Being Alive On a Forbidden Path
Copyright © 2014 Vanshika Kasturi
All rights reserved.
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters, organizations and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved by author. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author. Published by author.
The views expressed in this book are entirely those of the author. The printer/publisher and distributors of this book are not in any way responsible for the views expressed by the author in this book. All disputes are subject to arbitration; legal actions if any are subject to the jurisdictions of courts of Kolkata, India.
First Published: February 2014
Each & every nation-builder, crusader and martyr of my country
I don’t have a personal mentor. All I have is a few voices telling me workout; never stop……… if you stop now, you can never start again.
Welcome to a world of factual fantasy.
In A Pickle 14
Shot In The Dark 19
Top Drawer 37
Enigmatic Trunk 59
Jaws Of Death 96
All though being in his trendy and silent office room Pranav was distracted by the slightest noise of the antique grandfather clock far at the dreamy entrance way and by the mild sound of his feet striding on the Turkish nutmeg, amber and brown coloured handmade silk antique carpet.
Pacing, he absent mindedly hit his knee on one of solid wooden leg of the dark brown solid wooden study table. He moaned in pain and fell into the Duncan Phyfe carved chair running his meaty hand across his hair with a deep frown on his face.
Although the room is chilled to bones he was beaded with sweat. He was tapping his fingers furiously on the table while his clever dark eyes pierced through the frame less crescent mooned spectacles giving nervous glances at the phone.
The climate was all gloomy for him. Satish Ahuja editor- in- chief of creative eye, suddenly took a back, over one of his major projects. Pranav a creative director who had been a source of inspiration to many was shattered today. The only hope was an acceptance by the selection board in the on-going suddenly called meeting next door. He was eagerly waiting for Mr Ahuja’s call about the board’s decision.
Not getting the call he felt himself ripping apart. Every passing second was like passing ages. He slightly lifted his eyes glancing at the ballerina hand painted portrait the one which always soothed his heart but today even it failed to enhance his mood.
The silence was broken by the lurid ring tone of his phone which brought him back from his remorse for dooming not only his but also his allies career risking on this impending acceptance of their biopic.
Sure will be there in a minute Mr Ahuja, with these words he walked towards Ahuja’s chamber at rare end of the floor. Seeing Pranav opening the door, Ahuja said with a forced smile, ‘Hi come in, have a seat’.
For few seconds incommodious silence prevailed in the room which was broken by Ahuja’s words, ‘Pranav try to understand, your biopic was wonderful at the same time risky and a bit unpromising to be publicized. Better luck next time.’
‘I can’t buy your logic. Such a hasty decision in the eleventh hour, never expected this to happen’’, bellowed Pranav Bhandari.
‘You call this hasty, I tried my best but I am helpless’, said Satish Ahuja.
‘May be a small decision for you’, screeched the director, ‘for us a long slogged mission. How could you do this to us?’
Its competitive world brother, We need to bag the award at the same time should play safe, let Arif’s team represent us this time their documentary on ‘poverty in India’ is more promising.
‘What’s wrong with our biopic on corruption?’ Pranav Interrupted, ‘ethically we owe to display the genuine side of our society to our viewers.
‘Ethics, genuinity! … Forget about it’, Sneered the boss, ‘if you highlight corruption who will face the pressures and intimidations?’
Heal the world make it a better place ….. The ring tone of his phone interrupted the dialogue. Satish picked his Sony Xperia Z just said excuse me and engaged in answering the call.
Pranav gazed at him. Robust, well dressed, uncaring guy whose ring tone, attire not matching with his attitude.
It all started six months back when Pranav and his aides Kiran Rao and Satwik Sengupta were entrusted with the task of preparing a documentary to be presented in the international film festival. Despite of muggings and threats they carried on their research on ‘corruption in India’ for months together. After numerous interviews, documentation and picturization at last they placed it on Satish’s table for approval which was brusquely denied.
Deep buried in thoughts Pranav took few seconds to notice Satish still busy in his call quivering his head screaming on somebody. Twitchy Pranav irritably picked up the Daily mirror lying on the table and gave a fleeting look at the headlines not observing Satish completing his call.
What were you saying Mr Pranav?
I was saying nothing just heeding you.
I can realize your feelings but try to get my point. Will it be wise to risk our lives Pranav?
What about the donkeywork we have done?
See dude we are getting nowhere with this. If you get something more substantial than this within a fortnight I will try to convince the management for reconsideration.
Just a fortnight! To make a world class documentary, are you joking Satish?
Sorry but that’s all I can do at present.
Ok see you in a fortnight, Pranav got up and moved to the door.
Best of luck bro, see you soon.
Thank you …. Pranav left the room.
In A Pickle
Country roads, take me home. To the place I belong …
John Denver’s Country Roads made the ambience cheerful……..Satwik was tapping on the two seater table impatiently for not getting a clue why Pranav’s phone was switched off for couple of hours. Unlike other mornings at Barista today, it appeared as if the clock got stuck and for him every minute was like passing a year.
Kiran was equally tensed few minutes back, but now he is busy in refining a young chap Brij Bhushan, who could not choose from unversed A la carte.
Kiran helped him to choose cappuccino and ordered for an Espresso Italiano for him and Oreo Coffee Shake for Satwik.
Brij Bhushan joined them by pulling a chair from the next table.
Introducing himself Satwik inquired ‘are you from Delhi’?
No I am from Nimnur, came here to promote our Handicrafts in the Trade fair at Pragati Maidan. It is over and we are leaving soon.
Handicrafts interesting, runs in the family?
Of course, but I am an ally not the proprietor due to some catastrophic events.
A new plot … journalist in Kiran exited to know. ‘What went wrong Brij Bhushan?’ he asked in a voice of concern.
I am native of a remote village Sudhamgarh doomed with poverty, where employments, drinking water, schooling and hospital like basic amenities were out of question. Alcohol, retardation made our village a dingy place constraining us to migrate ten years ago. Our wretched lives were saved by my uncle who arranged a career under an exporter who obliged to trade and export our crafts and rest …..
Before he could finish satwik’s mobile buzzed. Looking at Pranav’s number he yelled in jubilation ‘buddy party time’. ‘What’s up?’ he enquired. He Paused for a while, ‘Oh’ no back to square one?’ he looked beaten, the entire colour drained away from his face. He felt dejected, this is their first project at international level and the whole shebang went into vain.
Reading the expression on Satwik’s face Kiran asked what the problem is. It took him few seconds to recuperate his voice and explain Kiran that their biopic was not so promising and too risky, so it was overruled and they were back to square one.
‘What’s the problem?’ Queried, Brij Bhushan.
Nothing bro just chill a little disquiet we have to leave, saying this duo left the place in a hurry to meet Pranav.
The trio met at the usual meeting point Agrasen ki Baoli, hidden among the tall buildings of Connaught Place on Hailey Rd, where they first met searching their niche.
Delighted or distressed they come here to share a bond with the place which was beside them and will be there when they were hurt to look back or frightened to look forward and can see the truth and pain in them even when they were fooling everyone else.
The trailing uneasy silence was broken when the floodgates of Pranav’s emotions opened and he busted into tears bellowing, ‘that hare-brained fellow left us to swim in strange water in a jiffy’. Fortnight practically not possible, we failed in our way to success, let us drop.
‘Come on Pranav’, said Satwik, ‘let’s not waste our time in doubts and fears nothing is impossible, the word itself says, I’m possible!’
He talks of poverty ………where few men who absolutely do nothing useful to stockpile a fortune of hundreds of billions of rupees while many men and women do all kinds of yakka and fag all day and barely make enough to have a wretched life. There are many who die of hunger and cold, on the other hand some have so much of affluence provided by the hard work and sweat of labourers and the brilliance of scientists, but they only care dazzling, Ritzy life style. Payola, disloyalty, villainy, double-dealing and sleaze have cuffed the hands of benevolence, magnanimity, and humanity in people ….. Were the words said by annoyed Kiran.
‘I still wonder why poverty continued so long in human society - how a few people could live in opulence while billions dwelt in misery, penury and privation ……. Instead of going into the roots of it, people are bagging awards exposing poverty’, said disturbed Pranav.
Poverty and richness are two sides of the same coin, how we see it that depends on us. One may be poor by his pocket but rich by his heart, similarly a nation may be poor by its economy but it may inherit a glorious past, splendour culture, and magnificent civilization.
The golden bird that was plundered, pillaged, invaded, forayed, tormented, mangled by many neither retaliated nor attacked any other nation for its own benefits proving its solicitude for peace. Our nation is the one that gave zero, decimal and place value system. Sanskrit language that is most suitable for software is an ancient language of our nation. Nalanda the first university and Ayurveda the first form of medicine belong to India, which also ranks as the world’s largest democracy. Inspite looted for centuries its head is held high, still world’s top billionaires are citizens of this country. With good purchasing power parity our economy is one of the fastest and largest growing economies with substantial Gross domestic product (GDP). Royalty oozes in the blood of the nation, from the poor through hospitality and from the rich through money. The millionaires rose from this soil and went to heights that were never touched. Then, why the obsession, passion and fashion of projecting the poverty as the only thing that of India; we have a very rich and wealthy cultural back ground, why not expose it instead of engrossing ourselves in poverty and making it a world premiere.
Our lovely crackpot generously gave us a chance for second thought but to carry on with the given project.
Do you still have hope?
Certainly failures are the stepping stones to success, let’s do it.
We can’t disappoint an optimist, come on let us find a dreary place to dump our biopic.
Dreary place …wait a minute, what about Sudhamgarh.
Sudhamgarh! What the inferno you are talking about? No time to explain maybe it’s the apt place for our project.
‘Satwik can you find trains to Sudhamgarh online?’ asked Kiran.
After few minutes of searching Satwik said,’ a biweekly passenger train without any A/C coaches is the only option which is scheduled today at six in the evening, if not, after three days hurry up only six berths are available’.
You mean today?
That wool-gathering fellow gave us only a fortnight to do or die.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears … our mission poverty begin today. Let’s disperse, meet at station; yelled Pranav….. In a dramatic fashion making his aids laugh at such odd hours.
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© Copyright 2016 vanshika kasturi. All rights reserved.
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