The alarm beeped. The first rays of the sun were reflected off my face. It was a pleasant morning. I was not on the wrong side of the bed when I woke up. I muted the alarm and got up from the bed immediately. Everything happened as I used to imagine. The shower was at the right temperature. When I came to the kitchen the coffee was ready. The paper was lying on the dining table and I had a good read with the cup of coffee in my hand. I had a filling breakfast too, toast and eggs, and it felt like I was living a dream.
I had hoped the entire day would be as magical as my morning, but I was grossly wrong. The afternoon was a complete opposite. The dark clouds made the afternoon look like a place that was cursed by witches. It poured continuously and there were thunderstorms too. I felt like the angels were crying for the pathetic state of the land. I went to lunch alone as usual. The cafeteria was crowded. I just grabbed a salad and resumed my work.
I clearly remember there was a fountain at the entrance of my school. As a curious child, I have always wondered how the fountain hoses were constantly spitting water. Later I learned the water was recycled. Same way I wanted to know how the clouds were refilled with water so quickly. It continuously rained and didn’t even stop a second. There was lot of people stranded because of the flash floods and I faced a lot of delay while returning home. The flash flood had also caused power outages and I was one among the unfortunate who had to spend the night without power. I had a moment with events flashing in front of my eyes. The day had started perfect and it had turned out to a day that I wanted to get out as soon as possible.
After finishing my dinner, I tried to read a book. The probability of me reading a book and having a visitor is high. That day wasn’t any different other than the fact that I didn’t know my guest. He inquired whether I had an extra set of flash lights. I don’t know, and even can’t remember why I lied to him. Seeing his disappointment on his face, I felt bad for my behavior. I gave him the flashlight I had. He refused at first, but my perseverance made him to accept. Once he left, I made my way to the bed to catch little more sleep than the usual.
The alarm beeped. I felt the burning rays of light falling on my face. It felt uncomfortable. I muted the alarm but lay on the bed without opening my eyes. I felt so tired and frail that I just wanted to sleep in for some more time. But the alarm beeped again. Without opening my eyes, I scanned the side table for the alarm but instead found a tube like thing and clutched it tightly. The intensity of the alarm also increased. I opened my eyes to a bright light. I was not able to see anything clearly as I had a blurred vision. I perceived the interval between two consecutive beeps had decreased while I closed my eyes again.
I had my eyes closed but felt my legs were moving toward the door. I ran as fast as I could. When I was outside my confinement, I saw lush green grass as far as I could see and bright light that was falling on my face. My heart felt weak and ached a lot. I was not able to move my hands. I felt I was grabbing to someone so tight that I could feel the pain in my hands. There was a sudden burst of electric current through my body that originated from my heart. I opened my eyes wide and had a clear vision of my surroundings. The nurse tried to place a breathing mask on me. I could hear feebly “Your wife went into cardiac arrest Sam. She is alright now. But we need to monitor her continuously”.
The first day in class I found out the male to female ratio was skewed. Taking the fact some were already engaged married or had a boyfriend, the subset I had to work with was small. I decided not to pursue anyone as I had a heavy competition from fellow students. I tried to take classes other than the required courses, but the tight schedule left me no option than to be with the same set of students for one whole semester. As I didn’t have patience to wait for one whole semester to get a girlfriend, I decided to take a different route to find someone.
Having watched so many episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Two and Half Men and Entourage, I particularly felt that meeting new people in a bar would be my best chance. I decided to hit the small pub near my home on a weekend. I also found the perfect wing man who could be a good company. On observing the people around me for sometime, I understood everyone was absorbed in their own clique. They had their own talk and didn’t care to notice anyone outside their group. I was even stared at for just looking over them. I haven’t been so wrong about something so much. I felt so left out as I didn’t blend with the crowd. I understood it was a bad idea to meet people in a bar unless it was already scripted and actors playing out the scenes. How naïve of me to take cues from sitcoms?
I read somewhere that one finds love only in the least unexpected place. I remembered this when I met her. I was just looking through the stack of ice creams and was so much confused about the flavor I wanted to buy. I glanced through all the available flavors a lot of time. I think she must have noticed me struggling to decide. She approached me and suggested to get strawberry flavored chocolate chip ice cream. Being a really talkative person, I haven’t run out of words anytime to talk to a person. When I saw her I stumbled for words and just gawked at her.
She waited patiently for the words to come out of my words. I gathered my thoughts and thanked her for the suggestion. The next day, I purposefully went to the store at the same time just to see her. I located her helping another customer. I don’t remember from where I got the courage to ask her out. But I did and to my surprise she said yes. I texted her couple of days later to invite her to the ice cream store near my place. We had a great time there. I was proud of myself and had an extra ice cream just to praise myself. Later I asked her on a second date to a restaurant.
I had reserved dinner table at a nice restaurant and we had arrived on time. I remember she was smiling a lot during dinner. One thing I was not able to figure out was whether she was smiling for my jokes or at my stupidity. I had the habit of over thinking on some occasion and it was of one of them. I started having wine a lot faster than her. I don’t exactly remember how much I drank, but my bladder was full. I excused myself from the table and headed straight to the washroom. I didn’t realize I was in the ladies restroom until an elderly women commented “I am pretty much sure you are not in the men’s’ restroom”. She made huge accusation to the manager about how inappropriate I have behaved. I felt so ashamed, but I held my head high, apologized and marched to my table. I found my table empty with the food lying around. The waiter informed that my date had left when I was confronted by the manager. I just handed over cash to the waiter and left the restaurant. That fact that I could run into her accidently in the store made me to switch stores.
One becomes master by learning from one’s own mistake, but I was not one among them. So I decided to stop searching for someone just to avoid anymore disappoint. Tell me who has been spared from wanting more. There was a speed dating event organized by the student union at my university. It was the widely talked on campus and I overheard many speaking about that. I too became excited as I could meet and talk with many which would be impossible otherwise. On the day of the event, I had a haircut and removed my stubble, which I regretted immediately. I looked like a high school student. My height, below than average, too didn’t help me to boost my confidence. When I entered the hall it was crowded as a market. I grabbed a beer from the bar and headed straight to my allotted space. I think I don’t have to tell how the day spanned out, but can assume one could easily guess by the fact that I just have all the time in the world to write about it.
Log Line: A person with balance disorder overcomes his difficulty in a job interview at an ice skating rink
EXT.GIANTS ICE RINK-DAY
We look over the shoulders of HOOVER, in his early twenties, stout and short, as he looks at people skating in the ice rink. Youngsters play cheerfully, and some people skate in a skeptic manner.
He looks to his side to find a board placed “HELP WANTED”.
He waits eagerly outside of what looks like the office of the man managing the rink.
THUD! A guy falls flat on his face, with a lot of people exclaiming “oohs and ahhs”. Hoover gives a pretty loud chuckle, and the people stare at him. He gives a sheepish look as a voice from behind gets his attention.
INT.MANAGER’S CABIN NEAR GIANTS ICE RINK-CONTINUOUS
The chomping and munching sounds of a man greet Hoover as he enters. GRAM, the burly manager in his mid forties gives the widest smile one can imagine. He has a huge bowl in front of him, from which he hogs.
(approaching to shake his hand)
Hello Mr Richard.
(loud booming voice)
Howdy! Please sit down. I am sick of these guys. Living in Denver and not knowing to skate. I mean Jesus!
Gram takes a hand full of potato wedges and stuffs it in his mouth. Gram stares at Hoover now. Hoover quivers. The man seems at two extremes.
Tell me you can skate.
Hoover gives a nervous laugh. Gram doesn’t smile though.
Hoover looks at the ice rink from the cabin to pretend nothing has happened.
Mr.Richard, I thought this was a Facility Operations Specialist post. I…
A person hands out blades to the people. How long can one do that? (chuckles). Look I need a (pause) a (taking some more wedges) multiskilled person to take care.
Hoover seems surprised.
Care to have some?
Grab some boy. Come on.
Hoover takes some and eats it. He gives a fake smile as he eats. As he swallows down, his smile slowly fades away.
Ahh I guess there is too much
Salt! Hell I like ’em salty.
CU on Hoover as he gives a look of shock.
INT.INDIAN RESTAURANT IN RANDOM CITY-EVENING
We see a dish DUM ALOO (boiled potato), steaming in the bowl, as Hoover talks to the waiter, who is an Indian.
I said no salt!
(shaking his head in a weird way)
I wanna be doubly sure about it.
The GIRL sitting with Hoover rolls her eyes.
Yes sir. Doubly sure.
Hoover smiles. The waiter exits.
This might come as a shock to you. But I can’t take salt. Even small amounts. Gets me dizzy, and makes me feel like I am defying gravity. (sheepish smile)
EXT.GIANTS ICE RINK-DAY
We see everything in Hoover’s POV.
Gram hands over a set of roller blades to Hoover. It feels as if Gram is on a set of roller blades as he circles around Hoover.
Hoover tries to strap it on, and as he views the rink, everything seems hazy. He stands up, and almost falls.
Hey Hey! Are you alright? You look weak. want something to eat?
Hoover shakes his head, it’s the “eating” that has gotten him into trouble.
Alrightie. Are you ready? I just want you to circle the entire rink. No hassles!I will get you started on the “cleaning” part later.
Hoover trips and in one motion, falls head first. THUD!
I think we all are in for some fun today.
Gram gestures to his assistant.
EXT.GIANTS ICE RINK-DAY
BEEP!The sound of the buzzer alerts everyone. We hear the announcer speak
Please exit the rink for routine maintenance.
The rink is all for Hoover.
Hoover blinks. He looks around and finds the guy who fell face first earlier staring at him, black eyed. He looks ahead towards the rink as a voice over follows.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!
His eyes light up and he starts moving, he closes his eyes and goes at it. We see him moving, although we don’t see his feet. The salt in his system causes him to sway, and as he tries to balance himself, it feels as if he’s doing a figure skating.
There is a mild applause as he moves in expert fashion, moving rapidly. He opens his eyes to see that he is in middle of the rink. He did it! Gram, who’s stops munching and looks with mouth wide open.
Just then, he slips and falls. Sudden Silence! And then he acts as if he’s inspecting the ice. He yells.
Who cleaned the rink last time? Bloody amateur.
The kid is right.
EXT.GIANTS ICE RINK-SOME TIME LATER
The people are at their skating once more, as Hoover looks on. Gram appears from behind, slapping his back.
Hey Kiddo! You nailed it man!
Thanks Mr. Richards.
Call me Gram!(pause) see you tomorrow.
I will be here on the dot.
Gram smiles and leaves. Hoover now looks at the rink, and thinks of the day that has gone by. It has been a lucky day. Just then, Gram calls him.
I am ordering some Indian food. Wanna bite?
Hoover smiles, almost breaks into laughter, and then composes himself and says
Log Line: A New York city couple find the going difficult when they face an unplanned pregnancy.
EXT.NEW YORK CITY 5TH AVENUE- AFTERNOON
MATT, late twenties, rubs his hands to fight the harsh cold weather. He doesn’t look fully protected, as he wears a thin jacket and a baseball hat.
Holding his hands is SARAH, also in late twenties.
Gotta have a “Columbia” to keep warm!
No. You need a “Sarah” to keep warm.
She hugs him tight. MATT smiles, but he is far from happy. While they walk, he notices the newsstand and picks up The
New York Times. A story reads “Former Union Bank Employees still unemployed”. He has a dejected look on his face. SARAH
pulls him along.
They pass through showrooms of Armani, and MATT doesn’t look in that direction at all.
Hey. Look at that suit. Wouldn’t it look amazing on you?
(without even looking)
Yeah sure it will.
As they pass by shops, MATT walks faster. He wants to get away quickly. SARAH notices a Jewel shop and grabs him.
Hey lets go in. I wanna check out some stuff.
Someday later honey.
Listen its calm and warm inside and I wanna talk.
MATT is surprised. Sarah ushers him in.
INT. PAULA JEWEL SHOP- CONTINUOUS
As MATT walks in, a broom falls on him. An old woman, in her sixties, comments in a slurry voice.
A falling broom isn’t a good sign son!
MATT stares at the OLD WOMAN. SARAH checks out the rings on the display. MATT looks restless inside the store.
Looking for anything in particular Ma’m?
Thank you very much. We’re just browsing.
The salesman isn’t amused by it. SARAH glances at the rings, and her eyes fall on one particular ring. She picks it up. As soon as she picks it up, the salesman speaks.
2500 dollars Ma’m.
SARAH looks at MATT, whose eyes are fixed outside of the shop. She keeps the ring back in it’s original place. SARAH holds his hand in an assured manner.
Listen. I need to talk.
Can’t it wait honey?
ahh! I couldn’t contain myself.I just wanna get it off my chest.
SARAH grows uncomfortable and they both move to a corner.
Matt. I did a pregnancy test today. And I think (in pauses) I’m pregnant.
MATT looks at the people in the shop. They are all staring at him.
I know this is not what we wanted or planned. But I’m going to do what’s best for us. I am gonna..
MATT storms out of the shop at that moment. SARAH looks around. She looks embarrassed.
INT.SARAH HOUSE- DAY
The phone screen reads “Calling Matt”. SARAH feels dejected. SARAH looks at a picture of herself with MATT. She looks at it with moist eyes. She slaps the picture away.
The computer screen reads “Planned Parenthood”. SARAH dials a number. She talks on the phone.
We see SARAH putting on her tops, and she gets ready. She looks at her tummy, which is normal by the looks of it. But she keeps her hand on it.
INT.SARAH HOUSE- LATER THAT DAY
She has a small moment, and just when she leaves, her phone rings. It’s MATT. She attends it, although she doesn’t speak
Hi Hon.(pause) I’m really really sorry. I was a jerk. Shall we meet up at the 5th and 60th? (pause) I’ll be waiting. (pause) bye.
BLEEP! SARAH looks at the phone, confused. She notices the picture which lies on the floor. She picks it up and places it on the shelf.
EXT.NEW YORK CITY 5TH AVENUE- EVENING
SARAH walks in the chill and harsh weather of NYC. As she rubs her hands to keep warm, MATT hugs her from behind, much to her surprise.
You can use a “Matt” right now to keep warm.
SARAH doesn’t say anything. They pass by shops and MATT now faces her and looks her in the eyes.
Listen. I need to talk. Why don’t we go to a calm place.
SARAH is puzzled. It’s déjà vu for her.
INT. PAULA JEWEL SHOP- CONTINUOUS
As MATT enters, a broom falls on him.
A falling broom isn’t a good sign son!
MATT smiles at her. SARAH is confused all this while witnessing the same scenes again. The other salesmen in the shop give SARAH a warm smile.
MATT checks out the rings, and goes one by one. Finally, he picks up the ring that SARAH had selected earlier. The salesman smiles.
2500 Dollars Sir!
MATT looks at SARAH. SARAH has tears in her eyes. MATT approaches her as the sales people crowd around and watch it as if it were a Hollywood musical.
You have been my life so far. Will you be the rest of it?
Yes.(nods head) yes!
MATT kisses SARAH. MATT turns around and keeps the ring at it’s place. SARAH looks shocked. MATT looks at SARAH now, SARAH is visibly upset.
2.5 grand! Forget it. I got something better.
SARAH’s eyes widen. MATT holds SARAH’s hand and takes her across the shop to the counter. They slowly walk up where she finds a cradle placed.
The salesmen rejoice by clapping which embarrasses SARAH, but in a joyful way.
She turns to MATT and hugs him.
OLD WOMAN, with the broom in her hand, looks at them with happiness.
A food truck owner, a struggling skater & a Dog’s individual point of views of a stick up job.
EXT/INT FOOD TRUCK IN ALBUQUERQUE-DAY
We see Hot dogs,Chicken and fresh cut vegetables stacked up as the song “This is the end” of The Doors plays out in the background. In the driver’s seat, is DAN, a middle aged man. His receding forehead and wrinkled face reveals a lot of struggle in his life.
Outside, ALBUQUERQUE looks deserted. We see the Food truck move past empty streets. DAN’s phone rings, as he picks it up.
Yeah. (pause) Didn’t I tell you to clean up the truck today? (waiting for the answer from other side) The
truck is a mess. What? Who did it? Look I don’t want strangers touching my truck.(pause)I don’t
care if the government isn’t working. My food truck must go on.
BLEEP! DAN cuts the call. He turns around near a street, and stops the truck.
EXT.FOOD TRUCK ON A RANDOM STREET-DAY
As DAN arranges the stuff on his truck, a Labrador and a young guy walk up. RICK, the young guy looks cheerful and his energetic dog SPARKLES, looks restless.
Business doesn’t look promising. Does it?
Hey man! Ahh The White House ain’t working. But the Food truck must go on.
RICK chuckles. SPARKLES, the dog keeps barking, and looks disturbed. DAN looks at it with surprise.
What’s wrong with the DUDE?
Ahh I don’t know. He’s been kinda sick for couple of days.
So a Chicken Gyro?
Yup.The usual stuff. Nothing for him though. (Shouting at the dog) Keep it down Sparkles. What the hell..
SPARKLES keeps barking, and few meters away, DAN and RICK notice a young athletic man with roller blades over his shoulder. He seems to be talking on the phone and
DAN goes back to preparing the Gyro.
Do you feel safe with the truck?
What do you mean?
I mean there are lot of stick up guys around here.
You have to have guts here man. This is New Mexico. There ain’t no gods or superheroes.
They both laugh. RICK looks at the young man over the distance, and we zoom in slowly towards the face of the young man and..
EXT. RANDOM STREET -SOMETIME EARLIER
We now hear the young man speak clearly on the phone while walking.
Yeah I know we got to pay the bills. Yeah for the car too. Yeah for the house.(beat) I am trying my
best. (hearing the answer on the other side) OK now stop it. Come on.
He grimaces and looks towards the Food truck he is approaching. He notices RICK, DAN and the dog. As he notices that both of them are looking at him, he quivers
uncomfortably. He passes through them as SPARKLES keeps barking.
(back on the phone)
Look. The “X games” are around the corner. I can get one look in, and baby we are through. Listen!
(shouting on the other side). OK OK I will get some money.
He hangs up the phone, takes out a cigarette, lights it and smokes it. The YOUNG MAN walks back to the Food truck now, as he approaches , SPARKLES keeps barking and RICK isn’t comfortable with the presence of the young man.
What up man! A hot dog please?
In a jiffy!
The dog keeps barking. RICK looks at the man with suspicion. The young man puts his hand in his jacket, he keeps his hand inside. RICK notices that.
There you go!
RICK signals to DAN. DAN looks confused. The dog still keeps barking. And in a flash, the young man takes out his gun.
Alright. Out with the money. Come on.
RICK holds the dog tight. SPARKLES tries to leap, but he is stifled by RICK.
Hey I ain’t got no money.
Enough with the bull shitting. Get the fucking money.
(showing him the tills)
Hey look at this . Look at this. Nothing man. I got nothing.
I am gonna count till three and I am gonna put a bullet through your brain.(screaming)Come on.
YOUNG MAN screams, DAN tries to explain, RICK holds the dog firm, SPARKLES barks. And we zoom into the face of SPARKLES and
EXT. ALBUQUERQUE STREET- SOMETIME EARLIER
SPARKLES POV: We see everything in Grey and from his height. As SPARKLES walks, we hear his Voice over.
Ahh that food that they give me. I feel so tired. (beat) dog tired.
There is hardly anyone on the street.
Where is everyone? Forget everyone. Where is Rita? Ahh I love her
smell. I can’t wait to get my paws on her.
We see the world from SPARKLES view as he looks up at RICK.
Not the Chicken please. Please.
RICK smiles, though he wouldn’t understand a word of sparkles.DAN and RICK talk. The previous words again.We hear the conversation mildly here, almost in the background.
(mild background voice)
The White House ain’t working..
What’s with that funny smell. It isn’t the chicken. These humans do eat nasty stuff, but this is different.
SPARKLES moves around restlessly.
(mild background voice)
..He’s been kinda sick for couple of days..
This isn’t right. Gotta get out. Gotta..
We see the young man walking up now.
Please lets get out of here. Hey! Hey! Listen to me.LISTEN TO ME.
We see the actions of the people now, and no sound. Only SPARKLES talks.
YOUNG MAN with the gun threatens, DAN shows the money tills.
Why don’t these guys do something? Only barking won’t help.
The smell from that thing he is holding.No. There is something
bigger. Something bigger.
The roller blades zoom down the slope.The food truck lies in tatters, totally ruined. The bodies of RICK,DAN & the young man lie in one direction. It’s carnage. And we see SPARKLES choking and struggling for breath. It’s his last moments. We zoom in on SPARKLES slowly and..
And they call us Animals!
If you would like to read the screenplay in the pdf format, check this out. On a Slow Day…
This short screenplay was submitted as a part of the Short Screenplay Challenge 2013 conducted by NYC Midnight LLC. The group can be found under this link. http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/ShSC/1st%20Round/11.htm
Screenplay by: Sanjay Madhavan
Story by: Dhasarathy Krishnaswamy
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”.