Not Knowing

Once out of the Grant Road station I went to my usual, route 155 bus stop. I have been using it for more than 2 years. It takes me to Films Division at Peddar road for my work. Sun was strong today, making it a rather warm day. I pulled out my cap from the bag. Felt better. I was feeling as calm as uncomfortable and warm the weather was. I saw a bus turn into the station road; but stopped at a distance. The queue was getting longer. Ladies were grumbling. Old men were frowning. They should also carry a cap or an umbrella in such hot and even sometimes wet weather. Most people had discarded face mask. I could see. They think Covid 19 has gone away. But they should know that numbers have stated rising again. I had my mask, cap and glares too. Bus moved again towards us. Stopped at the pit stop for the conductors. Here they take paper instructions. I guess records of number of rounds they made.

Once at the stop, door opened and people started climbing in. I was lucky to get a seat. Seat ahead of me was for Ladies, a woman in red sari was sitting and a guy joined in, in the empty space. That was not going to be allowed in such crowd. Another woman immediately pushed him off. AC wasn’t effective at all, more so with so many people. Sun was towards my seat. But something was keeping me calm, didn’t I did tell you? I did. We moved. People were buying tickets. Conductor was moving easily through the aisle. They are used to it. In about 10 minutes bus stopped at the Tardeo bus depot. The place famous for ‘Sardar Pav-Bhaji’. BEST staff changes here. Both driver and conductor. It gets done in less than 2 minutes. I am used to it. Somehow today the clock went beyond two minutes… then 5, then 10! Women in seat ahead of mine started, “where is the driver? How much time?” Many passengers in the aisle had started making a lot of noise. They were getting louder and rowdier. Someone went on ringing the bell. My eyes were fixed at the depot gate to find two men in khaki walking towards us. I gave up. They were nowhere to be seen. Sun was on my side and the AC seemed to be on ventilator.

I took photo of the bus identification number. The woman in front also did the same. I was thinking where should I post it? I said, “Hello, are you going to post it on Instagram? She said, yes. A good 25 minutes later staff entered the bus. I heard a woman saying we have to reach in time, otherwise they mark us absent. Other said we can’t afford to be late in our jobs. Next stop was Jaslok Hospital. I knew they both will get off there. I was sure they were medical staff. That is why so much insistence on punctuality.

But after being convinced in my mind that they were medical staff, none got off at the hospital! Why! My stop was next. I stood up and got off. Outside I noticed the woman also had come out, perhaps from back door. You need to be fully alert while crossing Peddar road. Traffic is very quick and dense. Once across the road I noticed the same woman had crossed the road too and was walking in the same direction. Now I felt that something quite unusual was happening. I entered ‘films division’ gate. She was already signing the entry register. I saw her entering the building. I saw her waiting for the lift among two more people. Some guys got off on 5th floor. 9th floor light was on. She did not chose her floor.

On 9th floor I went to the person who guides me which cabin is assigned to me for watching the film. Person told me to go to 8th floor. I walked down one floor and took a comfortable seat. Documents about the film were placed in front of me. The lady entered the room and took a seat behind. Grabbed her papers and started filling details.

Lights dimmed. The movie started.

Gandhi ji & Jallianwala Bagh

Excerpts fromThe story of my experiments with truth

– M K Gandhi / Chapter XXXV / IN THE PUNJAB (opening part)

Excerpt 1:

“Sir Michael O’Dwyer held me responsible for all that had happened in the Punjab, and some irate young Punjabis held me responsible for the martial law. They asserted that, if only I had not suspended civil disobedience, there would have been no Jallianwala Bagh massacre.”

My Reaction:

I am shocked at this revelation by ‘the man’ himself. Thank god I am quoting this ‘word by word’ from his book itself. I feel even if a minuscule number of Punjabis at that time believed that Jallianwala Bagh massacre had anything to do with a decision taken by Mr. Gandhi, regarding suspension of civil disobedience movement, it is really very scary. Even if this decision’s impact was just 5% in creation of that situation, it could lay a massive responsibility on the boney shoulders of an adamant M K Gandhi for the murder of thousands innocent people.

Excerpt 2:

Some of them even went to the length of threatening me with assassination if I went to the Punjab.

My Reaction:

Not surprising at all, because that is how the end actually came for him, though from a different quarter.

Excerpt 3:

But I felt my position was so correct and above question that no intelligent person could misunderstand it.

My Reaction:

Thoroughly conceited attitude

Excerpt 4:

I was impatient to go to the Punjab. I had never been there before, and that made me all the more anxious to see things for myself. Dr. Satyapal, Dr. Kitchlu and Pandit Rambhaj Dutt Chowdhari, who had invited me to the Punjab, were at this time in jail. But I felt sure that government could not dare to keep them and other prisoners in prison for long. A large number of Punjabis used to come and see me whenever I was in Bombay. I ministered them with a word of cheer on these occasions, and that would comfort them. My self confidence of that time was infectious.

My Reaction: I could never talk about my own self-confidence as ‘infectious’

Clean Slate

Gautam was strolling alone in garden. It had just finished raining. So the ground was wet and breeze was pleasant. As a wave of that pleasant breeze passed, it unsettled the rain droplets settled on leafs. Most fell on the ground but many found their abode on Gautam’s face, shoulders and hair. He enjoyed it. He also said a quiet inner thanks to the creation for providing such an unbelievable lovely magic. Water, coming down from the sky! It made everything on the earth look bright, fresh and revitalized. Trees, grass, plants looked greener and flowers brighter. The air seemed clearer; to look through and to breathe in. It contained no dust. But yes it had the unmistakable smell of water meeting the earth. What do we call it? Yes, petrichor! Birds chirped and bees buzzed around. Another strong wave of breeze passed and some leafs took their last part of journey. They fell on him like showering of flower petals. He smiled and thanked the creation once again. He felt as though he was being honored by showering of leafs on him by an unknown entity. He felt that someone pre-planned it, that the shower will occur just when he is just under the tree… it had happened earlier too.

Wave of a thought entered in his mind. It was about a person, who had been very fond of him and of course the feelings were reciprocated by him. The thought played around in his mind. Gautam also played with it. Hundreds of related memories covered his mental space with a quick shower. He looked up at the sky. A cloud was passing by. He smiled and allowed the memory to pass by too. His mind was clean once again.

Yet another cloud appeared over him. It was the cloud of the work he did. He remembered the last time he got an untimely call from the office, he was worried. What now? He had wondered. What might have happened? So many worrying thoughts had darkened his mental horizon. Same phenomenon had been happening in current monsoon. A thick cloud cover darkens the horizon; but it hardly rains. He found a simile in it. He had allowed that call to make a darkening thought inside him. When you know the source of a problem, it vanishes and it did.

His mental sheet was spotlessly clear once again. He felt fresh and energetic; not really to break into a run; but into a smile with abandon.

Imaginary us

I finished my arguments silently

She had heard me patiently

Then she looked hard at my face

Lowered her eyes and slowly… turned away

She walked a few steps towards the setting sun

The Sun turned her face red

Was it angry red?

Or hopeless red

She stopped after a few steps

Sun sank a little lower

Her lengthening shadow was crawling towards me

Then as if it waited

Soon sun lowered even more

Her shadow was at my feet now

Gradually it started climbing on me

That made me rather uneasy

I turned away from it

I saw my own shadow going away from me

Her shadow was missing here

It was on me, on myself

That froze me

Soon both shadows started getting weaker

Thankfully

I turned back and saw red rim of sun

I turned again towards my shadow

My shadow was merging in the darkness

Dissolving on the ground

Losing its definition, edges

I waited till it was all dark

My body also had no shadow

I looked to find the rim of the sun

But couldn’t…

Shockingly

The space between me and the sun

… Was blank

Positive-finally

On 10th Jan, 2022 I had attended a censor film screening at Peddar road office. I think it was at 11am. I reached back home around 3pm. Somehow I was feeling tired, so I slept in hall. It became a rather lengthy sleep session. Tiredness was still there. I did not think much about it. I should have actually. I don’t sleep like this every time I return from a film. I was called again two days later, on 12th. After returning home I was again just too tired, so slept again. People told me that I should go in my room and sleep. They got thermometer. It seems I had 101 fever. It was confirmed now I was sick. My throat in the meanwhile had started misbehaving. I would cough too much and for rather long time. I spoke to my doctor on phone. He immediately prescribed medicines and sent the prescription by text message. I in turn sent it to medical store and they sent me 5 days medicines. 10 tablets, 2 a day, morning evening. Since I fell sick when Omicron is a very popular infection, ‘Covid-19 test’ was booked for next day that is on 14th. Lab guy came at 8am. Took swabs and went off. I knew I have got it. Rightly enough ‘Covid-19 positive’ email was received next morning. Now I had to be quarantined in my tiny room. My door was to remain shut properly. My food will be placed on a chair when required. After I go to washroom no one will go there for 30 min. My appetite went down drastically as there was no walk due to body-ache and no place to walk. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. I would return half my meals uneaten. These must have been some of my most troublesome days that I can remember. I felt suffocated.

Three days later I realized that we did not have to be quarantined. So out I came and started taking short walks in hall. In the meanwhile medicines had started showing results. My fever went away after 2 days. On day 3 it was completely normal. Slowly appetite returned, throat became fine and body ache also evaporated. All the tablets were consumed between 13th and 18th. I was told medically I could go out on 22nd Jan. So promptly I did get out for a 20 min walk on that day.

Although by then most of the world’s population had been Covid affected, I woke up to really late to get positive.

‘Karma Happens’ my first paperback

This book is my collection of short stories, memoirs etc. I have been writing and blogging since 2006. So I had a fairly large collection. Out of 34 stories, at least 6 or 7 have Gautam as the protagonist. This Gautam does not mean the Gautam Buddha at all. But yes he has qualities of a calm person. He does not shout or gets angry or aggressive. In ‘Immortal Side of Life’, there are flashbacks supporting the story that’s running in the present. Story’s end happens with help of spirituality, particle physics and super natural drama. Ringing ears’ is about a person over thinking or even deep thinking.
‘In Myth of freedom’ I have analyzed lives of people and whether anyone is really free in various sense of the word. ‘Karma Happens’; the title story is most lengthy. It is like a regular pot boiler with all commercial elements for a hit film.
‘Hope what hope?’ is set in kind of future. It shows that life has become difficult on earth, due to various problems like Ozone layer, climate change etc. ‘24 hrs. love story’ is based on an incidence that did happen. In ‘Just Think’ I try to tell how badly we are treating this earth and nature generally.
‘Leopard in my dream’ is an interesting experiment that takes off from my own experience of getting bitten by a local dog and then how it merges into a very real sounding story that happens to be a flash-forward. In ‘Soothing night’ I have used emotions that are usually shown on urban populace. So I tried it in a village, a hut with a hole in the roof. ‘Enlightenment of the day’ is my take on a regular morning while I would leave for my Yoga class. On similar lines is ‘Power of letting go’.
‘Absence of presence’ is another one of my experiment. Entire court room scene is only through Gautam’s dialogues, while judge’s dialogues are absent but understood.
‘A mosaic of gloom’ is what I wrote when I had stopped writing after Mumbai terror attacks in late 2008. And then my niece told me if I can’t write then I should write about ‘why I can’t write! That worked.
‘Red eye effect’ is a mad idea. I let them take their own course and go where ever they want to go. My science and cinema background helped me with this short story. ‘That he’ and ‘Escape to death’ is also similar genre. It just flows like my mad thoughts.