Friday, 31 October 2014

Last Togetherness

Photo prompt-copy right Melanie Greenwood

Three of us met, not knowing that it would be the last time we would be together. Fred had joined a seminary. Kail had, following footsteps of his father and brother, started a retail outlet. I was trying to become a civil servant and to realize my father’s aspiration.

It was not a season to accept invitation of the chairs. We walked under deep blue sky and talked of our dreams. Our dreams were bright and cloudless.

A year later Kail died in an accident.

I lost touch with Fred.

Only memories remain of our last togetherness and shared dreams.  

Word count 100
A post for Friday Fictioneers on a picture prompt hosted by Rochelle Wisoff

Thursday, 30 October 2014


She believed that she was not a cripple, at least physically. But she had a lurking suspicion that blood did not flow in her veins, at least not at this stage of life.

She had tried to kill herself. She had brutally cut the vein of her left arm. Not a drop of blood came out. She was horrified. She cut the vein a second time; and it was quite a deep cut. But to her dismay and shock nothing came out except the hurt and humiliation that she had suffered all these years.

When he saw her lying prostrate on the bed, one arm hanging lifelessly, he had laughed, almost like a hyena; he laughed as if it was a charade.
“Now you know for yourself, don’t you; you are a good for nothing person.”

She kept looking; not at him, but at the abuses, the accusations and the insults gushing out of the vein of her lifeless arm.
A post for Three Word Wednesday
Word prompts- Cripple, blood, lurk

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

White Woollen Socks

“Yes, it was a girl; I saw her entering that house; I could not see her face; but there was something strange about her, she was wearing white socks; yes, she was wearing white woollen socks,” the child went on with his narration.
But the police officer was lost in his thoughts. For a moment he was totally stunned. He was investigating the murder of a retired school teacher. He had not yet detected any clue. And now he could not believe what he was hearing.
"This can't be happening," he said to himself, as his mind went back to an investigation he had carried out five years earlier.
Five years back he was investigating the murder of another school teacher. He had not found even one clue. Then an eight year old boy had come forward to tell him that he had seen a girl entering the house of school teacher.
“There was something funny about her; she was wearing white woollen socks. No, I did not see her face. But I remember her socks,” the boy had said.
Couple of other people had also claimed seeing a girl, wearing white socks, roaming in the area.  No one had seen her face. The girl was never identified. The case was never solved.
Police officer kept on investigating the recent case.  He revisited the case file of the teacher murdered five years back and learnt that both teachers were teaching in the same school.
A chance meeting with a retired employee of the school and relentless probing revealed that, years back, both teachers had one day badly humiliated a girl who had come to the school wearing white woollen socks instead of normal grey socks.   The girl was unable to bear the humiliation and stopped coming to the school. No one, however, took any notice of the incident.
Police officer began to suspect that that girl was perhaps involved in the murders. He tracked the parents of that girl and made some polite inquiries.
“She was totally shattered and refused to go to school. I suggested that she could shift to some other school. But she would not just agree,” said her father.
“She never left her room, she was in such pathetic condition,” said mother.
“Did you not take some professional advice?  You could have taken her for some counselling?” officer asked.
“We kept persuading her but she would not listen,” said father
“Would you mind if I talk to her?” requested police officer.
The parents looked at him without saying a word; their eyes were blank.
“Can I meet her?”
“She is not..... alive; she died eight months after that incident.”
Police officer did not know what to say.

Written for Magpie Tales on a picture (given above) prompt. 

Friday, 24 October 2014


Whenever she looked at me I would instinctively become defensive. There was something in her eyes that made me cringe with apprehension.
It was her beauty that had both mesmerized me and made me overly possessive of her. But of late I had been nursing a lurking suspicion that she did not actually love me. She was with me, my heart had sometimes said, because of what I was.
When I first saw her, I fell madly in love with her. I was in love, of course. But I was, as usual, ever watchful. By upbringing I was a predator. I was overwhelmed by her beauty; but I had also seen her needy eyes. I knew that I would succeed.
Without any conscious effort my fertile mind had weaved a snare and I was quiet deft and remorseless in using it. She was ensnared. She was overwhelmed. And I began to believe that she truly loved me; that it was love that had brought us together.
But how could her love be true if my love was tainted? 
It was this taint; taint in my love that had made me apprehensive.
Her eyes were no longer needy, but there was something in them which seemed to say that she had seen through me. Whenever she looked at me I would instinctively become defensive.

Written for Three Word Wednesday

Word prompts-defensive,fertile,needy

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Photo prompt: copy right – the reclining gentleman

“That’s the place where my friend would sit and gaze at the waves for hours. He would never get tired of looking at the waves,” grandfather said to his grandson.
“Did he also look at the boats and the birds and the clouds,” grandson asked innocently.
“Yes, but he was fascinated by the waves.”
“I like the birds; they are so alive and playful.”
“My friend would say, ‘Waves are also alive and playful, just like the birds’”.
“I never met your friend? Why?” asked the grandson.
“He left before you came,” said the grandfather looking soulfully at the waves.
Word count 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


               Image courtesy of Wkipidea Commons in the public domain as part of the historic American Buildings Survey

I was walking leisurely.
Even before I could realize I was engulfed by a flash flood. Soon I was neck deep in swirling waters. Somehow I managed to get into a house. The house was frighteningly empty. 
I rushed to the second floor and uttered a sigh of relief.
But my relief was short lived. A wall crumbled. The house trembled. It began to float on unrestrained waters.
I looked down from the roof. House was moving towards an open ground. Many people were reclining there. They were about to be crushed.
“What is happening? It’s insane?” I said to myself and woke up.
I was soaked in fear.  

Written for Light and Shade Challenge on a picture (given above) and a quotation (given below) prompts.

 “I’m not insane. My mother had me tested”

Monday, 20 October 2014


AD 5014. 
We unwittingly discover a buried human settlement.
She - I thought that nothing remained buried to be discovered.
He – Yes, I also thought so. In any case nothing has been discovered in last one thousand years. It may be the last of the buried settlements.
She – What is that over there?
He – Seems to be a grave.
She – Mother?  What is that supposed to mean?
He – If I am not mistaken this settlement perhaps dates back to the time when women used to become mothers.
She – Did they then not have the technology to manufacture? How primitive they must have been?
He – But most of the women of that time believed that they were incomplete till they had become mothers.
She – I can’t believe it; where do you read such nonsense?
He - I have been using my spare time fruitfully.
She – But somehow I can’t imagine a women becoming a mother; it’s so unnatural.
He – May be for us; for them it was a cherished fulfilment.
She – I am lucky that I was not born then.
He – May be? May be not?

A post for Magpie Tales on a picture prompt 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

First Snow

I kept on walking oblivious of the falling snow.

Falling  snow always reminds me of that beautiful essay ‘First Snow’ which I had read when I was in class VII (or was it class VIII, I am not too sure).

It is strange that, while I can’t recall the complete essay, a faint recollection of the captivating and unmatched description of first snow still gives me an exhilarating feeling; my mind floats back to the little child looking at the falling snow, his nose pressed against the window pane.

But today I could not think of anything else but my friend who was no more.

How many times had we walked together, in total silence, soaking up the warmth of the first snow?

 A post for Five Sentence Fiction hosted by Lillie McFerrin

Word prompt- Falling
As I Entered

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, taken by Alejandrol Linares Garcia and shared under Creative Commons

As I entered the room I almost stumbled.  Someone had tried to trip me, I was sure. But there was no one nearby. In fact there was no one in the room. I was all alone.
I thought that I must have imagined. Who could have tripped me if there was no one around? But yet I could feel presence of someone in that empty room.
Soon others arrived; the teacher came and promptly started his talk on ‘rituals, magic and religious rites.’
I did not understand what he was saying, not even one word. I was rather looking at the person who was standing next to the teacher; he was a man with unblinking eyes.
A strange picture appeared on the huge screen. It was of a man, who was perhaps drunk, tripping on the road. I could no longer hold myself. I stood up. For no reason I glared at the girl sitting next to me but she did not take any notice of me; she was gazing at the teacher with dirty intentions.
“But why are showing that dirty… I mean irrelevant picture. It has nothing to do with what you are saying?”
Teacher looked at me with amusement.
“And who is he? Why is he standing there, over there?” I pointed towards the teacher; I was trying to point at the man with unblinking eyes.
“Will you please sit down and let me continue?” said the teacher in a tone as if he was talking to a moron.
A wave of murmur rose in one corner; very slowly very leisurely, as if enjoying the journey, it travelled to the other corner. Some eyes turned towards me and lingered on.
I felt I would collapse; but someone held me and seated me in my chair. I looked around. I could see no one. It was mystifying. Something odd was going on but no one seemed disturbed. Everyone was very busy appearing fully engrossed in the lecture.
Then I felt that total silence had descended on the room. The teacher was still delivering his lecture; some of the students were talking to one another in whispers. One person on the right side was snoring; he was in deep sleep.
But I could hear nothing; I felt I was surrounded by shadows; or perhaps by ghosts and spirits. Had the teacher said something about ghosts in his unending talk? What did he say?
Everyone got up and left the room. No one even looked at me. I was unable to get up; but that did not bother anyone.
A girl said something. Not the girl sitting next to me; the other one, who I thought, liked me.
“Why some guys get drunk at this time of the day?”
“Strange. But I too can get drunk any time of the day, only you have to be with me.”
Man with unblinking eyes was still there. As I left the room I stumbled. Someone did trip me.

Written for Light and Shade Challenge 15th October 2014
Inspired by the picture above and the quotation below:
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

                                 Hughes Mearns

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Gifted Child
She looked at her and her heart swelled with pride. She instantly knew that she was a gifted child for she had the blue eyes, just like the man she had loved. She thanked him for giving the child his blue eyes.
“She is surely a gifted child for you are gifted man,” she murmured despite the pain.
She was so happy that she had almost forgotten the pain that was searing through her; pain that was intense, as intense as death.
He looked at the girl. He knew that she would not survive.  How could she after what she had gone through all these years?
She looked at him through her fading eyes. For a moment he thought that he was looking at his own eyes.
“It can’t be,” he said to himself without any conviction.
But deep within the rot had set in. He could neither deny it nor wish it away. He could smell the decay that had begun to overpower him.

A post for Three Word Wednesday
Word prompts- Gifted, Intense,Rot 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


It was the usual dream- he trying helplessly to reach somewhere but not reaching anywhere. He woke up with a start – he was anxious, uncertain and nervous. He peered at the clock; he could not find the numbers; they had fallen like dead leaves.

Am I still dreaming?

He took a few sips of cold water and looked at all the odd things lying on the table. He again looked at the clock. Numbers were lying cluttered at the bottom. He shook it and heard a sigh.

It’s a dream.

And he went back to sleep
Word count 97
Written for Friday Fictioneers on a photo prompt hosted by Rochelle Wisoff
A Drop of Happiness

“If you want happiness, go to the beach.”
“I am there.”
“Are you alone?”
“I don’t think so, you are still with her.... her memory”

He walked into the waves. He felt sand melting under his feet. He let her go.

A drop of happiness rolled down his cheek.
Word count 50

Linking this to the Fiction Challenge “From 15 to 50”

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


It was Wednesday.

He knew that, as usual, she will be there; partly hidden behind the bookshelf.

He had never dared to face her; he was too timid to do that. But there was something in her that made her irresistible to him.

How he wished he could, by some magic, grow up overnight.
Word count 54

Written for 55 on Friday hosted by Write Tribe
The Tallest Tree

The tree was very tall; in fact he was tallest tree in the forest and still growing. He knew that the day was not far off when he would be touching the moon and fondling the stars. Naturally he was arrogant for no one had been able to reach the heights which he had scaled. He looked at everyone else with contempt.

The clouds were moving at their slow and leisurely pace. They were heavily pregnant and were enjoying their trip to the mountains. When they saw the tall tree they were rather amused.

“You are really a funny fellow; what are you doing here at these majestic heights?” a cloud asked half-jokingly
“What business you have to make such stupid remarks? Be on your way, you creepy fellow.”  Tree was so crude in his demeanour that the clouds were taken aback.
“How can we be on our way? You are standing in our way?”
“I am not standing in anybody's way. I am standing at my place and for years.”

 A sage in the forest was hearing this argument. He murmured, when a thing is alive and young it is soft and supple; when it is old and nearing death it is hard and unyielding.  

At that moment lightning struck the tallest tree in the forest. 

The clouds moved on.

Written for Three Word Wednesday

Word prompts-arrogant,crude,supple
Face in the Mirror

There was something in mirror that haunted her. She was sure that mirror hated her, for every time she looked at herself in the mirror she felt that it was mocking her; her reflection was always either distorted or indistinct.

One day she saw that someone in the mirror was glaring at her. She almost screamed but the reflection in the mirror smiled at her. No, it was not a smile, she said to herself, it was a smirk. She felt terrified and humiliated.     

She could not bear it any longer, the terror and humiliation. 

She reluctantly told him everything. He thought that it was a joke.

“You saw someone inside the mirror? The Mirror hates you? It mocks you?” And he laughed.

She knew she needed hard evidence. As it was he did not have much respect for her. As for love, it had since vanished like morning dew.

She contrived to click a few photographs of the mirror when she saw 'that someone' in the mirror again. She was sure that now she would be able to convince him. But he laughed when he saw that every photograph had his beaming (or was it mocking) face.

She just could not believe her eyes.

This post is for Magpie Tales 241

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Government We Deserve
I think I was a student of class VII when I first read about Mahmud of Ghazni. It was a brief description. I came to know that he raided Indian sub-continent seventeen times and after every raid he went back with huge quantity if wealth looted from palaces, temples and houses of rich and ordinary people. He also took with him thousands of men, women and children who had been imprisoned by his army. This happened year after year for seventeen times.
Even at that age I would wonder at the character and calibre of political class that ruled different areas of sub-continent during that period. I could never understand the inability of rulers and ruled to present a united front to thwart Mahmud even once. I felt it humiliating to accept this reality and began to believe that the raids never took place and what I was reading in history book was only a fiction.
But today it is impossible for me to live in a make believe world of my own imagination. And when I observe the character and calibre of our current political elite I begin to understand, at least to some extent, the tragedy that befell on the people of sub-continent during first three decades of eleventh century, for it appears to me that the political class of that period could not have been any different from the political class of today; they must have been as self- centered, selfish and venal as are the political leaders of today.  
What surprises me is the fact that, when we were fighting for our independence, we saw a procession of outstanding leaders who selflessly served the cause of freedom. Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak, Gokhle, Phirozshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Badrudin Tyabji, B C Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bose, Bhagat Singh; one can go on and on and on.   Some of these leaders could be faulted for their methods and or ideology but there was not a single leader who could be faulted for his commitment, integrity, and sincerity. And their love for nation was unbounded.
We won independence and what followed was a downfall of political class; and corruption was not the only blemish. Everyone got busy establishing dynasties and perpetuating themselves in power. It should not surprise us if in another fifty years most, if not all, MPs turnout to be hereditary. Did any politician honourably and voluntarily retire from active politics, declining to contest an election when he could have?   I can’t think of anyone.
Of course there are honourable exceptions like Manik Sarkar who are truly serving the people and not themselves or their families, castes, clans and hangers-on. But these exceptions are few and far between and seem to count for nothing on a national platform.

But are we not to be blamed if we allow such undeserving people to rule us?  After all a nation gets the government it deserves. And looking at ourselves I sometimes wonder that perhaps we don’t deserve better leaders or a better government. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014


“Is he really that tall?  
“No, he can’t be taller than Papa. He is not tall, only his legs are tall.
“But what type of feet he has got?  He must be an alien.
“But he looks sad. I think I should give him a smile. Yes, he needs a smile.”

And the child smiled.

Word count 55  

Written for the picture prompt 55 on Fridays hosted by Write Tribe

Friday, 10 October 2014


We knew that any moment Sun would set but we were still hopeful that the search teams would find us before the gloomy darkness descended on us.
We looked as intently as we could but we saw nothing except a deafening emptiness that stretched right up to the horizon; we could hear nothing but our heartbeats.
It was the tenth day and we had yet not lost hope; or so it seemed to some of us.
Someone asked, “Don’t you think that the birds are unusually silent and waves are unusually calm?”
We refused to look at one other when someone else responded, “Perhaps it will end today.”

Linking this to Five Sentence Fiction hosted by Lillie Mcferrin

Thursday, 9 October 2014


He looked at Sun. It was about to set. He could hear the music. It was heart wrenching.
He had given ten prime years of his life to the band. But today he was irrelevant; as irrelevant as dry leaves floating aimlessly in cold air. Why? What was his fault? Did he deserve this fate?
He looked at Sun. It had set. He could still hear the music.
Suddenly he felt that this could not be the end. No, it can’t end like this.
He looked at trees, in autumn they looked beautiful. He smiled. Sun would rise.

Word count 98

This post is part of Friday  Fictioneers by Rochelle Wisoff

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

गाय और वी वी आई पी
(कई वर्ष पुरानी बात है. शायद श्री आई के गुजराल प्रधान मंत्री थे. साईं बाबा मंदिर लोधी रोड के निकट सड़क किनारे एक गाय बैठी थी. मैं मन्दिर के भीतर था, पी ऍम उस रास्ते से जाने वाले थे. सुरक्षा का पूरा बंदोबस्त था. जीप में बैठे एक पुलिस अफसर ने गाय को देखा. उसको बाद जो कुछ हुआ उससे प्रेरित हो कर यह रचना लिखी थी.)
मोहल्ले में गहमा गहमी थी, और होती भी क्यों न? आखिर बात ही ऐसी थी. वी वी आई पी आने वाले थे.
हमारे मोहल्ले में एक स्कूल मास्टर रहते हैं. अब तक बहुत कम लोगों को उनके अस्तित्व का ज्ञान था. स्कूल मास्टर जैसे मामूली व्यक्ति का किसी दूसरे के जीवन में क्या महत्व हो सकता है खासकर ऐसा मास्टर जो न किसी बच्चे को टयूशन पढ़ाता हो और न ही किसी को एडमिशन में किसी प्रकार की कोई सहायता करता हो. जिस देश में पैसा और सत्ता ही महानता के मापदंड हों वहां स्कूल मास्टर जैसा व्यक्ति किस गिनती में आयेगा.
इन्हीं स्कूल मास्टर की बेटी का विवाह था. मास्टर जी ने वी वी आई पी को न्योता दिया था जो वी वी आई पी ने स्वीकार कर लिया था. बस इसी कारण मोहल्ले में गहमा गहमी थी.
वैसे स्कूल मास्टर का राजनीति से दूर दूर का संबंध भी न था. न उन्होंने कभी किसी पार्टी को चंदा दिया था, न किसी राजनेता की चरण रज माथे पर लगाई थी. शायद ही किसी चुनाव में उन्होंने अपना मत डाला हो. परन्तु फिर भी उनकी बेटी के विवाह में वी वी आई पी आ रहे थे.
यह भाग्य की उठा पटक ही थी की स्कूल के दिनों का उनका अभिन्न मित्र वी वी आई पी था. उन दिनों आज के वी वी आई पी आज के स्कूल मास्टर के पीछे पीछे घूमा करते थे. ज़रा-ज़रा सी बात के लिए अपने मित्र पर निर्भर थे. परीक्षा के समय तो उन की नैया मित्र के सहारे ही पार लगती थी.
आज वह वी वी आई पी हैं, पर वी वी आई पी बनने के बाद भी वह अपने बचपन के मित्र को भूले नहीं हैं. अतः मित्र की बेटी के विवाह का निमन्त्रण तुरंत स्वीकार कर लिया. वैसे वी वी आई पी यह जानते थे की इस विवाह में सम्मिलित होकर अपनी छवि को जितना निखार पायेंगे उतना वह बीस सभाओं में भाग लेकर भी शायद न निखार पायें. निमन्त्रण स्वीकार हुआ और रातों रात स्कूल मास्टर मोहल्ले के वी वी आई पी बन गये.
वी वी आई पी आते उससे पहले कई अधिकारी आये, पुलिस के अफसर आये, सुरक्षा कर्मी आये. जो बत्तियां वर्षों से बंद थीं वह जलने लगीं, जिन नालियां की वर्षों से सफ़ाई न हुई थी उनकी सफ़ाई हुई. विवाह के पूर्व और विवाह के पश्चात बहुत कुछ हुआ पर जिस घटना का उल्लेख मैं करना चाहता हूँ वह विवाह मंडप से कुछ दूर घटी थी.
वी वी आई पी के आने से पहले ही वधु के घर की ओर जाने  वाले रास्ते पर  सुरक्षा कर्मी तैनात हो गई थे. विवाह रात में था पर सुरक्षा कर्मी दुपहर बाद ही तैनात हो गये थे. अपने में बेहद उकताये हुए यह कर्मी हर आने जाने वाले पर एक नज़र रखे हुए थे. विवाह मंडप की ओर जाने वाली सड़क पर वाहन खड़ा करने की मनाई थी.  गुब्बारे वाले और ऐसे अन्य लोग जो विवाह मंडपों के बाहर अपनी रोज़ी रोटी चलाते हैं, उन्हें तो मोहल्ले के निकट भी फटकने न दिया गया.
वी वी आई पी के आने में अब अधिक समय न था. एक सुरक्षा कर्मी की नज़र एक गाय पर पड़ी. गाय सड़क के किनारे निश्चिंत बैठी जुगाली कर रही थी. चारों ओर तैनात पुलिस और पुलिस के बंदोबस्त से वह पूरी तरह बेखबर थी. सुरक्षा कर्मी कुछ तय न कर पाया कि उसे क्या करना चाहिये. बेमन से उसने गाय को आवाज़ दी. गाय ने कोई प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त न की. असमंजस में डूबा वह गाय के निकट आया और धीरे धीरे “हिशहिश” बोल, गाय को उठाने का प्रयत्न करने लगा.
किसी ध्यान मग्न योगी की तरह गाय ने अपना ध्यान भंग न होने दिया, वह टस से मस न हुई. सुरक्षा कर्मी इधर-उधर देखता रहा. उसे कुछ समझ न आया कि उसे क्या करना चाहिये. झुंझला कर वह अपनी निश्चित जगह पर आकर खड़ा हो गया. वह धीमे-धीमे कुछ बुदबुदा रहा था और गाय को ऐसे देख रहा था जैसे वह गाय न होकर एक ऐसा मुजरिम हो जो उसकी आँखों के सामने ही अपराध कर रहा हो.
सारे प्रबंध का निरीक्षण करने के लिए एक अधिकारी अपनी जीप में चला आ रहा था. उसका आना इस बात का सूचक था कि वी वी आई पी बस आ ही रहे हैं. अधिकारी अपने आप में पूरी तरह संतुष्ट था, आज तक उसके प्रबंध में छोटी सी भी कोताही न हुई थी. अचानक अधिकारी की नज़र गाय पर पड़ी. वह चौंका जैसे कोई भूत देख लिया हो, “हटाओ उसे, जल्दी हटाओ उसे.” भोंपू पर वह ज़ोर से चिल्लाया.
आस पास खड़े सुरक्षा कर्मिओं की प्रतिक्रिया वैसी ही थी जैसी उस आदमी की होती है जो अनायास बिजली का नंगा तार छू लेता है. पाँच-सात सुरक्षा कर्मी गाय के पीछे ऐसे दौड़े जैसे शिकारी कुत्ते अपने शिकार की ओर दौड़ते हैं. कुछ कर्मी ज़ोर-ज़ोर से चिल्ला रहे थे, कुछ अपनी-अपनी सीटी बजा रहे थे.
इस अप्रत्याशित आक्रमण से घबरा कर गाय एक झटके से उठी और सड़क के बीचों-बीच आ गई. पल भर को गाय निर्णय न कर पाई कि उसे किस ओर भागना चाहिये. तभी जीप में बैठे अधिकारी और अन्य सुरक्षा कर्मियों पर जैसे एक गाज सी गिरी. गाय उस ओर ही भागने लगी जिस ओर से वी वी आई पी आने वाले थे.          
वी वी आई पी किसी भी क्षण आ सकते थे और गाय थी कि उसी ओर भागी जा रही थी. गाय के पीछे चार-पाँच सिपाही भाग रहे थे. जीप में बैठे अधिकारी को कुछ न सूझा तो उसने भी अपनी जीप उनके पीछे भगा दी. गाय को अपने पद और अधिकार का अहसास दिलाने के लिए उसने जीप का सायरन भी बजाना शुरू कर दिया. भोंपू पर उसका चिल्लाना बंद न हुआ था.
लगभग सुनसान सड़क पर भागती एक गाय, गाय के पीछे भागते चार-पाँच सिपाही, उनके पीछे दौड़ती और सायरन बजाती जीप, जीप में बैठे  अधिकारी का भोंपू पर चिल्लाना, यह सब एक अद्भुत दृश्य था.
तभी वी वी आई पी की गाड़ी आती दिखाई दी. वी वी आई पी बैठे तो एक ही गाड़ी में थे पर उस गाड़ी की चारों ओर सात-आठ गाड़ियाँ और थीं. इस काफ़िले और गाय का कभी भी आमना सामना हो सकता था. पर सौभाग्य से एैन वक़्त पर गाय सड़क छोड़ एक संकरी सी गली में चली गई.
वी वी आई पी काफिले की गाड़ियों की  सड़क पर भागते सिपाहियों और उनके पीछे आती जीप से टक्कर होते-होते बची. सड़क पर तैनात अन्य सिपाही और अधिकारी सांस रोके खड़े थे, सब किसी को अनहोनी की प्रतीक्षा थी. पर कोई अनहोनी न हुई, सौभाग्य से. वी वी आई पी का काफ़िला बिना रुके(और बिना अपनी गति घटाये) आगे बढ़ गया.
सब कर्मी एक दूसरे को ऐसे देख रहे थे जैसे किसी दुः स्वप्नॅ से जागे हों. पर जीप में बैठे अधिकारी की हालत खराब थी. वह सब को गालियां दे रहा था.
अगले दिन समाचार पत्रों में छपा कि वी वी आई पी सुरक्षा नियमों का उलंग्न करने के अपराध में कुछ अधिकारियों को निलम्भित कर दिया गया है, और गाय के मालिक का पता न लगने के कारण गाय को हिरासत में ले लिया गया है.  सुरक्षा नियमों की समीक्षा करने के लिए एक उच्च स्तरीय कमेटी भी बना दी गई है. वी वी आई पी की सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित करने के लिए सरकार कटिबद्ध है.
© आई बी अरोड़ा

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Man, that’s how the Government of India works-5
“Vice Admiral Heathwood Johnson has been appointed as the new Director General (DG),” announced my colleague, who was a naval officer.
“Have you ever met him? What kind of officer he is?”  I asked with usual curiosity.
“No, I don’t know him. I have never met him.”
“Is he an Anglo-Indian?”
“May be, but I am not sure.”
As normally happens, everyone was a bit curious about the new DG. We were also a bit apprehensive, but for no specific reason.
Admiral Johnson assumed his appointment. An internal order was issued that new DG would address all employees at 2.30PM.
“Will he speak in English or Hindi?” I asked my colleague, the naval officer.
 “Obviously, he will speak in English. He won’t be comfortable in Hindi.”
“But if he is talking to everyone he ought to speak in Hind.”
My colleague just shrugged his shoulders and did not volunteer any other opinion.
Everyone had assembled well before 2.30 PM. Sharp at 2.30, Admiral arrived. He looked at us. His smile was disarming. Some of us relaxed a bit. And then Admiral spoke and he spoke in chaste Hindustani.
By the time his speech was over he had won over most of us. His style, manner, language and choice of words were captivating. Later when we were enjoying our tea and snacks, he interacted with some of us. He made polite queries about the work, the families, and such other things. He talked as if he was talking to equals. It was pleasure interacting with him.
As for me it was my first informal interaction with an officer of that rank. Till then I had met the DGs only on official business; and all such interactions were brief and totally formal. Admiral Johnson was the first officer who influenced my perception about the ‘almighty big bosses’ of Indian bureaucracy.
I interacted with him on many occasions, formally and informally. And every time I met him I wished I could be like him, for I still had many rough edges and I was yet to get over my awkwardness in dealing with people. Admiral Johnson was always at ease with everyone he met.
During one of the PLD (pre-lunch drinks) session at INS India, he asked me in his usual engaging style, “Mr Arora, how do you keep yourself fit and slim?”
“Well Sir, I just walk as much as possible, and it is a brisk walk invariably.”
“You don’t ride a bicycle?”
“No, and actually I am not good at cycling.”
“I regularly use my bicycle on Saturdays and Sundays. Whenever I have to go out to meet my friends I go on my bicycle. I go to the golf course also on the bicycle. I know that some people joke about it but that does not bother me. Cycling keeps me fit and in the bargain I save some money which I would have to spent on petrol,” Admiral said with a naughty smile.
Admiral Johnson was polite in his dealings with his subordinates. But when it came to enforcing discipline, he was firm. Of all the Service Officers I have met he was one whom I hold in high esteem.
I wish him a healthy and peaceful retired life, where ever he may be.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

He was late for the examination. He should have reached by 2 PM. It was already 2.15PM and he had still not reached the examination centre. Fear was seeping into his mind. He tried to walk briskly but for some reason or other his feet did not seem to follow his intent. He cursed himself.
‘Why did I choose to walk? I could have taken out my scooter. I think I own a car. At least I could have come by the city bus.’
He kept walking without reaching anywhere. It was getting dark. That made him nervous.
‘I won’t reach the examination centre. I will miss this last opportunity too, just because I can’t find the place where I have to go.’
He looked around himself. There was nothing familiar about the place he was walking through.
‘Where am I?  I have never been here. I must be dreaming. Yes, I am asleep and dreaming. I don’t have to write any examination. I already have a decent job. This is only a dream. Yes, yes I am dreaming. I must wake myself up.’  
A sense of elation rose somewhere within. He tried to get up and break out of the dream.
‘No, I am not asleep. It is not a dream, I have to write this examination and I am late, as always. What a nightmare it is to write an examination?’
He kept walking, worried that he was getting late for the examination, worried that it was getting dark and that he will never find the place.

Sun arose and everything about the morning was fresh and cheerful. But he found it difficult to leave the bed. He was dead tired as if he had walked and walked for miles.