Short Stories

The Third Kind

5..4..3..2..1.

Green!

The signal was green. The traffic started again. Everyone was in a hurry. The loud honks and the sudden hustling were creating a cacophony piercing through the city’s tone. It was one of the busy days. The people were queued up one behind the other in the signal mocking the way they exist in the society.

The more fortunate ones who were sitting in their fat cars showing off the society their economic status were not happy waiting for their turn. They were the most impatient of the lot. The somewhat less fortunate, decked up as death riders, on their fancy bikes were gazing at the closed windows of the cars beside them, trying to get a reflection of their self. Fixing their posture or sunglass, they would eye at the driver, envying him inside and cursing the sun and the heat. They all want to be in that car beside him someday.

The even less fortunate were the ones on public transport .The sweat, the foul odor of the man standing with his armpits exposed, the man who had been drooling in his sleep and the unbearable heat inside the bus, would make them petulant. The bikers would swiftly overtake the bus from one side and go ahead in the race. They would envy him, cursing him inside. They all wanted to be in that bike riding faster than him someday.

The entire city was in a hurry. Living itself was a competition. There was time for no one. Even the 120 seconds red signal would make them peevish, honking, gearing the accelerators like wild bulls in captivity standing at the brink of getting free.

Among all of them, she stood. She was not one of them. She was no competition and she was in no hurry. As the signal turned green, all the vehicles started to honk at her trying to make their way. She slowly walked to the other side of the divider towards the footpath.  The vehicles rushed passed her as she crossed the road. Some even hurled abuses at her for being so slow. She didn’t mind anymore. 30 years she had been doing this.

She came to the other side of the road and stood near the big tree. She had to wait for the signal to turn red. It would be just a few minutes of wait. She looked at the sun. It was right above the head. The tree provided a shady shelter.

She was Lakshmi, a middle aged 50 years old human being. She was a woman trapped in a man’s body. She was the third kind. She was a transgender.

Laxmi was not keeping well these days. She was having this constant fever for the past 10 days. Devi had been asking her to see a doctor for some time now.

“You should not neglect didi”, Devi would say.

But even Devi knew visiting a doctor was not easy. They are not welcome anywhere. Doctors, although treated them sometimes but always with disgust, a treatment they are very familiar to.

Lakshmi was feeling weak today. The fever, the hunger and the heat was making her nauseous. But she had no choice. The little that she earns from this traffic signal was all she had.

Life had been so different she thought. As a child, she wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to earn money, be a cardiologist.

“Stupid dreams”, she murmured.

Lakshmi was born to a middle class Tamil family as Laxman Iyer. Her father worked at the RTO office as a clerk in the city. Her mother was a housewife.

Right from his childhood, Laxman had different choices. He didn’t like playing outside with the boys. He liked dancing, a trait he got from his mother’s genes who was a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. He would imitate her ‘mudras’ in front of the mirror. When his parents would be out, he would cautiously sneak into their room, take out a ‘dupatta’ or a scarf and drape it around his tender body. He wanted to look pretty, trying out the cohl or the new shade of lipstick his mother would possess.

His feminine approaches and behavior made him the easiest target for the bullies. School was a nightmare for him. Every day, during the lunch time, the other kids would tease him, calling him with dirty nicknames, sometimes touching him inappropriately. He would run to the washroom and lock himself in the toilet. Sometimes he even had his lunch there. Each time he complained about this to his mother, she would say,

” Don’t cry son. Be a man. Tell them to back off next time”.

He never wanted to be a man. And never could he express this to his mother. He wanted his mother to understand him. And somewhere he felt, she did understand but pretended as if it was nothing.

“You are a disgrace “, shouted his father once when he found him in one of his private moments dressed up like a girl in his room. He never spoke to him after that.

When he was 15, his mother gave birth to a baby girl. They named her Shruti.

“How adorable she was”, Lakshmi thought.

By then, he was pretty sure that he wanted to be a woman. His baby sister was the love of his life. He would cradle her in his arms, feed her, and sometimes sing to her. Shruti was like someone Laxman was never going to be.

The sudden dissonance of the traffic brought back Lakshmi from her train of thoughts. The signal had turned red again. The crowd was getting impatient. She went in the traffic clapping her hands at the people making faces in disgust, standing in the signal. She went and knocked at the window of a car. The people inside the car chose to ignore. She left the car and went to a biker. Bikers were an easy target.

“God will bless you son, give me something!” she clapped her hands as she demanded.

The rider took out a ten rupees note and handed over to her.

She took the money and blessed him with her hands. The people behind her started honking again.

The signal had turned green.

Lakshmi crossed the road again. She checked her day’s collection. It was ninety rupees in her pouch. She was not feeling well. She thought of going home for the day. Ninety rupees was less; “Guru Ma “would be angry.

Parvati was the head of their colony. She was the eldest of them all. She was the “Guru Ma” or the “mother” of their group.  She had seen it all. From begging to prostitution she had gone through all of that hell in the sixty five years of her lifetime.

Everyone would bring their daily collection to “Guru Ma” and she would keep some amount for the daily grocery, food and shelter and return the rest. The colony was about 2 kilometers  from the signal.

It was already a hot day. Lakshmi started walking towards the colony. The colony had three rooms, two common bathrooms. It was on the other end of the slum near the dump yard where the city would dump their waste.

“How ironic was it! The society’s waste residing near the city’s dump yard”, Lakshmi thought.

While walking her way back, Lakshmi got indulged in her wave of thoughts. She remembered the day she left the house.

Laxman was 20 and he had just dropped college. His father wanted him to get married to a girl and take up a job.

“I don’t want to marry a girl father”, he told.

His father slapped him and for one last time uttered the same words he used five years ago

“You are a disgrace!”

That night Laxman had decided to leave the house and look out for his fate. After three weeks of staying hungry and living in the railway station, he met Parvati. Parvati introduced him to the group and to Banno , the then Guru-ma or “Mother” of the clan.

For two years he served them as one of them. It was their law. New members had to worship and serve their fraternity for two years before they were accepted as one of them.

“It was a cold December night”, she recalled.

It was the big hall room. A 100 watt bulb lit around the room. The place was smelling of chlorine and was unbearably cold. Laxman lay down in the cold table, naked and shivering. A picture of the goddess ‘Ardh-nariswar’ hung just in front of him. Guru Ma and a local doctor came in.

There was no anesthesia, no painkillers but direct pain. The surgery went for 2 hours. All she remembers now was that picture that hung in front of her. She screamed, she shouted and finally lost her consciousness as she slowly transformed from Laxman to Lakshmi.
The castration left her weak for days. There would be occasional pain and bleeding. For days she would prefer less liquid intake since urinating would be the most difficult job.

But amidst all the pain, one of her dreams came true; the dream to live in a woman’s body. She was one of them. Her past was like a bitter hangover. She had a new life from now.

This life was over for her to desire anything else, she knew. All she dreamed now was to be reborn as a girl.

thirdkind

 

 

When Lakshmi reached the colony, she could see five of the sisters standing near the courtyard, dressed up like princesses.

“Are you getting married pretty ladies”, she asked teasing the young ones.

Some of them chuckled, some of them blushed.

Only if I could didi, Randeep Kapoor wouldn’t be single still”, one of them chortled.

Lakshmi laughed along with them.

They were the new members of the group, young and immature. The spring of youth had just touched them. They were still trying to grasp their sexuality, exploring new feelings, falling in love and utterly unfortunate.

“There is a baby born in the big house near the signal. We are going there. Come join us. “One of them said.

Invading a house blessed with a baby and demanding money for the celebration and the blessings fetched them quite a lot of money. Although Lakshmi didn’t feel good at all, she realized this was a good way to earn some more money. So, she joined them.

The house was just on the corner of the traffic signal. It was a two storied independent house with a small courtyard after the main gate. The courtyard had a way to the main house beside a well maintained garden.

Lakshmi was the eldest of the five accompanying her. When they reached, the younger ones started to sing and dance in the courtyard. Lakshmi rang the bell.

After a while, a fair and good looking young lady came outside.

She was in her 30s. She looked pale and tired. Lakshmi realized she was the mother of the baby.

The lady however looked very familiar to Lakshmi.

“I have seen her somewhere”, Lakshmi thought “Where could it be? Was it at the signal?”

But she could not recollect.

 

“There is a new-born in the house. We have come for the celebration”, Lakshmi said.

The lady looked at Lakshmi with abhorrence and asked how much they demanded.

Lakshmi demanded four thousand.

The lady was not ready to budge on that amount of money. After a lot of negotiations and bargaining, they settled on three thousand.

“Let us bless the baby”, Lakshmi said.

Lakshmi was the eldest. She had to bless the new born.

The lady handed the new born to Lakshmi. It was a baby girl.

The baby had the eyes of the mother. It giggled as Lakshmi took her in her arms.

“How adorable she is”, Lakshmi thought.

A sudden chill of emotion ran down Lakshmi’s body. Her heart started to beat fast, her vision blurry from the water in her eyes. A realization had dawned on her.

The mother of the baby was none other than her own sister Shruti.

The baby was Shruti’s replica. Lakshmi realized why she found the lady so familiar.

There was a rush of varied emotions inside her. She just blessed her niece. She felt so happy for her sister.

“Shruti was a mother now”, Lakshmi beamed.

Not even in her wildest dream, Lakshmi had thought of seeing her sister again, let alone holding her child.

In a transgender’s life, there are seldom such occasions when the heart is over flooded with joy. It was one such day for Lakshmi. The long lost hope of meeting her abandoned family just came back bringing a bag full of dreams and desires that she knew was not possible.

Shruti saw the oldest of the transgender in the group wiping her tears. She felt a little bad for being rude to her earlier.

“Do you need some water”, she asked Lakshmi as she handed the money.

Lakshmi smiled as the tears rolled down her cheek and declined the offer.

 

When she reached her colony back it was already evening. Lakshmi had lost her appetite. It was as if the joy and happiness she experienced today had satisfied all her basic needs like hunger. She had never been so happy in her entire life.

Her body was burning with high temperature. She decided to lie down.

In a life without expectations, such surprises make you desire more. Lakshmi could not forget the baby’s face. That surreal innocence and the broad smile reminded her of Shruti’s infant days.

With the high temperature and a roller coaster of emotions, Lakshmi hallucinated. She was in a state of trance, far away from reality. She dreamed to have a family; to live a life that was respected. In her dream, she stood beside Shruti in that courtyard, caressing the new born. She was a woman in the dream.

Lakshmi could not pass the night. Her body succumbed to the immense happiness and the fever. She died of a heart attack. Happiness was a not only a myth for people like them, it was lethal as well. The train of thoughts slowly transported her to the other world, a world where she was equal and not discriminated.

The early morning rays carefully kissed Lakshmi’s body. Her lifeless body lay there in the room. Her torpid face was calm and peaceful. Streaks of dried tears made a mark on her cheeks.  Her life had no ambition, no expectation but always struggle. Though her life could not be happy, Lakshmi had a happy death. She had left this society where she had no place. Her only dream was to be born as a girl again. Death was indeed necessary.

She was not a man, neither a woman. She was the one who lives to be reincarnated as someone accepted, someone loved, someone respected. She was a person who had always experienced the worst of all. Her fate had molded her in to a mettlesome human being. She was not normal but she was way stronger than those who were considered normal by this society.

She was Lakshmi, she was the third kind.

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The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [Episode 9]

Where the hell is this guy? Is he alright?” asked a worried Dg

Why don’t you call Demon and check,” I suggested.

Sam was Demon’s good friend and he might be with him outside college. So, Demon was called. After five full ring calls, Demon picked up the call.
And what he said really made us worry.
Apparently, Rumi had gone back to her ex over a fight with Sam. This had left Sam devastated. He had borrowed Demon’s bike and was missing.
I always knew, she wasn’t the one for him. He deserves better.” Shouted an angry Dg.

Though we all were angry on the girl for cheating our friend, but the sense of emergency was still more than the anger.

What is wrong with the guy? What the hell is he up to?” I asked, really worried.

That night we called all contacts and searched frantically for him but in vain.
His phone was still switched off.
We all were at Demon’s place trying to handle the situation and finding the broken heart soon.It was the next day morning when we were seriously thinking of an FIR, Dg gets a call.
What I figured out of the conversation was something like this.

Where the hell are you?” yelled Dg

And then there were a series of “Hmm”s and “I understand” and even “this is not the end”.
After talking for about 3 minutes, Dg ended the call.
We all were curiously looking at him to say something. But he was quiet.

For God’s sake will you please let us know?” asked Demon.

Dg still took his time, lit up a cigarette and broke the ice.

“Let’s go to Jamsawli”.
“What?” we asked in unison.

Jamsawli was a place in Madhya Pradesh, some 70 kms from Nagpur.
Apparently, Sam out of frustration rode all the way to Jamsawli and forgot to get fuel for the bike. So, on his way back he is stuck somewhere where he managed to charge his phone and call back.Finally, after much difficulty, Sam was located and brought back

And then it was a season of getting stoned.We started smoking up seriously.For 15 days we smoked up, day and night.
Sam got a new excuse.
“I can write well when stoned”, he used to say.

But we knew it was crap. He was just escaping the situation.
Rumi came back and apologized for her behavior. But Sam didn’t forgive. We were happy because we felt that was right.
So another semester ended in month. The rosy romantic days came to an abrupt end for Sam. But the solace in writing a song was missing for him.

He was still going through the “writer’s block”.
We chucked “Keep Smoking” and created a song named “Don’t think I am insane.”
The lyrics were gibberish and were funny. So we created the song in punk rock progression. The song turned out to be good although.
Sam however was slowly lost in his life. He still could not accept the infidelity. He would stay high half the time and was still in search of that “song” which would satisfy him.

The summer vacations were to begin. All of us were ready to go back home. We were sitting at the “tapri’ smoking, when Sam appears all excited from somewhere.
Guys, I am going to ‘Shantiniketan’ this summer. It’s the Tagore festival. Anyone in?” He asked excited.
“Shantiniketan” is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, approximately 180 kilometres north of Kolkata .It was made by the famous Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who created a University with classrooms in open air under trees. Shantiniketan is a place where you find peace and is equally enriching in cultural aspects. It is perhaps the most developed cultural hub in any University in the country. This time of the year, there is however a huge festival; 8th of May marks the birth anniversary of the poet Tagore. It is a different sense of euphoria out there. People gather to celebrate his works.

Sam, I don’t know why decided to go and witness this cultural fair. May be he thought he might get some ideas, or maybe he thought he would find peace. Whatever was the reason, we four decided to join in for a 3 day trip to the abode of peace ‘Shantiniketan”.

baul

 

 

Chapter Seven

The Shantiniketan Phase.

The Band reached Shantiniketan not expecting much. They had a booking in a small lodge near the institute. Though Deep, Dg and Sam enjoyed the vibe, Daddy was a bit bored because he was the only non-bengali in the group. It’s a government holiday on the birth anniversary of Tagore. So families and many such working class people opted for a break utilizing the off and the weekend to the festival. The result however was not that great, especially for Sam.

“It’s too crowded. Damn” said an irritated Sam.

“What did you expect then? You and a bunch of intellectual musicians around?” replied Dg

“No. But what is the point. The rawness of this place especially the peace is affected by these city people. Disgusting” Sam said.

“Oh, which village are you from then?” joked Daddy.

It was an open amphitheater where stalwarts from Bengal as well as Bangladesh performed for Tagore.People sang, danced on his songs, recited his poems and even enacted his plays.

“Man, this guy wrote a hell lot of things. He was a genius’; Deep said realizing the quality and quantity of the poet’s works.

The entire day the four sat going through a different level of music session which had soul and not metal in it.
By the time, it was night, four of them started looking around the place, explore rather. The sound from the open stage echoed the skies. The whole atmosphere was peaceful with a calm breeze blowing from the trees.
It was around ten in the night, when the band decided to go for dinner but there was a problem. Sam was missing.

“Why is it always the same guy?” Daddy was irritated.

After searching for a while, Sam was found.He was sitting with his guitar with a bunch of ‘baul’ folks.

Bauls are a group of saints like ‘Fakirs’ in Bengal. They are marked by their traditional saffron clothing and an “Ektara”, a single stringed musical instrument. They are a religious group of saints primarily Vaisnavs and have a traditional folk genre of music. These songs are generally in the praise of the lord, and has a lot of impact both in lyrics and music. It is said even, Tagore was inspired from their music.

Sam was however sitting with them around a fire. One of them was singing in the praise of ‘Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’, the saint who preached Vaishanvism in Bengal, Bihar, Odisha in the 16th century.
There was a chillum lit. And the chillum was passed in the circle.Sam was smoking up with them.

Dg went and intervened.

“Sam what is wrong with you?” asked Dg.

Sam was however startled as he was disturbed suddenly. The baul stopped singing on the intervention.

“Oh you guys? Can you guys sit with us for some time?” asked Sam.

Then he introduced his band to the bauls.

The bauls though looked nomads were however very happy to welcome them in the bon- fire.

One of them said, “You guys are so young and it is nice to see the passion for music in you”. Then pointing to Sam he continued, “If peace is what you are searching, then my friend, you have to search it inside yourself. No place can be peaceful than your inner self”.

He was Nayandas Baul, the most elderly in the group. Looking at him, you can sense a different sense of spirituality. His eyes looked satisfied and happy when he sang. Although, he appeared to be in his mid 50s, he looked strong. The power of his voice penetrated deep inside the soul. And with the weed acting in the background, the process was even faster.

Daddy didn’t like the idea of sitting and smoking up with some random singing sanyasis. But then it was all about the experience. And he decided to give it a try.
Sam passed the guitar to Daddy to play along Nayandas Baul. The four of them sat with the three bauls experiencing a different level of folk music all night, talking and singing life.
Nayandas even tried singing a Bengali song Sam had composed back in his school with him. They spent the entire night jamming, listening more to the Sanyasis trying to grasp the meaning of their music.

Early morning, the saints had to go. They had to go to a nearby village to gather alms and preach through their music. Nayandas, however had developed affection for the band. He never had the opportunity to meet people who were so passionate about music at such a young age. He was even more amused when he knew how the band was formed.

Before he left, he told Sam, “When things go wrong in life, search for the music in you. If you hear it, the lord is alive in you. If you don’t, it’s time to praise him back. I will pray to god that all of you get what you came searching for. “

A musical night out in open sky had left everyone tired. The band rested the entire day.

Dg had recorded few of the baul songs that night while jamming with them.
Sam was listening to them. They still had another day to spend there in Shantiniketan. But Sam suddenly, decided to call off the trip and go back.

As it was anyways his plan and he decided to return ,everyone was more than happy to go home and enjoy the vacation.
The only thing Sam said in the entire journey back was, “How would a Baul rock sound?”
It seemed, he got what he was searching for.

 

 

This is a semi-fictitious and more of an original account of a musical journey of four different souls who at some point in their lives dreamed to make it Big.
The result was Hoax Call, an alternative rock band which started well but could never end!

The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [ Episode 8]

College had however, suddenly changed. After Rourkella, we became quite popular in our college. People began to notice us. The result was however, a steady increase in the number of chat windows at night. Dg and Sam had started chatting almost day and night. Sam did not have a laptop then, so both Dg and Sam were chatting in the same laptop in two different browsers.

Daddy had begun chatting over phone with Kriti.

In a way, I was left all alone after the jamming sessions.

I did not have much interest in relationships, so I utilised the lonely time in listening to different genres of music.

As, the days passed, Daddy had become a complete romantic guy making Sam sing romantic songs as he spoke to Kriti over phone. Dg started going out with ‘Lustoo’.

Sam, however, wasn’t far behind. After prolong hours of chatting with well scripted dialogues and a very secret formula, Sam managed to go out with a girl form the college.

It wouldn’t be nice if I say he was “dating” her as the girl had a boy friend in her hometown. However, still, they appeared to me more as a couple than friends.

Slowly, as they started getting a different life, the band was suddenly no more a priority. The practise sessions decreased, as nobody had much time out of chats and dates. The decision of making new songs was suddenly erased from our memories.

The result  however, was not pleasing.

As days passed, life seemed to be better than before. Lustoo and Dg were almost part of our gang now. Sam by now had wooed Rumi completely. She dumped her boyfriend for him.

And she had somehow controlled him completely. So, Sam started to stay away from us when she was around.

We met sometimes only during jamming sessions, the frequency of which was minimal.

The semester passed, we completed another year in the college.

The first band contest in the new semester was a complete failure.

We could not qualify the first round itself.

It was that night, when we thought of a meeting.

That night was very depressing. It seemed that we had disgraced ourselves. I was thinking of getting drunk, when a friend of mine called him in his room. When I went there, I saw two more of my batch mates sitting there. My friend said he had called me to try something new. I was in no mood of fun then. I was about to tell him, when he placed the joint in front of me.

I had always heard that weed could change your mood in seconds, but could never try. Seeing a joint in my friend’s hand, I decided to give it a try. As the smoke raced inside me, I could suddenly feel lighter than before. All tensions were thwarted. A feeling of happiness was in every inch of me. I thought of sharing the same happiness with the rest of my band. And so I borrowed two more joints and went to meet my band in Dg’s room.

When I entered, Dg and Sam was in deep discussion. Daddy was abusing them for letting the band down.

“It is just because of you guys, we do not get much time for practise”, shouted an angry Daddy.

“Really? Is it just because of us?” replied Dg, “Do you get time out of your phone calls? Please stop blaming Daddy, even you are equally responsible”.

 

“Forget it Dg, Daddy is just jealous”, said Sam.

Daddy became furious on Sam’s comment. The atmosphere in Dg’s room was starting to heat up. And I had to intervene to stop them.

“Shut up guys!” I said, “The truth is that all of you guys are equally responsible. So, rather than blaming each other of today’s failure, lets plan for the future”.

I generally never spoke anything serious, but weed had brought out the philosopher in me. Seeing me serious for the first time, they decided to agree and settle down. However, it was clear from their face, that they were hell angry on each other.

To lighten them up, I brought out my secret weapon; the weapon of “Happiness”.

“Stop frowning guys, look what I have brought for you guys”, I said revealing the two joints I borrowed.

However, to my surprise, none of them were much excited about it. I had to coax them for nearly an hour to convince them to light up one of them.

 

Cannabitar

It is said, that the primary psychoactive effects of Marijuana is to include a state of relaxation, and to a lesser degree, euphoria from its main psychoactive compound, “tetrahydrocannabinol”. The secondary effect known is to stimulate hunger.

The first joint was enough to lighten up the mood of the gang. Once the first joint was consumed, the next one followed in a line, leaving four of us laughing hysterically at each other and desperately hungry.

We decided to go out for some sweets.

In the shop, an important decision was taken.

“Sam, we will start to compose your already written songs. It high time we make some music now.” Said Daddy.

Everyone agreed in unison to Daddy’s decision. We knew, we needed some more of our original numbers.

The following days the band came alive again.

We decided to do some more covers. We started with “Joker and the thief” by Wolfmother.

Sam brought the songs he had written. But there was a problem. None of us could make a good song out of the lyrics. There was this song called “No smoking”, which Sam changed to “Keep smoking”. However, when all of us were ok with the way the song turned out, Sam was not happy.

“This is not what I wanted the song to be”, He said.

“But it sounds well, we can try it,” Said Daddy.

“No there’s something missing”, Sam said.

And this sudden restlessness of Sam was a major setback for the band. Sam was not happy with anything he wrote suddenly. To the rest of the band, the lyrics were fair enough, but Sam was adamant. We had no clue what he was searching for. But whatever it was, the practise sessions in a way was frequent.

It was the month of April. The sun was at its best radiating as much heat it could to the city. The temperature was as high as 45 degrees. The entire college was busy preparing for their semester exams.

We decided to jam whenever we got bored of the studies.

It was a Friday. As decided, the band met in the music room at about 10 o clock in the night. We knew Sam was going through a phase of creative dissatisfaction. But that night he was missing.

Dg tried calling him but his cell phone was switched off.

We tried to search him in college, but he was missing.

Suddenly, there was a sense of emergency in each one of us.

The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [ Episode 7]

 

After the show, the drive was much needed.

As soon as Daddy pressed the accelerator, we started accusing each other of making mistakes on stage. And it continued all the way. Daddy took us to a famous “chai” shop near the railway station. It was cold because of the recent rains. So we all had our jackets on. Sam was allowed to smoke as the show was over. We did not allow him to smoke for three days. We sat near the car ,drinking the famous tea. Just then Sam started the conversation.

“I think even if we made mistakes, we presented very well. No one could figure out the errors.”

“Exactly. I think the swap thing had worked too’, said Deep as he finally lit up a cigarette after almost finishing half of the matchbox.

“I think we need new songs, said Daddy passing the matchbox.

Making a song was not that easy. It took a lot of time and effort. I felt that although we were ready, but we still needed to do some homework.

“I think Sam should start writing.” I said.

Sam had a good sense of writing.

“I already have five songs written, my friend. And I have been shouting from day one to compose them,” replied an angry Sam.

We decided to start making more songs once we reached college back.

As we geared to move, we suddenly realised that the results will be declared in some time from now.

“Even we hold a chance to win it; or we don’t?” I thought all the way.

But when we reached the venue back, before getting down, Sam said,

“We had come here to perform well, we did. If we lose, we will be remembered. If we win, we will be remembered. We have already won!! “

Sam told something that made complete sense. It was our first band contest and we were happy with our performance. Crowd liked us. What else could be better?

When we reached the venue, the last band was playing.

They were trying the cover of a song from ‘Bullet for my Valentine”

After their performance, the judges came with the result.

Though, I could see tense faces, I myself was completely content.

After creating a huge “Aw” of suspense, the judges named “Hoax Call’ as the best among all the bands.

For sometime, we were startled. The crowd’s cheer proved that they were clearly happy with the decision. It was a great win for us. Something that was very amazing.

The next day we went to the BIG92.5 FM for the talk show. When we reached the office, the receptionist asked us to sit, while she called someone on the intercom.

The office was not much big. But however was very well designed. The walls were red with different posters of the radio station on the walls. There was a table for the receptionist in the centre. There were two couches on either side. We sat on the couch waiting to be called.

After 10 minutes, a man came and took us to the recording studio.

There we met our RJ. She was RJ Kritika.

“Hi I am Kriti”, she said as we introduced ourselves.

Chapter Six.

The band on stage was on-fire. They were really exceptional. The crowd were cheering for them.

Deep knew it would be hard for them to beat such bands, but it was still not sure whether they were playing that night. Dg still didn’t come. Deep felt nervous. He wanted to talk to Daddy about it.

Daddy was, however, still on phone.

“Long- distance seems to kill him” thought Deep as he saw Daddy busy giving a lot of explainations over phone.

Deep thought about the first meeting; the first time they met Kriti.

Deep Speaks

Kriti asked us to sit as she started airing the show.

“Hello Rourkella”, she began, “welcome to BIG 92.5 FM , ‘suno sunao, life banao’. I m RJ Kriti and as promised, today I have got with me on studio the band that rocked the city last night. Yes, we have the HOAX CALL”, she said.

Her voice was really as pretty as she was.

Right from the moment we entered, all of us were struck by her. And we all saw the same drool on each other’s face.

As we adjusted the mic in front of us, all of us had the same thought, “she is hot”.

As she began the talk show, for a moment we started feeling like celebrities. Kriti asked us to sing a song, and Sam sang the Juliet dedicating it to her and Daddy played the guitar saying it was hard to play in front of a pretty lady like her.

Unfortunately, we could not connect bass guitar or drums in the studio and so, we went for an acoustic version of the song. The result was however, sad, because me and dg were left out of the conversations.

Both daddy and Sam were racing to better the flirting.

Deep Ban

 

After the talk show ended, Kriti said,

“You guys look fun. It was great speaking with you guys”,

“It was nice speaking to you too Kriti. By the way, what are you doing   tonight? Why don’t you join us?” asked Daddy.

Kriti thought for a moment about any prior commitments and to our luck, agreed.

That night we went to one of Daddy’s friend’s party.

The guy was staying in a rented apartment.

We were ten-fifteen guys in the party including Kriti.

Krtiti however knew few of the friends from other source. As the night went, Kriti and Daddy seemed to be more engaged with their friends.

Since we three were just not acquainted with the rest of the guys and Daddy was in no mood to include us in his conversation, we concentrated on the pegs.

By the mid of the night, we slept off.

It was perhaps, the next day morning, when I woke up for the toilet, I saw Kriti and Daddy in the balcony. They still had a beer. They were busy talking.

That sight was however, extremely envious.

Next day we went back to college.

The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [ Episode 6]

 

Chapter Five.

“Are you guys next?” asked a 2nd year junior who had come to take back his instruments from the green room.

The question was directed to Deep. But the loud music from the stage made it impossible for him to hear. The guy repeated again.

“Hey dude, are you guys playing next?”

Deep was startled when he realised that they were indeed going to play next. The trance created by the weed was slowly fading away like a quick hangover. He didn’t know how to respond. He just nodded back.

“I wish to hear you guys” the guy said and left.

Deep realised, that the last show was indeed important.

From the first band contest to the last, the journey was not always easy.

Back in the music room, the cigarette was almost over. The auditorium had gone crazy. The whistles and the hooting were too loud to make any conversation audible. Dg looked at Sam. He was still thinking. Dg strained his voice.

“Why are you ruining our last performance?  What is it? It is about Rumi right?” asked Dg.

Rumi or Rumika was Sam’s girlfriend whose fidelity had always come under question in a year long relationship with him. It was not that Sam was bad. He was perhaps the best guy any girl would want. He did everything to keep her happy. But she was far too fickle minded to be with one guy it seemed.

“Rumi? Why would she even come into this conversation”?

“I have seen you all this year. How a happy-go –lucky guy like you stopped being happy and got into this new found love of yours called weed!!” replied an angry Dg.

“Stop this dude, let her go. You deserve better. Don’t just spoil our efforts because of someone like her. You had enough from her; it’s time to move on. She is not for you.”  Added Dg trying to hit Sam’s most delicate part of the heart.

“I have dude. I have moved on. She doesn’t make any difference to me. I have tried all means to make it happen. But it’s time to give it up. “ said a tired Sam.

“Then why are you doing this?” asked an irritated Dg.

“Doing what?” asked Sam.

“Ruining our last bloody show!” shouted Dg.

There was a moment of silence in the dark music room. Only the shouts of the audience were clearly audible. It seemed that the band on stage was really rocking it!!

“What is the use of performing well Dg? Any ways we are not going to win. “Sam pointed out.

“It was never about winning Sam. The first band contest in Rourkella, you remember? We never contested to win. We wanted to put up a good show. So, why not today? It is our last performance!” Dg added.

“Rourkella was never just a competition. It was everything that gave us the hope to be something big. It was where our lives changed” said Sam and flipped the last burning bud of the cigarette in the air.

“Rourkella was a hell lot of experience” Dg thought.

An amateur band turned professional in one night. The victory in the band contest was necessary.

Dg Speaks

The night was gloomy. There was a crowd of darkened clouds hovering over the sky. It appeared as if they were waiting for the right time to attack!

Rourkella was not a rock loving crowd. But still the turnout in the band contest was unimaginable. People of all age groups had come to witness the band contest. May be it was because this was something first of a kind.

Owing to the condition that not much people were into hard core rock music, we decided to go with a mixture of all time favourites and classic rock keeping in mind the criteria of the band contest.

Reaching Rourkella was however, a hell of a journey. None of us had our tickets confirmed and we ended up sleeping near the bathroom for 14 long hours.

We reached Daddy’s place in the early morning. His place was a typical “Marwari” place. His mom flattered us with all sorts of delicacies.

Her target was however Sam. Sam was quite thin then.

She would say,” Son, by the time you go, I’ll make sure you have gained enough weight”.

???????????????????????????????

The competition was 3 days later. We got 3 days to practise and understand the crowd.

Another important revelation was that, the winner of the band contest would be invited for a talk show in BIG 92.5 FM radio station.

We wanted to outdo ourselves in the contest. And to do that we devised a new plan to capture the crowd.

When we went to the stage, the crowd had already been charged up by the previous two bands.

We began with a heavy number. It was a cover of the “Joker and the thief” by Wolfmother.

The crowd took it well. The next song was a difficult one. We tried the cover of “Fade to Black” by Metallica. Though, the crowd might not have heard the song before, the judges seemed to acknowledge our effort with frequent nods and smiles.

The next one was what we definitely knew would be one of the crowd’s favourite number.

Sam started the “Summer of 69” with the same scripted dialogue he used in our first show.

The crowd suddenly got a number to sing along. They went mad.

People, especially the youths were shouting, screaming all around.

It was just then, Sam all of a sudden jumped in the crowd. He ran with his microphone just to a flock of young guys singing the song. People got even more excited. The song left the entire crowd shouting “Once More”.

But then we still had our “trump card” left. It was now the time for doing something new.

Sam took the stage again.

“Thank you guys, for you support. You guys rock. The next song is dedicated to all the beautiful ladies here tonight”, declared Sam.

There was a huge roar of appreciation from the crowd, especially, the female groups.

But we had different plans.

Sam continued, “The next song is an Original Composition by us. We call it Juliet.”

Just then Daddy interrupted as decided before.

“But Sam, I don’t feel like playing this guitar anymore”, said Daddy.

The crowd as well as the judges were suddenly confused. This was something unusual.

“Even I don’t feel like singing anymore. What do you suggest?” asked a tired Sam.

“Let swap”, I said from behind the drums.

The crowd still had no idea what was going on in the stage.

We, however, had everything well rehearsed.

I got up from the drums and took Daddy’s guitar. Daddy went and took my place behind the drums. Sam went and took the bass. And Deep took the mic.

The crowd now realised what had happened. And they burst into applause. This was perhaps the first time a band was swapping their roles on stage.

I had taught Daddy a normal four-by-four beat for the song, which he managed very well. I was also been taught the basic open chords for the song. Deep could sing and Sam had practised on bass.

The performance was good overall. The crowd really enjoyed our show.

But before the results, there were four more bands to perform.

“Lets, go out for a drive”, said Daddy.

We thought, we had a good one hour in hand. So we decided to go out for a drive.

 

to be continued….

(This is a semi-fictitious and more of an original account of a musical journey of four different souls who at some point in their lives dreamt to make it Big.

The result was Hoax Call, an alternative rock band which started well but could never end!)

The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [ Episode 4 ]

We went in at about 7:30 pm, just before dinner.

Sam took the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen, before I start with our first number, I have a condition. You know, I am a very bad singer and I really cannot pull it off unless you sing with me. So people, get ready to enjoy the summer back in 69”, screamed Sam.

The reaction to the above ‘well-scripted’ dialogue was unbelievable. People roared back to it getting a chance to mouth the song they know with the band.

And as the opening reef of the song echoed in the open air, I could sense a rush of adrenaline down by spine. Everybody in the crowd screamed rather than sing. And Sam, all of a sudden went in the crowd with his cordless mic. People jumped and people hooted as together everyone screamed the chorus part. The dance floor in all other departments seemed to be empty. People were rushing in like a wave into the crowd to see who was playing.

Once, we ended the first song, Sam came back and fixed his mic to the stand.

He shouted, “The next one is an O.C (original composition). This song is dedicated to all the beautiful ladies out here. We call it Juliet.”

The crowd, who had already screamed their vocal chords out screamed again, and this time, I somehow managed to hear female voices more than the male ones.

As the song went, to my surprise, I found the crowd clapping on the beats. It was really odd to see a hyper-excited crowd sober so well with the change of the song.

When we ended, there was a roar of applause and trust me, it was so hard that I couldn’t hear what Sam said next.

“You’ll have to repeat it”, I said.

Sam nodded and repeated.

“That was all we had tonight. Thanks a lot for your response. We are the Hoax Call with Dg on drums, Prashant on lead guitar, Deep on bass and me, Sam on vocals. Thank you”, said Sam and signed off.

There was a moment when all the four of us looked at each other’s eyes and we said the same thing in our hearts.

“Well done guys! We rocked! ”

As we were unplugging our instruments, I saw a group from the crowd, especially girls approaching Sam and congratulating him for the show.

“And I thought it was a team effort”, said Deep pointing towards Sam who was busy with all the attention.

“He is the vocalist dude. He would always get more preference”, laughed Dg.

I didn’t comment but I was equally jealous like the rest of the guys. “But that was just a part of the long journey”, I thought.

The brilliant performance of ours needed a celebration and so we went to the hostel terrace to celebrate it in our style.

We, were four of us and a school friend of Sam’s named ‘Demon’. His name was no way ‘Demon‘but must be something that we never knew; thanks to Sam.

He was forever a demon in our school. So we gave him this nickname”, chuckled Sam.

Demon had become a common friend of our band. He was not from our college, but I swear to God that apart from our batch mates, even the guards were certain that he studied here and lived in our hostel.

I was high on my beer. Deep was making pegs for the rest of the gang (I didn’t like whisky then); Dg went to create history by pissing from the terrace on the ground and Demon was capturing that moment; Sam was busy finishing off the last packet of chips.

It was just then, my phone rang.

Chapter Four

His phone rang.

“Your cellphone is ringing!” said Deep.

Daddy was lost in a train of thoughts and took him some time to react to the incoming vibration in his pocket.

He pulled out the cellphone to check who was bothering him at that moment. It was Kriti.

“Damn! Why does she need to call now and spoil my mood!” thought Daddy.

Deep could not help but smile at his irritation.

Pick it up dude”, suggested Deep.

Daddy gave a disgusted look and answered the call.

As Daddy was busy talking to Kriti, Deep looked at his phone. He had the Hoax Call logo as his wallpaper.

“The last performance”, he murmured to himself.

“Four years are way too less”, he thought.

Deep

Deep Speaks.

Daddy spoke for the first time after hanging up the call.

We were all curious about the call after he signalled our attention while talking with someone about something that sounded interesting.

We were all looking at him expecting him to say something.

But he was busy finishing his bottle of beer which was no longer ‘chilled’.

So after about 3 minutes of suspense, Daddy, finally broke the ice.

“We guys have been selected to participate in the battle of bands, in Rourkella !”

“Rourkella?” asked Sam, “When did we apply?”

Even I had the same confusion. When the hell did we apply for some band contest in Rourkella?

“Well, Delhi Public School in Rourkella is organizing this contest and I had asked my friends to see if we could participate. The answer is yes; we can.“ Daddy clarified.

 “When is it?” asked Dg who had been pissing off the terrace few minutes back.

“Next month” said Daddy.

So, you guys should begin practising. What’s the first prize?” asked Demon

“8k it seems”, winked Daddy.

Where do we stay there?” I asked.

“In my place”, Daddy replied.

to be continued….

(This is a semi-fictitious and more of an original account of a musical journey of four different souls who at some point in their lives dreamt to make it Big.

The result was Hoax Call, an alternative rock band which started well but could never end!)

The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [ Episode 3 ]

 

Chapter three.

The music room was always small. But in the dark, it looked like a huge coliseum ready to welcome the wounded gladiators. The amplifiers, the keyboard and the huge drum set looked like treacherous monsters hiding a secret that was never to be told. Dg squeezed in trying to figure out the darkness giving his pupils enough time to see through the dark. A small ray of light entered from the other door. It was open. The street light near the other end of the music room which directed towards the college gym was responsible for the slight illumination. Dg tried to switch on the light when he heard Sam from outside the back door. He was sitting near the gym.

“Don’t switch on the lights please”

Dg did not switch them on. Instead, he followed the trail of light outside the door where Sam sat.

What is the matter with you?” he asked.

He did not respond. Instead he threw a question back.

“How did we get the name btw?”

“What?” Asked an irritated Dg

“How did we get the name ‘Hoax Call’? I was trying to remember. This weed kills your memory cells you know. Do you remember?” Sam asked.

Dg knew it would take time. So he sat beside. “Do you have a smoke”? He asked.

Back in the green room Daddy was restless. This was his last performance in college life. He wanted it to be great. But what suddenly he realised was that the journey so far was not that bad.

As he sat there fixing his processor, he went back in his memory lane. A simple jam what he thought had installed a hell lot dreams, a dream to make it big.

 

 

Daddy Speaks.

“How is the name, ‘Hoax Call’?” I said.

“Not bad.  But why such a name?” Sam asked.

“You don’t always have to have a reason. Why are ‘Scorpions’ called ‘Scorpions’? Is there a reason?” Deep wanted to know.

“There might be a reason. Besides, if you want to know why we want to name ourselves Hoax Call I have a reason!” Dg added.

 

Daddy 1

 

 

Well, I was the one who suggested the name and truly speaking I didn’t have an answer to Sam’s query because the name was just a random name that came up in my mind. Besides, I felt this name was far better than “Rubber Band” which the other three had zeroed.

“Go on Dg”, I wanted to know what he thought.

“Well. If you see our band, it’s nothing but a miracle. One month back we didn’t think we could make it. But tonight’s jam made me realise we can really go far. And that makes us unpredictable; just as unpredictable as a hoax call.” Dg said.

That was not a bad justification.

Truly speaking, I had been with different kind of people in my life so far, but these guys were different. They had the wish to do something out of  music. And the worst part for me was that they thought me to be a pro guitarist and so I had to overdo my abilities.

But whatever it was, the band kicked off really well. The first performance on stage was rather unusual. It was not any cult fest in our college or so. The plan was something that came out of Deep’s mind. A perfect plan for the perfect launch. Till now we had been practising in the music room. The people in the college had no clue of our existence. It was the mid of August.

Metallurgy dept had shortage of fund to organize a DJ night like the rest of the other branches. It was what we called, “Departmental Gathering”.  So, in order to cope up with other branches they needed something to make it “cool”. Deep came up with the idea of a rock show instead of a DJ night. The idea was well accepted by the organizers. And in return for Deep’s favour, they agreed on giving us a 20 minute time slot for our performance.

“This is just what we needed. We will go just before dinner. Crowd will be more then.” Said an excited Dg.

Dg was never wrong in his planning. He was like our Manager.

But the problem was, we were not the only band performing. There were many more. But they were already recognized in the college. We needed to do something different to catch the attention of the audience. The question was, “How and what?”

“We are not a heavy metal band guys. We are not even punk rock. What are we?” asked Sam.

It was true. I am not ashamed now to admit the fact that we were not that good at that time. Not that good to blow people’s mind with a growl or a guitar reef or a double bass drum solo. But we had one thing that the rest of the guys didn’t have.

I had always felt that in a live show, it’s always the performance that comes prior to the musical part of a song. The rest of the bands were very good with their music but lacked a front runner who could sway the audience with a performance. In a live show, when the crowd is busy banging their heads and raising their voices, it really matters how well you can gel with them; how well you connect with them.

Sam, unlike the rest of the vocalist was very energetic on stage. He had this special talent of making the stage alive.

“We are an alternative rock band. But what makes us different from the rest is you Sam.” Said Deep.

“Yes, you have to make the audience sing with us”, said Dg.

I agreed. The first time we perform in front of the crowd, we all wanted it to be the best. So we zeroed in the cover of the most common song by Brian Adams, “summer of 69”. The reason was that we wanted the crowd to sing with us. Apart from that we had an original composition named “Juliet”. It was a romantic Hindi song that Sam wrote about two years back.

The night was beautiful. There was a slight breeze just after a heavy shower. It was an open air concert. The lights were fit in and the monitors where checked.

We went in at about 7:30 pm, just before dinner.

Sam took the stage.

 

to be continued….

(This is a semi-fictitious and more of an original account of a musical journey of four different souls who at some point in their lives dreamt to make it Big.

The result was Hoax Call, an alternative rock band which started well but could never end!)

The ‘Hoax Call’ Diaries – [ Episode 2 ]

Chapter Two

Sam B speaks.

“Let’s make a band. I had dreamt of it every time since school!” I said.

“Even I wanted to do something with music. But are you sure? We are no way ready.” Asked a doubtful Dg.

“You are a tabla champ dude. And it’s you who told me that you can deal with any kind of percussion instruments. Then why not drums?” I insisted.

“Am not worried about drums dumbass! I’ll manage the drums. But can you sing? And besides, we do not have a bassist or guitarist yet.” Said Dg.

It was just 2 years since we joined college. I was already famous as a singer.

But what Dg said made absolute sense.

I had never been a singer my entire life. It was only when I was eleven, my mom realised I got her genes. She was a trained classical singer. She tried teaching my sister but couldn’t succeed.

“She couldn’t manage scales”, she used to say.

I was never an option.

One fine day, my mom found out that I could sing. Then on, I sang during various functions in school but always in chorus.

When I came to college, nobody cared about my background. It was in my first year, that I shook the entire auditorium with a daring act of singing “chatura naar” from “Padosan” all alone.

I managed both the parts of Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey so well that I was instantly famous as a singer in the college. But what I lacked was proper exposure to rock. Till now, I heard sufi bands and some Bengali pop songs. Dg’s question about my ability was just.

“I’ll manage. But what about the bassist? Will Shrek be ready?” I wanted to focus on other important things.

“Shrek” as he was famously known was the best bassist in our batch. He was a NRI from Middle-East. But what separated him from the rest of the lot was his down-to-earth nature.

“He’s already playing for ‘Morphine’, besides he wouldn’t play with amateurs like us. He has a class dude”, said Dg.

“Then?” I wondered.

“Well Deep was interested in learning Bass from some time. Let’s boost him up. May be he will be a saviour”, said Dg.

Dg always had a softer corner for Deep. After all, Deep was his first roomy as well as his first friend in the college.

I had no option but to agree. I accompanied Dg to his room where I saw Deep fidgeting with his brand new laptop.

“Hey Guys, wassup? Look what I found on LAN. A new MMS scandal.” Said an over-excited Deep.

“Deep, we need to talk.” Said Dg firmly.

Deep was not the serious kind of guy. He was always casual. But the best part was that he was innovative. Whatever he did, be it watching movies or dressing himself, he was unique. And that’s what made him special. He was that fair, fat, bi-spectacled Bengali guy who could change your mood in seconds with some stupid joke.

Within seconds, I saw him getting serious for the first time.

“Well, I’ll start taking lessons from Shrek today itself. I’ll try to learn asap!” said Deep.

And suddenly, there as he spoke, I saw a different zeal in his eyes. I knew at that very moment, he was the guy our band needed.

After having sent Deep to learn Bass guitar, the next hurdle was to find a guitarist. And that was tough.

For weeks we tried the stalwarts famous with the six-strings in our college. But none of them agreed. Either they already had a band or thought themselves to be too professional to jam with amateurs like us. We had almost lost our hope.

“Let’s wait for next year. May be we can get some new first-years to play for us.”  Dg said.

Sam B

But deep inside I did not have the energy to wait another year or maybe I felt that getting along with a junior would not be easy in a band.

But then, God had different plans. It was a Sunday night. I was enjoying the chocolate ice-cream, Shukla ji had given me after dinner in my college mess, when I saw him. I had seen him play the guitar during our “Freshers” eve in our first year. But I didn’t speak to him ever.

He was sporting a long hair and a full length beard. He was wearing a Nike T-shirt and something that was a bit more than underwear but way too less to be considered a short-pant. He had a table tennis bat in his hand and was giggling like a fool with some fat guy near the mess.

I always had an ego problem right from my kiddo days. And that look on his face made me feel he might show some attitude. So I decided to go for some background study before approaching him.

Two days later I had all information I could gather. He was Prashant Agarwal, Metallurgy Dept., Rourkella and a “trained” rhythm guitarist.

The last part especially the “trained” word resulted in an extra urge to approach him and forget the word ‘ego’.

So, Dg and I decided to talk to him. We were going to his room when we saw him on the way itself.

“Damn! He was wearing those pants again. Doesn’t he have a better pair of shorts?”  I wondered.

“Umm.. Prashant!” I called him.

He was busy giggling again. On calling him he came towards us. We were expecting some tantrums and some extra pleadings from our ends to coax him to join us. But he surprised us well.

“Well, a band seems a great idea. But I am not that well a guitarist guys. I can just play chords. Let’s jam and see how things turn.” He said.

We were surprised that he agreed so easily. And we were really impressed but the impression he gave us was short lived when he decided to turn and add,

“And by the way guys, call me Daddy. My friends call me so”, he winked.

We didn’t know how to react.

“Daddy? Seriously?” I thought but decided to stay mum or else he could change his plans.

“What do you think? Can he manage?” I asked Dg after ‘Daddy’ left.

Dg didn’t answer but gave me that same look which he gives me during exams. It meant, “No bloody CLUE!”

It took another three weeks for the three of us to prepare ourselves to jam with a trained guitarist.

My part of the journey into the world of rock was a little bit tricky though. Some friend of mine whom I had opted for a suggestion to try some rock bands as starters had some unknown hatred towards me. He didn’t tell me on my face but I guessed it when he suggested me to listen “Lamb of God”, “Marilyn Mansion”, “Slayer”, “Bullet for My Valentine” and similar likes to start.

As a sufi-fan and zero rock idea I ended up listening to Gothic death-metal bands. For nights I couldn’t sleep as the heavy music jammed my ears completely. It was after few days of ‘torture’, I took the help of my ever-friendly companion named “Google.”

Slowly I started with alternative rock starting from “Guns and Roses”, “Pink Floyd” slowly to punk rock with “Green Day “, “Dashboard Confessionals”, “Fallout Boy”.  The world of rock suddenly seemed to be so thrilling, so soothing that I realised what I had missed all these years.

For weeks I tried singing trying to change the texture of the voice I had, which to some extent was possible. Then one day Dg calls me to inform that we would jam for the first time.

It was our first step. The first day at music room was pathetic.

Daddy started playing some famous Hindi songs which either I didn’t know or which Dg couldn’t manage in drums. And forget Deep. He was busy figuring out the notes on the Bass guitar with each chords Daddy strummed.

Finally, after repeated trials, we did “Adat” from “Jal”. It was Daddy’s favourite song and so was mine. Dg gave a normal four-by-four beat to save the day. And I couldn’t hear the bass even though Deep promised to have played throughout.

Two nights later, Dg called me.

“Dude, listen to the song ‘But It rained’ by Parikrama. Try getting the lyrics and the song. Next week we will try practising that.”

Next week when we met we had a song in our mind. And each one of us had prepared our parts.

The chord shifted well and so did the beats. In all, the cover of the song was nicely done. For the first time I felt, there was a side of mine not yet discovered.

And that night, we realised, we had that “different thing” inside us. What we needed was a pinch of luck and a tea-spoon of experience. The recipe for the dream band was ready!

That night the only question we had in our minds was, “What do we call ourselves? What could be the name of our band?”

to be continued….

(This is a semi-fictitious and more of an original account of a musical journey of four different souls who at some point in their lives dreamt to make it Big.

The result was Hoax Call, an alternative rock band which started well but could never end!)

The Spooky Honeymoon

“I really wished she opted for a hair removal”, I thought.

Well she was ‘almost’ pretty but those wolfy arms really looked scary now.

We got married a week ago. An arranged marriage you see. Guys like us seldom get a chance to woo a girl. I am one of those typical IIT-IIM nerds with spectacles busy with books and codes whom the girls would not even care to notice. So in all my life, I had managed to speak to two ladies so far other than my cousins and mother. One was my boss, whom I think is the lady re-incarnation of Hitler and one is this “weird” lady who shares my surname now.

It was my first night on our honeymoon. I was really excited, especially after all those planning I had made after watching the videos my colleague had suggested me to watch. The videos were too bold needless to say, but it really gave me the confidence on my first night you see.

But all the planning was in vain. Just after dinner, when I thought I should make the move, she said,

“Can we go for a walk”?

“Walk? At 11 o’clock in the night?’’ I thought.

But suddenly I remembered, “It’s all about their mood. Build it up!”  My colleague had said.

So, I thought, may be a walk will be worth it to open ourselves up!

But then things turned weird to weirder.

Firstly, I was desperate to go to Kerala for a honeymoon. But my wife wanted to see Goa. She said, “It would be unique”.

And now, all of a sudden after walking around a kilometre, instead of romancing in the beach, she wanted a little thrill by sneaking in this graveyard on the way.

“Damn! Women are really moody”, I thought.

Bats flying in the night

It was a full moon night. The graves shone like mighty armours of brave soldiers ready to attack. Generally, I am very brave, but right now, with this unwanted glow of the hairy arm of hers, I was feeling a little uncomfortable. And then there was this spooky chill breeze which from nowhere was blowing beside my ears. As I was trying to maintain my calm, some wolf or a jackal or may be an owl had to shout to prove its existence. “Stupid creatures”, I thought.

My wife, on the other hand seemed to enjoy the view, the shouts and the spookiness as if they were so natural. She carefully found out a tomb and sat there.

I wish I could sit as casually like her, but the breeze, the moon, the graves and those hairy hands suddenly urged my bladders to let loose. I wanted to go to the bathroom urgently as it was getting difficult to control.

And amidst all things, I could not but resist staring at her hands.

She saw me noticing them.

“You think I should have shaved them right?”

“Umm.. Well that would have made you prettier”, I wanted to justify my shameless stare.

“Well you see, I have some secrets”, she said.

Though the place was really not suitable for any healthy conversation, but I found that she was opening up. Though, that was good news, but I still couldn’t concentrate as I felt there were shadows around the trees. The spookiness of the place really made me sweat.

Can’t we talk in the hotel? It’s late. Let’s go back

“Late?” she mocked. “Everyone here is late.” She laughed, “Beneath this seat of mine lies Late Robin D’souza. And there in front of you is Late Danniel Joseph. And you say we are late!”

I was really not prepared for a joke at this hour. So, I didn’t know how to respond.

“Well, I said I have a secret. I am a scholar in grave digging and I have this great obsession for ghosts. The reason I didn’t shave my hands is because he likes it this way”. She said.

Trust me; I could not get a single word she said. But whatever she said made me nervous.

“He …? Who is ‘he’?” I asked.

Oh he..! I met him three months back in this graveyard itself. He was so eager to meet you when I told him about you. He is my boyfriend, you know; my very ‘late’ boyfriend, Robin Dsouza. He stays here in this grave”, she laughed.

And as she finished, I swear to God I saw the shadow that was bothering me come towards me. And I heard a heavy voice as the shadow approached.

“How is my girlfriend as a wife..huh?”

My head was spinning like one of those Shane Warne deliveries. And the last thing I could see was a hand, a dead cold hand that touched my shoulder. Then there was a Black Out.

When I opened my eyes, the bedside clock showed it was 2:30. I woke up to find myself in the couch. My wife was sleeping in the bed. I must have dozed away after dinner.

“What a nightmare! “, I thought.

I looked at my wife. She was in deep sleep. Her hand was on her face trying to cover her eyes. “Thank god! It was a nightmare”, I thought. There was a sense of relief. It was really the worst of a nightmare. I walked towards the bed to see her closely.

The moonlight had lit the entire room. As I walked close to her, the bangles in her wrist lowered down and just then I saw her hand. Those hairy hands lit by the moonlight reminded me of my dream.

“Damn! I really wished she opted for a hair removal”, I realised.

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The Man Without Fear – Final Part

Trek

We started walking again the next day. Hunger and thirst was making it difficult for us to survive. We did not have a compass. All we had was a hand drawn map from a guide in Lhasa. Tsering’s condition worsened. I started carrying him on my shoulder. For another week I walked carrying him, stopping at times to rest.

“Leave me. I am becoming a burden Tenzin. You move on. Or else we both will die”, pleaded Tsering.
I was way too tired to respond. I signed him to keep shut.
That night, Mother Nature turned cruel. Tired and hungry, the snow storm hit us like scavengers craving our flesh. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I sensed my body burning with fever. That night, I thought I would die. I did not hear anything from Tsering either. I prayed as long as I was in my senses. And then, there was a black out!
When I woke up, I realized I was in a village.
My prayers were answered. We were rescued by a group of Nepali farmers. We seemed to have crossed the border at some unmarked point. We were in Nepal now.
I felt better but was not completely fit. On seeing me awake, a lady rushed with a glass of water. I drank it in one go.
“How long was I out?” I inquired.
“Four days”, she said.
I thanked her for her generosity when I suddenly recalled about Tsering’s condition.
“How is my friend?” I asked.
She did not say anything. She took the glass and went away. I tried to go behind her but was too weak to walk.
After sometime, a man came inside.
He looked at me and smiled.
“You are a brave man. You and your friend have done something that requires a lot of guts!” he said.
I did not know what to say. I smiled back.
“Your desire to reach India seems very strong. That’s why you survived the storm.”
Then he paused. He pulled a wooden stool and sat beside my bed.
“Unlike your friend!” he concluded.
For a moment, my mind was blank. “What was he trying to say?” I thought.
“Your friend couldn’t take the storm. He breathed his last breath yesterday. I am sorry. But his condition was very bad when we brought him. It was little we could do for him. But before he died he had asked me to deliver a message for you. ” he said.
There was a pin-drop silence in the room. I looked at him blankly.
He continued, “Your friend said, he got back what he did. It was Karma. And he also said that his prayers are with you to fight back for your country.”
I could not hold back my tears. Tsering was no longer alive. I felt responsible for his death to some extent. I shouldn’t have included him in the journey.
That night, they carried me to his funeral. And as his last rites were carried out, I promised him to fulfil his desire. “This journey and your life won’t go in vain.” I sweared.
I stayed there for almost a month. The villagers were very helpful. Once, when the Nepali police came looking for escapees from Tibet in the village, I was made to hide in a small go-down for two nights until the danger was over.
After a month, with the help of a few villagers, I boarded a bus to Kathmandu and arrived unharmed at the Tibetan Reception Centre.
There, I was registered and given food and shelter. After two weeks, I was sent to a Tibetan Refugee home in Dharamsala, Northern India.
My journey was over. But what still haunts my mind was the answer.

 

III

“Fire!” Tenzin said after opening his eyes.
Dalai Lama looked at him.
“It is fire I fear the most. Fire took my entire family.” He said.
Dalai Lama did not say anything. He allowed him to continue.
“Why is fate so cruel my Lord? I believed in Karma. My friend thought he died because of it. He died because he killed one of them. But what was the fault of my family? Why did they die?”
Dalai Lama shook his head.

“Karma doesn’t mean that you will pay for your sins at that very instant. Those people who killed your family and many of those innocent people will face its consequences. You always get back whatever you give. May be not now; not at this moment, but you can’t escape from Karma! Your friend was lucky to realise it before he died. What you seek Tenzin is not an answer but revenge!”
His voice echoed the Hall. A bird which was chirping from sometime nearby flew away.

“You were a Monk. You were taught to love humanity and not destroy it. Vengeance will lead you to be one like them. No one can ever win with vengeance and hatred. You have disgraced yourself!”  Dalai Lama said in a firm voice.

Tenzin understood his mistake. He stared at the marble floor. He could not raise his eyes in front of Him out of shame.
Guilt had wrapped his soul just like a plastic wrapper which covers a candy. You need to remove the wrapper to enjoy the candy. The chains of guilt had captured his soul. And he desperately wanted to reach his soul.

“Remember that a Monk’s life is only for the betterment of mankind!” he recalled the words of the head Lama in the Labrang Monastery.
“How did he forget his vows as a Monk? Was he really so disgraceful?” he wondered.
Dalai Lama sensed the storm within Tenzin.

“You are not God Tenzin but just a mere human being. You are bound to make mistakes. But the choice is yours how to undo it. You want to fight for Tibet. Fight like a Tibetan. Fight like a warrior whose sacrifice would add glory and not shame,” said Dalai Lama.

Tenzin looked at him slowly.Tears were rolling down his cheeks. He folded his hands and asked,

“What should I do?”
“Fight your fear first. And then let the Monk inside you answer! ” smiled His Holiness.

For months Tenzin stayed in India joining the other Tibetans in various protests to free Tibet. But he still did not find a way for atonement of his sins. It was then he heard that the Prime Minister of the Republic of China was coming to New Delhi, India to discuss some nuclear deal.
Tenzin made up his mind. He prayed that night, and decided to leave for Delhi. Next day, he shaved his head and after almost a year wore the saffron cloth. He looked at the mirror. His eyes were calm. He sensed, he was about to gain enlightenment today.
When he reached Delhi it was almost noon. He reached the venue where the meeting was to take place. But to his surprise, he saw there were hundreds of Tibetan refugees with placards shouting to free Tibet. The media was already present. There were a few monks too.

He walked slowly to reach the centre. People gave him way as a sense of respect for a young monk. Tenzin reached the centre and waved his hands to pacify the crowd.
The media saw as well that a Monk was asking the crowd to maintain silence. Every camera focussed him.
When the crowd was quiet, Tenzin took a deep breath and said,

“I am a Monk from Tibet. I am here to tell the world that the most peaceful country of the world needs your attention. My people are suffering. And you know why! We are not like them. So, we cannot harm them the way they do. What we can do at best is to question the Humanity. Is our suffering just? ”

“No!” shouted the crowd.

Tenzin did not say a word. He was about to face his fear. He took out a bottle of kerosene from his bag and drenched himself in it. In front of the entire crowd and media, he took out a matchbox and lit himself into fire.
Pandemonium broke out. Media got live coverage of something they say “jaw-dropping” and “sensational”.
Tenzin sat down and closed his eyes. His body was burning. He did not shout a bit as he faced his fear. He was giving his life for his country. He did not harm anyone but was still about to turmoil the hearts of millions.

Police jumped into the scene. But nobody knew what to do. Ambulance came in some time. They managed to put down the fire and took the burnt body to the nearest hospital. Tenzin was declared dead.
His soul was now free from the burden of guilt. He had lived the life of a true Monk.
The footage of a Tibetan Monk who had self-immolated was broadcasted all over the world. What resulted was a widespread protest everywhere. From celebrities to ordinary people, everyone advocated for the cause all across the world. Chinese Government felt the pressure.
Thousands of Buddhists joined the “candle rally” in honour of Tenzin a week later.

Monk

He was a knight who sacrificed his life for the betterment of Tibet. Nobody knew the name of the 23 year old Monk who had caused a widespread attention towards the sufferings of his country. So, the world gave him a new name. He was now called, “the Man without Fear”.
95 persons have self-immolated so far in Tibet since Feb 27, 2009. Out of them, 82 were men and 13 women.
Let their sacrifice not go in waste.

Save HUMAINITY. Free TIBET.

This is a fictitious story inspired from the life of a 23-year-old Tibetan refugee named Tenzin who in 1994 survived a harrowing escape from Tibet to come down to India.

 

The Man Without Fear – Part II

Phase 3: (The Transition)
I still can’t forget that scene. It was devastating. The Chinese have started to shut down our culture in Tibet. We, Tibetan people are very non-violent. We do not wish to cause any harm. But they do not understand. I am 22 now. 15 years have passed since I have started to live a life of a Monk. It has been years since Dalai Lama had left Tibet to stay in India to continue his protests to free Tibet. But after what I saw today, I have very little respect left on this system of non-violence.
My dad was a true Tibetan at heart. In order to force the Chinese culture in Tibet, their Government has started re-locating their citizens to Tibet. It wasn’t a problem. But is it fair to shut down all monasteries and Tibetan Institutes and compel us to learn their culture or Mandarin?
My dad was one among those people who raised their voices against the communists when they started infiltrating Amdo Plains. Labrang monastery was already closed for few weeks. We were hiding ourselves to avoid arrest.
Last night, I and my friend Tsering decided to hide near our home back in Amdo. But when we reached there what I saw was unbelievably cruel.
The entire village was on fire.
I located my house and saw my parents trapped inside. They shouted for help. They were being burnt alive.
I wanted to rush there to help them. But Tsering stopped me.
“You can’t go Tenzin. Look the Chinese soldiers are standing there to capture us.”
“My family is dying Tsering. I don’t care!”  I was mad at him by then.
But then Tsering let his hold on me and quietly said, “So is mine!”
I looked at him. He was crying.
That night we sat near the bush watching our family die. That night I realised, being a monk was really very difficult. It was tough to forget all worldly pains and still keep your faith on Him. I wept like a child when I realised it was little we could do to save our families.
By the time it was morning, the houses were turned into ashes. They must have died by then. I sat there still crying like a child. The hangover of the tragedy was like a dirty nightmare to me.I looked at those Chinese soldiers who laughed blatantly after killing those innocent people. I wanted to kill those bastards right there. But something strange stopped me. Something I never experienced before. Something I thought I had already overpowered as a Monk. But that moment I realised I was wrong. I was shivering with fear.
I realised that I was not yet a Monk. I still couldn’t overcome my fear. But why couldn’t I?
I tried a lot to answer myself but in vain. I knew only He can answer me. So, I decided to leave for India to ask His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“I have decided to leave for India. Are you coming with me?” I asked Tsering.
“What will you do in India Tenzin? Tibet needs us.” Replied Tsering.
“I know Tsering. And I will come back to free Tibet, to fight for my country. But before I start my journey I need answers. I do not know how to start the fight.” I said.
Tserin seemed concerned. He thought for a while, and then replied.
“Okay Tenzin I will come with you, but before that you have to do me a favour. I cannot live my life fighting without causing harm to those who killed my family. Last night I have decided to kill those Chinese murderers. I want you to accompany me to the check post down the plain. I promise you, I won’t put you in danger. You just keep a watch while I kill them. ” said Tsering.
He had a different zeal in his eyes. He was a different person.
I thought for a while and decided to accompany my friend.

Phase 4: (The Sin)

Sin
Tsering , as planned went down to the check post that night to avenge the mass murder of our families. He had this long sharp steak knife he borrowed from a butcher friend of his. I was standing at the top of a hill from where I was keeping a watch. We had to change to normal clothing so that the soldiers did not find out that we were monks. After 14 years, I had left the saffron cloth for the first time. I looked weird in the new outfit though. I was wearing, some running shoes, a jeans and a long coat over a few sweaters. We had packed a backpack with Tsampa [roasted barley flour], butter, meat, two blankets and one book on Buddhism for the journey. Before Tsering went, he said,
“If I succeed then meet me on the other side of the hill. And if I don’t then proceed alone for your quest.”
I watched as Tsering reached near the check post. There was a soldier sitting inside while a group of three more were sitting nearby in front of a fire. The sight of fire made me weak. I sensed that “feeling” again.
Tsering slowly went through the backside of the check post and with one blow stabbed the soldier sitting inside. He shouted which in turn alarmed the rest.
I knew I had to do something to help my friend. I started throwing stones from the hill top. The soldiers were in a state of panic. The stones kept them distracted for some time which was enough for Tsering to flee. I knew, I would be in danger if I didn’t hurry. So, I took the backpack and ran towards the other side of the hill. As I ran I heard them fire a few rounds.
That night we hid in a cave near the foot of the hill. Tsering was happy. We decided to leave for Lhasa the next morning.
Phase 5: (The Journey)
It was already a month we were walking. The food we brought was almost over. The frequent snow storms and the constant freezing cold had made us weak. Tsering had frostbite. He could not move an inch. So we decided to camp in a cave that night.
From the foot of the hill we reached Lhasa without much trouble.From Lhasa we had headed southwest towards the Nepali border. We decided to reach Saga and from there try to find a path through the Himalayas to Nepal. We were sometimes walking, sometimes hitching a truck ride. On one such ride, we boarded a Chinese truck.
“Where are you guys going?” asked the Truck driver.
“We are on a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash”, I lied immediately.
But the answer didn’t seem to please him much. The entire journey he looked at us with a doubtful face. It was important to hide the truth as the Chinese soldiers were everywhere searching for Tibetans trying to escape their rule. I was praying my best to avoid any more suspicion. The truck driver, however, dropped us near Saga and wished us luck for our voyage.
From there we kept walking. We slept in shifts to avoid the danger of getting caught by the Chinese army. Slowly we encountered snow as we started climbing the mountains.

Trek
We were finding it very difficult to walk. As we were climbing a height and against the slope, even two or three steps made me feel exhausted. After few days of walking in the snow, Tsering’s feet began to swell from frostbite. Our tsampa was nearly finished, and we couldn’t find wood to make a fire in order to melt the snow to drink some water. As Tsering couldn’t walk any further, we decided to spend the night in that cave.
“I do not think we can make it Tenzin. The food is over. I am thirsty! ” said a tired Tsering.
“We will Tsering. Have faith. We have to”, I tried to assure him.
I prayed that night to stay alive.

to be continued……..

(This is a fictitious story inspired from the life of a 23-year-old Tibetan refugee named Tenzin who in 1994 survived a harrowing escape from Tibet and came down to India.)

The Man Without Fear – Part I

 I

Beautiful-Prayer-Flags-in-T-229

It was a bright winter morning. The snow had blissfully covered the city of Dharmasala. The bright morning rays were infiltrating the large transparent window as they reluctantly kissed the marble floor. The statue of the great Buddha shone as another band of those rays fell on it. There was a different kind of peace in the hall. Tenzin sat straight as he looked in His eyes.

He had come all the way to meet His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

“What is the answer that you seek my son?” asked the Dalai Lama. His eyes radiated a sense of peace and harmony.

Tenzin looked at Him; a cold shiver ran through his spine, he was nervous. He cleared his throat and asked,

“What is Fear, my Lord?”

Dalai Lama looked at him. He was trying to see something.

After a minute’s pause, He took away his glass and replied,

Fear is the inability to cope up with one’s weakness.”

Tenzin seemed to be confused. He looked at Him blankly.

Dalai Lama smiled a bit and then said, “Fear is within you! What is that you fear my son?”

Tenzin thought for a while and then replied, “Defeat.”

Dalai Lama looked at him and said, “Think again, what is that you Fear?”

Tenzin realized that Dalai Lama was hinting something deep inside. He looked puzzled.

Dalai Lama quietly said, “Close your eyes my son. Leave yourself to His mercy and go back in the flashback of your life to see what is that you fear! The answer is within you!”

Tenzin closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths and then prepared himself to get lost in his own past.

The eerie silence, the morning rays and the beautiful snow acted as a catalyst. He was lost in his life to get the answer he wanted so long.

 II  (The FlashBack)

Phase 1:  (The Introduction)

It was a frosty morning in the plains of Amdo. I was just seven. I was the third child of my parents. I had two elder brothers and a younger sister. My dad was taking me to the Labrang Monastery. It is quite a tradition among Tibetan families to send their kid to live the life of a monk, as it becomes difficult for them to raise all of them. My eldest brother was luckier than me. He got the elementary education from Labrang Monastery but came back to help dad with our family occupation. I wanted to learn but I did not want to stay in a monastery. I did not want to be a monk!

My mom was already busy wiping her tears. She always had a little say in the family decisions.My younger sister was way too young to understand the gravity of the situation. My dad seemed unmoved. He was determined that becoming a monk was the best option for me.

“Dad, please! Even I can be like brother. I will learn everything. But please, I don’t want to be a monk!” I pleaded with watery eyes.

“Tenzin my son, you should understand that it is the best for you and your family. We do not have enough money to raise you up” said Dad in a firm voice.

I had a thousand of replies juggling in my brains.

“If you didn’t have money to raise a son then why did you give him birth?” or “Is it so easy for a seven year old kid to leave without his mom”?

But I decided to stay quiet. My destiny was already written; not by god but by my Father.

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Phase 2: (The Realisation)

The first day at the monastery was pathetic. They shaved my head. I was made to wake up quite early. Then there were more 15 bald fellows of my age who were made to wear the saffron cloth. We were made to sit in a row. The head Lama came to address us.

“Before you start your journey to enlightenment, I must tell you that the life you lived before today and the life you would live from the next day will make you realise what this life is about! Bodhisatwa is in each of us. It is up to you how well you can bring the Buddha out of Him. Remember that a Monk’s life is only for the betterment of mankind! ”

I looked at the head Lama as his voice echoed the hall. I felt a sense of meaning in my life. I was amazed. I was ready to become a Monk!

to be continued……..

(This is a fictitious story inspired from the life of a 23-year-old Tibetan refugee named Tenzin who in 1994 survived a harrowing escape from Tibet and came down to India.)

Khaleda

The time had come. There was a rage of fury everywhere. Pandemonium was in every nook and corner. And it was expected. People were running for their lives. The platform was full of people. Everyone had the look of despair. Their future was uncertain.
In the crowd, in the 3rd platform, she sat. She sat with all the necessary belongings she could gather while leaving her dear home. A woman of her age, she had witnessed everything except this. She was Khaleda Begum, a 58 years old woman, sitting in the platform waiting for the last train to Hindustan.
Khaleda was surprised at the situation. It was the August,1947. The so called educated people say, there would be two countries, India and Pakistan. Khaleda tried to justify herself. But her ignorant, illiterate mind could not find out the reason for separating her two homes. Her village Qazi told her that her paternal home was now in India.Khaleda was born in Amritsar, Punjab.
“It was East Punjab, now”,
he said.

Last few nights, Khaleda could not sleep properly. There were shouts, cries from neighbours. She stayed awake thinking, it could be their turn. Khaleda remembered how she wept that night. Sultana, the pretty looking girl was taken away. People said they found her raped and murdered near the village 2 kms from the well. Sultana was born in front of her. She was such a sweet girl.

Khaleda was married to Zaqeer Ahmed at a very tender age. She was 13 years of age then. Zaqeer lived in Lahore. That had been her home since then. She remembered how shy she was on her wedding day. She saw Zaqeer through the semi-transparent veil of her Burqa. He was a well built man. He had worn a white sherwani and a beautiful silk cap. His beard was skilfully maintained. The surma in his eyes made them glow. Zaqeer was 25 then. He had dedicated his life to the freedom movement. Throughout her life, she saw her husband fighting to free the country from the foreigners, but she could never recall when the fight against the foreigners turned to be a fight against religion.

People have been given a choice to settle down in any one of the country. Khaleda thought and thought how to choose between the two halves of her country. Her son, Feroz and her daughter-in-law Nafisa had decided to shift to Delhi. They said, there were better chances in the Indian part of Hindustan as they would be considered minorities. Khaleda did not understand the term minority. She did not even understand the partition. But the only thing she realised was that, the division of the country had brought more tears than joy.

It has been 19 years now, Khaleda had last seen Zaqeer.
“It is a very important protest Begum. Lalaji is heading it. I have to go”, said Zaqeer for the last time to Khaleda.
He went to join the Simon Commission protest led by Lala Lajpat Rai. Khaleda had nightmares that night. Next day, Feroz informed her about Lalaji’ s death. Her heart sank in. Zaqeer never returned after that. Some say, he was arrested, some say he was killed. Feroz and Nafisa were now her everything.

She recalls how difficult it was to raise Feroz independently. Feroz is a qualified teacher now. He taught English and Urdu in the village madrasa. But suddenly, everything had changed. The madrasa no longer exists. It was burnt down to ashes. Khaleda had been thinking for some years now to go back to Amritsar. She dreamt to get buried in her birthplace. So, she gave her consent to Feroz’s decision of shifting to Delhi.

They had reached the station quite late. The last train to Hindustan, now newly termed India, was at 4 O’ clock in the evening. It was less than an hour left. There was a great rush everywhere. Everyone wanted to leave the city. Everyone dreamt of a better future. Feroz found a small wooden bench in the 3rd platform and asked Khaleda to sit.
“You sit here Ammi. I and Nafisa will go get the tickets. It’s a huge crowd. Stay here. Don’t get lost” warned Feroz.
“Let Nafisa stay here son. Why to take her in the crowd?” wondered Khaleda.
“The gent’s line is huge Ammi. Let her try in the ladies line as well. We need to get the tickets anyhow. We will come to get you. Stay here” said Feroz.

Feroz and Nafisa disappeared in the crowd. Khaleda sat in the bench thinking about her future. A sudden excitement rushed down her spine. She was going back to where she belonged after almost 40 years. She was lost in a wonderland. The other day, she overheard Akbar telling Feroz, that all the prisoners taken by the British would be freed. She thought, even Zaqeer could be one of those many prisoners. She regained back her long lost hope of seeing Zaqeer again.
“He must have grown pretty old by now”, thought Khaleda.

Khaleda would have loved to dream more, but was interrupted with a sudden whistle of the train.
The train was gearing to leave. It whistled again. The crowd was rushing inside the compartments. Some started to climb the roof. Khaleda tried to look for Feroz and Nafisa but she could not find them. She thought, maybe they were still in the ticket counter. The train slowly started to pace. A huge gush of smoke came out of the train chimney. Khaleda was clueless as she looked at the slowly speeding train. She wondered what happened to her son.

An old man saw her still sitting on the bench as the train passed. He walked towards her slowly and asked ,
“Apa, you do not wish to go? The train is leaving!”
“I am waiting for my son. He is getting the ticket for the next train.” she replied.
“There is no next train Apa. It seems even you missed the train like me.” He sighed.

Inside the last compartment, Feroz and Nafisa somehow managed to get a seat. They were making a journey to change their lives forever. Nafisa adjusted her hijab. Feroz looked at her and wondered how beautiful she was. For a moment he thought about his mother. But then he had already taken the decision in the ticket counter. It was important for them to abandon her. It would be difficult for Feroz to sustain 3 lives in a new city, especially, where there would be hundreds of refugees like him. Moreover, she lived in Lahore all her life.
“She would love to stay back”, thought Feroz.

Khaleda looked at the train as it slowly traced away the platform. Her eyes were hazy of the water that was flowing through her eyes. She realized she had been left all alone. She had lost her family forever.
The train slowly went out of her sight. It was 4:30 in the big clock. Khaleda Begum had missed the last train to Hindustan.

The Last Attempt

The monsoon had started. The entire neighbour was busy with idol making. Idol prices have raised now. It earns a good amount of money to the young potters and artists. Kanu was in a state of confusion. His wife was detected with gall bladder stone and she needed an operation. But the operation in the local municipality hospital costs around 20,000. Kanu did not have that much savings to continue with the operation. He could not see his wife in pain. But the offer he got today was worth thinking.
Kanu Pal lived in Kumortoli, North of Kolkata. He was a born idol maker. His ancestors were famous in the area for their traditional “dhaker saaj” (a decoration type) idols. Kanu was of 65 years old now. For 40 years he had provided the city with beautiful Durga idols during this time of the year. But for the past 10 years he had left this work. His left eye is almost blind with glaucoma. And these days he has spotted a cataract in his right eye. With a poor vision it becomes difficult for him to provide the minute specifications in the idol. He and his wife Malati had a son Raghav who had deserted them and stays in a small house near Garia (South Kolkata) where he works as a clerk in some Goverment office. Life was difficult to sustain for Kanu. So he decided to work as a hawker. He goes to the neighbouring houses and trades for the used newspapers and magazines. He earns less than his fellow neighbours in Kumortoli, but it is sufficient to meet their needs. But these days, especially after Malati’s illness, Kanu was finding it difficult to manage both ends. He thought of borrowing some money from Kishore but he wondered whether he could ever repay him back. Thoughts strolled around as he looked outside the window. It was raining outside. The water was slowly leaking the roof shed and flowing through the iron bars of the window he was holding.
Jewels Assosiation Club had a low budget this year. They were spending more on the pandal decoration. So they required a cheap idol for this year’s Durga Puja. Two of the Puja committee members came down to Kumortoli to fix a deal on the idol. They met Kishore, their regular idol maker. Kishore, on the other hand had too many deliveries to give this year. He had no option but to refuse. Jewels Club was now in trouble. They were late this year in contacting Kishore, but they desperately needed an idol for their club. Kishore knew Kanu’s need for money. So he suggested his name.
“You can try Kanu Pal. He has no commitment this year. Rest all of the idol makers will be full by now”, said Kishore.
Kanu was summoned eventually. Jewels Club proposed for an idol in return of 15 thousand to Kanu. Kanu was helpless. He looked at Kishore. He knew his poor vision would be a big hindrance. But Kishore showed him some hope.
“See Kanu da, this might be the best option. You have the art in you, you can do it. With the money you can admit boudi (sister-in-law) in the hospital. I think you should not refuse.”
Kanu thought and thought and realised this might be his final chance, his last attempt. He decided to start with the idol making once again.
Days passed by. Kanu Pal was busy doing what he knew the best. Goddess Durga was almost ready. The straw and clay cladded idol was in the making. His vision was a problem and Kanu knew the problem would be more once he starts painting the idol. Kanu thought of providing a different view of the idol this time. He wanted all the gods to take part in aiding Goddess Durga in the battle with the Mahishasura. So, he created three deadly and dangerous looking asuras. The centre one was the Mahishasura, rest were his accomplices. While, Goddess Durga’s spear was deep inside the centre one’s heart, Kartik and Ganesha were busy fighting the other two. The lion had grabbed the right asura’s leg, while Ganesha was about to realease his disc or chakra towards him. On the other hand, Kartik had released an arrow which killed the left asura. Laxmi and Saraswati were looking at the entire scene and blessing the devotees. His description of the entire battle was different than the rest of the idol makers. The idols so far looked decent. Even after 10 years, Kanu knew he did not lose his talent that he inherited from his ancestors.
Rains had stopped. The festive season was in the air. Kanu had finished with the idol making. Now he needed to paint them, his greatest nightmare. He went to Camac street, College street, Esplanade in search of the right colour and right texture for his idol. It was evening by the time he came. Most of the idol makers were busy with the final touch. Kanu had to finish the idol making in another 3 days. He ate his dinner early, adjusted his 3 high power bulbs and began colouring the idols. For the next two days, he painted the idols. The body colour, the blood marks, the lion everything was coloured. Kanu had to colour the minute things now. He needed to paint the eyes. The bulb did light up the entire area, but still, it strained Kanu’s eyes.
It was 2 in the morning of the day of the delivery. Kanu had to colour the eyes. So far, everything was manageable. Kanu’s hands were shivering. 10 years had passed since his last idol creation. He recalled that his father would take an entire day while painting the eyes. As a kid, Kanu would sit beside his father the entire day and he would say, “Kanu, the power of goddess Durga is reflected in her eyes. The entire idol might look different if the eyes aren’t well positioned and painted!”
His father’s words ringed an alarm. It made him even more nervous. The high power bulb made him sweat. His eyes were paining. Kanu took the brush, and dipped in the colour. He skilfully painted the eyes.
“The position is perfect”, he wondered. He felt like a little boy with a sudden rush of joy. He still had the touch. He was amazed.
The next morning, Kishore woke up Kanu.
“Kanu da, the club members have come. Is the idol ready?”Asked Kishore.
Kanu hurriedly got up and took them towards the idol. When they reached the idol, Kanu opened the polyethylene cover from the faces. He was awaiting applause.
“What is this? Is this a joke? Do you expect us to take this?” shouted one of them.
“Don’t worry sir, this can be mended. Calm down”, Kishore tried to pacify him.
“And what about the squint?” he shouted.
Kanu was shocked. “What are they talking about?” Kanu thought.
He adjusted his specs and looked towards his creation in broad daylight. The Goddess indeed appeared to be squint. The positions were bad. And the biggest blunder was that what he thought to be black colour last night was actually a darker shade of purple. He realised his mistake. He mistook the purple as black in the night. He looked helplessly.
“Whatever it is Kishore, We do not want this. Since you have led us into this, you have to find us another idol” demanded the club members.
Kishore had no other choice. He took them to other artists for any spare Idol.
Kanu was shattered. He slowly sat down. He had already wasted 5 thousand on the colours from his savings. His world was breaking down. He looked at the Idol. He wondered whether God existed. For 40 years he had brought smiles to devotees all across the country. For 40 years he had brought Goddess Durga on earth, and this is the reward he gets? His wife is suffering in front of him. Their only son left them at this age. Is this the reward?
Kanu took his cycle and went off. He wandered across the city. It was Mahalaya. The entire city was getting dressed up for Durga Puja. Mother Durga was ready to come down to earth to offer her blessings to everyone except him. His mind was full of disgust. He went to some houses; traded some old newspapers but his mind constantly cursed him for taking the work.
He reached home in the evening. Ranjan informed him that his wife’s condition had worsened and had to be taken to the hospital. Lady luck seemed to have turned her face completely towards Kanu. He rushed to the hospital. His wife was in the ICU. Doctor said he needed to arrange the money for the operation in another 4 days or else it would be difficult for them to save his wife. Kanu’s despair seemed to be never-ending now. He was clueless. What can he do in 4 days? He thought of selling the house. But then where will they stay after the operation? His mind was turmoiled by his thoughts. He sat outside the hospital blaming God for his situation. The entire excitement, enthusiasm and euphoria among people about the Durga Puja seemed to be a complete waste to him. Goddess Durga never came on Earth. She never existed.
That night there was a sudden rain soaking the entire city. The lights and the drizzle made the city look even more beautiful. Kolkata and the entire world were gearing to welcome Goddess Durga on Earth.
The next day, Kanu went out early, he had to earn as much as possible. He thought of asking his son to help. But he did not know where he lived. The entire day the old body worked. He travelled from one part of the city to another. The entire day’s hard work fetched him only a mere 700 rupees. He was tired. He looked at the day’s collection and could not hold back his tears. The sudden thought of losing his wife forever chilled his body. He thought of asking Kishore’s help.
When he reached home, it was almost 10 at night. Kishore was near the common tube well smoking his “bidi”. When he saw Kanu he ran towards him.
“Where were you Kanu da?”Asked Kishore.
“I went to work. Doctors have given 4 days time. Kishore I needed a help” said Kanu helplessly.
“Kanu da, don’t worry. You won’t believe what happened. Come with me.” said Kishore
He took him to his house and offered him food.
Kanu was tired after the entire day’s work. He did not refuse. He ate whatever Kishore had to offer. Kishore then went inside and took out a bundle of 500 rupees note.
“Take Kanuda, 25 thousand.” Said Kishore handing him the money.
“No Kishore, I just needed 20 thousand” said Kanu, refusing the extra money.
“This is your money Kanu da. Your idol was sold for 25 thousand today. This is your reward. “Said Kishore
“What? Puja starts in 3 days. Who will buy it now in spite of the defects?” kanu asked. He could not believe him.

Last night, retired High Court Judge Narendra Biswas dreamt of Goddess Durga. She came in his dream and asked him to worship him as she was angry. Today morning, Mr Biswas decided to carry out Durga Puja in his house this time. So Mr. Biswas and his son Ravi came to Kumortoli this morning for an idol. But none of the idol makers had any Durga idol left. The only idol left unsold in Kumortoli was Kanu’s rejected one. Kishore showed them the idol. He carried out the necessary changes, coloured the eyes black and sold it off for a lump sum 25 thousand.
Kanu stood still with the money in his hand. He could not believe it. He thanked Kishore for his help and went to the hospital. Malati’s operation was successfully completed the next day. Kanu could sense the touch of happiness in his life. 5 days later, Malati was discharged. It was Dashami (Dusshera), the last day of Durga Puja. Kanu brought her home and quickly left for Babughat( bank of river Hooghly), where all the idols would be immersed.

It was evening. The entire Babughat was crowded. Everyone was dancing to the beats of the “Dhak” (drums). The entire sky echoed with shouts, “aasche bocchor aabar hobe!!”(“next year we will celebrate again!”). Kanu stood at one corner staring at the idol. Four five men shouted, “Durga Ma ki jai!(Hail goddess durga!)” as they took the idol and slowly immersed it in the river. Kanu felt a shiver down his spine. He realised, Goddess Durga did exist. She came down to earth to help him. His hands folded out of stimulus. Tears rolled down his eyes as he bid farewell to mother Durga.
The hard work of all the idol makers had been washed away. Goddess Durga had left earth to go back to heaven, where she belonged. Kanu’s last attempt to save his family was blessed by her. Kanu lived again. He realised, the power of the Goddess was not in her eyes. It was everywhere, it was omnipresent.
The idol slowly sank in. He looked at the last remains and cheerfully joined the others as he shouted, “Durga Ma ki jai !”

Patience

The day wasn’t any better. Things had started to be different quite a few days. She thought she was just the same and he thought she had changed. But He was not totally wrong. Life was moving fast for her. New friends, new life, new place; it was a new beginning. But her love for him was just the same.
It started about a year ago. The two met each other at a common friend’s party. She saw him; a sweet guy sitting in the corner with a continuous shuffle of drinks and that black guitar. It was the New Year eve. Though she was constantly distracted by a good number of male attentions, her eyes kept checking that corner. He seemed to be in a different world, looking outside the window, feeling the chill of the December breeze. There was something special in him. He saw her too. A charming pretty girl sitting in the centre; she seemed to be the perfect reason for the party to be attractive.
That was the first meeting. It was all a gradual process after that. First hours of chatting in facebook, then regular top-ups for night balance, then movies, dinner and finally love. Love was inevitable it seemed. They were made for each other.
Months passed like hours. He shifted to a new city in search of a job. She followed him there to pursue her long unfulfilled career. Things were fine at the beginning. But then it wasn’t all same as before. Her new friends, new life started taking her away. He was struggling hard. He couldn’t get a foothold to fight back. Joblessness, constant failure led him to frustration and despair. He started being insecure. She stayed busy with her life. Differences came up. Fights were frequent and the “happy couple” feeling was long lost. She found him overreacting. He found her ignoring him. And in the entire time, Love was the only thing missing.
Her new friends and late night parties were ever increasing. And he stayed alone waiting for her. He craved for her time. He wanted her presence. But she was way too busy in her life. The new city seemed to have mesmerized her way too much. Her priorities kept changing. He tried to settle down with everything until that day.
That day, it was his interview; a final chance to try his luck. She was still sleeping after a heavy late night party, when he left. All the way he tried calling her, she didn’t respond. He wanted her to wish him luck, but she didn’t. He cleared each round and tried calling her but in vain. By the time she woke, she saw more than 10 missed calls from him. She called back. But he couldn’t answer. He was having his final round of interview, the last round that would decide his fate. She tried again and again. And each time his cell phone would vibrate he would be distracted. The act though wasn’t much appreciable by the interviewer. She thought he might be avoiding her. The slightest thought of the fact that he might be busy in the interview didn’t cross her mind even for a second. The reason was simple. She had no clue about his interview. Out of disgust, she planned a quick party, switched off her cell phone and went out with her friends.
In the evening when he returned, he was once again a lost warrior. But this time the reason was She! He came back to find her gone. The frustration and disgust filling in him had to make an outburst. He waited for her to come.
She arrived at midnight, drunk, dropped by some of her newly made male friends. He couldn’t control his anger. The result was a high volume fight which left both parties shattered. He knew she didn’t love her anymore. She had found a new life where he had no place. But she pleaded for one more chance. She tried to prove her worth. But he wasn’t ready. He called it off. His love had lost to her new life. He decided to walk out of her life. Even She thought to give up. She thought her friends could fill his gap.
Today, after years when I see them, I see two unhappy souls trying to adjust in the wicked world. He got a job and she had graduated from college. Still Life seemed to have stopped for them. They were still stuck at the night that separated them. Neither could her friends take his place nor could He get anyone in life. To me, they were just one of those million broken souls in the crowd who cannot move on, but just revolve around the sweet memories. It wasn’t love that was lost that night. It was trust that was lost, the minimum trust required to cope up with the faults they had. Love isn’t easy to forget. All they needed that night was just a little patience. May be, patience could have changed their lives forever. May be, patience could have ignited the spark in them that was once the reason for their happiness. May be patience could have brought them back together again.

(inspired from the song “Patience” by Guns N Roses.)

Plassey: A tale of Trust and Betrayal IV (Final Part)

Even Siraj saw that none of his army other than the French army was functional. He called Rai Durlabh.
“What is going on Rai Durlabh? Why is the army not moving?”
“Sire, the army doesn’t want to fight. They won’t move. It’s a revolt it seems.”
Siraj was shocked. He didn’t know whom to believe. He suddenly was in a state of confusion.
“What do we do now Rai Durlabh? Call Mohanlal. I need his advice!”
Rai Durlabh was one of the traitors along with Yar Lutuf Khan who had already entered into a treaty with Robert Clive. He wanted to overthrow Siraj because he wanted to get a notable position in the court. Mir Jafar promised him one. He promised to make Rai Durlabh the “Dewan” if he helped him to overthrow Siraj. Rai Durlabh was doing his work. He saw Siraj was confused. He knew it was the best time for him to induce more fear in him.
“Sire, Mohanlal is too far. If he retreats now, it can be danger to him as well as to us.” Said Rai Durlabh
Siraj thought for a moment.
“What should I do now?”cried Siraj helplessly.
“Sire, I suggest you to leave the battlefield. Take some men with you and leave for Murshidabad. We will take care of the war.”
“But how can I leave the war and leave the battlefield like a coward?”asked Siraj.
“Don’t worry sire. I and Mir Jafar will make the army fight at any cost. Your presence can be dangerous for you at this moment. You go back to Murshidabad and I promise to send you the good news soon.”
Siraj was perplexed. At a moment, when fear, uncertainty and confusion prevailed in someone’s mind, it was difficult to take a decision then. Siraj thought Rai Durlabh was right. He decided to abandon the battlefield and run for his life. He left the commands on Mir Jafar and Rai Durlabh’s hands. He left with 1500 men and himself riding on a camel.
Mohanlal in the meanwhile, was stunned at the army’s behavior. He wanted to consult Siraj. He turned his horse back. But to his surprise, he saw Rai Durlabh with Siraj near his camp. He knew Rai Durlabh could not be trusted. He started to ride towards the camp. But he was blocked by Yar Lutuf Khan’s men.
“Why are you running back Mohanlal?” Mocked Yar Lutuf Khan.
“I am not a coward Lutuf Khan. I want to have a word with my Nawab. Leave my way.” Shouted Mohanlal.
“Your Nawab doesn’t need your help. You go and guard your army. Let Rai Durlabh do his work.”
“You are no one to command me. I am the commander. And I order you to leave my way. And may I know the reason as to why your army isn’t moving a bit?” asked Mohanlal out of disgust.
“Yes my friend. You can surely ask. The reason is that we don’t feel like fighting today. Ha ha ha.” He burst out in laughter with his army.
Mohanlal saw Siraj mounting a camel at a distance. He knew it was a conspiracy. They were making Siraj flee the battleground. He knew he had to reach his camp. But Yar Lutuf khan and his army weren’t giving him the way.
“Leave my way. My Nawab is in danger. He needs me”, requested Mohanlal.
“Your Nawab is a coward. Look! He is running away. And if you have to stop him, you will have to fight us”, said Yar Lutuf Khan.
Mohanlal saw the entire army was against him. He looked for help. But even Mir Jafar’s army was preparing to attack him. He knew it was a trap. He did not want to fight his own countrymen. The British had taken good advantage of greed and hunger, he thought.
“I do not want to fight my people Yar Lutuf Khan. You have skillfully sold your conscience to the foreigners in return of petty things. You will not understand the consequence now. But tell Mir Jafar that he and all of you along with this country will suffer because of this betrayal. Remember my words.” Said Mohanlal and turned his horse and raced out of the battleground.
Mohanlal understood the entire plan. Rai Durlabh, Yar Latuf Khan and Mir Jafar had pretended to extend their helping hands towards Siraj. Actually they were merely playing their parts as was directed by Clive. They wanted Siraj to leave, so that they can prove the army that the Nawab was a coward. Then they did not need to fight the war. Mohanlal knew that after Siraj , he would be their next target. And so was it.
“Kill him. I do not want that Hindu fool to leave. ” shouted Mir Jafar pointing to Mohanlal who was racing out of the battleground.
Yar Lutuf Khan charged his army to kill Mohanlal.
Mohanlal’s army on the other hand was standing shocked as they saw their commander fleeing the battleground.
Mohanlal was racing his horse. Yar Lutuf and his cavalry was behind him. They started shooting. Mohanlal knew he had to move faster. He dodged the bullets. But he was not much lucky. He was at the end of the other part of the hill, the border that separates Plassey and the river when a bullet kissed his shoulder and hit the bark of a tree.
Mohanlal reacted in pain. He slipped and fell off from his horse into the river. Yar Lutuf and his men checked the river to find any sign of Mohanlal. They even shot a few rounds in the river to confirm that Mohanlal was dead. After that they attacked the French army.
After an hour fight, the French army gave up. It was impossible for St. Frais to continue fighting against all sides. Both English and Siraj’s men were fighting against them. What was supposed to be the condition of English had now been the condition of the French.
Robert Clive with his army met Mir Jafar and felicitated him for his well defined betrayal. He declared Mir Jafar the new Nawab of Bengal and issued the arrest warrant for Siraj-ud-Daullah.

When SIraj reached Murshidabad, the news of his fall was everywhere. He was informed by a few trusted men about his arrest warrant. That night, Siraj disguised himself as a merchant and left for Patna in a boat. Mir Jafar came back with the English East India Company to celebrate his success as the new Nawab. The hunt for Siraj had begun.
Mohanlal was not dead on the other hand. He somehow managed to stay alive that night. He was helped by some of his faithful Yadav soldiers from the army. He took shelter in the underground Kali Temple at Juranpur, a Yadav dominated village near Plassey battle field. There he married in a Pallav Gope family later in his life and his many faithful solders settled in the nearby Yadav villages. Later on they became a terror for the Britishers. They continued their fight for freedom.
Siraj had taken shelter in Patna as a merchant and was not found by Mir jafar’s men for three months until someone decided to share the information in return of the reward on him. Mir Jafar’s son Mir Miran stormed into the house he resided. Siraj had just finished his daily namaz when Mir Miran and his army entered. Unarmed, Siraj surrendered and they took him to the banks of the river Ganga.
“You are one disgraceful king Siraj. I have orders to arrest you but I don’t feel like taking you back as a prisoner”, said Mir Miran.
“I do not intend to live as your prisoner Mir Maran. You and your father have brought enough disgrace to me and the country. Do me one last favour. Let me rest like a king,” replied Siraj.
On the banks of ganga, the sun was about to set. The cattles were going back home. The day had ended and the entire world waited for the dark night.
Siraj-ud-Daullah knelt down and closed his eyes. The end of his reign was inevitable.
Mir Maran took his sword. It was shining bright in the last rays of the sun. He swinged it in air and cut down Siraj’s throat with a blow. Siraj’s body lay still as it was separated from the head. The end of a brave king had come.
With Siraj’s death, there came the fall of India. It was the first mark of success in Indian History for the British as they skilfully used one Indian against the other. This marked the fall of all the countrymen as slowly the British entered into the kingdom of Bengal. That was the turning point of history. As a matter of fact, the betrayal in the Battle of Plassey indicated the long tyranny that was to come.
Siraj’s body lay still and cold. The Sun had set. The endless nights of pain and tyranny had begun.

THE END

[This is a work of fiction amalgamated with historic facts and evidences.]

Plassey: A tale of Trust and Betrayal. Part III

Mir Jafar thought Siraj might have summoned him for a warfare discussion. He knew, after Mir Madan, he was the rightful candidate for the post. But little did he know that his dirty secrets were known. Unaware of the fact, he entered Siraj’s tent where Mohanlal and other officers were waiting.
“Ah! Mir Jafar! I had been waiting for you. Have a seat”, said Siraj.
Mir Jafar took his seat and replied,” I have heard of yesterday’s sad incident my Lord. We have lost Mir Madan. Tell me sir if I can be of any use to you”.
“You can be very useful Mir Jafar” replied Siraj,”Just tell me the amount that the British have promised you in exchange of my head”.
Mir Jafar was puzzled. It was a sudden shock to him. Someone must have leaked their plans. He knew he was in trouble.
“What are you talking about my Lord? I do not understand a word”!
“Doesn’t your conscience hurt you? You are deceiving and betraying your own Nawab for those who are nothing but a bunch of foreign merchants? You are a traitor. And I banish you for your life. Get lost!” Siraj shouted. He then turned towards Mohanlal and ordered,” Mohanlal ask this man to leave my state. Tell him that I am gifting him his life in return of the favour he did to my grandfather long back.”
Mir Jafar fell to his knees.
“Forgive me my Lord! Please forgive me. I do not know what happened to me. It has to be the Devil himself who made me do it. Give me a last chance to prove myself Lord. Do not banish me. I cannot carry the shame of a traitor all my life.” cried Mir Jafar.
But Siraj did not move. He was fuming with anger.
Mir Jafar was at his feet crying like a child. He continued,” My Lord, I do not wish to humiliate my country. Forgive me. Give me one last chance and I shall be your best man in driving them out. The British shall not gain a penny from me. Trust me my Lord. Trust me”.
Siraj believed him and thought of giving him one last chance.
“Get up Mir Jafar. I do not wish to humiliate you any further. Your country, your men and your Nawab needs you the most. Here is my turban. I keep it down in your feet. It carries our pride. We are on the verge of losing it. Defend it. Help me save our pride. “
Siraj lowered down his royal turban.
“Can I count on you?” Siraj asked helplessly.
Mir Jafar raised the royal turban and replied, “You can my Lord. I will not let you lose our pride. We shall fight back.”
Siraj put back his turban and said, “Thank you, Mir Jafar. I forgive you. But remember, this is your last chance to prove yourself. Stay true to yourself. Be honest and may Allah bless us to victory.”
“I shall prove myself my Lord”.
On gaining Mir Jafar’s confidence, Siraj was relaxed.He turned towards Mohanlal with a smile of applause. Their plan seemed to work.
The army was waiting for Siraj to command. After much discussion with Mohanlal,Mir Jafar,Rai Durlabh and French chief St. Frais, Siraj decided to shape his army in the form of an arch. He made Mohanlal the new Commander of the army. Mohanlal led the army with 5000 cavalry and 7000 infantry. Behind him the rest of the army was in the form of an arch. The right arm of the army was commanded by Rai Durlabh,the centre by Yar Lutuf Khan and the left arm closest to the British by Mir Jafar. St Frais commanded the French army from near the larger tank which was within a mile from the British camp.Clive on the other hand was trying to figure out the plan from the roof of his hunting lodge.The first cannon ball was shot by the French army towards the English camp.The cannon ball came like a surprise and hit the centre of the camp.The battle had begun.
Mohanlal’s plans were simple.He wanted to capture the British camp with his soldiers while the rest of the army behind him would keep them busy.The plan was that once St.Frais starts bombing from his end,the rest of the army in the form of an arch would start bombing in order to cover Mohanlal who in the meantime would charge towards the British camp. Things started as planned. Mohanlal was waiting for his chance. But after sometime he realised that the bombing was only from the French side. The British army easily replied back. The entire army behind him was still. They didn’t move an inch.

to be continued…..

Plassey:A tale of Trust and Betrayal.Part II

Siraj was looking at the sunrise waiting for the good news. But Mohanlal came to inform him about the massacre. The news of the loss of men was not what he expected. Siraj could not take it. He knew he was responsible for the incident. He was responsible for all those lives. But it wasn’t defeat that was bothering him. Mir Madan was one of his very few trusted men. His death meant a huge loss. The only reliable men of calibre left with him were Mir Jafar Ali and Mohanlal.But luck did not seem to support Siraj.A messenger came to inform him about a small incident he noticed the other night. Right after the rain had stopped and when Mir Madan had come for a meeting with Siraj, the messenger promised to have seen Mir Jafar riding towards the British camp near the mangroves. The fact was clear. It was a clear act of treachery. Siraj lost his temper.

“Bring Mir Jafar right now. I will cut open his throat. Let he not witness the night.”
Seeing Siraj losing his mind, Mohanlal tried to pacify him.
“My lord, please do not make any decision in haste. Let us talk to him. There must be a reason.”
“No reason can be enough to betray your king”. Siraj was adamant.
“I understand, but we do not have many men left who can take care of the army. He was the ‘Bakshi’ before Mir Madan and he holds a very good rapport with our men. After yesterday night’s incident, the army is already dissatisfied. We need to have a strong hold on them to lead us into victory. I know it’s hard, but the situation demands the full support of Mir Jafar right now Sir.”
Siraj knew Mohanlal’s words made sense. He was a man of fewer words but whenever he spoke he made sense. Siraj realized that his ego had already led him in a situation where he was left with a little choice. The army was outside and he knew everyone was looking up to him. This may be his last chance.
After much thought and discussion Siraj decided to summon Mir Jafar.
When Siraj rose to throne Mir Jafar was the pay check or the ‘Bakshi’ of the army. He had been serving the post from Alivardi Khan’s reign. Mir Jafar expected Siraj to promote him as the supreme Dewan of the new Nawab of Bengal. But to his surprise, not only did Siraj appoint a Hindu named Mohanlal as his Dewan; he also gave away his post of “Bakshi” to Mir Madan. Mir Jafar could not take it. His insult led into jealousy and finally he became determined to overthrow Siraj-ud-Daulla and gain Nawabi for himself. It was true that he went to meet Clive the other night. But he was not alone in this conspiracy. Colonel Clive knew that Siraj was a strong Nawab to defeat. He had faced him before in Calcutta and also in the Maratha Ditch. Though he somehow managed to defeat him twice, he knew this time Siraj wanted revenge. Moreover, Siraj was not alone this time. He had the full support of the French East India Company. On learning about the dissatisfaction among his important officers, Clive decided to take advantage. His main aim was to get hold of Chandernagore, the primary French foothold in Bengal. And he knew defeating Siraj could be the key to it. So, he immediately contacted Mir Jafar, someone who was desperate to bring Siraj down. Mir Jafar along with Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan came into a written agreement with Clive wherein Clive mentioned to make Mir Jafar the next Nawab of Bengal if he along with his accomplices helped him to take Siraj down. That night, Mir Jafar thought that nobody saw him. But little did he know that Siraj had messengers even in the army. He went to Clive to inform him about their ammunitions.
“Sire, I have got news. Our ammunitions are all wet due to the rain. This may be the right time to attack”.
“Are you sure? What if Siraj has a backup plan?” asked Clive.
“I don’t think he has one sire. He doesn’t have much idea about warfare. An idiot of his calibre seldom has plans.”
“You Indians have one common mistake Mir Madan”, replied Clive.” You always consider your enemies to be worthless in front of you. Never think your enemy to be weak because that makes you a bigger fool. Anyways, your news has been welcomed. You may leave now. I will send a messenger tomorrow. Stay close to our plans. “
Mir Jafar did his work. But Clive knew, he still could not trust him fully. Even if Mir Jafar was true, Siraj could have a second plan. Moreover, Plassey (“Palashi”, the battle ground) was 42 Kms away from Siraj’s capital Murshidabad and it will not be before morning that they get their ammunition. So, he decided to wait till the morning. He wanted Siraj to make a mistake.

to be continued…

Plassey: A tale of Trust and Betrayal. Part I


The night had ended. A new day had begun. The rain had stopped but there was a constant cool breeze. The smell of the rain soaked mud indicated that there was still more of rain to come. He was in his tent, confused and puzzled by the night’s cruel nature. That was a great setback especially after being in the upper hand. Mother Nature had played tricks. He knew, he had to do something fast. There were a 35000 infantry outside his tent waiting for his orders. But he could not think. And of course, he could not be blamed. He was just 23. And this was something that he had not imagined. He knew he was not as great as his grandfather Ali Vardi Khan. But he had to prove his worth. It had been just a year that he had succeeded the throne after Ali Vardi died suffering from dropsy. He was then a young man blindfolded with power. His uncontrollable inclination to liquor and gambling had cost him almost everything. He was not the rightful choice according to many of the eminent nobles. But it was destiny. Ali Vardi loved him and knew that he had the sense of judgement and most importantly he was honest. Ali Vardi named him the Siraj-ud-daullah meaning “light of the State” and he was now the Nawab of Bengal.
But today, the situation was different. Siraj had to make a move. But last night’s incident had a huge impact on him. Right after ascending to the throne Siraj had made some changes in the ministry. His two most trusted men Mir Madan and Mohanlal were promoted to higher ranks. This resulted in jealousy among other nobles especially Mir Jafar who was highly offended after being replaced by Mir Madan as the new “Bakshi” or the paymaster of the Army. Last night, the treacherous British opened fire when they realized that Siraj’s army had made a blunder. The army of the British East India Company with some 3000 soldiers were a no match to Siraj’s huge army with 35000 infantry and 18000 cavalry. But the only advantage they had was the knowledge and experience of the gunpowder ammunition. Mir Madan was the commander of the army. The heavy firing from Siraj’s side had forced the British army to retreat. But then Mother Nature had a surprise. Suddenly there was a huge rainstorm. The rain washed away all their ammunition. But the British were no fools. They had the knowledge of fighting rain. So, they skilfully covered them with tarpaulin sheets. But this was not known in the Indian side. The rain stopped at midnight. Mir Madan came to Siraj to inform him about the situation.
Mir Madan: “My Lord, rain has left all our ammunitions wet. I have already sent a message to Murshidabad. Our ammunitions will arrive by the morning.”
Siraj: “tomorrow morning? Won’t it be too late? What do we do tonight? Just sit and gaze?”
Mir Madan:” We have already occupied our positions. The enemies were forced to retreat .Today’s progress makes me believe that they won’t be able to sustain us for another 2 days.”
Siraj suddenly felt that Mir Madan was right and that his long desire of vengeance against the British was about to come true.
Siraj: “then why do we wait for 2 days?”
Mir Madan:” We do not have ammunition Sir.”
Siraj: “But we have a cavalry my dear friend. And I don’t think our size is anywhere a match to them. Rain must have washed away their ammunition too. This rain may be a boon in disguise. Let us not delay. Let us rip off these foreigners tonight.”
Mir Madan thought for a while as he was not sure whether such a hasty decision would be fruitful. He asked
Mir Madan: “are you sure sir?”
Siraj:” How dare you ask such a question you stupid filthy creature. I am the Nawab of Bengal and do you think I will need to rethink my decision. Go get your cavalry ready. I want victory before dawn.”
Mir Madan left to carry out his orders.
Siraj was known for his stubbornness and especially his bad temper. He could not stand anyone questioning his authority. He did not hesitate to humiliate anyone to any extent. And perhaps this was another reason for his growing enemies.

It was midnight and Mir Madan charged with 5000 cavalry rode towards the British with one intention- Victory. The rest of the cavalry were covering him from behind. The British on the other hand were surprised. Major Kilpatrick ran towards Colonel Robert Clive’s tent to inform him about the sudden attack.
Clive: “cavalry? Has he gone mad?”
Kilpatrick: “Sire, they are around 5000 horsemen riding towards our camp.”
Clive: “ask our men to take positions.”
Kilpatrick: “Sire, may be this is a trap. May be they want us to engage with them while they attack from the east.”
Clive: “no Major. I think it’s a blunder. Prepare our men and ask them to start firing only when his army is in the fatal range. Let no one go back alive.”
Clive’s orders were followed. All the British army were prepared and pretended to stay unaware of Mir Madan’s army. Mir Madan led himself and his soldiers to the trap. When Mir Madan was about 100 yards from the camp he realized his blunder. But that was too late. Before he could retreat his horse, the British had opened fire. His men were killed mercilessly. Mir Madan knew that he could not return back now. He rode fast towards their camp and slacked some of their heads. But then Clive did not want any prisoners. He took his time and aimed his left chest. The bullet went through Mir Madan’s heart like a dragon ball. He fell off from his horse. His head hit the still wet ground. Blood gushed out from the bullet hole. But that was not the end of tragedy. A canon ball came and hit him on his thigh. Mir Madan took his last breath. When his death news spread, the rest of the army went insane. Some fled away, some returned and the rest of the lot were killed. Mir Madan’s body was never found.

to be continued…