He was not woken up by his alarm, but by the fired bullets. He understood the training had started early. During uncertainty of war, everyone had to be on toes. He heard the Major instructing the cadets. He got up and sat on his bed and waited for the alarm to go. He switched off and stood to get ready for his daily routine.
Usually he left his room as soon as he was ready. But he felt like sitting at his desk for some time. His shirt was so stiff just like his posture. He doesn’t like a shirt with wrinkles. He saw the book “Indian War Veterans” opened at his 300th page. He remembered he would have hardly read 150 pages. The pages should have turned due to the breeze. His room had a roof made up of cloth. It was a room made up for the military post.
He closed the book and placed the bookmark to start reading before bed time. He heard a soldier outside his tent, an unexpected guest.
“Colonel, Can I come in?” the soldier asked his permission. It was a custom followed by army even though the door was open.
All the messages would be delivered to him at his office. It was unusual to have a soldier at his quarters so early. He sensed it must be something of utmost important. He said “Come in”.
His voice was crisp and clear. There was no tremble in his voice. The years in army didn’t bring any change to his voice. There were only evident changes in his body and posture.
“Sir, Lieutenant General requested you to stop by his office as soon as possible”. The soldier said after a firm salute. He always wondered why everything was requested even though it was an order.
“Do you know whether I have time to go to my office to check today’s schedule or should I be heading straight to his office directly”, he said.
“I am not sure Colonel. I was not informed about that.” He sensed urgency in his eyes. The soldier said reassuring that there is something important.
“Okay. You can leave.” He said. The soldier again saluted and left the room. He tied the lace of his boots and stood to leave. He closed the drapes and walked towards Lieutenant General’s office.
The clouds had different idea and had surrounded the sun. It looked like sunset even though it was just 3 in the afternoon. Everyone in the village knew that it might rain any time as the clouds were also dark. The village quietly prepared for an evening storm. Omar walked hurriedly with his bag. He was occupied with thoughts and walked swiftly without any attention to the surroundings.
When he entered his house, his mom was working in the kitchen. His younger sister, Nisha, who was 9 years old, had returned early from school owing to the storm. She sat in the living room reading some old magazines.
“Where is my candy?” asked Nisha.
He dug his bag and took a candy and pointed it towards her. “Here, Have it. I need to tell you something.” he said and signaled her to come near him.
She snatched the candy from his hand and nodded with her eyebrows up. He answered understanding that she asked “What’s the matter?”
“I want to tell you something, will you keep it as a secret“.
“Did you kiss any girl“, she said and giggled to herself.
Omar sighed and hushed, “Silly! This is more serious. I have joined the army”, and took care their mom doesn’t hear it.
She had a surprised look and said “What! You joined army! Mom is going to kill you.“
“Yes, I know, so only I don’t want to tell her until I leave“. After a brief silent he continued “I don’t know. I am confused“.
She looked at him for some minutes with candy stuffed in her mouth. Out of the blue, when he least expected she yelled “Ma, Baiyya has joined Army and doesn’t know how to tell you.” He tried to shut her mouth. But she overpowered him and managed to finish her sentence.
Their mother dropped everything she was doing and came out saying “You know I will not allow you to join. I don’t like it. Is it more important to serve for the country rather than helping your sister and mom?“
“You know both are not same. I have already been called for training. Nothing can be done now ma.” He said with his head down.
“How come I know this only now? There was no letters.” she said in a higher pitch clearly indicating she didn’t like his decision.
“I know you won’t approve of this. So I got all it delivered to my college address“.
“Hell with approval. I wouldn’t haven allowed you to apply for the damn thing” her angered peaked and she continued “I have already lost your father to the army. Now I can’t take it again. There is no word about him for the past 7 years. They cannot even confirm whether he is alive or not. I can’t lose you also like that“. When he finished she broke down and tears started rolling down her cheeks.
He held her on his hands and said “You don’t worry about that; I will come back for you whatever the cost. You and Nisha are my top priority.” He said and hugged both his sister and mom tightly.
Secret Order – 1
He noticed the cadets training when he walked. Nothing had changed since he had been trained. He constantly nodded his head when he saw familiar faces. Everyone had respect towards him. His walk was brisk and tight. He stopped near the door and knocked even though it was open.
“May I, Sir”
“Yes Siddharth, come in. I have been waiting for you. Come on in and sit down. Will you please close the door behind you?”
The Lieutenant General had an open door policy. But asking to close the door made Siddharth to doubt something was serious.
Even before Siddharth sat, Lieutenant General started “Listen carefully for what I have to say. I am going to say this only once and this is only for your ears.”
Siddharth nodded to show his acknowledgement.
“We have planned for a secret mission to infiltrate into Pakistan beyond the line of control. Intelligence needs some ears right now and you fit the bill. You need to leave as soon as possible.”
“How long is the mission, Sir?”
“There is no definite stop right now. You will be communicated that. All your communications will be through this person in Bhopal.” and pointed to a folder lying on the desk. Siddharth grabbed the folder and had a glance through the content.
“I am glad to serve the country Lieutenant General. May I be dismissed?”
“Yes, you are.” and showed hands towards the door.
Siddharth tucked the folder inside his arms and gave a stiff salute to the general. When he was about to open the door, General added “Please leave the door open”.
Secret Order – 2
It was a gloomy day and Omar was sweating heavily. “Is that him?” someone pointed at him and asked his supervisor. Omar hadn’t seen him earlier in the camp. He also looked much younger than the guys who visit the camp.
His supervisor wanted to make sure that the stranger wanted to know about Omar. So he again pointed at Omar and said “Are you asking about him, Chief”? The question made Omar realize that the visiting guy should be of higher position and power.
“His name is Omar. He has been training here for the past 6 months. Very hard working boy” replied Colonel Waqas, Omar’s supervisor, when he heard “Yes” from the stranger.
“He looks tough. Send him to my room after the session.” came the order for the Colonel. Once the stranger had left, Colonel went near Omar and said “Go to the staff quarters and ask for Chief’s room. You will be taken to him”.
He replied “Yes, sir” and fell silent. He wondered why the Colonel didn’t take the visitor’s name. Was it out of respect or is it because he himself didn’t know the name. He didn’t question the Colonel as it was not in the practice to question one’s order. He assumed Chief should be senior to Colonel. This was the third person that had ordered Omar to be seen in private. There have been rumors in camp that people scoring well in the training and in stress exam will be invited for special training. Omar assumed this visit also had to something about it.
In the evening Omar went to the staff quarters to visit the Chief. His house was well guarded and a servant led him to Chief’s study. When Omar entered the room, Chief was reading a book. It looked like he was waiting for Omar as he was led straight into the room without seeking permission.
As soon as Chief saw Omar entering the room, he placed his book on the table, looked straight through Omar’s eyes and asked “How do you like it here son”? Omar’s reaction showed that he was not expecting such a question. Yet he managed to answer “Very good, sir”. Chief asked him to take a seat and ordered to bring two glasses of chai to his servant.
“Did you visit your mother anytime recently”? Omar was asked another question. “No Sir, I haven’t. Just writing letters these days”.
“Good” replied Chief and waited for the servant to leave the room. “I have something that I need to ask you” said Chief when he heard the sound of the door locked from outside. Omar was left alone with the stranger who had inquired about him.
It was the day Siddharth had to leave. He had cleared his room of all his belongings. A farewell dinner was arranged for him the earlier day. The real reason for his departure was not told to anyone. They were informed that he had been transferred to another camp. He even made plans with couple of his peers to meet them during vacation. But only Siddharth knew that he could not meet any of them. Though he wanted to tell them the actual reason and leave with a good note, he was not able to open up. He hasn’t shared the real reason with anyone.
Siddharth told his final good bye in the afternoon and left for the railway station in an army patrol jeep. The entire plan of him reaching the border was communicated to him couple of days back. He was supposed to board the train and leave waving good bye to his friends. He would pull the train emergency brakes and alight in the dark hours of the night and proceed toward the border by walk. But before he could proceed he had to burn his army stuffs and ID cards some place and shave off his mustache.
Siddharth did everything according to the plan. He didn’t know his future on the other side of the border, but still didn’t even flinch a second while he was attempting to cross the border on the deserts of Rajasthan. He was well aware that the nearest village was a good two days walk. He was prepared, mentally and physically, for the long journey ahead of him. He proceeded on his foot until he could see someone.
After spending around one and half day under the hot sun with limited water and no food, he saw a village. He bought a bicycle in the village with the money he had brought. He started riding it to the nearest town as planned. On the way he stopped on a road side dhaba. He ate until he was not hungry and drank water until his thirst was quenched. He arrived after 3 days of his travel to a major bus stand. He inquired about the next bus to a town, his final destination.
Siddharth was told by the bus driver the sequence of transfers he had to make before he could reach his final destination. He had travelled a lot and still there was a long journey ahead of him. Yet he was enthusiastic and had a bright smile to whoever he spoke. He mingled with everyone and it felt like he was in his homeland. He didn’t sleep in the bus even during night travel. He looked through the windows as if he was a kid vacationing after a long time. He counted the number of trees he passed. He smiled at all the people boarding the bus. When the bus reached the bus stop he was supposed to get down, he jumped down and started to walk.
The weather was overcast for a typical afternoon. It looked like sunset even though it was just 4 hours after noon. Everyone on the road knew that it might start to rain any time. The people were quietly preparing for an evening storm. Siddharth walked hurriedly with his little stuff he had bought in a bag. He was occupied with thoughts and walked swiftly without any attention to the surroundings. He felt like the same exact events had taken place already, but was not sure when. He stopped in front of a house and inhaled a heavy breath. He saw young beautiful young girl of 18 years sitting outside with a magazine in her hand and an old women weaving. He walked towards them slowly. The women kept aside the small cloth she was working and searched for her specs to have a clear image of the person approaching their house. Siddharth had imagined many time how sweet his sister’s voice would be, and when he heard a voice that was sweeter than anything he had heard his heart melted and tears started flowing involuntarily. Nisha recognized Siddharth and yelled “Ma, Omar baiyya has returned”.
1. Ripping story / scenes off from just one Hollywood movie is too mainstream.
2. The villains had the brilliance to scam 200 crores but not to know a person shot below right shoulder had chances of surviving.
3. It’s apparently easy to fly out and in of India just after escaping from the clutches of the police.
4. Time / distance continuum seems to be not present anymore.
5. Everyone is so informed they have all the facts and information on finger tips to plan a robbery.
6. A bank that uses fingerprint for account verification cannot afford CCTV to monitor the manager room.
7. If money is available in huge quantity in your account, it takes time to even transfer to another account digitally.
8. There are many philanthropic people who leave their cars and bikes unattended with keys to be used by people in need.
9. Reserve Bank of India has an account to which people can transfer money.
10 Sacrificing a partial night sleep, with office the next day, to watch Aarambam was a probably not a good thing.
“What are you doing?” I sent her a message. Though I wanted to talk to her, I didn’t want to call when I didn’t know whether she also wanted to talk to me. There was no reply from her.
After an hour she replied. “Hey, I was sleeping.”
I didn’t want to reply immediately. I didn’t want to show that I waited for her reply. But I was not able to resist the urge to talk to her. “Why are you sleeping in the evening?” I replied.
The reply from her came immediately. “Nothing. Just was reading a book and didn’t know when I slept.”
“Which book?” I asked her.
“Come online. Lets hangout” She said.
“Sure. Just make sure that you do little makeup. Remember I need to sleep tonight. ” I replied her while I called.
She didn’t look sleepy or tired. It didn’t look like she was sleeping. But I didn’t ask her anything about that and said “How do you look so pretty even after sleep?”
“There is something known as face wash. Have you heard about that? That’s the reason” She replied. I always liked her quirky replies. I just laughed off and said that she needs to teach me how to do that sometime.
The distance between us made us not to spend much time together. She told me about her day. Though I am not a much of a talker, I liked to gossip about everything with her, in fact only with her. Though we spoke daily, we haven’t run out of words any time.
Suddenly she interrupted and said “Hey I want to ask you something”.
I had a puzzled look and said “Yes, ask me.”
“What do you think about long distance relationships?” she asked.
I tried to put my thoughts cohesive and said “It’s like trying to understand how a squared triangle can be drawn.”
Though I tried to be funny, her question made my heart pound faster. “Ahem, Look to whom did I ask. You don’t know I guess.” And she continued “I had been talking to someone for some time and I like him. He is little shy and I am thinking of asking him what he thinks about the both of us. So I just ran this across you to know about your thoughts.” She said and had a pause.
I know I had to say something and not be the shy person she thinks. “Go ahead and tell him. He may also have feeling for you.” I blabbered without any thought.
“Hmmm. Then stay online when I call him. You always give me courage.” She said and took her phone to call. I experienced a sudden pain in my entire body. It felt like a bullet pierced my leg and flowed through my body to reach my heart. I thanked the Gods as I didn’t tell her anything absurd and lose her friendship. I was put on hold. The time also gave me time to recover. I felt I could pass out anytime. I felt a little dizziness and my head was spiraling with random thoughts. Did I do wrong just talking to her and didn’t tell her what I felt. I should have not built castles without knowing her intent. After she told she liked him, her face lit up just the way I imagined how she will be happy when I told her I liked her. I consoled myself saying that she choose someone who can make her happy and silently waited for her to finish her conversation.
She talked just for couple of minutes and got back to me. “What is that strange look you are having?” she asked me. I was not able to answer her questions. Tears were forming on my eyes rapidly. “My eyes are burning, Let me just pour some eye drops” I said, and didn’t wait for her reply to get out of her sight. I wiped off my face and returned.
She started right off once I put on my ear phones, “Are you stupid enough to believe this? I just wanted to see how you react when I told I liked someone else.” She brought back the heart rate again back to peak, but this time it was sweet. “I like you actually and would like to know whether you also do the same”. Even before she could complete her sentence I interrupted and said “if you had delayed even a bit, I would have not been conscious enough to hear this from you.”
She had a broad smile on her face and said “You are really doubled refined idiot that’s one of the reason I like you”.
There are some films that make us realize that film making is an art and some films where it entices to watch it more than once. There are some movies that give satisfaction for the money spent and some where it makes to regret even for thought of watching the movie. Naiyaandi, the recent Tamil movie, is a film that falls under the last category.
The director, A. Sarkunam, has some pretty good films under his belt and won appreciation for his earlier films. But, man, was he in such a desperate place to direct a well known star, he choose such a story. I assumed that Dhanush has left behind the days where he has to do movies just for the sake of people remembering his name. He must have been pretty much stoned when he heard the story and laughed for all the silly so called funny moments in the story. The lady love of the hero is played by Nazriya Nazim. She was touted as a lass who has lot of potential in the film industry. Couple of weeks before the movie released she made a huge cry for using a body double to show as her navel in a song sequence. But what she didn’t realize was that she had been portrayed as a retard in the movie speaking with random people whenever she wants and forgets it later.
My good friend Sanjay once pointed me that there are only 7 story lines and only the way it is dealt is different. The story of the movie is a usual clichéd line – Villain falls for the girl, Hero falls for the girl, the girl falls for the hero, and then the hero has to fight for his love. I don’t see a problem with it. But the way the story has been handled is horrible. At this point I remember the famous scene from the movie Moneyball where Brad Pitt explains to a group of people where his team stands (watch the video here). If the movie name, Naiyaandi, can be substituted for the team’s name, the scene fits perfectly. The hero introductory scene, the scene where the hero jumps from one tree and to another to see whether the girl loves him, the scenes where the hero performs so called funny things to make the heroine fall in love are some classic bad movie moments. I cannot quote any scenes from the second half as I didn’t have the endurance to sit through the end of the film. The movie cannot be termed as a family entertainer. Parents need to be aware that watching this kind of movies can lower their kids IQ.
Circling back to the topic, why I support piracy is simple – just to discourage the directors to make such bad movies, to discourage actors choosing bad movie scripts, to encourage the producers to spend money only on quality stories and to encourage theater owners to screen the movies based on content and not based on the star value. There is no pride in celebrating 100 years of Cinema if still there are movies with such low content. Once in a while there should be movies like this made just to set the bar low for other moderate movies to perform well.
Moving to a new place, a new house, a new company would be fun. All my prayers were answered when I received the call about the job offer about a month back. I was excited to meet new people and get to know a different culture. I will get sufficient money to try different cuisines. I could hangout with friends any time. I could go for a walk in the park with slight drops of water pouring from the sky. The prospect for even buying a pet was bright. As I would move to a big city, I could date and even meet my better half. All the thoughts were racing in my mind. Moving to a new place, a new house, a new company would be fun, at least that is what I thought so.
My house was quite silent that I could hear my stomach rumbling. Every hour, the bell in the nearby church went off. The first few weeks after I first moved in, when I was in high spirits about the new life, it felt like the bell rang for every five minutes. But the situation changed very soon. Every hour looked like a day. It was hard to even pass one hour. Most of the time was spent trying to sleep or starring at the wall. I used to think to hang some photos so it would not be just a plain wall I looked. I gradually went into oblivion.
I stopped to talk to anyone. I wore my noise cancelling headphones, though not connected, always just to avoid conversation with anyone. There were some who tried to strike a conversation even with the headphones on, but gradually the number decreased and it was none in few weeks. I was not sure how they felt about me – a deaf and dumb or some kind of weirdo – and I didn’t care about it too. I started to live my life in my own pace and style. I opened my mouth to quench my thirst. I separated my lips to drop food into my system. And the rest, I didn’t do anything. I was in a body with no purpose.
I didn’t remember how long it had been since I had talked. I didn’t face any problem in office. All communications were through messages or emails. I was handed the work I need to complete. I finished it with no question asked. Though it was monotonous, it satisfied me as there was little or no need of me in direct contact with anyone. I had the same routine for the café also. I had the same food for lunch. In due time, the person in the billing counters understood that I wont speak and didn’t try to small talk with me in during the billing. In all the menial jobs I need to perform whole day the one thing I liked is visiting the coffee shop next to my office.
I found the coffee shop during the first week I had been in office. The shop was small and looked compact. I have always wondered why there was minimal rush even though the coffee was the best in the neighborhood. But the settings served my purpose. Also the coffee girl remembered my drink and just a smile would be enough to order for it. It was hard for me to understand whether she remembered everyone’s choice or it was just mine. But my inability to speak has stopped myself in clearing my doubts.
Whenever I saw her, I remembered George Bernard Shaw’s quote. Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn. Though I didn’t have anything to be hateful, I was silent. Even the inner voice stopped communicating with me. I forgot the sound of my own voice. Other than some occasional grunts, I hadn’t spoken a word for the past 4 months. I was like a four month old kid who can hear everything around but cannot reciprocate with words. The only difference was that the child might one day start speaking, but I didn’t see any time in the near future I would talk.
Days rolled over and I found that abyss I fell was really deep. I had become emotionally numb. Even when I walked past an accident, I didn’t feel anything. It was hard for me to digest. But that was the man I had become. I think I was emotionally unstable. That might be the reason for all these confusions. I didn’t know what I want, what I need to do. I didn’t know whether I need to cry or laugh or just be quite. I didn’t know whether that was depression or just life. My head ached constantly. But don’t know why. It felt like life spun out of control. I didn’t know which would give me happiness. Then there was this isolation. Very bad. So much time was wasted. So much time was wasted thinking about this.
The only place I frequented was the coffee shop. I even stopped passing smiles around. On one lazy Monday, the customer in front of me was raising his voice and banging his hands on the counter. I could sense the fear in the girls face and it seemed she might start crying anytime. The one thing I don’t like is tears in a girl’s eyes, and when someone who seemed close to me was about to cry, I stepped in. I brushed the guys shoulder for which he responded by turning towards me. Without any warning, I raised my hands to punch him. Blood oozed out of his nose and little droplets were there in my hands. I just grabbed a tissue from the nearby table and left without the coffee. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t know the reaction of others around me. But I felt like something heavy has been offloaded from me. I was not able to understand what was it, but I felt light and butterflies in my stomach. I have heard people say that whenever they feel love it feels like that. I was bewildered. I didn’t know what feeling caught me, whether it was anger or it was love or it was just plain detest towards humans.
After a long thought, I picked up the phone to dial her number. The big screen of the smart phone looked odd on my hands. It was so much different than the phones that I had used. I gave life to the screen and the bright light made my eyes blind for a second. I punched in the numbers one by one and pressed the call button. I heard the ring tone. After couple of rings, my heart started to pound faster. I panicked, hung up the phone, threw the phones into my pocket and sat silently to calm myself. I made up my mind that I don’t have to call her again. But it didn’t happen as I thought. It would have been hardly a minute before my phone rang. I just closed my eyes and swiped to attend before I pressed the phone onto my ears.
“Hello”, I said in a feeble voice. Even the person sat next to me didn’t hear, but she did. There was a deep silence on both ends of the phone. It was not the awkward silence, but meaningful one. I could hear her little sobs and understood that her silence was due to the shock. I said again “Please talk to me; I have been waiting for this moment for long while.”
“How are you? When did you come back to life? Why didn’t you call me earlier? Did you even think about what I will feel? Did you at least care for your daughter? If you had, you would have not gone at the first place. ” The words out of her mouth were slow and there was lot of crying in the middle of each sentence. I didn’t mind her crying or her interrogation. I just liked to hear her voice once again. There were times that I used to just listen to her babble as I liked to hear the sound from her mouth. But today was not the day to stay quite. I should answer for her questions.
“You cannot imagine how sorry I am. I felt guilty every time I thought about you. I love that you still remembered my voice after this long. I didn’t even imagine that I would talk to you again. But it happened. I have a lot of explanation to do. I will. Before that, Will you put her on the phone please? “. I was completely discombobulated and was not able to answer her straight. But she understood me and said “I will pass the phone to her, but I doubt she recognizes your actual voice. She has listened only to your voicemails. “
Once I knew the phone was passed, I asked her “Do you know who is speaking?”
There was a profound silence on the other end. I again spoke “I love you so much. It was horrible to miss you so long. I will be coming soon to see you. Will you give me a hug when I come?” Still there was no answer. The phone was again with my wife.
“Why did you take the phone away from her?” I showed my disappointment.
“You understand that she might not know you right. Maybe when you are here she might recognize you. Are you coming home anytime?” She had stopped crying and her voice was clear as crystal.
“You named her Molly right? That’s doesn’t matter. I love whatever name you chose for her. I don’t know how I spent all this time without speaking to you and not seeing her.” When I was speaking I heard knocking sound on her door.
She said “Hold on, someone is at the door” and walked to the door with the phone held on her hand. I heard the rumbling noise her foot steps made.
When she opened the door, she dropped the phone and hugged me tight. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and I was speechless. She just dragged me inside the house to the room I had painted for Molly. Molly was playing with her dolls. When I entered her room she glanced at me. It was painful to see my 6 months old daughter looking me as a stranger. I knew something was bound to happen when I choose a career in the military. I grabbed both of them and felt my world was with me again.