Thursday, March 29, 2012


I woke up with a start that night. I felt as though someone was shaking me violently to wake me out of sleep. And exactly as I mentioned before, I woke up with a start and startled to find that there was nobody else in the room, but just myself. Now I was not sure if someone indeed shook my body hard to wake me up or if it was a dream. I sat upright, tried to decide whether to fall back to sleep or ponder over what happened. I was sure that the guy who shook me out of my reverie would get bored hiding behind wherever he was hiding and come out after a few moments. And when it did not happen, I laid back again on the bed, wondering whether someone really woke me up. Soon I was back where I was a few moments before, snoring away to a blissful sleep. Then it happened again. I vaguely remember this hand on my shoulder, shaking me like you would to make cold coffee in a shaker. I sat up on bed, switched on the lights and scanned the entire room. Everything seemed in place except that the guy who disturbed my sleep had simply vanished. The room was locked from inside, the windows had iron grill over which mosquito net was tightly fixed, through which even the smallest baby of a pigmy ant couldn’t crawl in. If someone really woke me, he was in this room, hiding somewhere. I checked under the bed, in the closet, in the waste basket and even under my own bed sheet, with the same result.

I had moved into this house only a few days back and really liked everything about the house. The owner of the house had died in a car accident and his wife wanted to move out of the house as everything about the house reminded her about her deceased husband. She would often hear his voice in the bed room; vaguely see a silhouette of him in the dim light, in the night, watching over her. I put it down to a young widow’s depression at her loss, which made her see visions. Now, thinking back, I knew she was telling me the truth. The dead man was still in the house and did not like me sleeping here. He never bothered me while I was doing something else like watching Oprah Winfrey on TV or reading cartoon comics or taking a bath, but now that I think about it, it was probably because he was sitting by my side, watching the TV with me, reading the same cartoon comics that I was reading and had enough decency not to pop into my bath room when I was taking a bath. But why would a spirit who shared the same interests, such as the ones I mentioned earlier, bother to wake me up in the middle of the night, unless he needed my help.

I forgot to tell you and being modest as well as most humble in my ways, I always do forget to add that I work in the police force and popularly known as Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri. As a matter of principle, I never seek publicity or let anyone know how important I was in the social circles that included politicians, top ranking police officers, the erstwhile Raja himself and other important people. It was my wont to act a little dumb and portray myself as a nitwit in front of strangers, before I let it sink in slowly that I was one of a kind and a genius. People from all walks of life have come to respect me for the swift and effortless ease with which I have solved puzzling police cases, the most famous of them being the case of the missing ring of the erstwhile Raja of Vadakkancheri. Members of his family always liked to joke that if it was not for me, the Raja would be wearing his diamond ring around his small intestine. To make a long story short, I was instrumental in finding the missing ring, which he would have swallowed had I not, with my thoughtful and leading questions, pointed out that the ring was not exactly missing but was worn on the wrong hand. However, this was the first ever time a ghost wanted my help and I did not how to get in touch with the poor chap.

I had heard of ghosts which try not so desirable means such as scaring you by appearing before you in the dead of the night, to let you know he wants to communicate with you. He may not have any intention of putting a fright in you, but may want only some attention to his burning problems. I have seen in some movies where ghost appears to engage in actions like closing and opening the door several times, letting the tap run for a long time in the bathroom, wait for you in rooms that have no electric connection and light, and even make your dogs howl in horror throughout the night. They are able to move faster than you and may appear in front of your car one minute and sit beside you the next minute. They can move in through walls, doors and even fire, but they prefer not to talk to you when you run into them. They either stay still and simply stare at you or disappear the moment you stare back, only to appear somewhere else. Surprisingly all women ghost can sing and do it all the time, going by some depictions in movies. I have never seen a singing male ghost in my life or in movies. All ghosts in movies seemed to be women and they sing so well. And yet, for a life time of non stop chattering and bickering, these women refuse talk to you at all when they become ghosts. By the way, these women ghosts can laugh too; probably their practice of giggling a lot, when they were alive, developed or matured into such explosive hysterical laughter.

I ascertained that this ghost which was trying to contact me was a male ghost as he did not sing or laugh out aloud. He seemed to be the strong, silent type who used a lot of body language to tell you what he wanted. I decided to find out as much as I could about him and help him out if possible. Experience had taught me that the best person to talk to, to find out more about a deceased person was his wife. And this lady obliged me by telling me about her husband. He seemed to have a passion for bikes and even owned three when he was alive. He met with his death when the bike he was riding collided against a parked car, much late in the night. The place he met with his death was very close to where I was staying. There was a large commercial centre in that locality called Narmada Shopping Complex. The road from Narmada to the next junction, Kawdiar, was a very wide one, with lots of trees lining on either side. Needless to say, that part of the town always had a chill in the air even on the warmest of nights. And it was here that the ghost of the of the ghost…errrf…the person who later became a ghost met with his accident and death.

More and more pictures started to emerge as I tried harder to find as much as possible about this guy. A shop owner told me that a ghost like apparition would appear occasionally at the place where this guy died. He would be clad in white, wave at bikes which had no pillion riders and show thumbs up sign that he wished to get a lift. If the bike rider stopped, the ghost would hop onto the pillion seat and tap gently on the rider’s shoulder to get him moving. A few meters further ahead and this rider might want to know where the ghost wanted to get off, which would be answered by total silence. This would make the rider to turn around to look at the pillion rider and would get the worst ever shock of his life to see that there was no one at the back seat. The ghost would disappear after riding a few meters causing the rider to swerve violently to the side or go berserk by riding at break neck speed. The more people I talked to, more terrifying stories of such ghastly acts by this ghost came to light. The road from Kawdiar wore a deserted look after 11 pm in the night and I assumed the ghost played a big role in making it that way. I thought he wanted the entire space to himself and still could not come to terms with the fact that he rammed himself into a parked vehicle. Anyone who passed by the area on two wheelers made sure they had either a pillion rider or wore a helmet just to make sure that the ghost could not bite the neck if he wanted to.

Slowly, but steadily trickled in more people to meet me, to narrate their stories of encounter with the ghost at Narmada-Kawdiar road. There was this guy who ran into a man in this area who wore a white shirt and “mundu”. This man waved at the bike rider to stop, with a “I need a lift” signal, and the bike rider obliged. Without a word, the man in white clothes clambered onto the back seat and tapped on the bike rider’s shoulder to move on. But the bike’s engine died down and refused to start however hard he tried. The bike rider, without turning back, asked the man in white to get off and looked back when he got no response. There was no one around. The man in white had disappeared. This puzzled the bike rider who did not suspect any ghost play in this and so started to look around. He looked into the drains, up the trees and even screamed “yooo hooo” a few times, to no avail. But this got the attention of another man who passed by in his car, who did not take kindly to being “yooo hoooed” at and called in the cops. The cops, of course did not believe him and had a lot of laugh when this bike rider narrated his story. But that bike rider who was an atheist became a believer, sold off his bike, never traveled alone anywhere, always used a bus and never ever let any of his children and wife wear white dress.

The ghost had become more and more persistent during the nights with his efforts at trying to wake me up. Sometimes he would shake me so violently that I would, upon waking up, continue to shake uncontrollably for a few minutes before coming down to a virtual stop. For someone who was hell bent on getting my attention, this ghost refused to appear before me at all. May be it was just that the only place anyone could see him was where he met with the accident. Could he be trying to tell me this? I believed he was. He probably made a few appearances at the place of death before walking into my house and then, involved himself in the process of waking me up, the whole night. Sleep deprivation was something that interfered with your brain activity and I had reached such a state that there were days when I couldn’t think of anything at all but how fast I could get to bed. One of my friends suggested then, that I drink a few shots of Vodka before turning in, which he said, would make me oblivious to all disturbances and trouble. And he was right. After so many days of pure hell, I was able to sleep peacefully in the night. In the morning, I found that the ghost had tried its best to wake me up. My pillows were thrown away from the cot, the bed sheet pushed out on to the floor and even my “dhoti” was not found where it should have been found.

I decided I was going to pay this ghost a visit, since he was so insistent on conveying something to me. This meant that I moved around the place of his death as late as 11 pm in the night. I couldn’t say I was afraid though I admit to feeling a certain stiffness around the chest and an emptiness around the belly. I was only trying to help the ghost and I would not have bothered to track him down had he not been so insistent. I made it a habit to ride along the Narmada-Kawdiar road at around the same time the ghost was said to make his appearance. But funnily enough, the ghost never appeared before me. I wondered what game this guy was upto. Drinking a few shots of Vodka every night had made me immune to his overtures in the night and I was getting a little too drawn towards this habit of drinking in the night. Also, the few months of riding up and down that road every night, without ever running into the ghost, was taking its toll. I decided that I had tried hard enough to help this ghost out, but it was the rude hand of fate that had drawn a curtain of invisibility between me and ghost. I was going to have to give up trying to meet up with him after I had tried just one more time.

And then it happened.

The thing about the human mind is that it could not focus on anything for too long unless it was something that had an element of entertainment about it. I was very focused initially on the matter at hand, my eyes moving from side to side, up and down, scanning the road from side to side and watching the skies and then the road; for all you knew, the ghost could descend from the skies and appear in front of the bike. But a few weeks of this exercise had tired me out and I was bored to death of this exercise. I had a sense of duty which compelled me to do something for this poor ghost, that which pushed me out on to the road every night, but lost the mental focus to keep my eyes open for the unthinkable. And when this very tall person appeared out of the blue in front of the bike, it scared me so much that I screamed as loud as I could. I also, shifted the gears of my bike from third to first and revved hard on the accelerator to get out of area as fast as I could. But the unbelievable happened. The bike stopped moving altogether and the head lights of the bike simply blew a fuse. It was suddenly so dark everywhere that I thought I had become blind. I jumped off the bike, ran as fast as I could and reached the next junction where I saw a police car was parked. I crashed against the car, causing the sleeping policemen to jump a few meters high before protesting loudly with expletives I had never heard in my life. But they recognized me immediately and apologized before asking me to explain my crash landing on their vehicle. I told them my story.

“A ghost stopped your bike? He hehehe.”

“How come you were not so scared while you were tracking this ghost but jumped out of your skin when you found him?”

“I have been patrolling this road for years and never seen any ghost nor heard any such stories. This probably was the ghost of original Sherlock Holmes, who must have gotten too sick and tired of this guy making a mess of his name, appearing in his front”.

“Now, look at this, guys. He was riding an Yezdi motorcycle, which has a neuter point between every gear. He must have, in his frozen state of mind and that which is always so, put the gear into neuter which was why the bike stopped moving. The head light is powered by the engine and revving the engine so furiously must have caused the bulb to blow a filament causing all the immediate darkness around”.

“Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri, if ever there a competition for the most dimwit of all fruit cakes, you would win hands down”.

I could not take it any more and went back home immediately. The vodka helped my crying mind ease a lot of pain and I kept on drinking until it eased off the entire lot of pain, causing me to fall asleep immediately. I woke up the next day more determined than ever to solve this puzzling ghost appearance. I could not believe that I panicked at the sight of the ghost and acted in the most stupid way. Thinking back, I re-lived the terror filled moments when the ghost appeared out of nowhere and caused my bike to stop. Yes, it was true that the Yezdi bike had a neuter in between all gears and that I, in my horror stricken stupor acted in the silliest way possible, which did not suit my image. The cops I met that night were sure to spread the news and I had to come up with some face saving measure to prevent the news from spreading far and wide into the police force.

I resumed my nightly vigilance of the Narmada-Kawdiar road. I sold my Yezdi, bought a new bike, fitted a rear view mirror on either side of the handle bar and wore a helmet too. The rear view mirror would help me spot the ghost in midst of trying to disappear from my rear seat and helmet would prevent him biting or attacking any part of the head or neck. I did not believe nor heard any stories of ghosts biting your upper back or tickling your belly or arm pits. They always aimed for the throat, though it eluded my intellectual taxidermy as to why it was always the neck that was bitten and never your back or chest or belly. Ghosts had such funny tastes and refused to learn from past mistakes that the neck almost always had a chain with a cross attached to it, which made them shudder in horror and run away. I did not know anybody who wore a gold chain with cross, around his chest or upper back. I had seen such fittings further down around the naval area, but never around the chest and upper back. Neck offered only such a small area to bite, but the back was spread so wide that even a blind ghost couldn’t miss it.

Days passed by, so did weeks and still no sign of the confounded ghost. My vigilance became as laxed as it was before. There were days when I would pass by the ghost junction without even thinking about the ghost. But if there was one thing I was very strict on, it was my daily bike ride along the ghost lane. Then one day, when the chill in the air reached its highest ever peak, when you hunched and crouched because the cold wind tore into your body to freeze your bones and bone marrow, the ghost appeared again before me. He was clad in white shirt and white dhoti, his face hid behind the glare of the blazing whiteness of his clothes and his left hand waving at me to stop the bike. How these ghosts come to find out that your mind is focused somewhere else and manage to appear in front of you beats me, but until this one appeared before me, the only thing on my mind was the soothing comfort of the few shots of vodka I would have when I reached home. I almost stood up on the brakes and skid to a halt in front of ghost. He hopped onto back seat without as much as a ‘thank you’ and as was his habit, tapped me on the shoulder to move forward. I was shaking violently with fear like the mud flap on the rear wheel of my bike as I checked through both the rear view mirrors to make sure that the ghost had really taken the pillion seat and was in position. I also tugged at my helmet hard just so that it would cover any open part of my neck, shifted to first gear and started to move forward.

It must have taken me hardly about fifteen seconds to shift down to the fourth gear and in my terrified stupor, I was pushing the bike past sixty km per hour before I dared to check the rear view mirrors again. My heart froze to a complete standstill and my eyes shot a few inches out, each of them glaring at the rear view mirror on its side when I realized that the ghost had disappeared. My fingers reached forward to clutch the front brakes of the bike and my leg rammed hard on the rear wheel brakes. The bike which had reached around sixty km of speed spun around violently, screaming obscenities as loudly as possible and I felt a heavy blow on the rear side of my helmet before I was thrown off the bike. I did not dare to move for a few minutes from where I lay down and scanned the road for any help that may come by. The entire world had become very silent and seemed so deeply asleep that I thought for a moment I had just woken up from a dream. I got up slowly, holding myself upright, looked around again. Everything seemed okay except the bike which was laid a few feet away from me. I started to move towards the bike when I heard a low, deep growl behind me. It was unlike any sound that I heard before.

I spun around in horror and found myself face to face with the ghost that had disappeared before the accident. This time he did not hide his face behind the glow of whiteness emanating from his shirt. As I stood dumbstruck before him, I saw blood dripping from his mouth and his bloodshot eyes glaring at me in anger. He slowly walked towards me with outstretched hands, as all ghosts do and opened his mouth, probably to bite me and the only thing I remember seeing was more blood in his mouth before I fainted.

I realized as soon as I opened my eyes that I had left the earth behind me and reached heaven or somewhere close to heaven. I was cozily snuggled against two pillows and there was white light everywhere. Everyone was dressed in white and there was laughter all around. Where else could this place be except heaven or a station closer to heaven. I turned to one side, pressed harder against one of the pillows and peeked at one of the angels which was peeking back at me. It was obvious he was smiling at me, as his teeth flashed a gleaming whiteness only angels and Gods were supposed to possess, though his face was still not in focus. Upon peeking harder I found that this was no angel that was smiling at me, but the same ghost and it was laughing aloud. There were a few more angels around the ghost and all were chuckling too. I passed out cold again.

I was not Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri for nothing and had solved many puzzling problems such as this one. Even in my most unconscious state of mind, my brain was racing back and forth, analyzing all data, before coming to a conclusion. I realized that I was instrumental in bringing the ghost along with me to heaven. The ghost had become an angel, thanks to me, which explained the absence of blood from his mouth and teeth. Then I heard a very familiar voice that said,

“How did you end up here?” It was the voice of one of cops who made fun of me about the ghosts and I knew the others were not far away.

“I work at this store along the Kawdiar – Narmada road and it is usually past twelve in the night before I close down my shop and start off for home. I have seen this idiot ride past the shop every day. This night I waved at him for a lift and he stopped. I hopped on and this guy started to ride very fast immediately. I remember him checking both the rear view mirrors many a times, which made me wonder if everything was normal about this buffoon. It was very cold and I assumed a crouched position behind him, holding my head directly behind his helmet. In this position, the wind did not hit directly on my chest and face as I was completely covered up by his body. There was no one on the road and I did not understand why this clown clamped on the brakes all of a sudden. My face, nose and lips crashed against this idiot’s helmet and blood started to ooze down from the head, nose and mouth. Then I remember being thrown off and luckily for me, fell on a thick cushion of grass on the road side. As soon as I woke up, I saw this guy standing up and looking around. I wanted to murder him and I would have had he not fainted. Now you know how I landed here, in this hospital”.

One of the cops put in his inference of the whole matter. “He must have thought you were a ghost. After checking you were seated on the bike, he probably did not see you in the rear view mirror when the bike started to move and assumed that you had disappeared. He could not see you because you had assumed a crouched position behind his back. This ghost he was hunting was supposed to disappear as soon as the bike started to move and you couldn’t blame him for arriving at that conclusion. He must have become very frightened and applied the brake immediately, which you did not expect at all. And you crashed your face against his heavy helmet”.

“You had better leave while you can, before this gooney ape wakes up. He could lead you to more trouble and stupidity, given half the chance”. Said the other cop

“But I still wish to kill him when he wakes up. I hope you will not grudge me that. I think I’ll be doing the world a favour.”. I heard this ghost guy hiss. He may not be a ghost yet but had the same criminal bent of mind and would make a wonderful ghost when he died.

“And pray tell me who will provide the police force with so much fun and entertainment if our dear Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri kicks the bucket?” the cop kicked in.

There was more laughter and the angels clad in white roared as loudly as possible. Even in this most unconscious state of mind, my fast acting brain, after analyzing all the available data decided that it was best to keep my eyes closed for a while until this angelic ghost disappeared completely from my presence. I was not Sherlock Holmes of Vadakkancheri for nothing and knew how to get out of messy situations such as this

Monday, February 6, 2012


Have you raised dogs that bark only at cats and other dogs? Well, I have. My dogs bark only at these beings and just to make sure that these animals do not ever return the same way, they bark about half an hour more, long after the other beings have disappeared. I forgot to add that my dogs bark only in the night and take their much deserved rest during day time. They spend the entire day time sleeping. They couldn’t be bothered if someone opened the gate and walked in. To make matters worse in the night, two cats appear out of nowhere and meet on the terrace of the neighbour’s house. They spent the entire night hollering the most unprintable adjectives at each other. The pitch rises to a crescendo and breaks off for sometime. But the dogs never cease to express their displeasure at having to listen to the choicest of harsh words nor show any let up in barking back their loudest form of protests. Needless to say, these innuendoes fall on deaf ears and the cats ignore the dogs with a contemptuous flick of their ears and a wink that contains a most derisively coined expression, something like the middle finger up.

”Shut up, Denny, Timmy“. I lean out of the window and yell at the dogs.

The dogs turn around to stare at me and utter a short “whooof”, which I always thought was the short form of “ahh .…shaddap, dumbo”. It was either that or something worse because the dogs immediately resumed their shouting match with renewed vigour. I seemed to be the only one who was affected by all this noise in the night when my parents, sister and the entire neighbourhood can sleep through the entire ruckus and not hear anything at all in the night.

“Peaceful sleep last night. I remember having hit the bed and woke up just now, feeling great. This is a great neighbourhood and you could cut the tranquility with a knife.” Said my sister.

“I could use the knife too, to slit the neck of these damned dogs. I am sick and tired of not being able to sleep in the night because of their incessant barking.”

“Come on, Chetta. It was so silent last night that you could hear an ant burp a mile away.”

“If you were sleeping so peacefully, how did you hear the ant burp? I was up all night and I did not hear any ant burp.” I had never heard an ant burp nor was sure if I would recognize it if the ant sat on my ear lobe, leaned forward and burped right into my ear, but I was not going to give up so easy.

And as with the dogs who “whoof” at my reprimands, she turned away and sighed deeply, “hhhhmmmfff” with a heavy emphasis on the “fff”s. Now, this was often the kind of response I got from my parents and sis, when I asked them questions that irked them.

If it was the dogs that punctured my long strip of sleep in the night, it was the turn of the cell phone which rang intermittently, with a vengeance during day time. I had realized a few days after buying this sim card that this number belonged to someone who used to run a restaurant.

“Two double omelets, 4 chapatti with subzi, please. Deliver them to ZRBNA 4005, varkala at 11.30 am.”

“Sir, this is not the restaurant anymore. I happen to have bought his number”

“Do you know the phone number of the guy who owned your phone number before you owned his phone number?”

“No and dear sir, believe me, there are things I would like to tell him if I knew his number.” I would hiss thus.

Imagine how it is for a man who cannot sleep well neither during the night nor day. He would be hopping mad and ready for fisticuff at the drop of a hat. I was going to do something about these dogs from barking so much in the night. From experience I realized that dogs barked only if they were annoyed at something. They did not greet each other with a few short whoofs which may sound like “hello” or “howdy”. Dogs barked only to express their displeasure. I have never heard them say “thank you” for the food they get everyday nor have I heard them say “I love you”. It was always complaints, complaints and complaints. I wonder how any being can exist such.

My plan of action was very simple. Remove those things that made these guys holler in fury. This meant that the cats that appeared on the terrace of the neighbour’s house have to disappear or simply, not appear at all, each night. I only had to wait till these critters appeared, pick up stone, throw at them and that should scare them off. I might have to repeat this procedure a few days before these dumb creatures got the message and melted into the darkness.

It was past 11 pm when the cats appeared on the terrace, the next night. I did not see them arrive at the scene of action until one of them vehemently expressed his repugnance at the other’s arrival. I did not blame him because that was exactly how I would voice my disgust, albeit in a different language. I picked up the stone and taking careful aim, threw it at the cats. The cats seemed totally unconcerned that a stone had missed them by a few inches nor did they mellow down their cacophonic meows. But what they and I heard was the window pane of the neighbour’s house break into a few hundred pieces. They jumped up with a start at this sound, but soon settled down as they decided that this sound was not any of their concern. I also waited for a few anxious moments for the lights to flicker on, the neighbour to appear at the terrace and threaten me with dire consequences. But nothing of the sort happened. The cats waited just long enough to make sure that the last piece of the glass pane had settled down and went back to their repertoire.

I was very upset with this turn of events. I was very sure that no one would see me in the pitch darkness and so, did not budge from where I was perched, which was on balcony of my bedroom. After giving the neighbour about ten minutes to wake up, run up to the terrace and shout at me, I decided to act again, since the neighbour did not bother to respond to the hullabaloo. I picked up the next stone and threw it in the direction of the cats again. I was positive that this stone would not break any window pane, as I had already achieved as much with my first throw and the path of the second stone was thus cleared. Hardly a nano second must have elapsed before I heard a loud scream. It was unlike any that I had ever heard before. It went like EAAAOOOOHHHHWW!!” and it was quite unlikely that the cats would have made such a sound. This screech was followed by a loud thud which resembled something like a big log falling on the ground while being lifted into a lorry. I peered hard into the darkness to see what it was, but the next thing I knew was waking up from the balcony of my bedroom, the next morning.

My forehead hurt so bad that I thought it was going to explode. A careful exploration of the concerned area with my hand revealed a lump which was just about the size of the stone I chose to throw at the cats. The back side of skull hurt too, probably because my hands failed to initiate action to support my body weight on the way to the floor and the rear side of my medulla oblongata must have tried hard to break the fall. Needless to say, another lump developed there too. I could not fathom how this could have happened.

“What happened to your forehead?” My sister asked without looking alarmed and least bit of concern. She believed that I was prone to meeting with such accidents and was only curious to know how it happened. “It happened again”, she announced to my mother who looked quizzically at my forehead.

“What do you mean, again?”

“He doesn’t remember what happened?”

If I remember right, the last time it happened was when I was playing cricket. I remember trying to take a sneaky single, but then nothing afterwards except waking up in the hospital bed. The other players say that I nicked the ball to the first slip, started to run for the single, when the ball which was thrown at the wicket hit me on the head. This time it was very different. I vaguely remember this explosion in the head, a brilliantly lit flash of light inside and then nothing afterwards. Angry with the cats was the least I could say at this turn of events. I squarely blamed the cats for this lump on my forehead. If the cats had not appeared at the terrace, the dogs would not have caused the ruckus and I would have slept peacefully in the night. I would not contemplate such a drastic step which cost the neighbour his window pane and won me a lump on the forehead. The lump seemed to growing every hour and by evening, it looked almost like the horn of the fabled creature Unicorn.

I went out to the balcony of the bedroom in the evening and found the neighbour was at the terrace inspecting the surroundings. Surprisingly, he also sported this Unicorn like protrusion on his forehead, exactly the same size as the one I sported on my forehead. I also noticed with a pang of guilt that a gaping hole has come about where there was a window pane until last night. On closer scrutiny, I came to the conclusion that the neighbour did not suspect me of the window pane carnage in the terrace.

“Yoo hoo” I waved at him

“Yoooo hoooo” He waved back.

“What is on your forehead?” I was curious to know how he could have gotten an exact clone of my lump on his forehead.

“What happened to yours?” He was as curious about mine as I was of his.

“Don’t know how it came to existence at all” I told him the truth

“Neither do I, about mine. I heard the window pane break and came up on the terrace. The next thing I know, there was an explosion and a brilliantly lit bright light inside my head, which brought me closer to mother earth. I came around and threw a stone in the general direction from where a stone could have arrived to break my window pane”.

That explained the lump on my head. Now, I was very happy that I broke his window pane. He had it coming, what with his terrible attitude of throwing stones at the neighbour’s house with scant regard to whoever may be up and prowling about in the balcony.

“Perfect climate. But it could strike up a bit of a chill in the night and you could catch a terrible cold if you were in the terrace in the night, around 11 pm”. I did not want him around tonight when I was going to throw stones at the cats again and thought it was a fine idea to warn him of the impending consequences if he stepped out in the night.

“That is what I thought too. 11 pm is not a good time to be up on the terrace, whatever noise you happen to hear”.

And as decided earlier, I was up and waiting in the balcony for the cats and they arrived on time. It was business as usual for the cats as they picked up the thread from where they dropped it the night before and carried on without missing a beat. The dogs too raised their usual protests, which as usual fell on deaf ears with the cats occasionally blinking their eyes and flicking their ears. If I was going to throw a stone at these little balls of nuisance, I was going to hit them and was not going to take any chances this time. The only way to do that was to get as close to the cats as possible.

Now, this idea of mine required that I jump up on the terrace of the neighbour so as to reach the cats. This also meant that I had to climb up my compound wall, jump up on the sunshade of the neighbour’s house, before clambering on to the terrace. My dogs stared at me in astonishment as I prepared to clear my compound wall and one of them even encouraged me with a few “whoofs”; not the same blasphemous whoofs, but a different kind of whoof which was hitherto never heard before from their throats. The cats were still pitching innuendos at each other and did not notice that I was already up on the sunshade. But here, I was faced with another problem. If I got myself up on the terrace, there was nothing that offered me any cover, to get as close to the cats. And the cats would spot me and disappear into the darkness as they always do, in the night. I decided to walk along the sunshade until I reached quite near them before throwing the stone in their direction. A sudden sinking feeling developed in my stomach and same brilliantly lit flash of light illuminated the insides of my skull for a brief moment, the same way it did the previous day before all lights went off.

I woke up the next day with more pain in the head than the day before. On careful examination of the concerned area, exactly as the careful examination of the concerned area I did the previous day, I found that the lump I had on the previous day had given birth to a smaller lump very next to it. I also realized that I was not lying on my bed, but on a surface which had a lot of sand and flower pots on it. I sat up and looked around. On closer examination of the surrounding area, very unlike the closer examination of the concerned area I did earlier and the day before, I came to the conclusion that I was still at the neighbour’s house, in his compound and had spent the entire night sleeping there. I tried to think back, but my brain was acting a little jammed and not receptive to commands like “think back”. I jumped back into my compound where the dogs treated with more whoofs which may have been closest thing they ever said to “hey, good to see you back”.

I turned around to look back at the sunshade, which area I was treading before waking up from the arms of Mother Earth, in the neighbour’s compound. I shuddered in horror as I saw what had befallen me the night before. The sunshade was just long enough to reach the end of the window and did run the entire length of the building. In the pitch darkness, I walked upto the edge of the sunshade and had fallen face down, which explained the second lump on the forehead, and woke up just in time before the neighbour found me out.

“Hey, you had been to a stag party, yesterday?” My sis met me at the door.

“Nope. Why do you ask?”

“You seem to be developing horns all over, the kind only stags have”

“Very funny”.

I was more determined than ever to rid the cats from the neighbourhood. Now that I knew the terrain of the neighbourhood, it was going to be easy this time. I would choose the window which was right below where the cats would be sitting, straighten myself upto a standing position and throw the stone right at one of them. From that distance I could hit an ant’s behind without taking aim.

I was all geared up for action when another bright idea hit me all of a sudden and I wasted no time praising myself on such quick thinking. My mother and sis would not have believed that I was capable of such brilliance and I had half a mind to wake them up to let them in on the whole show. But my sister being a hard core animal lover would have objected to the very idea and put a spanner in the works. She was the kind who went around saying that cats and other animals had as much rights as we humans did, which she said was guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. I could argue on that point for months, but never did lest she got annoyed so much as to alter my physical constitution.

I decided I was not going to throw stones this time, but simply creep up on these cats and say a loud “BOO”. I would crawl up on these darned cats by getting to the sunshade above which they were sitting, slowly raise my head to position, arch back my entire upper body as a regular rooster did before blasting out a vociferous ‘cockadoodle doo’ and then shout out “BOO”. This would scare the living daylights out of these beings and would never contemplate coming back to the same area, ever again. Now, who wouldn’t be terrified if someone crawled up on them in the dead of the night, took aim in the direction of the ears and screamed “BOO” with all the lung power at his command? I congratulated myself over and over at this great flash of brilliance. This idea, when put to practice, also simply halts me from wasting stones at window panes as also hitting the cats as to cause grievous injury.

“Yoo hoo” I greeted the neighbour as cheerily as I did the previous day, as he appeared at the terrace that evening.

“Yooo hooo” He reciprocated with the same enthusiasm. “Now, did you have two horns yesterday or you grew one more today?” He asked me with a malicious gleam in the eyes.

I glared at him and vowed to break a few more of his window panes as early as I could. But now, I had other important things in mind. My eyes scanned the entire house of the neighbour, carefully noting in mind where the sunshade ended as also the usual position taken by the cats. There was no window shade right under that area and the closest one was just under the broken window pane. I decided that if I shouted loudly enough, it would still scare the cats. I may have to repeat the procedure for a day more or two, but I was sure it would do.

Strangely enough, the dogs did not break into a relentless staccato of yaps at the sound of the cats. They seemed to wait for me and even encouraged me with a few whoofs to climb up the wall. Slowly, ever so slowly I lifted myself onto the sunshade. The cats were about ten feet away from where I was crouching. Slowly, slower than my slow ascend onto the sunshade, I straightened myself up and arched back to bellow a full blooded “BOO”. As my body arched and then straightened with springiness of a coiled spring and the “BOO” was half way out of my mouth, I saw out of the corner of the eye, a figure clad in black clothes with its head covered, get up from the other side of the parapet of the terrace. This figure appeared so close to me that it was the scariest thing to happen to a man who believed in ghosts, devils and other alien beings. I flung myself around and screamed the entire “BOO” right on the ghost like figure’s face. The creature let out a screech which exactly the same in intensity and tone as the “EAAAOOOOHHHHWW” I heard on the day I broke the window pane. I did not wait to see what happened to the ghost after it was hit by my “BOO”. I was sure I heard a loud thud, again, very similar to thud I heard on the day I broke the window pane.

I jumped back onto the compound wall, down to the ground and was about to race back into the house when this explosion and brilliantly lit bright light appeared in my head again. And as was their practice, they went off as fast as they came in and me, flat on the ground unconscious.

I woke with the same heaviness in head. The last three days of practice had not gotten me used to it, but it only got heavier. On careful examination of the concerned area, I found I had three lumps on the forehead and one on the back side of my head too. As I opened my eyes wider and let in more light, more pictures started to appear before me. They were in the shape of my mother, sister and the neighbour. The neighbour was wearing the black dress which I recognized as the one worn by this ghostly apparition on the terrace. I was very amused to see that the neighbour also had unicorn like protrusion on the back side of his head. In fact, I liked it so much that I burst out laughing. I was so happy that he who was callous enough to throw stones at the neighbour’s house on mere suspicion that a stone may have arrived from there, is suffering the same way as I did.

“What are you laughing at?” He spat out the question with a murderous intent, but it was lost on me, because I was busy laughing.

“You look like a secretary bird, with that tuft of hair at the back.” I continued laughing

“And you look like a Triceratops with two extra horns at the back.” He quipped back.

“Shut up, both of you. Pray tell me what happened?” My mother got in between us.

“I was sleeping when someone threw a stone at my window and broke the glass. I came to the terrace and was hit by another stone. I do not think that it was the same stone that hit my window that hit my forehead, but a different one, which accounts for this lump on the forehead. Since that night, I would peep out of the broken window pane every night, to see if any one threw more stones. Yesterday, I saw a figure clamber on top of your compound wall, while I was peeping through the hole. So I crept out of the room, crawled myself up to the parapet of the terrace and got up to see who was on the other side, when this figure sprung up and yelled “BOO” at me. I jumped about five feet high in the air before falling flat on my back; my back side of the head hit the floor which accounts for the other lump on the back of the head. Upon standing up, I saw this figure jumping back into your compound and I threw a stone at him. Only after it fell down and all of you descended on the scene that I realized it was this idiot who broke my window pane, threw a stone on my head, scared me stiff with a “BOO” and that which caused me to fall down. I do not understand why this clown climbed up on my terrace and scared me with a ‘BOO”.

“I thought you were a cat” I ventured my opinion.


“I meant I was going to scare the cats on your terrace with a loud “BOO”, but you got in between the cats and the “BOO”.

“You got onto my terrace to scare a cat?”

“Two cats”

“Two cats?”

“Yes, two cats”

“You mean to say that it is alright to jump on to a stranger’s house to scare off a few cats, when you could have done the same standing in your compound”

“My dogs have been trying to shoo off the cats with the loudest form of barks, but to no avail. So I thought it was best to get as close to the cats as possible”.

“He is lying about the cats. I have never seen any cat in my compound. He probably got in to my house for something else”.

“I think so too. I have never seen any cats around here”. My sister put in her two pence.

“NO, NO, the cats were there. You could check with the dogs, if you want. Or you could wait till 11 pm tonight and see for yourself”.

But the cats never ever turned up at that spot ever again. The “BOO” must have scared them away for good. The dogs too have given up barking in the night but the entire episode wrecked the neighbour’s sleep permanently. The entire terrace was brightly lit every night from the next day on, to prevent me from springing any more surprise “BOOS”. Every now and then, I would see him prowling on the terrace, in the night or peeping out of the hole in the window pane which he never repaired. In fact, my neighbour had completely lost his marbles. I would also occasionally see him stare into the darkness, probably looking for those cats, which probably chose another place very far away to shout at each other.

My mother and sister have not given up asking me why I jumped on to his house and do not believe that there ever were any cats in the entire neighbourhood. They still believe that nights don’t get more silent than the ones in their precinct.

“It is so peaceful here, in the night. So silent that you could hear an ant burp a mile away”.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The gymnasium is a place where people asked you the most stupid things. It would seem that weight training not only thickened the muscles, but thickened the grey matter as well. Not even a single day passes by without someone asking me something silly.

Today was not any different. I picked up the phone which was shaking violently at being ignored despite screeching as best as it could.

"Who is this?"

"Yoo hoo"

"Yoo hoo yourself. Who yoo?"

"Iam Yoo hoo. We a yoo's mother. He is the chinese student you took in under your guidance yesterday."

"Oh ok. How a yoo?"

"Ho a yoo will join too. Sir, I wishes to asketh some dowbts"


"You gave my son a diet chart. You tolds to eat 8 small meals a day, to lose weight. Now my son has breakfast, lunch and dinner. Only three meals and he is fat. Now you asketh him to eats eight meals. It will make him fatter faster."

I explained to her why the three meal system did not work and 8 small meals would help him.

"Why is Wee a yoo is fat and Ho a yoo is not fat? Both eat the same food."

"They eat the same food?"

"Yes, they do"

"Have the same father too?"

"I don't understand"

"Never mind. They eat the same quantity too?"

"Almost. Actually We a yoo eats a little less, always"

"You mean the fat one?"


"And is fatter than the thin one?"

"Yes. The fat one is fatter than the thin one"

"The fat one will always be fatter than the thin one. It is only natural"

"No sir, you do not understand. Why is the fat one fatter than the thin one, even though he eats less?"

"It is only natural"

"What is?”

"The fat one being fatter than the thin one. The world over, the fat ones have always been fatter than the thin ones. I don't think your fatso… son is going to be an exception and become fatter than the thin one, and still be thinner than the thin one. He will always be fatter than the thin one"

"But why is he fatter than the thin one when they eat the same food and about the same quantity too?

"He is probably eating something on the sly"

"No, he is not"

"He may not tell you everything, but boys will be boys and they always do like to try out something more interesting. They do the same with all women"

She left it at that. Needless to say there are always people heckling me with utter nonsense. It has always been so, ever since I started a gymnasium on my own.

This story I am about to tell you, happened a long time back, just about the time when I had just set up a gymnasium and was eager to catch all business that passed by my door.

I had personally met and promised each and every owner of shops and business centres on my building a certain sum of money for every member they sent to my gym. And soon the business started to look good.

I also engaged the services of two big muscular hunks to train the members and paid them well enough to tell everyone that they became this big because of my training methods. These guys were heavily armed with all the muscular protrusions from neck down, but a little light and numb in the upper regions of their cerebral cortex. This was probably, I presumed, due to the fact these mountains of muscles did not get enough oxygen to work their brain and brawn at the same time. An occupational hazard; you were either big or strong or you were intelligent.

To compound matters further, there was this girl who had this nasty habit of standing a little too close to you when she had to ask a few doubts. She was pretty enough to stop all traffic if she just as much as appeared on the sidewalk of a road, and needless to say these muscle heads suffered a lot at her hands. She would sneak up on one of these guys from behind, stand so close and touch the shoulders before saying,

"Rosh, do you think my arms will stop looking this delicate if I did these arm exercises?"

The minute she put her hand on Rosh's shoulders, all his hair stood on end as if trying to be the first to reach out and touch her. He also shook mildly like a well oiled engine of a Royal Enfield bike and even purr ever so softly. He would turn around very slowly, taking utmost care not to knock her down and mustering all the gentleness at his command, coo so.

"No, Preeti, it will not happen. I have taken all the care in the world to make sure you do only those exercise which keep your arms this delicate, always"

"Oh, thanks Rosh...I always knew I could count on your advises. You really are one of those gentle giants... the kind women fall for."

And she would move a millimetre or so, closer. Now, this is the most dangerous moment in a man's life. Ask him to meet raging bulls head on or dive into a pool full of piranhas or jump inside a lion cage and pull its tail while it is gobbling up its dinner, he will do so without hesitation. Ask him to turn around, like Rosh had to turn around, and look at a girl in the eye and stay there without shaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm is asking him to do the impossible. And yet, this was what Rosh had to do, turn around, look at the girl in the eye and not shake like this particular leaf that shakes its hips everytime she hears the word thunderstorm.

I happen to be one of the seasoned campaigners who had gone through worse in life and lived to tell the tale. You know... one of those guys who could turn around, look a pretty girl in the eye and not shake like this silly leaf I told you about. There are two ways of doing this. You had to clinically analyse why a leaf shook in a thunderstorm. I found the leaf's absolute lack of body weight being the reason for shaking so violently. In such situations, I always lifted something heavy and attached myself to it like an adhesive tape so that the heavy object would clamp down on all vigorous vibrations of the body. Another way was to suck in a gallon or two, more if you can, of the available air around you and hold the bally gas in you. This will also pin you to the ground.

Rosh's only option was to suck in and deprive the neighbourhood of all available oxygen. He grew about three inches sideways, before he looked at Preeti in the eye, as he was supposed to do. He had to take immense care not to knock Preeti down on the way to getting bigger as she was standing very very close. In fact, she stood so close to him that if she moved any closer, she would end up being on the other side of Rosh. Taking most care not let out an ounce of gas, he cooed again,

"Geee, Pranks mean.....thanks Preeti"

Now, this intimacy did not go unnoticed in the gym. The thing with boys, especially those aspiring to be big and muscular is that they simply assumed that every beautiful girl who just as much as looked at them invariably fell in love with them too. And every single laddie in the gym thought that Preeti was his and considered it a real monkey business if someone just as much as glanced at her. The thing with this business of being a monkey is that you consider it a sin to monkey with another monkey's monkey.

One of the monkeys to voice his dissent was none other than the other trainer, Jay. Jay was bigger, taller and considered it impudence on the part of Rosh to have gone the distance with Preeti. Now, it was his turn to shake like a leaf in a thunderstorm. He shook very differently from the other leaf of which I mentioned, and it was obvious that lifting weights or sucking in air was not going to pin him down.

"What do you think you are doing, Rosh?"

“What do you think I was doing, Jay?"

Rosh was not about to back down and if he purred like the well oiled engine of a Royal Enfield bike earlier, he shook like the bike that developed engine trouble all of a sudden, now.

"Hey, cut it out" I jumped in between these two Himalayas of muscles.

This couldn’t go on forever. I had to stop these mountains of muscles from fighting with each other. I couldn’t fire them, because they were good trainers and the boys liked them a lot. But on the other side, if I let it go unchecked, it might prove to be the funeral of one of the trainers. I fervently wished something would happen that would shape up things for the better.

And then, it happened.

If Jay and Rosh were Himalayas of muscles, this guy who walked into the gym that day was so huge he blocked all sunlight falling on earth. His neck was so big it could give a rhino an inferiority complex; his arms so long, hairy and huge that you would think he stole them from a Gorilla and when he walked, the floor shook mildly [ not the same way that bally leaf that shaked ..shooked.. in thunderstorm] and had the grace, finesse and polish of a Tyrannosaurus with docked tail.

"Are you the owner of this hole?" T Rex asked me in a voice that resembled a rumble from the skies.

I think I said yes, though I do not remember hearing me say it, but T Rex nodded and growled.

"I wanna sign up"

There was something very terrifying of this monster dinosaur that my fingers acted like they were struck by 'rigor mortis'; a condition very akin to the feeling you get if a few ants crawled inside your pants, decided to attack and bite your rump while you are in a bus jam-packed with beautiful girls.

When T Rex worked out, all gym stopped to watch and held their breath. Lights flickered, altering from dim and bright in excitement. Boys gaped with their mouth open and Preeti watched him with the intensity of anticipation that comes to girls when they see Salman Khan about to step out of car at their door front.

T Rex was not exactly oblivious to all this attention and subservience from the other members. In fact, he enjoyed it very much especially when Preeti ignored Jay and Rosh and gave her undivided attention to him. Every time she cast a glance at T Rex, his lungs swelled up, his cheeks puffed up, his Adams Apple rolled up and down as though he was gulping down a few apples that rolled down his mouth, eventually landing in his stomach, his eyes bulged out as though he was trying to take in as much of Preeti as possible; all this causing him lift weights cranes would crumble under. He was also getting to be a little threatening in his posture if Preeti just as much glanced at anyone as he would stare that guy down. It caused so much consternation that in a week's time, all the boys in the gym had stopped looking at Preeti as though she was made of Baskin Robbins’s Iron Butter Scotch with black cherries on top laced with tangerine crème.

Now, it was Preeti’s turn to get worried. In the past, she used to get any man’s undivided attention and now, the boys would look away if she was anywhere in the vicinity. She could not figure out how this change could have come over these boys and everytime, she tried to get one of the members into a conversation, she would find that she was talking to a man who was about to do 100 m dash from where she was standing. But girls being girls, she did figure out that the reason was indeed T Rex. This seemed to upset her no end and she decided to hit back at T Rex as best as a woman could. And as they say, hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.

I did not know that she had these horrid plans for T Rex and I was to play a key role in it. As a normal man who was normally inclined to be attracted to beautiful women, it was only normal that I fell for her sweet talk and overtures, which were calculated to catch T Rex’s attention. I, on my part, was especially overjoyed when she started to give me all the attention she could bring to her command. She would loudly say, every time after her workout,

“Venu dear, would you please give me ride home?.”

“Sure, Preeti”

“I like sitting behind a strong man like you, who is so much in control of the bike”

Out of the corner of the eye, I could see that this remark from Preeti made T Rex swallow in a few gallons of air through the mouth and nose, so fast so that, it pulled some of the dumbbells up, making them stand on end, as though wishing to announce their willingness to be sucked into his cavernous thoracic cavity. He also uttered sounds like the kind you hear from a marsh buffalo which took in a swirl of green grass with a swish of its tongue and found out that it was actually made of fibre plastic. Occasionally he would shake his head violently, that resembled an elephant shaking off mud from its body. His displeasure was very obvious and a shadow of physical assault loomed large over my fragile self. But then, it was all worth it, for Preeti had eyes only for me and she made no bones about showing it.

Or so I thought. I even told all in the gym that Preeti was my girl and we intended to elope someday soon, because her parents did not like their daughter to marry a muscle head. I even started looking around for a house where we could stay after marriage. I believed that Preeti would say yes when I proposed, because no woman would dare to openly flirt so much with a man unless she wished to go all the way. Or so I thought.

Then it happened. I always had some kind of protection in the gym from T Rex, but outside, it was a different matter. I was always careful not to run into T Rex on the road. I’d rather if got hit or run over by a car. I was so careful that I would not take off the helmet in a restaurant, while eating. With great difficulty, I would drink my coffee; with greater difficulty, eat my meals and with the greatest difficulty, washed my face and mouth after a meal; all with the helmet on. People would stare at me as though I was a little numb in the head, but I was sure they would do the same if they were chased by a cloned monster that was a cross between a Tyrannosaurus and a human being. He was probably an experiment that went partially wrong; in the process of making a clone that had the brains of a human and the strength of a Tyrannosaurus.

“Sir, why do you always eat with a helmet on your head?” asked the cashier at the hotel, while I was paying the bill.

“Just to make sure that no flies ever flew into my mouth while I opened my mouth to eat”. I answered cryptically.

“Well, you only had to keep your mouth shut instead of clamping your entire head with a helmet, to prevent flies from flying inside”

“Now, if I kept my mouth shut, through which entrance would I push the food in, you silly ass?”

“Oh ohh, okay”. I seemed to have driven the point home.

“Hey you” I shuddered at the sound and turned around. T Rex was standing behind me with an expression that said “What would you like to be written on your tombstone?”

I tried to run past him, but he picked me up like you would a kitten. I twisted and swirled violently causing my helmet, which was not tied tight, to fly off and land on T Rex’s head. His head being bigger and wider, the helmet did not reach all the way down and looked like a roman warrior’s head gear minus the feathers and other paraphernalia. It also covered T Rex’s eyes for a brief moment which gave just enough time to free myself and run for cover. I turned to look back after a few steps and found that T Rex had lost his balance and fallen down on the ground, ramming the helmet hard and tight against his head. He tried to get up, but the fall had the fluid in his ears, cochlea to shake violently, preventing him from being able to stand upright.

This was my great opportunity and I ran back to the hotel and asked the waiter if I could have some pepper. And then, I generously sprinkled the pepper right into the hole provided by the helmet, on to his face and eyes. He uttered sounds very similar to the ones made by lions that were fighting over a kill and every time he tried to get up, I kicked his knees causing him to lose balance. Just so when I was about to knock him down the 48th time, a police jeep pulled up by my side and out jumped a tall officer who was built like Arnold Shwarzenneger but looked like Tom Cruise. Following him out of the jeep was my pretty Preeti, making my eyes shut and open a few million times, faster than the shutter of the fastest camera ever made.

“Hiya Guys. Meet my husband, Godwin I.P.S”.

“You are married?” I finally managed to say as much, as I watched out of the corner of the eye T Rex get up and stand erect with great difficulty. He then, proceeded to pull the helmet off so violently that I thought his head would also come off, still hinged to the helmet.

“Yes, almost two years now. What are you guys doing?”

“Eh…ar…we …”

“He was showing me how easy it was to lose balance if your eyes were covered” T Rex answered with an amiability that left me shaking like that bally leaf I told you about. He then proceeded to put his hand on my shoulder and said,

“Venu dear, would you please give me ride home?”

“Sure, dud…er...dude”

“I like sitting behind a strong man like you, who is so much in control of the bike”.

He then turned around and winked at Preeti, before handing the helmet over to me.