It’s been about one month and ten days and I’m still unable to overcome my “writer’s block”. Hilarious! I can’t even call it “writer’s” having written only a single short story till now. However, the block I’m having is genuine. Every time I open the MS Word window in my laptop, I end up without typing a single word. No sorry, I do type some lines but my “perfection seeking” mind force me to press the “del” button on the keypad, the net result of which is futile hours of eye-straining, brain storming, finger- tiring ( for alternate typing and deleting) activities all day long. Above all, I’m not even able to pay this month’s electricity bill for which my lovely wife, Anita would say, “Darling, I know you would be a great writer in the near future, but can you tell me what damn thing will you write if our electricity gets cut off for non payment? What excuse will you give to Tina’s class teacher, Mrs. Sharma for your daughter’s poor grades? Will my perennial silence be ever broken in front of Mrs. Kulkarni when she hypes about her husband’s weekly salary increment and gifting her new set of jewellery every Sunday?” Even my cute little daughter, Tina would say, “Dad, you know Priya’s dad takes her to park every day. Why don’t you do the same?”
So you see this block of mine has some serious side effects – inability to buy my wife precious jewellery and to take my daughter to the Park. I once heard Biren, one of my old friends, infact Dr. Biren Kumar Sikder now, talking about utter frustration in a medico’s life. It’s better not to say, I’m having the same “bitter” feeling now. It’s drizzling outside. Oh God ! I love this rain so much. To me, rainy season is the only time when you can clog your coronary arteries with romance. I still remember the day when I proposed to Anita, that day was raining too. But it doesn’t matter much now, my “Husband-ship” is being decided by the bucks I can spend at the “Tanishq’s”, not by the kilograms of romance running through my blood vessels. My only companion at present is this grand old lappy CQ 621 with the blank Word document in it urging me “ At least give it a try man !” . The gentle breeze coming through the window was so pleasant, cold and charming that it made me drop my head on the table.
Mr. Dubey is standing there at the door.
“Oh Dubeyji when did you come? Please come inside and take a seat”- I told him.
“I didn’t want to disturb you, so I entered without seeking your permission, hope you didn’t mind!”- replied Dubeyji.
“Definitely not, so - Ka hal chal ba(What’s up)?”- I tried in Bhojpuri
“Bahut badiya(very well), bhaisaab, where from did you learn Bhojpuri”?
“Dubey ji,I told you before that I had a ‘Dubey’mate in my college,he taught me some of these catchy lines”.
“Fine, so what’s your next project after ‘Biborno golap’?
Have you anything in your mind?”
I had to explain my incapability to come up with a plot for my story to Dubeyji. Actually, I really trust this man, he had been there always whenever I felt a void in my confidence and self esteem. But what has happened to this man today, he’s looking so weird. A man who dresses formally almost always is now wearing a deep blue faded jeans and a red T-shirt bearing the line “ GOD IS A DJ”. Oh no! He’s having a ‘spike’ too on his hair. Unbelievable! I couldn’t wait further asking him, “Excuse me Dubeyji, keep aside other topics, will you now tell me the reason for your present makeover? I am shocked”.
“Oho Kya batay(what should I tell) Mukherjee bhaisaab, I am dating with a hot girl named Tanisha. She’s only 23, so I had to ,you know...”- Dubeyji’s boastful reply.
“Are you serious? What would happen if Bhabhiji knows about your affair?”- I said with a frown.
“Cool dude, she, herself had given me the permission to date with that girl”- Dubeyji answered.
Impossible! Is this the same Manishankar Dubey whom I saw just a week ago. I couldn’t believe how Ganga ji, a highly possessive married Indian woman allows her husband to date with another girl who’s almost of his daughter’s age. I was astonished but still had to continue- “So what brought you here, Dubeyji?”
“Aap agar interested hai to(If you are interested), I have a plot for you”- Dubeyji clarified the purpose of his visit.
I felt a thrill on my precordium, not to say about my bouncing pulse – “Ya sure. I’m short of plot now and I badly need one. Please tell me Dubeyji”- I said almost immediately.
“Okay, but before starting, I’ll need a cup of coffee for my aching throat”- Dubeyji made his demand.
“A cup? I will give you a whole bucket. Anita, bring coffee for Dubeyji. Okay you can proceed now, my tympanic membrane is geared up to set in vibration mode”.
Taking out a chit, Dubeyji started – The story goes as –
Vivek Sharma, Managing Director of Larsen Tech Companies is the only son of Mr. Kuldeep Sharma, a renowned business tycoon of London, who has been recently listed among UK’s Ten Most Wealthy Businessmen. Vivek, a brilliant and vibrant leader for his employees, received his B.Tech from IIT Delhi and MBA from the Cambridge. Tall, fair-skinned, 6 inch nosed Vivek is a pure bliss to human eyes, a prince in true sense, as if he’s one of the very few perfect, flawless, precious samples God has sent to the Earth. Vivek lost his mother in early childhood ,but he was raised with utmost care and love by his father. His father Kuldeep, a man of values is very possessive about his son, which is understandable considering the untimely demise of his spouse in a road mishap. Kuldeep still remembers that ‘Black’ day, 6th of August 1974. Archana’s stubbornness for driving the car..loss of control on brakes..hitting a large Banyan tree off the road..her bleeding face..all these haunts Kuldeep. He wants to get rid of his nagging possessiveness by getting his son married so that his daughter in law can assume most of Vivek’s responsibilities.
“I’m worried about you son”- Kuldeep said to Vivek at the dinner table. “Why so Dad? Are you bothered about Larsen Tech’s current down-treading share value? I should tell you that my employees are working really hard to get over it”- Vivek said like a true professional.
“No son, I’m worried about your share value!”- Kuldeep continued.
“Dad, I didn’t get your point” – Vivek was surprised.
“You are 28 now son, I’m 65. I think the time is perfect when you should get me a lovely daughter in law. I want to see you settled before I breath my last” – Kuldeep made it clear.
“Don’t say so Dad, You are going to make a century, I bet and about marriage....”- Vivek fumbled.
“What? Listen son, I have already selected two girls for you. You will see their photographs tomorrow, you choose one of them. You have never disappointed your daddy , I expect obedience from you this time also” – Kuldeep said on a serious tone.
“Okay Dad, don’t worry, now could you please hand me the Chatni, it’s too delicious. Mausi has finally learned to cook it right”- Vivek asked as if he’s not bothered.
Clearly, Vivek was not happy from his father’s insistence about getting married. He took his BlackBerry and made a call to Vidya – “Hello Vidya”
“Where’s Tina?” Dubeyji smirked. I told him that she was taking a nap in her room.
“Gala sukh raha hai ji(My throat is dried up)! Where’s my coffee?”- Dubeyji reminded his demand.
“Oh yes ! Anita, bring in Dubeyji’s coffee”. Anita, dressed in her night gown brought a mugful of coffee in a dish with a salt-pot in her hand and asked, “ How much salt bhaisaab?”
“Two spoons only” – Dubey’s rapid reply puzzled me. Salt!! Eww!! This Dubey is a such a perverted package, he lacks every aspect of the word ‘taste’. Wait, What for did Anita offer salt in coffee? I think she’s out of her mind and the reason behind it is nothing other than mugging up those bloody Saas-Bahu type (boring) serials at least for sixteen hours a day – I have no doubt why my electricity bill is hiking every month. Meanwhile, Dubeyji slurped the coffee and said, “I really like it. A hot coffee from a hot Bhabhi”.
“Ahem,Ahem. Anita Why don’t you go and catch up your serial, ’Parvati aayi babul k ghar’(mocking a regional TV show). I think you are missing an important episode. Okay, Dubeyji, I know you like to drink hot coffee, now please continue with your story” – I commented.
“Vidya, today Dad talked about marriage”, Vivek continued over phone , “he said he had already selected two girls and tomorrow I will be seeing their photographs. You know I cannot argue with my Dad ,he doesn’t even know about our relationship and I know I cannot live without you. I’m really confused now. So will you meet me tomorrow at 11.30 at the Thames Mall. Ya, beside that golden statue, Ya fine, I’ll be in time. Okay bye sweetheart, take care, good night” – Vivek’s voice was full of nervousness which is rare otherwise. Vidya Acharya, a Master of Arts from Princeton University is committed to Vivek for nearly two years. They first met in an Art Gallery where Vidya was present with some of her friends –
An ardent lover of Modern Arts, Vidya was having a nice time at the gallery. Suddenly, a painting of Buddha in a dancing posture drew her attention.
“Hey friends, just take a look at this one, doesn’t it deserve a big ‘wow’?” – Vidya exclaimed to her friends. Vidya’s mesmerized eyes amidst her gleaming beauty dazzled Vivek who was standing a few feets apart. He stopped his conversation with the Manager and approached towards Vidya.
“Excuse me Miss, Did you really like this painting?”- Vivek spoke to her. With a very rare piece of physical perfection talking to her, Vidya just couldn’t stop gaping at Vivek.
“Hello Miss, Am I unclear? I’m talking to you” – repeated Vivek.
“Oh yes, Sorry”, Vidya had to interrupt her fantasies,” Yes the painting is just awesome. What’s its price?”
“It costs 650 pounds and I must say that it has been bought”- Vivek added. Before Vidya could question, he continued,” Actually I took it, but the problem is I got a call from Dad, he’s now telling me to return the painting as we already have six Buddhas in our drawing room. I talked to the Manager if he would take it back who denied my request since cash payback doesn’t follow the Gallery’s regulations”.
“So What can I do about this?”- Vidya’s innocent query.
“I saw you liking the painting , so if you could buy it from me, I would be thankful”. Vidya definitely wasn’t expecting this, “But I don’t have that money”- Vidya remarked.
“No, you don’t need to pay it all today. Just put a sign over here and take my card, you can bring the amount at this address later”. Vidya hesitated for a few minutes before signing. Vivek grinned at her and departed in his Aston Martin.
“Oh my gosh Vidya, you saw that guy, he’s just so dashing and how lucky you are to get his address. Don’t delay in proposing him because you will have us as your competitors, ha ha ha”- told one of her friends. Vidya blushed and ran away from the scene. Yes, it didn’t take too long for Vidya to propose Vivek who couldn’t turn it down.
“You are late again!”- Vidya groaned at the Thames Mall cafeteria.
“Oh dear sorry again, It was traffic!”- Vivek was always ready with his excuse.
“So, whom did you select from the photographs? Don’t forget to invite me at your marriage” – Vidya said sarcastically.
“It’s not that funny, you know, I somehow managed to come here, hope Dad hadn’t noticed me going out. Else, I would have been seated in my bedroom with those photos in hand, just horrible!” -Vivek said in a deep voice. “You don’t always need a bedroom to see photos dear, you can have it here too!”- the heavy, croaked voice sounded familiar to Vivek. It was Kuldeep, his boss a.k.a Dad with Amish, Vivek’s closest friend standing right behind him.
“Dad, you ......” – Vivek was close to get a choke.
“Oh no, Dubeyji , how could you do such a mess ! Laxmibai is not coming for last 4 days. Now who will clean this up?” – I just barked at Dubey for spitting his “Pan Bahar”(tobacco) on my floor.
“Thik hai(It’s okay) bhaisaab. I’ll clean this up, no big deal”- Dubeyji assured me.
“Kill ! Kill! Pay it”- Anita’s loud cry was just deafening. I’m sure it’s that Serial again. I wonder why Anita doesn’t assist the Great Directors of such daily soaps in cutting down the bulged out stock of episodes, they would’ve been able to get a better TRP. Leave it , we should concentrate on two V’s now, I mean Vivek and Vidya. “Age badiye(Proceed) Dubeyji ” –
Vidya was about to leave her chair hastily little out of courtesy but more out of fear when Kuldeep gestured her not to do that. He arranged two seats – one for himself and another for Amish.
“Look son, You can’t cheat your Dad. This old businessman always hated cheaters. You should’nt have dared to do that.” Vivek with his erythematous face tried to explain something but was stopped abruptly by his father. Kuldeep had seen his son moving out hurriedly. He discovered that Vivek had left his IPad at the couch. He tried to give it to him, but there was no glimpse of Vivek and his ‘Turbo’ equipped Aston Martin. So he stepped into Vivek’s room to keep it inside properly. As he opened the drawer of the shelf, a photograph caught his sight – it was that of Vivek, Amish and Vidya’s . Kuldeep called Amish over phone in no time telling him to come for an urgent talk. Though initially trying to elude the main story, Amish finally had to surrender to Kuldeep Uncle’s bullets of interrogation and had to divulge his son’s ‘secret’ relationship with Vidya to him. Poor Amish also had to inform about Vivek’s meeting with Vidya at Thames Mall.
“That’s how I came to know about this” – Kuldeep remarked.
“Dad you see, I was about to tell you but the situation ...” – Vivek was stopped again.
“Vivek, before you proceed, first you should take a look at these photos which I mentioned about yesterday ” – Kuldeep said as he opened an envelope and handed the photos to Vivek. This unnerved Vidya, who tried to peek at them. One of these was of a Marathi girl, Deshmukh, 26 years, pretty, a bit darker but sober. As he took out the second photo, Vivek stood up and almost screamed – “Dad, why didn’t you show me this photo earlier?”. It was of Vidya’s! Both Kuldeep and Amish were smiling. Kuldeep added, “Manohar ji gave me these pictures. It didn’t take me long to choose this girl (Vidya), but I needed your approval. Then I got the surprise and realised that it wouldn’t be you but it would be me to do the approval”. Vivek couldn’t wait further, holding back tears ( khushi k asoon) he gave his dad a tight hug. Vidya bowed to touch her future ‘Sasur’s’ feet. Ever grinning face of Amish bore signs of heroic honesty.
“Vidya, talk to your father. If he’s okay with your relationship, we should then arrange for wedding as soon as possible”- Kuldeep Paaji announced.
“Hello Darling, I’m busy right now. I’ll meet you at night. Okay, now bye sweety!”- Dubeyji remarked as he just ended his new gf’s call. Meanwhile the coffee mug and salt pot on the table started to quiver.
“Dubeyji, hold on to something, I think it’s a mild quake”- I advised Dubeyji.
“Koi bat nahi(no problem), this is quite common nowadays. Let’s continue -
“Excuse me Miss, can you hand me the Menu card please”- Vivek requested the young vivacious Spanish waitress. “Sure Sir .. Here it is ..”- the waitress said handing him the card.
“Muy bien (very well), gracias (thank you), como te llamas (What’s your name)?” – Vivek asked softly to her.
“Mi Maria Rodriguez”- the waitress replied.
“Mucho gusto Maria (Nice to meet you Maria)”- Vivek was really having fun with his newly learned Spanish.
“Can you tell me Vivek, how many girls you flirted with from the day we landed here in Barcelona?”- Vidya accused him for not being sensible enough on their first honeymoon in Spain. Vivek tried to lessen the inflammation by cracking jokes, reciting poems, mimicking his father but nothing could thaw Vidya’s glacier of rage. Vivek then thought of trying something different. He called Maria and told her to play a Salsa music. Soon the music starts and Vivek pulls up Vidya to the dance floor. May be due to Vidya’s flawless smooth skin or may be due to the ambient surroundings that Vivek danced and he danced with so much vigour and grace that it brought a big smile on Vidya’s face and a standing ovation from the lounge’s audience.
“How could you dance so well Vivek?”- Vidya asked returning to their suite, still feeling the touch of Vivek in her waist.
“It was spontaneous sweetheart”- Vivek replied.
“Every spontaneity has an underlying inducing factor and tonight what was it Mr. Sharma?”- Vidya’s witty interrogation.
“Mrs. Sharma It’s you, you and only you. You are my motivation, inspiration, satisfaction, you are the reason behind my creation, Umm..sorry I forgot the next line, what was that..” – Vivek tried to be a smart Romeo.
“You are just incorrigible!” - Vidya said as she smashed the pillow on his head.
“Fantastic!”- I exclaimed. Dubey took out a cigar with Oscar winning attitude from his jeans pocket and lighted it. I didn’t know when he achieved the ‘Smoker’ status. Whatever it is, I’m really liking this all new cool Mani Dubey.
“Mukherjee bhai, don’t you think we should also have the taste of Salsa right now, I’m in a perfect ‘Pedro’ mood now, come darling, we would be great partners..”
Correction! It’s not that cool of Dubeyji to divert his orientation!
“I think you should say this to Tanisha, your girlfriend. Now please stop spilling your Pedroism over here and continue with Vivek”- I had to thrash his altered romanticism.
“I think you are right, I should go on –
Vivek and Vidya decided to go to Bilbao, the next day. Needless to say, the couple was looking elegant with Vivek dressed in a black suit and Vidya wearing a sleeveless white gown, her neck glittering with loads of jewels. The Hotel Manager, Mr. Perez arranged a brand new, glistening red Lamborghini Gallardo for their trip. Vidya snatched away the car keys from Mr. Perez’s hands.
“How childish Vidya! Come on give me the keys”- Vivek urged.
“No, I’ll drive. I’ve learned driving from Ramu Kaka, our driver when I was 16, so you can happily rely on me” – Vidya answered. Vivek failed to curb her obstinacy and stopped arguing.
“You are my lady, you can do whatever you like but be sure to take us to Bilbao in one piece”- Vivek said meekly. Vidya chuckled. They drove through the grasslands, woods, towns. Lamborghini was just hitting the clear road at 120 kmph.
“Slow it down dear! You have to harness this Gallardo” – Vivek said in a tense voice. Vidya just ignored him, instead she turned on the radio which was playing Nelly’s “Just a dream” –
I was thinking about her, thinking about me
Thinking about us, what we gon' be
Open my eyes yeah, it was only Just A Dream
The gentle, cool Mediterranean breeze with an appealing fragrance and graceful, glaring sunshine made Vivek feel like in heaven. He held Vidya’s hand, kissed it, then in a snug, lowered voice said – “ You are my Angel. I fall short of words when I see you. If I could write poetry, I could have won a Nobel for you”.
“Oh my sweet hubby! Where from did you cram up this line ? Hope it’s not that rubbish ‘Twilight’ movie!”- Vidya said.
“Oh no! It’s not ‘Twilight’, It’s absolutely authentic darling”- Vivek answered.
A sharp turn was coming ahead, which Vidya failed to notice. As he looked forward, Vivek saw their car moving towards a large Banyan tree off the road, he cried loudly – “Vidya....”
Just then began the second phase of quake – an after-shock may be, but it’s much more intensive than the preceding ‘shock’. A chunk of ceiling fell a few inches away from where Dubeyji sat.
“Bhagwan bachao(God help me out) !” – he just sprang up from the chair. I grasped his hands – “Nothing to worry Dubeyji, but please tell me what happened to Vivek and Vidya? Was it their end? You selected yet another ‘sad- end’ ed plot for me” – I was desperate about my story.
“Hey bhagwan(oh God), Where did I come ! I could have easily saved myself, this mad man now needs his story at this crucial period, damn his craziness”- Dubeyji complained to Bhagwanji(the God) in a tremulous voice.
“No man, I want the story to be finished before we die. Now, will you continue?”- I was stern about my objective.
“What happened? Why are you shouting?”- Vidya questioned. It seemed that Vivek just had a bad dream.
“Weren’t we talking about Nobel or Twilight ?” – Vivek asked still unable to cope up with the enigma.
“Honey, I think you were dreaming. We just started our journey and Nobel, Twilight, how funny! So what did you see there? In your dream?”- Vidya was curious like an over-sincere female medical student.
“Nothing. Now just stop the car and let me drive it. You better take some rest”- Vivek said in a non – charismatic way.
Vidya decided to be submissive and compliant to her husband’s instruction. Vivek drove all the way to Bilbao, without speaking a single word. They still had a wonderful honeymoon in Spain. One year later, Vidya gave birth to their first child, a boy, bearing the same superlative facial characteristics as his father. Vidya, Vivek and Viman ( as they named the boy) lived as a ‘Chota pariwar, Sukhi pariwar’(small and happy family).
“Oh my God, what are you doing here? And why are you looking so creepy?”- I said to Anita who is standing at the door with grotesque hairs, red eyes, clenched teeth, holding a rusted dagger in her hand. The quake intensity reached its pinnacle. Dubeyji gave a vacant, perplexed look. Just then, Anita paced closer to Dubeyji and in her fiery face, she growled-“ You filthy, putrid soul, you think you can beat me up and flee away. I’ll demolish you, you evil spirit! ha ha ha !!!”. To my utter surprise, she took a firm grip of the dagger and shoved it thrice into Dubeyji’s chest.
“Dubeyji! Dubeyji! Murder! Murder!” – I screeched out to the fullest.
“What happened? What murder?”- Anita asked
“Don’t try to feign now, you killed Dubeyji. He was sitting here right beside me, telling a beautiful story, you gave him coffee, earthquake hit us, not once but twice, you came out with a dagger, killed Dubeyji...” – I had no intent to stop.
“Wait, wait, what? Earthquake? Very funny. Look around you , is anything dismantled? Dubeyji was never present here. You called him today morning, told him that you needed help for some story or plot or whatever it is, that’s all. He hadn’t visited here since last week”- Anita’s words clattered on my ear ossicles.
“But how is it possible! He looked so alien, told about some girlfriend, Tanisha...”
“Are you crazy! Gangaji would get a heart block if she hears this line from you, without even knowing that you saw all of these in your dream”.
“What? You want me to believe what I saw was just a dream!”
“That’s up to you. You were dozing , I tried to wake you up twice. You were like Kumbhakarna .Go and get yourself fresh, the rain has stopped, you have to pay the bill today. If you fail, don’t come to me and say ‘ darling i fined again’!!”
Things are getting clearer to me. So, it was a dream! Woo! I can now rationalize – ‘Kill! Kill! Pay it!’ and the two massive earthquakes. I didn’t have a clue that dreams can be so wonderful. Dubeyji, Shhs! Only in dreams you see a man like that. But even in this abstract world of fantasy, the story by no means lacked veracity and I should waste no time to write it up. Let the bill go to hell !!!