Monday, 28 July 2008
I remember my son’s first day in school till date. His initial excitement was infectious. My husband spent every evening buying him things he needed for his school. A new bag, a water bottle, new uniform, pencil box, pencils, erasers, etc. He kept saying that our boy will grow up to be the best son in the world.
I drove him to his school. When I dropped him off at the gate to an affectionate looking school maid and started to leave, he called out, “Where are you going?” I promptly replied, “Home beta. I will pick you up in an hour. You be good okay” and kissed him on his forehead.
Probably at this point he realized that he will be left alone to take his first step into his new world. He looked scared. I could see that he was about to cry. I gave him a hug and assured him that I would be back in an hour to pick him up.
“Don’t go. Come with me.”, he said
“I can’t dear. This is your school. See none of the mothers are going in. Are all the other kids crying?”
“Don’t go.” He continued to say listening to nothing.
“You wait outside. I will see you from that window.” He said.
“Your little sister is waiting for me to come home. Please be a good boy and stay nice. I will get you the car you wanted if you are good.” Now the deal seemed good. “Okay ma. But come back soon. You will come na?”
“Yes dear, I will”.
Years later, I am sitting in this small dusty room with a small window waiting for my son to come to me. He promised that he will come and take me as soon as his new house was ready. He said it won’t be more than a week.
It’s been a year, I haven’t seen my son. After loosing my husband and daughter, he is all I have. I am still waiting for him to keep his promise the way I did when I left him in school on the first day…..
The phone rang. I was in the shower. I knew that Aadi will not be in a position to take the call. He had been drinking all night. “Probably he is still asleep.” I said to myself and wrapped a towel around me to go out and take the call.
“Hello, Madhu here.” I answered.
The voice on the other end was very familiar. It was Rishi.
My bother Manav & Rishi were best friends in college. They were inseparable. I and Rishi fell in love but we kept it a secret as we knew Manav would not approve. Rishi now worked for a law firm and was doing well. My husband on the other hand was a raging alcoholic. He was once a very successful doctor, but his lust for the bottle was stronger than the love for his profession.
Rishi’s father had died. Manav and Ayesha were on their way. My sister-in-law Ayesha and I never got along. She was a selfish woman full of vain and greed. Aadi disgusted her. Probably she was coming along to make sure I do not bond with my brother. I shook Aadi to wake him up & he swore.
“There was an accident on the highway 27 yesterday afternoon. It has claimed two lives. According to the police investigations, the bodies belong to Mr. & Mrs. Shah, the owners of the famous diamond jewellery showroom, Dazzle. According to their daughter the couple were returning after finishing a land deal in the village. The deal was closed at Rs. 10 crores. The buyer, Mr. Mehra, of the land confirmed the same. Mr. Mehra had paid a cheque of Rs. 5 crores and the rest by cash. According to him, the cash was in a huge red bag. The police found the cheque among the documents carried by Mr. Shah but the bag is missing. A search for the same is going on since last night. The police believe that the missing cash is much more than 5 crores as land deals always involves black money. Both Ms. Shah and Mr. Mehra are refusing to confirm this.”
The radio was reporting news in the small police station as I entered.
I wanted to talk, but my voice chocked. The policemen offered me water and I sat down to tell them what I had been dying to say. I handed them a bag and started to narrate.
“My name is Madhulika. I, my husband, Aditya, my brother Manav, my sister-in-law Ayesha and my friend Rishi were travelling back from Sonanpur. We were returning after finishing the last rites of my friend Rishi’s father. We left yesterday afternoon and just after we joined the highway, we spotted an accident.
A car was upside down and 2 people were trapped inside. We went to help them, but they were already dead. Their belongings were scattered on the field nearby. Rishi and I were trying to call the police when Aditya interrupted from behind. He had found a red bag full of money. Ayesha’s eyes were sparkling. They were against our decision to call. Manav surprisingly supported us, but Ayesha convinced him against it. They didn’t want to stand there so we drove off and checked in into the first drive-in lodge we could locate.
We had a discussion on what can be done with so much money. Aadi suggested that we split it among ourselves and spend it slowly. Ayesha immediately agreed. I was against it. Manav appeared to be in deep thought. ‘What if the police trace us?’ he asked. ‘No way. No body saw us. So please shut up.’ snapped Ayesha. I was taken aback by the way she spoke to my bother. Rishi was silently standing by the window observing us. ‘Why don’t you tell them it’s a bad idea rather than just standing there’, I asked. He was still silent.
‘Let’s just take a nap and then decide what we can do about it. We are all tired right now. We can make a decision by evening.’ he said after sometime. Everyone agreed and we went to our rooms. Aadi had already ordered a drink. I was very angry at his behaviour and decided to just sleep.
‘Can’t you hear anything you damn women? Someone is shouting’ shouted Aadi while waking me up. ‘You are hallucinating. Please sleep.’ I replied but seconds later I heard someone scream. We ran out. Manav’s room door was open. We went in and saw blood all over the place. I was shocked. Ayesha was also missing. I wanted to shout and call someone. Aadi put his hand on my mouth and dragged me away. ‘We will be caught with the money, you idiot. Just shut up and run.’ He said.
‘Aadi is right’ said Rishi. I was shocked. His best friend was missing, probably dead and he didn’t care. He just wanted to escape with the money. They dragged me and the money bag to the car and took off. I was too shocked to speak anything and I probably just fainted on the way. When I woke up, I was in a bed in a strange room. My head was spinning.
‘So you are okay now?’ enquired Rishi. ‘Where are we?’ I asked. ‘In a hotel. It became dark and you were ill, so we checked in here.’ He replied. ‘Where is Aadi?’ I asked. ‘In the bar’ he promptly replied. I was disgusted. I wanted to scream and cry. My brother was probably dead by now. My husband could not stop drinking. My friend, my true love seemed like a different person altogether. At this moment, probably reading my thoughts through my face, Rishi hugged me to console me.
‘I knew this will happen. You dirty women’ shouted Aadi from behind. He had a glass in his hand and I could see that he was totally drunk. ‘You killed Manav and Ayesha for the money and now you are convincing my wife to kill me also?’ said Aadi looking at Rishi. I was shocked. Did Rishi actually kill them? Before I could find a reply Rishi said, ‘Yes.’ He charged towards Aadi and started to stab him with a knife he had. Aadi also attacked him with the glass he was holding.
Too shocked by seeing this, I decided to get help. I grabbed the bag which started all this and started running till I reached here. Please go back and check what has happened to them. The hotel was called, Traveller’s Paradise. It’s about 10 minutes from here.”
The policeman stared at me for a while and started giving out instructions. He sent someone to the Hotel and asked a constable to start counting the money in the bag I brought.
The police could not find any bodies. They could just get some blood samples. The bag contained 5 crores. They enquired Ms. Shah and Mr. Mehra again and again about the actual amount of cash. They never changed their story. After a lot of interrogation, they decided that I had nothing to do with their disappearance. They found the knife which injured or killed Aadi, Manav & Ayesha. They also found the glass pieces used by Aadi to hurt Rishi. As the bodies could not be located, they were declared missing and I was left alone.
“…..police are yet to find their bodies. This has become the most mysterious case since the disappearance of Mrs. Madhulika Goel in similar mysterious circumstances as the other four, two months ago. As the blood traces found in her bed matched with hers, the police have finally declared her also missing. No one has any clue about the people who could have taken away the bodies or killed Mrs Goel.
The radio was reporting as we were driving up the mountains. The bag indeed has more than 5 crores, 7.5 to be precise. It’s our good luck that the concerned people did not open their mouths. Now we have enough money to resolve all the personal problems we had and start a new life. It was Rishi’s idea actually. Aadi helped him stage all the killings. His medical skills were useful to us. Manav and Ayesha found the perfect hiding place for all of us. Now we are all rich and missing in police records. We will soon be declared dead and we have a lot of tax free money to enjoy our lives. “Come on Madhu, lets leave” called Ayesha from behind. “Coming”
The car sped off at a high speed uphill knocking off an already shaking sign board.
Steep fall ahead.
Don’t go beyond this point.
It’s been 11 months 19 days since my last post. Life has changed a lot since I left Mumbai.
- I started living away from my parents for the second time in my life (First was when I went to Trivandrum for job related training. That was only 6 weeks. This one is fore-ever)
- I got engaged (in September) and then married (in February). This was the primary reason why I moved to Chennai.
- I moved from Mylapore to Tambaram with my husband and mother-in-law. This happens to be my fourth house in the past one year.
- I quit my job and moved to a new company.
Phew.... A lot of considering that my life was almost inert last year.
While in Bench (Without any constructive work in the new company), I happened to see a lot of my colleagues writing poems & stories for the office bulletin board which is a mail forum. Enthusiastically, I also wrote two stories, which a lot of people liked.
Those will constitute my next two posts. Two other stories are ‘In Progress’ state.
Now that I have constructive work in office (out of bench), they may be in 'In Progress' state for some time...
Friday, 10 August 2007
I applied for a transfer. The process was taking its own sweet time so the D-day looked far away. Suddenly everything fell into place and I was moving out. This time, permanently. I wasn't thrilled. Fear and uncertainty dominated my mind. My heart was aching. I couldn't look directly into my mother's sad eyes. Travel to the airport was mechanical. The check-in and boarding was no different. The realization came when the flight took off and I saw my beloved Mumbai from the sky. I knew that this was my final tear-eyed good bye to the city that has been my home for more than 23 years.
Chennai has always been my second home. Actually its my birth place. It’s been a week since I have been living here and I am already complaining about people and traffic the way I used to in Mumbai. My friends insist that my accent has already changed, which I know is not true. The familiarity is beginning, certainty is returning and security is strengthening. With passage of time I am sure this will become my home.
Monday, 23 July 2007
When he landed in Mumbai, he was a wanted criminal on run. The book describes his 8 years of life in Mumbai. In the first year here he lived in a village for 6 months and was given the name Shataram by the mother of his tourist guide, Prabhakar, who later on became one of his closest friends. He is not known by this name in the city. Yet Roberts decided to call his book Shantaram. Probably because it’s more Indian than Lin, the name by which he is actually known. Incidentally he is names Lin by Prabhakar.
Initially, he lived in slums, made his living by commission in the drug and black money market. Then he joined Bombay mafia, fought in Afghanistan, spent some time in Indian jail and also fell in love with a German.
The book is very huge but fast moving. In all it’s is an interesting book. If you love reading, go for it.