Monday, June 21, 2010
Year 2007. Divya had been in Ravi’s life for a quite some time. It all started when they participated in the college cultural function. Every year, the Computer science students were divided randomly into four groups and competition were held between them. The day was called as the ‘CSE Fest’. Dance, drama, adzap and what not! Drama was the toughest category. The other competitions didn’t require any acting or dialogues as such which made drama a no-taker. No one was willing to even audition for the roles. Yes, the story was ready. It was penned by Ravi himself who was a well-known writer in college. He was a college hero with two best selling books to his credit. He was liked by all for his charming and soft nature. When they were about give up, there was one girl, Divya, a fresher in college, who agreed to audition for the role of Laila, the protagonist of the drama. She was everything what Ravi wanted. He couldn’t take his eyes off her when they were rehearsing. She was stunning to look at and her acting, wow! It was something he hadn’t seen in any of the amateurs who had auditioned for his stage dramas. Gradually, he was falling for her. He was in his third year which meant he had lot of free time to kill. Whenever he was free, he would go to her class and whisk her away for rehearsals. The skit was about a couple who broke off a year back, only to meet again when the guy gets engaged and decides to give the first invite to his first love. Day by day, Ravi started to hate Amit more than he hated anyone else in his life. For those who are still in confusion, Amit played the role of Guru, Laila’s ex-lover. The story had numerous flashback scenes where they are being close, holding hands and all that stuff. The closeness wasn’t much but the after effect was proving costly. Even after the rehearsals, Amit walked Divya to her class, chatting with her all the while. If he had picked a normal looking guy for the role, it wouldn’t be bad. But this guy, Amit, he was handsome! That made it even more difficult for Ravi. The following night, Ravi sat down at his desk with a cup of coffee and the script in his hand.
*Beep one*, this particular night marked the birth of Ravi’s bad side. Like I said earlier, there are two groups of people. Well, Ravi belonged to the second group. He knew very well that he was doing an evil thing!
Ravi sat down to redo his script. He worked for two hours straight to cut off Guru’s character and still have the same effect of the original story. But it wasn’t working for him. Ravi was a wizard when it came to stories; he could change a bad one-liner into an epic story. Something was holding him back, maybe his good side; the critic inside him bashed the story as nothing more than a wimpy portrayal of a contorted storyline. He had already committed to directing the drama and he had no way of getting out of it. He tore out the pages in anger, his face turning red. He took the coffee cup and threw it at the wall smashing it into pieces.
“Ravi, what happened?” someone knocked on the door. It was his mom.
“I… I am fine. I just dropped the coffee cup. Going to sleep now, good night!” he said, clenching his fists in fury.
He lay down on his bed, looking up at the ceiling, the deep rage inside him reaching the highest degree. It was a long night. He kept squirming in bed until the clock beside his bed struck 5 am. Then the thought sprang up from nowhere. He stopped for a minute, taking in all the stuff that could make it happen. He let out a malicious grin and was fast asleep in minutes.
The next day dawned bright and clear. He was all smiles when he reached the college and all his friends were looking at him in a different light. Little did they know that their friend was in a devilish mood. The rehearsal started and not in a good way. Amit came in, an hour late.
“An hour late, Amit. What were you doing? Counting the eggs you laid yesterday?” Ravi said laughing, his friends joining him. Amit being a second year student couldn’t say anything to his senior except “I messaged you, Ravi. That I will be coming late. I was at my uncle’s place and it is really far off from college.”
“Don’t turn it around on me, ok? I didn’t get any message!” he said, smiling at what he had done. He had erased the message right when he got it. “Guys, have a look at my mobile.”
His friends checked the mobile and obviously came up with the answer which made Ravi happy while it made Amit look like a liar.
“Hereafter call me. Anyway, from the top, people” Ravi said. All through the rehearsal, he kept picking on Amit and sometimes when it was quite obvious he was picking on him on purpose, he would change the focus for once, to Divya, so as to make others think that ‘Ravi was an ethical person’. But the damage was on Amit. At the end of the rehearsal, Amit looked like a complete idiot. Ravi went over and talked to Divya. ‘Talked’ would be a misnomer; ‘Flirted’ would be the apt word. This was his only chance to chat with her and to become friends with her. After the fest, it might prove difficult. He had to lay the ground work before the fest so as to keep in touch with her even after the fest.
“The story is so sensitive, Ravi. I love it! I am sure it will be a hit” she said.
“Thanks Divya. You know, your dialogue delivery is awesome. You can’t be an amateur” Ravi said.
“Thanks. I am an amateur, Ravi. Promise!” she said, placing her hands on her head and smiling.
“Well, then. I think you should audition for a role in my upcoming stage drama. Will you be interested?” he asked.
“Stage drama? Oh my god! Ravi, college drama is different from the real theater! I will be scared in front of all those people” she said, blushing.
“It is the same, Divya. I will help you. This Sunday, we have an audition. I want to see you in the Art gallery theater in egmore at 10. Got it?” he asked, smiling.
“Sure. Thanks, Ravi.” She said, skipping away in joy.
There is a hook! I have made the perfect move to keep her hooked to me even after the fest. Now to get the stupid Amit out of the way! Ravi’s inner self was planning the perfect vicious plan. Being a story writer was paying off in his real life too!
Ravi was chatting with his friends.
“Guys, Amit is losing it. He is terrible for the role.” Ravi said.
“But he is the only guy who has auditioned for the role and we have only a week ahead, Ravi” one of his friends said.
“That’s true. But if we want to have a shot at the trophy, we need to change him. Now is the time. If we keep him, till the end, we would be screwed” Ravi said, showing genuine concern in his face.
“Ok, if we take him off, who is going to play the role of Guru?” someone asked out from the group.
“Well, I am not sure. Since no one else auditioned and that I myself know the character in and out, I think I can play the role. But I need some help from you guys as well.” Ravi said, placing the cherry on top of his evil cake.
After a brief silence and few of them exchanging glances, they said “Alright, sure. All we want is to win the trophy”
“What should we tell Amit?” One of them called out.
“That I will take care” Ravi said, standing up and marching towards the CSE block.
“Amit, this is not going to be easy” Ravi said, after calling him out of the class.
“The drama team thinks you are not doing well in the role of Guru. They think you will do great in a role which is more subtle, like the one you did last year.”
“What? But I tried my best, Ravi. Please give me another chance. I will do better.” Amit said, in a pleading tone. Ravi’s good side surfaced just for a split second when he thought he should give him a chance. Just then, Divya walked by, saying hi to Ravi and Amit. The good side was gone!
“It is not about me, Amit. The team feels so. I can’t do anything if they have come to a decision. I am sorry. Listen, I got to go, don’t feel bad. I will surely come to you with a better role soon” Ravi, said, hurrying towards the stairs while Amit stood there, on the verge of crying.
When he climbed down the stairs, his inner self shouted out “Ahaa! Get lost, you loser”
He thought he had done everything to make the way clear for him to make a move at Divya. It was a year since he had met her and the time was running out. In a month or so, the college was going to close and it would mark the end of college for Ravi. He had to do something fast. He had become pretty close with Divya by now, but still he didn’t know how to tell her. He was meeting her almost daily, in college and even during weekends, in the theater rehearsals. His bad side hadn’t resurfaced after the Fest and he was his usual self. One fine day, he decided to tell her how he felt. He walked to her class as usual after the final bell. Her class was emptying out and Ravi could see her sitting over by the window packing her bags. It would be sometime before the whole class is empty, so Ravi decided to take a leak, wash his face and meet her as the Prince charming she wouldn’t say NO to. After ten minutes of make up in the wash room, he slowly made his way to her class, trying to control his joy. The class was empty except for a two people sitting beside the windows on the other side of the room. It was Amit and Divya. He was holding her hands and they were both looking at a mobile. Amit slowly looked up and saw Ravi standing out.
“Hi Ravi! I was just talking to Divya” he said, standing up, jerking off Divya hands.
“Ravi. Hi! Come on in“ Divya said.
Ravi was standing there in shock. He slowly made his way into the class.
“What.. er.. what is this?” he said, pointing towards Amit and Divya.
“Well… Ravi. I like Amit a lot. I should have told you. But you are very close to me and I was feeling shy to tell you this. Anyway glad that you know about it now” she said, holding Amit’s hand. Amit stood there with the same expression of a thief when he is caught.
“Oh… I.. Oh. That’s great! Good for you guys. Anyway I just came here to tell you that the audition is off for this week. You can enjoy!” Ravi said to Divya.
“Oh thanks, Ravi. I wanted to go out with Amit during the weekends, but the rehearsals kept me off. Don’t get me wrong, I loved each and every minute of the rehearsals with you and the other writers. But I couldn’t spend time with Amit. Infact I should thank you. The fest was the time we got to know each other. When he was taken off the role of Guru, he was pretty swamped and that was the time we got together. First I just thought it would make him feel better if I talked to him. But later…” she said, turning towards Amit and smiling at him.
“No problem! Glad I was of help to my friend” Ravi said, smiling at her. His insides were trembling with a thunderous rage. He walked out of the class, gritting his teeth.
Saturday dawned bright. Ravi was at the Art gallery theater getting ready for the rehearsals when Preetam, one of the writers came in with a script pad in his hand.
“Hey, buddy. Good morning!” he called out.
“Hey Preet!” Ravi said, waving at him. Preetam came over and sat beside Ravi.
“Why sudden plan change? The rehearsals were not scheduled this weekend right” he said, with a doubtful expression on his face.
*Beep two*, the Ravanan was back! The first time, it was for something good to happen, 'His love for Divya'. This time, it was for something bad. To ruin her Career as an actress!
“Well yeah. There is a small problem. Divya wants to quit. So we need to audition again for the role of Prema. I have already asked my classmate Priya to drop by today for the audition. She is pretty good. Let Sheetal come in. We can decide” Ravi said, not daring to look up at Preetam.
“What? Why she quit?” he asked with confusion.
“She said she wanted to spend some time with her boyfriend” Ravi said, still looking into his script. “Hey guess what! Those female-centred themes I wrote for her, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put in male characters like you said. I have already made some changes to the script. Read it and let me know” he said, handing over the script to Preetam.
After an uneventful fifteen minutes, Preetam looked up from the script and said.
“Ravi, this is brilliant! Bad thing, Divya will not be able to star in it. This is going to be a hit!” he said.
“Yeah bad luck for Divya!” he said, turning to his left and smiling. Now to get Divya out of the way!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
When I stood there, it was more than enchanting. It felt heavenly. The cool sea breeze slowly grazed my face as I made my way to the stern. The light fabric of my gown flapped at the sudden gush of the wind making me pause for sometime before I walked over the tip of the boat. This was the most Peaceful I had been in a long time. My mother had turned into a dictator lately with the ever tempestuous Cal and his spy Lovejoy. Wish Jack was here with me. This was never going to end. Cal had known about Jack all along, although he pretended he didn’t and it was just a matter of time before he took me away from him. Well, he got his wish. Now I am getting mine!
I reached over to the railing and climbed it, closing my eyes the entire time.
"Sure, you want to do that?" a voice called out.
I stopped. It can’t be!
I slowly stepped onto the deck and turned around. Jack stood there, charming as ever, smiling at me. I stood rooted to the spot, stunned and surprised.
"Jack, how come you..?" I began.
"For you. You thought I would just leave you" He said, walking towards me.
"I.. I am so sorry Jack, Cal was.." I said, before the tears came out holding back my words.
"I know, Rose. I have been with you longer to feel the same way you feel now. I am here to take you away, to a place where no one can take you away from me" He said, walking over to me and kissing me.
"I don’t know what to.. I would have.." I said glancing towards the stern and back to his soothing face "I ..I love you" I said, hugged him, tears giving way to joy and laughter, as I felt mellowed in his arms.
"Rose, what the hell are you doing here?" a voice called out.
I turned and saw Cal coming towards me.
"Jack saved me" I said, my face bright and cheery, looking at Jack now.
The devastation was something beyond my wildest dreams. Almost two hours had passed by since the Mighty ship sank to the depth of the oceans taking a whole bunch of people with it before they could get off. They didn’t have much of a choice whatsoever with the lifeboats gone and the unwelcoming abyss of darkness waiting below. It was just pure luck I got aboard one of the lifeboats which now slowly glided on an eternal journey to towards any land surface, the driver trying hard not to hit any of the bodies floating on the surface of the water, the shock and anguish evident in what was seen of their faces. These four days were nothing but bizarre to me and this seemed a fitting end to the unpleasant quarter. I shivered inside my suit which was drenched in the icy cold water of the sea, still coming to terms with the happenings on the Ship when it was up and about. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the ship. It was Rose!
Nothing can stop me now. Jack is here. God is with me! I thought as I let myself relax in the patio chairs in the middle deck right beside the pool. Everything came back to me. It was around six months back. He was an artist and a wanderer, which he preferred to be called as. During one of his drifts to Southamptom, I met him in the Rail station sketching almost everything in sight. At first, I was rather skeptic but after I glanced at one of his pictures lying beside him, I was amused. He drew a picture of me; giving it to me when I was about to board the train saying that I was the prettiest thing he had ever drawn. I smiled at him and that was the end of it, which is what would be expected of a dewitt-bukater. This was during one of the many journeys I had with Cal. I don’t know why I agreed to go out with him at all. My mother, Ruth dewitt-bukater, was one of the reasons. She had compelled me to do this saying this is the only way we can pay off all the debts and still appear upper-class. Days went by and I didn’t see Jack again. After almost a month, I saw him in the town trying to sell his portraits; many of them resembled me, which was what it seemed like before Cal pulled me away to a diner nearby. When I came back, he was gone. Cal had been busy with a business agreement with a steel mill and he didn’t notice my occasional wanderings into the country. I had to see it all. Jack was at his usual self, sketching away, when I surprised him. It was indeed me in almost all the portraits and I was stunned by the accuracy he had brought into each one of those even though I wasn’t around.
"When I see one I like, it stays in my heart" was what he replied to me. Cal wasn’t aware that I was going to the country almost daily and so was my mother. Jack gave me relief from the stress I had gone through after the death of my father. He was slowly becoming a person whom I can trust. In the days that went by, much more than that!
I turned around to see Jack leaning on the railing and sketching intently. He looked up, on cue, smiling back at me. He made his way past the pool and sat down beside me.
"Care to join me?" he asked, winking at me, holding out his hand.
I laughed. "Sure, why not?" I said, standing up and taking his hand.
"Not going to venture asking me ‘Where to?’" he asked.
"I think I will be safe with you" I said, walking with him.
During dinner, Cal sat in front of me sipping his wine and looking seriously at me.
"So where were you this noon?" he asked me.
"By the pool" I said, not daring to look up.
"Tell me the truth!" he said, a note of impatience showing in his voice.
"I am" I said, looking up for a fraction of a second.
He stood up, walked over to me and pulled me up.
"You better stop lying, Rose. I know what you did. Dancing? In a Third-class compartment? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?" he said, his face close to mine and I could feel his boiling temper heating me up.
"Why should I be? Jack took me" I said, trying to break free from his grasp.
He loosened the grip and stared at me with his face red, his breath coming in gasps.
The sinking of the Titanic was nothing but shocking to me and it was the worst thing that could happen to me. But at the least, I was with Jack, all along. I never let go of him. Future seemed bleak when I met him and now I could see it. He was going to take me away to a far-off land. Even when Cal made me take up a seat in one of the lifeboats, I jumped back into the ship, with Jack alongside me, reassuring me, time and again, that everything is going to be fine.
Now I was lying on the wooden door which was the only thing which could give us shelter from the icy cold water, while Jack was a holding onto it. He was shivering and his face was a ghostly white.
"You need to live, Rose. When dying, it will be in your bed" he said, with much difficulty.
"No, Jack. You will be with me. You promised me that you will take me away" I said, tears welling up.
"I would still keep up my promise" he said, his lips going numb. His head fell on the door with a loud thud.
"Jack! Oh God!" I said, crying over his body. It took me a long time to bid adieu to the one person who cared about me but It was time!
I slowly let go off his hands from the door as he slowly drifted deep into the sea, his expression-less face looking up at me.
Lovejoy was more than helpful to me. He kept a constant watch on Rose, giving me details about her whereabouts. For a long time, it was mundane. But Rose started doing some sinister stuff after she met that artist guy. I wasn’t sure what I should do. I was madly in love with her right from the time I saw her at the convention a year ago. It was tough to get hold of her, owing to her authoritarian father. His death was the only answer. Lovejoy took care of it. And now, Jack. They were seen everywhere and I feared that they might elope sooner or later. I had to take her away from him and the maiden voyage of Titanic proved a good reason to do so. Just as I expected, she tried to run away with him but Lovejoy came to my rescue. He shot Jack when he was in the mansion grounds trying to rescue Rose. I had to lock Rose up till the trip which I thought would be very difficult to do after her lover was killed right before her eyes. But strangely she didn’t hesitate. She came with me but I had no idea she was in shock. I didn’t know she would go crazy.
The day I saw her near the stern, I asked what she was doing there. It was Lovejoy who alerted me that she was off to the stern alone. What could she possibly do now? was all I thought when he conveyed the news.
"Rose, what the hell are you doing here?" I shouted, my voice getting drowned by the sound of the sea.
"Jack saved me." She said, glancing sideways. No one was there.
"Jack?" I asked, in a confused tone.
"You thought he would never come back, didn’t you?" she said, smiling.
"Lovejoy, bring her to the upper deck" I called out at Lovejoy, who was watching the proceedings in shock just as I was. Even when I asked her why she went to the third class compartment, she retorted back saying Jack took her. That was when I reaffirmed the fact that I wasn’t the one who is going crazy!
On the lifeboat, situations weren’t that great. They were running out of fuel and the slow maneuvering of the boat seemed difficult. I borrowed a binocular from one of the helpers and looked into the darkness. Nothing was visible except for the bodies and when the light from the lifeboat fell on them, they looked ghastly. I know I had been rough with her but all I wanted was to be with her. I tried my best to put her into a lifeboat ahead of me but I didn’t expect her to jump back into the middle deck and that was the last I saw her. What if she was alive? I could still sense a tiny ray of hope as I continued looking through the binoculars. The water splashed onto the lenses making it hard to see. Right when I was about to lose hope, I saw her. She was all alone on what seemed like a wooden door. On closer look, she seemed to move. My god!
"Sir, can you please move over there? It is my fiancé. She is alive. Over there" I called out to the driver, standing up and pointing towards the door.
"Sit down, sir. Please" he said, slowly turning the boat towards her.
When I was finally a couple of yards from her, I could see her lying there, shivering.
"Rose, Rose" I called out, from the distance.
She looked up for second and again looked down at the water at her own reflection.
She was murmuring something.
"Rose! Rose.. give me you hands" I shouted, when I was about a meter away from her.
She slowly fell off the door into the sea as I looked at her with shock. I tried jumping into the sea but the people in the lifeboat stopped me.
"You would die."
"The water is too cold" they shouted at me.
"No! NO!" I yelled.
I am here to take you away, to a place where no one can take you away from me! Was all she thought when she slowly glided down the sea and up towards Jack.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The blaring music came on and the cameras started shooting.
“Hello guys, Welcome to ‘Jukebox’! I am Mridula!” she said turning towards Ashwin.
“And i am Ashwin. Hope you guys are enjoying the summer! How about you Mridula? ” he said turning towards her and back to the camera.
“Oh Ashwin, don’t ask about that. You know i lived in Hyderabad for almost a decade. But nowadays Chennai feels hotter!” Mridula said, giving an almost dramatic expression of her misery, obviously because she was on tv and they were supposed to do that.
“That is true, Mridula! Ok then.. here is a song to cool our friends out there and of course, Mridula.”
He said pointing to her “Apparently, Hot is what the hero thinks, not about the weather though, but his dream girl. Ok here comes the Popular Rain song to come out in the recent days”
The visuals on screens in front of them shifted from the set to the Song from the movie Paiyya.
“Four and a half minutes, guys” called out the editor, from the Cockpit. Oh yeah! That is what they called the video editing room in Music 24/7. Ashwin came down from the set and settled down in a couch next to the cameras while Mridula went for a drink in the Mini-Fridge near the couch. Ashwin came into Music 24/7 five years back fresh out of college and now he was the lead anchor handling four shows. Mridula has been around for the past four years and Ashwin’s life had changed drastically after she came in. He always kept his career in front of him but he never set aside Mridula for even one bit. She was there with him, co-anchoring in two other shows and he missed her in the other two where he had to do it with Balaji and Sherin. Sometimes he would gather up his courage to go over and tell her, but he just couldn’t. Not after being offered the biggest promotion in Music 24/7, a five year experienced guy to become the lead anchor which also came with a huge pay raise. Ashwin had been Vj-ing right from his college days when he was one of the anchors in his college Radio. Not many colleges had its own Radio, but IIT was one of them and he was proud to be an Alumni. Normally, an IITian wouldn’t waste his time VJ-ing, but it was the passion he had for the job, reaching so many people and making them happy. And he wouldn’t let anything come in between him and his career. But lately he had this nagging feeling that he was doing a mistake not telling her. Maybe it was spurred more by the conversation he had with Deepak. Deepak was the closest friend of Ashwin and quite frankly, he was a crazy guy. He would do anything to get the feelings and stuff out of people. He was a wizard! It was a fortnight ago.
“So, i saw Jukebox yesterday” Deepak said, munching his burger and making it sound like he was speaking Japanese.
“Oh. Great. How was it?” Ashwin asked, not amused, sipping pepsi.
“You were good as usual. But god! That Mridula girl sucks you know. You know, there is much more to VJing than just the beauty factor, i mean come on..” he started battering her as usual when Ashwin cut him off. “I get it!” And another equally outlandish habit of his is to be marvellously blunt in his criticism.
“Dude, cool down. Say, i thought of asking you. Can you give an intro?” He asked, leaning forward.
Ashwin was taken aback for a moment. He looked up and saw deepak’s expression-less face.
“Mridula? I..i.. don’t know. I can’t, you know. Professional...” Ashwin jumbled up phrases to scare him off.
“Ethics? Ha ha. Gotcha! So you like her huh?” Deepak asked with a grin, leaning back in his chair.
“What? What are you talking about? I told you the reason..” Ashwin said while Deepak showed his hand in disapproval.
“Professional ethics.. bullshit! Dude. Quit hocking me!” Deepak said, bringing back his malicious grin.
“I seriously..” Ashwin started off, shaking his head while Deepak cut him off “Stop, will you!”
“Alright fine. I like her. I am mad about her. Infact, if this goes on for another month or so, i am sure I’ll make a pass at killing myself.” Ashwin blurted, draining out the pepsi can.
“Chill, My friend. Chill! May i ask you something? What is preventing you from telling her?” Deepak asked.
“Don’t you think the answer is just out there, in front of us?” Ashwin asked.
“Don’t tell me it is your job” Deepak said, raising his eyebrows.
“What the..? of course, it is.. i can’t just..” Ashwin stuttered.
“Dude, dude. Enough! Screw your job. For your stardom, you could get another job in a snap. Even better, with your looks you could get a movie chance. That is the trend these days” Deepak said, waving his hand symbolising that he had just brushed aside the fact that Ashwin was taking this job way too seriously.
“They have given me a huge raise and a promotion. How can i? Besides if Music 24/7 sends me out, then it will be a black mark for me.” Ashwin said.
“You are way back in the 1940s! Girls don’t tell about this stuff to bosses or their parents. They handle it themselves.” Deepak said.
“I know. But still, if i do say it to her and if she says no..” Ashwin said looking down.
“Don’t get over senti over this. Don’t you think it is better you tell her that? If she says no, you can at least move on. But what if she says yes” he said, winking at Ashwin.
With that, he had hurried off to work, leaving Ashwin alone, who sat there perplexed.
“We are back on in thirty sec” Anto called out from the cockpit. Anto was the head of the anchor team and he did two shows. Guru was standing beside him, munching chips. He wore the usual coat and tie costume, which he never wore even once before he got promoted as creative head, making him look like a corporate guy.
“Ashwin!” Mridula called out.
“Oh.. what?” Ashwin said, with a surprised look on his face.
“What happened to you? You seem to be in a far off land!” she said, flashing him the usual cute smile of hers.
“Well, i.. i.. what’s up?” Ashwin said, trying hard to come back into the surroundings.
“Any bright ideas to kick start the next session?” she asked.
“Oh Mridula. You know i don’t plan anything before-hand. It just comes to me. Now come on, we have to get up there” he said, getting up and walking over to the set, as Mridula followed him.
“Cameras rolling in 5...4...3...2...1”“
Well, We really did get drenched in that rain.. or should i say romance!” he guffawed, looking at Mridula. “So Mridula, how do you feel now?”
“Oh yeah! It is cooler now. i mean literally, with the AC in full blast . Wouldn’t hurt to play a nice hot song! What do you say?” Mridula said, turning to Ashwin.
“Say no more. Guys, Here comes a Song from the movie Veyil. Enjoy..” he said, as the visuals on the screen shifted to the song.
“Five and twenty guys” the sound came out from the Cockpit.
“Mridula, i need to talk to you about something” Ashwin said, sitting down on the couch.
“Sure. Shoot!” she said, settling down beside him.
“Well.. i...i.. are you seeing someone? Cuz my friend really wants to” Ashwin faltered. Damn, so easy on tv! He thought.
“Oh! Ashwin. I really don’t think it is a good idea.. actually i am seeing someone” she said, devoid of expression.
“Oh. Fine. Cool. I got it! He said, walking over and getting a drink from the fridge.
I didn’t tell her anything about me. She didn’t say no to me. But still i think this is the worst turndown ever! He thought.
The remainder of the show didn’t go as well as planned. For the first time, Ashwin found it difficult to get out words. Infact, Mridula was taking over most of the time when he stuttered.
“Are you alright?” Mridula asked him, after the show.
“Ya ya, i am fine. I think i have a headache” he said, not looking at her, but the mobile in his hand.
The call was coming from Deepak. “Excuse me” he said to her, wandering off onto the balcony.
“Hello” he said, after picking up the phone.
“So you told her huh?” Deepak asked.
“Oh man! Seriously how do you do this?” Ashwin asked.
“Ha ha. You are asking ‘How’ to a Nostradamus here, my friend. Anyway what did she say?” He said
“Definitely not good. But i didn’t ask for me. I asked her if she will be interested to go out with a friend of mine” Ashwin said without enthusiasm.
“Are you kidding me? Is that how you propose to a girl?” Deepak asked.
“Well.. i panicked.. ok? Now if you’ll excuse me, i have to do some scripts for the other show.” Ashwin said.
“Alright. But you have to tell her that it is for you. What if she likes you and doesn’t want to go out with your friend.” Deepak said, grinning.
“For a plainspoken person, you are overly optimistic dude. Fine, i will tell her. And thanks for making me do this and ruining my life. We will meet up at the theatre around 9” Ashwin said hanging up.
“Here” Mridula said.
“What..?” Ashwin turned around, dumbfounded. Was she listening to me!
“You said you had a headache. Now come on, take this” she said, handing him a tab and some water.
“I am fine, Mridula. Thanks” he said.
“Well, ok then. Will see you in the script room in a bit” she said, turning back.
“Wait. Wait” Ashwin said, as Mridula turned towards to face him with a bewildered look on her face.
“Ok i am just going to tell you. It was me. I asked you out cuz i really like you and i would feel happy if you could come out and have a cup of coffee with me.” He said, smiling.
“Oh...Well, Ashwin, i don’t know how to say this. I am already seeing someone and plus, i don’t think getting into a relationship with a co-worker is probably a good idea. Don’t mistake me” she said, walking into the room leaving Ashwin alone on the balcony. Oh thanks, Deepak!
That week was a disaster for Ashwin. He couldn’t speak up properly and Jukebox’s TRP ratings touched the lowest ever. Mridula stood there beside him, talking animatedly as usual while he felt like punching himself for telling the whole thing to Deepak and worst of all, to Mridula. Mridula didn’t ask what was happening to him and it seemed apparent that she was avoiding him. Deepak hadn’t met him on the day he told her nor did he meet him after that. Don’t know what is up with him! A day in Ashwin’s life then was like a year in hell and the week after that didn’t bring any respite. The first thing he heard on Monday morning was nothing less than shocking!
“Mridula quit!” Anto said, when he walked onto the set of Jukebox.
“What? When?” Ashwin asked.
“Last Monday, she mailed me. One week notice and she is out now. And Sorry to say this buddy, we are taking Jukebox off the air for a while until we get a good Co-host.” He said, looking down at his scripts.
“What? I can do it alone or we can put sherin, we can adjust...” he said.
“No, i am sorry. The TRP ratings had hit a low last week and you know that” he said.
“So you are saying that it is because of me?” Ashwin asked.
“No no. I am not saying that. Since we are missing a strong co-anchor.. come on Ashwin, i didn’t say it was the end of the show. Once we find someone suitable, i am sure we can hoist it up.. maybe like a next season or something like that. Ok got to go. And please concentrate on ‘Mail room’. That is probably the only show which can get us back on track” he said hurrying over to the script room.
She quit last Monday? The day i told her? And she didn’t even say goodbye to me. My god, this is turning into one big nightmare! It wasn’t easy not seeing her and when your career is undoubtedly taking a slump. Ashwin wasn’t even sure which one to prioritize now. Mridula is gone! Forget her and go on with your life. The only thought that resonated in Ashwin’s mind. But ninety percent of the times, practicality was a pain.
“Cameras rolling in 5...4...3...2...1”
“Hello guys and good evening. Or should i say, a rainy evening! While i am speaking to you, i can see the windows in front of me being beaten up by the rain. Anyway this is ‘Mail room’ on Music 24/7. I am Ashwin and this is..” he said, turning towards.
“Sherin! Hey guys, hope you had lot of fun during the weekend” she said, turning towards her laptop.
“And hope you had enough time to mail us” Ashwin chimed in, turning towards his laptop.
“Ok. The first mail is from Kunal. He is a software engineer and he is passionate about cooking. Wow! This is interesting. He says his trademark dish is the Chicken dhum biriyani. He likes the show and he wants us to play the song from the movie New for his mom. So Sherin. Finally a guy for you!” he said, laughing.
“Well, right you are! Kunal, make sure you mail us your address so that we can try out your delicious Biriyani. Anyway here is your Favourite song from the movie New. Dedicating it to your mom” she said as the visuals changed.
“So how you doing these days? Heard Jukebox is off the air. I am sorry” Sherin said, turning back towards Ashwin.
“Well i could do better.” he said, sporting a fake smile.
After an uneventful five minutes, the visuals changed bringing back the set.
“That was indeed a touching song! Ok the next mail is from Mridula Krishnan” Sherin said, turning slowly towards Ashwin.
He sat these with a hint of surprise. “Go on” he said to her.
“I am sorry, Ashwin. I couldn’t tell you when i left. It is all for our own good. I liked you so much. But well, i really didn’t know if you liked me. When you said those words, i couldn’t control myself. I was at the verge of crying. I wanted to hug you right then. You know, I wasn’t totally lying to you. I was seeing someone, yes, it was you and i was seeing you all the time! Everywhere I turned around, you were there, smiling at me. And i still think it wouldn’t be a good idea to have anything personal with a colleague. That is the reason I quit. Now i am out of Music 24/7 and i just wanted to tell you that i miss you already. Please don’t keep me waiting. P.S: You can play any song of your choice and
thanks to Anto and Guru who made me do this!” Sherin finished as Ashwin sat there stunned and bedazzled. Slowly he turned towards the camera and said “Ok here comes my favourite song from the movie Goa” in his usual delirious tone.
While the visuals changed, he got up excited, looked at Sherin who was smiling now and he looked over at Anto and Guru, who were standing with all the other members of the crew beside the camera unit, smiling at him.
“Shall i?” he asked Anto.
“Yup. Good luck!” he said, showing a thumbs up. Ashwin smiled at him and ran out of the room.
He picked up his mobile to dial her number when the mobile started ringing.
It said ‘Deepak Calling.....’.
Oh my God! How is he doing this? He laughed out loud while he ran down the stairs.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Reminiscence - This story was adjudged the winner in a short story competition titled "memories" organised by Bombadil publishing, Sweden!
Please see the Glossary at the end of the story for the meaning of Regional words!
I felt dizzy and the whole place shook before my eyes. The bare wall in front of me showed bricks and metal rods underneath. Am i standing? I tried to move my legs but I couldn’t, nor was I able to feel them. I continued to move from my current position with no luck. Out of ideas, I turned my head to the right. My eyes, still a little blurry, could make out some shapes now. A table, cup of porridge and something small and blue nearby.
Where am I?
I could barely breathe. I turned back to the wall and I could see shapes now which hadn’t been there before. Starting out as a mirage, the shapes positioned themselves and mutated, providing detail. They were no longer mere shapes. They transformed to a human form of someone whom I would never forget for the rest of my life and beyond. He was sitting on a wooded plank with wheels, looking in all directions, with his ragged dress and his half burnt legs; His face and hair smeared with dirt. Almost all of his teeth had fallen out except for the two in front. He held a plate in his hand.
Standing behind him, I started pushing him into the traffic.
“Push harder, Munna.”
“I am trying, Baba.”
I tried my best to push him. His weight made the plank heavier. My body had been aching badly for the past few weeks and the pushing made it even worse. I listened to Baba as he sang in his gruff voice, singing his usual line..
“Ayya*, give us some money. Haven’t eaten in three days. Ayya, Amma!”
Some people threw coins into the plate while some just looked in the other direction as though they hadn’t seen us at all. Some screamed at us.
“Moron, coming in the middle of the traffic”
And there was police sir. He drove us off most of the time but for the past few weeks he hadn’t. He stood there under the lights signaling the traffic, his eyes trying to avoid us.
“Don’t just stand there. Shout! We don’t have much time!” Baba called out, pushing my hand off his shoulder.
“Ayya, Amma*,” I cried, my hands stroking my tummy.
The morning ordeal came to an end when the sun was right above our heads. Baba was counting the coins while I slowly walked over to Anu. She was sleeping under the hot sun, her broken hand stuck out in an awkward position, swollen. I bent down and placed her hands neatly above her chest. She opened her eyes for a moment, in pain, but closed them again. She had been sleeping like this for a long time now.
“You know, she has to get up tomorrow,” Baba called out.
“But she is not well, Baba.” I stood up and walking over to him.
“Nobody is healthy here, Munna. Here, get her something,” he said, handing over a 2 rupee coin.
“Baba, give me one more”
“Get lost! We only got 10 today and I have to give 4 to that police sir.”
“Our fate!” He growled.
“Son, open your mouth.”
I came out of my reverie. A lady in a white uniform was standing beside me.
“Come on, open up, I have lots of work.”
I slowly opened my mouth, and she put the blue thing into my mouth pouring some water with it.
“Swallow now. Come on.” she said, walking over to the bed beside me, where an old woman sat staring at me. The blue thing tasted fuzzy but the pint of water made me feel better. I gathered some strength and lifted my head. I was lying on a broken down cot with no bed or sheets unlike the one the women was sitting on. That took all the energy I had. My head fell back on the cot, making a loud thud and it started aching again. I slowly tried lifting my left arm which sent a shock through my entire body. I gave up. I tried lifting the right arm to no avail, either.
I was lying there, limp, my mind travelling from one painful place to another.
Anu sat there on the sidewalk, munching on the bun, while I looked at her. Her arm was swollen as ever and her legs had numerous lesions, which oozed out blood. She was more fragile than when I had first seen her, around three years back.
It was a cold night. I was pushing Baba on the way back home, the space below the Guindy* Bridge. It had been a year after we were driven away by the police from the sidewalk near the Guindy Signal. It was dark and silent at that time of the night. Most of the shops had closed. The wine shops were the only ones buzzing with activity. The other beggars were slowly settling down in their makeshift homes after wrapping themselves with whatever cloth they could find lying on the streets. When we were about to reach the next bend in the road, we heard a child crying in one of the streets on our left. Baba asked me to halt. We turned in the direction of the cry and all we could make out was a hazy image of a baby lying on the sidewalk.
“Munna, go and see,” Baba ordered.
I let go of the plank and ran into the cold and eerie street. When I came close, I could see the baby, its arms and legs flailing around. The face was red from all the crying. The baby stopped crying for a moment when I looked closely. That was when I saw the cute little face of Anu.
“Anna*, how old am I?”
“Huh?” I uttered coming out of the Reverie. “I don’t know.”
“Oh!” she said, looking at me for a moment and then getting back to her bun.
She looked like she was four. But I was not sure. Neither was I sure of mine.
I could be seven or eight. Diwali* was the marker. The first two Diwalis went by without me knowing what it was. By the third one, I had met Baba who told me about Diwali and its traditions. People wasting their money buying crackers, bursting it right from the brink of dawn leaving the streets heavily littered, lighting lamps after dusk giving the whole neighbourhood a shiny glow. Diwali never ended without people eating good food. I always wondered what good food tasted like. I had a vague idea of my own. There were lots of buns, biscuits, tea and of course, Paratha*. Just the thought of Paratha made my mouth water. The fourth and fifth Diwali were really hectic. Baba took me to the temples.
“People are generous during Diwali” he used to say.
The sixth one was rather bizarre. Baba never talked about going to the temple, nor was he doing well. He lay there on the plank, his arms stretched out; His mouth wide open. Anu sat there, looking at him, waiting for him to get up and give her money so that she could buy her first bun after three days. That was the last Diwali he was with us. During the usual morning routine, he looked tired as ever, while I pushed him harder into the traffic. He didn’t shout nor did he lift his hands. His face drooped and he made a moaning sound.
“Baba, wake up” I said shaking him. He looked up one last time, his eyes bloodshot while he fell down from the plank onto the road. The signal turned green and the passers-by shouted at us for blocking the traffic. Blood was trickling down his wide open mouth. I sat beside him, shaking him, screaming out his name. Nothing. He lay there, still.
The last Diwali went by, a month back. I had planned to go to the temples taking Anu with me, but couldn’t. The swelling had spread to her other arm as well and she lay motionless on the sidewalk with flies all over her face. Day by day, her health became worse and I could not remember the last time she spoke to me. I had tried my best to get her some food, at least a bun once in two days. But the last time I gave her food, she hardly chewed it. I knew I had to do something. Temple was my best bet, but I couldn’t leave her alone. Police sir gave us more problems than ever. With Baba, he didn’t touch us. Now he drove me off whenever he saw me getting onto the road which made it tougher to get even a rupee a day. When he went off to lunch, I sneaked on to the road but the traffic was less than mornings. Rarely I would get a rupee or two and that was it for the whole day. On one rainy day, I set out for another ordeal; my mind focused on only one thing, try getting at least two rupees to get Anu something to eat. The traffic was heavy and I thought I could make more today. I found that harder than usual. Anu had merely a cloth covering her and she was already drenched.
“Ayya, Amma,” I called out, moving past the two-wheelers to the four-wheelers. Not even a single coin! Time was running out. I shouted. I turned around in all directions hoping to see at least one kind face, but all I could see was disgusted ones. Bad words were hurled at me from all directions. The signal turned green and the vehicles started to move. But I kept moving in between them, calling out.
“Move away, idiot!”
“Shit! Get out of the way.”
But I kept on moving. Then it came out of nowhere; a truck, trying to race past the signal before it turned to red, only to veer off the road, towards me. I started to run but it was too late. The truck hit me squarely on the left side of my body. The impact was tremendous. My body went numb sending me flying towards the curb where I hit my head. That was the last I remember.
“Son, breathe hard!”
I looked up and saw a guy with spectacles. He had something going into his ears and he was examining my chest. My breath came out in gasps. I was suffocating.
“Breathe! Breathe!” he shouted.
I tried, but I couldn’t. The last image I saw was of Anu, lying unconscious on the sidewalk. Then everything stopped. I tried getting up. It was so easy for me now. I flew over the cot and looked down. There I lay, motionless while people in white, ran around me, agitated. The guy kept pressing my chest but I didn’t feel any pain. I was finally free.
Diwali-Indian Festival of Lights
Ayya, Amma - Terms to call people with Respect (Ayya – male gender, Amma – Female gender)
Guindy - a place in the city of Chennai, India
Paratha – A food item made of wheat
Anna - Brother
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This is the Climax scene of the movie 300! I found this movie really appealing in terms of cinematography. I wanted to get that Rustic and Antique look in my painting. So i decided to draw a scene from the movie. Of course, the climax where the spartans stand against their enemy eventhough their men were relatively less, was the strong point of the film.
This took me 5 days to complete. I used a Black chart with Acron colors for this one. The actual painting is 1.5 feet* 1 feet. Please post ur comments as well.
I was thinking about doing a really sophisticated painting which really brings out the color and sharpness just like a poster. I started off choosing pictures to paint: Scenery (The usual), Portraits of Celebrities (Much to subtle). But none came close to the "Spiderman 3" poster which was put up everywhere when the movie was about to release. You may think i was crazy to select a thing like that for a model. One, I was a Big fan of Spiderman series. Two, this model had the sophistication that i needed to paint. Just check out the Webbing part on Spiderman suit. It took me a long time to do that.
This painting took me 10 days to complete in which 4 days i took for Webbing part of spiderman's suit. If you watch it closely, you can see that the webbing has its own color painted thin with its shadow falling on the suit itself which was also thin. I used a "0" sized brush (Wierd size eh?) for that part. The chart i used was a Black one and i used Acron Poster colors to paint the whole picture. Getting the mirror like view of the Reflection of spiderman was pretty difficult, but i managed to get it somehow. The actual painting is 1 feet*1.5 feet.
This painting was published in my office magazine and it got me a lot of good reviews. Please pass in your comments as well.