Thursday, April 29, 2010

Price to pay

Olivia opened the carton of orange juice which was one of things she did every morning. Nothing energized her like the sour tingling taste of the fruit. She settled on the chair which was just few feet away from the bed. She smiled at Nathan’s innocent face that was in deep slumber oblivious to the admiration. She wondered how this sweet cute face could cheat on his wife. Nathan was married for three years to Meghna ; a well read engineer from Bangalore. They had known each other in the office and were engaged a year after their acquaintance. One year after their marriage, things went wary and the couple fought every night. This led Nathan to visit the city night clubs and bars and it was during one such occasion that he had met Olivia.
Olivia was just irresistible. With a slim figure that seemed straight out of Victoria’s model agency and independency that attracted most men. She never had a permanent job and never felt the need for it. Every night she frequented the bars and moved with rich men. Nathan was not her type; the reason she was attracted to him. It was one night when Nathan drank away his grief and sorrow in a corner where she met him by accident. On one look, she could tell that he was couple of years younger than her. Nathan was dressed in business suit and seemed to be out of place. She started a conversation which she had never done with anyone else and Nathan just vented out. She was not listening completely; she was admiring his innocent face and the voice that choked between sentences. He was drunk foolishly and she had to help him. She almost carried him to her room and the fateful night became a routine.

Meghna dried her hands in the saree pallu. She was mentally frozen and carried out the chores mostly out of habit. The work in the office took away most of her energy but gave the satisfaction. Also, it distracted her from thinking of what her husband was doing. Meghna was aware of where Nathan went every night although he excused himself with office work. When she first heard about it, she didn’t believe it. As a matter of fact, she didn’t want to believe it; until she had followed him one night. She had seen Nathan go into a bar. She didn’t mind his drinking habits but when she saw him intimate with another female, she just flared up. She moved out of the bar and never spoke to him after that. Nathan did not seem to mind and the distance between them grew more.
Meghna knew they were never going to be together again and decided to file a divorce against him. She was quite sure Nathan would approve of the same. Fate had a mind of its own. It was on the way to the lawyer that she fainted at the lawyer’s office and was taken to a local hospital where the doctors declared that she was pregnant.
Meghna was caught in a dilemma ; she wanted a child and at the same time end it with Nathan. She felt he had cheated her and put her in the situation in which was caught now. The fury grew and it was mixed with sadness. She had never felt more hurt in her life. She wanted to end it all.

Nathan snored gently and changed his position. Olivia sighed and moved to empty the glass in the sink. She wanted to sit there all day watching him but he had to go home. He had to do go to his “first” home where his so-called “other half” lived. Olivia settled next to him on bed and ran her fingers through his hair. He groaned and grumbled something. She shook him gently like she was waking a kid. He suddenly opened his eyes and grinned at her. He took a glance at his watch and sighed. He had to go home now and get ready for office. He got up lazily, kissed Olivia and made his way to the bathroom. Olivia lay on the bed for another fifteen minutes. She missed him already.

Meghna stared at the contents of the bottle that was clutched in her hands. The online search had confirmed an instant death when taken whole at a time. She knew she couldn’t do it and he didn’t deserve this but the evil side of her said he deserved the pain; the pain he had given her. This would be for her child. She didn’t want her child to know what his father was like. Her hands trembled and she poured the contents into the upma she had prepared for him. She was lost in her thoughts.

Olivia stood on the porch as she saw Nathan drive. It was still dark outside and he always left very early to avoid other people recognizing him. She had a mild headache and decided to sleep as there was nothing much to do. She craved for Nathan and had let him know many times. She wanted to marry him which was so unusual of her nature. She never approved of marriages but he had made her weak. She wanted him forever. She wanted him to divorce Meghna and marry her. She was going to persuade him somehow. But for now, she wanted to get rid of the headache.
Meghna watched Nathan eat his favourite upma. Not a word was spoken. This time, Meghna found the silence too obvious. She kind of choked at what she was doing. Nathan didn’t leave a peck on the plate. “It tastes too good”, he told her.
It was sudden for Meghna and she found all the energy draining out. There was guilt and sadness that seemed to fight each other. She told herself that she had committed a grave mistake. Nathan had even smiled when he said that .An unknown bond existed between them even though no words were spoken. The love had not faded. Her hands shivered. She reached out for the telephone. Nathan collapsed near the wash basin.
4 hours later, at City hospital
Meghna watched her husband from outside the ICU. Doctors had just told her that he was poisoned and she tried to give a genuine expression of being shocked. She was very glad that her husband was better. She knew she could never forgive herself if he had died. She needed to talk to him. She waited for him to get better and out of the hospital.

Olivia looked like she was in deep sleep. In fact, endless sleep. One of the police men felt her pulse and confirmed their doubts. The milk man had come early morning and found that the lady of the house was not willing to open the door. He sensed something wrong when the mobile phone was ringing continuously. He called out for the neighbours.
The headlines next day informed the death of a middle aged lady in her apartment. The story went on to explain that she seemed to have been poisoned and it was mixed with the orange juice that she had consumed early morning. The police suspected a murder and wondered who could have poisoned a lady who lived all alone.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Forgotten Milestone

It was 1940, 2nd of May in France and the temperature outside was mild. The atmosphere inside the small wooden army cabin that was stationed at the border was the same .Lieutenant Colonel Rafe licked his lips. He bent upon a brown tattered map of France that contained the intricate routes. Smoke from cigar disturbed his view; the smoker was Colonel Pervez. Man of large frame in his late forties with well trimmed moustache, just smiled. “Nothing tastes like these cigars, not even woman’s lipstick”, he claimed. On the contrary, Rafe was thin and pale with stern quick eyes that seemed to follow every detail. Officers feared Pervez’s brawn while they were admired Rafe’s intellect.

“I fear the number of our men we have sent to confront in this sector”, Rafe pointed out to his senior. Pervez gave a sad look as if departing from his cigar meant his death. “You worry too much, dear Lieutenant. Forty is not a small number for the place. Germans would never take that route as the terrain is not very convenient”.

Rafe was not convinced because Pervez was prone to make mistakes and ‘convenience’ was never in an army dictionary. He studied the map carefully and looked for signs of danger. Had he not been busy with other sectors, he would have checked the troop that was sent.

“If German’s enter through the mainline, we can attack them from all the three ends but if they take this route, we would lose all forty men”, Rafe claimed, more to himself. “Losing forty men is not a big deal, Rafe, especially in an enemy confront. It is natural.”, Pervez said his usual lethargic tone. Being a man of practicality, Rafe knew it was true but that was not what they were assigned to do-lose men foolishly. Planning was never easy; it was semi barbaric and sentimental at the same time. Most of the men who came into army had families.

“Did you take a look at the troop at least?”, Rafe questioned Pervez. “Yes yes. Inspected last night .All good and patriotic”, claimed Pervez. Rafe knew it was not true. The bottles of alcohol stacked in the corner spoke of a different story. “Why do you worry about them so much?”, asked Pervez. Rafe was provoked but he maintained his calm. “Men come to serve our country and they have families! Don’t you realize that? They shouldn’t lose their lives just because their seniors committed a grave mistake of not looking over things. Their life is our responsibilty”. Pervez rolled his eyes and seemed not bothered. The concept of family never appealed him. He was quite content with all the women he went out with frequently but never fell in love with any of them. According to him, men in armies did not need families, just as Rafe and he had chosen not to marry. Rafe, because he respected them and had decided to marry the one he loved. To fall in love was not possible for a man in his position.

A muffled sound came over the receiver that was placed in the far end of the cabin. Rafe moved towards it to adjust so that it can capture the signal. The cabin creaked as Rafe made movements. “Colonel Colonel! Do you read me?” The voice broke over the receiver.
“This is Lieutenant here. What is it, officer?”, Rafe replied recognizing the voice of the officer.

The signal was strong and so the voice was very clear.
“The planning was wrong, Sir.German’s took the Route A.”, explained the officer, sounding quite alarmed and nervous.

Rafe froze in his place. It was anticipated but it seemed to answer his worst fears. “Officer, can we have the other two troops back to the area?”, asked Rafe as he had planned out.
“Yes Sir, we could but we lost all forty people who were supposed to tackle there. It was a brutal fight and much more than what we expected of them. Germans attacked from three ends. The enemy almost lost out too; with only few of them left out now. We can handle them. Our troop was very skilled but unfortunate”.

Rafe choked while Pervez just stared at the receiver. Rafe was disgusted with himself. Disgusted for trusting Pervez on this.
“Sir?”, officer called out.
“Yes, I am here”, answered Rafe.
“Didn’t you find it hard to send them to fight, Sir? Should have looked into it one more time. You could have been more careful about the number sent to such a dangerous zone”
Rafe was stunned by such an accusation and looked quite helpless. “Why do you say that , officer?”
“Were you not aware that all the forty people sent to fight were women?!?!”, officer asked in a stern voice.

Rafe simply stared at the receiver. He could feel Pervez’s hand trembling over his shoulders.

Next day, the head office received a resignation letter. It was signed by Lieutenant Colonel of French Sector-A army, Rafe Van.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Unusual II

I lie bruised, burnt ; my beloved,
Journey trancending endless.
I trace my steps to see the beginning,
It seems far beyond levels.
I trusted thyself to make the start,
Now, I trust thyself to end it all.