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My book "Sorry... Again???" is available for free download on Amazon


My book "Sorry... Again??? - Can he purge his sins?" is free for today on Amazon. Don't miss this one time opportunity to download the book for free. 


You can download this book from here : Amazon.in (its free free free for three days :))

You can view the details of the book from its Goodreads page from here: goodreads.com (I am on top of the world with the feedback I am getting :))

Don't forget to like its Facebook page as well: Sorry.Again


Sid is the inevitable effect of what a small town upbringing brings to the city life. A self-confessed “unromantic”, somewhere in his simple exterior lies a weak preacher, whose yardsticks of life change radically when the unpredictability of life starts experimenting with him. 

Anushka, armed with her unselfconscious beauty and poisons imbued into her life, has declared war on the world of men from a young age.

Their romance, even after her protest, is ignited by a train robbery that becomes unforgettable for reasons other than the robbery, catches the warmth because of an adolescent romance that reaches consummation, but remains within the periphery because of a live-in relationship that is on the verge of break-up. 



They fall in love, but somebody is not happy with their relationship. Sid is threatened. Will he rise above his fear this time?

Awaiting your feedback and reviews.

A Number on a Piece of Paper


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 46; the forty-sixth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
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Before you start reading this short story, a few words about my novel. "Sorry... Again??? - Can he purge his sins?"  A romantic thriller that defines love with different perspectives. Visit Amazon.in for details.
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The lucidity of the sky in the night would give an impression that the moon had made a formation of stars to descend on the roof of the earth and embrace its beauty forever. Even animals and insects would show their respect to the serenity of the night.  At the crack of the dawn, the smoke emitted from the chimneys of the houses would rise in the sky, mingle with the mist, form different shapes, and then disappear with the cold wind taking them away to a different destination. As the sunrays would titillate during the day, the glistening skin would smile as if it has just received a new lease of life.
*
Hidden behind the hazy sky, the moon would arrogantly walk in the sky, feeling proud of its tranquillity, while the gunshots pierced the silence of the night on the roof of the earth. The thick smoke, emitted out of a houses slowly turning into ashes, would overshadow the mist, fight with the wind, and make a layer in the sky. The body would shiver with fear and the spine would hurt with continuous alertness for survival.
*
Ananda had experienced both, while the memories of the former slowly faded away; the latter remained as a nightmare. He was not expecting that a seventy-two year old mind would remember everything, but he was saddened as to why only those memories that at times brought smile on his face slowly evaporated. He had been stuck on a particular page of the book called life. In the quest of life, when the things at times becomes meaningless, everybody hopes that one day the page will turn and the life will throw something new. But for Ananda, life had been harsh. Deracinated long back, he had stopped counting the years now, but it must have been around fifty years since he last breathed the unpolluted air that blessed him after being filtered through the mountains, floating above the uncontaminated water of the lakes, and finally brushing the edelweiss grown in his backyard. 
***
In 1959, while the winter was still resistant and the summer was yet to cement its foot, Ananda received the much awaited knock at his door at the crack of the dawn. The twenty-three year old agile body of Ananda swung up from bed and moved firmly towards the door. The unsettled waves of thought hurtling inside his mind for the past few days finally matured and started nurturing a dream, a dream to see Free Tibet. 

He opened the door and two men with their head covered by the woollen shawl entered. One man closed the door behind his back and stood there while the other one walked a little ahead but stopped at the site of a packed travel beg lying alongside the bed.

‘Oh! You are ready!’ He said with a big smile on his face. ‘I had thought that you will need some more time. We are proud of your decision. Welcome.’ He stepped forward and hugged Ananda. The firmness in Ananda's embrace exhibited the power and determination he had garnered in last few days.

A few days back Ananda had attended a congregation having religious pretext where the discussion mainly revolved around the freedom struggle. Ananda was a silent spectator. After the congregation was over, two people approached him.

‘Can we talk something important?’ One of them asked with a straight face. Ananda was surprised, he couldn’t recognise them, but before he could have reacted, one of them pulled him inside a room. The room was very small with just a bed and a large metal trunk. Just above the bed, a flag having two swords with yellow background decorated the wall. Ananda knew the significance of the flag. The flag belonged to the Chushi Gangdruk Defend Tibet Volunteer Force, which had only one objective, to throw the Chinese out of Tibet. "Chushi Gangdruk" is a Tibetan phrase which means "land of four rivers and six ranges" referring mainly to Amdo and Kham region of Tibet.

‘I don’t think we need to introduce ourselves anymore.’ One of the men said. ‘We need people. You look strong. You can be trained to the highest level; we want you to join the group.’

Ananda was speechless and confused. He had never thought he would be directly involved in the freedom struggle. He always believed that a few Tibetans couldn’t drive out the ruthless Chinese, who outnumbered them.

The men watching him carefully could read his face. One of them came and patted on his shoulder and asked him to sit on the bed. With hesitation, Ananda followed him. The other man opened the trunk, took out a book, and handed it over to Ananda.

‘We are leaving you hear for a few hours, with a hope that you will also be able to see the same dream... The dream we are living with ... day and night.’ One of them said and they left the room.

Alone in the room Ananda kept watching towards the door for some time. He weighed the idea to walk away from there. He didn’t belong to this place. He was just a labourer, working for last four years, in the large field illicitly acquired by a Chinese after 1951. He was the sole bread earner of the family of four including him. His father was partially paralysed after he slipped on the mountains on a rainy day. His mother contributed marginally by growing vegetables in the backyard. And his sister younger than him, confined within the walls of the house, spent the life under the continuous fear of Chinese. No, his situation didn’t warrant him to jump into the freedom struggle risking the future of his family.

Ananda eyes fell on the cover of the book, a Chinese was holding a gun on the head of a Tibetan monk. The patriot in him made him turn the cover, and as he turned more pages, the persistent anger fuelled by the contents of the book, which depicted, with words and pictures, the Chinese massacre, and attack on the monasteries in their motherland, heated the blood inside his body. A tightly clenched fist landed on the bed, this was the only way he could have vented his anger at that moment. Within a few seconds, the two men entered the room. The heat emitting from Ananda’s red eyes, hinted the success of their mission.
‘Keep your energy saved for the Chinese.’ One of them said. ‘You are an asset for us.’
‘I have a family to manage.’ Ananda finally spoke.
‘The whole Tibet is our family. Can’t you see the suffering of our brother and sisters?’
‘But...’
‘Dont worry, we have people here who will take care of the basic needs while you will be on the training.’
‘Training?’
‘Yes, Training. We cannot fight against the Chinese like this. We are carefully selecting people to send them to USA, you will be trained by their CIA. I have heard that the training facility at Camp Hale in Colorado is really good... They take good care of our people.’
‘I don’t want to go outside my homeland. I have never stayed away from my family.’
‘Everybody among us has made some sacrifices. We don’t have option, Do we?... Do you want our future generation to live like this?’ The firmness in the man’s voice had increased. Ananda couldn’t find a word to reply.
‘Give me some time.’ Ananda said before leaving the room.
***
Within one month in Camp Hale, Ananda received the news that the Chinese had attacked Dalai Lama and his Government had been dissolved. The Dalai Lama had to take refuge in India, and he was running a Government in exile.

Ananda was getting restless. The rigorous training procedures and the continuous feeding of Anti-Chinese tirades were slowly turning him inhumane. He was seeking blood; blood of the Chinese splattered on the ground and purify the soil of his motherland.

After six months when Ananda was air dropped by a parachute inside Tibet along with nine other guerrillas, he saw increase of Chinese dominance in Tibet. He was not allowed to visit his family. The guerrilla warfare continued for a few days and Ananda could realise his dream of seeing Chinese blood on the soil, but the satisfaction was short lived. Chinese overpowered them in no time and eight people from his group were brutally killed. Unknown of the whereabouts of the other survivor Ananda spent three days hiding inside a large stack of timber, infringed by termites slowly eating away the wood, in an abandoned timber yard. For those three days, he could keep himself away from engaging in direct combat with the Chinese, but he could not surpass the internal conflict rising with every passing moment. He was right when he had thought that a few Tibetans could never pose a threat to the Chinese. He had not seen his family for many months now. The last he had heard was that during the combing operation of the Chinese in search of guerrilla fighters, many houses in his small village were burned. He was not sure if his family was still alive and waiting for him. As far as he knew, he was the only person selected as a guerrilla fighter from his village. Was he responsible for the devastation of the entire village? Physically he was on the verge of a collapse and mentally he had already surrendered. But somewhere a small thought was still protesting inside his mind. Was his life worst than a termite? Hidden inside the cavities, the termites were eating the wood much larger than their own existence, and within a few days, the wood would be untraceable.

The Chinese Army had already marginalised an earlier attempt of the Chushi Gangdruk volunteers, and they already had information about this second batch. The fourth morning, Ananda woke up with the screaming of Chinese. Holding a gun in one hand and fire torch in other, they were setting the yard on fire. Suffocated by the smoke, Ananda had to come out to face the Chinese, who were waiting for him with the dead body of the other survivor smudged in blood and soil.

Profoundly fed yet the thirsty guns targeted towards him were waiting for a small command from the sinful yet remorseless hands of the Chinese. The end was evident but the survival instinct coupled with his understanding of the debility of the half-burnt timber stack that lay unattended for many days, pushed him to search for an opportunity.  He took a large log in his hands, swung it with enormous pace hitting it hard on a stack. The stack trembled and large logs, still burning, started rolling towards the Chinese. Their guns started growling. Ananda took cover of the stacks and ran towards the far corner of the yard. He climbed on the last stack still unburned and jumped outside the yard into the forest downhill. The dejected Chinese guns were still firing towards him and he was rolling amidst the bushes and trees until his fall was broken by a rock. He was out of the range of the Chinese. He opened his eyes to the piercing sunrays. His head was about the burst with unbearable pain. He lost his consciousness.
***
For almost fifty years now, Ananda, the monk, was serving the temple in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, the first Tibetan refugee settlement in India. He was miles away from his root. Ananda faintly remembered that after dodging the Chinese when he opened his eyes, he was a part of a migrating troop, who had already crossed the border. He was in pain, a metal piece was knocking strongly at the corridors of his brain, and the sword of separation from his family and his motherland was piercing through his heart.

In Bylakuppe, people looked at him with respect and amusement, a person, a freedom fighter, surviving for so many years with a bullet still stuck inside his head was more than a miracle.

From freedom fighter to a monk was not an easy transformation for Ananda, but the disturbing reference of a freedom fighter killed a bit of his heart every time. The thought of the termite was already eating his brain slowly. Ananda had to take asylum at the doorstep of God.

As the years progressed, the hurt of separation subsided. The continuing Tibetan struggle reached him at regular intervals. The thought of going back to his root crossed his mind many a times, but something unknown, not fear, perhaps guilt, restrained him every time. He never set his foot outside the monastery.

In 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, when the large-scale Tibetan uprising erupted, which also captured the interest of monks residing outside Tibet, Ananda could not hold onto his emotions. A march by foot was planned by monks from India to Tibet, as a protest against the Chinese. The thought of going back to his motherland sent zesty waves inside his body. He was skeptical,  but perhaps he might find reminiscent of his family. His tired old brain started weaving many dreams, very unrealistic considering the prevalent scenario, but that didn’t deter him.

Ananda started his journey with an enthusiasm and a determination that his dead body should receive sky burial in Tibet rather than being cremated in India where he was a just a refugee, where the life was recorded as a number on a piece of paper called registration certificate that needed to be renewed every year.

Just before he could have joined the group to start the march, he collapsed on the ground. Drenched in sweat and holding his head tightly with his hands, he unsuccessfully fought his last battle. The loyal Chinese bullet finally woke up and did its job, years after it was actually destined to. A life, which made unfulfilled promises to his family and then to his motherland, was lived as a mere number far away from his beautiful roots and when the end approached even his motherland refused to accept him.
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If you like my stories, you will also like my novel, "Sorry... Again??? - Can he purge his sins?". Read the excerpt of the book here.
If you want to review the book in your blog, please leave your mail ID in your comment. I moderate my comments :)
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Sorry... Again??? - Can he purge his Sins? - Excerpt II

Did you miss to read the earlier excerpt, click here to read from the beginning.

Suddenly the traffic moved a few meters and it gave the Taxiwalla an opportunity to show his skills. He changed the root and drove as if he would be asked to pay for the differential cost of the tickets if he were to reach late. Continuous cursing of the city was now replaced by my silent prayers and genuine appreciation for the Taxiwalla.
Nothing worked, I reached the airport only half-an-hour before the scheduled departure, fifteen minutes short of mandatory forty-five minutes. I was stopped at the entry by a grave looking CRPF person. I pleaded before him to check with the airline officials to explore any possibility but all my pleas fell on deaf ears. For a moment, I even weighed the idea of running inside directly to some airline official, but looking at the CRPF people around, I had to restrain myself. Even a casual slap by them inadvertently landing on my tender cheeks would have created ripples inside my brain, sufficient enough to send me back to the days of infancy where I had to learn the intricacies of balancing myself to walk again, forget running. Apart from my height of 5’11” that could come close to the security personnel; I had a normal kind of a body, a bit of extra fat, not prominently visible though. I hardly believed in going to workouts and gym because they were sort of enemies to my biggest love and passion, sleeping.
I desperately looked around in search of a senior officer. My eyes fell on a man with his big moustache screaming his seniority. The theory may not always work because my doodhwala had a bigger moustache than he did. But this man was continuously staring at a scantily dressed woman instead of finding a potential threat in the airport. Don’t all bosses in the world leave the dirty job onto their juniors?
After looking at my identity card, he called some airline official on his walky-talky. I was waiting anxiously; the entire procedure had already killed around ten minutes so technically the boarding must have been completed by now.
A nicely decorated lady came and spoke to the security person and he directed her towards me. I was praying for the delay of the flight.
‘Which flight, Sir?’ The lady inquired.
‘Bangalore.’ 
‘I think the boarding is over for Bangalore, anyway, please come.’ She said and I wistfully followed her. I was taken to the check-in counter.
‘Sorry Mr. Siddharth, but the boarding is, perhaps, over. The flight had been delayed a bit, if you could have come even 10 minutes earlier, it could have made a difference.’ The lady at the counter looked at my ticket and politely informed.
A tight slap on the face of the security personnel could have consoled me enormously. Another whimsical thought, yet I shifted my gaze towards the gate, the Guard was looking towards me. I was fortunate that the technology is yet to reach to a level where he could have read my mind.
‘You said the flight had been delayed, can you just check again.’ I asked.
‘Okay Sir, let me check again.’ The lady said with a smile. I silently appreciated her professionalism; her smile was hiding the agony of not getting the salary for three months, yet the placard on her desk was arrogantly saying “King of Good Times”
‘Sir, you seem to be lucky today; you can board the flight.’ She said with the same smiling face. ‘She will accompany you till the security check.’ She said pointing towards the other lady with the boarding pass in her hand. I thanked her twice before leaving the counter. I was later informed that a politician was also travelling in the same flight and he was late as well, so the latch of the plane was still open. Politicians do serve us sometimes.
*
The flight landed in Bangalore after hovering in the sky for around fifteen minutes due to congestion. The excitement of meeting Aakash after years tinged with the faint feeling of insecurity arising due to the change of place, made me a bit restless. I left my seat even before the flight came off the main runway. Everybody else was glued to their seats with their seatbelts still fastened. I refrained myself from looking towards the airhostess sitting close to the rear exit to avoid her berating gaze. Soon the airplane became motionless and all those who were calmly sitting, all of a sudden, appeared restless and started filling the aisle. A few of them, especially women, had still not left their seats. The deplaning was happening through the aero-bridge connected to the front latch, so I was among the last few to exit. As the people started exiting, those who were still occupying their seats slowly became part of the flow.
An unexpected glimpse of a known face – forgotten for a long time - at the front exhilarated my senses for a few second. It was difficult to believe what I saw. I haphazardly shuffled my head to confirm but I couldn’t see that face again. Was I hallucinating? My eyes refused to accept the hypothesis of hallucination, not, at least, with that face, so they restlessly searched every nooks and corner of the Airport. Outside the main Airport building, I saw Aakash waving towards me. Instead of waving him back, I turned my head and unsuccessfully searched for that face again. Yes, perhaps, I was hallucinating.
Aakash shrugged questioningly. I shook my head.
We hugged each other. Words ceased to exist, the past shrunk and the memories extraneous to our togetherness evaporated. Those few seconds compensated for the hiatus of the last two years.
‘How are you?’ He asked. I weakly smiled. He actually knew how I was. He patted on my shoulder and twisted the question, ‘how’s the flight?’ I simply nodded. He guided me towards the parking. His car, a recently launched premium hatchback, was handsomely parked in the parking lot.
‘How’s Neha?’ was my first question after we drove for a long time in silence.
‘You’re yet to ask about me.’ he grinned. Neha was Aakash’s girlfriend for three years now. Aren’t the girlfriends placed higher on the priority list? I smiled and shook my head.
‘She’s… Good... and so am I.’ Aakash said after some time. The pause between the words should have bothered me, but I was already preoccupied with my own thoughts, I ignored it. ‘Were you expecting somebody else as well in the Airport?’ He asked next.
‘I think I saw Mallika in the flight.’ I replied.
‘Who?... oh that girl you met in the train. Right?’ Aakash said and started laughing. ‘You have started day dreaming about her once again, it’s almost three years now if I am not wrong’. He continued with his irritating laugh and the topic succumbed behind it.

Chapter 2.

Contrasting Shades of the Past

  
We reached Aakash’s flat after one and half hours of the drive. When I had informed Aakash about my transfer, I had also told him with an authority that I would be staying with him and even before Aakash could have responded, the decision was sealed. At times when we impose our authority, self-assumed out of a relationship, we ignore the compulsions the other person might be having. It was my mistake. I also ignored the fact, which I shouldn’t have, that Neha called up Aakash while we were still on our way from the airport but she didn’t talk to me, even though we had spoken many times in the past.
The two bedrooms flat was fairly big for a bachelor like Aakash but what surprised me most was the way it was maintained. Everything was nicely arranged, so contrary to my own expectation, bigoted by the way we had stayed in the past. Beer bottles would greet the visitors in our room. We had showcased the beer bottles of all the brands that savoured our taste buds in the place meant for footwear. Many half cut pet bottles of cold drinks, one-quarter filled up with sand, served the purpose of ashtrays, and were placed at all strategic locations for easy accessibility from anywhere in the room. Neglected stacks of newspaper lay at different places and a porn magazine warmed each pillow. We hardly believed in those two words, “clean” and “arranged”. During Deepavali when we would clean the house and arrange the things in a proper way, we would remain sick and lacked concentration until the room regained its normal convenient state.
The last few years had certainly changed Aakash. The size of the flat would also have surprised me had I not known his family background. I was staying in Kolkata in a single bedroom flat with bare minimum furniture and a television. It took me just two days to find a buyer to dispose all my belongings. However, Aakash had proper beds in both the bedrooms, a 4-chair dining table in the dining area, a TV and a DVD player decorated the living room along with a big, stylish and an expensive looking couch.
*
I was standing in the middle of a large barren land. I looked around; nothing was visible till the distance the eyesight could travel, nothing at all, not a single tree, not even a small patch of greenery on the ground, no construction, not even a small stone. The cracks on the land were large enough to gobble a human without a trace.  
A sand storm at a distance on my left was approaching me. I took a few steps back and before I could have reacted any further, the sand storm converted itself into a large tornado, extended itself beyond the clouds in the sky and started absorbing the clouds within. Slowly the clouds, whirling inside, started changing their colour. It gave the impression of a large shadow of a human face, completely dark. Suddenly the tornado died, the sand settled on the ground but the shadow was still floating. It started approaching me. Scared of it, I started running away. I ran as fast as I could have. I looked back intermittently, the shadow was still following, and the distance between us was reducing. I tried to increase my speed but I couldn’t. I was getting tired and profusely sweating.
After some time I could hear a female laughing loudly. It was she. I fell on the ground, my face hit hard on the surface. With my face completely smeared with sand and blood rolling down my nose, I turned back and looked towards the sky. The sunrays piercing through my eyes nearly blinded me. I closed my eyes. I could perceive her face, she was laughing, louder now. Unable to bear that I tried to open my eyes but the sunrays stopped me. Her laugh subsided slowly.
‘From whom are you running away Sid? From me?’ She said. ‘You can never run away from me... your own past Sid. Look at the shadow, its dark. Doesn’t it resemble your past?’ She paused.
‘Sid!’
I tried to open my eyes but failed.
‘Do you think you can bury me under a sheet of paper? Do you think you can leave me behind and move ahead? No, you can’t... You can’t leave me, ever. I am your past, darker than your imagination.’ She continued.
‘Sid!’
She started laughing, louder this time. I tried to close my ears with my hand but the volume of the voice rose to an extent that they could burst my ears.
‘Sid!’
I suddenly opened my eyes. Standing beside my bed, Aakash was shouting my name.
‘Look at you.’ He said. I was completely drenched in my own sweat. ‘Nightmare?... Was it her?’ He asked. I nodded. He took few steps towards a chair, pulled it close to the bed, and sat. I slouched against the wall.
‘Years back you had told me something, let me repeat that for you today.’ He said. ‘“It’s important that you should refer your past so that you don’t repeat the same mistake, but you should not continuously keep the spotlight on a particular incident otherwise its shadow will grow and one day it will become so large that it will eclipse your present.” This you told me years back when it was difficult for me to understand. We have grown and now I understand each and every word, but you have forgotten.’ He shook his head and took my hand in his hands. ‘You are matured, far matured. Let’s change everything for the good, once again. ’ He concluded.  
*
Relocation, a horrifying nightmare, and my thought frequently wandering through the unpleasant past, it was very difficult to dismiss everything, but within a few days, the nostalgia of meeting Aakash picked up and overshadowed everything else. We spent many nights, in the company of a glass in our hand and a cigarette tucked between our lips, removing the rust from the decaying memories of our beautiful past. Memories, even though irrelevant and undeserving, embraced and titillated us.
It wasn’t very difficult on the professional front either. I was working in the same company where I knew many people by their voice, even though I hadn’t met most of them. I was given a team of three people two boys, Shravan and Rajeev, and a girl, Niharika. Niharika was good-looking and smart and it didn’t take me long to gauge that she would be crucial if I wanted to achieve my business targets.
*
There were very few things where Aakash and I had contrasting tastes. Sci-fi Movies and Burgers were Aakash’s way of paying tribute to the country he loved - America, but for me they were torture to my brain and mouth. I could never understand sci-fi movies even though I tried. If you are struggling to resolve the toughest puzzle called life, who cares about the complicated and imaginary future or the extinct animals. And, Burgers are like a layer of chicken cooked in a strange manner and placed between two pieces of bun, and while eating you have to open your mouth so wide that the mosquitoes of the entire world can take a voyage inside your mouth to explore the unfamiliar territories without getting stuck into your saliva. But it always happened that both the bombs would explode on my head in the same evening, that Friday was one such evening. The TGIF phenomenon had flown outside the window without any trace when Aakash informed me that he had already bought two tickets of the night show in a nearby multiplex of a recently released sci-fi thriller. To top that up, he had already finalised the menu of the food we would be having before entering the theatre - Burger.
We entered the food court, Aakash headed directly towards the Burger joint and I started searching for an empty table. A table at a distance was occupied by a few girls. Had this been a few months back, I would have bet my life to grab the adjacent table. Girls were the most thought about things, for a “small town boy” like me, and if you have studied in an all boys’ school, then 90% of your thought processes would remain engaged with one topic - girls.
I looked around the food court and then looked back towards the girls. What was the harm in sitting on an adjacent table? Watching the girls seemed far better an option than watching Aakash and eating Burger, but there was no table vacant. While I was still searching for a table, the girls started vacating their table, so I finally occupied the same one.
As if it had revolted against the suffocating labyrinthine bag and its owner’s proclivity to overspend, a credit card holder was unsuccessfully hiding between two chairs. The mild pink colour of the holder was screaming that it belonged to a girl. I picked it up and looked towards the way the girls had gone. They weren’t visible anymore. The gentleman inside me was still alive, I started walking towards the exit. I crossed the washrooms and reached the escalator and looked down, they weren’t there. I looked towards the burger joint, Aakash was still in the queue, so I decided to go down and check. I was about to take the escalator when I heard giggling of girls coming out of the washroom. I turned back. From the colour of their dresses, I could guess that they might be the same girls.
‘Excuse me.’ I shouted. My voice was a bit louder than the normal. One of the girls turned back. ‘I think one of you has left this.’ I said stretching my hand holding the wallet.
‘It seems to be a Credit card holder. It’s not mine,’ said one girl who had turned back, but her facial expression screamed, “This is an old technique dude, it won’t work here.” I shrugged. Suddenly a face appeared in the background. A known face, a face that once had remained adrift in my eyes for so long time that it had changed the way I perceived the world. A face that once had penetrated so deep inside my heart that every tissue was mesmerised by her beauty.
I was frozen. I looked into her eyes, the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen, and those dimples on her cheeks, their depth had increased sufficiently for me to lose myself among them. Yes, it was Mallika.
‘It’s mine, thanks a lot. Where did you find it?’ She said and took the holder from my hand. My eyes were glued on her. She gave a strange look. She couldn’t recognise me, or perhaps she could, but she didn’t let her facial expression reveal anything. She looked at her friend and they exchanged some sign language. I don’t know why girls communicate so much with sign language; they don’t want to spend a single moment without speaking if not with the mouth.
I was standing there, numb. Was I hallucinating again?
It appeared so difficult for me to trust my own eyes. I could get my senses back only when she said thanks again and started moving towards the escalator. She was going, yes, she was going, once again.
I wanted to stop her. I raised my hand but could only stammer some alien language. Soon she was lost. I took a few steps towards the escalator when Aakash called my name. I turned towards him; he was standing at a distance, with the burger tray in his hand. I begged for a minute raising my index finger towards him. I descended the escalator, two steps at a time, attracting a few angry eyes. The mall was bustling with TGIF mood, many faces, and numerous expressions, and the face I was looking for was lost among them.
I looked at my watch. Only ten minutes were left for the movie to start. I had two options, One – to keep searching for her, which meant that we might miss the beginning of the movie and if that happens, I ran into the possibility of getting killed by Aakash, or, two - to go upstairs, eat that pathetic burger and watch that idiotic movie. I choose the latter because I didn’t know which way she had gone and more importantly, even though I didn’t love my life in its entirety, I didn’t want it to end by the hands of Aakash. When I reached back, Aakash had already finished half of a burger.
‘You know... I saw her again.’ I murmured breathing heavily.
‘Who?’ Aakash spoke casually without even bothering to look at my face.
‘Mallika.’
I was expecting that he will laugh but he didn’t.
‘Forget about her man, she’s gone long back.’ Aakash spoke, even more casually. 
‘Fuck you man, will you ever take me seriously on this.’ Frustration was speaking for me. I was loud. Aakash looked at me this time. He could sense that I was serious. I hadn’t touched the burger yet.
‘Okay, where?’ He asked. I explained him the entire episode. Impatience was evident on his face, though he didn’t disturb me, he appeared more concerned about the time because we were already late for the movie.
‘Did you check the name on the credit cards inside?’ He asked, without even looking towards me. The question hit me like a bullet. I hadn’t checked. I shook my head.
‘How you can be so sure about her man, you have seen her only once and that too under circumstances, you know better. I am still not sure that you remember her face. You are in Bangalore, miles away from the place where you had seen her... I think you are getting into some adjustment with your past, since bad memories are haunting you; you are now trying to bring out the good memories to counter them... You are looking at things the way you want them to be. Come out... come out of your past.’ He said. With every word the texture of his voice was changing as if at the end of the conversation he’d slap me to remind that the movie was about to start. I remained silent.
We entered the theatre. The movie was yet to start and that sent a sense of contentment on Aakash’s face. Even though I was sitting on my seat during the entire show and my eyes were stuck on the big screen, the images getting transmitted from the screen to my eyes were hardly reaching my brain because they couldn’t override the whirl of thoughts rumbling inside my brain to analyse the entire episode. If you were to work in a Bank, you tend to analyse everything very critically, even if it is a matter related to your heart. Generally, people follow their instinct and they find themselves in a comfortable position but in my case, the analyses had always confused me.
I saw her after so many years, twice within an interval of a few days, but the biggest question was, did I actually see her or because she was always there in my subconscious mind, and now since my brain had suddenly woken up, I had started visualizing every girl as her. The phrase “adjustment with my past” was still nagging. If it was she, why didn’t she recognize me? Had I changed so much during these years that I was not recognizable? No, I hadn’t, I still look the same though the weighing scale had started reading higher numbers.
Actually, you never know, women’s have different logic and interpretations of every situation, so probably she recognised me, but she didn’t want to reveal. But, why would she do something like that? She could have said a “Hi” at least.
It rarely happened that Aakash didn’t like a sci-fi movie, but it was one such rare occasion. He didn’t speak much on our way back. After reaching the flat, he hit the bed without even changing his clothes. How had this guy managed to keep his house in order? The question was still taunting me. As a person, he hadn’t changed but the environment around him had drastically improved, specifically that inside the house.
My eyes refused to welcome sleep. Her face was there, everywhere. It is difficult to erase the memory of a woman written in a man’s mind until it is overwritten by another woman. Somebody had once tried to overwrite, and though to a certain extent that memory had faded away, recent incidents had suddenly scratched the surface of my mind where that memory was engraved to make the script prominent.  

The sneak peak ends here. If you want to read the book, visit  Amazon.com or Amazon.in and download it in your ebook reader, Tablet, Mobile or Laptop and enjoy the thrilling ride. If you don't like it, Money - Back guaranteed :) :)

Publishing My Book - Sorry... Again???

Somebody had told me once, it is easy to write a book but it is extremely difficult for a new writer to get a publisher. It took me around eight months to write my book, except of course the time taken for the editing, but for last two years I was unsuccessfully searching for a publisher. The day I had completed my book the enthusiasm level was very high, when I received extremely positive feedback on it from three people the enthusiasm reached its peak, but with each rejection it started declining. I saw the writer in me dying bit by bit every day. Whenever I felt very depressed, I gave the book to a friend asking them to approach anybody who can be trusted and who can read the book and give feedback. I took feedback from five unknown people and the positive feedback from them kept the decimated hope alive for a few more days. It continued like this for months when I finally realised that there is no taker for my book.

Around three months back I decided to publish my book even if I am asked to pay money to a publisher. I had almost finalised a publisher and the talks had gone to the level of signing the contract, but on the day I was about the sign on the dotted line and remit the money, a realisation dawned upon me. Even though I was paying the money for the publication, I was losing the entire rights on my own work. Somehow I felt like I was signing the adoption paper of my own child. I retracted.

The only available avenue in front of me was Kindle Direct Publishing. So here I am. Finally my book has been published and it is up for sale. You can grab a copy of it here Amazon.com or here Amazon.in.

If you want a sneak peak of my book Click Here

Waiting for your reviews and feedback. 

Sorry... Again???- Can he purge his sins?

Prologue  

At an unearthly hour of 3 a.m, I opened the main door of my flat and came out, nervous and scared. The darkness outside echoed the void inside me. I looked at the opposite door, for a moment I vaguely thought that the door would open and she would come rushing towards me. But no, the excruciating silence of the darkness was only being broken intermittently by the howling of stray dogs at a distance.
I rearranged the laptop backpack hanging from my right shoulder and locked the door. To avoid the untimely rattling of the lift that could have disturbed the silence, I took the stairs. At that moment, walking down four floors demanded adroit coordination of my senses; but my tired eyes staring at the abysmal darkness, the shaking hands holding the balustrade, and the weak legs in continuous search for the steps were disarrayed to offer any support. However, I had picked up one habit, the habit of counting steps, like all other hostel inmates during my graduation. Our apartment building had twenty-one steps on each floor, ten steps in one direction to reach the landing, and then eleven steps in opposite direction to reach the next floor. This old habit offered me the respite. I fumbled at times but I could descend three floors without much of difficulty. Yet with every turn on the stairs, the burden of the guilt was rising.
I took the turn on the ground floor, the penultimate turn before reaching the basement. I descended the first five stairs with ease when the laptop backpack slipped from my shoulder, to control it from falling further down I left the balustrade and raised my hand, but my legs lost the grip on the stairs. Even before I could have realised I was dragged with my back bouncing on each step until I reached the landing. Drenched in sweat I was lying on the stairs, motionless. A few incalcitrant teardrops trickled down my cheeks, I was not hurt, but my entire body was shivering.
I slouched against the wall and rethought about the entire scenario. Whatever I had done was wrong, but whatever I was doing, was even worse. Was this the only option left? I had debated it for a long time but could not arrive at any conclusion.  I cursed myself for what I had done, I cursed myself for what I was doing, but I was helpless. I should have called Bangalore and spoken to him. He had helped me whenever I needed but then it was too late for that as well.
I readjusted the laptop bag on my shoulder, descended the last eleven steps, and reached the basement. The distance to the main gate seemed longer than ever. A security guard appeared from somewhere and came close enough to startle me, I stopped and took a step back, but soon I realised that he was not aware of anything that I was up to. In fact, nobody was aware, not even those who were cautiously sleeping within the confines of the castle lovingly built over a period with bricks of budding dreams. I wished that their chain of breath would weave a firmament strong enough to cocoon their life when the bricks of the castle cave in upon their chest.
‘Taxi, Dada? Where?’ The security guard asked.
‘Airport.’
‘At this time? Which flight? Where are you going, Dada?’ He continued with a smile.
‘Siliguri.’ I replied absent-mindedly but regretted it almost immediately. A sense of fear that was lurking somewhere in the back of my head came to forefront and stared at me from the eyes of the security guard. I should not have revealed my destination. This one mistake could prove critical. Who was he to ask? I didn’t owe him the truth.
The journey to the airport was never so smooth. Negligible traffic on the road, the few vehicles that were plying were not honking, it was not needed during those hours either, but it appeared so unusual in a city like Kolkata. Everything appeared unusual.  The taxi was running at an abnormal speed. The hurling wind collapsing against the half-closed window appeared more violent. I gave a perturbed look at the taxiwala but remained silent. My numb and dry vocal chords refused to support my internal assessment that the taxi needed deceleration.
Ineffectively camouflaged by the transparent veil of cigarette smoke at a corner of the parking lot outside the Airport, I spent an hour continually staring at the board, which said, “Exit towards the Main Road” It raised questions for which I was desperately searching for answers. How difficult would the return journey be for me? Will I ever be able to come back?
I boarded the on-time flight to Bagdogra. The darkness was about to give up when the plane took its course on the runway and rose towards the sky as if to defeat the darkness earlier than it would naturally be by the earth moving on her axis. I was allotted a window seat. The view outside was mesmerising. The airplane was floating above the clouds and the sun was rising in the horizon. It appeared as if the sun had conflagrated the sky, or may be, to celebrate its arrival, the clouds underneath had laid an orange carpet and slowly walking on it, the supreme power rose in the sky and with its every movement it started changing its colour.
On an ordinary day, I would have ignored all the warnings for the flight safety, switched on my phone, and clicked as many pictures as my phone’s memory could have permitted, but it was different that day. Lost in my own haunting thoughts, my vision glazed over with every passing moment. Why did my life take such a bizarre turn? I had warned myself several times but a mere desire overtook my senses. I wished I could have changed the way I lived the previous few weeks. I wished I could have changed the outcome of it. In fact, I could have, but I was too scared. Too scared to do anything apart from what I was doing. Whatever had happened in the past was bad, whatever was happening was bad too, bad for everybody, and I was the only person responsible. I closed my eyes, a lonely teardrop rolled down. I was not sure if the pieces of my life could ever come back together but the board was already set and the pieces were in motion.

Chapter 1.     Transfer 

Kolkata, my relationship with the city was like that of an arranged marriage. A relationship that evolves with daily requirements and even before you realise, it matures to a level where the individuals become inseparable unless destiny has other plans.
After spending more than four years in the city and disliking every bit of it, like its unbearable mugginess where the sweat-stains on your clothes become a permanent feature even if you are out under the sun for a few minutes, and its ever crowded streets where walking on the pavement without bumping into strangers is a challenge in itself, I was able to comprehend my love for the city only when I was leaving it, perhaps forever.
With a lighted cigarette held tightly between my lips and its smoke partially hazing my view, I was packing my bags, carefully enough not to smudge the clothes with randomly falling ash. The flight was at 5:30 p.m so I had to rush the completion of my packing. But, It was difficult; every corner of the flat was bringing back the old memories. Memories not so old that warrant manifestation of their existence, yet not so recent as to manifest themselves in my pain, but they left behind indelible scars. I sucked the last puff of the cigarette and exhaled the smoke towards the ceiling. The smoke floated in the air until a gust of wind entered from the window and overlapped the existence of the smoke. I pulled the zipper of the bag and locked it, with a hope that the new twist in my life would be efficacious to create a blurry layer on the scars.
I was transferred in my job. I tried to avoid the transfer, half-heartedly though, partially because of my newfound love for the city and partially because of professional reasons. Kolkata was a known market, which is one of the prerequisites for a sales job. I was employed as a “Sales Manager” in a Bank, and my transfer to Bangalore would add another word “Area” before my designation. Promotion at the cost of the transfer diluted the excitement, yet I was not complaining. 
This corporate world! They try to squeeze every bit available within you and even after you are completely drained out, you will continually hear the statement, “You need to achieve greater heights, keep motivating yourself.” I am still searching for that one factor of motivation apart from the paycheques being credited in my bank account at month-ends. But apparently, this sole factor of motivation is also overshadowed by human nature as the amount on the cheques always appears meagre, and it pricks even more when the increment is negligible even though you are transferred.
However, on the flipside, the transfer came bundled with certain positives as well, like the timing was perfectly placed. I was going through the worst phase of confused emotional turmoil, and since transfer tantamount to change of place; it could give me an opportunity to get a renewed self. Moreover, the destination was Bangalore, a blissful surprise because I had my best friend rather my only friend there, Aakash.
Circumscribed by the irrational mindset of a small town in Orissa where the walls of the houses are so perforated that they fail to even hold a whisper being leaked out and heard miles away, Aakash and I were names synonymous to each other. Confined within the five-kilometre radius of the town for sixteen-years, we had built a different world for ourselves carefully protected from the envious eyes. Our friendship withstood the change of fortunes of our respective families as well. His father was a job contractor in the same factory where my father was employed as a supervisor. Being the master of his own business, he kept on diversifying, whereas my father continued to serve his masters. By the time we completed our schooling, the difference between the wealth of our respective family was like that of USA and Bangladesh.
We realised the presence of so far clutched wings in that small town when we entered the hostel after completing our schools. We stayed together for the next seven years and shared everything starting from room, cigarettes, porn magazines, clothes including undergarments (he always took mine) and sometimes the academic books only when we would get time for studies. The ultimate realisation of power or, so to say, the vulnerability of the freedom came only when we almost spoiled our higher secondary and found ourselves not good enough to become an engineer or a doctor, a dream every parent in small towns envisioned for their child. Though we appeared for the state JEE for the sake of our families, we didn’t even bother to check the results. We could marginally recover our respect during our graduation, which could convince our parents to send us to Kolkata for MBA.
The ringer of the intercom broke the flow of my thoughts and my final scanning of the cupboards. It was a call from the main-gate to inform about the arrival of the taxi.  After requesting the guard to keep the taxi waiting in the basement, I went back to the bedroom and scanned through the cupboards again. Everything was packed except for the card and the small note buried under the sheet of newspaper on the right shelf. Constricted under the sheet, they must have been staring at me with hatred and affliction. I found it difficult to lift the paper and face them. I should have destroyed them but my superstitions stopped me every time.
Another ringer, this time of my mobile broke the silence of the room.
‘Hello.’ I said after receiving the call. Aakash was on the other side.
‘What time are you reaching?’ He asked. This was the third time he had asked the same question after I informed him about the date of my travel.
‘The flight is at 5:30, add two hours to that.’ I replied still looking towards that sheet of paper.
‘Okay.’ He said. ‘Bring the “Old Sid” with you. The coming days are going to be fun.’ His reference to the “Old Sid” stuck my tired brain. Would that happen, ever?
I left that sheet of paper and the contents underneath untouched. I had started rubbing my head against the capricious destiny to shed my old scales, any reminiscence of the past would have been a hindrance.
Finally, the time came to leave. With a heavy heart, I shifted my luggage - a big suitcase, a duffle bag, and my laptop bag - out of the main door. It was a moment filled with sentiments. I turned the key inside the lock; the clack echoed like a trumpet inside my head. I caressed the door. The cracks on it reminded me of many intoxicated fists the door had to bear whenever the lock hit a minor snag, or perhaps the cracks represented the secrets the door had been hiding for me from the outside world. Yes, there were many.  
I was staying in Tollygunge, on the fourth floor of a 5-floor apartment having 20 flats. The first day when I came to inquire about this flat, it was in a mess. Newspapers and corrugated boards were scattered all over, the bathroom was filthy, and it appeared that the walls were not polished for many years. The owner committed to clean the rooms but said no to fresh paints. My initial reaction was “not liveable.” However, when I was coming out of the flat I saw a girl at the opposite door, not so beautiful but definitely manageable. “Manageable” because of her structure, perfect amount of flesh at required places rather a bit extra on the upper part of the body. She came out, stood there by holding the half-closed door of her flat, and then went inside.
Now, that’s what I call a motivation.
I immediately paid one fourth of the initial deposit and fixed the date of coming Sunday to shift. The owner reiterated his commitment to clean the flat before I shifted. But when I moved in, the flat was not cleaned up to my expectation except for the removal of the scattered papers. It took me two days, a bottle of phenyl and toilet cleaner each to make the place habitable, but the agony of the labour was annihilated by the motivation peeping through the opposite door.
*
With one-and-half hour still left and the taxi running at a normal pace, I was comfortable to reach the Airport ahead of the schedule, until the taxi became a part of the sea of vehicles stuck within the waves of chaos and uncertainty on EM Bypass just before Chingrighatta Crossing. This was, perhaps, its way of bidding me adieu; the city demonstrated that unique slice from its many countenances, of which I had been a contented spectator till now without being exposed to its ugly side. A demonstration of Political Party had seized the city.    
‘The country is going forward but Kolkata has remained the same, at least in this aspect.’ I murmured showing a double-faceted human mindset. The city was in a mood to balance out the wishes I had made in the past for a Bandh. A Bandh always meant an additional holiday, and irrespective whether you are motivated or not, holidays are always cherished.
As if, the arms of my wristwatch had suddenly discovered a new meaning to their drudgery inside the waterproof chamber, they started spinning faster than ever, and my continuous attention on them raised the level of their enthusiasm.
A man in shining blue necktie in another taxi looked tensed; he was perhaps missing the all-important interview for a job he was longing for years. A young boy, in his fancy bike, looked frustrated; perhaps his date with his girlfriend in Mani Squire mall was at stake. A rotund man in his car was still smiling; perhaps, his wife was waiting at City Centre with her never-ending shopping list. The depressed siren of an ambulance screamed about the fragility of a human life, perhaps, one of its occupants was playing hide and seek with death and Apollo Hospital, a few kilometres away, was the safe hiding destination.
Amidst all these, I was sitting with my hands clasped together and my eyes still glued at my wristwatch. I was foreseeing myself standing at a ticket counter to book for the next flight and mourning for the extra amount that will be charged on my credit card. Won’t the same day flight ticket cost a moon? The company had booked my ticket but they wouldn’t bear the difference. I had never thought that one day I would be charged for the enjoyment I had had on Bandhs earlier. A layer of sweat started glistening on my forehead. 

Find it tempting and you want to read the book, visit  Amazon.in or Amazon.com and download it in your ebook reader, Tablet, Mobile or Laptop and enjoy the thrilling ride. 
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