I have decided to write and post everyday for 30 days in the month of November. I will post my stories that I am working on for NaNo as a series.
You can read both the stories here…
Day 1 – Nov 1st
It was the first week of August in 1990 and Bhoomi’s first day of college.
She got off the blue Bajaj Chetak, slung her hand bag on her shoulder and said, “Thanks dad, I’ll go in.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in?” said Sitaram.
“Yes dad. I am going into my PG. I think I can handle things on my own.”
“Alright… Alright… Don’t forget to get your bus-pass.”
“Okay. See you in the evening. All the best.”
She nodded and waved to her father.
She pivoted and stood there for a few minutes taking in everything in the surroundings – The tall trees blooming with yellow flowers on the sides of the huge black gate; a pan-shop selling cigarettes and Sweet Crane nut-power, news papers, mini packs of chips hanging in a basket slung by a nail, on her right; a bus-stop to her left. She looked at the blue and white letters on the name-board hung above the gate – University of Hyderabad.
She let out a deep sigh and walked towards the gate in slow and steady steps. She stepped on to the threshold of metal pipes paved at the gates to restrict animals from entering the campus. The pipes rolled under her feet making a clinking noise.
A strange amalgam of fear, anticipation and excitement passed through her body culminating into a smile. She adjusted her shoulder-bag and walked to the huge board with a map of all the building on campus. She looked for the administration building on the map and walked towards it, to complete her formalities of admission.
She soaked herself in the scenic beauty of the Poinciana trees on either side of the tar-topped road with buildings a little away from the road. The mild wet-breeze from rain the previous night was inviting. She walked over the yellow Poinciana-flower carpet, fallen due to rain. After 15 minutes of walking, she reached the administration building.
Bhoomi found huge line-ups at all three admission counters. Young boys and girls mostly the same age as her in the queues. They were dressed in multitude of colors and attires – half-sarees; sarees; chididaars; denim skirts and everything in between. Men wore narrow pants in line with the fashion trends. Some chatted with each other awaiting their turn; some were shaking hands; some smiling; some asking for directions to their departments.
She stood in one of the lines awaiting her turn. She took out her file-folder and looked through its contents. Satisfied she hadn’t forgotten anything; she closed the folder and looked around.
One side of the white walls was decorated with abstract paintings and the other had a huge smiling picture of Mahatma Gandhi. Next it was another picture of a man dressed in black suit. The man in the picture had Leucoderma. The big hall had three mini booths which functioned as admission counters. To the far left of hall were a group of young men and women in white T-shirts and blue jeans with red-badges that read volunteers. They were handing out brochures to the newbie’s. She assumed they were the senior students.
Farther away from the building was a spiral staircase that led to the first floor rooms. She saw the man in the picture standing with his hands on the railing observing the goings-on. She wondered who he was. A voice from behind said, “He is the Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Krishna Murthy.”
She then noticed all the heads of boys and girls in the queues turn towards the entrance. She too looked. She saw a mesmerizingly beautiful young woman dressed in long-sleeved white chudidaar barge in. She was about 5 4″ in height, fair and had a proportionate body. Her moon-face had the radiance of a film-star. She had chiseled features similar to statues on temple walls. Her big round dark eyes, her arched eyebrows, long eyelashes, sharp nose studded with a round nose-ring, her small oval mouth. Everything was perfect about her. Her big round ear rings swayed to the rhythm of her movement. Without wasting anytime, she reached one of the counters, went to the head of the line and completed her formalities. The clerk at the counter gave her a knowing gleeful smile as he handed the papers back to her. Bhoomi took note that no one objected to her intrusion or her jumping the queue. She then walked to the volunteer desk and looked through the piles of papers and said something in an inaudible voice. The guy at the desk nodded and pointed to the separate piles of the brochures. The guy said something and she put her hand on her chest and laughed accentuating her dimples as her mouth converged into a zero. Bhoomi’s eyes followed her unabashedly as she rushed out of the room with the same haste. Bhoomi looked at her until she lost sight of her.
What a beauty! She could give all the models a run for their money. Bhoomi wished she could see her again. She completed her admission formalities and walked to the volunteer counter to pick up the brochures.
The guy said, “Hi, welcome to HCU. There will an orientation at two this afternoon in the Galaxy Auditorium. Please do attend.”
“Yes, thank you.” She smiled at him and filed all the papers into the folder and walked out of the building.
After 45 minutes of being lost, asking for directions and wondering at how huge the university campus was, Bhoomi reached the road that led to the Social Sciences building.
She walked closer to the building and noticed three guys. One guy was seated on a Hero Honda while the others stood next to him chatting, sharing the same cigarette. The guy on the bike spotted Bhoomi, whistled and waved his hand asking her to come towards them.
She stood mute reluctant to comply. He said, “First year? Juniors should listen to seniors. Come here.”
Oh My God! Ragging. Her first instinct was to look for cover. Seeing no way out of this she walked towards them.
The guy on the bike asked, “What is your rank in the entrance?”
“I topped the entrance,” she whispered.
“Oh, so should we call you Madam for topping the entrance? Where is your respect for seniors? You should refer to us as Sir.” He roared. His friends let out sly-smiles eyeing her reactions deriving pleasure.
“No Sir…, you don’t have to call me madam Sir. Sorry Sir…”
“Okay, Okay… Now take this and measure the length of the entire corridor of the ground floor and give us a count,” he said handing her a safety pin.
She cursed the guy in her head and walked into the building, placed her bag and file folder in a corner and set out to accomplish the task. She knelt down and started measuring, dragging herself on the corridor floor.
She felt someone walk past her in a hurry and looked up to see who it was. The same beautiful young woman that she saw in the admin building earlier was standing a little away from Bhoomi.
Before Bhoomi could recover from her shock, the young woman held Bhoomi’s hand and dragged her towards the entrance of the building. Bhoomi followed her savior in a state of trance not knowing what was going on or where she was being led.
The woman stopped before the bikers, let go off Bhoomi’s hand and said to the guy on the bike, “Maruti, this is your prank isn’t it? You should be ashamed of yourself. She is a junior and this unfriendly behavior is intolerable. Say sorry to her.”
“Hey, we were just having some fun,” he retorted.
“Fun at her expense?” came her fuming question.
He had the look of a deflated balloon on his face and said, “Sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Bhoomi said.
“No it is not okay.” The woman said looking at Bhoomi.
“Which department?” She asked.
“Anthropology,” Bhoomi replied.
“Hey Maruti, she’s your junior.” Maruti didn’t seem too happy with the news.
“Oh by the way, I am Urmila and Urmi to my friends,” she said and stretched her hand out.
“Hi, Bhoomi. Nice to meet you. Which department are you from?” she replied holding Urmi’s hand in a warm handshake.
Urmi smacked her forehead with her palm and said, “I completely forgot why I came here. We are short of volunteers at the Galaxy. If you guys can go and help that’ll be great.”
“What do we get in return Madam President?” mocked one of the other guys, winking at her.
“What else? Our usual – Ravee’s masala dosa and his creamy chai.” She replied with a shrug.
“Oh no… Canteen dosa will not do. You have to take us out for dinner,” said Maruti.
“You guys are leeches,” she said smiling.
Maruti wrapped his arm around her shoulder and said, “You are our reserve bank. We can’t help it.”
“Yeah, whatever… Go now,” she said.
As all three guys got on to the bike and rode off. Urmi looked at Bhoomi and said, “Come, let me show you around.”
Bhoomi walked behind towards her red Kinetic and Urmi said, “Hop on.”
The two rode around the buildings dispersed over a 3000 acre area. There was a 6 feet tall wall around the entire campus.
They crossed the life sciences block, the humanities building, the magnificent management block, the computer science block, library and the magnificent Arts building. All along the way Urmi was ranting-off details of the nuances of being a student at HCU while Bhoomi became a mute student taking in all the information as a sponge. All along the way there were men and women that stopped Urmi and talked to her. She is very popular thought Bhoomi.
Later they reached the SBI and stood in the queue and paid their tuition for the semester.
It was almost lunch time and Urmi said, “Come let’s give you a taste of our Ravee’s special chai and dosa. I am a hostel-bird and you can’t eat two successive meals at the hostel without having the runs. Ravee is our savior. His breakfast is the best.”
“I am thankful that I am a day scholar,” said Bhoomi her eyes popping out, noting how big the canteen was. It was a shack. More like a small hut. She followed Urmi into the canteen and and found the place over crowed with people. They found a seat in the corner.
“Yeah, and that alone is a good reason to make you my friend. At least once in a while I can get treated with home-cooked food,” said Urmi smiling winking at Bhoomi.
“Sure why not?” replied Bhoomi.
Spotting his regular, Ravee walked towards them and said, “Namaste Urmi Madam. Your usual?”
“You are a darling Ravee. Yes please and make that two. I am just getting this new friend addicted to your food. Business is good I see.”
“Heh-Heh,” the teenager smiled at the ladies as they settled into their plastic chairs.
“So, Anthropology eh? You are not preparing for Civil Services are you?” asked Urmi.
“Yes, that is the plan. That is the reason I chose Anthropology – One of my subjects for mains.”
“Oh My! One more joining the bandwagon huh? There is a group on campus. All aspirants of Civils. You can join it. But don’t become too studious. Do take part in the activities on campus. I just want to teach English and write books and enjoy my university days.”
“Oh! Nice. Thanks. Can you give me more details?”
“Wait until orientation and you will get an idea of all the activities here.”
“Oye… no need to be so formal yaar.”
Bhoomi smiled as a reply.
They relished the crisp dosas and creamy masala-chai, Ravee’s speciality and Urmi insisted on picking up the cheque. Unwilling to seem like a push-over Bhoomi let it go. They then walked out and drove to the Galaxy Auditorium.
This is Rafiq and Siya’s story. It’s about how they met, fell in love and established an empire together. It was a 14 year long journey and won’t bore you with the details but will give you the important events that occurred in their lives.
It was the year 2000 and Rafiq had just turned 29. He was young, energetic and always hopeful of making it big. He could have done it in no time had he ignored the process and focused only on the outcome, whatever the means. But, as a man of ‘some’ principles, he wanted the process to be as transparent as the outcome – ensuring him of a stress free family life along with the bonus of peaceful guilt-free sleep every night. And thus began his journey. He found it all in one go – love, fame and success. At the end of the journey, he was a super rich man both literally and metaphorically.
Like every man on earth, Rafiq too was looking for a female companion to relieve his stress from time to time and was looking for someone to have a decent conversation with! He wasn’t ready to get married and settle down with one woman yet, but had to succumb to the family pressures and comply. His heart however, wanted to taste the spice of life and yearned for excitement.
He began his hunt.
Jyotsna was waiting at the arrival gate of the Begumpet airport in Hyderabad. She was pacing up and down looking at the exit door as all the passengers walked out. There was an announcement that the flight from Mumbai had arrived. She walked closer to the barricade and waited in anticipation to see her dearest friend. They were like conjoined twins. Grew up in the same neighborhood, went to same school and college until work took them apart.
She could not stand still and kept fidgeting with her hands cracking her knuckles.
She saw Siya walk out of the door and Jyotsna screamed and ran towards her with stretched arms and hugged her tight. They both said, “Gosh it’s been almost nine years!” and laughed at having the same thought at the same time. Jyotsna held Siya’s hand as they walked to the parking lot. Jyotsna said, “We have so much to catch up on. How was your flight?”
“Okay, I guess…Yes, we do have a lot to talk about.”
Siya loaded her luggage and they drove out of the domestic airport. Siya said, “Joe, the city hasn’t changed much.”
“Yeah, with Y2K problem and computers being the niche area of study and work, the city is expanding rapidly. There is green money trickling into the city from America and Britain. Almost every household in the city has someone working outside the country. You remember my cousin Nani?”
“Who? That B.A. fail cousin of yours?” asked Siya.
“Yeah. He finished his B.A. and got some programming certificate and his dad paid some consultant huge sums and got him a job in the U-S-A,” she said rolling her eyes.
“Poor Americans,” said Siya.
They both chuckled.
“So tell me more about you? How was Canada? What about your work? Have you comeback for good?”
“Yes I came back for good. After mom and dad passed away in the accident, I didn’t want to stay there anymore. I had nothing to tie me down. I wrote everything in my last letter. Didn’t you get it?”
“You know our postal service nah? Joe replied with her tongue sticking out. “You should start using e-mail like all the techno-savvy people. It is catching on like wild fire.”
“Yeah I know. You know me. I am technologically challenged. Hey stop, stop… I want to buy some Pulla Reddy sweets for uncle and aunty.”
“Don’t bother… Dad was diagnosed with diabetes recently and mom has a rule of no sweets in the house.”
“Oh, no… How are you guys controlling his sweet tooth?”
“Don’t ask. He steals from the fridge like a child and we have to lock it with sugar and jiggery cans in,” Joe said nodding her head horizontally.
“That’s too bad. By the way, when is the wedding? I am so excited. I knew you would be the one getting married first,” said Siya.
“Yeah, in two months. I dodged as much as I could and you know what they say – After 30, a woman is almost a fossil in India in the marriage-market. And we both crossed the mark about three years ago. So it was panic time for my parents. I had no choice but to listen. Rudra is a nice guy though.”
“Aha… My dear Joe has the hots for her fiancé. I am saved though. With mom and dad gone, in a way, I am glad I don’t have to put up with that.”
“I hate you for that,” said Joe.
“As the old adage goes my love – There’s an upside to everything.”
“So what about your love life? What about Peter? Is he coming?” Joe asked out of the blue.
“No… We broke up…”
“What? When? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Joe, let’s not talk about it now. I am tired after the long flight and need some sleep desperately.”
They were engrossed in their individual thoughts. They didn’t speak much after that until they reached Joe’s place.
Rafiq was at his desk doing some paper work when Kumar came in and said, “Ready for lunch?”
“Yes, give me five minutes. I’ll be there.”
“Can’t wait to taste Noor bhabhi’s cooking.”
“Only you can love her cooking.”
“My friend the old saying goes – What does the ox know the taste of puffed rice! I’ll wait for you in the lunch room.”
Rafiq worked on his file for another 15 minutes, shut it and walked out carrying his lunch-box.
He reached Kumar’s table making after reciprocating a few head-nods and a few knowing-smiles.
“So what’s for lunch?” Asked Kumar as he opened Rafiq’s box. There were paratas and kheema. “Smells delicious,” said Kumar digging into the kheema with a spoon.
He tasted it and said, “Oh, man this is divine. I am so close to heaven.”
“Why don’t you get married?”
Why do I need a wife. I have my bhabhi to make good food for me.
“You are shameless,” said Rafiq dishing out kheema and paratas onto Kumar’s plate.
“What’s with Khureshi’s account? Have we received the balance payments?”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you their cheque bounced.”
“You tell me this now? We have to make a visit. And stop the next consignment of sprinklers to them.”
“We already sent them on Friday.”
“Our Orangutan will assign the job to me. I hate running after these idiots collecting money,” said Rafiq.
“I can handle it if you like.”
“Oh no… Thanks. I don’t want any more complications and more over Khureshi doesn’t like you.”
“Why because I am a Hindu?”
“No you fool. He thinks his daughter likes you.”
“Really? You think Farheen likes me?”
“How do I know? I never had a romantic-filmy kind of love in my life. I was married at 25.”
“I know that. How do we find out though?”
“Go talk to her man.”
“What if it is only Khureshi’s imagination and what if she doesn’t like me at all?”
“There is only one way to find out. Diwali is near and they’ll all be here for the company annual celebrations. Talk to her. I am gone all afternoon. We need to send an Line of Credit for the shipment arriving from Kaveri Pipes.”
“When is Orangutan coming back? Is it next week or the week after? “Asked Rafiq.
“I better squeeze the money out of Khureshi before Ramesh Reddy returns.”
“You are the boss until he returns. Enjoy it while it lasts,” Kumar said winking at him.
“No Thank you. I have better shit to handle in life.”
They laughed aloud, finished their lunch and walked towards their respective cabins.
DAY 1 Word Count – 3353 words.
P.S. Please excuse my grammar, sentence structures and even the shifts from first person to third person. I will edit it once the entire story is done. Thanks. Appreciated the patience.