Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Revenge - Part 3

Rajat almost shrieked out with excitement. Somehow, restraining himself, he tiptoed to the door and looked through the peephole. They were here. How funny, he thought; politicians hardly ever turn up on time at any other event. He moved back towards the hall and hiding behind a pillar, he said, “The door is open. Come in and sit down on the floor.”

He heard the door open and the two brothers come in. They walked into the living room and sat down on the floor. Sweat was flowing down Rajat’s face. He tightened the grip on the gun.

“Have you brought the money?” he yelled. “Yes, we have,” came the reply, “come out, you bastard and get this over with. But mind you, tell whoever you are working for that we are not going to forget this in a hurry. We will hunt you down, you piece of slime!”

“Shut up!” Rajat yelled, as he charged out from behind the pillar, startling the two. “You think you two can get away with any crime that you commit. Justice may have been late, but you will get justice tonight.”

The sight of the gun seemed to have evaporated the sense of arrogance in their tone. “Li...Li.. Listen.. we don’t know who you are. Just take the money and let us go,” the bearded Bhairon said, as he made a move for his pocket.

“Don’t even think about it,” Rajat whispered in a menacing tone. “Take out your gun, slowly and slide it across towards me. Don’t try and act smart, coz if you do, my hands would be a lot quicker than yours.”

The two brothers took out their guns and now Rajat had three guns to fire with. But he will use only this, he said to himself.

“Who are you?” Beera asked with a clear tone of fear in his voice.

“It doesn’t matter who I am,” Rajat said, “what matters is that Vinay Gupta was my father..”

Four shots whizzed out of the gun, two into each of the bodies and in a couple of seconds, the two lay dead in a pool of blood, their faces still showing the realization of their killer’s identity.
Rajat, however, didn’t wait. He had other things to do. Although this had drained him, the harder part was still to come. He took the syringe in his hand.

It was time to go. It was time for peace. He thought of his family, his wife, his beautiful daughter, his mother. “I love you all,” he said and pushed the syringe in to his vein.

He had just a couple of minutes now before he would black out. Just one more thing, he reminded himself. He went to the wall and banged his head on it a couple of times. Blood started oozing out of his head. But he never got the chance to feel the pain. As the drug kicked in, he fell to the ground and blacked out.

Sunday: 9 AM
“So, what did you see?” the police inspector asked a short plump guy who was shivering. “I live across this hallway,” he stammered, “That flat is normally locked all the time. It belongs to a guy named Satish. He lives in Canada. This morning I was going out for my morning walk when I found the door ajar. When I opened it, I saw blood everywhere. That’s when I called you. One of these guys I recognize, his name is Rajat. He is a friend of Satish’s. He used to lease out the flat on behalf of Satish and when it was empty, he came here once in a while to clean up.”

“SIR!! SIR!!” a voice shrieked inside, “This guy is alive!!! He’s still breathing!! Call an ambulance!!”

Sunday: 11 AM
The phone was ringing. “I’ll get it ma,” Aarti said. “Hello??”
“Am I talking to Mrs. Aarti Gupta??”
“Madam, I am calling from the Metro hospital. You husband, Mr. Rajat Gupta is seriously hurt. Please come immediately.”

Monday: 10 AM
The doorbell rang.
“Babloo!! Go and get the door!!” the ACP yelled as he ate his morning breakfast. He was already dressed up to leave for office.

A few seconds later, Babloo cam running towards the ACP, “Saheb, people have come from your office. They are saying they have come to arrest you.”

“Have you gone mad or something?? I am an Assisstant Com...” the ACP broke off in between, as he saw almost half a dozen uniformed men coming into the dining room.

“Sagar Narayan,” the Senior Inspector spoke, “you are hereby under arrested for the murder of Bhairon Kumar and Beera Kumar, and for the attempted murder of Rajat Gupta.”

“What??” the ACP yelled, “Have you gone insane?? How dare you talk to your boss like that?”

“You are no longer my boss, ‘sir’! You have been suspended from the Police department till the time this investigation is complete” the inspector replied.

“But.. but I didn’t do anything!! And moreover, you have no evidence against me!! So don’t even try and touch with your rotten hands!! And once I get to my office, you are gonna repent what you are doing!!” the ACP barked.

“Ahh..evidence..” the inspector smiled, “the evidence so strong that you can forget about going to your ‘office’ ever again! You murdered the two guys with your service gun! How naive can you be??”

“What?? My gun?? My gun is right here with me, you liar!” the ACP opened his holster and took out his gun and showed it to the inspector.

A wide smile broke out on the inspector’s face. “You think I am a fool, do you? Every service gun has a registration ID carved into it on the base. I don’t see that here. And do you know why?? It’s because this is a fake. You gun was at the scene of the crime. And it has been registered in your name..”

The ACP had gone pale.  He had never noticed the number recently. Somebody must have swapped his gun for this fake.

“Just one more thing to do,” the inspector said. “Take off your shoes please”

Still in a state of shock, the ACP hardly resisted as thre men pushed him onto the chair and took off his shoes. The inspector took out a sheet of paper from a file; a picture of the shoeprints from the crime scene, then looked at the ACP’s shoe. He smiled at showed it to the ACP.

“Perfect match,” he said, holding the picture and the shoe side by side for the ACP to see. “So, you are in big trouble, ‘SIR’.

Babloo could only watch in disbelief as the ACP was handcuffed and shoved into the back of the police van..  

Monday: 3.30 PM
Aarti was sitting outside the ICU. Her heart was pounding out of the love towards her husband, while her brain was still trying to gather and assess everything that the doctors and the police had poured out during the short time that she had talked to them. They said something about a double homicide, Satish’s flat, a gun. It was too much to take in all at once. 

Even greater than that was the desperation to see her husband healthy again.

“Mrs. Gupta,” a nurse called out her name, bringing her back into the present, “The Doctor will see you now.”

Hoping and praying that she hears good news, Aarti followed the nurse to the Doctor’s room. She sat down and braced herself for the worst.

“Mrs. Gupta, I understand that the last couple of days have been very draining for you,” the doctor said, “but I need to clear a few things out with you regarding your husband.”

“Well, you must understand that your husband was a target for murder. He has suffered a critical head injury and has lost a lot of blood. He bled for almost eight hours before he was brought to the hospital. We have stabilised his pulse at the moment and blood has been given to him. But we will have to put him under observation for 48 hours. We always need to take maximum precautions with head injuries.”

“Ok,” Aarti said. “But he will be fine right?”

“We can only tell after 2 days. But initial signs are all positive. We are quite optimistic about his recovery,” the doctor said with a reassuring smile. “But actually what follows is the more crucial part that I wanted to talk to you about.”

“What is it?” Aarti queried.

“Well, we did a scan of Mr. Gupta’s head. The area around the temporal lobe is badly swollen. What amazes me is that the temporal lobe, which is actually at the back side of the head, is swollen but the injury to him has happened on the forehead. The skull has cracked a little on the forehead but the shock was not so large that it could affect the temporal lobe.

“Anyway, the point that I want to make is that temporal lobe controls memory. We can only tell after he regains consciousness, but Mr. Rajat might have suffered some memory loss”

What??” Aarti stood up with a start. “This can’t be. How severe? Will he forget all of us? How..”

“Mrs. Gupta, please calm down. We are hoping it’s not that severe but there is no way of finding out...”

Tuesday: 1 PM
The ACP sat in small jail room. For 3 days he had been crying out to the prison guards to let him out because he was innocent but no one listened. Now he had stopped, resigned to his fate. Senior officials had come to see him. He requested them to release him. Some of them agreed to try and bail him out. But even that would take at least a week.

The prison guard opened his door. “You have a visitor,” he said. It was Babloo, his servant.

“Saheb, this came for you today,” he said. It was an envelope. The ACP ripped it open and took out a letter from inside. He started reading..

How does it feel to get a taste of your own medicine?? Is this jail life suiting you, you bastard!! Twenty years ago, you sold yourself to a couple of thugs and helped them kill an honest police officer. His blood is on your hands. And what you are suffering now is repayment for that sin.
I know you have contacts. I know you will soon get yourself out. But every single second that you spend in this cell will remind you of the countless bodies you killed or stepped on to get yourself some money and fame. And this thought will eat you inside. Today I have completed my revenge..

That day the ACP did not speak to anyone. At night the other inmates heard loud cries. In the morning, the ACP was found hanging dead from the ceiling of his cell with his bed sheet.

The next day, Rajat regained consciousness. He woke up with a start as if he had a bad dream. He tried to remember what the dream was. He was standing in the rain with someone. He gave the other guy some money and in return he had got a package. The other guy had asked him to be careful with the package. Half of the bottle would be enough to erase 6 months of memories, he had said. But Rajat was somehow sure that he had used the full bottle....

Rajat stared at the small hospital room. He wondered how he had got here. The doctors had come; the police had come to ask him something; some murders; some guys named Beera and Bhairon, but he had no idea what they were talking about. His head started aching every time he tried to remember anything about which these people were asking questions.

Once his room was empty he opened the newspaper. “ACP accused in double homicide commits suicide”, said the headline. Poor guy, Rajat thought and moved on to the next headline.

As he had wanted, he had ended it for himself too. He was at peace with himself once again...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Revenge - Part 2

It had been hard.. the past three months.. Rajat thought as he relived everything. He had taken a decision that would change his life but he was determined not to waver. A month after the life altering revelation he had started planning how to do it.

He dug all the history that he could find on the two brothers and the ACP. The two brothers were the sons of a popular but now retired politician, who himself had had allegations of corruption over him. These two were now trying to inherit his popularity to further their own political ambitions.

Many times over, he had the thought of just walking into the homes of all the three and shooting them in the head. But then he realised that he had a family too. He loved his wife and his daughter. What would they think? He needed to plan. He needed to come up with a method in which he had a chance to live a normal life..

He needed to get all three of them at the same place to do it. It would be tough now that their allegiance to each other had been severed. But as he was planning all this, two major doubts had started to pollute his mind..

Did the ACP deserve death? He had been a pawn, threatened by the political power of Bhairon and Beera, the two brothers. If he hadn’t obeyed them, he might have ended up the same way his father had. Rajat faced a conflict. On one side, he had deep anger for the ACP but on the other he understood the kind of pressure he might have been under. It was then that he had found a middle way, a way to make sure that he didn’t have the ACP’s blood on his hands..

But still, the other doubt was eating him inside. He had been brought up by his father to be an honest, hard working man who respected the rules, respected other human beings. He might be breathing after doing what he had decided to do, but will he actually be living a life? Will he be able to face his wife, look into the innocent eyes of his daughter and his mother? As this thought had struck him, he decided what he would have to do..

He will have to end it for himself too. He couldn’t live like this. He needed to be calm again. He needed to be serene again..

Rajat looked down at the bottle of injection that lay on the table. This was his ticket to ending it all. His family will hopefully understand. They will adapt with time.

He took a refreshing bath that night and had a good night sleep. He was satisfied with the day’s work, but more needed to be done tomorrow.The next day, he woke up with a slight fever. It must have been because of the rain last night, Rajat thought, frustrated that he couldn’t be able to carry out the next phase of his plan. He stayed at home, going through each part of his plan again. The next step was crucial. In a way it was good that he postponed it for a couple of days. It would be better if he did it once he was healthy again.

Two nights later, he came home at about 3 in the morning. The most crucial part of the plan had been done. He was ecstatic. What he had done today would make sure that he won’t be suspected for the murders. He opened the bag he was carrying and took out a flat wide plate. The plate was filled with clay. And in the middle of it was a large clear shoeprint.

About ten kilometres away from where Rajat sat, in a calm and peaceful locality, the ACP woke up at six in the morning. It was just another day for him. But he didn’t notice that the balcony door that he usually locked every night was a little ajar today. He also didn’t notice that his shoes were a little muddier than usual...

Rajat took out the gun from his pocket and kept it on the table. Looking at it, he recollected how much research he had done about it, how he had tried to get in touch with people who supply such things. It had been hard; he was unfamiliar with such people and their behaviours. He had even been beaten up once. But he had been very particular about the type of gun he wanted. In the end the dealer had to relent.

Next day he ordered a custom made shoes having the same footprint as the one on the clay. All the things he had purchased were done under different names, far away from the city. The shoes arrived three days later.

That evening, he sat down at his study and wrote two letters. First, he wrote to the two brothers, his father’s killers, carefully using gloves to avoid fingerprints and pasting newspaper cuttings to make up his words.

I know that you killed Vinay Gupta years ago, the car didn’t meet with an accident; you pushed it over the bridge. I have evidence against you. If you don’t want me to go to the police, bring 50 lacs in cash tomorrow to 304, Vilas Apartments near the clock tower on this coming Saturday at 10 pm. Give the money to my man there and you will live safely..

He went out and posted it into a mail box quite far away from his house. He then came back and started writing another note, this time with pen.

“How does it feel to get a taste of your own medicine.. “

He completed the letter and prepared to get some rest. It was Friday evening. Tomorrow his life will be altered forever. Not just his life, the lives of his family members too. He prayed to God, thanking him for a lovely family, a content life and bracing himself for tomorrow, went to sleep.

Saturday.. a normal day for perhaps everyone else, but for Rajat it wasn’t. Today was the day when three months of turbulence would come to an end, one way or the other. Either he would avenge his father’s death or he would die at the hands of his father’s killers. But he had steeled himself for the worst coz either way it wasn’t going to end well for him.

As the time approached, his nervousness grew. He took his bag, put on his new shoes and went out for a walk. The streets were muddy from the rain the previous night. He walked for few minutes and reached Vilas Apartments. He decided to take the stairs and climbed up to house number 304. As he slid the key into the lock, he silently apologized to his dear friend Satish.

The flat was empty. He turned on the light in the drawing room. And then the wait began..

He had almost 5 hours to wait there before the brothers came. It was then that he realised that he had almost forgotten a key part of the plan. He quickly opened his bag and pulled out a pair of his old shoes. He then stuffed his new pair into the bag. Thanking God in his mind for reminding him, he locked the door and went downstairs. He went to the bridge on the river, the same bridge which had withnessed his father’s death. He filled the bag with some big stones and then flung it into the river. Evidence deleted. He went back to the house and resumed his wait.

He never realized when he fell asleep. It was only when his wrist watch alarm went off at half past nine that he woke up with a start. Freaking out, he washed his face and got ready. He put on his gloves. He checked his gun once again, fitting a silencer on the mouth and loaded the syringe with the injection. He won’t have much time; he had to do everything very quickly.

At exactly ten o’clock he heard footsteps. His mind was going numb. Adrenaline was rushing through each and every cell in his body. He was trying desperately to hold it all together. “Stay calm,” he said to himself, “it’ll all be over soon.” 

And then the doorbell rang...
(to be concluded)

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Revenge - Part 1

The rain was coming down really hard now. Trying to stay dry, Rajat pulled his jacket over his head. He was conscious of the packet that protruded from his left pocket. He had no other choice but to go out in the rain and buy it. The dealer was adamant about getting the payment today itself. Jumping over puddles, he made his way home.

He reached his home a couple of minutes later. His wife and daughter were away on their visit to her parents. His mother was on her visit to his sister’s place. This being the time of vacations had meant that their trip would be a little longer than usual. He had specially chosen this time for his plan. No one back home would know what he was doing.

He went in to his study and removed his jacket. Then from the left pocket, he took out a brown envelope. Getting drenched in the rain had been worthwhile. He had been able to get both the things that he had needed. He opened the envelope. His hand went in and with it came out a small bottle of injection. Out came then the syringe. He put his hand into the packet one last time. The thing that came out was the cause of this packet’s excessive weight.

It was a gun.

He had thought about this many times over in his mind. He had not told anyone about what he had in mind. Silently and discreetly, he had been working for the past two months on his new found mission; avenging his father’s death.

In retrospect, he never thought he would come this far. To be frank, he had started off with absolutely no confidence of his plan’s success.

It was about three months ago when he had found out the truth. Till that time, he was a relatively satisfied upper middle class man, working in a reputed financial firm. He was an ideal husband to his wife and a great father to his daughter. He was an honest man, paying his taxes well before time, resisting giving or taking bribes, in many ways, the perfect gentleman.

But three months ago, a visit to the Police headquarters gave his life a shocking jolt.

He had been approached for a personal loan by a tricky customer. As per normal procedure, he had checked this customer’s background before deciding on the loan proposal. The customer turned out to be a suspicious fellow, with a shady background. Once he came to know this, he refused to oblige him. But the guy turned out to be a little more problematic than he first thought. He started getting threat messages. Fearing for himself and his family, he approached his boss.

“Don't worry Rajat”, his boss comforted him. “I personally know the Assistant Police Commissioner. We’ll go and talk to him.”

The next day he went to the Police headquarters. Not many people knew this, but this place was quite familiar to Rajat. He had come here a few times when he was very young. His father had been an honest and reputed IPS officer, before he died in a car crash 12 years ago...

The peon ushered him into the waiting area. Soon, the ACP called him into his office. As he walked towards the office, he realized that his father used to sit in the same room that he was walking towards. He clearly remembered his younger days when he would play with the hawaldars standing outside the office while his father sat inside looking after his daily work.

“Please come in Mr. Rajat”, ACP Sagar Sharma called Rajat in and offered him a seat. “Anant has told me about the problem that you are facing. There’s no need to worry. I’ll direct the station head of your area to round up this guy who is bothering you.”

“Thank you so much, sir. You never know what such people might do to your family. Actually, my father..” He could not complete his sentence though, as the door of the ACP’s office slammed open and two middle aged guys came in. Both of them were wearing traditional white khaki clothing, suggesting the fact that they might have been politicians. One of them wore a black pair of sunglasses while the other had a trimmed beard and a huge teeka on his forehead.

“So, Sagar ji..,” the bearded guy said in a husky tone, “It seems you have forgotten what all we have done for you. You suddenly have started avoiding us and our party workers.”
The ACP had suddenly gone pale. “How the hell did you get into my office without permission? Get out right now!!!”

“Don’t you raise your voice against us you prick!” the other guy was speaking now. “You clearly know what our deal was. Our family has looked after you ever since you started this job, and now you turn you back on us??”

“Shut up and get out!!” the ACP yelled. “I have nothing to do with murderers like you. Be grateful that I am kind enough to ignore your crimes in return of the favour you did me when I was under suspension. But don’t expect any more favours from me.”

“YOU BASTARD!!” the bearded guy had exploded with rage. He seemed to have forgotten that there was another guy in the room, watching all this, in a state of disbelief. “Our family supported you when you were out if money. Our father gave a worthless man like you a means of livelihood when you were suspended. We made sure that you got your job back and got steady promotions.

We have killed people that came in the way of our political ambitions but don’t think that you had nothing to do with it. And don’t forget, the first person we killed was your boss, that Vinay Gupta, who had suspended you. You gave us his location on the day we pushed his car into the river. You bribed the forensics in to saying that the driver was drunk. So don’t sit there and think that you are innocent. If you don’t play along with us, we’ll make sure that you join us in jail, you worthless piece of shit!!”

As the argument heated up further, what the quarreling parties did not notice was the expression on Rajat’s face. Rajat had gone numb. It was as if someone had landed a tight slap right across his face. These guys, these goons, rather, did not know what he had just realized. Shock was writ large on his face as he repeated the words to himself, “My father didn’t die in a car crash.. It was a cold blooded murder ..”

Vinay Gupta was his father, an honest and righteous IPS officer who served the police with pride. It was quite a shock to not only his family, but also the entire police fraternity when he suddenly passed away in a car accident. The car he was travelling in that night had hit a truck and dropped into the Yamuna River. He was investigating a double murder case in a nearby village. The case was political in nature and involved quite influential people. Rajat still had the memories fresh in his mind.
Once his father’s and the driver’s body had been taken out of the water, it was found in the autopsy that the driver was severely drunk when he was driving the car. Rajat had since accepted the fact that his father wasn’t there to protect him anymore, and had moved on.
But it all had come rushing back today. These criminals had murdered his father and were now talking about it as if it was nothing! How could someone be so cold blooded? Did these people have no sense of humanity??

The shouting voice of the ACP brought him back to the room. “Get out of my office!! Get out right now!! Or I will kill you!!” The ACP had gone red with anger. He looked as if he would go into a fit anytime. Thankfully, two hawaldars came in hearing the voices and forced the two brothers out of his office.

The ACP looked rattled. For a moment he even forgot that Rajat was standing in there this whole time. When he did realize this, he assured Rajat that he will look into his complaint and asked him to leave.

Rajat didn’t tell him that they had been talking about his father, about murdering his father. He was walking but couldn’t feel his legs. He mind was a total blank. That day, he didn’t return to his office. He went back home. He wasn’t sure if would be able to work after hearing this news. His wife kept asking him why he seemed so quiet and disturbed, but he lied. He didn’t want to shock the whole family.

The next day he went to work. His boss called him and asked him what happened with the ACP. He simply replied that the ACP had assured him personally about his safety.

“I had told you,” he said, “The ACP is a great man. No normal man can grow so fast in an organisation if he doesn’t perform exceptionally well.”

Rajat just smiled and went back. He decided to do a background check on the ACP. He had many of his father’s friends still working in the Police. Subsequently, he came to know that the ACP had started off as a sub inspector but quickly made his way up the ranks. He was famous for his contacts with the political class and he kept them happy by ignoring all the petty crimes that they committed. Rajat also found that he had been suspended by his father almost twenty years ago for accepting a bribe.

Within a couple of days of the incident at the Police headquarters, Rajat was consumed with a new emotion. Anger. Rage filled every corner of his body. His father’s murderers were enjoying their life without a care for what it had been like for his family.

There wasn’t anything that could be done to get justice. The case was almost two decades old. No lawyer would agree to fight for him. He didn’t have any evidence either. He was helpless. The pain of seeing his father’s murderers was killing him inside.

That was it. That was the spark which had now turned in to a fire. A fire that was hell bent on destroying his father’s killers. They killed his father just because he was about to expose their misdeeds. Well, now it was time for payback.

Yes.. he was going to kill them…
 (to be continued..)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Don't Worry, I Have Your Back

I reached the bus stop at 8 o’clock in the morning. The roads were empty except for a few joggers and morning walkers. Sudhir uncle had asked me to come by 10 but I couldn’t wait. I was desperate for help. Anjali was with Riya at the hospital and I had to get there soon, but after visiting Sudhir Uncle. He was my only hope.
As I sat there waiting for the bus, a voice said behind me, “Hey, remember me?” I turned around. It was Rohan. After so many years, it was a huge surprise, almost a shock to see him here standing in front of me. And then suddenly, I remembered the last time we had each other. It wasn’t a pleasant memory. I saw flashes of  a fight.. and a broken nose. I saw him asking me to stop, asking why I was doing this..I saw myself storming away..
I came back to the present. I was filled with guilt. I was ashamed of the memory. I found it difficult to look into his eyes.  “Oh.. er.. hi Rohan!”, I sheepishly replied, “Long time..How are you?” “I’m good”, he replied. “What about you? Navin had told me that you are working here in the same city, but I never expected to run into you. So how have you been?” I was finding it very difficult to answer, and kept looking over his shoulder to see if the bus had come to save me.
“Do you need to be somewhere?” he asked, noticing my restlessness. “What? .. er.. no, not really, just.. you know.. visiting a relative..”, I said. “Listen..If you have time, why don’t you come home with me? I live nearby. Just for a little while, if it’s okay with you”, he offered. “Oh.. I don’t know, Rohan”, I said, once again searching for a bus. “Don’t worry”, he said, “I’ll drop you to your relative’s place. It’s been so long since we have met, Sandeep”. He kept asking me to come, and the bus was nowhere to be seen. So finally I relented, as there were almost 2 hours to go till 10.
We walked to his car and got in. “So, how have you been?” Rohan asked, as he started driving. “I am fine. Just been busy with work, u know..Nice car, by the way”, I said. “Thanks, man”, he said. Even he didn’t seem to be very comfortable, but given our history, I would have been surprised if he was. After a long silence, I asked, “So, how come I have never heard from you since college?”
He looked at me, gave me a quite smile, and then pointing at a scar on his nose, said, “You were the one who ended it, remember?”
It all came flooding back to me..
College time..Sandeep and Rohan. We were an example of friendship in the campus. We were completely unknown to each other till the time we saw our names together under Room number 301 of the Hostel. Within a day of knowing each other, we had hit a common wavelength. From then on, we had become the best of buddies. From assignments, to hanging out, to checking out girls in the campus, we always did everything together.
We were perhaps the most popular guys of our batch. Good at studies, part of the college basketball team, members of the College theatre group. There were always people who were jealous of us, and we had many quarrels and fights with such idiots. I used to get tensed when such things happened. I was the more fragile one, who would get scared, get worked up, get angry very quickly. But whenever such things happened, Rohan would just clap my back and say, “Don’t worry, Sandy boy.. I have your back.” And suddenly, I would feel reassured, confident that we could face anything together.
In second year, I met Neha. I saw her in the canteen, and it was love at first sight. Rohan understood how I felt in a flash and asked me to go and ask her out. “Don’t worry dude, she is not a monster who will eat you.. just go and talk to her.” “But what if..” I started. “Stop worrying, Sandy, my boy, I have your back”, he smiled.
I asked her out and she said NO. And a few other words which weren’t very good to hear. But Rohan made sure that no one in the class brought up the topic in front of me. As he said, he had my back. We never talked about her again and kept our minds on what we were good at; books, basketball etc.
But it was meant to be. Within a couple of months, Neha was my girlfriend. She had come into our classroom one day and apologised to me for her behaviour and asked me if the offer for a date was still good. The word ‘Yes’ automatically popped out of my mouth and we started dating.
And then came the fateful day..
Almost a year had passed. We were in our third year. We had come back to our room after the day’s classes when Rohan said that he had forgotten his notes in the classroom and went back to get it. I lay down on the bed and rang up Neha. She didn’t pick up her phone. Thinking she might be busy, I got up to wash my face when I heard a beep. It was from Rohan’s phone. He had forgotten to take it with him. I picked it up and was surprised to see that the screen read, ‘Text message from Neha’. If she had the phone, why wasn’t she answering my call? I opened the message. It read, ‘Hey, don’t tell Sandy about it ok? I don’t want him to know that it was you all along. See you in your classroom..waiting for you..’
It was as if someone had hit me with an iron rod. Could this be possible?? Could Rohan do this to his best friend?? Flabbergasted, I rushed out of my room and headed for academic block. Neha’s classroom was on the third floor. Hoping..praying that what I was thinking was untrue.. I entered her classroom.
It was as if the whole world came crashing down. Standing at the door, I saw Rohan hugging Neha..My best friend had backstabbed me..All the friendship meant nothing to him. Within seconds, rage had come over me. “You son of a bitch!!” I roared. “I trusted you. You were my best friend. And this is how you repay me?” I had no control over what I was saying. “Sandy, what the hell are you..” “SHUT UP!!” I said and then I lost all control. I was hitting Rohan with all the strength I had. I did not care about friendship anymore. I landed a punch right on his nose and I heard it break. Neha was shouting behind me, trying to stop me, but I wasn’t listening. I was mad at her too. And once I had had my full..I walked out..leaving a bleeding traitor and a shocked cheater in the room.

We had reached Rohan’s home. As we entered, Rohan introduced me to his wife Priyanka. “Rohan has told me so much about you. You star in almost all of his best college experiences,” she said. Hearing that just increased my guilt even more. Rohan asked me to have some breakfast with him. The more I spent time there, the more ashamed I was of myself. It was getting too much for me, just like the way I felt when I had found out the truth.
Rohan wasn’t an affair with Neha. It was he who had talked her into going on a date with me. That’s why she had come to me and apologized. He never told me this and I never even bothered to find out why Neha would so suddenly changed her mind about me. And that day in the classroom, Neha had called Rohan to thank him for convincing her to go out with me. She had called him to tell him that she had started to fall in love with me. Rohan did everything for me.. and in return I had broken his nose and left him bleeding on the floor.
Neha told me all this the day I last spoke to her, when I met her 3 yrs later at a common friend’s wedding. She had come with her husband. That day after the fight, I never talked to Rohan or Neha. Neha left me, actually. I got into some bad company and never paid attention to studies. Rohan got into a big software firm, while I didn’t do well in my final exams and didn’t get a good job. We went our separate ways.
Remembering all this in the house of the person I betrayed was too much for me. I broke down completely, right there at their breakfast table. I couldn’t bear it anymore. “I’m so sorry, Rohan..I’m so sorry for what I did to you..You were my best friend and I treated you like this..I don’t deserve a friend like you..I really don’t..”
“Sandeep,” Rohan said, teary-eyed himself, “That day when you hit me, it wasn’t my nose which hurt me, it was the fact that you never bothered to ask what was happening. I tried to tell you but you never listened. But then, Sandeep, even today you are the best friend that I have ever had..”
I stood up and hugged him. It was the best thing that had happened to me since ages. I silently thanked God for giving me back my friend. It was almost as if a big weight had lifted off my chest.
After a few moments to gather my calm, I requested Rohan if he could drop me at Sudhir Uncle’s house. “In the morning when I saw you, you looked rattled. Is everything okay?” Rohan asked. “My daughter is in hospital,” I replied, struggling to hide the pain in my voice, “She is just two years old, Rohan. How can God do this to a two year old? She has a birth defect in her kidneys. They stopped functioning a week ago. Doctors have said that transplant is the only option. My wife, Anjali is giving her a kidney.”
“Oh my God! If there is anything I can do for you please tell..” Rohan assured me. “No, Rohan,” I interrupted, “You have already gone through a lot because of me. Just drop me at Sudhir uncle’s place. I need to borrow some money from him. Today is the last day to submit the deposit for the transplant. I don’t have much left. I have already sold my car for this operation. But the figure is still a little short. I’ll just collect the money and head to Apollo hospital.”
Rohan dropped me at uncle’s place. “Thank you Rohan,” I said, “Not just for the lift, for everything.” “Come on, Sandeep, ‘you never say thanks’ that was our deal back in college, remember?? And listen, if you need anything, I’m here ok?” And he left. At that particular moment, I remembered God, for the joy he gave me this morning, and also for strength to carry me through the rest of the day.  
Sudhir Uncle gave me the 1 lakh rupees that I needed, and I headed to the hospital. Once I reached there, I went to the counter. “I’m here to pay the deposit fees for Riya Gupta’s transplant”, I said. “But the charges have already been paid, sir,” the receptionist replied, a little surprised. “WHAT!?!”, I said, “When? How?? By whom??” I was totally stunned. “Just a short while ago sir,” the receptionist replied, “He said he was a relative. I have his name here.. yes.. Mr Rohan”
I was speechless. He had never stopped being my friend.. even during the moments I was breaking his nose. In a state of trance, I stepped back from the counter and started walking away, when the woman at the counter called me back. “Excuse me Sir,” she called out, “He left a note for you.” She handed me a note. I opened it and read it. There was just a single line, but it brought a tear to my eye..
“Don’t worry Sandy boy.. I have your back..”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is it me or is it this world?

Every morning I rise from my slumber, trying not to think of yesterday
Hoping for a better today, a better tomorrow
I cry out to the heavens,Asking for forgiveness
And a little relief from my sorrow

I look to my side, there’s no one with me
I look above and the roof doesn’t seem to be of my home
So I ask this to the Almighty above..Is it me or is it the world??
Why do I feel like an ever gloomy gnome??

Of course, It is the world, It is cruel, it is callous, it is unfair
It has denied me my happiness
It has left me alone, In a place unknown,
It has drained me of my freshness
I try my best to make it right, but it hits me back
It hits me so hard that I fall
It hurts oh God, it hurts so bad,
It doesn’t even let me stand up tall.

But how can the world be biased towards me??
I ain’t the sole inhabitant, there are billions more that exist.
I see others happy, content and satisfied..How does that happen??
How come their paths don’t find an evil twist??

So I ask again, to the One above,Is it me or is it the world??
Why am I living in a cage?
Light dawns upon me, I can see clearly now
I see the face of the puppeteer on the stage

It is me, It was me, It was me all along,
I decide where my life is headed
No one else controls me, No one else can manipulate,
Only I decide, whether to fly or stay grounded

All I need to do is look inside,
Find a goal and go flat out
The world might throw tantrums,
I don’t care, coz in my mind I have no doubt

So next time when your heart falters and loses hope
And asks you, Is it me or is the world??
Shout out the answer, its ME! ME! ME!
And your joys will be unfurled.