Saturday, 3 September 2011

Story Behind Missing Shoes Part II

Nikhil and I had been talking all the while. Nikhil would call once every two days. He would mostly call at night. He thought we two were made for each other, it was written or how else would you explain such incredible tale of our love. Sometimes Jay also talked with him. Two of them will tease me by making fun of me, but Jay used to give us enough space. My then husband would go for a walk or sit sometime in the garden at the middle of the night.

Finally after a wait of twenty five days, Nikhil said he was coming back. He would arrive at Delhi airport after three days. I immediately called Jay at his office. He got two train tickets for us of the same night. He told his parents that the two of us wanted to go for a rather delayed honeymoon. He had to concoct a very good story for such a sudden change of mind since earlier he didn’t go for it even when his parents insisted. Somehow he managed to get both of us on train. The journey was very tiring and even stupid. Both of us were allotted berths in different compartments. I went to sleep very early.

When late in the night I rose to visit toilet I found a college girl in deep conversation with Jay. She wore a golden chain with a heavy golden pendant entwined with it. What college girl wears such jewelry, that too when she is travelling. The girl looked suspicious to me. I went up to them and showed the shrewd little wimp her right place.

Jay places his trust too quickly; anyone could take advantage of him. I didn’t want him to get hurt, besides I didn’t wanted him to keep up all night. We had to rise early in the morning to reach airport on time.
Suhana felt for the first time that her friend was trying to cover up.

When we reached Delhi we were left with very little time. We rented a room and freshened ourselves up in an hour or so. Nikhil called up and asked us to come at Hotel Centaur. We took a cab to reach there.
After a journey of another two hours, FINALLY, I saw Nikhil in front of my eyes. It seemed like it was a magical moment; I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I crashed into his chest and wept heartily in his arms. I gave him a long, passionate kiss. After I could contain myself I introduced the two. Nikhil thanked Jay a lot and wanted to pay him homage for what he did for both of us. He invited him for having lunch with us. But Jay, for the reclusive hermit he was, bade goodbye.

“But you can’t go like this” I pleaded, “You’ll have to give answers. What will you tell your parents? To my parents?  We’ll have to plan everything out. Please, stay with us for a while.”

“No Madhvi, I was in the middle of a project when we left. I have to get back as soon as I can. I’ll catch the earliest flight from the airport. I’ll tell your parents that you are happy. And that you will call them soon. As far as my parents are concerned, they are easy customers. This shouldn’t be difficult.”

He handed over some papers to me saying “You’ll need these when two of you get married. As we were officially man and wife, these papers discount that association of ours. I’ve signed it and when you do, we will be legally divorced.”

I thanked him for keeping in mind such seemingly petty but important thing in mind. He gave me a hug, wished the two of us luck and left. Nikhil and I enjoyed the afternoon together. We took lunch at the hotel then we chatted for a long time in a nearby park.

Suahana interrupted her, “Tell me one thing Madhvi, how come Nikhil accepted you just like that. Didn’t he have any doubts over you staying with a man for a month?”

“I guess he trusted me, he never asked me if Jay and I had anything between us.”

“Gosh Madhvi you are so lucky! Everyone seems to love you these days. By the way where is The Man of the Evening? He is due for half an hour.” As soon as Suhana uttered these words, she saw a man in black shirt and blue jeans, with disheveled hairs, stooping over Madhvi and kissing her on the cheek. The man had sharp features, rather boyish looks, fair complexion, and his disheveled hairs complimented his V shaped jawline. Suhana had heard from her friend but now she witnessed herself how handsome the beau was. She was overawed with the man’s demeanor.

He looked at Suhana and smiled. Suhana offered him her hand and said, “You must be Jay” the man in black shirt nodded and shook hands with her “I am Suhana, I believe you already know that Madhvi and I are childhood friend.”

“Yes, I’ve heard a lot about you Suhana” he said in a soft voice looking at Madhvi.

He suddenly started speaking in a frenzied tone “Ladies I wish to stay with you but I really need to go because…” Madhvi didn’t let him complete the sentence, she erupted with a groan “No, we have hardly talked since last night.”

“Sweet heart, you know how much office time I’ve lost in the last two days” Jay tried to explain. Suhana wanted him to leave, since Madhvi hadn’t finished her story yet. She wanted to know how Madhvi realized that Jay was the one she loved and not Nikhil and how in the world did she lost her shoes. Madhvi was eager to tell the story too, or so Suhana believed.

“It’s all right, I’ll see you later tonight” Madhvi condoned her- now technically- ex-husband. The couple kissed each other good bye and Jay left.

 “When are two of you planning to get married again now that you are divorced?” Suhana asked mockingly.
“That shouldn’t be much of a problem. In comparison to what Jay would have to do had I eloped with Nikhil, this should be a cakewalk” Madhvi said with a wink.

“He is a magician, isn’t he?” Suhana said praising her friend’s beau.

“So where were we?” Suhana was growing impatient for knowing what happened next, “Nikhil and you were in a park.” Madhvi resumed her story:

Nikhil and I chatted endlessly in the park. But Nikhil was aware of my indifference all the while. He talked and talked and talked! And I was just staring blankly in the sky or at children playing nearby. He finally asked me “What is it sweet heart? I’ve been talking for almost an hour now and you haven’t told me much about how have you been these days, or what are your plans ahead. Not only that you have been listening to me with listlessly.”

“Don’t act like a whiner Nikhil” I snapped, “You know how tired I am. I’ve been on a run for sixteen hours straight”. Although there was a lot of conviction in my voice, Nikhil didn’t buy it, I could tell by the look on his face.

“What were you thinking all the while?” Suhana asked teasingly with a mischievous smirk on her face.
I just couldn’t get Jay off my head. I tried to pay attention to what Nikhil said, but eventually my mind will drift into the time I spent with Jay. His childhood photographs, his shyness, how he made maggi for me in the middle of the night when I was feeling hungry, how he used to pretend that he needs a walk when Nikhil and I needed privacy over phone.

The way he used to feel embarrassed whenever he involuntarily made human contact with me, and how envious I felt of that college girl who was chatting with him in the train. I also started missing Kapila and Mitali. The thought of me never seeing them- and Jay- again filled my mind with dread. I started worrying what Jay will say to those people? How could he have returned from honeymoon without his wife?
Meanwhile Nikhil tried to get intimate. He held my hand for a while and tried to kiss me. As soon as his lips touched mine –when my mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of Jay and his family- I felt like I was being asphyxiated. I couldn't breathe. I started wheezing frantically and the words involuntarily babbled out of my mouth.

“I want to see Jay, I want to see him now Nikhil. Please take me to him Nikhil please!” I snorted
Nikhil got scared seeing my frenetic gestures. “Okay okay, I’ll take you there. Just calm down” he said trying to make me comfortable. We rushed towards the airport. I didn’t know if Jay was still there or has he already left for Mumbai. But I wanted to take the faintest chance I had of seeing him today.
We reached airport and looked around for the next flight for Mumbai. My high heels tucked on firm floor of the airport and produced clucking sound.

I’d already learned that no flights had been departed since Jay left us in Centaur. The next flight to Mumbai was due in fifteen minutes. I rushed towards the terminal. Just when I reached the terminal I saw Jay go through security doors and enter the passage towards runway.

I called him but my voice didn’t reach him due to the bustle of the airport. I tried to follow me but security guards won’t let me in without a valid ticket and he also informed me that the guy in black shirt and blue jeans had just bought the last ticket in the flight.

Nikhil tried to convince me that he will get me to Mumbai from the first flight next morning but I ignored him. I removed my heels and jumped off on the other side of the fence. Two guards saw me jumping over the fences and running towards terminal passage. They dashed in my direction. One of the guards even caught my t-shirt but couldn’t get hold of it.

I just slipped out of his hands and entered the passage door. To my dismay I couldn’t see Jay anywhere. There were five aisled behind the door, each of which had two passages in which people walked in both directions. The chances of finding Jay among the crowd given that security guards were right after me were grim. I started panicking. Finally I shrieked his name right out of my stomach.

“Jaaaayyyyyyyy!” I screamed two or three times. Security guards had identified me and were coming to get hold of me. My eyes were filled with tears which blurred my vision; I never saw from which of the five aisles did Jay came running towards me. As soon as I saw him coming, I threw myself upon him and held him tightly in my arms. “Take me with you Jay; please take me with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I said with tears in my eyes and making a complete fool of myself on the busy passage.

Security guards came from behind and took me in custody. They detained me for breaching the security.
Two lady officers questioned me in detention room, about the purport of throwing such tantrums. One of them asked if the guy in black shirt and blue jeans was my husband. When I replied in affirmative she enquired if the ‘rascal’ was abandoning me and running off. I explained to them that the pandemonium was my fault and not his. Eventually Jay missed the flight and we had to spend the night on the airport. We left for Mumbai at 6:30 this morning and I’ve come straight to you.

Two girls bantered for another half hour or so and then they bade good bye to each other. She paced towards her home, the home she had finally accepted to be hers, to sample cuisine for her newly found love.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Is it my fault that I am a flirt?


Acknowledgements:  I also thank complete Activation Support, especially Leena and Kiran. It couldn't have been possible without their repeated affirmations.


Is it my fault that I am a flirt?

Note: Although character of Duggu is inspired from a real person, Duggu is different in a lot of ways, primarily in his abilities and luck with women.

Instructions were clear, “If I take you to the party, you will keep your mouth shut”. This was his sister’s condition that Duggu had agreed upon to have taken to her friend’s engagement party. Duggu's sister was furious over him over one of her friends, whom Duggu had easily flattered and then ditched for a better girl. ‘Better’ for him on this occasion had been someone who could match him on round of drinks in the bar. Neela, who was getting engaged, was friends with Duggu also, hence she had invited both the siblings but Suhana wanted to save the engagement from any embarrassments her brother might cause.

Duggu was blessed with an innocent face and urbane communication skills. He had put his gifts to good use, mainly in wooing women. Very few could escape his penetrating gaze and enticing conversations. Today however, Duggu was sworn against displaying any such machinations.

It was a lavish ceremony. Since Duggu’s sister was the girl’s best friend, he got the privilege of joining the engagement couple on the table along with Neela’s other friends. But one thing, rather person, Duggu couldn’t stop noticing was Neela’s cousin, Molly. She was fair, elegantly dressed in a pink saree and beautiful in her own way, distinguished by her long, protruding nose. Her large earrings only accentuated her beauty.

The girls went about discussing their daily affairs over dinner. Those who had boyfriends were asked about their beaus and mocked. Duggu passed brief glances over Molly, he capitalized on every opportunity of making a contact with her while passing the bowls as she was sitting right next to him. He hadn’t seen such a beautiful girl before, at least that’s what he thought. He was growing impatient and wanted to strike a conversation, except that he couldn’t save himself from the gaze of his sister. Suhana was glowering at him, noticing his mannerisms.

Duggu remained silent, reining in his desires. But his instincts were putting enormous pressure on him. Don’t do anything stupid Duggu, he reminded himself, it’s your sister’s best friend’s engagement. You don’t want to ruin the party. It’s just an infatuation, you don’t really like her. He tried to argue with himself.

To his relief, Neela had dragged him in the conversation, at least she distracted him. “How is your job goin on old boy?” she said looking at him. “Oh, great!” Duggu replied sighing, “I am all set to earn an appraisal this time.” But to his horror Neela dragged him in territories which he wanted to avoid most at the moment, “You are a man now it seems, have you thought anything about settling down” she said patting the thigh of her fiancĂ©, who responded with a smile.

Duggu grew nervous, his angel began admonising, ‘don’t say anything stupid Duggu, don’t mention Molly’. Suhana sensed his uneasiness and tried to distract everyone, “anyone for desserts?” she was ignored by everyone except the caterer who placed a large bowl of ice-cream on the table. Everyone feasted on the delicious ice-cream but rested their attention on only the second man on the table.

Neela resumed her conversation, “Common Duggu, don’t be so shy in front of us, we are all like your sisters, aren’t we?” Not all, he grumbled to himself, remembering Molly. Neela rested her elbows on the table, cradling her chin over her fist. “Are you seeing any girl?” she inquired.

Duggu was feeling extremely agitated. Don’t say it, his better senses told him. He stammered and sighed, “No, no one as such”. He was ill at ease; he started scratching his wrists under his sleeves to distract himself. His throat was dry. He was fast succumbing to his instincts. He gulped down a glass of water.

“At least tell me what do you look for in a girl?” Neela persisted. Duggu started sweating, his eyes met with his sister’s. She was waving her head in a ‘no’, she too was suggesting ‘I know what’s on your mind rascal, don’t say it!’

“A snout” Duggu blurted looking blankly into the empty bowl of desserts, his words hanging in an elongated lull that was created as everyone was left dumbfounded.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Contract

The Taj stood there- looking over the Arabian Sea- as a stark witness of India’s rise from the undermined slavery, to the independent uprising; from confused identity, to unwavering self belief; from rusticity, to sophistry. In early twentieth century a rich Indian businessman, after being refused entry into a five star hotel because he was non-white, built The Taj Mahal Palace in reply to the British who were the then rulers of India and looked at Indians with disdain. Today the twenty first century Taj having survived the infamous terrorist attack; having added The Tower Wing- which was another structure to its right- equal in capacity, hospitality, and luxury; and having established a brand name for itself world over was hosting two young entities who contributed to the economic uprise of India in their humble ways.

Ajay Sinha, CEO and major stakeholder of IndiaTech Ltd. was one of the younger fat cats of India. One reason for India’s robust economic growth was providing cheap IT solutions which, if otherwise taken from a software conglomerate would make it unaffordable to many businesses. Ajay was one brave entrepreneur who founded IndiaTech with just few friends and their meager computer systems. Now the company was a multi million dollar baby. One of the main reasons of company’s success was Ajay’s unshakable faith in its purpose in face of unrelenting adversity. He knew from the start that it wasn’t an orthodox business enterprise which, after some resistance, would emerge as victor or perish depending on its fate. He knew he would have to work for peanuts initially if not for no returns at all. It would be only after addition of cohort of cheap developers will the company taste success. But taste it will.

Today however, this positive entrepreneur in his mid thirties was rather pessimistic. He was due for a meeting with Fly India Airlines over a maintenance contract. Fly India had provided wings to India. It had an elaborate network across Indian geography and beyond and was the most preferred carrier of corporate elites for the sheer luxury it offered to its passengers. IndiaTech had been maintaining Fly India’s IT for five glorious years. But suddenly the airline considered Ajay’s company incapable of handling such a critical responsibility.

After recession hit the world economy most foreign clients had slipped into their shells postponing all development plans and withdrawing maintenance contracts.

Ajay was in desperate need of this contract except for one thing; he didn’t have the cheap labour anymore. Most software giants had dropped their prices and brought them more or less in line with Indian companies and IndiaTech after delighting over enormous success for over a decade had lost most of its dedicated workforce to newly emerging software companies. The airline was already negotiating terms with another software company which was a sister company of the airline’s itself which only made the matter worse for Ajay. But somehow if he could sustain the contract for another couple of years he could see his company through these difficult times.

Ajay dressed in a black business suite for the meeting and was accompanied by his senior manager. “Needless to say you are looking elegant sir” said the sixty year old manager. Ajay accepted it with a nod; he knew the compliment was not fake. He was indeed a handsome man and used to getting such compliments a lot. He was tall, fair, had a perfectly slanting cheekbone and jaw line. His fluffy disheveled hair were only fitting and made him look much younger than he actually was. But that hardly mattered at the moment.

The two men made their way to the sea-facing regale where meeting was held. They were received by representative’s advisers. They were brought to sit with the host and a quick round of introductions was made.

“So how does it feel to be CEO of a multi-million dollar company at this age Ajay, if I may call you so?” asked the suave and beautiful host. Aliya Ranawat, in her late twenties, was young daughter of airline’s owner. She was an MBA from Harvard and had recently been appointed as the junior manager of the company. Along with fair complexion, tender built, and big eyes she carried with her resolute authority which fully justified her post in the company.

But behind her flattering compliments Ajay could sense pitiful scorn for a CEO who was going to lose his business soon. “Of course you can,” grunted Ajay with the sternest face he could make.

Aliya continued, “So you somehow managed to bring us to the table despite our repeated denials”.

“I failed it seems”, replied Ajay “after five years of immaculate service that we provided, your company didn’t even so much as cared to send a senior manager, you know”, Ajay conjured an artificial hesitancy, “ I expected someone who could really take decisions”. Aliya’s soft demeanor disappeared in thin air as soon as she heard this. Rage began wreaking havoc in her senses; she could barely restrain herself from throwing the wine in her glass on the face of her guest. She clinched her teeth. Her lack of control was palpable on the table. “Tell me what you’ve got?” she said glowering at him.

“Our company has stood by yours for five long years. We have provided you with quick and reliant services and I believe we are very much capable of doing so for the next couple of years. And keeping in mind the fact that SCS is offering you the same services at ten per cent lower rates, we are ready to offer you that much discount” Ajay presented his argument. His manager nodded in agreement.

Aliya quickly responded, “Mr. Ajay you know our company too well to believe that it cares about your discount. We place much value in reliability and security of our data. Your company might have been reliable in the past but not any more. We have come to know the fact that you could retain only thirty percent of the employees you had a year ago.” Aliya looked straight into Ajay’s eyes, she took a brief pause. “Yes Ajay, we do know a good deal about your internal affairs. After all one should know well whom he’s dealing with, doesn't he? Although you have been able to maintain the strength of your employees but most of them are new recruits from local colleges, cheap substitutes of the workforce that originally served us. Secondly the company to which we are turning to is a sister company of ours which assures us more that our data will be in safe hands”.

“And lastly if you look at the figures, our company has grown five times in last five years while yours- in terms of employees and revenues- has grown only twice and that too in first three years. From last two, your company has stagnated Ajay. You were unable to keep up with us.” Aliya rested her argument and gestured so by keeping both her arms on the table. An awkward lull was created in the place.

Ajay waited for a moment to seep in and get settled, he finally spoke “I am impressed, you have pretty good knowledge for someone who hasn’t spent much time in the company” Ajay opened up while offering his argument which further irritated Aliya. He called her a ‘new comer’ which indicated that he still was taking her for granted. She was mad at the thought of not being taken seriously. She already owned the company, that’s what she thought. She had never been taken for granted before. How could someone reject her position so blatantly? She secretly fantasized Ajay longing for her. She couldn’t take her eyes off his neck and chest which was his only exposed skin in the suite.

Ajay’s words brought her back from her fantasy “I am sure you are too knowledgeable to deny the fact that my company has played a role in success of your company. Your IT was slow, expensive, inefficient, and costly all at the same time. We streamlined your codes; we upgraded your machines and made your system user friendly. You cannot shy away from the fact Ms. Ranawat that your company couldn’t have done this without us”. Ajay was getting aggressive as the meeting proceeded.

“And we’ve have paid you accordingly for your services Mr. Ajay”, Aliya snapped at him, trying to insult him softly in an attempt to get an upper hand. Ajay was quick on the response, “but not as much as you have benefited from us. Remember, your company grew five times but ours only two.” Ajay completely took her defense apart. She was rendered speechless. She just wanted to run away from this.

“This conversation is over Ajay,” she began wrapping her things and gestured her advisors, who didn’t prove to be of much service tonight, “you cannot cut deals today whining over the terms of yesterday.”

“This meeting was a sham, you had already made up your mind even before it began” Ajay began to winced in an attempt to make her talk again. “Have a good evening!” Aliya said while chaining her purse without any expressions and without any eye-contact. Finally she rose from her chair.

“You cannot do this to us,” Ajay lamented while watching her leave the table, she never turned back. An emotional upsurge began enveloping him. It cannot end like this. He had worked very hard making this company and he couldn’t just watch it die. Something needed be done, something needs to be done.


Aliya took an extended shower. It had been a long day for her. After a stressful day in office she had been disparaged by an IT firm CEO, much smaller than the company she would be inheriting in the future. It was too much of an insult for her. She couldn't take the word '' out of her mind. That bastard challenged my authority she thought. The more she hated him, the more passion it induced in her. She increased the pressure on shower to take her mind away but couldn't stop fantasizing Ajay begging for her mercy, asking for forgiveness, reeling under her authority; imploring, to make love to her.

Aliya finally gave up and turned off the shower. She wrapped herself in a towel without caring to dry her body. She climbed on the bed without switching on the lights; she was too scared to face the world tonight. Aliya had been an insomniac after her mother’s premature death and wasn't used to sleep before late in the night, in fact early in the morning. She groped around the pillow for remote control; she remembered that she had put it there before leaving for the meeting which anyway didn't go very well for her. After some effort she found it.

As soon as she switched on the TV she was aghast watching a silhouette construe under the light of the television. “What in the world…” she blurted trying to exercise some authority over her stalker who cut her short. “If you would keep quite and just listen you would know you are safe” said the man extending his hand into the light, pointing a gun.

She clenched her towel which was the only clothing she had, she could sense some familiarity in the voice. The stalker walked into the light revealing himself fully, in his impeccable black business suite.

“You son of a…” as soon as she recognized his offender, she felt some respite. She had judged him well, he couldn't harm her. He had too much conscience for that. “How did you manage to get in” she questioned him in fury. He chuckled “I have some influential friends in the Taj, and don’t bother about complaining after I leave, we have took lot of pain ensuring that it looks like some hallucination of yours.”

“What do you want” at gunpoint, she was still very authoritative. She got off from the bed, alert, looking for way to outsmart him. She clenched her towel tight and adjusted it to cover her curvy bosoms.

“I want you to just listen to me. You cannot just abandon my company after using it for five years. As I said you cannot deny the fact that you couldn’t have reached here without us.” Ajay was gasping, he couldn’t catch his breath. “You cannot do this to us. You have to make sure that we get the contract for next two years. My managers have all the documentation ready. All you need to do is just convince your bosses over the phone to sign this contract. As soon as they agree my manager will present the papers to them. Until those papers are signed, you will be my hostage”.

“I’ll never be able to convince them over the phone, they will want to wait till tomorrow morning in any case” replied Aliya, still wrapped only inside a towel. Television was the only light present in the room apart from dim moonlight which came from the large window that also gave away cityscape.

She could see the images in her mind somewhat come true. Ajay was in front of her, helpless, pitiful. But as the images materialized, so did the passion.

“I have all night” replied Ajay.

Aliya started moving towards him, “Ajay you are not in right state of mind, and you don’t understand I will never be able to convince them over the phone. They would want me to discuss in person over this.” Aliya inched closer, she was now standing right in front of him; Ajay firmed his grip over the gun, focussing on the aim “I am afraid you will have to die then” it was an unconvincing threat.

She started stroking his arm with one hand and gripping her towel with the other, “you cannot do this Ajay, you don’t have to do this”. She concocted her expression to show how anxious she was feeling in front of him. Ajay could no more ignore her fair, wet body. Sweet fragrance of her soap had completely enveloped the room; Ajay was feeling his grip over the gun loosening.

She started caressing his cheek her bosoms started eking out from the loosely held towel. It barely covered them now. She finally let go of the towel and held Ajay’s face in her hands, naked. Their nose was touching each other’s; their eyes locked; they could feel each other's breath.