One Monsoon Evening
He stared out blankly through the side window. The gloomy monsoon clouds have painted the sky in patches of black and grey and the trees have put on their humble tilt. A tiny droplet crashed on the glass window, ran sideways and disappeared behind, breaking his brood and bringing him back to the vacant backseat of the Indica cab.
The driver changed gear and looked out at the starting rain. In a few seconds, it should pour down heavily. The clouds have been holding it for long trying to extend the inevitable embarrassment. He struggled with the twitching muscles on his face. More drops started hitting the glass. He bent down on his lap and covered his face with both hands.
2 days ago Tintu peeped in from behind the bathroom door. His elder sister Mini was lying in the tub with her donny duck swimming over her tummy. She had a tiny mirror in her hand on which she was trying to see her face from all four corners- making monkey faces and smiling and winking from each angle. Tintu had earlier taken the beating for pulling out that tiny mirror from Indu aunty’s handbag and now to see his sister devouring herself with his hard-earned price made him feel sick.
Lately, he had been noticing that she was no longer the girl whom he slept with during night and played with during the daytime. This girl who used to hold his palm to school or wherever they went now starts walking so fast and tries to somehow get him off her tail.
She has become over cautious of her looks. She would get very edgy about her purple earrings being too large or her flesh-coloured top looking pink in room light and she would never spare any chance to belittle her little brother. On his 4th birthday, she had insulted her in front of all his girl friend’s when he said he didn’t know how flesh was different from pink. At 6, maybe she was turning into a big lady. But he didn’t care.
Tintu smirked as he opened the LCD display panel on his Sony Handy Cam.
It’s payback time. He pushed the door slightly with the thumb of his toe and poked the lens in. Mini was now examining the inside of her nose in the mirror. Having not found any monsters inside she started examining her mouth. Tintu pressed the zoom button to capture even the faintest expressions of this proud lady.
PEEP PEEP PEEP Wrrrrrr was how Sony said “My tape is over?” and it said it loud enough for Mini to hear and see Tintu. The chase had begun and as always, Tintu was pinned down to the floor. As he stretched his hand as far as he could trying to keep his valued possession safe, Tintu saw from the corner of his eyes, the front door open.
“Daddy.. Catch” was all he said before tossing the cam up. Sunil watched as 20000 Indian rupees scattered into 20000 pieces of plastic, metal and glass. Sony Handy Cam was history in a second’s fraction. Standing behind the staircase railing was his son in a half torn T-shirt and his daughter in her blue underwear. Sunil wanted to get angry but was too tired for that. He threw his laptop on the settee and rubbed his eyes as he thought “I make 20K in 3 days”. Opening his eyes, Sunil winked at them bringing fresh smiles on their tense faces.
Paatti amma heard the sound from Kitchen and was ready with the broom. She gathered the bits and pieces, dumped them in the trash can and took it back to the kitchen. Inside the bin, a tiny piece of lens glittered in rainbow colors. Paatti took it out, rubbed the dust with her pallu and buried it somewhere inside her waist.
She stared at the trash bin for a while unable to understand the value of the strange-looking items inside. After scratching her grey hair for a while trying to think of what to do, Patti gathered the bright colored ones in a newspaper and pushed it inside her plastic bag.
On her way home she planned to visit the ‘Padmanabha electronic repairs’ 20 Rs should fetch 1 milma packet, 1 pack Glucose biscuit and bread for Ramu Paatti washed and rushed to the pooja hall and started cleaning the floor -her last chore for the day.
1 month ago Anantha Murthi took another sip of the chilled drink. He had quit drinking in his college days but at 55 couldn’t handle life alone. The past few months had been tough and today was the culmination of his 30 years of a corporate love affair. The business pages of all newspapers had similar headlines.
“TechnoResolve in big trouble”. TechnoResolve was indeed in big trouble and Murthi knew it more than anyone else. They had taken a major hit and everything started tumbling like dominos. He sipped another one. He had been in pressure situations before but this was different. He was captaining a ship which had lost direction and was running out of fuel.
He had two choices- Wait for the inevitable or call for outside help. Murthi had made the decision a few hours ago. TechnoResolve and 50% of its employees will be taken over by PCT. Murthi will retire to his Newyork apartment.50% of his employees will have a job. Murthi looked at his glass.
Was it half-full or half-empty? He emptied it in one single gulp and slammed down the glass hard on the table. The whiskey somehow tasted like blood.
Today I still remember the day I sat in the backseat of my cab and wept like a child, unable to face the gory paths that lay ahead. I remember breaking down at the thoughts of raising my children. I remember cursing myself for being selflessly dedicated to my job. I remember being a loser? A terrible gutless loser.
But as it turned out, every gutless loser had his day- the day when you sit in the backseat of a cab and weep like a child-the day when you get kicked on your butt and pulled out of your cosy little lake to the dreaded vastness of the ocean. I remember trying to paddle my way back to my cozy little lake in vain. As I walked in and out of test centres and interview rooms, I felt the restlessness of someone within. Someone whom I had never known.
As I paced through busy highways, I had felt this someone taking control, leading me, pushing me that extra yard. And when I decided to sit down before my laptop and code, I had finally met him. He was the invisible me that none ever saw. He was who I really was. I have already told you the rest of my story.
Today as I am writing these last few lines of my book, the website I wrote has been rated as the most popular search engine for years on end, My little online company is growing at a stealthy pace, My employees are earning well above their friends and my children are growing fast and smart. As I am writing these last few lines of my book, I still remember the day I wept like a child in the backseat of my cab and I can never thank my lucky stars enough for putting me there
The car jerked a bit as the driver expertly avoided a crossing cow. Ramesh took his eyes off the book. A slight gush of wind slithered in through the driver’s window. The pages fluttered and the book closed to reveal the front cover. It said? That Monsoon Evening- Sunil George?
Beside him, Amma was still sleeping tight. He had to spend a whole week convincing her to come with him abroad. Ramesh smiled at his success. Not the success of growing up from the rags of Chenkalpettu colony to the riches of professional life but the success of being able to take Patti Amma along with him- to show her how well she had raised him.
Patti Amma was still sleeping. Outside, the monsoon clouds were dark as usual. But a bright bow had formed around them and it was glowing in rainbow colors.
Contributing Writer: Varun, I am a computer programmer with an awkward inclination towards story typing. I maintain a blog www.unknownexceptions.blogspot.com which has a visitors list spanning across continents. (I am now in the UK and 3 of my friends live in India). But hey, 4 is always greater than 1. [email protected]
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