16
Feb
10

Child of the Windd

I’ve seen you in my dreams

Sometimes crying, sometimes smiling

I’ve felt I’ve known you all along

In your love I felt like flying

You gave me joy that knew no bounds,

Felt happiness worth a million pounds.

I know it will be difficult to live without you,

In my heart, I’ll always think about you.

I’ll always remember you name,

As they say, ‘child of the windd’

In my life, like a breeze you came,

Touched my soul, deep within.

No matter what happens tonight,

With destiny, I can’t fight.

As always, will take what comes my way,

Thanks for giving me strength,

For making all the pain go away.

Inspired by this poem, the book talks about a journey. A journey that an author takes to share someone’s love, trials and tribulations and how hope wants to surmount against all odds. How the protagonist, Samir, who is in love with Naina… yet doesn’t know if he will be able to survive the odds. This book is about the story of Samir’s life told to the author by Naina the girl who is in love with Samir  and willing to do anything for him before the final chapter unfolds…

Child of the Windd is a journey ‘5’ years in the making. A journey that I hope to take along with all of you. What you are about to read is a concept called ‘Blook.’ (Blog + Book)

Essentially, blogposts / blogs that are generated to transform into book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blook

The work is originally based on certain blog posts that I started writing in 2005 registered on

http://srini2k5.blogspot.com/

Started writing this blook so to speak, in 2005, with a lot of changes and a lot of learning from many a publishers, friends, family and reviewers and of course a lot of rejections from the likes of Penguin, Rupa and Co. etc… Decided to take on this concept. Original draft written to be published by AGM Books by Parvez Abeideen, the project needed a lot of modification after which, I never approached the same publisher.

There are many reasons why it has not been published up until now. One of them being, that technically and from the tightening perspective, it needs to be redrafted with fine editing process. This I realized when I attended a creative writing course at Xavier’s Institute of Communication. Now that I have a bit of time and learning from that course at XIC. I plan to keep on constantly editing this Blook and of course that with all your help.

Now I approach all of you, my readers / my friends to participate in this experiment I’d like to conduct. A social means to understand the reader, my audience and take feedback from you and hope that this ‘blook’ becomes a real time ‘Book.’

Hope you all enjoy reading this book, hope you respond to comments either through direct comments or email whichever suits you. It’s not necessary that you give opinion / feedback after reading the entire blook. You can give your comments randomly on any posts.

I’d certainly be editing the same as part of ‘Trance Writing’ concept and this blook will be constantly under review, till it reaches certain sets of expectations.

email: srini2k7@gmail.com

Happy Reading!!!

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16
Feb
10

So Far So Good!

So far so good,


Hope to Get there… One Day


For My Mom and Dad…

16
Feb
10

Acknowledgments

I must say, when I started writing, I never imagined I would be able to write this book.  The support that I got from everyone helped me complete it, especially from my good friend Swapnil.  Thanks a lot buddy for being there when no one else knew what I was capable of.

It doesn’t get better than this; I don’t know what’s on the other side of this world. But on this side, I have you. This book is dedicated to my soul. Inspiration, yes, besides that I’ve got a lot from her. Thanks to Anila, even though we are not together what we shared was something that helped me write this book and eventually be part of this book. I want to remember our beautiful relationship as a ship sailing through the rough waters of a turbulent ocean, fighting the waves and gigantic icebergs, braving it all. Thanks for your support. Of course, how could I forget, Merline, her mom and her sister, Nikita for their support.

Thanks to my very special friend Denise, who also helped me all the way through my journey. Thanks babes for being there and giving me the kind of support that I could have only imagined.  You of all the people know best, how I have come through as a person in this escapade. Thanks for your support and literally helping me discover my love for someone special and being there as a sounding board when I needed to talk to you.

Thanks to Shraddha, my blogger friend who encouraged my writing with her supportive comments on my blog, and she is a good writer herself. Keep it up girl! Also thanks to Shilpa, another good friend who really writes well and knows how to live her life. If I were to write about a story of how we met, that would entirely be another book. Someday maybe, someday…

Also thank you Dottie, for your reviews on my early work. Thank you for your feedback and the time you took to review the book. I have edited a lot and added some more after you gave me feedback. Hope you find the changes interesting. You are an amazing writer yourself.  After reading, ‘Guardians of the Deep’; I knew that your writing is certainly, work of art.

I would like to thank my parents who have inspired me all the way in this journey of Life.  Without both of you, this journey would have never started at all. Dad wherever you are, this one goes out to you.  Also, thanks to Ayesha for helping us through our time of distress. Your ‘kholi’ was a heavenly abode for us back then.

Thanks to Chris, my good friend and basketball coach. Stacey, my mentor and close friend. Lubna my partner in philosophy. Liz another one of my mentor and most definitely, a person who changed my life for the best. Bea, hope you are having a good time back home. I still remember the crazy rides, shopping and the cooking at your place. Also a big thanks to all my trainers at Tracmail, who shared with me their crazy experiences and know about my ordeal, my crazy tantrums etc. Thanks, Smriti, Josh, Leander, Leo, Sowmya, Naresh, Malti, Kshitij, Naresh, Seema, Vero, Gaurav,Clarissa and Dee of course. Viggi, another one of my philosophy partner, “Bro the dream will happen.” Arshad, aka ‘Metal’, hope you like this book. Of course how can I forget Satroy, our favourite entertainer. Also thanks to Himanshu & Nishant, the biggest Schumi fans ever. Thanks Bincy, Smitha and Lavina my very first team leaders and the only team leaders.

Thanks Ralph, for your help and vision. And of course how can I forget Danny ‘The Stalker.’ Thanks to all the trackers, ex-trackers, and everyone else whose name is not mentioned here, yet in some way or the other, they have been there for me.

Thanks to Merita, Jai and the Xpressions team, for giving me ‘Srini’s Café’ my own column in the newsletter, ‘Xpressions.’

A special thanks to all my family members especially my cousin Sandy, who reviewed this work a long time ago and is amongst the first ones to actually read the entire book. Thanks bro.  I am fortunate to have your blessings. Cheers Guys!

Amber, I would like to thank you not just for the inspiration you gave to me, to write so many poems but also for being such a good friend of mine.

Rutavi, Thanks for being my friend despite the many odds that were against us. Also thanks for your belief and endorsments you always keep doing for me. :-)

Alicia: Thanks for those endless chats and sharing your insights on every relationship that I’ve been a part of. Hope to spend have a fun trip around India when you come down here.  :-p

A special thanks to Ms. Renu Balakrishnan, our creative writing professor at Xavier’s Institute of Communication. There has been a lot of learning from your workshop and as we speak, I’ll tighten this work and hope that by the end of this experiment I’d be able to do justice to your hard work and everything I have learnt from you.

Then of course, how could I forget my Lenovo Y500, where I poured all my feelings and expressions. It was my true companion during this time.

Most importantly, thank you God, for giving me such a wonderful gift, the gift of writing. Without the strength, the power and the belief that you gave me, I am sure I would not have been able to do this.

And of course, please, if I have forgotten anyone it’s completely through oversight. Please forgive me and yes let me know so that I keep editing. :-)

*And now that I’m starting this experiment I would like to thank each and everyone in advance, who participates  on this blog, with their feedback and comments.

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16
Feb
10

Prologue

“Am I stupid? Why on earth did I buy this book? Who is this author anyways? Never heard of him.”

Is this what you are thinking? If you look at the reasons of buying this book, here are a few. You may have bought this book because you probably looked at the cover, the name and you liked the design, or you were just fascinated by the name of the book. Probably you read the back cover and liked the short pre-view. Possibly, you remember my name from somewhere or you are one of my friends, if nothing else, I just gave you this book. Well what is important, is that you have this book and are interested in reading it. Well, you know what; I’m interested in selling my story to you. If you don’t like my story, you will most likely trash the book, I guess. If you’ve paid for it and want your money’s worth, you will read this one and won’t buy anymore of my books, that is, if I write one.  Well whatever is the case, let me thank you for reading through at least this part, who knows you may just end this book right here. Or, may be not, but thanks for getting this book.

So here I am! Writing about, how I started writing.  This book is essentially, my work so far.  It’s a collection of my emotions put together in a single composition.  I would like to take you through a journey full of unpredictable situations and beautiful characters with whom, I am sure you will relate to easily. All of us might have encountered similar situations. It is the time, the experience that changes everything.

Simple truths make big differences in everyone’s lives. I know there are times when we think, Why Me? Why Now?  I would say, think again because we are not the only one. There are so many people who have gone through experiences, much more difficult than ours.

This is when I thought, “What if I talk about these simple things to you and tell you how they can make a difference to your lives.” Feelings, emotions, that’s all I had to pen down! To add to that I also discovered a different dimension of myself and let my imagination do the talking. Now that’s something positive I got in return from life and as we all know ‘Life is a learning.’ Here I am, sharing this learning with all of you. Adding some really good colours to the characters, it was fun working with my imagination.  Something that made a difference to this book. I hope you like reading this experience.  A journey that will enchant you and touch your heart! Talking about the journey, this book is an illustration of a common term we all know as, ‘Love!’

‘True love’, is something, which cannot be ‘found’. No matter what you think, feel and realise, life is always like that. Once when I had a conversation with my friend Denise, I asked her, “How do you know that you are truly in love?”

I wanted to find out if, what I was experiencing was ‘love.’ This happened to me when my heart was no longer mine and I was on cloud number nine. I felt emptiness that one experiences when they go through either sadness or madness.

Yes it was a kind of madness you may say, the kind that is unheard of, unspoken and totally unseen.  I like to call it ‘love.’ But the trick question is, ‘Was that really love?’

So I asked her, “How do you know, if you are in love?”

Her answer was pretty confusing to me initially, on second thought I found it to be extremely profound and it made complete sense, to me at least. Here’s what she had to say.

“You don’t really know if it’s true love. If you realise that you are in love then that’s the end.”

Come to think of it, it is true! If you know that you are in love then your search is over. The excitement is lost. But all said and done, one must realise that the definition of true love differs from person to person, time to time and situation to situation. It is just a perspective. So I understood that, ‘Love is all about discovery!’ Discovery of a new world, with that one person whom you adore. All you need to do is, just keep going…

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16
Feb
10

Navi Mumbai – The Future City

“Bombay, the land of opportunity, the city of dreams!”  How many times have you heard people say this?

“I fell in love with this city when I came here first”

“If you want love, life and death, let this be in this city.”

As huge fan as I am of Bombay I never knew there would exist a place called New Bombay or Navi Mumbai as it is called, and I would end up living here someday. I have read four best possible books on Bombay and have fallen in love with the city each time I read about the different places of Bombay from these authors’ perspective, be it Vikram Chandra, Suketu or my idol, Gregory David Roberts, I have enjoyed each and every little bit about this city. The more I read about it, the more I want to visit those places repeatedly, to cherish the beautiful places one more time…

However, the only mention of Navi Mumbai was in Suketu’s, “Maximum City.” As the name suggested, it definitely was the ‘New’ Bombay you wanted to be in. Away from the crowded corridors of the plague, the darkness and all the sin in the city. You wanted freedom from the hustle and bustle and the scorching fast life of Bombay. It was a vision somebody had, for he had suffered in the darkness. Yet there were so many people who were living their dreams in this darkness. That is what Bombay is all about.  At least that was what Bombay was all about, for the future had yet to be written. That is when I thought; why not give people dreams of this new city, a city that has given opportunity to thousands of people to live their dreams.

When I had originally written this book, I had lived in this city for more than three years, one day it occurred to me, that no one has ever written a story in this beautiful place. A place where thousands of stories are told each day. A place that is in the news on so many stories that it gives us every single day.

I remember when I landed a job interview a few years ago and as destiny would have it, I came to the future city for the first time. I saw the amazing, International InfoTech Park, beautifully structured on the Vashi railway station. The first time I ever ate at ‘Riverdale.’  That is the time I truly fell in love with this city. Never had I seen such clean wide roads, amazing infrastructure. Everything was so well planned that I just wondered if we could just start from scratch and make Bombay just as well planned as this place. But then, what would be the fun, for Bombay has its own charm with the historical buildings and the trivial relevance to each and every little road in the city of dreams.

Who would have thought way back in 1972, that this twin city would bring so much of glory to the state. It most certainly is the largest planned new city in the world. From the mainland eastern seaboard of Thane creek the city stretches from Airoli in the north to Uran in south. I looked up the internet for many books on Navi mumbai, the ones that I could manage to find were ‘The making of Navi Mumbai’ by Annapruna Shaw and Stephen Read’s ‘Future City’ these are very comprehensive books that you could read about Navi Mumbai. That is when I thought of getting this city in my story. Well, long before I wrote this story, someone up there knew I would end up here in this place and the story was already written up above.

It was just a matter of time before I discovered my love for this place and bring something for each one of you. One more thing I liked about Navi Mumbai, was the beautiful stretch of ‘The Palm Beach Road’ I mean the first time I ever saw the huge stretch and looked across the horizon, I just couldn’t stop gazing at the sun set across the mountains towards the west. Its definitely one of the best, cleanest and peaceful roads I had seen within a city. Whenever I rode my bike across this huge stretch of land, I couldn’t help losing myself in this world completely surrendering to the beautiful landscape and the tall buildings. Then there were the quiet surroundings, the drag racing roads of Kharghar and of course the Kharghar hill. How can I forget the Parsik Hill connecting Nerul and Belapur, the favourite spots for adventure junkies? I also fell in love with the amazing McDonalds just before the Bombay-Pune expressway and so many other places in this city that I can’t just stop talking about.  So here, I am to tell you a story, which means a lot to me. A story that has never been written before and a story that will probably change my life forever. A story that is set around few parts of these beautiful locales. A story that had already begun, but I didn’t probably know at that time. When you read this book, I don’t know how much justice I would do to the artistic expression and portrayal of this city. But, this I’m sure you would definitely relate to the some of the places that you have been to in this city or definitely heard of at least. More importantly, I would want you to read it from your heart. A story that is told without any reason, without any purpose. The only important thing is to feel the emotions attached to those places. I have enjoyed each moment I have lived in this city and my heart goes out to this city. This book is for all you people of Navi Mumbai, to the life, to love and to the city, the new city of dreams…

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16
Feb
10

January 2007

 

The car came to a screeching halt! I thought to myself, “What a brilliant story!” It was a story that I wanted to write for such a long time. This was the perfect story, which the world needed to know. A story about dreams, desire, and the conflict that one goes through when they fall in love. Or at least they think they are in love. According to me, there is no such concept as love. There is sensitivity, romance, emotion, attraction, lust but no love.

At least that is what I felt before that night. The night, that changed my whole perception of love. Many times as I said before, people tend to think about things that happen to them and wonder why it happens to them, only them. So many times, they forget about the things happening around them, for they are caught up in their own world, so much so, that they do not realise anything beyond their misery. That itself is an illusion created only for their eyes. So many times, people do not realise what is happening around them or in the world outside. That is why stories that they hear, see and read are merely stories to them.

I am sure you might have watched many movies and thought to yourself, “What rubbish is this? All this never happens in real life.”  Well surprise, surprise, it does, and you know what, “The difference between fiction and reality is, fiction has to make sense.” Well that’s what Tom Clancy said once.

So, when you read this book, I hope you realise that fiction is always inspired by life, no matter what type it is, art always imitates life. So next time you watch a movie, read any other book, always keep this in mind, someone has already gone through that experience. How much of it is imagination, and how much is real, is a different story altogether.

I was freezing to death that evening when I got a call from my agent, so I answered the phone call.

“Hello…” The agent spoke breathing heavily and took a long pause.

“Yes, Harish, what have you got for me tonight?” I said with bated breath, hoping that he had an assignment to fill my pockets.

“Well, I have something interesting for you, but this offer is a little bit different.” He sounded a little hesitant,

“Different, what do you mean?” I asked, curious to know what he had in mind, when he said different. Different good, or different bad?  I somehow had a feeling that he wanted me to do him a favour and probably I won’t get paid well, for this ‘assignment’ of his.

“There is this friend of mine from school; she has a story to tell. She wants someone to write it for her. But she can’t pay you.”

“Can’t pay me? Hmmm, So… What are you suggesting?”

“She’s okay with you publishing the book, since she has no money to get it published. Besides you can have all the copyrights if you think it’s worth publishing. Her main objective is to get the work recognized, and there’s a strong reason behind it.”

“Yes, Harish, I understand. But you need to understand man, there are millions of people in Bombay whose stories can make really great books. You know I’m not in a position to self publish yet. I would have to pull a lot of strings in order to get that done.”

“At least you can listen to what she has to say. You can decide later.”

“Okay, give me the address.” With that, I finished my conversation and decided to meet this girl, a good friend of my literary agent, from his school, to listen to her story. What unfolded after that, was something, which made me realise so many things I had not known before. Things that I thought about in my life, yet never tried to go beyond the thinking part. Many times, there are so many ideas that become a part of you. The only dilemma is that these ideas are hidden deep down in your mind that by the time you surface these ingenious thoughts, you realise that all this while you had been so stupid for doing something like this. What happened that night made me realise how big life could be.

Here I was at the small apartment on the outskirts of the city of Bombay, it was a small town called Panvel. New Bombay or ‘Navi Mumbai’ as it is called, has many small suburbs within its vicinity. Panvel happens to be the last station on the harbour line in Bombay. By road, it is on the way to Goa. Just like so many other small towns in Bombay, this place also has a flurry of apartments close to each other, built in close proximity. These apartments have come up in a span of a decade and the town is heading towards expansion. It was cold that evening, especially since the place was on the outskirts of the city. I was going to meet her at this address. It was a town in its own and a city of its kind. Panvel has so many markets that one could spend an entire lifetime over there. Besides that, it was also a junction of sorts. One could easily go to Karjat from Panvel. One could get buses easily to Pune, Lonavala. Of course, you can also get buses to Thane, Dadar and other parts of Mumbai. Of course, between Pen and Panvel, there lies a Karnala fort, a place that weekenders would love to getaway to. Karnala is very popular for its serene surroundings and its birds.  What’s more, there is an upcoming airport that is proposed at this place. It seems this place was most certainly going to be the hub. The place I was going to was not where the girl lived. It was her friend’s apartment. A close friend, I came to know later.  So here, I was at this small apartment, sipping hot coffee to get some warmth for myself. A nicely prepared cup of coffee, I think it was the maid of the house who gave me the coffee. It was a small apartment, a one-room kitchen with little furniture in it. They had painted the room recently, I could smell the whiff of the new paint and the walls were almost spotless. It was a neat and tidy house with a soft ambience. A home like that on the outskirts of the city with a great view of a huge stretch of land was something amazing. Even though the apartment was a small one, it was truly enchanting, especially with the breeze slowly blowing across the room through the balcony which had huge doors. Sliding doors, which led to the balcony, had a great view of the landscape. There was a small wall clock in the apartment that gave the home an antique yet classic touch.

It was the wall clock with a pendulum. I am always amazed when I watch a clock ticking away with glory and see the pendulum going back and forth. It gives me a strange feeling of time that is so precious. Every time the pendulum swings, and you try to count how many times it does in a minute, is when you realise, how much every second is worth. The room had a nice pair of chandeliers, which matched the ambience of the room’s soft sandalwood paint. I somehow got the feeling of being in a place that had the serenity, which could last for eternity.

I was sitting on the only chair there was in the hall. Besides the chair, there was a small couch and a nicely made bed placed on a carpet on the floor for someone to sit on. There was a small 14’ television kept on a table, which had a lot of books in it. A variety of them, mostly written by Indian authors. I saw, ‘The Namesake, God of Small Things, Spouse, The Inscrutable Americans, Interpreter of Maladies, and of course my personal favourite, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.’ That is one book written by an Australian author, yet it is all about our very own ‘Amchi Mumbai.’ I didn’t see any more of thick books, Shantaram was the thickest of them all. But one thing I knew by now was that whoever lived there was a big fan of Indian writing. I hoped this person to be someone who has belief in today’s market for Indian literature and according to me, it has an amazing potential, worldwide.  It also affirmed the fact that the ‘friend’ who had called me here was really serious about getting her story published. I wondered what the story was, that she had in store for me.

Suddenly, I heard a beautiful voice and saw a girl who was probably about 21-22 years old. She was slender and had eyes that were so pretty that one could just sink deeply into them and be lost forever.

“Thanks for coming here. I really appreciate your gesture.”  She said shaking my hand. She had a firm handshake for a girl of her age.

“You are welcome”, I said looking at her beautiful face, one that I could never forget. I was thinking to myself, “What kind of a story can a young girl like her have, to tell the world.”

“My name is Naina”, she said with a slight sadness in her tone.

I could see from her face that she had a determination, the one that can be seen on soldiers’ faces when they head for war. It seemed, as though, there was no other purpose to her life at this time. There was a reason that I was here, but I did not know yet. I just hoped in my heart that the reason was good enough and hoped to know a little more about this girl I met. I knew there was a lot of anguish and a lot struggle in her face. I just wanted to understand the truth, the way it was.

For a while, I had a conversation with her about what my work is, and told her how the concept of ghostwriting works. I also told her that usually, getting published is not so easy. It takes years of determination and hard work and told her that I will try my best to do whatever I can. I did not promise her anything. She was okay with it. What followed, was a story that she told me with great interest and I was sitting there for a couple of hours just listening to her and absorbing as much information as I could. I was deeply enchanted by the story she had to tell me and the characters in this particular story made a real impression on me. By the end of those two hours I had gone back through time to retrace a countless number of experiences told by her. I also read a few poems, written by her close friend, whom you’ll come to know as ‘Samir.’ The artistic brilliance that is displayed in his poems is mind blowing.  Experiences, which to a certain extent cannot be told in mere words, off his poems.  But, the minute you read them you feel the emotions and the journey is relived through his eyes.

It was 9’ o clock at night when she finished telling me the story and then I thanked her for the coffee and promised to get back to her as soon as possible. With that, I left the apartment and drove away on the cold winter evening thinking of what I should do.

As I was driving back home, my mind was full of so many thoughts about the story that she had told me. I had seen the complete picture and even I felt, that this story had to be told. However, I did not know how to piece everything together, I kept thinking hard, that’s when I got lost in a train of thought, and I did not see a signal in front of me on the highway. Suddenly I saw this other car crossing over and taking a turn in a lane right next to me. The car came to a screeching halt! That is when I had a ‘light bulb’ moment and figured out everything in my head just like that. I said to myself, “What a brilliant story!” This is what I really wanted to write and I would be stupid to refuse this offer, even if it meant investing my hard-earned money and taking a risk. A risk, which, if gets paid off, would mean a lot to my writing career. Now I knew what I needed to do in order to get this book and his works published. I had a master plan. With that thought in my mind, I started with the research and began this work. All I did for the entire month was eat, sleep, and breathe this book. Many times when I wrote, I always tried to imagine how it would feel, to be in somebody else’s shoes. I somehow felt deeply estranged with this world when I tried to get into somebody else’s skin. For me to come up with a story as brilliant as this meant, ‘I had to do a lot of homework.’ Besides just listening to the story that she told me, I had to retrace every single moment of the lives of the people involved. It meant that I had to feel the location, description and the emotions of what the characters had gone through. It is almost like reliving their experiences to understand what they have gone through in their lives in order to tell their story just like actors or directors who feel their characters and their screenplay. One thing I have done before is have many conversations with the people for whom I have ghostwritten before.  It gave me a lot of insight on their experiences, especially since most of my previous works were based on true incidents. I enjoy focusing on characters and stories, which have happened to somebody. This was the only time when I agreed to do it without being paid upfront. It was a different story and I hoped to get some returns especially since I would get the copyright to this work. Yet, it is a huge risk that I was taking. I just hoped it paid off.

One of the most amazing things I felt while doing the research was something I never felt before in my entire writing career. On previous occasions when I wrote articles, books based on someone else’s lives, I had been told about their lives by the protagonists or the people whose stories I was going to write about. This time around, however, I heard the entire story from someone else’s point of view. That gave me a third person perspective on the entire story and when I wrote it in that same point of view, it became so easier for me to write those experiences that it actually felt that I was reading the story to myself but there was an inner voice, a voice that narrated the story to me.

How many times have you thought that you were born for something different? How many times have you felt whatever you have been doing all your life had no meaning? No meaning until you went through an enormous change. A change that gave you a reason to believe that, whatever happened had a reason behind it. I always believed in fate, the only thing is, what you believed to be fate always existed in your mind as your future. Many times people never evaluated their fate to the past that they had had. We often tend to forget all that we have done in the past and somehow when we look at this huge future up ahead of us, we end up relating it to our fate. Yet, it is always the past that has a tendency to haunt us and give a completely new meaning to our destiny. We only realise it when we are back to square one.

What follows next, is an experience that anyone and everyone might have gone through, in their lives. Many times when people go through these, tough daunting experiences they feel the need to realise their own feelings with something they call ‘a profound silence.’ Sometimes, we realise so many things with this kind of a silence, silence tells us a lot, without saying anything. A silence before a storm is an indication of the turbulence ahead. Silence before expressing ones feelings tells them how much you love them. Silence after being caught red-handed tells us of the shame and regret you have in your heart.

This silence reveals a lot of truth to people without them realising it until they have truly heard the ‘silence.’ That was the kind of silence in the room, when he received a call that night. A long pause changed the story of his life.

The pause made Samir curious and he quickly asked, “And…?”

There was silence… He asked again, “What did he say?”

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16
Feb
10

December 1996

“What’s going on?” Samir said to himself. There was a huge commotion outside Samir’s house, people were making a lot of noise and something had gone wrong. Samir had been asleep after he had enjoyed a heavy meal that Saturday afternoon. It had been a long while that Samir had enjoyed such an amazing nap. Usually, he did not sleep in the afternoon. On weekdays he was used to being at school, he never felt like sleeping in the afternoon. Generally, he enjoyed watching cartoons on television or reading comic books.  Seldom did he take these naps on afternoons. On this day, however he was tired, as he had ran a few errands for his parents. They had gone to visit a distant relative who was not well. Samir was sleeping peacefully until; he woke up when he heard the huge commotion outside. He washed his face, had a glass of water and was curious to find out what was happening. He tried to step in his balcony and tried to see if he could get a glimpse of what was happening outside. He could not see much, except a bunch of people crowded outside in his apartment complex. He stepped out of the house and walked outside, in the apartment complex. He saw a group of people who were standing outside his friend’s balcony. They were talking to each other with a grim look on their faces and suddenly he had a glimpse of a woman, who was crying and was being consoled by other women who were her neighbours. He recognized that woman as his friend’s mother. He was wondering why she was crying and wanted to know what had happened. Now he became all the more anxious as he knew that woman pretty well. He used to play cricket with her son and they were good friends. That’s when he saw a fire blazing inside his friend’s apartment. Many people stood outside, staring at the fire from outside the apartment. Some men had stepped inside and were desperately trying to put the fire out. A television set had caught fire.

Fortunately, it was in the evening, when everyone was around. The people of Chetana Apartment complex, in Andheri came to the rescue. They were successful in putting the fire out and there was no need for the fire brigade to interfere. At the end of it all, no one was hurt. Samir thought to himself, “It was quite scary, what would have happened if it would have been my TV set? Especially since I have a habit of watching television sitting right in front of it.”

Samir did not know that God had a different plan to test his endurance. I always wondered how one would stand up to the test of time without having the knowledge and the slightest idea of what’s in store.

Samir Kumar lived with his parents in Andheri. Chetana Apartments was the smallest amongst a block filled with high-rise apartments in Andheri west. A suburb of Western Bombay, it is a place full of buzz, high rise apartment complexes and a huge hub of commercial locations. Real estate has been soaring in Andheri and it is one of the buzzing suburbs of Mumbai or Bombay as it was formerly called. Most people living in this city still like call it Bombay rather than ‘Mumbai.’  The name change happened when the ‘Shiv Sena’ a local and a very famous political party in the city and across the country decided to rename almost half of the cities, streets, railway stations and airports to names that went back to the tradition that this city has. Their main objective was to let the world and the people of the country know, how much they despised the English names that the British had left behind, when they left the country. The belief was that Bombay was a corruption of the original name. Yet in a certain way, most people living in this city have an affinity for those names and still like to use them or maybe it’s just that they are used to it and do not want to change everything all over. Andheri was one such place where a mix of these people who came to the commercial capital from different parts of the country lived together, in harmony. Despite the history and its fair share of disharmony that the city has had, the place is still one of the most cosmopolitan and helpful cities all over the world.

That is where Samir’s dad owned a three-bedroom hall kitchen, which was a huge ordeal for a middle class family in this city of dreams, back then. Come to think of it, anywhere in the world, owning a house is a big ordeal and a huge accomplishment for everyone.  Samir was 13, in the year 1996 and was in the eighth standard of Vidya Bhavan High School in Andheri.  His dad worked as a scientific officer, E grade in Bhaba Atomic Research Center, also known as B.A.R.C. in Anushaktinagar, Trombay. A place, which is highly secured and off limits for common people. The hub of geniuses of the country, who spend most of their lives into years of research on the science of the nuclear energy. Samir’s mom owned a small business in Andheri, one she had been managing since Samir was five years old. She was into the business of photocopying, typing, cyclostyling, electronic typing, lamination and the works. So they were a small family who were doing pretty well, except for Samir, who was terrible at math and not so great at academics. Everyone in Samir’s family expected him to turn out like his dad, who apparently was a genius when he was a kid and of real strong academic background. Almost everyone in the family expected Samir to follow in his dad’s footsteps. That is the kind of pressure, which is hard to deal with, especially when you know that you cannot match up to their expectations.

Don’t know if you’ve heard someone say, every one is born with a purpose in life. Samir did not know what purpose he had in life, but he knew that someday he was going to make it big. It was just a matter of time.

Most of his life Samir had been a loner, especially since both of his parents had been working right since he was five years old. Until the time he was about 10 years old, he used to spend his time in a crèche when his parents were out working, earning bread for the family. When he was in the eighth standard, his parents decided that Samir was old enough to take care of himself and left him on his own. So now, he was a lock and key kid. Samir started to hang out on his own and enjoyed his solitude.

One of the things Samir liked to do on weekends was to take a walk across the Versova beach. Sometimes he rode his bicycle around that area enjoying the cool windd blow in his face; sometimes wandering across in the plush locality of the seven bungalows area. He went on his own and explored new places around that locality.  Whenever at home, he would either watch television or read comic books. Samir was very fond of reading a lot of comic books.  Sometimes, he lived in a completely different world. A world of Phantom, Superman, Spiderman, Adventures of Tintin and so on.

He was so crazy about comic books that he had a huge collection stocked up at his apartment and had read them at least twice.  A lot of times, he used to read the comic books at his study table as well. He used to hide a comic book inside his huge textbooks and happily read them, while his parents thought that their kid was studying hard for his exams.

Academically, Samir was a just about average. He used to score well in all subjects except Math. Math is something he hated the most when he was in school. However, he had a big flair for the language. English was his favourite subject. That was the only subject he knew at the back of his hand.

The credit should go to his dad, who used to help him out during exams and even he enjoyed solving exercises from the ‘Wren and Martin’ There were times when Samir used to get up in the middle of the night, solve the exercises and feel proud of getting all the answers right. So this was something he knew, would help him in his future.

Samir was not too bright at sports either. He was pretty all right when it came to sports. He participated in all the events, but never won any of them. As far as he could remember, the only time he got an accolade in school for any extra curricular activities was when he participated in a debate and was one of the best debaters.

That was the year when he had also participated in an English play. It was organised for the Annual Day of the school. He must have been in the sixth standard. It was very special for him, as he had never won anything before, to add to that, the principal of the school announced the award. He was impressed with the way Samir had performed in the debate. It was a special prize. A prize that Samir will remember throughout his life. Two books which he read and enjoyed, more than the comic books. ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘David Copperfield’ both written by legendary authors, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens respectively. That is when he actually started reading.

Besides this Samir was pampered a lot by his parents, he was always treated with a lot of love and his mom always gave him the best toys clothes and food. Samir spent so many of his birthdays with lavish parties for which he invited most of his ‘so called’ friends from Chetana apartments. It was a tradition in most schools to distribute chocolates or small gifts of some kind to fellow classmates on birthdays. Samir’s mom had once given the entire classroom books. The book each of them had was, to practice cursive writing. It was unusual yet helpful to the other students, Samir’s classmates. Yet it was so ironic that Samir never wrote in cursive handwriting ever, in his life, he tried once, but was miserable. He had the worst handwriting ever. On most of his birthdays, Samir received many expensive toys, which he did not care for as much, yet played with them without actually knowing what it was like for other kids who could not afford such expensive toys. Samir also used to play video games, he enjoyed being alone with his game pad and did not like to be disturbed while he was trying to beat himself at this game. Trying to better his scores every time he crossed a new level. Samir never knew at that age, what it actually took, for him to enjoy these good times. He was oblivious to the kind of effort and hard work his parents had to put in, in order to give him this kind of happiness. Happiness that was derived from his parents’ sweat and toil. He was living life to the fullest and as far as you can tell, everything was going really well for the Kumars until this twist, in his mom’s life, changed everything for them.

“Let’s wake up, we have to meet your uncle, his train leaves at 9:00 AM”, Samir’s mom woke him up on a Sunday morning.  He was so sleepy that he could hardly open his eyes.

“Sunday morning and you want me to wake up so early. Come on, give me a break.” Samir replied with deep slumber in his eyes.

“No way, quickly brush your teeth and take a shower, your uncle is leaving for Rajasthan and you won’t be able to meet him for another year or so.”

“All right, I’ll get up, what’s for breakfast anyways?”

“We’ll have breakfast on our way.”

“What? No breakfast yet? I’m really hungry, why didn’t you prepare breakfast?” Samir yelled at his mother, upset with the fact that he had to stay hungry for another couple of hours.

“We don’t have enough time, now get up. If we leave you behind, you won’t get anything to eat until afternoon.”

That was more than enough to make Samir get out of the bed. Samir loved food and couldn’t live without it. It did not matter what kind of food it was as long as it was edible, he was always game for it. Generally, he was never picky or fussy about food. Well yes, he did dislike certain vegetables, like spinach, brinjal or ‘egg plant’ as it is called.  But most of the times he ate whatever was on his plate with great relish.

As soon as they got ready, they left for the railway station. The train was supposed to leave from Kurla terminus. It is a station which, usually boards passengers who have to travel interstate. So, for them to go to the terminus they had to switch trains from the western to the central line of Bombay. Or they could just take a bus to Kurla, which they decided to, as it would be more convenient and not as crowded.  By the time they reached the station, Samir was wild with hunger.

Hunger pangs from within were driving him crazy. He felt as though he could eat up the entire stall, which was serving the snacks. Unfortunately though, he had to suffice with a couple of samosas and his favourite drink, ‘Energy’ it was a cold drink, actually, cold, flavoured milk.

As soon as they entered the railway station, he asked his mom to buy a comic book for him to while away his time.  They had to wait for his uncle and his family to come by.  Soon his uncle and his aunt arrived, well before time and they met his parents.  Samir’s dad and his uncle, spoke for about twenty minutes and then it was almost time for the train to leave. His uncle was off to Rajasthan. They bid farewell to each other and the train set off to the desert land.

Once the train had left, they were ready to go, that is when Samir saw something he would never forget in his life.  He saw his dad, noticed him to be completely lost, and had a worried look on his face. He was thinking about something very deeply.  There was an expression on his dad’s face, one that he had never ever seen before.  As a matter of fact, this was one of the first times he had seen a tear in his dad’s eye.  Samir was not sure why his dad felt emotional and he could not react.

As soon as they reached home, he got to know the reason why his dad was so worried. With a grim look on his face he told Samir, “We need to sell this apartment. We have to consolidate all our debts; the only way we can do this is, by selling this apartment off.”

Samir did not know what to say. He was too young to understand what had happened and why they were in this situation. But he could recognise that his dad was very unhappy that day. Samir was disappointed at himself for not being able to do anything about the situation that his parents were in.

He had spent a lot of years in that huge apartment of his. He just could not imagine moving out of there. Within a few years, he would be in high school. That was the time when he would learn new things in life. I guess this was his first step in learning what real life is all about.  He could imagine why his dad was so upset and disappointed. It must have been a difficult decision for him to take. After all, this apartment was his dream.

A dream fulfilled with years of hard work and labour. A dream that brought him great recognition amongst his family and in the society. He had achieved what he came here for. The city of dreams as they call it, ‘Bombay.’ Worked here, toiled hard for 20 odd years and with that he had bought the dream apartment of his, a huge three-bedroom apartment in one of the big suburbs of Bombay.

Alas, that dream was about to be shattered. Samir could not imagine how his dad felt but he knew that, this was a difficult time, however; it was the only viable solution at that time. Little did they know that things would be a lot different than expected, once they moved out of this apartment.  They moved to his uncle’s apartment in Malad. Another western suburb of Bombay. This place was much smaller than what they lived at; however, it was sufficient for them to spend their time until they sold this off, consolidated their debts and then thought of getting a new one. There was no choice. Since his uncle had relocated to Rajasthan he was okay with Samir’s family moving into the apartment.  They did pay for the electricity and the maintenance charges of the Lok Uday Apartments in Malad (East).

The reason they had to sell the apartment was due to the debts that had piled up, as his mom’s business had not been doing all that well.  They had to move the business to a different location. This location was not as good for the business as the earlier one.  So, this sudden twist brought a new dimension to their lives.

A twist in his mom’s life changed everything for them.  The shop that she had set up her business at, was doing exceptionally well, one of the best in Andheri. One fine day the owner decided to have it for himself. As it was such a good location, he thought of a business plan for himself.  What he did not realise is, besides the location, there were many things that had gone into the making of the success story behind his mom’s business.

Anyways it doesn’t matter what happened to his business, a garment store.  For all we know, destiny had its way and it was meant to be like this. His mom was looking for a different place nearby in the area that was close to the railway station and that meant a lot of business. She was trying to get in as much of resources as possible to make this right. For the time being, she had relocated the business to a nearby place; however it was not suitable for their business. It was far from the railway station, which meant that most of the customers would go away to other competitors before they came to her shop. That is why she was trying to get her hands on a better location, strategically placed so that she got as much business as she used to at her old shop. So while she was in that process this is what happened one day…

“Let’s go, we have to go to Ghatkopar.” Samir’s dad told him one evening as soon as he came home from office.

“Ghatkopar, why do we have to go there?” Samir asked surprised by the sudden plan that he heard from his dad.

“Mom is going to meet us there as well. We are going to meet a businessman who is interested in selling his shop to your mother.”

It was a place close to the railway station in Andheri, which meant that many customers would be waiting to get their documents photocopied, typed, laminated while on their way to and from work.  So once their talk was over they would go out and eat dinner in a restaurant to celebrate this small but important achievement.

“Wow, that’s great news, let’s go” Samir got ready with excitement.

With that, they left for the train station. When they reached there, they had to stand in the line to buy railway tickets. Samir thought to himself, “What a crowd. I just don’t get it. Why don’t they do something about it?”

Usually there used to be a huge crowd of people buying tickets in the evening and they had to be at the railway station at least 15 minutes in advance. So, finally having managed to get through the line, they bought two return tickets and headed off to give moral support to his mom and help her clinch this deal.

It took them about an hour and a half to reach the place and they waited at the person’s apartment. His mom and dad were in a different room and they were talking to the people while Samir was out in the living room watching television. They were discussing about their business affairs. He was not interested in what was going on, simply because he did not really know what they were discussing.

But then something happened that made him wonder, “What’s happening?” He heard someone crying, inside the room and he realised it was his mom. He was surprised and totally unaware of what had happened. After a while they left the apartment and went back home.

They did not have dinner at the end of it all. Samir was wondering, what had happened. “Where’s the celebration?” he asked himself.

They reached home at about 10:30 at night and had their dinner at home, whatever little food that was cooked. After the dinner, Samir saw his mom go off to sleep. She seemed upset. He did not know the reason why but she was sad.

Samir was curious and he asked his dad, “What happened, Papa? Why did mom cry at that place?”

“We did not get the shop that we were supposed to get. The person who was going to sell the place to us ditched us at the last moment. He sold the shop to someone else.”

“But that’s not fair, he was supposed to sell it to us. Isn’t that wrong”

“In business, there are no ethics, at least nowadays.” Samir’s dad replied with exasperation and went off to sleep.

Samir was not feeling sleepy at that time. He was disappointed too. He felt bad after knowing what had happened that night. He felt bad for the fact that he was helpless and could not do anything to help his mom. He just hoped that everything went well from here. From that day, a lot changed but the situation that Samir and his family were in, did not. Days passed by and life went on.

Everyday was just the same; his mom was working hard, even though she knew that the money she was making was not enough for them to repay the debts that they had. Creditors were buzzing like bees and used to come to their apartment every other day asking for their money back. All his mom could do was to assure them that once she got a nice place for her shop, she would start making more money and would pay them off. Meanwhile, his dad also tried to cut down on the household expenses in order to gather more funds. He couldn’t go in for a loan as he already had a home loan and a few other debts that he had to manage. Sometimes he was so frustrated that he thought of taking up voluntary retirement. Which would give him the money up front but then he would have no job. Samir’s mom was against that, with the self-respect that she had, she told his dad not to take any such steps. Since his was a government job, she did not want him to lose the job security he had. Moreover, a job like that is certainly a dream in this city. A few years passed by and they lived life like this, surviving on the bare minimum. Struggling, mentally and financially, trying to make it through.

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