Friday, September 18, 2009

Tina

Damn the vulnerabilities of daily existence. Just when I was going to coin the term Pseudo-Swines for those who were cashing in on the flu-mania to stay away from office for trivial reasons like running-noses/headaches/body-aches, I was hit with a viral fever, harsh enough to warrant a sick leave. Laziness crept in thereafter and I rediscovered the joys of sleeping for over ten hours a day. It took me two days to get rid of the virus, but the fungus of laziness stayed on for three weeks. Hence the prolonged absence and probable rustiness in the current write up.

Having justified the procrastination, let's talk about the fictitious time when a young NRI girl named Tina was traveling alone for the first time in a second class train compartment in India. I was going to pin her age at 20, but am in a generous mood; you may choose the age, but kindly keep her young. I'll go a step further and let you choose her attire as long as it is not on the lines of a bikini or hot pants. Please dress her appropriately enough for an Indian train journey. No more interactive participations for the readers in the story.

Tina was traveling from Calcutta to Delhi. She chose this train journey as a way to get in touch with her roots. Her intention was to see the forests, the villages, the simple and unassuming people, the real India as she perceived after reading many travelogues. In doing so, she ignored the warnings of dacoits on the route that the train took. There had been three such incidents in last couple of months.

A few hours into the journey, she wasn't sure about the strength of her choice. She had somehow managed to squeeze into her place by the window. A man sat next to her. His wife and six year old son sat opposite to her. The other seats didn't have permanent occupants. Until then, she had underestimated the abilities of six year olds to embarrass the fellow passengers. The son kept staring at her. She forced herself to ask his name. Bittu looked away. The parents didn't encourage him to respond either.

She wished for some conversation between the husband and wife. But the wife looked resentful. For a change, she took a trip to the loo. Looking at the graffiti inside the lavatory, she was thankful for her illiteracy in reading the languages that accompanied the sketches. When she returned to her place, she found that the husband and wife had swapped their places. The man wasn’t very pleased, but wife seemed contended that her man is away from the stranglehold of another female. The wife now talked eloquently about how mean and miser the husband’s relatives were and recounted stories of being shortchanged on every occasion. “I got her daughter a set of ghaghra-choli and my Bittu didn’t even get a full pant”. Bittu immediately wore a look of victim in his half-pant as he put his hand on the uncovered knees. Tina now knew the kid’s name.

Having given up hope of any fruitful social interactions, she tuned to the moving world outside the window. “Wouldn’t it be great to see the glory of the land which nurtured a billion lives, which gave the world so many Gods and wise men, which had a history beyond the time?” Three excreting human buttocks caught her sight. The owners of the organs were having a chat; perhaps discussing the weather, just like she did with her friends as they sipped coffee in Starbucks.

It was with relief that she noticed the family preparing to get down at the next station. Her anticipation for a better company, however, couldn’t have been more ill founded. In place of the otherwise harmless looking husband-wife and mildly irritating Bittu, now sat two shady looking middle aged men. I go back on my words which prohibited any further participation from the readers and allow you to choose the number of hair in their mustaches.

In contrast to her observations on Indians in general, she found both the men to be too animated while talking. Tina picked up the word “Pistol” during their conversation. Were they the dacoits she was warned against? The only comforting factor in such situation was a hint of eyeliner in the otherwise hardened masculine faces. She kicked herself, metaphorically of course, for not heeding to the warnings. The fantasies of deep forests and simple beautiful people were now replaced with thoughts of getting robbed at the very best.

Things took a more sinister turn when one of the men opened his bag. She spotted blood stained clothes and a shiny long dagger. Tina gasped in horror which was noticed by both the men. The man quickly zipped the bag. The men exchanged the looks and their lips curled; Tina could tell that both of them read each other’s mind.

“Let’s finish it off”, one of them said.
“Patience.” said the other.
“Do you think they suspect?”
“Doesn’t matter.”
“True, doesn’t matter.” They laughed devilishly.

Tina’s heart was pounding by now. She feared that a reaction in the form of a scream or trying to run away would only hasten the inevitable. She just sat there, waiting for things to happen. Certain adventures are not worth taking. Right now she could have been served a sandwich by an air-hostess. She would have ordered an orange juice to go with it. The pilot would have been announcing the landing shortly.

Cursing her romanticism, she peeped outside. A small town was approaching.
“An excellent opportunity to slip out, if I survive till the station.” Hope hadn’t given up on her.

As soon as the station approached she stood up to go to the door. Both the men left their seats too.
“Have I seen more than I was supposed to when the man opened the bag? Are they going to 'take care' of me for doing that?”
She jumped out of the slowing train and walked as fast as she could. She turned back and saw both the men following her. She ran frantically outside the station and into the streets of this unknown town. Three bystanders simultaneously expressed the opinion that she ran faster than P.T Usha. None of them had seen a deer running when chased by tigers.

She sprinted until she could run no more. She stopped, panting for breath. The two men were nowhere in sight. She turned her head towards a long boundary wall. And there they both were. But, in a poster. “Are these two wanted men?” She couldn’t read what was written in Hindi below the poster. Then she spotted another poster. “What are they doing dressed like ancient warriors with swords in hands? And why are there wounded men lying around them?” She got hold of a little boy and asked him to read what was written below the posters.

“Twin Girls. Uttejak nazare, dekh mere pyaare. Shankar Cinema Hall.”, said the seven year old who looked a lot like Bittu.

“Not that one. The one above that.”

“Bharat Nautanki Group. Roj 2 show. Lal Maidan ke pass.”

Many realizations dawned upon her. She took a rickshaw back to the railway-station. Next train wasn’t until the next day. Buses were on strike. The taxi-wallahs of Madanpur had never been propositioned with an offer to drive till Delhi. Tina’s only option was to take the most expensive hotel in the town for a day.

Once in the hotel room, she took a bath and reflected on the happenings of the day. A little later, she found herself picking up the phone and asking the receptionist “How to reach Lal Maidan from here?”

19 comments:

gayathri-vishwanathan said...

isko kehte hain apna popat karana...but nevertheless i simply loved this story...

u can be a good novelist BP :)

Destination Infinity said...

Quite nice... didn't expect that end. Here, the trains are so full that we just cannot expect to get afraid in a remote town!

Destination Infinity

Me said...

You simply and eloquently are the master of theatrics..
Kudos to you O Spinner of yarn..
what a tale that was..
what on Earth are you pursuing economics for..
U ought to be the scriptwriter cum director of a spine chilling thriller..
I never got the slightest tint of suspicion ..about the ending!!!
Superb. Neat..
Was running late for a meeting..but couldnt stop reading till I reached the end ...
Way to go BP!!! :)

Shruthi said...

yeyy you are back with a bang :)
great piece of writing BP. A gripping story with an unexpected ending :) loved this one.

santasizing...Fantasizing said...

awesome story....gripped me till the end:)
and yes a very good ending indeed:)

loved it!!
and hey hope ur health is better now...take care

Preeti Shenoy said...

The great Indian buttock display creeping in just when Tina wished to see the Glory of the great country was providentially, sadly, yet heart wrenchingly funny. If a gora were to stumble upon this story I'd quickly distract him/her emphasising the finer points of Indian Culture :)

Very well written. Really liked it.

Cheers
preeti

Meghana Naidu said...

i already told you how much i loved this one

ive had too much brown for the day(night? always confused on that front) definitely need a breather or ill be all pop-eyed by tomorrow.

this one was a SNort-blaster all the way through! *Keepn' it alli-i-i-i-ivvvve*
Yeah Yeah Yeah
*burp*

Vipul Grover said...

Hey thnx 4 giving us a chance to participate.. bt despite ur request, i cudn't help bt imagine her in a bikini :p
Once again a gr8 post buddy.. more thn d story, it was d way u set the mood in d frst two paras tht was gr8 :)

Choco said...

Oh wow!!! Write a book will ya? Please... :)

I pictured her in a yellow kurti and blue jeans (Jab We Met influence)
I pictured the men as Rajasthani's- you know colourful turbans with big doodhwalah moustache...

Loved this!

BrownPhantom said...

@gayathri,
Duniya me har insaan apna popat karwa rahan hain :).
Thank you so much :).

@Destination Infinity,
Thanks DI :). Yes, it's true everywhere. Hence the fictitous time :).

@Me,
Can't thank you enough for the kindest of words :).

@Shruthi,
Glad to see you too here. Thanks :).

BrownPhantom said...

@Santasizing,
Yeah, I am fit now :). Thanks for asking. And thanks for the appreciations too :).

@Preeti,
Really really glad that you liked it. Yes, Gora must be distracted away. Unless he decided to take a trip himself. There's a joke about how indian ambassador was lost in US and then identified doing due to the open air activity :). Thanks a lot :)

@Meghana,
Hee hee :).Yes you have :). I would just thank you and leave it at that :).

@Vipul,
Good to see you :). Yeah you are right in your observation. I got tired by the time I reached the end. And I don't blame you for the bikini :). Thanks :).

@Choco,
So glad that you commented despite the break. Quite appropriate clothing when compared to the male above :). Thank you :).

numerounity said...

Interesting little story and adventourous girl Tina is :)

So, you were weaving this story in your 10hours a day sleep or it is just an after effect of healing back to health? :)

AJ said...

brilliant...!!!!!

Chetan bhagat ko laake tere darwajje pe taang doon.... bahut seekhna hai tumse..!!! :-D

cheers
-AJ

TinTin said...

Lets not just leave it at that.. :)

Kunjal said...

:D:D nice ending:)

bondgal_rulz said...

Nice twist there!!

Great idea, brilliantly executed. :)

Cheers

AD said...

Very interesting read. You should write a book :-)

BrownPhantom said...

@Ekta,
The 10 hours sleep is the culprit :). Thanks a lot :).

@AJ,
Hee hee. Dhanyawaad dost Tarif ke liye :).

@Tintin,
Batao aage kya karwana hain Tina se ? :)

@Kunjal,
Good to see you again. Thank you so much :)

@bondgal,
So nice of you. Thank you :).

@AD,
I am floored with such praise. Thank you :).

nintendo r4 said...

i simply loved this story...
Quite nice... didn't expect that end. You simply and eloquently are the master of theatrics..