THE WAKEUP CALL

“Roland, you are getting over concerned about him. Savvy… Savio is our last chance. We are doing it in the best interest of everyone.”
“Mr. President, I understand everything. But, why did you involve Anjelica in this? You are putting their lives at risk.”
President turned his face from Roland. “You have been in the game for long enough to know the rules better than me.”
“Emotional blackmail, is it?” Roland was angry yet submissive.
“Roland, no matter how much we evolve or how much the technology develops, some things cannot be changed.” He stopped for a moment and continued, “Roland, let’s do it. I want you to be the helm and bear the complete responsibility of this mission.”
“As you wish Mr. President.” Roland headed the exit, his heart filled with contempt.

Savio Rodriguez snoozed the alarm and rolled in his bed.
“Honey… It’s the wake-up call. Come on, get up.” Anjelica’s voice resonated through the speaker he kept near his bed.
“5 more minutes, please.” He replied in his half-asleep voice.
“Savvy, we have to report to Roland by 9 in the morning.” Her voice echoed again.
“Why don’t you come here and greet me with a warm hug instead of mumbling over the speaker?” Savio replied, still his eyes closed.
“Savvy, it is getting late.” Her voice grew sterner.
He got up from the bed and headed towards the living room where Angelica was arranging the gadgets they needed for their travel.
“How could you sleep so long? Aren’t you excited to travel where you dearly wanted to go?” She asked.
“Can we rethink about it? Why don’t you be here and take care of the internal affairs while I go and return with all information they need? Baby, you know you have a lot to handle here, don’t you?”
She looked into his eyes and said with a serious tone, “I am not letting you go alone by any chance, alright! You do not have an option to pick and choose. We ‘ll go together or stay back together.”
Savio knew that he cannot win over her. “Let me take a shower. Make everything ready. We are going.”

Soon they were on their way in an eco-friendly electrically charged car.

Angelica interrupted the silence, “Savvy, you look so dull. Isn’t this what you wanted? It is your dream, remember.” She stressed.
“Yes, it is my dream but not yours.” He replied.
“Your dreams were always mine too but you never knew it.” She replied with a smile and he looked at her without a change in his facial expression.
Angelica continued, “We are going to where we have come from, where we really belong. What more exciting could ever happen in a human’s life?”
“It’s exciting. It’s really exciting… Do you have the pills? I am hungry.”
“In the dashboard.” She replied.
He took two of it from the dashboard and washed them down with a glass of water.

While they reached Roland’s office, he was busy filling the formalities for their travel.

“Good morning, Roland.” Savio wished him on entering the room.
“Very good morning! Angelica, how are you doing? All loaded up?”
Savio didn’t mind his question and Anjelica replied. “All good Rol. How is our little champ? Ready for the ride?”
Roland rose to his feet and slid the curtain of his window. “There you go.” He said.
Angelina looked out of the window. She could see the space shuttle getting ready for their travel not very far away from the building.
“One last round of check and she will be all yours.” Roland and Angelica exchanged a smile.
“Why don’t you check it yourself once?” He asked Angelica.
“Sure. Keep Savvy engaged till I come back.” She said and headed the exit.

As she went out the room, Roland asked, “Savvy, are you sure about this?”
Savio looked at him and said, “You know it better than me, Rol. She won’t listen. Anyway, brief me about the shuttle. What’s her name?”
“Expatriate!” Roland replied.
Savio had a smile on his face, “Fitting one.”
“It’s ironical I know, but we didn’t have a choice Savvy.” There was a minute pause and he continued. “Well, she is equipped with the best and most modern equipment the human race had ever invented. And I can assure you the safety of a mother’s womb inside her. Equipped, caring and trustworthy. You will have a good time out there.”
Savio looked at Roland expecting few more pleasantries. “I… I am sorry about Angelica. I never thought it would end up like this.” Roland replied.
Savio took a deep breath and said. “Let’s do this Rol.”

Savio and Angelica were inside the shuttle half an hour later.
“12.9716° N, 77.5946° E. We are set to go.” Savio said over the radio and nodded to Angelica.
“Be safe Savvy. Take care Angelica.” Roland’s voice was heard over the speaker and they were lifted off to the remoteness within seconds.

“Lightning fast, isn’t she? These guys are unbelievable. We wouldn’t have dreamt of this while we started off with space exploration. Human Invention!” Angelica said excitedly as they headed towards the Earth’s orbit.
“It’s more to do with destruction than invention.” Savio replied.
“Why do you think so?”
Savio pointed to the screen in front of them and asked, “Do you see that planet?”

“Earth. That’s where we are heading.” She replied nonchalantly.
Savio corrected her “There’s more to it. That’s where the human race was born, that’s where the human inventions were started. And we are going back to the same place to seek a further extension of our race.”
“Savvy, we wouldn’t have been alive today, if those so called inventions weren’t made.” Angelica argued.
“Oh, is it? What did we invent? A colony in mars? Artificial gravity? Sophisticated lifestyle?” Savio was furious.
“We had no choice Savvy. The human race had to survive when life was impossible on earth.”
“And how many years did it take for us to look back at earth again? 500 years! Do you sense the reality? We destroyed another planet in 500 years and are going to implant life on the one we had destroyed earlier.”

Angelica was quiet. Savio continued. “You know, it had taken 5 freaking centenaries for that planet to recover from half the damages done by it’s most dangerous inhabitant species.”
“Savvy, we never thought it would propagate to this extent. The alarm signal was too late.”
Savio raised his face from the monitor and said. “Check your monitor. I have dropped a document. It’s a pagelet from one of the diaries written by my ancestor Copernican who once lived on Earth.”

Angelica began to read the page appeared on her screen.

“22’nd April 2117. Terra Firma, my wife gave me a wake-up call by sharp 6 in the morning. It was my last day in the city. It brought me all the fortunes I wanted. I took the oxygen mask, put on the UV protection filter and started my last round of jogging. Roads were almost empty but the shopkeeper who had nowhere else to go were still there sitting with their hopeless and helpless face. Other natives were busy drilling bore wells into the depth of mother earth to suck out the last remaining droplets. Well, who cares for the mother!

Sewage treatment hit the blocks with every hundred meters I passed. Leaders and politicians have eloped in search of alternate shelter. The place was left with few unwanted souls struggling to find a reason to fight each other. Heat waves were unbearable and dead animals and birds were shattered all over. I could smell the fear and death all around me. A swarm of flies covered the entire sky of the city like a filthy smelly blanket. Practicality loomed in my head. I have to leave this cursed place. I had no one to blame but myself for being my own self all these days until today.

Its 22’nd April today, World Earth day. We had many such days in our calendar which only served to post a few quotes on social media. We lacked action which in-turn resulted in turning a city of opportunities into the city of abandoned. The end, the inevitable is nearby and there is no escape from God’s own will. If you read this, I apologize to you for whatever we have done to your generation or whatever we couldn’t do for your generation. Learn from our mistakes and build a world with less greed and more happiness. Good luck for your life.”

Angelica raised her face from the monitor, “Touching isn’t it? We got to blame only ourselves.”
Savio smiled and said. “Fasten your belts. We are landing in 10 minutes.”

He turned to the voice transmitter and said. “Rol. Mission Expatriate. Landing on earth in 10 minutes.”
Angelica looked at the emerging picture of earth and said. “And finally we are back to the place of our origin. Savvy… look there.” Her voice was filled with excitement. “This is the place where Newton, Edison and Galileo lived.”
Savio thought for a second and said. “This is where the communal riots started, effects of which we are still suffering.”
“Savvy, this is where Yuri Gagarin, our hero and the godfather of all space travelers lived.” Angelica rebutted.
“Here is where the atomic war started which led to the end of a beautiful planet God has ever created.”

“Roger Expatriate. Mission control room here. All the best and have a safe landing.” Reply from mission control room sounded and they looked at each other.

Expatriate landed on earth safely and both of its travelers stepped out to a world which didn’t have even a minute resemblance to the pictures they have seen before. They could see nothing but endless futile land with no sign of life around them.

“Rol. Mission expatriate success.” Savio told over his gadget while Angelica was looking around in astonishment.

“How cruel were our ancestors!” She said, ” And how cruel were we”. It’s just a wasteland.”
“We need to make a heaven out of it.” Savio replied.
“Where did we land Savvy?”
Savio looked at his gadget and replied. “With the coordinates we set during the start, back then it was Bangalore, a beautiful city in a country named India. In fact, it was known as the garden city at some point in time.”
“They have turned a heaven into hell and now wish to revert it. Do you really have a hope?” Angelica asked.
Savio didn’t answer.
“Savyy, when do we go back from here?” Angelica looked restless and worried.
Savio maintained his silence.
“I know that we are not going back. What do they call us? An experiment specimen to try out their strategies? “Angelica was agitated.
Savio raised his voice. “Why did you come along?”
“Because I love you Savvy.” She paused for a moment and continued “Isn’t this what you dreamt off? A place with no one but only two of us? And now we have a whole planet to ourselves… We will live here Savvy… We have carried everything needed to live here for another 200 years. Let them carry out their experiments.”
They hugged each other and Savio could see her eyes getting welled up. He wanted to wipe them, but the helmets remained a barrier. Savvy touched on the helmet over her eyes and thought, ‘Human Invention’.

Savio’s gadget beeped. “Expatriate. Mission control room here. This is Mr. President. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Savio. Your names will go down in the history of human race. The re-discoverers of planet Earth. Savio, you are the real Savior of human race. We are all proud of you and looking forward to a fruitful association with our own planet Earth. I am sure this will end up as a fairytale. Congratulations guys.”

Savio looked at Angelica and asked, “Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve?”
“Yes. The ancestors of all humans.”
“We will have to start it all over again.” Savio said.
“And this is our Eden.” Angelica replied.

They looked at each other, held their arms together and began to walk over an underlying culture and their own history beneath their feet.

Someone around you

3.45 PM. 356Q – Electronic City to KBS Volvo. It has been a cloudy day and started drizzling outside. David John, a cop surprisingly dressed in mufti this evening, was flipping through the newspaper seated in the second last row.

Shinto Abraham, a 26 year old guy entered the bus after Wipro Gate bus stop and sat next to a man who seemed to be in his early thirties. Both were dressed in formal wear. In no time, they were chatting up each other. David straightened up and tried hard listening to the ongoing conversation between these two but it was inaudible, thanks to the loud radio playing on the speaker of the bus. After about 10 minutes, Shinto moved to the seat opposite to the guy to face him directly as the conversation got serious. David rose from his seat, stepped to the lower-floor, and sat adjacent to them.

“You won’t believe doctor, I had such a miserable day explaining my situation to my manager.” Shinto said.
“You can try me. We counselors have a knack to turn someone’s miserable day to a beautiful one.” Counselor replied.
After thinking for a while, Shinto began to narrate about his day:

“Tell me the exact reason behind your resignation.” Arun Madhu, the manager demanded Shinto Abraham as he occupied the chair for his exit interview.
“Sir, I told you already. Love failure!” He shrugged.
“Don’t you think it’s too bizarre to hear such reply from a person of your caliber?” Arun showcased his diplomatic tactics to extract the real reason from his subordinate.
“It’s outlandish I know, but this is a fact, an unexpected anti-climax for a 5 year long relationship.”
“May I know the reason if you don’t mind?” Arun wasn’t convinced yet and tried out his next trick.
“It’s quite a long and boring story” Shinto replied.
“My schedule is free till evening. I am all ears for your story”
With nothing left to hide on his last day at office, Shinto opened up.

Three months back.

Shinto was on his way to office. He stopped at a Red signal. The count-down timer was running backwards from 120 seconds. He pulled out his mobile which has been vibrating since long. There wasn’t any call. It was just in his head. Murmuring to himself, he clicked a selfie with his bike and number of cars behind.

‘Waiting for the lights to turn green, feeling irritated @ Silk Board junction, Bangalore.’ While updating his status on FB, he was suddenly evoked by the loud honking from the vehicles

The signal had turned green and he drove off hastily.

By the time he reached office, it was already 11 O’ clock. He logged-in straight to his FB account ignoring his flooded mailbox. “What a gift to have you in my life. Love you with each moment, babe! I never thought I could feel this way…. You are so amazing and I am so blessed to spend my days with you. Waiting for the working hours to get over.” read one of the news feeds in FB.

It was Mr. Eddy’s fourth post in last one week, praising his newly married wife. Shinto gritted his teeth with anger.

“This fellow needs treatment.” He captured a screenshot of his status and posted in a group named Trolling Mater Minds with the following description, Looks like this chap hasn’t met a girl before.’

“Shinto, do you know how important this day for us?” A furious female voice hit his ears while he kept trolling the prominent politicians and stars in India and overseas on his group.

He turned around, “Hey, Nikki I’m a tad late today. What’s the matter?” He tried digressing the plot to avoid a clash with his 5 year old girlfriend.

“My name is Nikhitha.” Her temper was beyond his flattery could tackle.

“Ok. What’s so important about today?”

“Shinto, you proposed me on the same day five years back.” She raised her voice.

Oh, the lady still remembers while I started forgetting her name. He thought but said something else. “Why don’t we celebrate this monumental day by having an evening chat at Lal Bagh.” He knew it would gratify her. It was there he proposed her and the place since then had been special to her.

“Be ready by 4 in the evening.” She said and walked away with a hint of smile on her lips.

“It is very difficult to be with the girlfriend during office hours and how the hell did Eddy find it too easy handling his wife at home. May be the FB status would help.” He thought to himself, while scrolling through his mailbox.

4’O clock at Lal Bagh.

They entered the park through west gate after parking the bike. He bought two packets of peanuts on their way in.

Facing each other, sitting under a tree, Nikhitha asked, “So, what’s the plan?”

“Eating peanuts! ” He exclaimed while skipping between his Whatsapp groups.

She exchanged a long stare and stressed, “Our future plans?”

She brought up the subject on all their last four dates and Shinto was getting more and more irritated each time.

“Didn’t you see my troll trending in FB?” He tried changing the topic after taking his eye off the mobile.

She snatched it and said firmly, “You didn’t answer my question.”

“Ahh, Our future is bright Nikhi, lemme check-in my location before the battery dies. Mobile please.”

She kept quiet. He almost finished his packet of peanuts and saw her’s was untouched.

“You didn’t eat even a single one?” He asked pointing to her peanut packet.

Nikhitha’s temper flipped for a moment and Shinto saw the peanuts she was holding flying towards him all together.

It was all over in the fraction of a second and it took a moment for Shinto to realize what just happened. “You..” He stammered, restraining from speaking something which he might regret later. He looked around to make sure nobody saw him getting humiliated by his girlfriend.

“How dare you??” His voice was rough.

She rose on her feet and said. “Let’s stop this right here! We do not make a good pair anymore. I don’t want to live like a mistress of yours.” She threw his mobile on her seat and headed towards the exit.

He held his composure, but the mobile couldn’t. It broke into many pieces and flung to all directions around him. “A mistress! Tell me you did not mean it” He asked, clutching his fist.

She turned around and said, “I meant what I said. I cannot live with a person who spends most of his time with a mobile by living in a virtual world. I need a man, a real one. Not someone like you.”

These words has the potential to hurt the ego of any man and so did Shinto’s. “I‘ll find a better ***** than you.” He yelled out but it didn’t bother her.

cover002

“Mundina nildana Silkboard, Next stop Slikboard” The announcement on the bus was louder.

“So, was your Manager convinced at the end?” Counselor asked Shinto.

“I don’t give a damn about it. I told him what caused me to put down my papers.” Shinto replied.

“Was it the only reason you resigned?” Counselor asked.

“Doctor, I didn’t want to face her in office anymore. Moreover, I was thinking to break-up with her anyways for a long time now.” He sounded so silly, while saying that.

“Why?”

“Doctor, you won’t believe, she didn’t understand a single scene from the movie Inception which is my all-time favorite.”

Counselor sat with a stunned look as Shinto continued, “And you know what, the birdbrain didn’t even believe in Moon landing. She is not of my taste.” He said by shaking his head.

 

Counselor, who was sitting stupefied, opposite to him in the air conditioned Volvo thought for a while said. “I have met many people in my short career, but not a single one was like you.”

Shinto grinned and the counselor continued, “What’s is your next plan?”

“I don’t know. I was waiting for the day to get over and now, here am I sitting in front of you.” He shrugged.

“Did you meet her today?” Counselor asked.

“No. I ran out of office as soon as I was done with my exit interview.”

The counselor said, “People refuse to disclose personal affairs even on a formal counselling session and you have told almost everything that has happened to you.”

“I have no guilt. Hence I don’t mind sharing it with anyone. Do you know, I haven’t used a mobile for three months? I want to prove her wrong, I want to beat her in my own way.”

“You should be thankful to her for that.” The counselor replied.

“Why should I-” Shinto was interrupted by the counselor.

“You were a patient with multiple mental disorders and she helped you to come out of it.”

Shinto wrinkled his forehead unable to comprehend what he was being told “What do you mean?”

“You felt mobile vibrations when there weren’t any calls?” Counselor asked.

“Yeah.”

“It’s called Phantom Vibration Syndrome. And, did you unabashedly abuse people online and trolled them?”

“Yeah. But it was-”

Counselor interrupted again. “It is called Online Disinhibition effect and if you wanted to update and post everything online, you were a goldfish too.”

“Doctor I didn’t-”

“I have one more ailment to inform you. You got anxious when your mobile was about to die and that’s called Nomophobia.”

Shinto looked into his eyes for few seconds and said. “The names seems to be so funny. I will google it out with my symptoms, if you let me note them down.”

Counselor chuckled at him and said. “If you compulsively search the internet for information about real and imagined symptoms of illness, you have Cyberchondria.”

“I am done doctor, you are impossible.”

They both laughed together.

“I am glad that I overtook the ailments without a treatment.” Shinto exclaimed after a while.

“Nikhitha was your treatment.” Counselor replied and they both observed a long silence.

After a while, the counselor asked, “Are you done with all your confessions?”

“Yeah. I have nothing more.” He said.

“Let me make a call then. I told a person to be at Lal Bagh by 5 and it’s already 5.30.”

“Don’t worry, you will reach in 10 minutes.” Shinto said, while the counselor dialed a girl, whom he was going to meet for the first time.

Once the call was done, Shinto asked. “Girlfriend?”

“No.. Its.. Its a marriage proposal. I am going to meet her for the first time.”

They exchanged pleasantries about the proposal, discussed about the aliments a little more in detail and got the change from the conductor, which only the lucky ones ever get in BMTC buses. But they didn’t know they were under the close surveillance of a policeman seated near to them.

The bus reached South end signal and Shinto got up from his seat. “Doctor, it was a pleasure meeting you.” He said.

“The pleasure is all mine.” Doctor exclaimed.

“Sorry, I forgot to ask your name.”

“Cinu Cherain.” The counselor replied.

“See you and all the best for your proposal.”

“Thank you. Good bye, take care.”

Shinto, along with few other passengers got down and the bus continued heading to it’s destination. It reached Lal Bagh in few minutes and the counselor got down from the bus.

He bought the entry pass. While entering the park, he searched for his mobile. Alas! A thunderbolt jolted his brain. His brand new Iphone 7 was missing. He stood there helpless and shocked. It was with him during all the conversation he had with Shinto and where it had gone now? He began to tremble. He didn’t know where his possible would-be-wife is waiting in that 240 acre long park. He had promised his friends to update the status, soon after reaching there.

The image he built about Shinto began to fall down like a house of cards. Was he lying? Was it a cooked up story to steal my cell phone? It was so expensive! An array of thoughts streamlined in his head and drops of sweat appeared on his face.

Two kilometers away from Lal-Bagh, Shinto took a seat at South end circle bus stop and unlocked the counselor’s mobile. He had noticed the unlocking pattern even before they started their conversation. His index finger tapped on the gallery icon and it lead to the recorded videos. First one was the whole conversation he had with the counselor. There were many counselling videos recorded in the mobile. He scrolled through those and dialed a number from his cell phone.

“Sir, he is the one we are looking for. Videos are still in it. Lock him down.”

The call was received by David John and the counselor wasn’t that far from his sight. David stepped towards the convict who leaked the counselling session of a lady who committed suicide the week before out of harassment from the society because of the leaked tape. He had kept track of all the counselors she had been through and finally, here’s the culprit!

Some Honest Doubts!

Sweat dripped down my face with each breath. I couldn’t withhold any longer and raised my tired voice, “Can you make it fast?”
“Why don’t you come inside and take it yourself?” replied Laszar almost losing his temper listening my impatient voice.

I waited distraughtly for him to come out. After almost five minutes, he came out with a packet and handed it to me.

“How much is it?” I asked.
“You may give it later to me, now hurry up and rush home.” he said while pulling down the shutter of his shop.

I looked around for an auto-rickshaw but found none. Without thinking twice, I begun to run. My home was three kilometers away. Thinking about the great distance to be covered, I started running as fast as my legs would carry me. I didn’t stop at any of the frequent signals found at every half a kilometer. I was hit by a cricket ball on the way, but I didn’t stop. Instead, I ran like a mad dog on the streets of Trivandrum.

People on the road were staring but no one enquired my case. By the time I reached Sreekariyam, I was drained of energy. Panting and tired, I sat on a milestone to regain myself.

But it wasn’t long before my inner conscious reminded me of the remaining distance.

My legs were stiff and they didn’t allow me to move freely.

“Run… Run… “I whispered to myself and resumed sprinting towards home.

I finally reached. No one was around the apartment. Without wasting any time, I climbed the stairs of the three storey building. I almost lost my heartbeat upon reaching my door. As it wasn’t locked I stepped inside.

“Dad, are you so late?” said Miya, my 6 years old daughter who has been waiting for more than half an hour. I held her hand heading to the bedroom and said, “I told you to be with Mom.”

“Neena.” I called out to my wife who was laying on the bed, struggling to breathe.

I tore the packet which I carried in haste and drew out the inhaler. She wanted to get up and I helped her to sit by placing her head comfortably towards the headboard. She was covered with a fine sheen of sweat and was panting to the extreme. I shook the inhaler, removed the cap and brought it close to her mouth. She breathed in slowly, held it for some time and breathed out. After repeating the same for five-six times, I saw a respite on her face.

“Are you comfortable now?”
She nodded her head and said, “Need some rest.”

I helped her to lay back to the bed and came out of the room. Miya was so anxious to see her mom struggling for air that she stood silently.

“Miya, let mom take rest.” I turned on the ceiling fan and sat on the sofa in front of the television.
“Dad.” she brought a tumbler filled with water and sat on her little bean bag, in front of me.
“Dad, don’t we need to take her to hospital?” She asked.
After mopping the sweat of my face, I said, “She will be alright. Don’t worry.”

Miya didn’t speak for some time and asked after a while, “Dad, can I switch on the TV?”

I nodded my head and she switched it on. I stared at the television, but I couldn’t listen to what was playing on it.

02

It all started by 5 O’clock in the morning. I was excited, woke up early and turned on my laptop without disturbing my wife and daughter. I ran through the article once again and did one last round of proofreading.

“Aren’t you done with it?” Neena woke up. I checked the time. It was sharp 6’O clock.
“Almost. Can you please make some coffee for me?”
“Let me freshen up first. Fifteen minutes.” She headed to the washroom.

I had a glimpse at my Facebook page to check the online users. The number wasn’t encouraging. Coffee was served. To kill time I browsed some online news portals. Miya came of the bed after a while.

“Dad, didn’t you publish it yet?” She asked.
I checked the time and said, “In another 15 minutes honey, it’s only 8 AM. Let some more people come online.”
“Dad, you had been waiting for a month. Publish it now.” She ordered.

I loved to delay it by another half an hour, but I couldn’t overdo it against the commandment of my master at home. I clicked the publish button on my blog and sent the link to all my social networking sites.

“Neena…” I screamed.
“What??? What happened?” She rushed from the kitchen.
“It’s live now. See, people are reading it.” I showed her the number of hits it received as soon as it was published.
“What else will they do today sitting idle at their home!” She exclaimed and returned to the kitchen nonchalantly.
Yes, she was right. What else will they do on a nation-wide holiday? To be precise, on a national strike day. I have been waiting for this day for almost a month.

Isn’t it a better idea to release an online journal on a strike day? It is. With no option to come out of home, everyone will get at least a chance to visit their social networking sites. We would get such holidays at least twice a month and what more should an online writer ask for?

I was amused with the response I was getting from the moment it went live. Neena and Miya weren’t disturbed from their routine, since they have experienced it many times in the past.

Time was around 10’O clock. Neena returned from the terrace with handful of dresses and said, “I am not feeling well.”
I was too busy promoting my journal, but I took my eyes off the monitor and asked, “What happened?”

She fell on the floor upon a sudden and thunderbolts jolted my brain.

“Neena… “ I raised her from the floor and helped her to reach the bed.
“Get some water.” I said Miya.
“What happened?” I asked again.
She was panting and struggling to maintain her breath. “Get me the inhaler. It’s in the cupboard”

I found the inhaler, but it was empty and we didn’t had a spare one.

“Shall we go to hospital?” I asked her.
“I cannot breathe.” She replied.

I picked up my phone and dialed doctor Janaki, whom we consult regularly for her asthma. The call wasn’t answered and I tried her landline.

“Hello.” Someone picked up the call.
“Is doctor Janaki there?” I asked.
“She along with her husband had gone for a three days vacation in lieu of the strike called in India.” The call was disconnected immediately after conveying the message.

It was Friday and to make use of the three consecutive holidays, most of our neighbors were gone to their natives.

“Neena, keep calm. I will try for a medical shop. Miya, be here with mom. I will be right back.”

I took the empty inhaler and ran down the stairs to reach my car. Only upon reaching it, I realized that one of its tyres was punctured. I didn’t take care of it the last day due to the strike called on Friday. With no options left, I rushed to the road searching for a vehicle. There wasn’t any, and children were playing on the road. By shaking my head, I ran towards Karyavattam. One medical shop was found near the next junction but it was closed. I kept running to Karyavattam and reached Pangappara where my friend, Laszar runs a medical shop. He stays near to the shop and I managed one inhaler from there. Protesters were seen on the streets burning tyres and throwing stones at all the shops which were opened. I struggled with my fitness, but still I ran faster and reached home.

While I was sitting relieved, Neena came out of the room.
“What are you doing? Why don’t you lie there for some more time?” I raised my voice a bit.
“I will sit with you.” She said and sat next to me.
“Mom, are you okay?” Miya’s mild voice hit our ears.

She nodded her head and lay on to my shoulder.

“You watch TV.” I said Miya.
Neena’s eyes were opened, but I wasn’t sure if she was watching television. News ticker on the television showed the number of buses set on fire and the loss incurred to government due to damage in public properties.

After a while, Miya asked me,”Dad, who calls these strikes?”
“Political parties, most of the time.” I replied.
“Why do they call strikes?” She questioned.
“To protest.”
“Whom do they want to protest against?”
“Against politicians.”
“Why don’t they block them, instead of blocking us?” Her little brain triggered questions one after the other.
“They have forces by their side and hence they cannot be blocked.” I replied, thinking there wouldn’t be any further questions.
“Isn’t there a different way to protest?” She asked again.
“I don’t know.” I said without looking at her face.

She kept quiet for a while and asked again. “Dad, won’t they allow even the aeroplanes to fly?”
“Miya, will you keep quiet for a while?” I lost my temper as I ran out of words.
“Mom, this dad knows nothing.” She said aloud and went back to the television set.

I didn’t had replies to her honest doubts, in fact many of us don’t have. A Malayalam movie named Nirnayam was played on the television which almost tells the story of a girl who lost her life without getting medication on time.

I looked at Neena and thought “What would have happened, if I couldn’t have brought the inhaler on time?”

“Are you okay?” I asked her after a while and in return she held my left palm so tight. After taking a deep breath, I looked at the mobile which I held in my right hand. The blog I posted a few hours before have been read by around 10,000 people then. Business, ain’t it?

Jack and Rose – an improbable tale

“Try to move a bit, you may fall, if you won’t.” My voice broke as I said.

“I cannot. It’s too much pressure here.” She replied.

“I cannot live without you.”

“For how long would we live together?” She questioned.

“Listen, try to move back, at least for the safety of others.”

“You always think about others. How about you? How about us?” Defiance reflected in her words and I chose to keep quiet.

She is my better half for more a decade now. We began to move apart for the last one week. I never thought I would marry her when I was born and in fact, it was someone else who decided our fate.

Wait! Wait a minute. Were we married? I don’t remember. There wasn’t a function, there wasn’t a registration either. Was she my wife? I doubt.

Ours is different ecosystem. People won’t fight here, they won’t complain here. But they support each other, they help each other by bearing and sharing the pain. My name is Jack. That’s how she called me and she is Rose to me. We don’t have parents, relatives and enemies. Well, enmity evolves where differences exist. We don’t have multiple organizations, nor do we have a caste, religion and God. You misinterpret me as an atheist. I am not, we are not. We do pray, but for others.

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I was born in a famous steel factory located in Ludhiana. After bearing so much pain in the making process, I was chosen as the bolt to hold the multi-leaf spring of a bus and it was then I met Rose. She was the locknut chosen to keep me in place. I don’t know where she was made, neither did I ask her. Together, we helped the shock absorbers to withstand the pressure it experienced every now and then. We never got a leave when we wanted, but often given breaks, that too when the engine was tired.

She and I aren’t close anymore. The gap increased every minute and no one had time to notice it. They cannot run the bus if I fall off the hanger and it may even end up in an accident.
“Rose.” I called her.
Her eyes were filled with tears. “Yes”
“Do you remember the day we were assembled?”
“I do. People were celebrating. They kept lemon in front of the tyres before the first run and it fell on our face when the journey began.”
“It was just a beginning.” I mumbled.
“Yes. We had gone through stones, blood and flesh then.”
“Isn’t it a dirty job God has given us? Toiling for someone with no objective.”
“Every life has an objective, Jack. Ours is to bear the pressure and we are built to do so.”
“It’s good that we are not human. At least we care for each other.”
“All are not the same Jack. We don’t know who travels in this bus and whose weight we bear daily. We could see only their sandals and how could you judge a person without knowing him?”
“But we have seen the driver, the mechanic.” I reminded her.
“Administrators are different. They care for the most important people. Tyres, engine, oil, fuel everything has been cared for.”
“Aren’t we important to them?”
“Am I not to you?” She asked.
“Of course you are. But the question…”
She intervened before I finished. “We cannot raise questions. We cannot talk to them.”
“They don’t want us to talk.”
“Because, they don’t like others coming out of their fixed zone.”
“There is no justice here. Even we machines love freedom, don’t we?”

She didn’t reply for a while and the bus hustled over a hump which almost kissed its shaft. I was fretful to see if she was fine.

“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I am… I am…” She was struggling to keep herself attached to me.
“I don’t know for how long I can stick on to you.” She continued.
“Nothing will happen Rose. Someone will inspect us before the next ride.” I tried to console her.
“Next ride! I don’t think I will make it.” She was gasping while saying that.
“Hold on Rose. I cannot live without you.” I said and the bus rode over another hump without slowing a bit.
After annihilating the big strain she asked me. “Jack, which was the most satisfying Moment of your life.”
“I… I don’t remember anything now.”
“Try to recall the days we lived together. Please….”

I thought for a while and said. “The day we saved the life of a man, a 50 year old man.”
“I knew you would say this. It was truly a memorable day. He had an attack on the bus and the driver scurried through the road to save his life.”
“It was not the driver, it was we who helped each other to make the journey fast.”
“Jack, it was a combined effort. Let him take the credit, we are not humans.” She reminded me.
“Yeah, they do compete to etch their names on foundation stones, hoardings and banners.”
“Which was the most annoying day?” She asked again.
“Oh so many!! In fact, there were nights when we had to bear the pressure of human barbarity a number of times.”
“Yes… Those were extremely painful.”

We didn’t speak for a while and I broke the silence. “Yes, you were correct. All aren’t bad, but it’s difficult to pick the right ones.”
“We have seen many drivers. There were good and bad. We cannot change them, but the people who have the choice aren’t exercising it.”
“It’s very difficult and I thank God again that we are not humans.”
“What would happen, if I fall down before this journey ends?” She asked.
“You won’t. Rose, be strong. I won’t let you go.” I raised my voice.
She had a mild laugh and said. “Like the drivers, when someone step-down another one will take over the mantle.”
I kept quiet and the bus began to shake uncontrollably. It took an untarred road and ran without reducing its speed. I felt her moving further to my tail end.
“Rose.” I called her.
She replied something, but her voice faded away in the loud noise the engine and tyres were making.
“Do you really love me?” She asked.
I looked into her eyes and before I could reply, I was thrown out of the hanger where I spent all my life with her. I hit the engine many times and fell on the stones which were sharp and pointed. The bus got stopped after dragging for half a kilometer and the crowd gathered around it. No one noticed me, no one searched for me. After all, I was useless for them all those days and why should they bother. I looked around for Rose, but only stones were visible to my eyes!