The Boy Who Knew Too Much

This is a story i promised a friend a month ago in response to her post.Finally,here it is Sharmishtha !
Here is the link to her post .Do drop by her blog.Er,did I say ‘blog’?!Sorry,I take that back.Because you see she has eight blogs,and no the quality does not suffer due to the quantity in this case!
The opening part in bold letters is Sharmishtha’s words.From then on,I have tried to take a melodramatic stand on her perfectly harmless story!
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Rajnish was lying flat on his back, watching the stars in the open sky.How he loved these small escapades to the woods! Every necessary thing packed in his backpack-even a small tent in case it rained.
There was no sign of rain, a pleasant breeze was blowing, stirring the leaves of the trees and the grass on which he was lying.The moon was peeking at him from the scanty clouds.He fell asleep….

A strange flash of light woke him up, at first he thought that the moon was coming down on him.Then he realized it was a spotlight being lit nearby,repeatedly doused and relit.Suddenly it dawned on him that this must be the group of people his father was telling him about the other day.Poachers.
His father,the Range Officer,had repeatedly asked him to stay indoors.Poaching was on the rise and these people could be dangerous.
He never was one to listen though.Growing up in the Kaziranga Forest Reserve,as he did,had made him form a strange bond with nature.He hated it when someone as much as twisted a
branch out of a dying tree.He also had a streak of wrecklessness that did not stop him from going out to explore the reserve at night.It helped that his father was the Range Officer and he could easily escape from his ground floor room at the bunglow..

He quickly folded his belongings up noiselessly and moved into a bush..He spotted eight torches and another man with the spotlight.He was still carrying on with his act.Must be some sort of a signal,Rajnish reasoned.But to whom?Before long,he had his answer.The tenth musketeer made his way into the group.Like others,he had his face covered with a cloth,but something about his build and walking made Rajnish feel uncomfortable.There was something familiar about it all.
A hush descended on the group as the man came up.Must be the leader.
Rajnish considered his options.He could go back to his bungalow and tell his father.But that would involve having to go forward towards the men.Even though he would be out of their line of vision,it was not a risk he fancied.The other option was going backwards to the nearest watch-tower.He was confident he could make the distance in three minutes,but would the men still be there when he returned with help?
Rajnish decided to wait for the right moment.

The poachers were speaking in signals.Suddenly they started spreading out,moving towards the pond.Ofcourse,thought Rajnish,they will wait beside the pond.The place where they could be sure the one-horned rhino would turn up during the night.He shuddered.He must get to the watch-tower before something happened.Noiselessly he made his way out of the bush.He was just about to start sprinting when catching his legs in a loose branch he fell with a thud.He let out a yelp of pain,and realized immediately what he had done.He could hear the men running after him even as he made his way up.A voice rang out in the silence of the night.
“Get him!”
Must be the leader.There was a tone of order in his voice.Then,in a moment of chilling realization,Rajnish suddenly knew why the build and walking had looked familiar.
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Rajnish fell with a thud on the ground.He had just picked himself up when a bullet ripped through him..Then another.
The men rushed to where the boy lay dead.When the leader came up and saw the body,he let out an involuntary howl.

The Proud Father

Many of you might already have read this story from the link on the right side of the blog.Those who haven’t here’s something from the archives!The one that started it all so to speak!Have been a little busy over the past week,but regular posts coming up from tomorrow!

**The Proud Father**
Reach for the stars…That’s what Col.Dasgupta had always wanted his son to do…After many disappointments, his son had achieved something he could be proud of.

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I HATE MY FATHER.
Maybe I should refer to him as Col.Dasgupta as he pompously calls himself. My aunt told me that the first thing my father said (grumbled would perhaps be more like it) on seeing me after my birth was,
“He doesn’t look healthy enough..It seems I will have to give up the dream of having a son in the army.”
For once he was dead right too. Growing up, I remained the thin unhealthy Rohit Dasgupta I was born as; and with both my elder siblings being sisters, there didn’t seem to be much hope in his dreams. But then the colonel wasn’t the type who gave up easily. While other boys of my age were awoken up lovingly by their mothers, being told they were getting late for school, I would be shoved out of my bed by the Indianized version of Herr Hitler and pushed to the wash-basin.
“What did I do to get such a lazy son?” he would say everyday. Almost made me wonder if he just switched on a recorded tape somewhere. ”It’s 5 in the morning and you are still sleeping! Brush your teeth and come down fast,” he continued,”we must do some body-building exercise before you go to school.”

An injury had long since stopped his postings in the field so all he had was a desk job at Fort William, and of course the self appointed job as my trainer. If you make a ten year old boy exercise like an army jawan, he is bound to collapse someday. When that boy is both as weak and unfit as I was, that would happen sooner rather than later, and one day while walking to school, collapse I did! I had to be hospitalized, and even in that condition, I swear I almost hugged the doctor when he said, “Rohit should avoid all types of strenuous exercises”.

The torture stopped. Though we never talked much anyway, now, with his job as my ‘trainer’ standing terminated, even the minimum came to a nought..Not that he let go of opportunities to take potshots at my perceived ‘softness’. “There!,”he would say,”While Mukherji’s son is playing cricket in the field,my son is reading Shakespeare!”I didn’t bother to correct him by saying that I had moved on to Maupassant.Besides, the only French he would have known is Napoleon! You get my point.

Through all this, the only thing that made life liveable was the presence of my mother. She was a saint if ever there was one..I remember wondering how she could have loved the colonel so much so that she married him! Then again, wasn’t it more surprising that my father spared his time to love someone? Love, as they say, is a strange thing! I knew my mother hated the way her husband was treating her son, but she knew better than trying to correct the colonel’s ways. As soon as she sensed that I liked reading books, it was as if she took an oath to never keep me waiting for a new book. From Blyton to Sheldon, she led me into a world that helped me keep my mind away from my problems with my father.
And then, one fine day, she left me…mowed down by a truck. Believe it or not, it was, what else, but an army truck carrying jawans.That night while I lay sobbing in a corner of my room,Col.Dasgupta comes in, cool as ever, and says,
“Come now! Bear it like a man should..Why are you crying like a fool? It must have been your mother’s fault…She should have realized that the army truck was in a hurry and let it pass by before crossing..”
I couldn’t believe the man! How can he, someone who loved(supposedly, anyway) her be so idiotic and cold-hearted at the same time? But then, that was the colonel all over. No matter what, you couldn’t make him utter a word against the army…Somehow I controlled the urge to hit him. The last thing he said before leaving was,
“You disappoint me Rohit.”
Looking back, maybe I should have gone with the flow and hit him…

Life slowly returned to normal, or as normal as it could be with no mother in your house and a Hitler walking around in your drawing room.
It was around this time that the bug bit my father. The bug that bites every Indian parent alive…Yes, the IIT bug! While on a morning walk one day, he met one of his army friends and the man told (make that boasted ) him that his son had cracked the IITJEE.Suddenly my father found something to hold on to. As I have always maintained, there never was method to my father’s madness. So what if his son wasn’t good enough for the army, maybe he could get into one of the best engineering institutes of the country…He gave up on his walk for that day and shook me awake on returning home. I almost went towards the basin on reflex ,thinking that the torture was to begin again, when he said, “How have your results been like?”
Now, if I have been able to give you even the slightest of ideas about my father you would know that this question was as surprising as snow in Timbaktoo!Still wondering what might have brought about this sudden interest in academics, I gave him the half-yearly report card. After he had seen it for a full five minutes, the colonel spoke again,
“How did you get such low marks( for the record I got 89) in maths? You better improve fast.I want you to get into an IIT and this time I don’t want any excuse Rohit.”
Before i could croak out a yes,he had left.He knew I didn’t have it in me to go against him.l hated myself for this.

I HATE MY FATHER.

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I could barely believe the transformation in the colonel.The very man who would nod absent-mindedely when my mother told him about my good results now started taking me to tuitions! The minimum conversations continued though…Sometimes he would say,”Did you pay attention?” to which I would mumble an affirmative; and sometimes it would be “Did you get the highest this time?” to which I would generally mumble a negative. To this he would deliver his stock dialogue, “You will disappoint me again.”He never bothered about asking my actual marks and I never bothered about telling him either, though most of the times it was just a few marks short of the highest.It wouldn’t matter.To him finishing second was as good as finishing second from last.

Results day at school now became as ominous as our body building sessions.That, inspite of the fact that I was generally in the top-3 of the class and the teachers had nothing but good things to say about me..Whenever I came second or third he would call me up as soon as he came out of the school gate, not of course to share his happiness, but to express his ‘disappointment’. I would then get ready for a round of flogging. Yes, I was perhaps the only boy in India who got beaten up because he had missed the first place by a whisker (but again, you never know, do you? Ours is a huge country!).The couple of times I did manage to come first, there would be no agitated calls from the colonel. He would come home, give me the report card and go to his room. No words of praise, encouragement..forget a pat, not even a smile(it’s strange but I never remember a moment in which his poker-face broke into a smile!)

I had learnt to live with it..It helped that this time we had a common aim. I did want to get into an IIT,and somehow I managed not to get disturbed with his methods(I guess I am a tough nut after all!).The beatings continued, but then, as I said, you learn to live with it….

Today is the day. The IITJEE results will be put up on the internet at noon. The colonel had left for the cyber-cafe an hour in advance…The only thing he told me at the breakfast table was, “Hope you get in son. It’s time you deliver.” It was then that I made the decision I had been considering ever since I was a thirteen year old boy whose mother had just passed away.
The colonel had of course asked if I wanted to go along, but I declined and he didn’t insist. Thankfully. I was confident of making it, but so were thousands of others students. As I said, ours is a huge country! I knew if I didn’t get in the colonel would ring me up immediately. This time, however, I wouldn’t let him beat me…I had other plans..All good things come to an end colonel.

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The mobile flashed….”baba calling”.

Rohit reached for the bottle of rat poison…
In the cyber-cafe, few hundred metres away, Col.Dasgupta wondered why his son wasn’t answering the call. He was a proud man today…In a monitor screen in front of him was written,
ROHIT DASGUPTA.
QUALIFIED.
RANK-00036.

Quickies #8.

The First Time
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The excitement had given way to a lull,even tiredness. She was sitting in the marriage hall surrounded by her cousins and aunts. Her younger cousins were chatting away while the aunts were busy gossiping.Planning what to wear and more importantly what they thought others should wear for the reception.
“So”, began one of her aunts,”Ready for tonight?”.
At this cue, the other women started shooing the kids away. This talk was not meant for their ears. The new bride lowered her eyes and pretended not to understand.
“You know, it’s going to be your first night. I am going to tell you something important”,the older lady proceeded.
So this is going to be sex education, the bride thought, bring it on.

“You all are far advanced from our times,you must be knowing what happens on the first night?”, another aunt quizzed.
The newly-wed,utterly embarrassed,stayed silent.She was thinking about that time,on her tenth birthday,when that same aunt’s husband had put his hands up her skirt. It went on for months. She remembered the time the old man had pressed himself on her in the crowded bus.She had always avoided crowds from that day.She recalled the day the lab attendant had exposed himself to her at the empty college lab. She pushed the thoughts away. The aunt was now giving her a detailed lecture accompanied by giggles and chuckles all around.She wondered if they had the same experiences she had before their ‘first time’…

making sense.

“Mr.Gupta,Mr.Gupta! Come back here I request you for god’s sake!”
But Mr.Gupta swings his head like a pendulum, apparently to say no and keeps walking towards the huge front gates, staggering and swaying to keep balance. I hold back my urge to shout again and run after him. Moments later, standing and staring into his drooping, yet excitingly childish eyes, I feel helpless like never before. He reminds me of how incapable I am to help him. He is panting, groping for breath, straining his lungs for some air. Walks too hard for his age I guess.

“Where were you headed Mr. Cherry Head?”, I ask him trying to smile.He lets his lips widen into a happy arc and leak out a sudden little bout of laughter, hearing the words ‘Cherry Head’. His red, although scanty hair were a matter of amusement for all.Mr.Gupta had made a lot of friends over the time that he had been staying here, some because of his cherry-red hair, and some with his famous ’bouts of laughter’.
“My daughter! She called me yesterday! She asked me to meet her at The Square.”, he said, with a mixture of surprised happiness and urgency on his face.
I tried hard to nod to him in agreement and said,
“Yes Mr.Gupta, I know she called. And she is already here today!Waiting for you in the hall as we speak!Ah, she’ll be so happy to see you! Lets walk back, she has been waiting for you for a long time now”

..
Mr.Gupta had been a successful man in his life. A furniture business that spread to nearby towns, a magnificient two storey house with a small garden in the frontyard, a saintly wife and a strikingly beautiful daughter.Even her marriage with his son-in-law Rahul had been a success.And then the fates turned.
Just when you think you have everything,life brings you back to nothing.His daughter Saira, and Rahul were on their way to the hospital to take her pregnancy report when they died in a car pile-up.
The reports had been positive.
Constraint is possibly the greatest virtue in life. And Mr.Gupta was a victim of the lack of it. This jolt sucked all sanity out of Mr. Gupta and he had to be admitted to the same hospital where his daughter was brought in dead.
Sleeping on the soft white bed of his hospital ward, he looked perfectly healthy, and his face so resolved of all worries, devoid of any thought or complication. Three days later he was shifted here, among other inmates, who all shared one common trait.
He had been declared insane.

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We walked together towards the compound, where no one was waiting for him, not his daughter, nor anyone else. But it wouldn’t matter. Before even reaching the compound, he would forget every second of the day that had passed.

These are not mad people, Mr. Gupta and the others.They are just living somewhere else, somewhere inside their minds, far away from the world outside.
And I make sense of their nonsense.

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Also,Diana from ” A Beginner ” recently nominated me for three awards;two of which I already have!Nonetheless,”thank you”s are in order and I am glad that the stuff in my blog is getting appreciated!Speaking of appreciation,A Beginner is a blog you must stop by if you haven’t already.
A Beginner
Thank you again Diana!

From Diana

Fate.

It was past midnight.
The streets of Calcutta bore a deserted look. In a corner of Central Avenue a child cried alone in a basket originally meant for fruits. A car passing by screeched to halt on spotting the basket.Ayon and Rhea were returning from another of those meaningless parties they went to in an attempt to mask their sadness. Their first child was stillborn. A year later they still could not bring themselves to try again. The room they had decorated for the happiness of their lives lay uncared for in their home. How happy they had been in those nine months-planning,debating on names,even fighting over the school the child should go to.They had settled for Rahul if it was a boy and Raina if it was a girl.They never got around to deciding the school…
Not many lights were on in the houses nearby.They looked at each other and the decision was made.Rhea picked up the child and cuddled it. It felt as if it was their own child. They left the place with the girl in the car.Raina.
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One window on the 3rd floor of a building in Sonargachi.
Neelam,a sex worker in one of Asia’s largest red-light areas went on crying till she finally fell asleep. The most peaceful sleep she ever had. Her daughter wouldn’t have to live Neelam’s life.No matter where the girl ended up,she wouldn’t have the same fate as her mother’s.