Thursday, June 25, 2020

….And those days be back again!!

When we woke up killing our dreams, 
Lamenting and cursing our daily routine. 
With heavy heart and morning prayers 
Coz thought the day would be our slayer. 

Plodding Traffic signals & loaded local trains, 
We wished for stress-free journey & empty lanes. 
Crossing barriers, jumping escalators, swiping in, 
Early or late to office but we always logged in. 

Those smiling faces that greeted us, 
We sat together for a coffee cup. 
Responding on mails we began our day, 
Meetings, issues, process, enough on our plate. 

Agreed less and disagreed more with peers, 
Yet we were together for lunch and cheers. 
We had our tiffs with our bosses 
But ignored it like forgettable losses.
We read portals and took quick breaks, 
Some energized themselves with social updates. 
Happy or sad, loss or gain, 
We spent our days without disdain. 

Weekdays passed and Weekend awaited, 
We all socialized and celebrated. 
Somewhere we demanded or hoped for vacation, 
A long break for self-evaluation. 

Where we could defy the routine and bring a change 
Now our wish has been granted, but all so strange.
We are with family but confided in walls 
Trying to relive moments through video calls.
The roads & traffic that we hated, 
Hollow they lie, seek to be greeted. 
Restaurants, Pubs and Discs we enjoyed 
Malls, markets, picnic spots now left dried. 

Lockdown made us realize few things 
The life we wanted to run away from was the best thing. 
The crowd was not as worse as it seemed, 
Deserted is not as peaceful as we dreamed. 

Celebs and heroes on screen are not the ones, 
Who can save the world by pulling out guns. 
No online portal guarantees what we desire, 
Local vendors deliver what we require. 

Now when we sit beside the window and ponder, 
We only hope and wish to get stronger. 
Visualizing the times post lockdown, 
We want to be back on the playing ground. 

There is no better relief in pain, 
When we wake up 
…and those days be back again!!!! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Demons in Our Minds

‘…so and so ended his life by consuming poison?’ Scroll through any newspaper, we get to read such real stories every day. We ignore or we discuss briefly about the subject and then move on, rare we try contemplating on the fact that led to the situation that one killed self.

Suhas is a gold medalist in MBA marketing. A fellow from poor background started on a high, got job with 7 figures salary, started his family happily. The confidence was high and destiny showered blessings, sooner he started his business and attained accolades there as well. He was on top when he decided to invest in another venture, he took a great amount of risk investing everything he earned so far but when has the life been so simple every time, this time he stumbled upon few unplanned road blocks and couldn’t handle himself only to lose everything and he was standing right there where he started off. He tried hard but nothing happened and he was left with nothing in his pocket.

The morning started as usual, he sent his son to school, a warm hug to his wife before he left his home just like any other normal day. The fear of failure, the pressure of peers, the burden of social obligation and set of expectations he had from himself became so heavy on his mind that he preferred to walk towards the railway track to deal with the problem in an unusual way that he never ever did so far. There was dead silence all around as he chose most secluded place where no one can interrupt his plans of making a deal by lying on the railway tracks. It was a perfect plan when laid down, he closed his moist eyes and could hear the railway siren from far. He was left with last moments of his life when he started to evaluate his life so far.  

The typical middle class childhood limited to just simple living in few sq. meters house, the school & college life where he always topped the charts, the gold medal and sound job, the promotion and recognition, the life with wife and then children, the time spent with his 10 years old son and a story that he narrated him recently about a struggling fish.

‘Once there was a scientist who was doing an experiment on fishes, he set up a beautiful aquarium and kept combination of few fishes inside, every day he used to feed them and fishes were happy to be enjoying their life in the set up. One day he decided to create a glass barrier in the tank and separated one of the fish named black Moore from the others. He kept on feeding the other fishes but didn’t give any feed to the black moore, fish could see the feed being given on the other side, so she started to struggle to reach its feed, every time she paces towards the other side, she got hit hard by the glass barrier kept in between. It continued for several days when fish gave up and stopped trying. The scientist now skillfully removed the barrier and fed the fishes on the other side again while continue to monitor the behavior of black moore who preferred to die lying in isolation in a corner rather than trying once again when the barrier was finally removed’

Suhas opened his eyes, he suddenly felt moved by the story and applied the same principle to his life and found himself lying in an isolation on tracks rather than giving one more try and fight once again. The train was near and in a split seconds he decided to jump off the track and save himself.

What does one think when he/she finds himself in an unwanted situation of life, the permanent solution to a temporary problem would always seemed to be attractive and easy.  Every day we come across cases of people losing their lives due to committing suicides. It’s rightly said that no two people are same, the strength and attitude to handle same situation is always different by an individual, the approach and behavior will never be same towards the same complexity. So the problem which might seemed to be an easy task for one might be a tedious task for others.  

People say one might have been through a lot that he couldn’t find a way out, yes it can happen with anyone, sometimes it does feel like all doors are locked and there is not even a single key hole to peep through. The situations can lead any one fall into the deepest pit where one can never find a way to come back. However one’s outlook towards life may be, but committing suicide still doesn’t justify the decision to solve the problem. Because the crux of the problem is the devil that doesn’t exist anywhere else than our minds.

Then how one reach the conclusion to end one’s life? When we try to compare our lives with others knowing very well that each life bears fruits of its own destiny? When we lose the battle in our minds? When we tend to forget the fact that after getting out, one has to start his innings again from zero! When we let our circumstances dominate our views? When we tend to lose the brighter side of thoughts? When we allow one’s negative beliefs to spread like a virus in our mind? When we start to feel pity on ourselves?

There can be enormous reasons to feel sad and conclude of ending one’s life. But there is only one thing that would disassociate one from getting disheartened and that’s Perseverance.

Suhas fought every single thought that tried to kill him and saved himself, but not everyone gets a chance to jump of the tracks at the right moment. It has to be a consistent fight with the demons inside our minds. One should remember that nothing worthwhile in life comes without a struggle. There is a saying ‘A smooth sea will never make a skillful mariner’. Everything is difficult before it’s becomes easy, so it’s up to us to absorb it or get absorbed by the situation.

The end

The Ghost of Sector 16 - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – The Wardrobe

House number 215, Sector 16 

 …..‘Tu yaha hai toh bahar kaun tha…’ As I said so, there was loud bang and the door slammed open, a sudden gust of wind blew….

We were witnessing something that we had only watched in movies, it was like a tornado that hit us hard and we were running helter-skelter, I couldn’t figure out where Aseem and Ashish suddenly disappeared and I was pushed out of the room by the strong force. The night lamp in the hall shattered and it was dead dark again. Suddenly things went quiet as if everything went still and numb. I was lying on the floor trying to regain consciousness and before I could think about my fellow friends, I heard a loud knock on the door which was next to our bedroom, I was shell-shocked as the room was locked since ages as told by the broker. Who would be knocking the door from inside, I was scared to even think about getting up and checking what is behind the locked door. Before I could even think about looking for my friends or about the robust knock at the door, a cold wave blew again and I could hear a creepy whisper and a shadow passed quickly around me. In a split seconds the door lock fell on the ground, the door opened with eerie rusty noise and I could hear few people talking to each other in the room, I don’t know what prompted me or the inquisitiveness to know what exactly is happening around, I was driven slowly towards the room. I pinched myself hard to check if I am dreaming or this is really happening in front of my eyes. After passing through the patch of darkness, there was light in the room.

I entered and found 3 friends playing a prank on the fourth one. I saw them dressed in the school uniform and they had just finished the celebrations of probably the last exam of the semester. I could hear them teasing the fourth guy, kicking and punching him hard without even caring if he is feeling hurt or not, before he could open his mouth one of the guys tapped his mouth tightly, pulled his hair and kicked him. They all seemed to be out of senses or probably under the influence of an alcohol. 

‘You can’t escape today, you fool’ one of them shouted at him throwing his half glass of whiskey and slapped him. 

‘You think that you are smarter than us’ the other shouted and slapped him as well. 

‘I am the owner and no one would enter this place anytime soon, so no one is going to find what happened to you, we will never come back. So who will find you boy!?’ he slapped him tighter, punched on his face and they all lifted him, stuffed him alive in the wardrobe and locked it. The boy kept on banging the wardrobe from inside, he couldn’t shout, he couldn’t push but a suppressed bang was constant. 

‘What the hell are you doing?’ I shouted at them but I found that no one could hear or see me. I couldn’t understand what was going on, they left the scene but the knock from inside the wardrobe continued. 

Suddenly the room lights went off and it was dark again and there was pin drop silence, there was a little light through the ventilators above enough for me to at least carefully leave the room without any hindrance. I immediately turned back and briskly tried to move out of the room when the room door shut hard and the wardrobe thumped again. It was slow and steady, I was sweating profusely, I went numb and couldn’t gather the confidence to turn back, I couldn’t even shout as nothing came into my mind. The knock slowly gained pace and with every second it became louder. I heard someone asking for help in a whispering tone.

‘Please help me! Please get me out of it.’ somebody was crying and I could clearly hear it now. I turned towards the wardrobe and paced towards it. I was shivering, I could feel that I am trapped here and won’t be able to find a way anytime sooner, probably never. I could sense the feel of living my last few moments in the dark room with someone trapped inside the wardrobe. 

I reached near the wardrobe, the lock opened automatically, my hand moved towards the door handle and I slowly opened it and it happened again. The cold breeze, the creepy whispering in my ears and I saw dead dark inside the wardrobe and nothing visible, just like they describe a black hole, it was horrible. 

‘Hello! Is anybody there?…aaa… anyone here?’ As I said this, in flash I saw the same face I saw behind the curtains in the lawn, it was horrendous, the white eye balls, the distorted face with blood marks and before I could shout, the hands came out of nowhere and I was sucked inside the wardrobe and door shut hard.

I woke up suddenly and found Ashish and Aseem still sleeping, it was 6 AM and I could see the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. Where were we? I found out that we were in the same park near sector 22 where we had slept around 2 AM. I was still sweating and I looked around and found that I was still alive and it was a dream. The parantha baba, the auto accident, house number 213, the dead body, the wardrobe. All I saw in flash was now a part of the dream and I smiled. 

The broker came around 9 AM and he took us in his car, I was still under the spell of my dream and every street or road or corner seemed familiar. He stopped his car and we all got down.

‘That's the flat sir.’ pointing towards the property he showed us and I saw it was house number 215 with name plate ‘…ja’s Nest’ and we were in Sector 16. I could recall and relate it again with the house number I had seen in my dream. Ashish and Aseem went ahead when I asked him ‘Bhaiya is this property haunted?’

He paused for a moment, turned towards me and I could notice the sudden change in his attitude, he gave a look and stared direct into my eyes. 

No sir, there is nothing called ghosts!’ He said and for a second I felt his eyes turned white. I nodded quietly and moved ahead. I turned around and found that no one was there. 

He disappeared. 

The End

The Ghost of Sector 16 - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Body Behind Curtains

3:59 AM Sector, 16

…. I didn’t turn to look back instead continued to stare towards the house 213 and I found something fell from above and there was loud thuddd!!!! It seemed something horribly heavy fell from above. Could it be a body?... 

Without turning back I ran back in, entered the house, locked the door and yelled,

‘Where are you guys?’ I was perspiring heavily as I was uneasy and nervous. I checked the first room and could see that the two were in deep sleep and one of them was snoring. I didn’t make an effort to wake them up, instead forced myself to not to think about anything else and sleep. The room's light was off and the only night lamp that was switched on was in the living room. Before I could shut the door and lock it from inside, something made me inquisitive about the thing that fell down the lawn, I looked towards the double hung windows of the drawing hall, and I could notice the white transparent curtains blowing because of the wind through the window; it was pitch dark outside.

I wanted to resist and not verve towards the curtains but I was getting edgy and curious, it wasn’t my decision to go and check, fighting against all the odd thoughts of acting sensibly and sleep, I preferred moving slowly, inch by inch and more closer till I reached the window. I wanted to see what exactly fell from above. It was 4:05 AM and I stood near the edge of the window. I held the curtain tighter, preventing it from blowing away, pulled it slightly towards the left. I moved my face an inch closer towards the window glass and tried to peep outside to check what had happened.  

It was horrible, I saw a body probably of a young boy, dressed in a school uniform lying in a pool of blood with his mouth wide open. The face was in my direction and before I could react and shout, I saw a slight movement in the body and in split seconds he opened his eyes, the white eye balls, the distorted face with blood marks and the body turning slightly white, he stood up looked at me with the most horrible face I have ever seen and cannot describe. I was in shock, numb and couldn’t hear anything else, as if nothing else existed, I could feel as something is approaching me from behind, I could sense something moving closer to me but couldn’t turn back as I was watching him and in seconds he ran towards the abandoned house number 213, climbed the wall and was gone.

‘What are you doing here?’ Ashish kept his left hand on my shoulder and I shouted.

‘What happened brother? Where were you? Why didn’t you come to sleep? Are you okay? Why are you sweating so profusely?’ he asked many questions in a flow and I couldn’t answer any.

‘Go and sleep inside, you seem tired.’

I nodded and slowly moved towards the room. Ashish was constantly staring at me, he might be thinking that I am acting weird because I was still feeling uneasy and sweating. I sensed a wave of negative energy all around which was only affecting me. I reached and pushed the half opened door. I moved in and reached the bedside, without thinking much, I just pushed Aseem aside so that I could sleep. But my action broke his spell and he woke up suddenly and removed his bed sheet from his face and said.

‘What happened?’ I was lost and without looking at him said.

‘Nothing brother, tu so ja aur Ashish ke liye jagah chod dena.’ 

‘Have you gone mad? I am Ashish only.’ He stated and shook me gently and I was shocked to see that the one who was talking to me was Ashish and Aseem was sleeping beside me. I was in a state of horror and said.

‘Tu yaha hai toh bahar kaun tha..’

As I said so, there was loud bang and the door slammed open, a sudden gust of wind blew….

To be continued….

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Ghost of Sector 16 - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – The Abandoned House

3 AM, Sector 16 
……Banged!! The auto halted with a screeching sound rammed into the footpath, it narrowly escaped tumbling and thus we were saved. We got down and shouted at the driver but had to pacify ourselves after seeing that he got hit around the eye and was bleeding. He was shivering and spoke in a distressed tone, ‘Arre sahib, wo aage koi ladka aa gaya tha’. I looked around and found no one, it was pitch dark and silence was at its peak only to be broken by the loud barking of the dog who came out of bushes nearby suddenly scaring us.
‘Kya bhaiya, yaha door door tak koi nahi hai’ Ashish said and pointed that he might have slept like us while driving. We asked him the location and he talked like a Google map. We got to know that we were just at the back of the road and the location where we were to reach was just a few turns away, we paid him and left for the destination. Ashish and Aseem started walking ahead and I asked the auto guy before I could join them,
Bhaiya! Yaha koi bhoot woot wala ghar hai kya?’ 
‘Pata nahi sahib, suna hai lekin kaunsa ghar hai pata nahi’ he stated and pushed his auto aside.
I quickly joined my friends and Aseem asked.
Bhailog, did you see any guy about whom he was talking about?’ We both replied in negative.
‘I feel the auto guy was drunk’ Ashish said. We were to reach near the Rose Garden lane and the broker was already waiting for us. He was damn energetic as he was selling his own property. He took us to the house number 215, the name plate was broken and the remaining name that we read by flashing our mobile light was ‘…ja’s Nest’. He opened the gate and the screeching sound was followed by a cold breeze that indicated something negative and Aseem asked.
Bhai, hope this flat is not haunted or something …’ before he could complete his sentence the broker interrupted and said.
Kya sir, you people are educated and still believe in such things. There is nothing called ghosts but yes there is an abandoned house next to this one, which is house number 213,’ he stated with confidence as if there is nothing wrong with it. We came to know that the abandoned house which was next to this house has been left as it is since the last 5 years and that’s because it was a disputed property. We got little more confidence to move in. I could sense the undesirable vibes after looking at the house next to us but I chose to ignore that feel as he showed us the place, it was single floor house and after crossing the lawn which was towards the left of the gate and a foyer we entered inside, the door opened and he switched on the lights. We would have access to the drawing hall, a kitchen, a room with attached washroom and remaining two rooms were locked by owner as he keeps visiting every 6-8 months. He handed us the keys and stated that he will do the legal formalities by afternoon as it’s already too late. We were happy to get the spacious house at just 1900 rupees per month. He left and I accompanied him till the gate.
I checked my cell and it was 3:45 a.m. The loud noise of his bike faded away and it was dead silence again. The weird thing I noticed was that there were only 5 houses in the lane, ours was in the middle, the extreme left and extreme right house had a dim bulb light on, it seemed there were people staying over there. I contemplated and it suddenly came to my mind that if our house number is 215 and the house next to ours is 216, then how can the house on our left be 213? Where is the house number 214? I turned with my back against the gate and took few steps crossing the lawn and entered the foyer. I kept my glance slightly towards the house number 213 at my right.
I sensed something behind as if someone entered the gate slowly or perhaps it was my delusion, but a cold wave blew again and I could hear a creepy whispering in my right ear. I didn’t turn to look back instead continued to stare towards the house 213 and I found something fell from above and there was loud thuddd!!!! It seemed something horribly heavy fell from above. Could it be a body?

To be continued….

The Ghost of Sector 16 - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – ‘Paranthe Wale Baba’

2008, Chandigarh: It was the time when we got a chance to attend the 6 months training during my college days; it was the sixth semester and three of us got placed as trainees in a semiconductor lab situated in Mohali. A career-oriented mindset at that point of time prompted us to join an NIT academy as well, offering courses in various languages in Sector 34, Chandigarh. We wanted to extract the best out of those six months of our training and in addition to that it was first time that we were away from our hometown on our own and the excitement of exploring one of the finest cities was sky high.
We had heard a lot of about Sector 17 and its elite gentry, Sector 35, Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake that prompted us to take PG around Sector 17 in Chandigarh. Ashish, Aseem and I took a bus from Jalandhar and reached Sector 17 around 9 p.m. and I still remember it was 9th August, a Saturday night. Everything was well planned and Ashish had arranged a broker who would assist us with settling in Sector 20. We got down at the bus stop and crossed the road to reach Sector 22’s market where the broker was to meet us. Ashish tried calling him but he ignored all our calls and we came to know later that he has left the city with the least chances of returning to the town. We were irritated but after a while took it lightly, throwing friendly jibes at each other and teasing Ashish of being irresponsible added more fun to the experience.
The online apps and websites were not updated as they are in the present day, so we decided to enquire about the flats and PGs via local shops and real estate agents. It was already 11 p.m. and all the estate shops were closed. We had light snacks and planned to spend the night at a park nearby. We were lying, chatting and watching the clear sky above when all of us dozed off one by one. It was 2 a.m. and Ashish got up, he felt hungry and forced us to walk with him in finding something to eat. We got up half-heartedly and after enquiring here and there, we took an auto till Sector 14 where there was a street vendor famous for his paranthas. He was known by the name ‘Paranthe wala baba’.
We reached and found the name and attire of the Parantha baba in coherence with the name, he was in a black attire with beads of artificial skulls wrapped around his neck and a black teeka on the forehead, long hair tied neatly, appeared more like a ‘Tantrik baba’ rather than the parantha baba. It seemed funny and laughed poking fun at him.
It was then when I interacted with a few around us and got to know that one of the guys standing along with us was a broker. He had a few contacts and was eager to help us. We were asked to visit him tomorrow after he made a call and got an approval from the other party in five minutes. He asked us to take an auto and reach Sector 16 while he went on his bike to collect keys after sharing the address. We called for an auto and before the ignition started, ‘Parantha baba’ suddenly appeared almost scaring us spoke in a deep husky voice, ‘Sector 16 mein mat jana baccha, waha ke ghar ki shuddhi nahi huyi hai, tum logo ko takleef hogi, pachtaoge’ warned and left. We remained quiet for a while and then laughed and went on with our way. It was 3 a.m. and we were sleepy. I was actually wondering about the coincidence of all situations - coming at this place for food, coming across the broker, and managing to get a place to stay at that hour of night; no matter how hard I tried to ignore the warning given by the ‘Parantha Baba’, I couldn’t get it off my mind. What if he is right and the series of coincidences continue? What will happen if another coincidence leads us to the same house he was referring to? The sound of the moving auto filled the silence as we entered an empty lane, Ashish and Aseem slept and I stared blankly watching the lifeless roads, thinking about the flat in Sector 16 when the auto suddenly screeched and a loud bang scared us……
To be continued….