• Short Stories

    The Hanging Man


    The hanging man

    ‘What is hanging !?’ Aditya asks to reconfirm if he had heard his girlfriend correctly.

    ‘A man…. there is a man hanging from the ceiling in the opposite apartment,’  Ruhi repeats the line she said a minute ago.

    ‘Ruhi….’ Aditya looks at his mobile screen and says, ‘I think you had a nightmare. Just look at the time….it’s 3:30 am.’

    ‘What do you mean?’ she looks irritated. ‘Is 3:30 am the perfect time to have a nightmare? Or can’t people commit suicide at this hour?’
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    ‘Suicide ?!…….’ a scream escapes Aditya’s mouth. She said the fatal word with such conviction that it acted as an alarm clock for Aditya’s brain. ‘Are you mad?’ 

    ‘See for yourself,’ Ruhi pulls his left hand in an effort to make Aditya get up from the bed. But it needs tremendous muscle power for a female who weighs barely fifty two kilos to move an almost eighty kilos male body.

    ‘Wait….’ Aditya removes the blanket away.



    This whole idea of having a party at his place was a total crap. Ruhi made him invite their entire college gang. Seven amongst them threw up a large share of the five-star restaurant’s home delivered food inside the commode after gulping bear beyond their capacity. What a waste of Aditya’s hard earned salary ! That’s why he wished to spend only a quiet romantic evening with Ruhi and ‘celebrate’ his promotion. But have Ruhi ever listened to him in past six years? Then why would she do now?

    Hey, we can also meet on Instagram. See you there 🙂

    The only good decision Ruhi took was to stay back at his place. She had to give her parents a well-rehearsed excuse of a pyjama party in Nikita’s house though. But by the time everyone left, neither Aditya nor Ruhi had an iota of energy left in them to do anything else. In fact, Aditya can’t even remember when he drifted away to sleep. When did Ruhi wake up?

    ‘Come fast,’ he hears Ruhi’s voice from the living room.

    ‘Coming,’ Aditya flinches after letting his feet out on the cold floor. Doesn’t Ruhi feel cold or what? His head is aching because of the alcohol. Only Heaven knows what she has seen at this hour? He puts on a jacket and comes near Ruhi. 

    ‘Look there,’ she points her finger to the darkness on the other side of the giant window. Aditya tries to figure out what she is referring to. After a few seconds, a chill runs down his spine. He takes a closer view. Ruhi was right. There is a building just opposite to his apartment. A man is hanging from the ceiling of one of it’s room in the tenth floor. Aditya looks at Ruhi. Fear is evident on both their faces.

    ‘What do we do now?’ Ruhi asks. ‘Shall we call the police?’

    ‘Police?’ Aditya freaks out. ‘No…no way, Ruhi.’

    ‘But why?We should call the police. I mean….’

    ‘No Ruhi. We can’t. Calling police means they may interrogate us too. I can’t put your reputation at risk. Moreover, this is a bachelor pad. If my house owner finds out about you, then it will be another problem. Please understand.’

    ‘Then?’ Ruhi asks something which Aditya doesn’t know what to answer. His eyes go back to the man hanging in the air  wearing dark coloured pant. The man is visible only from his waist though. But Aditya can imagine how a dead face may look like.The view is definitely not for the weak hearts.

    ‘We can’t do anything right now,’ Aditya says after turning his face away from the disturbed scene. ‘Let’s wait till morning. If anyone else finds out, then fine. Else I will call the cops once you leave.’

    Ruhi remains silent. Her heart is playing drums inside. Why on earth she had to discover this thing of all people?She simply went to the washroom to pee. What was her need to look for her phone she forgot in the living room? Had she not laid her eyes on the only lit room outside, she would have been sleeping peacefully beside Aditya by now. Bad luck. What more can she say? Lie more at home about weekend pyjama parties. She thinks. God has His own way to teach lessons. How long does she need to endure this sight?

    ‘Come to bedroom and don’t look at this,’ Aditya must have read her mind. They come back to the bedroom.

    ‘Do you know anyone who lives in that building?’ Ruhi asks as Aditya puts a blanket around her.

    ‘No. Forget about that building, I even don’t know people living in my own floor. Who has time for these things?’

    She looks at her watch. 4:00 am. Two more hours before the day breaks. Who is this man? Why did he commit suicide? Is it a suicide? Or murder? Are the criminals hanging around in the locality? Oh God ! She holds the blanket around her to let go off the goosebumps.

     

    ‘Hey. Wake up, honey,’ Aditya’s soft voice awakens Ruhi. When did she fell asleep? Broad daylight is peeping from the bedroom’s window curtains. At once, Ruhi recollects everything that happened.

    ‘What’s the time?’ she hurriedly sits up in the bed. ‘The man….what happened to him? Is he still there?’

    ‘Yes,’ Aditya replies.

    ‘That means nobody has found him out yet. I am leaving now and you call the cops, Aditya.’

    ‘Shh…calm down, Ruhi. There is nothing to panic.’

    ‘What do you mean?’

    ‘Come with me,’ Aditya takes her hand and brings her near the window in the living room. ‘Take a look at him now.’

    Ruhi doesn’t take much time to figure out that ill-fated room. A woman is standing near those hanging legs and giving water to the plants. She puts the watering can on the floor and with a stick pulls something from above. And there comes down the two legs that had almost sucked life out of Ruhi and Aditya few hours back. The woman takes out the hanger, folds the black coloured pant and goes inside.

     

     

     

  • Short Stories

    The Best Role of a Lifetime

    The Best Role of a Lifetime

    ‘When will you play the role of a husband in reality? Or you want to simply waste your life like this?’ Ramola Bose asks her son the question which she repeats often after attending any wedding. Tonight, they are returning from Rajdip’s co-actor’s wedding reception.
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    ‘Be happy that I am only wasting my life at present. Marriage means I won’t have any life at all,’ Rajdip smirks keeping his eyes on the iPhone. One of his fan accounts in Instagram has posted a recent still from his upcoming movie.

    The presence of Suravi Roy, Hindi film industry’s renowned actress has brought the movie in the limelight throughout the country. However, Rajdip was confident about it right from the start, so what if it’s a regional movie. Language doesn’t matter. Audience wants to see one thing in a movie – content. And this one scores cent percent in this category. The movie’s trailer has already gained millions of views. For Rajdip, it is the best role he has played on screen so far.

    ‘I am serious, Raj,’ Ramola says. ‘You are thirty four and it’s high time for you to think about marriage.’

    ‘Mum, marriage will happen when it has to happen.’



    Rajdip always dodges the topic of marriage with some excuse or another. There have been times, when Ramola was secretly scared about her son’s sexuality. Her fears dissolved when Rajdip got engaged with Shinjini. But they broke up after an year. Reason? Compatibility issues.

    Ramola too is an established actress. As a matter of fact, when she and Aniruddha got married, Ramola was at the peak of her acting career. But her profession never came in between their relationship. Till date, they always manage time for each other from their busy schedule. Where there is a will, there is a way. But this generation? One small issue and they cut all ties. Ramola sometimes wonders whether Rajdip is still in love with Shinjini. If that is the case, then why doesn’t he try to patch up with her? What’s the problem? Ramola sighs and looks into the dark night prevailing outside the Audi’s window.

    ******

    ‘What a relief !’ Debayan Chatterjee sips some champagne, leans back on the sofa and closes his eyes in peace. His movie has been a major hit of the year. Critics are talking highly about his work. The box office collections speak a thousand words. He couldn’t have asked for more from his directorial debut.

    ‘All your hard work has paid off, Debayan,’ Rajdip smiles. ‘Entire industry has poured in today’s success bash.’

    ‘My hard work?What are you saying,Raj?’ says Debayan. ‘I am here today due to the entire team’s hard work. Especially you and Suravi’s. Without you two, this movie would have been difficult to make. Who believes in a new director after all? Thank you.’ He raises his champagne glass.

    ‘C’mon, Debayan. I should thank you for giving me this role. It feels wonderful to be back in Bengali cinema after almost a decade,’ Suravi says.

    ‘Don’t thank me. I was rather apprehensive of approaching you. Rajdip was the one who assured me you are perfect for the role. Moreover, audience have always loved both of your on-screen chemistry.’

    Suravi gives an appreciating smile to her colleague. Rajdip’s expressionless face however cuts Suravi into pieces and she decides to concentrate on her champagne. Self-respect is more important to her.

    ‘I heard that you received a web series offer from Netflix?’ Rajdip changes the topic.

    ‘Nothing is confirmed. You know this business. Moreover, they are telling me to…..’ Debayan looks back after someone calls his name. It’s almost midnight and the guests have started departing.

    ‘Excuse me guys. I need to have a word with Ashok,’ Debayan gets up from the sofa and rushes towards Ashok Agarwal, one of the sponsoring partners of their movie. This bald fat guy has a reputation of being a Casanova. Suravi shifts her eyes towards the swimming pool on the other side of the balcony. The hotel, which was full of music and high profile guests even half an hour ago, has become so quiet now.

    Rajdip gets up from the chair and stands leaning on one of the pillars in the balcony. Rajdip and Surabhi could sequester themselves behind Debayan’s presence so far. Now they don’t know what to do to remove this awkward silence.

    ‘When are you going back to Mumbai?’ he breaks the ice.

    ‘Tomorrow.’ She replies. ‘Evening flight. Need to rush for an outdoor shooting day after tomorrow.’

    ‘Hmm….always so busy in work. A famous heroine after all. ‘

    The hidden taunt in his tone does not miss Suravi. ‘What is your problem, Rajdip?’ Suravi snaps at him. ‘From day one of the shooting, I have noticed that you are not talking to me properly.’

    ‘That’s your imagination. And moreover, I don’t have anything to tell you.

    ‘Yeah. Right. What can you say to someone like me?’ Suravi becomes silent.

    This is not the same Rajdip she met ten years back. It was her debut movie in Bengali cinema. Rajdip was already a huge movie star then, but he had a personality which was rare in people who belong to this profession. Be his co-actor or a spot boy, he could make anyone feel at ease with him because of his humble nature. Suravi never felt like a newcomer in front of him. Like a guardian angel, he always ensured she is comfortable on sets, even during filming those intimate scenes. They became good friends in short time.

    ‘Emotional drama suits you better on screen,’ Rajdip’s heated voice brings Suravi to present. Just look at the way he is talking now ! All the while they were shooting six months ago, Rajdip behaved as if she is a stranger.He came on sets, finished his work and went back. And now after the movie’s success bash, Suravi is discovering that Rajdip suggested her name to Debayan for this role. Seriously. She can’t figure out men anymore.But she won’t spare him today.

    ‘You can’t talk to me like that, Rajdip.’

    He takes some time to cool down and says, ‘I am sorry.’

    Suravi’s is no longer in mood to talk to this man. What does he think of himself?

    Rajdip sits on the sofa. Opposite to him, there is a person who has stolen and broken his heart many times in past.The first day he saw Suravi years back, he couldn’t take his eyes off from her. Beautiful, talented, intelligent yet so simple. By the time their film was over, he was head over heels in love with her. Rajdip was not sure about her feelings though. Then one fine morning, he learnt she had shifted to Mumbai. Anyway, Suravi deserved a brighter future. But what irked him was that she didn’t feel it necessary to inform Rajdip once. If nothing else, then at least they shared a good bond with each other. Having said that, why was he surprised? Fame can easily make people insensible and selfish.

    He holds her hands and apologises again.’Hey, I am really sorry. I have no right to talk like this to you.’

    ‘You have every right to do so. I love you, Raj,’ Suravi blurts out. She can’t take it anymore.A six feet tall toned body, deep baritone, Greek God features, superb acting skills and above all, no scandals. Simply a true gentleman. Did she ever met anyone like him in her life?How could Suravi not fall deeply in love with him? Was she any different from all the women who wanted him? And God knows why, Suravi started believing Rajdip loved her too.

    However, Rajdip is taken aback by Suravi’s declaration. After all these years, her words sound too good to be true. He walks away from her and says in a calm voice, ‘You are lying.’
    ‘What makes you think this way?’ Saravi says.

    ‘Then why did you leave Kolkata without informing me anything?’

    ‘Are we living in 40s? You could easily give me a phone call. Right?’ Suravi complaints like a child.

    ‘Nobody mattered to you more than yourself. You even said no to Abhiroop. Then why should I call you? ‘

    Suravi was trying for a break in Hindi film industry those days when the news reached her. Rajdip and Shinjini were seeing each other. At first, she thought it was just a rumour. Whatever little she knew about Shinjini, she was not someone who could be compatible with Rajdip. Having said that, this was the first time Rajdip was linked to someone. She called Abhiroop, her first film’s director and tried to ask him casually about the affair.

    ‘Yes, it’s true. They are dating,’ Abhiroop continued. ‘Suravi, I want you to look at the script which I was discussing with Raj also two days back. Audience will love to see both of you on-screen together again. Can you come down to Kolkata next week?’

    Suravi somehow managed her voice from breaking down and declined Abhiroop’s offer. She didn’t want to go back to Kolkata. How silly of her to think that Rajdip liked her ! Who was Suravi ? There was no comparison between a nobody like her and Shinjini, the diva. Rajdip and Shinjini got engaged few weeks later.

    ‘Anyway, how does it matter to you?Starting from career to relationships, you have a habit of rushing into things.’ Rajdip murmurs standing far away from Suravi. His charismatic persona shines in the soft moonlit night.

    Yes. Rajdip is right. Apart from gaining fame by playing one difficult role after another in movies, winning three National awards, Suravi also had one divorce, and two ugly break ups.

    ‘I was not on top of the world. Believe me,’ Suravi doesn’t want to remember those hard times. Her unconscious mind always searched for her first love in all her relationships. When Debayan offered her the movie, she wasted no time to grab the opportunity. She couldn’t restrain herself from having one more chance of working with Rajdip. So what if she couldn’t have him in her life.

    ‘Yeah,I could sense that,’ Rajdip shrugs his shoulder. ‘You made a big mistake by marrying that womaniser NRI. And those two morons….I mean are you aware that it needs immense talent for someone to repeat the same mistake thrice, Suravi?’ He laughs which is enough to provoke Suravi. She leaves her seat and stands in front of him.

    ‘You were no wise either. You brought that dumb Shinjini in your life. How intelligent of you!’ Suravi can’t believe her own ears. How could she speak to him like that? Nobody dares talking to Rajdip Bose in this manner.

    Rajdip looks at her and replies, ‘Shinjini was not dumb…..it was me who showed stupidity. I was trying to get over you…but… couldn’t. Shinjini could never take the place that you had in my heart. I have not met any woman more amazing than you, Suravi.’

    There is a split second’s silence and then she hears the deep muscular voice saying, ‘I love you too, Suravi.’

    How many times did Suravi dream of such an encounter with Rajdip? Dreams do come true then. She feels shy all of a sudden.

    ‘Really? Had you said those words earlier, you could have saved me a lot of pain and tears.’

    ‘Only if I knew that you loved me too,’ he comes closer to Suravi.

    ‘I couldn’t tell you anything. I was scared. Don’t ask me why.’

    ‘I will ask you just one question.’

    ‘What?’ says Suravi.

    ‘Will you marry me?Please,’ Rajdip takes her face into his hands. ‘I have been waiting only for you all these years.’

    Suravi touches his lips passionately with hers and says, ‘Hope you have got your answer.’

    ‘Couldn’t have asked for more,’ Rajdip smiles as he pulls her into his arms. Suravi blushes in his embrace as they gear themselves up to play the best role of their lifetime.

  • Read and Write

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    JUGGERNAUT ! Few months back, I was idly scrolling down my Facebook timeline when this particular word caught my attention. Someone shared a page and it said JUGGERNAUT BOOKS. A curious me clicked the link.Honestly speaking, in spite of my curiosity, I didn’t have much expectation from the page. I have gone through Goodreads and many such online reading portals. In my mind, this page appeared as another example of old wine in a new bottle. After a couple of seconds, I realised the difference.
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    Of course, Juggernaut Books is another portal where one can access books(written in English and Hindi are available as of now)from all categories by various authors. Some you can read for free and some you need to purchase. But at the same time, it also gives readers the chance to read the books you have written. Yes, I am talking about self-publishing. You can publish your work here for free. 

    However, Juggernaut is not the only website that allows you to self-publish your work. Google Best Self Publishing Sites and you will end up with a list of various such sites. And there are chances Juggernaut will not appear in that list. Still, I would recommend the readers and writers to have a look at Juggernaut. That’s because sometimes small shops hold bigger surprises for us than popular shopping malls.

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    The website’s pages tactile on almost everything that is happening in and out of the literary circle. Trending novels, issues which India and rest of the world are concerned about, books that have made their journey to the silver screen finds place here.You can purchase or Add to Wishlist the novel of your choice. 

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    Now, here comes my favourite part of the website. As a budding writer, it gives me immense joy to see my work getting recognised. I self-published a story THE LEAP OF FAITH few months back which is now in Juggernaut’s Writing Platform Top Picks.Ratings, reviews by fellow readers and writers has pushed the story to this beautiful position. And what’s more? If your submitted story gets a good rating, then you win a contract with Juggernaut. Here are some of the lucky few :

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?If you have a good story and are interested in showing it to the world, Then I would say try Juggernaut. Signup to the website with new or Facebook credentials, go to Juggernaut Writing Platform and start writing by following the given simple steps. Before submitting your story, please read their Terms & Conditions carefully and make sure to not submitting a work which you have already published somewhere else. At present, they are accepting works in English and Hindi only. 
    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    It’s not over yet. A writer’s block is like a nightmare to someone who loves to write. If you are going through such phase, then Juggernaut can help you in that too. It has Writing Contests & Prompts which can ease your writer’s block. Contests run throughout the year and literally every month for all genres.

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    You can also download the Juggernaut App from Google Play store. The support team can be contacted if you face any issue with the app or the website:Juggernaut Books: What does it do for readers and self-published authors?

    These are some of the important features of Juggernaut. So what are you waiting for? Read, write and Juggernaut 🙂

    Also let me know if you have in mind any such good self-publishing websites that is a treat for a reader and a writer like me.

  • My Perceptions

    Bus Ride : Once upon a time in Bangalore

    Bus Ride : Once upon a time in Bangalore

    It was my first experience of a bus ride in Bangalore. No, I was not a new girl in the city. I moved to the Silicon Valley one and a half years ago after marriage. Before that day, my man’s bike and auto rickshaws were the main transportation means for me whenever I had to travel somewhere. But a job brings many changes in life. Till three days post joining, my husband dropped me at work and Ola brought me back home.But these convenient conveyance options could not be relied upon lifelong. Hence, on the fourth day I took a bus ride to return home from work. 



    The bus was overly crowded as if it was the only public transport available in entire Bangalore. I took the bus directly from depot. So you can say, I was amongst the lucky few who had a seat under the bum during the bus ride.
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    Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers‘Can you please keep my bag with you?’ the question came from a lady clad in a salwar kameez. At first, I thought she was requesting the man sitting near the window. It took me some seconds to realise that I was the victim.

    ‘Me?’ I asked.

    ‘Yes….please can you….’ her plea missed few words yet the meaning was clear. I looked at her for a moment with a frown. She appeared to be someone from my age and was doing a terrific job in balancing herself inside the bus. She clutched the bus strap with her left hand and extended her backpack towards me using the other hand. Her flippant attitude irritated me slightly. Why on earth should I place a stranger’s bag on my lap?And why was she giving me her bag out of all people?Did I look like a soft target?

    All my life, I had always seen people either fighting for a seat or taking care of their belongings inside a bus. Many buses even highlight WATCH YOUR BELONGINGS in bright and bold red letters. And here was this madam who was willingly surrendering her bag to me. There was definitely something fishy. In my mind, I decided to reject her request.

    ‘Please…’ she had by then cut short her plea to one word.

    ‘Okay,’ I took the bag and placed it on my lap. Looking outside the window, I let out a sigh and started thinking on how to improve my communication skills. After all, taking the bag was nowhere in my agenda. But I assured wearing a very-annoyed-and-completely-unfair expression on my face. So what if I couldn’t say NO, freedom of expression still existed on this planet !

    Twenty minutes later, the lady got down from the bus with her bag after saying thank you.

    TWO DAYS LATER :

    The bus I generally took had left the depot and the next one would arrive half an hour later. Only if I knew this, I would have never spent ten extra minutes on that Know Your Company online test. For every five minutes spent in Bangalore’s traffic, you will lose ten years of your life. Those who live in Bangalore or have spent even a day there would agree with me. Hence, I started walking from the depot without wasting anymore time and took another bus.

    The bus was as usual crowded, moving slowly in the traffic jam and needless to say, no seats were available. I stood straight somehow by clutching the bus strap. The woman beside me was modelling for the Leaning Tower of Pisa so much that I could not fetch my water bottle from the bag. And my bag? Well, my backpack with a laptop and other necessary items inside it had turned into a twenty kilos burden on my shoulder. Oh! what a relief it would have been if I could get rid of this load. I closed my eyes for a second when I heard a woman’s voice.

    ‘Yes?’ I asked the middle-aged lady sitting in the aisle seat.

    ‘You can give your bag to me,’ she said with a smile while thumping one hand on her lap.

    ‘No no, it’s okay…’ I replied hesitantly.

    ‘Not a problem,’ she insisted.

    This reminded me what I did two days back in the bus. Karma. I thought. Where will you escape from it? I extended my bag to the woman. The only differences are I didn’t smell anything fishy and assured to wear a smile of gratitude this time.

    Life is very much like a bus ride. If your fellow passengers are compassionate and understanding, then even the longest traffic jams cannot hamper your journey.

    Wish you all a pleasant journey called life !