Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What the Hell is Happening?

I am a journalist no doubt, but even I am losing track of what is happening here. There seems to be nothing but chaos today that is taking a grip of my life. What the hell is happening to me?
I was standing right there, with the witness in front of me, when Maher had rushed in. All hell broke loose that moment when he agreed to the fact that he had been a witness to that ghastly act of the play of life that had unfolded that dreaded night. And yet, he is not in the condition to do so, for he is “too weak to be exerted upon”, as the doctors said that day. Maher, in the meantime, was giving a piece of his mind to his subordinates.
“What the fucking hell were you doing huh? Sleeping on your asses? This git of a reporter manages to get to the bottom of the matter and identify a witness, and all you give me is that they did not want to talk. What am I supposed to do with you guys now, huh?”
I looked at him. He was really pissed off with his subordinates, who, like swatted flies were strewn all over the floor, with their heads hanging in fear of what the chief might say to them.
“Maher, leave them. What is important is that we have a witness. What are you going to do now about it?” Somehow, even in such a heated moment as this, I could not hide the journalistic instinct of mine, and slipped in a question.
He gave me dirty glance, clearly indicating that he was in no mood to humour me, which made me slip behind to prevent myself from being drilled into, while his rant continued.
The whole outburst lasted for about half an hour, most of which had to be done in the corridor amidst the disapproving glances of hospital staffers, who had pushed us out of the intensive care unit to “avoid mental agony to an already distraught patient”. But what about the agony that all of us were standing in the corridor, listening to an impromptu lecture being delivered by this asshole Maher?
I began to yawn behind his back, seeing which, a couple of officers started to smile guiltily.
“Don’t you dare to smile; I saw that. What do you think? Is this some sort of a joke going one here? We are playing with lives here, not guns or drugs or words,” he emphasized, which beautifully managed to wipe the smile off our faces. “Get lost all of you. Arrange security for this chap before I wring your necks.”
Hearing this, the entire force ran around like kids in a playground to make all the necessary arrangements. Maher turned around, and blurted out, “Thanks Ms Young, your job is done now. Now it’s our turn.”
“Not yet Maher,” I spoke, at which Maher looked at me with a puzzled look, wondering just what more trouble was I intending to be to him.
“You have to allow me to know all that is going on. You know that I will not cross any lines of journalism, but you have to be sympathetic towards me as well. After all, such stories do come once in a journalist’s lifetime. Should I allow this chance to slip away, just like you did with this witness?”
Maher looked at me with a blank face. Then he took out a cigarette, and lit it up, while offering me one, which I accepted, and saw him light it up while I held it in between my teeth. “You know,” he spoke after we had a puff, “you are one bitchy woman.”
“I’ll take my chances on confirming that one Maher,” I replied, while we smoked outside after being pushed out of the hospital by members of the anti-smoking lobby. Dusk had just begun settling in, and the smoke began to play with the breeze blowing, contorting into different shapes before flowing away. “So, is it really him?”
“Is the interview still on?” he retorted back with a tone that smelt of utter contempt. I coolly ignored it and continued. “All this is off the record.”
“How can I be sure?” he puffed away, without even looking at me.
I was stumped. This was the first ever big assignment I had obtained, and this was the first time ever that I had ever confronted someone so out rightly frank, who was two steps of such a smart person as me. And yet, that bitterness in him reflected everywhere, in everything he did. I was staring at him to figure him out, and yet, an understanding of him eluded me. Why?
“To be honest, even I don’t trust myself now. The hunger for fame in this profession keeps gnawing at my conscience the way termites eat up wood; it is only the hollow framework that keeps standing at the end of it. But let me assure you, some of it has still not been eaten up, so take my word for it,” saying which I smoked another puff.
Maher looked at the empty space along the walls in front of us. He was thinking something for sure, but his shields allowed non to look through him. Then, all of a sudden, he spoke up.
“What do you know about Ernst Stanley?”
“You mean the culprit who died in the flood?” I asked, totally surprised at this question. What was going on in Maher’s mind?
“Yeah, that’s him alright. But tell me, how did you come onto that conclusion?”
“Well,” I began, “I was trying to get a background on you before coming in for the interview the other day. I went through the old archives of our papers, searching about you, when that interesting murder case that took place fifteen years ago came to my attention. And that’s how I managed to get a grip of that story.”
“What made you think it could be him?”
“Well, you never found his body, did you? Absence of a body could well mean that he had survived the dreadful flood that mad e you who you are today,” I chose to taunt him, to which he decided not to respond at all. Is he human at all?
Maher was lost in thought, and did not speak a word out of that. The tension however, was too much to bear for me, and I was relieved when my editor called me on my cell.
“Thank God you called,” I spoke in an exasperated manner, walking away from Maher, “Could you not have given me a more fucking stupid assignment than this, huh? You had rapped on about my big break in the office, and what am I stuck with now? An asshole of a detective who doesn’t speak! A witness who cannot speak! Goddamn your big break! Screw you and your big assignment!”
“Relax,” a strange voice spoke from across the phone that stunned me for a moment. I had never heard this voice before. “Who the hell is this?” I demanded.
“Relax Ms. Samantha Young. You are exerting yourself too much. Did I forget to tell you that your editor is dead?”
“Dead?” I shrieked, only to hear Maher’s footsteps coming towards me. “Who are you? And what the hell did you do to my boss?”
“Chill, Ms Young. Did I tell you, by the way, that he died a horrid death? I’m extremely sorry, that must have slipped out of my mind. Now print this.”
“By the way, thank Maher on my behalf. He did me a good favour by letting loose of me in that current fifteen years ago, but I am not going to repay it to him.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Wintess Awakens-Chapter 7

I woke out of the deep slumber that time had pushed me into, only to gasp for life.
“Doctor, doctor!” screamed a voice around me, as I continued to fight against an invisible force that was pulling me away from this world. Why had it not pulled me away earlier was all that rang in my mind like the church bells.
“What’s the matter?” rushed in another voice, which like the first one was totally blurred for me, as my sight had been reduced to a blur, and life revealed its true opaque side to me.
“He’s hyperventilating.”
“Quick, put him on oxygen!”
Suddenly, a pair of hands pulled up my head and made me wear a mask; and I could breathe again. The mist in my eyes began to clear up, and I could now see an army of white surrounding me, all looking at me as if I was a curio in an antiques shop.
“Can you hear us?” asked a woman, apparently a nurse, as I followed her voice towards her face.
I motioned towards her that I could, but somehow I did not have the voice in my mind being followed up by the voice in my throat.
“I think,” said a man in a long white coat, “that he cannot speak right now. Maybe, he is too weak to do so.”
Everybody nodded in assent, while I tried to sort out my mind, and attempted to figure out my presence in this ward.
“Thank God someone brought him here on time, else he would not have survived.”
“Survived? Look at him! He was in coma for such a long time. You call such a thing a miracle.”
“Never use that word,” a strict rejoinder flew in from somewhere, “We are doctors, not evangelists; it does not suit our profession.”
Utter sadness filled my mind. I had not died that night; in fact, the killer had perhaps saved me from the fate that I had so desperately wanted that night. Damn his balls!
“Do you want to say anything? You could write it out,” came a voice from somewhere, and I saw a woman not dressed in white step out towards me, while the others dispersed.
“Hi, my name is Sam Young. I am a reporter for the Daily Star. I came here to talk to you about something really important.”
I saw this woman. Expectation on the verge of desperation filled her eyes, as if she had pinned all her hopes on something that only I could give. But what could I give her, save for my misery and my anger?
“Do you recognize this woman?” She had raised her hand, which had held a photograph in it, and pointed towards it with her other hand.
I took a look at the photograph, only to be stunned.
It was her, no doubt.
Sam had figured out that I recognized the face. Maybe, it was from the way my eyes must have widened, or the way my face must have contorted, for she latched onto the moment.
“So, were you her stalker?”
I looked at her with condescension, for she had dared to reduce the primal human instinct that we humans try to shamefully hide to a criminal act. She quickly sensed it, for she changed her question to another.
“Do you know that she was murdered the same night you were found half dead?”
How could I not know it? I was there, when the entire episode had happened, and yet, she asked me such stupid questions. Dumbass that all reporters are, she too continued the act.
“And do you know what had happened that night?”
I nodded my head in approval. That night would always remain etched onto my mind.
“Oh my God,” she whispered, “We actually have a witness. I need to tell Maher about this.”
Saying so, she ran out of the room, leaving me behind on the ventilator to watch her go out, and pondered over what the fuss was all about.
Within some time (I do not know how much time elapsed, for there were no indicators of the same around me), an army of policemen had run in along with this Sam, with a man growling loudly at his men.
“Great! You bastards could not do what a tit of a reporter managed to achieve in such a short while. Fuck your asses! We had a witness all along, and none of you tried to figure out the people of the neighbourhood properly? What am I supposed to do with you motherfuckers, huh?”
They all looked mute, while Sam spoke to this man, “Maher, you can do that later. Do what is important first. Talk to the doctor to see when he can start speaking again, or whether he can communicate with us in any other way.”
Maher then turned around towards me, and looked at me with a bit of a doubt. But soon, he cleared his face, and then asked me,
“So, can you tell us anything about that night?”

Friday, December 26, 2008

Me, The Journalist

As I left Maher’s office, I had some doubts about the case, but none about the man. The swine was an absolute no-nonsense guy, and always means business. That’s something, you know, that I appreciate in people, unlike most of us, who shiver at the mere idea of the truth and its gory details coming to the fore.
Anyways, I’ll be honest with you. I, Sam Young, am not just any another reporter, who wants to make something big out of herself with a sensational story that garners the first page; no sir, I am sorry to disappoint you about that. I am fresh, and believe in my principles, though everyone around me scoffs them off, saying that this profession of ours does not have room for them. But I, dear readers, am determined to prove to them just how damn wrong they all are, and that they can go screw themselves up.
The Daily Star interview was getting me a lot of attention, though I am not sure if the reason for this attention was a saucy photo of me that was put up on my editor’s behest. “Sex sells, at least more than the news today. And so I need to do that, for I have a chair and a board to answer to at the end of the year, who keep searching for a reason to shove their pens up my ass for not selling the paper enough.” Fair enough, I said to myself then, but now, looking back at it, I somewhere keep asking myself: did I compromise my ethics there?
Anyways, I do my research and background check when I follow a story (this is my first ever!), and try to get to the bottom of every minute detail that there is to understand, till I have unraveled what is real, what is true in the eyes of time. And so, I had gone across the neighbourhood, pretending to be someone from similar areas, asking around about any suspicious movements that had occurred around this place. They all are the same, are people, irrespective of class, creed, colour or sex. They first eye you to size you up, to make some sense out of you. If they can figure you out, fair enough-you’ll get your story; else its tough luck, as they shoo you away like some vile creature who mistakenly invaded their home. And while I got my fare share of shitheads and fuck-offs and “damn you, bitch”, I did get some juice on the whole picture. It seems someone was stalking this Jones, who has since not been seen. Interesting.
I had read while researching on Maher about that dreadful case, where the convict got washed away in the flood. It hid him hard, did that loss, and Maher was never himself again. He aged fifteen years ago to what he was now, and it seemed that he had sensed that I thought on the same lines as him. But he was dead. Or was he really? What if he had survived that flood, and had now, after so many years, come back, and thrown a fresh challenge to an ageing body. Would he pick it up, or was he skeptical that it was not the same guy?
It makes no sense to me that the same guy…what’s his name? Yeah, John Bryant would have survived the massive flood. But then again, the world is a strange place. Truth indeed proves to be stranger than fiction. And I assured myself that I would get somewhere. But, as a good journalist, I need to tell the police about this stalker news, while minting some publicity out of it. But never would I compromise on my principles in any way.
Help me God, for I am starting to contradict myself severely.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Could It be Him?

Again, I was being pulled into the water, as I struggled with the bastard to save myself and get a grip of him at the same time. The fucking currents were so strong that it was nearly impossible for the either of us to keep hold of the rail that had broken down. And yet, he continued to pull at me, even as his own grip was loosening, screaming at me above the deafening current, “I’m going to hell, and you are coming with me.”
And soon, he lost grip of me as well, and away he floated into the darkness in that flooded night…
I woke up from the slumber that had enveloped me in this summer heat. It had quietly invited me into its laps, promising me comfort and warmth, and continued to do so, till someone had placed his hand on my shoulder.
“Sorry I fell asleep,” I spoke, while rubbing my face to awaken myself. “So, what does the report say?”
“It’s difficult to ascertain whether she was raped or not. However, some man is responsible for the murder. The autopsy woman thinks that the killer is a psychopath, and wants a forensic psychologist to map out the killer’s profile.”
I don’t know why I feel I know this killer. I feel as if he is challenging me to chase him, to track him down. I cannot recall when I met this guy, or where I had met him, but this bastard knows me too well, and is making a mockery out of me and my team. Damn that shithead.
“Do whatever she says,” I spoke tersely, and got up to walk towards the coffee machine to refresh myself with a cup of strong coffee. The coffee was good, and got me awake and kicking, and I could snap back to work.
“So,” I spoke as I walked back into our office, “What else have we got?”
“Nothing is possible. Nobody in the hood knows anything about the woman except for the fact that she was working as a waitress in a restaurant uptown. Other than that, they don’t know a thing about her.”
“That’s not something new,” I barked out, even as I saw a young woman wander into the station. I instantly recognized her from that day at the site. She was one of those bloody reporters. “What on earth is she doing here?” I shouted at my colleagues, who began to shiver, even as a couple of them scampered to save their skins, and rushed towards the upstart who had dared to enter in without any prior intimation or approval.
I do not know what arguments the three of them exchanged, though it was dead hot for sure, for fingers were being wagged at each other, and faces being contorted into those of gargoyles with sheer anger and frustration, as I stood on the other side of the glass wall. Then, one of the men came towards me back into the other room, with the other that goddamn woman towards my office.
“Chief, she wants to interview you. Her name is Sam Young, and she is from the Daily Star, whose editor, she claims, is a close friend of yours,” the guy blurted out, with an extra emphasis on the last four words to paraphrase her.
I snorted out of disgust, as you may be well aware of my contempt and disgust towards this entire breed of some alien species that subsists on the miseries of others, while claiming to bring truth to the fore. Damn the bitch, I thought, as I moved towards the small cabin I call my office in this God-forsaken place the people call a police station. “Please come in,” I spoke, barely concealing my anger towards her, which she coolly ignored, and stepped in, and placed her comfortably into a chair opposite to mine, into which I slumped. “Yes ma’am. What’s your problem now?”
“My name is Sam Jones, and I am from the Daily Star newspaper…” she began, at which I snapped irritatingly.
“I know who you are ma’am. Please come to the point. What do you want?”
She looked at me with a pensive look in her eyes, and then after her minute of hesitation, spoke up.
“I would like to know whether we have any idea of who the killer really is. Basically, I mean, do you have any leads on this case? And what do the forensic examination reports say?”
“And what would you do with what has been uncovered so far, eh? Trying to run a parallel investigation here? Do you think this is some kind of a joke going on?” I spoke tersely, letting her know the exact amount of irritation that I felt (if there were a measure of the same).
“Excuse me Mr. Maher, but our readers have the right to know the truth…” she began defensively, trying to convince me with the so called argument of rationality, though looking clearly off-guard at my analysis of her interest.
“”Fuck your readers,” I spoke out with a smirk, even as I gulped down the remaining coffee, and then lit up a cigarette. “Do you think they really care for your sensationalist ways? Do you think they like it when someone makes them cringe the way your horrid articles do?”
“Look Maher,” she began speaking with a bit of anger in her tone, “I cannot help it if others do that; I do not intend to do the same. I am here for the truth as it is; I do not give a damn if the readers cringe or throw up on the details. If they are so gross, I will exclude them. I just want the facts Maher,” she spoke angrily, pointing her pen at me, “I am not the police; I am just a reporter who wishes to report something. Get it?”
I looked the lady, who was now standing up instead of being seated. She had some guts to be so direct and frank, as well as rude, in a police station. “John sent the right person for the first time,” I spoke with a smile, and a belief that for once, somebody has the spine to say things as they are.
The interview went smoothly, with the right questions being asked, and the answers being crisp and short. Finally, as the interview came to a close, she asked me,
“Mr. Maher, there was a similar case about fifteen years ago, in which you only were involved, that seemed to have the same set of circumstances. Do you think the two are connected?”
“No ma’am, I cannot say that,” I replied honestly, “You see the victim had died in the flash flood that year. But it would be better if you refrained from reporting about it”
In my mind, however, I felt the same twitch as her, which she seemed to have sensed the same thing, and she nodded in approval, as if she understood really what I meant. Could it really be him? After all these years, he re-surfaced from somewhere. But he died that day, I re-assured myself. No, it has to be someone else, I thought. But they say a detective’s gut always senses the truth, and mine had too. But where could I get the confirmation for it?
One thing is certain though; I still hate these dogs who go by the name of journalists. I really do.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Death Visited Me-Chapter 4

I am dead now; but is it? I do not feel dead at all. I seem to be hanging somewhere between life and death; afterlife is something that still eludes me. And so I lay hanging around the place that I once called home; which is still home to me in more ways than one.
I can still recall that night, when he had come in. I knew him, of course, and was gladly surprised to see him at that time of the night. “The more, the merrier,” I had privately thought. How foolish of me to even think like that! I still recall bitterly how he had slashed me up as if I were nothing more than a piece of meat. And there I was, struggling in vain to save myself. And he was watching in from outside, as I was being torn apart, being nothing more than the mute spectator like the moths that had fluttered around in my house that night. I was always told that when you see these moths which have the skull pattern formed on their backs, death is sure to visit your house; these moths are the horses that pull the chariot of death forward, for it to reach the opportune destination on time, right on its schedule.
He was there, standing out there, staring at my naked body that was playing hide and seek with his eyes from behind the partly drawn curtains hanging on my window. I always was aware that he was standing outside, and got a secret thrill from the very sensation that his sight created in my body: an invisible touch would race across my body, which I enjoyed a lot. And yet, this admirer of mine did not come to save me from this demon who came in and killed me; instead, he reveled in the murder, and was equally complicit in this gruesome assault on my senses that were inflicted by him.
Do I know that man? I do, but what good is it? The dead have no voice of their own; they can talk to only those who believe in them, who care enough to listen to us folk. But then, in this world of humans, does our word stand a chance in the eyes of this sham, this so called creature called law? No sir, it does not. It requires hard facts, real alive witnesses that it can hear, feel and see; who can swear upon some shitty book, and still babble out a whole bunch of fucking lies; who can fuck up the truth to the extent that the only shred of truth left in it is the fact that is goddamn witness spoke it out in front of some black-robed man and twelve assholes pretending to be jury, delivering verdict over someone by blinding themselves to the real truth. No sir, thank you very much, but I am glad that my word cannot be counted in as the truth, for the nincompoop defence lawyers would twist up that as well, and contort it into some evil one-eyed gargoyle to fit their versions.
That bastard, who reveled in his lust for me, who would derive some pleasure by staring at me at all times: why did he abandon me now, when he could have been of some use to helping my spirit to get some peace by getting its due share of justice (as if its some form of fruitcake!)? No, that shit-head decided to end his life, and now lies someplace that I have clues about. I still recall that first day when he had laid his probing eyes on me, as if he could pierce my breasts by just staring at them, making me hell nervous about myself for the first time ever. I admit to being the kind that every man would lust after; I even use it to my advantage. What’s there in it to be ashamed about? All of us humans are like that sirs and madams; we will use our best asset as a weapon in this dog-eat-dog world. But he was something different; he made me feel like I was vulnerable, that I was weak in front of him. He made me aware of things about myself; of how sexual was the mundane activity of undressing our body, or when we just even pour juice into a glass with the flick of a wrist. This secret admirer of mine I knew by face; I could identify him anywhere that I went; at work, around the neighbourhood; even on the subway. I never shared this with anyone, for in secret I enjoyed that a love-forsaken woman like me was getting from a man. To be pissed off was not on my mind ever; but guess what? Now I am mad at him. He tried not to save me from this jilted lover of mine, whose name I shall not reveal, for the words of the dead cannot reach the living, even if they asked God or whatever it is called to help them. I want him, wherever he may be now, to come and help me, now that I am gone; to help my spirit to get some peace. My body has been consigned to the realms of earth by unknown hands, for I had no living relatives. At least, in death, I shall get to see them. I want the police, with all its weapons and cars to scare this asshole; to beat the shit out of him to make him to confess his horrendous crime. I had not given anyone to play the angel of death, and allowed anyone to take my life away from me just like that. I want this man to be brought to the hook, and want it bad. I hope this man will come to be of some use other than just giving me cheap thrills of carnal nature. I want justice for the horror inflicted upon my body, and want it to be given back in equal amount to this monster who had swooped down on me that fateful night.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Autopsy Woman

I have gotten used to the stench of death in its myriad hues and shades, so nothing surprises me or shocks me now. They are nothing more than a number to me now; in spite of me being a ‘woman’, there is no sensitivity left within me with regards to death now, except for its causes and the timing, if I were to exclude the causes out of my daily routine as well.
Everyday I have to see dead bodies, or its remaining parts or its shreds, whatever the cops manage to recover over varying periods of time. The causes of death are several; the motives seem to remain the same, if one were to believe what the cops say. But I do not care anymore; I restrict myself from thinking too much about that.
“Here’s the new one,” spoke the coroner, as he shoved up the body up onto the examination table with the help of two other apprentices. Death weighs heavily upon all of us, and so was this body similarly bogged down by the weight of its own decaying mass. The body was horribly disfigured from the abdomen and below; there was nothing left for me to tear up the body for, as the coroner handed me the bag containing the remains of her inner organs, or rather what was left of them. “Here is what remains in the name of organs that have recovered from the site. Hope it is of some use to you, though I doubt it,” grunted the coroner from behind the mask to hide himself from the stench of death that surrounds all of us in this room.
The stench of death is a mystery to all of us who conduct forensic examinations day in and day out. It has several tinges to it; the bitter almonds due to cyanide, the crazy sulfurous smells arising due to gun shots, the rotten smells arising due to the maggots and bacteria having eaten away at the flesh, leaving behind a consortium of half eaten body parts held together by a half-eaten body. Anyways, what is there for me to say, but that I am so used to it that I now do not even notice the difference between the living and the dead; they all seem to be the same to me.
To be honest, there are no differences between the living and the dead today; it is just that the living have are able to move around, unlike the dead. Otherwise the two are in a perpetual state of continual decay, be it mentally, physically, socially, culturally or any other parameter of measurement that you may wish to adopt for comparison. There seems to be an endless list of faults and errors that the human race are; moreover, they snap back when one of us lower levels of human beings dares to point out the same to them.
“So, what do you say, doctor?”, spoke the assistant, as I was examining the various body parts, or any that had been spared by the vicious brute who had killed this woman.
“ Number 17165 has been killed by knife, and her private organs have been torn to shreds for sure. Seems to be a hate crime, and certainly has a masculine touch to the entire pogrom. Moreover, the weapon was a knife for sure,” I spoke from behind my mask, while I continued to peer across the naked body (or whatever was left of it) to make observations of the various injuries, scars and gashes that wrapped her body like a crochet weave pattern. “And she seems to have been raped before the murder was committed, looking at the current state of the body, around midnight.”
“So she was raped before being murdered?” asked he, as he kept scribbling down his sheet.
“Difficult to say. There are too many scratches on the body due to the sharp object, so it is difficult to assess whether she was raped or not. But the murder was committed around midnight,” saying which I walked out of the room, leaving the attendant to clear the table, and send the body to whoever was claiming it for burial.
I strolled out of the room, and headed straight towards the sink to disinfect my hands. Having done that, I headed towards the laboratory, where some of the other scientists were conducting tests on the samples collected from her body.
“Any luck?” I asked, though not expecting much. Nowadays, I never expect anything: no joy, no hope, no disappointment; nothing.
“Negative: there seems to be nothing that can help us nail the culprit. We’ll have to examine everything from the site all over again.”
“Do it fast,” I commented, “or else the evidence could get destroyed. We cannot afford to lose any evidence, howsoever miniscule it may be.”
When I go home from work, I insulate myself from all the scenes of death and murder by listening to classical music. The way Mozart’s compositions flow; the way Tchaikovsky’s tunes draw my attention; the way Brahms induces me into a state of peace; it helps me a lot to move away, to recharge, so that I can start afresh the next day. This case, however, reminds me of a very old case that had shocked me. I could not recall the culprit of that case; the case had created a similar sensation then as well in the print media; only to be replaced by the hysteria in the electronic media and the tabloid nature of the print. Let us see what it turns out to be. In the meantime, I have Beethoven to help me come out of trance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Victim,Culprit and Witness-Chapter 2

I don’t give a damn to what their names are. They can be Judy or Jack or Germain or whatever goddamn person on this earth, they are still the same to me. They have only three names for me: the victim, the culprit and the witness.
The body was lying there, decaying, even as maggots and flies and their larvae were enjoying this unusually large feast of human flesh that had been so generously prepared for them overnight by this unique chef. I was wearing a mask on my face, which was an exercise in futility, for the stench still managed to tickle the sensory organelles within my nose, even as I inspected the lamp with the bloodstains on it, and the mish-mash of her intestines that had been created by the culprit. Only a forensic examination could further evince what was left intact within her; what was stolen from her (if my hunch proves right), and when the murder was committed along with the screenplay of this strange play being enacted in front of me right here today.
There a lot of other policemen, scientists and journalists moving around me; heck, there was an entire army of men and women swarming around, as the sounds of siren mixed in with those coming from the rattling generators and the eye-searing flashlights that kept flashing away to blind everyone along with deafening them. I never like these journalists in particular; they come running like stray dogs from all over as if somebody generous threw out a bone for them. Good for nothing morons! They just help to create panic and also destroy the scene of crime for us. How then does anyone expect us to solve these entangled mysteries, when half of the potential crime scene has been tampered by these Blood-sucking pests?
Anyways, coming back to the original screenplay, the room was a mess; an obvious sign of the struggle that must have occurred between the oppressor and the oppressed. The signs were all over; the splash of bloods that keeps staring away at us from all the walls, the pillow marks, the scratches on the arms and the legs, the broken shards of a glass which might have held some amount of water or wine or whisky or whatever she might have been drinking, which crashed against the wall, for the signs were evident. All of that and much more was to be seen in that room, and all of such signs and clues and symbols, like the dead moths lying on the table with the blood-stained table lamp (apparently singed by the bulb’s heat), who were mute spectators to the horror spectacle that was unleashed by someone last night. The curtains were dry now, for the blood globules stuck onto it could now be scratched off them, leaving behind traces that can be removed only by washing them thoroughly with soap and water. The sun’s rays were streaming in through the curtains that were partially parted, creating a strange scene resembling a haunted house, except that the horror had left its aftermath.
“What do we have here?” I asked in my usual indifferent manner, while pulling out a cigarette and lighting it, and slowly puffing away at it.
“Name’s Sarah Jones; 33 years old. Unmarried. No known relatives. Nobody has any idea around this place that a murder took place last night.”
“Obvious, isn’t it? The place is the low-end scum of this city. They never hear anything, for they are busy saving their own skins most of the times, isn’t it?” I commented tersely. “Any witnesses so far?”
“None whatsoever. No one has even seen the killer’s shadow, forget the culprit,” replied the other officer, while I kept walking around to see if I could get anything of use with the forensics team. “What have you got there, doc?”
“Nothing of consequence so far,” replied she, as she kept sifting through the heaps of intestines that were spilled on the floor, while everyone was simply repulsed by the odour of death that was hanging over all of us. “The killer seems to be psychotic, I tell you. I think it has to be a man.”
“Has to be,” I quipped. “Look at the mess created; has to be really strong hands that could have wrecked such carnage.”
I puffed and after looking around for a while, walked out of the room, and started looking around to see if there was anything that could be of help to me to nail the culprit, but luck does not favour us all the time now, does it? It wants to be appreciated, wishes to stress its importance to common people like you and me, and hence plays hardball very often. The body was being taken away for autopsy by loading it into the ambulance, making sure that nobody could even hint at the devastation that the culprit left behind. Just then, the bloody journalists swooped in on me, hounding me out like a piece of meat.
“What do we know about the incident?”
“What was the victim’s name?”
“What would have been the motive behind this murder?”
“Do we have any suspects?”
“No questions please,” I spoke tersely, as the volley of questions ceased immediately, only to be followed by muted fury at my refusal to yield to their pressure. “The victim’s name is Sarah Jones, age 32. Murder motive is not known, and we have no suspects or witnesses so far. The murder must have been committed around midnight, but that can be confirmed only after the autopsy report comes out. I am the detective in-charge for this case, and my name is Maher. That’s all there is to say. Have a good day folks.”
Saying so, I started to walk away from the scene, while the press resumed it s usual buzz, creating frenzy strong enough to bring people out in this impoverished neighbourhood. They all look like criminals, only that they are not; its their fate you see. But it is no surprise to me, someone working in this area for ten years now, to see such gruesome crimes occur so frequently in this part of the town. The scum of the city, the filth that it has rejected is what this part of the town is; nothing else. What else is to be expected?
Now, I have to confess something to you all. This is not the first murder I have seen folks; it will most probably not be the lat either. But there is something about this case that is not open and shut for me. Something is amiss, and I cannot figure out the missing link in this puzzle. Is this a crime of passion? If so, why did the murderer indulge into it? Such a crime may seem as a surprise to you folks who sit around, reading in their favourite snuggly chairs or bean bags, sipping some nice warm coffee. But tell me something: is lust a privilege of only the rich? Is jealousy and hatred the rich man’s guilty passions? No its not. So it is possible, but who can it be? The thought drives across my mind, as I sit in my car, and slowly drive away.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I pray today for the souls of all the victims of the absolute terror unleashed by mindless creatures. May God rest their souls in peace.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Evening

The afternoon is hot and humid
And the soul and body wet
With the sweat trickling down my body
As I walk along the road, and everything is set
In the grand order of things that has been designed
By some forces unknown and benign
And hear the traffic honk and the people scream
As the afternoon passes across, pulling in the evening screen
The sun is going down, and evening approaches
While people start moving around again,as life enervates
On these earlier dead road alleys and pathways
That are the lifeline for the world enclosed in this tiny space
The temples ring bells, the minarets sound the azaan
To all faithful, come one come all
Come pay your obeisances to the One God
Seek his shelter humbly, for He hates none and forgives all
And people mill about, and traffic snarls begin
While the crows crow away, and sparrows begin to sing
Their voices drowned out in this strange cacophony
That the race of humanity causes which is called a din
The sun witnesses silently, as it changes its hues
The air reeks of poison which those cars on the street quietly breathe
And the dust of the day's memories begin to filter down
While the milling never really ceases
While the markets lit by those gas lamps come alive
And people scurry about haggling for the right price
While screaming vendors display their wares
Hoping that today their profits would be nice
And so carries on the evening each day
Until it merges into the night
And one wonders while glancing towards
That everything is just alright.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

WAR

War
These three letters make so much of a difference to life
Reversing the order, so that fathers bury sons
And widows are made out of wives

And children lose fathers for no cause of theirs
And lovers lose lovers for no reason
And bodies pile up, with no destination
Lying within coffins of wood, metal or resin

While mothers lose children
On both sides of the divide
Yet none has the remorse for the other
"They did their duty, we are doing ours"
Is the common refrain

And while the bodies and its parts pile up
In planes, in cars and on trains
Wrapped in the country's flags, motionless they lie
As they are remembered for the first and last time
Only to be forgotten forever

And in prisons pile up prisoners
Who rot away ignored by their own people
While feeling uncomfortable when their kin question
"why did you ignore my father, my brother, my son?"

And tombs are raised
To mock the misery of human beings
And offer floral tributes on special days
While the other days it lies buried under heaps of dried flowers and leaves
Makes me wonder, if it was worth it to have wasted so much
Just so that we could all get some peace.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It has been a long duration since the time that I had last put up something on this blog. I do not know if anyone even wants me to write anything at all, or if anyone eve cares to read what I have written. Anyways, I would still say that it is my fault that I have been unfaithful to something that I had promised I would follow up earnestly. Life has been a bit of a rolling stone, gathering no moss of the type that I always desired.
I will try to keep up. I have a couple of ideas in my mind, and hopefully they will turn out into something meaningful. Please pray that I maange to do so.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I had a strange day, but one that was tiring and frustrating at the same time. Everything was going against me, it felt as if I was moving against the tide. I have gone crazy, and feel tired, and feel like curling up in a bed and hide myself from the world. I wish the world was not so cruel as it is.
Anyways, I wish everyone Shubho Bijoy and Happy Dussehra, and hope that only good exists in your lives.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It was an interesting day, as I visited some of the most farthest places in my knowledge today. Sitting here in Thiruvananthapuram today, I can only recall the tiresome journey to Radhapuram Taluk in Tirunelveli District, the birthplace of the saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, for some work. How beautiful can a country get? This is a question that often creeps in my mind, as each time I visit a new place, I am left speechless by the sheer magnificence of this nation's dazzle and colours, and it is really an amazing experience to discover the country, its people and places in the land that I proudly call India.
Anyways, I shall talk more later about some other issues, when I get back to Hyderabad. Right now, with people sitting on my head, can't say much now, can I???

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Murder and Death

And again, it happened. Shrieks filled the air, as the knife went past her body, and blood spurted out of the veins, and splattered all over the walls and the bed and any place that it could find to leave its impact on. The glass curtain that silence often tends to draw over the darkness of night was shattered to an infinite number of pieces, most of which could not even be counted, let alone repair; it had been permanently destroyed, at least for tonight.
I was standing outside the house, and had witnessed the knife go through her tender body, and which had started a fountain of blood that had even stained the table lamp that stood by her bed, and had quietly witnessed the gruesome crime being committed. Her shriek sounded as if a spirit was being tortured in hell; maybe it’s the sign of the Angel of Hell stealing your soul, seeking revenge for someone in exchange for their soul. But it was frightening, was the shriek, and the night was witness to all that it had surrounded, but conveniently decided to allow the crime to go unnoticed, were it not for me being there.
I was there alright. But was I willing to check the matter out? Why should I, when I already had figured the chain of events? I was standing there, quietly smoking the cigarette bit that was left in my hands, but there was some passion in that smoke, as my lust was finally silenced. I was satisfied for the first time in so many days, ad I could not figure out why, but should one wonder for the reasons for something so pleasing to occur? I was satiated after so many days, and there was an immense amount of pleasure that filled my senses. Good riddance from the bitch, I thought, as she had been tormenting my mind, heart and soul to the extent of making my life a miserable experience.
Is it wrong to lust for a woman? If women can lust for us, can’t we be attracted towards them? After all, any attraction that occurs towards another is purely physical. Liar is the person who says that he or she was attracted by a quality in the other’s personality; its all nothing but a pack of fucking lies. Fuck you all, who pretend to be someone whom you are not. Anyways, I was very much attracted to her. Everything about her made me want her even more; her hair, her neck, her naked back that I often saw peeking out of the window, as I stared into the house from a certain distance, from where she played her sick mind games with me. She knew I was attracted to her, and she felt glad about it. And yet, unlike others who would shudder at the sight of a stalker, she was rather pleased about it. She was an enigma to me, a riddle which could not be cracked by anyone; a puzzle no one could piece together. She was perfectly in sync to my imaginations, for what I found alluring. Her eyes, oh my! They were the eyes of the devil. They knew what to do to make you fall for her the minute they were laid upon you. There was a sickening feeling that would rise in the gut, as if someone had just hit you very hard, and made you wish that you could hold her back right then and kiss her till she bled from her mouth, trying to take revenge for what she did to your spirits with that sharp glance that accompanied the cruel smile etched on her face.
The night was still deep in its darkness, as he walked out of the house, his clothes smeared with her blood, as he wiped it out with the towel that she would conveniently drop when she knew that I was staring into the house from the edge of the lamp post that allowed a clear view into her house. The bitch knew, and would conveniently let it slip off her body, as she would turn around behind the curtains slightly parted, as if playing peek-a-boo with my wants. She would ensure that I would be tormented to every extent that was possible. At least the very factors of torment were eliminated to a certain extent. I was glad, as I butted the cigarette into the pole, and then squashed it to death under my feet, which had finally obtained some force in them, now that I knew she was not there to torture me, and make every moment of my life a never-ending saga of agony.
I am a loser, no doubt. I had lost myself to the wicked charms of a witch who had cast an inescapable spell on me. I had been running away from it, but its vice-like grip was too much to handle; even after death, it was following me, as I walked up towards the window, whose curtains were parted enough to allow me a glance at her body, which had been horribly mutilated. A lot of her inner organs lay strewn all over the floor, as her vacant eyes stared towards the ceiling. An expression of horror was frozen over her face, which still had that haunting quality in it, even long after the soul had parted ways with the body, and had begun its march towards hell. The mysteries of her face were still evident, or was it a figment of my imagination that made me see a mirage in the heat of the night?
I kept staring from the outside, even as the room was now stinking of death, as a moth started to wander around the now red light that the blood-stained lamp was emanating. There was a strange aura hanging over the room. The killer was long gone-who was he, what was his intention to murder her, I do not know. He too must have been a jilted lover or a man who was obsessed with her like me to the extent that he had been driven mad, the way I was, but much more beyond the want and the longing, and towards jealousy and outrage by her. There she lay now-she deserved it to say the least. Ruining so many people’s lives, tormenting them like anything, and such people deserved nothing less than hell as a punishment.
The sun was now rising, and I cast a final glance at her body. The face was the same, but I had, all of a sudden, tears in my eyes, as I quietly bade the final goodbye to her, and walked away, carrying with me all the memories of her that lay in my heart, and will stay with me for probably the rest of my life, which I shall end in a few moments from now. Her witchcraft has such a powerful net pulled over me, as I saw a razor blade lying on top of a heap of rubbish, and without even thinking, I picked it up, and sliced my wrists with it. What was the use of living, if the one thing that I was related to somehow was to be taken away from me just like that? I smiled, as I fell unconscious, and drifted towards death, waiting for it to cover half the stretch.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hyderabad/Secunderabad Diaries

Monsoon time is a strange time for our nation as such. People wait for the rains, and then they also wait for it to go away, due to the widespread problems that it creates evey year. It is highly depressing to see the widespread destruction that the rains have been bringing about in this beautiful nation. And it is still rythmic in nature, having a strange attraction towards it, that has inspired so many of us to write in its honour, to compose songs in praise of it, to sing ballads that remind us of its composure, its fury, its many moods, since time immemorial. Perhaps its due to the fact that the monsoons are like us humans, and has several aspects to its personality like us. And this will go on forever, till either the rains cease to occur on this planet, or till the human beings themselves cease to exist on this planet. 
For me, I love this season, and have fallen for it even more after having come to Hyderabad, for the beautiful chill that it has brought about is incomparable. Living in the hills does have its advantages, and this is one of them. I always wanted to live a certain kind of lifestyle, and as of now, this city is offering it to me. However, there are certain issues I still have with the city, like the ghastly traffic jams that arise due to the rains, and the incessant flooding due to the non-existent sewerage systems.  This weather is perfect to allow such aspiring b-grade writers like me to be inspired and write something nice. I have a whole bunch of compositions on that front, and maybe, if one day, I feel confident enough, I might share it with the six people who read my blog!! But honestly, I would like more people to read my blog, and give their constructive feedback, so that I can move towards one of my "Hazaaron Khwahishein". And by the way, I shall start giving movie reviews on another blog soon, for movies that are hard to find.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vande Mataram

“Please sign here, thank you,” said the jailor, visibly amused to see Ram signing the entry register in his jail. “By the way, what have you really come for? To plot another Naxalite strategy?” he remarked caustically, which was replied to by an iron stare by Ram, shutting his mouth and wiping his smile off effectively.

The havildar took the register out of hi hand, as another led the way for Ram, who had come to ___bad Jail for the first time. The prisons of this country are a legacy of the Raj that we had suffered under, which they ruefully demonstrate. The walls are dark and desolate, and they emanated a variety of odours which may incite an ordinary frail human being to throw up at its mere recall. There is no natural lighting in these jails, and for a garden or “green space”, they usually have a square meter sized patch that has some wild grass growing on it. But that’s another story unto itself, and of no concern to us.

Ram walked behind the havildar, who led him towards the “garden”, as he looked around to see people in their cells, appearing half dead. They were victims and criminals as well; criminals for their crime and victims of the slow and tortuous movement of the wheels of justice. And yet, there was very little that the administrators of this country saw. Their brethren would be somewhere in some of these jails, but living in cells that have been converted into five star hotel suites, what with the air conditioners and the refrigerators and filtered packaged water coming for them, even as the other ordinary criminals make do with the water mixed with sewage as drinking water. He sat down on a bench that had been “gifted” to the jail by an “eminent citizen of society”, as he waited in the bright sunshine under the shade of the only tree that covered this bench with his eyes closed, as he waited patiently for events to unfold out.

“So, you did come, after all. I was not expecting you to come at all, considering the manner in which you left us five years ago.”

Ram opened his eyes, as he realized the tone of sarcasm lacing the element of surprise filled in that voice. That voice was definitely him; it could not be anyone else.

“I had to Prasad. I was pleaded to by your agents to meet you here, in this jail, as you had something important to talk to me about,” spoke ram, even as remained seated, but saw Prasad walking from behind his back to in front of him. The policeman was asked to leave, who did so quietly, without making any noise, but with all eyes in them, were they really alone.

Prasad walked about in the green patch, and bent down to have a look at the flowers, which were at full bloom. “How are you, Ram?”

“I am fine, thank you. But did you call me here to exchange pleasantries with me,” said ram, who also sounded a bit irritated now.

“And what are you doing nowadays?”

“Helping the people of my country out, in the way that deems best to me, and especially those who need it the most,” spoke Ram, as he wagged his leg, and looked around the jail boundaries, to see a number of uniformed men and women moving around on duty, armed to the teeth. This is going to be a long affair, thought Ram, as he prepared himself for the upcoming mental onslaught.

“Help,” spoke Prasad, as he got up to come under the shade of the tree, even as he smiled, while taking a good look at Ram. “You’ve changed a lot, I must say, what with the glasses, and an even thinner body. Why, you look like one of those pseudo-intellectuals that keep barking on television on those hollow debates and talk shows.”

“But you have not changed even an iota,” remarked Ram, as he looked at Prasad, a crooked smile etching across his face at the same time. “Still look the same, though you have lost a bit of hair, I must add, and a lot darker too.”

“Running around in the sun does that to you,” replied Prasad, even as he now sat down on the bench, and watched Ram stand up, and lean against the tree, with his face directed away from him. “Age removes the hair, you know. It’s strange how much has happened in the last five years, isn’t it?”

Prasad took out a cigarette from his packet, and began to smoke, even as Ram kept on looking at him with a watchful eye. His hands had not changed one bit, neither had his entire physique, save for the hair, but he had changed a lot. He could read it in his tone, in his eyes, and everything that reveals a man’s personality and the effects of life upon it. There was a strange arrogance, an unknown rudeness that had permeated into his character, and Ram could not fathom why it was so. Yet, he was there, behaving as if the entire world was in his hands, with a conviction so strong it could not be shaken at all.

“So, how is life? What’s new with you?” asked Prasad, as he lighted another cigarette, and puffed away absently, even as he now stared at Ram, who, while not looking towards Prasad, felt his stare.

“Its okay, I am managing for myself somehow,” replied Ram, as he reseated himself on the bench to stare back at Prasad, who was staring at him with a smile.

“Managing? You made the __ Motors agree to a better compensation in Murshidabad than what they were offering earlier along with alternative land for farmers or a job guarantee. That too with your non-violent methods, is it not?” commented Prasad, as the tone laced with sarcasm struck a chord somewhere in Ram’s heart. But it did not reflect on the face at all, as Ram replied, “Yes, that was the case there, alright. We had to struggle a lot, but in the end, we got support from the common men and the middle class people from the cities as well. Hopefully, it will not all go in vain.”

“It will all go in vain, let me assure you my friend,” spoke Prasad, as he extinguished the stub in his hand by pressing it into the tree bark. “This was but an exception, and people will keep gloating in its glory, and conveniently forget and ignore any such other event in their lifetime, and even start criticizing these movements as ‘anti-industry’ very soon. You’ll see, it will happen in your lifetime.”

“Till I am alive, it is my sworn duty to help my countrymen, especially those who need me the most for what I can offer to them, which is a voice that will be heard loud and wide. I wish you did the same, but then, you cannot have all things at all times now, can you?” spoke Ram, as he got off the bench to stroll about in the tree’s shadow, with the sun’s inclination increasing with each passing minute of the day. “It will be my failure, and my country’s failure, if these voices are allowed to be forgotten by the people of this nation of ours.”

“Nation,” snapped a visibly irritated Prasad softly, “the nation is full of brainwashed people and fools, who think that there is no problem in this country. You call this a nation? Half of it has been eaten up by the termites called politicians, and the rest is already a hollow clamshell. If it were a nation, why is nobody happy in this country, save for a few, who are among the filthiest rich of the entire planet? And you tell me that it is a nation? You must be joking,” spoke Prasad, whose bitter sarcasm was at full swing, and which ram recognized as the weapon that he used to brainwash people easily.

“Why do you not tell me, then, what a nation is?” asked Ram patiently, as he stared at Prasad, who was constantly shifting from one point to another. “Perhaps you understood it better than most of us. After all, you are the intelligentsia, aren’t you? You are the ideologue. And your ways might help me understand my own country better with a set of fixed assumptions and theories.”

“You still think that way, don’t you Ram? You have not changed one bit, since that fateful day that you quit the People’s Army” spoke Prasad.

“Have you?” retorted Ram, as he stared at Prasad, who was now again leaning against the tree. “When you could not, how can you expect me to change? I too, after all, am a fundamentalist like you, except for the fact that my fundamentalism stems from the basic premise of respect for human life, unlike yours, which sees a human being as more of a robot than a living creature.”

“Huh, you cannot convince me with your weak arguments just like that, and you know that fact very well Ram,” spoke Prasad sharply, with a bit of anger too reflecting in his tone, which was absent, however, from his face.

“I did not come here to try anything, Prasad; its you who has insecurities in his mind, because of which you refuse to see the realities of life, and this has made you adopt a strictly fundamental stance about everything. You invited me here, so let us get to the point, and for God’s sake, hurry up please. I do not have all day,” spoke Ram, as he looked at his watch to realize the quantum of time that had passed by in playing this strange game.

“God-you believe in that nonsense as well now, don’t you? I see your pictures everyday, going to every place of worship that exists in this country. Tell me, does He come in your dreams and give you guidance in matters of everyday life?” mocked Prasad with a laughter coming out of his mouth. “Does He help you buy food, and does he help you to get a house, and a job? Does He have any identity proof? What is his address?”

“What God is for me or any of the millions of the people in this country who believe in Its force is beyond your understanding, Prasad. In this country, that is the only support structure they have; it is their only way to lead a difficult life. You have no right to question anyone’s faith, if they cannot question yours, or rather the lack of it. Does your ideology not teach you that? How to respect life? Oh, I forgot; it does not,” taunted Ram, as he now sat down, looking visibly irritated at this game of sheer frustration that was going on. He was regretting the decision to come here, but now that he was here, he had to face the music as well.

Prasad seemed a little taken aback at this sudden outburst. “My my,” he remarked, “So you found a tongue. I had heard about it, but to be in its august presence is surely a delight beyond comparison. But it repeats nothing but worn out words that have no meaning to them for anyone. They can offer nothing but hollow assurances which will be betrayed by the actions that shall follow it. Has any revolution ever been brought about by the use of the tongue? Look at the world around you, and you will realize that true power belongs to the people only when they picked up their cudgels to fight for their self-respect and honour.”

“Perhaps it’s you who has to take a reality check Prasad,” spoke up Ram, who was visibly irritated by the rhetoric he had so often heard. “Power to the people has come only when there has been a will to give people what they want in a peaceful manner. Have the LTTE achieved anything but more violence than ever? Did the Shining Path gain any inch over anyone by convincing them about all that happened? Have the militias of Africa helped anyone at all? Only when these people went to the people to represent them by the power of the ballot have achieved anything substantial. Look at yourself. What have you achieved after so many decades of violence? A handful of forests that you called liberated zones? People who fear you? Kids who shudder with fear at your very sight? Is this what you call revolution? I don’t think so,” mocked Ram, with a sarcastic smile etching across his face, even as a stunned Prasad now looked at him, surprised at the manner in which Ram had just burst.

“Look at this country, Ram. What do you see? Nothing else but hunger for children, pain for women, anger for farmers, humiliation for the tribes, and a force of hungry politicians that have eaten the country up like termites. And what have pseudo-intellectuals like you achieved for this country? Nothing but some amount of petty media coverage, when they are bored of covering such myriad range of issues like weddings, snakes, ghosts and movies. That is the extent to which this country has been brainwashed Ram, and sadly you are a part of the force responsible for it,” spoke Prasad, whose pitch kept rising with each passing minute.

“What are you offering instead? Child soldiers being sacrificed to violence for achieving nothing? Tribals being forced to join your army if they cannot pay your taxes? Violence begets violence, but an eye for any eye will turn the whole world blind, and that is all that you can achieve. It’s you who want to brainwash the people into submission, which does not make you very different from the very people you are fighting. You have reduced people into nothing but modern-day feudals in your liberated zones and the state is a banana republic, where your vigilante courts and instant justice run large. Your writ of violence cannot serve anyone. And how do you justify your contacts with those terrorists like the Islamic fundamentalists, the LTTE, and their likes? Is that not anything less than treason against your own people?”

“War demands that you take extreme measures that may not be the best but are necessary Ram. We are at war, at war with the dummies that the imperialists in this country have set up to counter us, as they are too afraid to actually face us, and talk to us about our demands,” spoke Prasad coolly, with a hint of tension creeping in on his face now, as he turned away his face so as to avoid the angry glares from Ram.

“At war with whom, Prasad? Against the very people that you claim you represent? These very imperialists are ruining this country, but then so are you equally culpable of this homicide. Brainwashing people into becoming mass murderers are nothing less than criminal, Prasad, and you know that, because of which you can actually not face me.”

“Ram, you do not know the number of people who are coming into our folds to support us. People from the best of institutions of this country are enlisting themselves for this war. What do you have to say about that, now?” asked Prasad, with a strong challenging tone evident in his voice, even as he continued to stare in another direction.

“Those people are bored with their lives, and want to have some adventure, Prasad.  Power is a powerful intoxicant; look at the manner in which these very people have been behaving with people of the lower classes. Is it not reminiscent of the Thakurs and Zamindars of UP and Bihar in their current avatars? How different are your ‘intellectuals different from them? You just want to replace a set of feudalists with another, but which exhibit their ‘leftist’ leanings on their chests whenever asked for.”

Ram appeared furious after saying all that he had. What was the point in having this debate on ideology, he thought, and what was Prasad’s motive? They had discussed this so many years ago, and the results had been disastrous; Ram had left the force there itself, and turned over that chapter in his life. But Prasad re-entered to create a mess all over again, and this time, Ram was prepared to fight for what he felt was right, not for what others had made him believe foolishly.

“Ram, we would like you to join us again,” said Prasad in a half-hearted manner. “With your support on our side, the people of this country would instantly rise up to help us defeat these imperialists. But looking at your conviction, I do not see this happening,” spoke Prasad, as he had started smoking again, with swirls of smoke engulfing his face in the evening sun, which was now a brilliant orange, soon to be extinguished by the night’s darkness.

Ram was stunned a bit. “So,” he spoke, retaining his composure, “You actually think I would be stupid enough to join you people again, after having now seen your true face. Let me tell you Prasad-your revolution’s days are numbered. People will rise against you; and against those imperialists as well, but it shall be through the power of the ballot and not the bullet. Hurt this country a little more, and you will see nothing but bullets against you from the very people you believe you represent. May God bless you Prasad, and give you some rationality,” spoke Ram, as he got up with his bag to leave.

“See you soon, Ram, and hopefully, by then you would be convinced,” spoke Prasad cheerfully, as he saw Ram walk out with his back towards him.

********************************************************************

Ram opened his eyes to notice that it was already evening. A lot of time had passed, as he had been sleeping in this chair of his office, and he saw that evening had arrived, as he walked up to the window to see the world being drenched in a red colour.

Suddenly a member stormed into the office loudly, surprising Ram to the extent that he turned around to see.

“Prasad has been killed,” spoke the exasperated member, even as Ram’s face bore an expression of utter surprise. “How did it happen?” he asked, even as he turned on the news channel.

Amidst the television’s cacophony, he was narrated the raid cum jail break that the Maoists had conducted just a few hours ago in ___bad, and how in the cross firing Prasad was killed.

Ram turned numb, as he pondered over all that had happened a week ago. That was the last time he had met him. Prasad was now dead, as he thought of all that was happening and what would happen soon.

“Vande Mataram,” he spoke to himself, and sunk into his chair, even as other organization members now were coming in to hear the news on the television set.

 

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Storm

It was raining heavily that night, as if all hell had broken loose, and was heading towards the earth to soak it in its pain, misery, suffering and torment. And it was a bad night, was this one, for reasons one can only feel, but cannot express to himself, herself or anyone else, even to the person who is really close to the person in question. But it was a bad night, and would get only worse.
He was standing under the ledge of the window that otherwise allows people from within to look outside, but usually allows everyone to look in normal times: nature, people, animals, everyone and everything that can be conceived of. There was a strange expression on his face, as he was feeling the raindrops fall on his outstretched hand. Why would he do that, one would ask, and what is so special about him doing that? So many people do it, and so frequently that we could ignore it totally. But this guy was different, you see. He could not see at all, so he tried to make up for his lack of the sense of sight (which most people mistake for the sense of vision) with his other senses. And he could sense that the rainfall did not augur well at all.
As he turned around to re-enter his house, he heard a familiar set of footsteps approach him. A smile drew across his face, as he spoke up
"So, you came after all these years."
This "you" was a man of about average height, and did not look anything exceptional. He was wearing a raincoat, with the cape removed from the head, as he strode forward to talk to the blind man, who was moving into his house.
"I had some business with you," he spoke tersely, as the blind man lifted his stick towards the switchboard to turn on the lights, which were bright and cheerful, in contrast to the otherwise dull and gloomy night's darkness.
The blind man turned right to sit down in a chair, even as the other man took off his raincoat to sit down. The blind man spoke wistfully, in a strangely cheerful mood, "For me, these lights are of no use-mine have been turned off since childhood. But one has to live a normal lifestyle, isn't it? And so I turn on these light for no purpose at all. But enough about me, lets hear you speak. Specify your purpose, Gustav."
Gustav looked at the blind man, and spoke purposefully, "All these years have passed, and yet you have retained your cheerfulness. How can you, with the history that lies behind you?"
"I do not live in the past Gustav; it is not worth it. I have to suffer for my sins, but should that stop me from being who I am? What I did should not affect what I do now. And I intend to keep it that way. But why dwell on what happens with me? Why don't you talk?"
"I have been sent here to inform you about something that recently happened. It is important, so hear me out patiently," said Gustav, as he pulled out from a briefcase that he was carrying, which remained out of notice till now, a set of papers, which looked suspiciously like a letter, but this long? He cleared his throat, as he began to speak.

“Andrei passed away last night. The cause of his death was the injuries he had sustained while assassinating the Prince of ___, and in his last minutes, he had dictated this letter to Sergei, the clerk of our outfit, giving details of what should happen after his death. And he had instructed me that I should personally go to you, Alexander, and read out the contents of the letter, and there should be nobody else but the two of us during this interaction.”

Alexander sat thinking, his useless eyes pointed towards the switchboard, as tears streamed down his eyes, and a bitter smile etched itself upon his face. After all these years, he heard the news that gave him such bittersweet feelings. What was he to do, he thought, as he wiped his tears away, and spoke up, “Read the letter out Gustav, and make it quick. We both do not have time, and I want to get this mess over with personally. Please start.”

Gustav looked at the letter, as he began reading it:
Mon cher Ami,

I am in the last minutes of my life, and want to let you know that I know that I won’t be able to survive the injuries that I sustained this time. I am old and weak, and injuries of this scale do not allow someone of my age to live for very long. But I think it is time for me to make an important decision, and give you some answers that you so desperately had been seeking from me for so long, before I found your questions to be so intolerable I dismissed you from my presence. The truth, Alexander is that I did not wish to re-open wounds of the past that still hurt me, but which are related to your life so deeply that I find it imperative for you to discover, so that I can rest in peace, and leave behind me people with all their questions answered forever.

The truth is deeper and stranger than fiction, they say, and in your case, it certainly was. For you are no ordinary person, my son; you are the person who had been entrusted to my care when you were only a few days old by someone I wish you were not the son of, for it has been a heartache for me ever since to see who you really are. You are my own son, my own blood, who was born out of the illegitimate relationship that I had with your mother, who herself was a married woman. In that scenario, she left you to my care. I myself was married, and had a son as old as you, whom I had named Gustav, and yet I had not the courage to face the truth myself.

From the minute that you came into my presence, I could feel something special about you. I knew that you would become something the world would have not seen before; neither would it see something like you ever. Your mother had failed to inform me about your blindness, which made me suspect my own intuition deeply. For, how could one associate greatness with a blind person, that too coming from a background such as yours? And yet, in the first few years of your life, observing you reassured my belief in my intuition. A professional killer’s instinct is never wrong, they say, and I could believe in the same again. And with a sense of reassurance, I could look at you, and see you develop into who you are.

You had a special talent which few people have in them. You could not see things, but could sense and feel them even without touching them. This helped you become a great killer, for more than one reason. Most of us require a proper sight to kill someone, but you just needed to sense someone around you, and the job would be done. Your aims were immaculate, and you never missed the target. Moreover, the world is full of fools who believe in empathizing with the “weak” instead of testing their mettle. They think that someone blind would not be able to see anything at all, forget even raising a finger. But you proved conclusively my son, that you do not require eyes to have a vision. We humans have been given a gift, which enables us to realize our true potential power, which is not subject to any limit in spite of what anyone might say. And you were a perfect example of all that human beings can achieve in spite of any handicap that they may be given. You mad me proud of whom you were, and yet I did not dare show to the world what I really was for you; why I do not know.”

Alexander smiled quietly, his blind eyes pointed towards the loud thunder that accompanied the bright streaks of lightning that flashed across the sky. His face held no expression, while Gustav on his face had an expression of a quiet surprise written all over his face. To realize that Alexander was a brother to him was surprising for him indeed, but for what purpose?

“Please carry on,” said Alexander, even as Gustav nodded his head in agreement and carried on.

“You did jobs no one could do; not even me in my best of days or anyone from the best assassins. You had gained the name “The Blind Whisperer”, and rightly so, for you needed nothing but a whisper to locate anyone and kill them. But all of a sudden I had discarded you from our force, without giving you a reason. Well, now is the right time, my son, for me to reveal why I banished you from my sight. My son, I was unexpectedly faced by a choice one day between you and Gustav, and I realized how partial I had been towards you, whereas I had treated Gustav as if he was a stranger, and not my own blood. How could I have discriminated between my own sons, I lamented, as I struggled to realize what to do next. And it was then that I had to take the painful decision, so that I could give Gustav a fair chance.

My sons, both of you are here today to decide amongst you as to who shall head the team that I had assembled with so much passion and zeal over so many years. But my sons, I could not decide whom to choose between the two of you, as for me the two of you are as good if not better than the other. So, I leave it up to you on deciding it. As for me, I shall be happy with whatever decision that you take amongst yourselves. May both of you realize your true destiny in life.

Andrei”

Gustav folded the letter, and kept it back in his bag. He leaned back in his chair and let out a deep sigh, and closed his eyes. Maybe he did it to hide the true emotion in his eyes; maybe it was to hold back tears that streamed down his face. Nobody can guess what went through his mind, for an assassin never allows anyone to get even a glimpse of what lies in their mind or their heart; it is closed for the outside world.

He opened his eyes to find Alexander standing at the door, looking lost, as if he was not even in this dimension, this sphere of life. There was a strange tension in the air, which was effectively being pierced by lightning and thunder like it pierces the rain-there was a lot of drama, and yet it resulted in anything. Gustav spoke up

“What next?”

Alexander kept staring outside, as he spoke up, “It is for the both of us to decide. What do you want to do?”

Gustav lit up a cigarette, as he began to speak up, “So, you are my brother, after all. And yet, my father found nobody else but his bastard son to compare me with. Really proved a point didn’t he?” he commented, as he puffed a circle of smoke out, as he continued to stare at the roof.

He picked up the bag that he had been carrying all along, and pulled out a long katana out of it. The sword’s sheath was beauty personified-ebony black with a gilding of ivory adorning it as the hilt. It was an extraordinarily exquisite weapon of murder, if you could call it one, and walked up to his brother.

“I cannot tolerate this insolence from my father, and the manner in which he has berated me. I am going to kill you right here, right now, and I shall lead the force. You, who ruined me, my family and my father’s life-who are you to lead this force?” he said, as anger rose in his voice, but a strange calmness pervaded his body and his hands in particular, that held up the katana along with its sheath.

Alexander smiled bitterly, as he walked out of the room, and into the rain. “I do not want to ruin my house with bloodstains. Come outside, in the rain, so that all our sins shall be washed away tonight.”

Gustav followed Alexander outside, with the two of them drenching in the rain. Alexander had nothing but the stick in his hands to match the katana, as both stood far apart, waiting for the other to break the lull before the storm.

Alexander was blind, but he had a vision. He could see Gustav breathe even n this thunderstorm, and could even estimate the distance between the two of them. But what he wanted to hear, he could not. And so he waited patiently to hear the sound.

And then, he heard it.

The flick, with which the sword is unlocked from its sheath.

The sound of the cold steel metal being pulled out of the sheath, as it drags along its insides.

The sound of the metal swinging in the open, as it struck the rain drops on the way.

Alexander put up his stick just in time, though there was not a flicker of an emotion that may have been passing his mind, but the hand movement was enough to prevent the katana from moving forward.

“So you are still good enough I see,” spoke Gustav, a bit of irritation rising in his voice, as he moved back to charge at him once again.

“Why do you want to do this?” asked Alexander, as he heard Gustav charge towards him, and deftly moved aside, even as he raised his stick in self defense to avoid the blade from cutting him up.

“My father,” spoke and angry Gustav, as he kept attacking Alexander, who kept attacking a defensive Alexander, whose face betrayed no emotion, making him angrier, “ruined my life and then as redemption decided to do this to me! How could he have done this? He made my life hell, just so that he could look after his bastard son! How could he? How could he? I’ll make you pay for doing this to my life,” he screamed, as he managed to slice a backward jumping Alexander’s shirt, who instantly realized how close he was to being sliced up himself.

“Do you think I am happy with the truth?” spoke Alexander, as he moved about his walking stick to prevent the katana blade from moving any further. “Let bygones be bygones; at least the man confessed to his crime.”

“Easy for you, not for me Alexander,” screamed Gustav, even as he managed to make an incision on Alexander’s arm, which started to bleed, and the trickling blood got diluted by the water that the rains brought from the heavens. “I will never forgive you. How do you think did Sergei die? It was me who let out the information, much to the blindness of Sergei, who still mourned your departure? How do you think that made me feel, huh?” he shouted, as he swung the blade, barely missing Alexander’s neck, as he moved back swiftly.

“Let it be Gustav, I do not want anything. It is unfortunate that you did it,” spoke Alexander, as he moved his stick to hit Gustav, who stuttered back a bit, surprised by the intensity. “But I do not want anything, everything is yours, just let me live in peace.”

“You cannot live in peace at the expense of mine, Alexander,” screamed Gustav, who charged fiercer than ever, only to be pushed back by a move from Alexander in the nick of time. “I killed him, and I will kill you, even if I have to die for it.”

“Then so be it,” spoke Alexander softly, who was standing at a spot, as if he was rooted to it, even as an anger-blinded Gustav charged like a bull.

Alexander concentrated; as he heard Gustav’s footsteps create the sloshing sound. Just a little more, he wondered, as Gustav came nearer and nearer.

He heard the blade swing, as he turned back, and twisted his own stick, and swung it from below just in time.

The blade sunk in deep, as the katana fell out of his hand, and Alexander caught hold of Gustav’s now limp body, even as his hands were awash with his brother’s blood, which was carried away by the waters that the heavens poured on them. He gently closed his brother’s eyelids, confirming to the night that his brother was dead, and sat down on the grass, even as the rains continued to fall hard on the two of them-him and his dead brother for a moment.

Friday, August 22, 2008

You only realize the gravity of any situation only when it stares right in your face. That is exactly how I have been feeling today for the whole day. I had been reading a lot about the agrarian crisis in the state of Andhra Pradesh when I was living in Delhi, but the true picture of the severity of the crisis has only now begun to sink in. each day, hundreds of families enter Hyderabad, coming from various parts of the state, hoping to create a better life over the ashes of their previous one, which was sacrificed in the sweltering heat ofthe sun under which they worked on their fields only to get a cropper out of them. Its so depressing to see these families squatting on the pavements, on which they took refuge so that the could clear the debts that they had incurred, and free the piece of land that they loved in spite of the hostility it offered to them. I wish I could do something about it, but I feel so helpless about it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hyderabad/Secunderabad Diaries

Another day in Hyderabad, but not a usual one, to say the least. It rained non-stop for 26 hours over Hyderabad. Rainfall is an underestimation; it felt as if the heavens were upset over something and had cried their hearts out. Maybe they were sad about the state of affairs that the city is in today. Maybe they were upset about the loss of the city that was , which is nearly impossible to locate in the glitz and glamour that has come to engulf the quiet sounds of the city, which has blinded the people of this city so much they cannot see they where they are headed too. Maybe that explains the absolute lack of traffic sense that the city's residents exhibit!
Anyways, a colleague of mine has gone berserk about the situation of the city. In Paigah, where he puts up, the lower floors are flooded. Within ten minutes he had to rush everything he owned to the first floor, as his landlord had asked him too. Now, he has lost his senses, and is even talking of going back. However, is there a need to panic so much? I mean, any city that would see twenty six hours of non-stop rain would have the same set of events happening with its denizens. Look at Mumbai, and tell me whether anyone ran away from the city after what happened a couple of years ago. God give him some common sense.
Anyways, there isn't much to do nowadays, as there is terrible waterlogging all around, so I have been just sitting around, and talking to my housemates, and really I have been enjoying my time here. I have been made to see again, as I have been thinking frequently, that you have to learn to live life fully in each moment, and on your own terms and conditions, so that you never have to regret anything.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Something in my mind

I have been having a strange time in this city. Its difficult to comprehend most of the times what is happening around me. The language is a bit amusing, and the food is strangely spicy or totally bland. But I have been having a strange time, that I can guarantee to you.

Life leads you into directions unknown to us, but it always gives you a route to get diverted from, or gives you a way out of the problems we have to face. However, when you opt for the alternative route, it will be entirely on you-the options, the methods of your means, and the consequences, and everything and anything that can be associated with those roads of life that lie open in front of you. Usually, we humans refuse to accept the consequences of our actions, when we should be refusing the journey's outcome so that we are doing what is truly right for us. But then, we are humans, we are prone to commit mistakes, stumble upon this journey, and walk forward. But do we learn anything? My answer is-probably not. I am not a judge on humanity, but should anyone else be allowed to do the same? Do we have the right to criticize ourselves and yet not learn to be responsible for our own actions and correct ourselves?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hyderabad/Secunderabad Diaries

So, here I am, trying to write something in the name of a blog, when there is really nothing in my mind that I have that i could express. What is it that makes me do so, I do not know; yet, I feel compelled today to let the emptiness of my mind out into the vastness of the cyber world.
Anyways, life is moving at a brisk pace in Hyderabad/Secunderabad. I have actually lost all sense of time and day at work; but a colleague of mine said it is normal, so I have reasons of not being afraid. Life is moving forward.
I got a roommate, who I should mention, is a lot of fun to hang out with. He's always got some antic up his sleeve. At least I do not get bored due to the loneliness that was there otherwise in this house that I stay in. Its strange, but I get to talk my heart out. Truly, solitary confinement is the worst punishment that any human being can be meted out.
Hope to write something good real soon.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Lost Battle

I feel so strange
As I walk past
Your grave, that reminds me
Of our turbulent past
Of how we fought , how we cried
Of how we laughed, and how we lied
Of all that has been tested and tried
In relationships that eventually died
Of how we loved, and how we fought
And yet after that each other we sought
And make up for the heartbreaks we suffered
And the misery that on each other we brought
And yet, we never said "I love you"
"Do you love me too, hon?"
Nor we expected anything out of our lives
When we'd walk in the field of daffodils
Under the bounty of the golden sun
And yet, who knew it wasn't to last
The manner in which I blasted past
The doors without knowing why
You hid from me, and spoke all those lies
Till the next day, I got a call
When I was told, that you were gone
As the phone fell out of my hand
And I collapsed within, while my heart sank
You died of something, I never knew what
But I knew one thing-that you are gone
And tears rolled down my eyes, as I
Placed the daffodils from the field for which you longed
And I then walk away, wishing not to see
What the epitaph said, as the rain falls
Its a year now, but I am lost
What has happened, what went wrong?
Why was I so headstrong?
But for my own sins I had to pay someday
And perhaps for atonement there couldn't have been a better way
Than to see the one true love of my life fade away
While I have only for company
My agony, my anger and my lonely days

Friday, July 11, 2008

KAHAANI KEKTA KE MAHABHARATA KI

I was still reeling from the after effects of watching the great disaster "Tashan", and thought nothing could match in terms of utter stupidity and nonsense value, but I had underestimated a woman who goes by the name of Ekta Kapoor.
Well, yesterday i had seen an episode of the new mental assault launched by her that goes by the name of "Kahaani Hamaarey Mahabharat Ki" (yeah, she did not spare even that!), and by God, did i regret my decision to check it out! I have yet to see something as hysterical as this, and could not believe my eyes when I saw how people were flying about in the action sequences. The serial looks like a bad mish-mash patch up work, a grotesque mixture of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and "300" to say the least. And please, can she not make her directors to get the poor actors to act properly? I mean nothing about them seemed good-their body language, their diction, their dialogue delivery, their expressions-all of it was crass, vulgar, streetly and melodramatic to say the least. It seemed more like a saas-bahu kitchen politics saga being unleashed like the brahmastra.
On the flip side though, the effects and the cinematography, along with the costumes were actually credible and realistic. Do you think Draupadi was wearing twenty yards of fabric in her daily life? That is all I would say to people who think that the girl was dressed inappropriately.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A king was once very powerful, and his court wasfamous for being a collection of the wisest men on the whole of this earth. Such was his might that everyone would look at him in respect and awe.One day, a saint passed by his court, and without asking, the king invited him, exhibiting his power and might to the saint. The saint simply smiled, and when he was leaving, wrote something on a chit of paper, and handed it over to the king.
"Read it," he said, "when you have nowhere else to go. This is all I have to offer to you."
Saying so, he left.
A few years hence, bad times fell on the kingdom. Enemies ran over it, and the king was pushed out into ignonimity and despair. In vain he wandered about in the jungles, as he thought of what went wrong with him, and how could his luck run out on him like this. It was then that he realised that he still had that chit of paper with him, and remembered the advice he had received.Excited, he opened up the chit, which read thus,"O king!When you showed me your splendour, I realised it instantly that your fall was near, and yet and I refrained from saying the same to you. I, however, would advise you to not lose hope, and try harder and harder than ever before. man does not recognize his own limits, and so he underestimates his own self."
"Persevere to get back what rightfully belongs to you.When those days of glory did not last forever, how can these days of despair?"
The king was dumbstruck, but a new hope rekindled within him. Soon, he gained back his strength and within the blink of an eye, he got back all that he owned. And his glory grew even more, not for what he was, but for what he gained that day-peace of mind, humility and above all, an understanding of what life truly is about.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A short story

Long long ago, there was a king whose wife had delivered a son. He had nothing really different about him, everyone assumed, till he began to speak, and since then they never saw him the same way. For, unlike other kids learning to say ma or baba or any such simple word, he had learnt to say Om.His mother was his only friend, and she was soon to pass away, and she knew that. And so, she went the extra mile to dote on her son, and tried to answer every question that she could, and would smile at those she could not.
One day, her son asked a question that struck her like lightning. Innocently like kids, he asked her, "Ma, have you seen God?"The mother did not know what to say. She was having her last moments, and no one was aware of it. But she just smiled and said, " I have not, but they say that those who really try to reach him through hard penances can see God."
And saying so, she passed away.
Soon the king married again, and in came a hating stepmother, who ill-treated the kid, spared no moment to fill the king's ears with poison. And yet, the kid did not hate his father. Soon, the point came in, when the king was so filled up with his own hollow pride, that he banished the kid from his kingdom. The son knew not what to do, but he remembered what his mother said, and decided to try and meet God.
And so, off he went into the forests, and started his penances.The first word that he had learnt, was his only mantra-that was the only education his mother had given him about spirituality, and so, chanting OM, he started his penances, causing havoc in the heavens. The harder he meditated, the more the heavens and the nether world and the human world felt its tremors.All the gods, and even the trinity came down to ask the kid for anything that he wants. And yet, when he said that he wanted to see God, they were all dumbstruck. So he continued to meditate.
Finally, one day, as he prayed, he heard a voice saying, "You want to see God? I'll show you how God looks like. Open you eyes to find out."
The boy opened his eyes, to see a common man standing in front of him. He could not understand how he could show him how God looked like.
The man, understanding his confusion, then said"I am God, you are God, we are all God, nothing else. God is nowhere to be found but within yourself. That is why it is said,
AHAM BRAHMASMI."
The boy quietly got up and walked away, his question having been answered.

The Economic Slowdown Needs Immediate Address

The Buck Stops With the Duo (Courtesy: Bloombergquint) The fracas in Maharashtra notwithstanding, things are at a critical juncture ...