Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Today was not just another day. Sitting in her office on the 4th floor of the RMZ Infinity building in the EPIP area of Bangalore she leaned back in her swivel chair and stretched. The clock on the bottom right corner of her screen said it was still just 3:40pm. A gentle smile crossed Vasundhra's face. However hard she tried, she'd never her finish her work early. Not today. But finishing work early in office was not what made Vasundhra's day special. Manu had turned six today!

Her little angel Manu - how they loved her. Her birth marked the turning point of her and Shekhar's life. Their lives had changed for the good ever since. Manu was now their sole purpose. In fact, Vasundhara had spent the whole of last weekend trying to find a gift for Manu. A perfect birthday gift that would delight her daughter on the occasion of her 6th birthday. As was the family custom, only the first five birthdays were celebrated ceremoniously. So she had been very careful while choosing a gift. After spending the whole day in Jayanagar's 4th block area, she finally managed to find it...the perfect gift! It was a beauteous red frock with yellow flowers sprinkled all over. The bottom was a brilliant verdant green studded with birds, rabbits and snails running around in gay abandon. The moment she has caught sight of the dress, the mother in her knew that the search had ended. The Rs.799/- tag had not deterred her, for there was nothing more precious to her than her Manu.

Manu was a precocious child. Unlike other kids of her age, let alone demand, she didn't even expect any gifts from her parents. She knew she would be turning six and so unlike the previous five birthdays, this time there would be no ceremony. Not that she could recall any of those, but she was now mature enough to realize it. So on the morning of her birthday, she was overjoyed when amma presented her with a gorgeous red frock. The animals and flowers instantly reminded her of the summers she spent with her cousins out in the country in Kollur. She could not wait to wear it. Had it been some other day, Vasundhara would have rebuked her with a firm "No". But today, there was nothing more that she wanted than to see Manu happy. So after packing her lunch-box, helping her wear her shoes and dabbing on some fragrant talcum powder, she kissed her a gentle goodbye on the forehead and watched as Manu stormed out through the front door, eager to show all her friends her new frock. There are some moments that make being a mother so gratifying that all the pains and troubles are worth this one moment. She wiped the tear from the corner of her eye with the pallu of her saree as she turned back to the kitchen.

Stepping out onto the street below, she made a beeline for the bus-stop. It was early March and the heat was oppressive. The rains had not yet showered their blessings on Bengaluru. She boarded a 335E and made herself comfortable by the window of the second seat on the left, behind the driver. This was one of the rewards of getting out early. The buses were almost empty and the traffic sparse, by Bengaluru standards that is. She began to ponder over how she could surprise Manu. Everyday, Manu came back from school at 5:30 and religiously settled down on the sofa to watch Tom and Jerry on Cartoon Network or Takeshi's Castle on Pogo. That was one thing she was very finicky about. Anything else she could compromise. And if you gave her a packet of potato chips, and she would as grateful as a bear being fed a potful of honey. Vasundhara was shaken back to reality from her reverie when the bus pulled into platform 17 in Majestic. It had taken her only an hour and her wrist watched now told it was 4:03pm. The golden plated watch had been a anniversary gift from Shekhar. Without wasting time she headed to one of the shops adjacent to platform 1 and bought a packet of MTR Instant Gulam Jamun Mix. Not wanting to waste anymore time, she got out of the bus-stand and flagged an autorickshaw and half asked the driver "Rajajinagar 6th blocku!?". She got a nonchalant nod lacking even the slightest hint of courtesy.

As the auto finally swerved around the last bend, she looked up from her cellphone. She was mildly surprised to find a crowd of twenty odd men huddled together, blocking the traffic. Apparently there had been some incident and people were milling in to have their cut of the action. Not wanting to waste time waiting for the traffic to clear, she asked the driver to pull over. She paid the auto driver the fare and stepped down onto the pavement. It was not uncommon to see such huddles, but it was not common either. It usually involved a freak accident involving two short tempered commuters, each one trying to blame the other in an attempt to bilk. Unable to contain her curiosity Vasundhara told herself that a little peek would do no harm. After all, she still had an hour to spare and preparing gulab jamun would not take more than 45minutes. Keeping her reservations, she tried to see what best that she could.

The moments that followed were pure unadulterated panic and sheer terror. A chill ran down her spine raising the hair on the back of her neck. Her legs gave away and she collapsed right onto the road. Her mind went blank and her throat went dry. Her heart throbbed. The pain in her chest was searing. Her tongue tasted bitterness. She had managed to catch a glimpse of the body lying on the road, now soaked in crimson blood, its head mangled beyond recognition. But the red frock and the yellow flowers could not have been mistaken for anything else. A placid, almost memorable evening had unforgivably transformed into a incubus. Vasundhra had lost all her senses. She was lying limply on the road contrite, her cellphone lying on one side and her velvet bag on the other. It was almost as if rigor mortis had set in. She had no sense of time or space. Few people bothered to notice her. Their minds fed by innumerous vapid Kannada movies, they found the grisly sight more captivating.
The delicate bubble that she and Shekhar had nurtured all these years had burst in an instant without a trace. The agony overshadowed the pain of labour. Regaining her sense, Vasundhara turned away from the unsightly scene in a desperate attempt to farther herself from the truth - to find a puzzled yet thoroughly amused Manu standing before her, her velvet vanity bag slung over one shoulder almost reaching down to the road, absorbed in a game of Snake on her cellphone.

There are some moments that make being a mother so gratifying that all the pains and troubles are worth this one moment.


Anonymous said...

Just thought of asking you if this has any link to real incident, and saw it is posted under fiction.

I really don't know what to say. For one second I was just staring blankly, just like I feel when I watch a cliched hindi / kannada movie. That means, I felt like someone stole my time.

But, after a second thought, I have to accept that I have turned numb to stories with such themes, maybe because I have never experienced it. I don't understand it. Vicariously, might be , yes.

"Her birth marked the turning point of her and Shekhar's life. Their lives had changed for the good ever since. Manu was now their sole purpose"
Somethings I cant understand.

Now it hits again... :/

vk said...

I'm not surprised

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

"The agony overshadowed the pain of labour."

Dude, seriously frightening!! I kinda guessed the ending. :)

How I would have ended was:
Vasundhara goes to check out the corpse and in the frenzy, she does not notice a truck speeding towards her. The truck hits each and every essence of life outta her and the blood splashes all over little Manu's new frock who had come running recognising her mother.

By watching the Saw series and other grindhouse flicks, I have become adept in devising these kinds of gory sequences. :)

P.S: I would have named the post as 'The Frock'. Nice post man. I too want to now write a story post.

vk said...

@ Kitta
If i were to end it that way, then I'd be thrown onto the trucks path for being a sadist ;-). Yeah... 'The frock' would have been a much better title (but i guess it would have given away a bit of the suspense)

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

If possible correct the typos - "Unable to contain her curiosity Vasundhara told herself that a little peak would do no harm".

Forgot to mention last time - that gulab jamun thing was so cute man. Very nicely you seem to have portrayed a mother's feelings. I actually went for a second read and hence this second comment.

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

Man!! See the time of posting of the 2 comments. Both the same! 5:51:00..

vk said...

Thanks dude.. Corrected they typo

My mom makes it a point to at least prepare Gulab Jamun on my Bday if not for anything else... So I guess it came from there! :-)

Jargonesh said...

a fine short fic