stealer and I secretly gave you eight marks out of ten,” She said with her tight-lipped smile.

“Oh, I am so overwhelmed. I know it may sound insane but I did not get the chance to ask your name. And what you do for living apart from commemorating boys who show interest in you?”

“No, it’s my bad that I forgot to mention. My name is Patricia and I am a Criminal lawyer by profession at Pune district court. Precisely, I worked as a public prosecutor at Bombay high court till last year but then had to settle down in Pune.” Then we shook hands but this time her expressions were different.

All that I thought about her turned out to be wrong. She was not a college-going girl and was into a tougher profession. Before I could say anything, the train entered the platform at Howrah Junction. It was 7 PM then.

“So, you must be here in Kolkata to visit your parents,” I said.

“My parents stay in Mumbai with my elder brother. I am traveling to Durgapur to attend the marriage of a colleague. I have a connecting train at 11:30 PM.” She said.

“How about you? You must be heading to Patna if I heard it correctly at that time.”

“No, actually my journey will end in some 100 KMs before Patna. It’s a small town named Kiul. My father works there at an establishment of Indian Railways. I too got a connecting train at 11 PM.” I replied before putting my books and laptop back in place.

One of the co-passengers(a granny) requested me to assist her with luggage as her son was stuck in traffic. So, I decided to wait along with her at the platform until her son turned up. To my surprise, Patricia stayed there too. Soon, an elderly person came and the granny introduced him as her son. We said goodbye to her and walked towards the food court.

“I badly need a cup of coffee. Would you like to join me?”

“I am not a coffee person but can accompany you in case you change your mind to have lassi(sweetened curd) instead of coffee. I know a place near Howrah Bridge. We can keep our luggage at the cloakroom and then walk till the bridge.” She was defying all the laws that girls follow traditionally. Nonetheless, I was enjoying every surprise related to her. There are times when life serves you more than your appetite. 

We kept our luggage in the cloakroom like she mentioned and walked over the crowded street. She took to me to the famous shop of Ganguram Halwayi. That was the best lassi I ever tasted. Even today, it is difficult to forget the essence it had due to the rose petals and it was served with the creamy layer of cashew nuts, almonds, and white butter in earthen pots.

She requested the shopkeeper to parcel it as she had no desire to have it in a crowded shop. In the meantime, I bought two chicken rolls from a nearby place.

After a few minutes of walk, we two were standing in the middle of the sidewalk of Howrah Bridge facing the breath-taking view of river Ganga(known as Hugli over there) having our share of lassi and chicken roll. The evening breeze was soothing and the river was shining blissfully. I had been to Kolkata before but never had the chance to be there. I wanted to thank her wholeheartedly for giving me such a beautiful evening, but she was gazing absently at the blurred distance.

“I assume you been to this place before,” I asked casually sipping my lassi.

She looked at me in a weird manner making me realize that I played the wrong notes unknowingly, but I corrected it before it was too late. I said, “You don’t need to answer that Patricia. It is actually none of my business.”

Her anguish melted away instantly seeing me apologetic. She said, “And you don’t need to contradict yourself, my friend. It doesn’t suit you. There is nothing wrong with asking the right set of questions with pure intentions.”

That was a big sign of relief else I thought it was all over.

She further continued, “Yes, a couple of years back I came to this bridge with my boyfriend. He subsequently turned out to be a spineless lawyer who could not stand for anything significant in his life. On the other hand, I certainly lagged the required level of maturity to identify his real self and went behind the deceptive outward appearance. Many boys and girls fall prey to such a facade due to inexperience and the necessity of love. I hope I am not playing the victim card.”

I had no idea how to respond to it. Being emotionally vulnerable can be very challenging and I too had my lessons in a hard way. But seeing a lawyer repenting a sin like love was surprising. Maybe I wrong once again. They too are humans with 10 ounces of heart with lot of pain into it.

I still do not remember the source of courage that day, but I truly asked her if she wanted to give me a hug. With some initial hesitation, she kept her lassi aside and embraced me tightly in her arms as if never to let me go, and cried inconsolably.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

Pune to Howrah…


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25th of December, 2010

I was falling short of my breath while running over the bridge at Pune railway station to catch Duronto Express stationed at Platform number 2. It was about to depart at any moment, and for the first time in my life, and I was about to miss out on a train. Unlike an IT guy, I pushed everyone aside who came in between, and finally made my way to coach number A2 before the train started to crawl.

That was an inaugural journey for Pune-Kolkata Duronto express, which kick-started as a prestigious project by then Rail Minister Mamta Banerji to provide a premium alternative to passengers who traveled within the rail routes that connected the capital cities of India. The train was neatly decorated like any unfortunate groom in India. But, I was happy to see the much-needed elevation of the services in trains although it was short-lived.

The train had already picked up the pace and shortly the refreshment was served. All my fellow passengers were extremely delighted to receive the evening snacks, which turned out to be delicious in every possible sense.  And while I was totally engrossed with the delicacies on my plate, someone asked me politely if I wanted to have some more sweets. That was the time I first saw her.

An unprecedented beauty with a blend of kindness in every word spoken by her. She must be in her early twenties and a college-going student. My tender mind started calculating her age along with the possibilities of her having a boyfriend. She seemed to be a complete marvel created by lord Ganesha himself. A beautiful set of eyes carefully placed over the innocent face that shined like a snow-clad mountain range of the Himalayas in a broad daylight.

I was so mesmerized that I even forgot what she was actually talking about. Yes, it was absolutely worth running for over the railway bridge to catch a train if one knew about her being a co-passenger. In fact, it was even worth dying for.

And before I could even answer, someone spoke in between to interrupt the uncontrolled rhythmic wild imaginations of mine, “I guess I can have it.” I looked for the intruder only to find a mal-nourished soul sitting next to me. He appeared like a die-hard desperate Romeo in a constant hunt for a Juliet.

I gave a gentle smile to him without uttering a word, which might have happened subconsciously as a result of attending long hours of frequent grooming sessions at the office. Else, the ghost of a Bihari residing in me wanted to tell, “Haan tumhi kha lo saale manhoosh. Tumra baap toa kabhi laddu dekha nahi hoga ii janam me (Yes, you can have it, my ill fated-friend because even your forefathers might not have had the occasion to savor the sweets in their entire lives.) ”

Sooner than later to be realized, they started conversing with each other and she was giggling over the most sub-standard jokes that can ever be ever heard, which further made it suffocating. So, like an evident looser, I got up from my place and went straight to the never again to be seen as a well-maintained loo, and lit a cigarette. In those days, it was my way of repentance of sin.

With mixed thoughts, I returned back and settled myself on the upper birth and started reading a novel. She too was reading a book titled PS-I Love You. Certainly, not my kind as my inclination was more towards Munshi Prem Chand kinda stories. Before I fall asleep, I heard her talking to someone angrily over the phone. Must be her boyfriend, I thought.

That night passed uninterrupted and I continued dreaming for long hours until woken up by the service guy for tea and breakfast. Mr. mal-nourished guy was back in the game of impressing the pretty lady, with his cheap tricks of praising every single word spoken by her even when she spoke about someone else. Not sure why, but I seemed to enjoy being jealous for the first time in my life.

I went down and sat near the window seat and continued reading the book. They were chattering about their professions and then suddenly out of nowhere, he asked me, “So, you too work for a bank?”

“Even worst. I am a software engineer at an American MNC.”, I said suppressing my urge to kick his ass. The ghost in me was getting back in form.

“Oh, that’s great. I work at HSBC, Pune. Felt like I saw you somewhere in the head office at Kalyani Nagar.” He was not letting me get rid of him, so I decided to unleash the hell upon him.

“No, I don’t think so. I never met you or anyone like you before, at any stage of my life.” He seemed to be offended, which I surely wanted to.

She was hearing all of it silently and with clutched hairs, she looked more stunning and desirable. I avoided my level best to look at her. I had a feeling that she did not like me being rude to that guy. So, I chose my words carefully and avoided being resentful. Soon, I realized that every other boy in that compartment was passing nearby my seat to have a glimpse of her beauty. For a precise moment, our eyes met each other and that was a breathtaking moment. I felt the tickle in my heart like a common protocol of love at the very inception of it.

“Looks like you are from Pune itself.” She asked me. This time I had no choice left other than addressing her face to face.

“No. I actually come from Patna,” I said precisely assuming her to be a Bengali as they are known to have beautiful skin, eyes, and hair.

“So, how long you had been working in Pune?” She wanted to know more about me, and I wanted that conversation to be eternal.

“It’s been nearly nine months and I am in love with it. I find it quite serene unlike any other developed city in India which are mostly chaotic.” I said cautiously.

“You need to find peace and harmony even in the midst of a cacophony of chaos,” She said with her pretty generous smile over the face.

With that one statement of her, I was able to estimate depth of her thought process. I could not believe my luck for having a beautiful girl seeking interest in knowing me. Even I wanted to know more about her, wanted to talk a lot, but then the guy sitting next to me interrupted again.

Arrey Sir, aapne toa apna naam bataya hi nahi(You did not mention your name)?”

“Maybe it is not worth sharing for.” I was literally struggling to suppress my frustration but somehow managed to smile. I cursed the soft skill trainers from the core of my heart who made me so tolerant.

“Oh, come on. Every name is worth sharing. By the way, I am Paritosh.” He shook his hands with me without my consent.

“Paritosh. Such a unique name.” I said.

“Are you making fun of me? It’s a common Bengali name.” His broad teeth with black gum made his smile horrible.

“My name is Nilesh Ranjan.” I wanted to cut short that conversation with him as much as possible, but he was not giving up and I was losing my sanity.

Dada aap toa Bihari hai. Aapko to UPSC dena chahiye. Hoye ki nahi?(Brother, how come you are in another profession. Afterall, Biharis keep chasing the dream of UPSC)” There he overstepped the line which protected him till that moment.

The outspoken ghost residing in me already took the charge of it and said, “With that kind of calculation, you should be a lower division clerk at a Marxist, Leninist, or some shitty communist party offices in Bengal.”

Everyone in that compartment burst out in laughter. He was devastated. From being a woman charmer, he found himself transformed into a snake charmer and I won the long-surviving battle against him.

She too was grinning cheerfully. The train was about to reach Jamshedpur station, which was a technical stoppage. Mr. Paritosh decided to deboard the train.

“But, you were supposed to go till Kolkata. Why are you getting down here?” She enquired.

“Actually, I belong to Jamshedpur itself. I had no idea that the train has got a stoppage here as well. So, it is better to get down here.” He said with a sad face.

To be continued in next part(The Howrah Bridge)..  https://randomwithlife.com/2020/05/09/the-howrah-bridge/

 

Let the hope prevail and mind ignite!!


In between all the negativity that we had in last couple of weeks through main stream or social media, let’s talk about some of the positive attributes that our beautiful nation is imbibed to. In a time like this when an entire country is locked down, there are some restless soul who are performing their eternal duties 24*7 without a blink. In the next few paragraphs I would like to highlight some of the ecstatic moments that nation has witnessed so far.

Today on 5th of April, 2020, when India is going to stand in solidarity fr the second time with our war like heroes at 9 PM to show the unity that is not very often shown and always stays deep within our hearts, I would like to pen down my thoughts for this great country in words  through this article.

I am not undermining efforts of anyone, but let me start with the services rendered by our policemen so far. Some of the photographs that is being shared on twitter are enough to narrow down the prejudice against the cops at a significant level. I saw people tweeting a statement that nation will always remain indebted by the sacrifice of those khakhi wearing heroes. To make it more expressive let me share a picture from Indore where a policeman is looking at his daughter while having his food from a safe distance.I kept staring at the picture for few minutes when it popped up for the first time

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We often forget about their personal lives and keep cribbing about misdeeds of few to blacken the face of entire force. In one of the episodes of the famous TV show ‘Satya Mev Jayate’ hosted by Amir Khan, the living condition of ordinary policemen was shown. The pain and agony they live with cannot be expressed even with best competency of a person with words. Still the kind of duty they perform is unthinkable by many of us. One part of their duty is to perform the last rites of all the unclaimed human bodies at their own expenses. At times duties like that can cause serious issues with a person’s mental and psychological health. I got to know about this during my discussion with a sub inspector of Police from Jamui district of Bihar.

Let me share another picture of a cop who slept in between a barricaded road and that brought tears in my eyes out of compassion because I too had a moment like that couple of times in my life during the treatment of my father.

nation1 12 years back when my father was operated for the removal of his left kidney in Chennai at a famous Railway Hospital (Perambur). Like many government hospitals nothing was provided for the attendants of patients to rest upon specially when the patient was in ICU. I slept on the floor of hospital outside the ICU by keeping few sheets of newspaper as a replica of a bed sheet cover. Surprisingly, I never had such a peaceful sleep again even on the beds of five star hotels. Not sure of the reason but today when when I see that policeman in the picture, I envy him for the kind of fate he has got to serve the nation under much more unprivileged conditions than me. He is doing the same thing for a much bigger family at a much lower cost. He has raised the standard at a very unreachable heights. My two lines for them.

राहों की तो जाने दो साहब,
आप हमें सिर्फ मंज़िल बता दो !!

Yes, we as a citizen of India should always remain indebted to people who are working days and nights in the best of their capabilities to serve the mankind in these tough times. We should pledge not to forget their efforts to contain the spread of virus in our good times once the danger of COVIDE-19 is over. In next topic I will try to cover the stories of our health workers. Till them stay home stay safe.

Jai Hind!!

By : Nilesh Ranjan

 

 

The dream peddlers of Corona Virus!!


Due to the country wise lock down by Government of India , the only source of information to rely on are the news channels(minus agendas which they run) along with social media(if used responsibly). Everyday we seek the news on COVID-19 in a hope to see the downward trends of the spread and re-opening of the democracy in a much better shape.

What I mean in true sense is that we have had enough of appeasing special segment of society in the name of social harmony and secularism as nation has already started to pay the cost very dearly. We need to cater a discipline that is supposed to be obliged by all the citizens in this country irrespective of their various identities. Willing or Unwillingly. We have seen what has happened in recent times in the name of protest against CAA which subsequently led to a massive riots on the streets of Delhi. I still do not see a reason for government to stay mute spectator in that matter.

Now, when an entire world is facing the threat of human extinction due to Pandemic and government of India is doing every bit possible to contain the spread of virus in whatever limited capacity they have in between the population of 130 crores of people of every kind- patriot or non-patriot. We are seeing how the policemen(under the threat of lone wolf attack by ISIS), doctors, health workers, sanitation workers are working days and night for the survival of mankind. Still, the current situation is 62 deaths along with 1900 infected of Corona virus in India.

But, in between there are some sort of news that are catching the attention of the nation which are for sure not so delighting in any way. We can boast for still having the lowest percentage of infected souls of COVID19, but the reason behind the recent spread is shameful in every sense. We are getting the videos of the people living in ghettos  praying to Allah for minimum number of deaths of 50 crores in India for kafirs or a Jihadist technocrat from Infosys Inc. encouraging corona infected people to go out and sneeze in public to spread the virus and destroy the nation. And the icing on cake is “Tablighi Jamaat” which is like creating the hot spot of disease in the name of religious gathering defying every rules and measures laid down by both central and state government.

Infosys employee Mujeeb Mohammad arrested for asking people to ‘spread the virus’ by sneezing in public, fired by the company.

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If we rely on the news from various news channels then those dream peddlers of corona virus from Nizammuddin has been successfully able to spread the disease in 18 states of India which includes 6 deaths in Telangana. According to the Delhi government, 1,548 people who were staying in the headquarters were shifted to hospitals and quarantine facilities after 24 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 447 showed symptoms of virus infection.

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/coronavirus-outbreak-what-is-tablighi-jamaat-819741.html

God alone knows what code they refers to. Some of these jokers have really made the entire race of Muslims in India appear like an ambition less souls roaming on the chest of motherly nation of ours. Long before the rise of Taliban, Al Qaida, etc. on news channels in particular, I felt that its just a propaganda as none of my friends either of the Shia or Sunni community appeared to have the mentality anywhere close to the new born Jihadi Maulanas.

There are some disturbing video footage from Indore where health workers were attacked in ghetto when they tried to test and identify a corona positive patient. They pelted stone at security personals and then they along with liberal will use the terminologies like Islamophobia. This needs to be discussed and debated in India honestly to take the nation back to the real social harmony that we have seen during our childhood days.

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In between there are people like Omar Abdulla, who already started playing victim card by saysing that some people in India will use the Tablighi Jamaat incidence to vilify Muslims and on the other side we have Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who shares an entirely different view.

‘A Talibani crime’: Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tablighi Jammat’s Nizamuddin congregation

I hereby leave it totally on the wisdom of people of India who in true sense need to decide whether they want to play the victim card or take a stand against the spread of the venomous preaching of those insanely radical jokers of mosque during such a bad times for the nation both health wise and at economic front. I heard the leader of the pack Maulana Sadh Mohammad saying in an audio clip played by several news channels that if you die in mosque then nothing can be better than such death. I request you to please think about the well being of your family and loved ones before getting infected by such fundamentalist idiots.

By: Nilesh Ranjan

 

 

 

The Wreckage of Democracy in India!!


Due to lock down of Bengaluru City for a week or two by Karnataka government has brought to me back to blogging once again. Not sure about saying thanks to whom?The COVID-19 virus or government, but let’s focus on the series of events that happened lately in India in last two quarters which may have become one of the prime reasons for anxiety among many of us.

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Both the houses of parliament passed the much awaited bills like revoking of article 370 in the state J&K and the introduction of Citizen Amendment Act popularly known as CAA. For Article 370, no one was able to do create a mayhem as such because of strong preparation from the Government of India. They put all the major leaders from the state in asylum to avoid any potential disturbance in the state but government definitely failed to contain the reaction came over CAA and it finally led to the communal riots in Delhi which took 52 lives as per the media reports. So, what loss to the mankind happened in true sense after the introduction of CAA? Absolutely nothing, but the Indian Muslims has lost the credibility once again by creating the ruckus in the form of protest against CAA all over Delhi and other parts of the country.

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Whoever has instigated the hatred in them doesn’t have the proper estimation of the consequences of itching their bumps using fire sticks. Ask anyone of them what actually they are protesting against? The answer is hypothetical. Even most literate among Muslims are not behind pumping the self afflicted fear in the mind of semi literate creatures from Madrassas(which forms majority of them) that an elected government will implement a law named NRC(National Register for Citizenship) which will subsequently declare an entire community as refugees in their own country. And the shameless people are proud of making their grandmothers sit in protest even in the extreme climatic conditions just for the sake of Biryani and media footage. I mean are you guys serious? You want to destroy your nation just because the government feels the oppressed minorities in three neighboring Islamic nation(Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan) who come to India as refugees should be given the citizenship.You want them to continue living in tents like nomads much like Kashmiri Pandits in the stinking colonies of Jammu after the exodus.

But, I am not blaming the Muslims as a whole and I will never do so and the reason is very simple. When I see a couple speaking the most shocking words after losing one of their infants during their days of protesting at Shaheen Bagh then it’s more of pity then blame. They said it was the sacrifice for Allah. Not sure which holy verses of Qua-ran they were referring to, but that summarized it up for all what they know about a religion. I come from a state where Muslims have cleaned up the roads for Chhath Puja and we have prepared delicacies for Iftaar during the holy month of Ramjan. There had been no rift at all and no such distinction were taught to anyone of us. Then how come the dangerous breed of Jehadis has popped up so dominantly in this country and who actually reproduced them? What is the source of their education and funding for their dirty propaganda against their own motherland?

During the entire episode of Shaheen Bagh and subsequent communal riots in Delhi, I did feel that a full fledged attempt was made to instigate the riot by fueling the hatred in Hindus who lost their patience by seeing the blocked roads and attempt to hijack the law and order situation in Delhi. There are channels who are shamelessly blaming Kapil Mishra(who is also among many losers from Delhi BJP) for all the mess, but they are silent on the tyranny unleashed by a local goon named Tahir Hussain and his ally. They threw acid pouch, petrol bombs and stones on Hindu’s houses in the neighborhood.

Throughout the media reports I did not understand one thing that how come central leadership allowed all this to happen. Either they are interested to show the real face of secularism in India to the entire world under the veil or they may have all together different intentions I guess. If Amit Shah is equipped with so much of inputs about the protests being a part of conspiracy and is funded by anti national agencies then what stopped him to break it before it took away the innocent lives on streets of Delhi. You are allowing people to openly conspire against the nation and throw acid on security personals. We have lost Constable Ratan Lal, IB official Ankit Sharma and many in this experiment and that can cost all of us very dearly in coming time.

20 years back I had never imagined that a day will come in the era of Artificial Intelligence and Modern Science that anyone of us will have to face two extremes of ideologies in a country which always had the place for everyone even the non-believers. History has been the witnessing the consequences of extremism but no one is ready to seek a lesson out of it. We have seen the consequence of a majority among Tamilians having faith in LTTE and the fools paradise they lived in to have a Tamil Eelum. We lost one corrupt prime minister and Lankan Tamils lost their future forever. We have also seen what has happened to Saddam Hussain and Iraq.

I hope someday all those stone pelting Indian Muslims will soon start loving their nation without caring much about what the ill fated Maulanas and fake scholars are saying to mislead them. Someday they will realize that they are about to sacrifice an entire race aimlessly fighting a nation which is meant to be nurtured and embraced for all what it has emerged for after the tyranny from so many invaders for so many years.

By : Nilesh Ranjan

The Infidels!!


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After months of feud with Pashtuns in northern most barren regions of Afghanistan, finally there was peace for some couple of days. At least, I thought so. But others in my regiment believed that hide and seek of bloodshed will soon begin.

Nevertheless, I continued being a soldier. A tough one who was trained to witness the atrocities around him without believing into any sort of classifications between life and dream. For sure I was never a demon however I pretended to be the one in the field, but there was a slogan “Allah ho Akbar”  in particular often used by those murderers which made me hate them much like a demon.

I wanted to cut every throat which dared to speak those words while holding the gun or assault rifles into their hands. And I did it. On third peaceful night, they came back unleashing hell on us. They attacked us with rocket launchers and mortars. I took the position with howitzer gun, but my hand reached out to my army knife hearing the enchanting of “Allah ho Akbar”. My commanding officer saw me with the knife,” Are you going to counter those motherfuckers with that knife?”

“I will slit their throats half and will make them bleed slowly like they torture other beings on this earth. Let them reach to us and I assure you that not a single son of those Muslim bitches will see the dawning today.”

“Look son, we are not here to hate an entire race or religion. We are here to spread a message that no one has been able to find a safe heaven in this world after attacking Americans. Your motives look sordid to me and your words are actually giving me shiver.”

I partially heard what he said in between the heavy noise of artillery. In those peaceful three days, we fixed the barbs to ambush them. Everything was going as per the plan as they were slowly approaching our camp. Our sensor tracked total 60 of them. Our commanding officer executed a blast to create a shock as soon as all of them assembled within our premises considering us dead. And there I was, catching each one of them to slit their throats off. Within few minutes of it I was able to create several mini fountains of blood out of their necks. I kicked their bodies, laughed out loudly and mocked them by saying, “Allah ho Akbar”. Nobody in my unit could believe their eyes.

“What are you trying to demonstrate son?”, asked the unit head.

“Whoever is out there in the woods watching us, should know that there is no existence of Allah, Christ or any damn fucking god for these soon to be dying monsters.”

That night no one spoke to me and soon backup force was there to cover us up. We had to start in next couple of hours to change our base location. We got orders to reach to a nearby Pakistan’s border and wait for the next set of instructions. Our convoy started heading to Torkham from Jalalabad. By noon we reached somewhere near to Goshta where we decided to have our meals which obviously was nothing more than kebab.

Just 18 KMs before we could reach the small town of Torkham, a launcher came and struck to the vehicle ahead of mine. Surprisingly, such a heavy army vehicle toppled 4 times in the air before sliding down into the valley. Similar was the fate of the one I was riding along with 7 fellow commandos, but we were out by that time. It was blissful to see the sky full of fire from every direction and the target was our convoy. We took the cover behind the rocks on that hilly route. I was running out of the time as sun was about to set and that made me assemble my sniper rifle in less than 50 seconds. We were total 13 by now and so I instructed vehicles that followed us to abort their journey and ask for backup. After that I took my position with my rifle from behind a rock which provided me with a natural camouflage due to yellow light of sun. Once again, I was on killing spree.

Within 7 minutes of time, I executed and neutralized more than 12 militants over the hill who were bombing us with RPG. The copper rain of bullets was stopped quickly after that. We waited there for some more time and then slowly started marching ahead at the very first sign of the darkness. It was one of the biggest risks of our lives. A single flashlight in the air could have revealed our positions on the rocky street and we still had 17 KMs to cover before reaching the base camp of Torkham. We were running like marathon guys covering each other.

Soon we crossed the dangerous arena of hilly terrain, but now we had to run for almost 6 miles in the middle of a dense forest. Our radio stopped working due to canopy of trees and using the satellite phone could have led to us in vulnerable situation. So, we decided to proceed without letting anyone know about the coordinates in between the howl of dangerous wild animals. Through my night vision glasses I could see them, but luckily none of them chose to enhance our trouble. Within an hour we were close to the base and our radio signals were back, but fate had something else reserved for me.

As soon as I came out of the wood, a bullet came piercing my right leg. I signaled my team to back off and stay within the cover of forest, but I was trapped from the two directions. Going back into the woods was not a choice I was left with. They wanted to capture me alive for some reasons. Finally, I chose to jump off the cliff on the left side of me. God alone knows how many bones were broken out of that action of mine. All I could remember is that heavy package of my body and armors were rolling up while sliding through the rocky terrains in sheer darkness. And thousands of bullets followed me up, but none of it reached anywhere closer to me. I do not have any remembrance of when and where I lost my consciousness.

On fourth day, I woke up carrying an extreme pain on the left part of my body particularly in leg which seemed to be plastered using some primitive techniques. After several attempt to bear that pain, I finally gave up and screamed my heart out. An old lady came from nowhere and kept the conical tip of an unfiltered hookah stuffed with opium in between my lips and signaled to smoke it off. It worked magically as I felt the relief after just having few puffs from it.

“Initially we thought you are dead, but my son did not give up on you and forced me to listen your half-hidden heartbeats. Trust me it’s the benevolence of an eight-year aged guy that you are still alive.”

I turned my head towards the right to see the person who spoke those words. It was a tall muscular figure dressed much like those filthy Pashtuns whom I was slaughtering few days back. His name was Abdullah and he was the head of that village tribe. I greeted him like I was trained to. He came closer to me and sat on a woven chair next to my cot and took my hand in his hands and gently kissed it. Soon, a boy came out from another hut and sat on Abdullah’s lap.

“He is my son Zabir. He is the one who spotted you lying in those thorny bushes and informed us. Your left leg was badly mutilated. It took around 7 hours for us to take out all the bullets from your leg. Your main femur bone, tibia and fibula has got 6 fractures all together and it may take another 45 days for you to recover completely. I hope you understand that. We saved your life because I know you American soldiers are risking your lives to free this land from Taliban.”

“Are you from northern alliance?”, I asked with serious weakness in my voice.

“Yes, I am. I am also guardian of this village and you are safe here till the time you don’t do anything stupid. Be our guest for couple of months. Help our kids to learn some English.”, saying that he got up with two heavy assault rifles on his heavy shoulders and left with few other armed men.

In between Zabir came with a burqa clad woman. She said something in her language which I certainly did not understand but through gesture I thought it was a way to greet. She brought some food in a bone china plate. Since I was not strong enough to get up from the cot all by myself, few boys came to assist me to provide a semi-sleeping position. Her face was covered and so I could only see her eyes through that veil.

She wrapped some kebab into a piece of wheat bread and fed me. With first bite itself I cursed, “Is there anything else to eat in this god forbidden country apart from kebabs?”

She got little petrified, but I requested her through sign language to feed me more as I was hungry like hell. She gave me something to drink. Not sure what it was but it did the job to quench my thirst. I thanked her and tried to start some conversation.

“My name is Allen. What’s your name my dear lady?”

She quickly got up from her place and rushed back into the hut without saying anything. Obviously, she did not understand English. All this time Zabir was looking at me in puzzle. I asked him to come closer to me.

“Who is she? Your Mother?”, I asked while giving him some comfort. He nodded in no.

“Alright. Then she must be your Sister I guess.” This time he nodded into yes.

“So, what’s her name? I mean like you are Zabir, I am Allen. What’s her name?”, I somehow tried to make his understand what I was trying to say. He looked puzzled but then he said, “Alia! Her name is Alia.”

“Oh, that’s such a beautiful name.”, I then requested him to get my bag which was way too heavy for an eight-year aged kid. Still, he managed to bring to me. I took out a pouch which had some chocolates and energy bars. I gave some to him and the kids around there. Then I took out a bigger one and asked Zabir to give it to Alia. He went inside the hut singing something. I guess she was standing right there behind the curtain watching everything.

Days started to pass, and I slowly got comfortable with their language. I heard them sloganeering “Allah ho Akbar” at many instances but never felt threatened or found it scary. So, what was different between those Pashtuns and this tribe? Both were having the same religion and god. I tried capturing the moments through the lens of my camera, but women were very shy to come closer to it. Alia fed me two times during the daytime in the absence of any village men. One day I clicked the picture of her beautiful eyes with her permission.

I tried talking to her at multiple instances, but she never replied and preferred to watch me talking to kids and old women from behind the curtain. She looked at every equipment of mine with utter delight and one day I gifted my expensive watch to her. After a lot of resistance, she finally wore it over her left wrist. In those days I fixed many primitive electronic equipment they had like radios, television and transistors but none of my devices were working which could establish the contact with my unit. I requested Abdullah at many occasions to inform the headquarters about me being alive. Somehow, they will evict me out from there. He said it could be dangerous if the information about giving shelter to an American soldier spreads around as his village was constantly under the attack by Talibs.

On fourth week I was mostly cured but still had to use the crutches to walk. Thankfully, both my hands started to work to the extent when I could use my heavy weapons and the army knife. I woke up hearing someone screaming loudly with his gun pointed at me. Abdullah and others were flexing their muscles with that man. I quickly got down from the cot and aimed my 9 mm pistol at him.

“Put it down you fool.”, said Abdullah signalling me to put down my gun. I followed his instructions considering gravity of the situation. Soon that man left with furious anger. He spit on the ground and promised to return with hundreds of mujahids.

Zabir came closer to me and hugged me tightly. I asked him, “Who is that guy? And why is he aiming his gun at me?”

“He is among Talib. Every month he comes to patrol our village to ensure that we follow the Saria law as stated in Hadith. He is angry to find that we are protecting an infidel. He has threatened that every man and boy of this village will be slaughtered, and women will be taken away as sex slaves if we do not handover you to them.”, He started crying while saying all that.

I hugged him and said, “Do not worry. Nothing will happen to you or Alia.”

“Did you really mock Allah like that man was saying? He said that giving shelter to an infidel will bring anger from Allah to this village and we all will die of plague.”

“Yes, I did mock the god because of a very less understanding about it. I never thought there was any humanitarian side associated to it as well while reciting his name. Before coming to this village, I always heard the name of Allah by those monsters.”, I said that with brutal honesty. Entire village was gathered to hear me out and make their own assessment about an infidel.

“Allah is above all. He is the only forgiving force to those sinners and that is why it is even more important for those murderers to recite his name. We will have to shift you somewhere else as it is no way safer for you to stay here. Those Talibs can come anytime now after knowing your presence in this village.”, Abdullah came in rescue of mine seeing the mood of the villagers.

“What’s going on Abdullah? I told you to inform the US army base in Torkham. Look, now everyone is in trouble because of me.”

“I did so. They will also be coming but you never know who is going to be the first.”, replied Abdullah.

I decided to walk with them, but they put me on a donkey along with other stuffs and shifted me to a safe house outside the village. It was a small one room hut with a tin roof in between the campus of a small school which they termed as Madrassa. Next day Alia came with some eatables to me all alone and kept staring at me from behind the veil while I was having the food. I gathered all my courage and took the hold of her hands. In all those 26 days I fell in love with her without even seeing her face. She did not resist me and lifted her veil from the face.

“Oh dear! You are so beautiful!! Nothing can be more generous towards an infidel to see your face before leaving this world.”, I said looking at her blissful eyes and slowly kept her hands over my chest. We kept kissing each other for hours. It appeared like time has stopped there relentlessly. My life was changed, and I was no more a soldier. She took me back into my childhood when it was difficult to differentiate between life and dream.

Next day I spoke to Abdullah and shared my ideas with him. “I wish to take both Zabir and Alia with me to America after I am done here. Your country is a beautiful place but it’s war conflicted. I want to marry Alia and give her a new life far away from those gunshots.”

He did not reply to me instantly but after few moments took my hand and kissed it gently. “You are a noble soul indeed and I am sure I can never provide a better future to Zabir and Alia here. Who will look after them if something happens to me?”

It’s been a week since I shifted to this place and it’s constantly raining from last couple of days. Alia also did not turn up today. Around 3 PM I heard an attack from rocket launcher. I took the position with my rifle, but the village was beyond the range of it. Walking through the barren land till the village gate could be suicidal. I was worried about Alia who took my knife yesterday. With every sound of a gunshot my heart started to pound badly.

The rain is relentless. I hear it thrumming on the metal roof and running down the broken pipe into the mud, and I moisten my cracked lips with my tongue. I wonder if they’ll bring me food and water. I wonder if they’re coming at all…

 

                                                                     The End

The Deceit


It was monsoon on the streets of Mumbai, and I was waiting for her at the famous Oberoi Cafe near Malad flyover. At last, she turned up after making me wait for almost 15 minutes. She accompanied by two of her assistants, who seemed to be a kind of identical crooks. I had the table reserved, which made it easier for her to spot me. She shook my hands with utter firmness.

The-Deceit-photography-520673

“My apologies for being late Mr. Shyam as I got caught up in a traffic jam due to heavy downpour near Goregoan signal. I am Prabha Tiwari, your appointed attorney and these two gentlemen are here to assist me in documenting our conversation to prepare a case.”

I never understand the fact that why women lawyers are so hyped about, especially those who have rusty guys with heavy mustache as their assistants. I had the initial hesitation to discuss a case related to divorce to another woman because I always believed that they have a kind of prejudice against all the men. Somehow, she sensed it with another over hyped sixth sense of her.

“So, tell me all about your marriage without hiding any facts and nuances related to it. Has your wife been cynically lunatic, medically unfit or is she cheating upon you in some or other way? I had done my little research on your life and found that it was quite a love marriage without having love at first sight, which is good. I admire such concepts of life where things are based on facts rather than instincts but was not really able to relate it to a stockbroker.” She said that many things breathlessly with a witch kind of smile over her broad face.

I decided to tell her everything about it right from the inception of my relationship with my wife. She switched on a recording device before I could start.

“Back in year 2014, when everything seems to be falling apart in my life, a woman appeared from nowhere and held my hands firmly. It was the time when I thought of giving up on myself and anything associated to me. But she ignited that flame and brought me back into the game, which I almost lost few weeks back. I incurred so much of loss to my organization that they were about to show pink slip to me, but some members from the board of directors were still having faith in me. They appointed her as my personal secretory.”

I got into stock market again, did my research thoroughly and made some smart investments and all that turned the wheel of fortune towards me. I became the star once again, got rid of any overhead liabilities on me, went to meet my parents and brought them back from their world of sorrow and agony. They agreed to come and stay with me at my new flat here at Versova.

After few days of success and celebration, I finally acquired the courage to propose her to marry me near the bank of river Ganga during one of our vacations in Uttarkashi. She seemed to be skeptical initially but later had to trust me after I made her hear out my heartbeat.

She asked me to light a cigarette for her and after having few puffs from it, she said “Yes, let’s get married and settle down. Our association has been favorable from quite some time, so let’s make best out of it.” And then she winked at me with a pretty smile over her face. River Ganga never appeared so serene to me before. Such was the bliss seeing her around me.

We got married in the month of July and went to Paris for honeymoon. Soon after the trip, we resumed back to our work. She continued to be my personal secretory and did all the financial assessment for all that transactions I did in those days. I must tell you that she was an unmatched analyst in terms of risk assessment of any financial deals we made. Not a single anticipation of her went in vein. Many a times I felt that she was way smarter than me and deserved to be on my chair as Managing Director of the company. My obsession increased for her with every passing day and one evening while having coffee on our terrace garden I said, “I love you Issica and I can never imagine a life without you even for a moment”.

She looked at me in dismay, which gave a shiver to me from inside. I wondered what went wrong. She said, “I love you too, but please do not say things which you don’t really mean. Such words from men are very likely to be a kind of sweeping statement, which are often said metaphorically.”

That night I hugged her tight on bed in a way to cast her all over my chest. She too curled up like a baby in my arms and kissed my forehead. I asked her gently, “Why did you choose to marry me? You could have said no there in Uttarkashi. I mean just look at you. You are beautiful, educated and quite an achiever. You must be having a lot of choices to make. There were bunch of younger souls than me in office, who were dying to seek your attention even for a second.”

She looked straight into my eyes and said, “I know where all this is coming from. So, let me clear your doubts. The day I was appointed as a personal secretory of yours, I realized that I needed you more than you needed me. I saw you struggling to make time to speak to your parents and friends despite so much of pressure at work, which showed that you truly value relationships. Your marriage proposal might have been in heist, but that certainly was an opportunity for me to have a wonderful husband like you in my life. On top of it you are a marketing genius with a golden heart. You treat people with respect irrespective of their social stature and such a trait is rare to find these days.”

“I felt little peace with myself like a typical male chauvinist after hearing her out, but somehow that insecurity was already instilled in me.” I took a pause and asked the waiter to serve another round of coffee.

“So, how did you end up suspecting your wife for infidelity despite having such a romantic chemistry between you two?” asked the lawyer.

“Nothing starts suddenly. First, she stopped cooking the breakfast for me, which she did out of passion every morning. Initially, I thought it’s just the burden of work, so I hired a cook and instructed him to follow her orders. Then she stopped travelling to office with me and preferred to drive herself.”

“Did you try to speak to her or met anyone from her family like parents?”

“Yes, I did. She never answered me for any of my questions. She says that she had been orphaned when she was 22 in age. In last 5 years of our marriage, I haven’t seen anyone in her life whom she could refer to as a friend of her.”

“How did you find out that she is cheating upon you? I mean is this just a kind of speculation or do you really have any evidence to prove that?” asked the lawyer.

“I have a reason to believe so. Couple of months back, she took few days of leave from office citing health conditions. One day it was bit late for me at work, so I decided to have my dinner at a famous Irani Cafe near to my house.” I said.

“So, what happened there?”

There was a couple sitting in the cafe when I walked in. As the light was low, I didn’t know who they were until the woman turned around, and I saw it was my wife.

“So, you mean all this which you call infidelity started from there?”, Ms. Prabha asked.

That caused some sort of irritation in me and I said, “I wonder how they call you a prestigious lawyer because I see you as a person full of prejudice. Do you really believe that I can simply declare her a cheat by mere seeing her sharing a table with another man?”

“My job is to suspect everyone including my clients because most of them lie to me shamelessly and expect me to win the case for them. I really don’t care who you are personally till the time you are paying up my bills. Anyways, shall we continue to this as I am not left with much of the time. You wanted us to file the case tomorrow. Right?”

Even I wanted to get rid of narrating a story. So, I continued, “The issue was not seeing her with someone over there at Cafe rather it was the way I saw her. She never appeared that happy to me before. She was holding the hand of the person with poise and everything looked like a perfect romantic date. She was wearing the same red dress that I bought her during our honeymoon trip in Paris”

“Did you recognize the person she was dating with?”, the lawyer.

“No, I told you before that due to low light I was not able to see the face of that person. But I believe it was one of my colleagues Amar as he was in tremendous love with her before we got married. He continued flirting with her even after our marriage.”

“Did you take any kind of photograph to prove that your wife is actually seeing someone known or unknown to you? I mean we must convince the judge not to let you go under serious counselling, which is very likely to happen if we simply go with hypothesis without anything to prove”, She said while making few notes.

“I did try to do so, but not sure what went wrong with the camera of my mobile phone. Everything came so clearly except her new boyfriend. In fact, I took the service of a detective agency as well.”

She looked at me suspiciously and frowned. “You hired a detective agency against your wife!! And what did they come up with?”

“They simply wasted my money. They deployed one dedicated person behind my wife for around a month and they found nothing against her. They saw her in that Cafe multiple times, but all alone.”

“In short, we do not have anything against her to prove the betrayal, which is okay. Did you ever tell your wife that you want to separate out from her?” She was still frowning.

“I did say that to her but never had the courage to mention the reason for it. Somehow, I didn’t want to offend her. She asked whether I have found someone else to live with. I felt like laughing at, but then I saw her weeping for long throughout the night. I still wonder why she cried?”

Ms. Prabha looked at one of her assistants and he nodded about something in ‘Yes’ to her. She asked, “Where is she staying now a days? I am sure she is not staying with you anymore.”

“Yes, you are actually right about it. After couple of days when I came back from office, a note from her was lying at the door. She has mentioned that she has rented a house in a nearby locality and she was fine. Same day I received her resignation.”

Finally, one of the lawyer’s assistant spoke, “Can you please take a day off tomorrow? I need you at my clinic for around 3 to 4 hours to have some important sessions. Trust me this is serious!”

“And by the way who are you Sir?”, I asked gently to the gentleman.

“I am Dr.Mhatre, a clinical psychiatrist. An expert in such cases. Many lawyers seek my services in a matter like this.”

I did not understand what he meant, but before I could say anything, they were gone leaving me puzzled.

Next day, I went to see the psychiatrist. Ms. Prabha was also sitting there. She greeted me with generosity and guided me to a well decorated room. I was offered a glass of wine. “So, what is this about?” I said to her.

“Alright. Let me be very straight to you. Based on our discussion we feel that you had a kind of delusion. We feel that you are being mistaken someone else with your wife. You might have seen some other lady wearing a similar kind of red gown that you bought for your wife in Paris.”

I was literally pissed off and wanted to break that glass of wine over her head. “You mean I am being illusion ed by considering some random woman as my wife in café. You must be joking.”

“No, she is not!!”, said Dr. Mhatre from behind. I did not see him coming.

He further continued, “And I can prove that to you. Let me ask you a question. Why do you think that detective agency failed to get anything about her in 30 days even after deploying their best men behind her? If she is having a perfect romantic relationship as you said and witnessed, then why others are not seeing it?”

For the first time in my life, I was not having answers to so many questions. I felt perplexed by all his questions. Anticipating my reactions, he pointed towards the projected screen. It displayed the CCTV footage of same Irani Cafe near to my house where I saw my wife dating someone.

“I have gathered those footage from the Cafe you mentioned yesterday specially for all those days when you felt your wife’s presence over there.”

“Felt?”, I failed to control my obvious reaction to his words.

“Yes, my friend. Because half the time she was not even there. Coincidentally, she went there two to three times on the dates mentioned by you, but just look at footage about what it says.”

The CCTV footage was showing her having coffee all by herself at a corner without accompanying anyone. Nonetheless, she was not wearing red gown in any of those footage.

One thing was getting clearer that my wife was not seeing anyone as per the available records, but the fact remained same that I saw her with my own eyes holding someone’s hand in that Cafe.

“Okay. Let’s do a virtual reality session. It’s simple. Please wear this head device. We are going to create a simulation to recreate the cafe’s situation. Let’s see what we can find through this. You will be able to hear me throughout this session and let me know wherever you find it uncomfortable.”

He handed a kind of heavy mobile device to me with head gear and bands associated to it. I was not knowing what was going around me, but I wore that device which totally covered my eyes and area around it. He switched on something and once again I found myself standing in the same Irani Café. It was an evening time and there were couples mostly students having coffee and chattering their hearts out.

“Did you see her?”

“Not yet!!”, I replied.

I took a corner seat in the cafe and ordered my favorite late and continued rolling my eyes at every corner of it. And there she was. I smiled to find her in the same red gown, and someone was sitting opposite to her. She was holding his hand exactly the way I saw her the other day.

“What do you see now?”

“I see her sitting with her boyfriend.”

“How does she look?”

“Stunning like she always been.”

“How do you feel?”

“I feel totally in love with her. I want to tell her that how much I love her and cannot live without her even for a moment.”

“Whom she is sharing the table with?”

That I was not sure of once again due to low light.

“Then why don’t you go bit closer and see it by yourself. In that way we may have some evidence against her. Right?”, This time it was Ms. Prabha and hearing those words from her scared me to the core. Now, I had no intentions to gather any evidence against my wife. I had nothing in me except love for her and it felt so ecstatic. Still, I decided to go.

Every step of mine towards her was taking my breath away and I was feeling numbness in my legs. My lips were getting dried up. And there I was, just behind her. I could smell the perfume she was smearing on.

“Now, can you please kneel down a bit and see the person she is dating with?”, It was a mixed voice of two three people.

I slowly knelled and saw who it was for the first time in last six months. I felt the gush in my adrenaline.

“What happen Mr. Shyam? Tell us who was it?”, asked Mhatre impatiently.

I wanted to tell them but fell short of words which made me to cry inconsolably. He took away that VR (Virtual Reality) device from my head and asked me to relax but I wept for next half an hour.

“Hope you are feeling better now!!”, asked the lawyer.

“Yes.”

“Can you please share with us about what you saw there? I mean if you are comfortable then only.”

I gathered all my strength and said, “It was me!! All this time I was seeing the romantic part of me sharing the table with her in that cafe.”

 

The End