Sunday, March 23, 2008

Story 4: The Art of starving a farmer

“Stand united! Together we will, alone we fall!”
The cry of a 45 year old farmer echoed through the dusty lanes of Bhagawati. Bhagawati was a dusty village, a juicy sugarcane belt. The land was fertile. Mother Nature wasn’t cruel this year. There was ample water for irrigation. Farmers expected good crop and handsome returns. But then the unexpected happened. The fallout, 30 farmers committed suicide. The local media was paid for underplaying the deaths. An independent media made a sensational news item about the deaths, until the top of a model came off on a ramp in a fashion show. And all the country discussed was if the stripping was intentional or an accident - farmers forgotten!

But Bhagawati couldn’t forget her children in a day. The children who tilled her, sowed saplings and watered them. 30 farmers, 30 pyres. There was a cloud of thick dark smoke from the cremation ground that shrouded the sky. The women wailed loudly. Children looked dazed. The pandit chanted holy verses for the departed souls and to bring back peace to the household. None of the 30 families could pay the pandit.
“I’d be reborn a bull, if a take a dime from you,” he said after performing the ritual.
He repeated the dialogue 30 times after performing the rites for the departed souls in 30 houses.

The wails died down. Children went to sleep with hungry stomachs. Women folk tried to come to terms with the new void in their lives. But the 45 year old farmer kept screaming through the night.
“We must fight for justice! Sleep not my brothers, wake up!”
Kalu Ram’s emotional outbursts were perceived as hysteric cries of anguish after losing two members of his family.
It was an uneasy long night that rolled by slowly.

Next day, the local minister arrived and promised the families of the dead farmer, Rupees One lakh each. It is an unofficial compensation scale. Be it railway accidents or distress suicides. Just like tax slabs, there are compensation slabs. If the dead person is extremely poor, say a rag picker or begger, his family is entitled to tons of assurances. A low income daily wage earner like a construction worker or rickshaw puller, if his family is lucky can get a few thousands. Farmer who commit suicides owing to policies injuring the interests are entitled Rupees One lakh compensation. In case of mass suicides, big packages and ambitions poverty alleviation schemes are launched with tremendous fanfare. Many millions of public funds are announced for relief. But the transmission loss from the Government kitty, via different political hands is significant. Many times it does not reach the victim.

The very much sidelined and ignored Kalu Ram, shot to fame when he made a big ball of cow shit lying on the road and threw it at the Agriculture minister consoling the relatives of the dead farmers. The green ball of cow shit flew like a missile, piercing the special security cover provided to the minister. Kalu received no regular training, but his contempt for the wolf in sheep’s clothing made his throw accurate – much better than Indian shot put nominee to the Olympics.

Kalu disappeared into the crowd of onlookers. There was chaos. The minister was left shocked and smelly. The cops made more effort to nab Kalu, than they would to nab a terrorist. But they failed. The minister wiped the smear off his face and continued with his assurances and sympathies. When the minister, his security ring, police and media men left the village, it was gloom again. There was no grain in the house. Poverty and more poverty. Nothing changed. And Kalu became a hero overnight!

Hungry people came to listen to him. Debt ridden people came to listen to him. People who couldn’t stand the pain of hearing their children cry for food came to him. Farmers who have been deceived by fake seeds and fertilizer manufacturing companies came to listen to Kalu. People who wanted to commit suicide came to listen to him for one last time. Kalu showed them no fake assurances. He promised no miracles. He asked them to understand their rights.

The 30 men who committed suicides were forgotten by everyone. Only their families remembered them. They would soon be forgotten as the weaklings who couldn’t stand the struggle of life. The faster they faded away from memory of people, the better for the political leaders. Why did they kill themselves like whales that voluntarily walk out of the mighty ocean into the lap of death? Was death sweeter than the bonds of life? For the 30 men, it was. All the men owned chunks of fertile lands. And when the sugar mill asked them to grow sugarcane, the farmers unwittingly obliged. The sugar mill owner even provided them saplings free of cost. And the farmers were delighted at the good gesture. But at harvest time, the mill owners refused to buy their sugarcane.
“It wasn’t sweet enough and was unfit for extracting sugar,” complained the mill owners.
But the farmers contended that the saplings were provided by the mill owners and they had done nothing wrong. But their pleas fell to deaf ears. The farmers owed money to lenders. Their crops rotted in the fields. Not a grain to feed the hungry mouths at home. The sugar mill owner procured sugarcane from another village. And Bhagawati starved. Then came the suicides. Then Bhagawati mourned.

Life limped back to normalcy. But Kalu didn’t want people to forget it so soon. And when he spoke people listened.
“The Prime Minister announced a relief package of Crores of Rupees. But how many of us have seen One dime? When elephant dies, vultures celebrate. When farmers die, the greedy politicians scramble for spoils. This country is yours. Everybody has a share in the wealth of the nation. Get up and fight for your share.”

“Yield not to unmanliness,” instructed Lord Krishna to Arjuna, “Fight the battle for Dharma!”
Kalu Ram’s favorite quotes were from Bhagawat Gita.
“The politicians divide you. They divide you on the basis of religion, caste, creed and color. But Lord Krishna says in Gita, ‘I am the Prana or life form in every being. Be it an elephant, dog, bird or a human. I’m in every entity!’ The same God in me, is in you. The same God in me, is in my neighbor. The same God in me, is in my enemy. God is in good. God is in evil.”

With elections round the corner, the political parties did not like Kalu Ram’s integrating speeches. He was eroding their vote banks. Different political parties had divided the nation in line with the erstwhile British divide and rule policy. And Bhagawati was not spared either.

Political party A promised reservations in jobs for all religious minorities.
Political party B created a new caste and branded them the most deprived section of the society and promised free college education for them.
Political party C declared before election that no man should die of hunger and promised free food to people who voted for them.
Political party D announced that they will pressurize all private companies to enforce job reservations of upto 50% for women alone. Ironically, political party D had no women leaders at the helm!

The villagers who had lived in harmony so long were suddenly ripped apart. The majority community felt cheated as minorities were promised special job reservations. Castes and sub-castes in all religions locked horns with each other. Every section of the society felt the other section was trying to have an unfair advantage over the other nation’s resources. They threw stones at each other. Neighbors did not speak to one another. There was fear. There was anger. People hated one another.

But Kalu Ram wouldn’t allow his village to be torn apart.
“Do not kill each other! These are just political gimmicks. Don’t listen to them. They want only your votes. They don’t care for you! They are liars.”
People stopped. People listened. Some understood. Others blinked. Maybe Kalu Ram was right. What did these politicians do for us? What help did the family of 30 farmers get from the politicians? They’re all the same. They fool us and walk away with our votes.

The political parties campaigning in Bhagawati were terrified at the dwindling number of party workers. They announced Chicken biryani and liquor to those who attended their meetings. This offer managed to increase the participants who had lost interest. Kalu Ram’s growing popularity irked the parties competing the elections.
“Don’t vote for parties that divide the nation. Vote for leaders who promise to work for the people. If they promise reservations in jobs and colleges, they’re liars. If they promise schemes, freebies and money, they’re liars,” chanted Kallu Ram.

Then Kallu Ram gave list of demands of the poor farmers.
“Which political party cares for the farmers? Vote for the party that
Does not acquire agricultural land or a poor man’s livelihood for building big companies.
Vote only for parties that do not import food grains from foreign countries.
Oil, wheat, rice, sugar - government buys from other countries at exorbitant costs. It should give our farmers, the same price.
Our farmers harvest food grains that are like gold. But look at the Australian wheat that is fit for cattle feed that we have purchased.
Why import food grains for controlling inflation? Why not give subsidies to our own farmers?
Vote for politicians who have improved irrigation facilities for the farmers.
Vote for politicians who promise 24 hours electricity.
Wake up! Do not die like a coward. Demand your share in the prosperity of the nation. Let not their fake promises blind your eyes. Stand united! Divided we fall!”

The political parties knew it was impossible to meet all the demands of the farmers. Political parties that formed the government had to make money when in office. The British plundered enormous wealth from India to Britain. Since independence, many of our own politicians are looting the country’s wealth and depositing them in foreign banks. What a surprise it must be for the British! Their hope one day, they can go lead a royal life with all the ill-gotten money. But who has ever lived happily with the money of sin? But the political parties weren’t bothered. They must silence Kalu Ram. He was getting very popular.
“How can we stop imports? We get lots of commissions and kickbacks! Which other country will buy Australian cattle feed at an exorbitant price? Our Indians can eat anything. They wont complain! The more we import, the more commissions we get. After all we need money for elections!” the politicians agreed in unison.

Kalu Ram’s popularity was growing by the day. People stopped fighting with one another. They wanted Government to spend money and protect its farmers. They didn’t want loan waivers but good irrigation facilities and good price for their produce. The politicians knew that they’ll have to spend if they agreed to their demands. They couldn’t import and make fast kickbacks for substandard pesticide ridden products. They hatched a plot.

The body of a Muslim youth with his head smashed was found near a well. At the same time elsewhere in Bhagawati, a poor girl was murdered with a knife and thrown in an open farm. The newspapers and media screamed that some people murdered a Muslim and a low caste girl. They were not ordinary humans but representatives of their caste and religion. Groups of angry Muslim mobs came down rampaging the streets. The people belonging to the dead girl’s caste thronged the streets and burnt buses. People killed people. Bhagawati forgot the woes of farmers. Bhagawati forgot Kalu Ram. Bhagawati burnt. Little children cried out of fear. Women scuttled for refuge. But the angry protestors burnt everything on their way.

The next morning there was an uneasy silence in Bhagawati. The village was divided. People carried hatred in their hearts. They forgot what Lord Krishna said, ‘I am the Prana or life form in every being. Be it an elephant, dog, bird or a human. I’m in every entity!’
People voted for people of their caste and religion. Many did not vote. There was mud slinging. And a coalition government with representatives from all parties was formed. None of the items on Kalu Ram’s demand list for farmers was met. Kalu Ram was forgotten.

One day a half decomposed body of a middle aged man was found near the water canal. There were bullet injuries on his body. There were rumors that it was Kalu Ram. But the police claimed it was the body of a dacoit who tried to escape from jail. But Kalu was no where to be seen.

Story 3: Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

(This is a true story. A story of struggle to good health)

Name: Sriram
Occupation: Software Professional
Age: 30 years
Health condition: In pink of health

6 long years in California, were exciting indeed. The American way of life including hiking, camping, cycling, malling, junk foods, long weekend highway drives, satisfying work – there was nothing more one could ask for. After 6 years when the work permit expired, Sriram returned to India with his family. One year rolled by. It took sometime for the Srirams to adjust to the bumpy roads, potholes, corrupt constables, bribe seekers in the Motor Vehicle office, scams and despicable living conditions of roadside slum dwellers. But humans adapt easily to different living conditions and so did Srirams.

But there was one thing Sriram missed the most. The workplace in California, its flexible work hours and the ample time it left for him to spend with his family. Here the work hours were odd. Sometimes he had to be at work place till midnight. Other times get to work at 4:00 am. Life was a roller coaster of joy, sorrow, stress and strain. There was no reason for a software professional to complain about the pay in India. However, he wouldn’t have much time to enjoy the hard earned money, unlike in the West.

Then one fine day, Sriram returned home with a splitting head ache. His wife applied the popular ‘Tiger balm’ on his forehead and gave him a hot cup of tea. The hot drink eased his pain considerably and the strong aroma of the balm soothed his senses. The family retired to bed as usual. Little did they realize that it was DAY ONE of the painful days that would soon follow.

The next day passed without major hiccups. But at midnight, Sriram complained of splitting headache. His wife made him some hot coffee and applied the handy tiger balm. But his pains did not die down. She gave him a Disprin and a paracetemol for immediate relief. The next day, Sriram complained of headache at work place.
“Should we see a doctor?” suggested his wife.
“Who goes to a doctor for a small headache?” asked Sriram, “They would laugh at me. Maybe it is acidity, indigestion.”
“I’ll make you ginger chutney tomorrow. It’s good for acidity and indigestion. A friend of mine suggested some more home remedies. Like apply a paste of dry ginger on your forehead. This would suck any water deep down your head.”
“Do something. Help me!”

WEEK TWO. The family visited a doctor at a huge hospital. He prescribed heavy dosages of headache pills. The doctor suspected his headache could be owing to high BP. A BP test was done and it was found to be within the permissible range.
“Maybe the climate change,” opined the doctor as he prescribed heavy doses of headache pills.
The family concluded that it was Sriram’s displeasure and unwillingness at workplace that was causing the symptoms of headache. It was concluded that his headache was a psychological phenomenon, a manifestation of unhappiness at work. The frequency and intensity of headache increased every passing day. When even the highest dose of allopathic medicine failed to produce result, they consulted a homeopath. The doctor gave Sriram medicines in small white packets. They were sugar coated balls laced with medicine, definitely pleasure swallowing. Two days, passed, but the headache seemed to show no mercy to the patient.

“I can’t sleep. Help me!” he would cry in the middle of the night, “I can hear a ticking sound inside my brain.”
His wife made some hot drink, gave him some medicines and applied the ‘Tiger balm’. There was nothing much the family members could do. After all, the headache was for the patient to experience alone and suffer.
“Will you come to bed?”
“No! Sitting posture gives me some relief than the sleeping posture. Just turn on the television and you get back to bed. Leave me here!”

WEEK THREE There was not a single day, that Sriram missed work. He went to work but complained to his wife that his head ached. Friends advised him to visit a bigger hospital. They went to one and the doctor dismissed it as an ordinary migraine. He prescribed heavy doses of headache pills. But nothing seemed to work.

“Why don’t you hit the gym. Run on the treadmill?” suggested the concerned wife.
She was worried what was happening to her husband. The doctors had no idea as to what was the cause of the headache and neither home remedies, nor English medicines nor Homeopathy worked. May it was psychological. Sriram took her suggestion seriously. He was willing to try anything so that he gets relieved of his headache. He ran on the treadmill for 45 minutes. After sweating it out, a hot shower made him feel good.

“Probably you were right,” he said to his wife before leaving for work, “lack of exercise is causing me headache. I feel good now.”
But the headache recurred again that night. This time it was more painful and more difficult to tolerate.

WEEK FOUR Alarm bells rang when what was considered as ordinary headache morphed into serious vision problem. Sriram’s complained of blurred vision and then multiple vision. He couldn’t see the small characters on the monitor and his manager asked him to take a break from work.

The next day, Sriram woke up with swollen eyes. The eyes almost came popping out of its socket.
“I see everything skewed,” he complained, “What’s happening to me?”
“Shall we visit the eye specialist?”
The eye doctor examined him. She said that the patient needs some more examination and detained him till the evening.
She concluded, “For some reason, there is strain on your eyes from the top of your head. The immense pressure from above is causing problem to all the veins supplying blood to the eyes. Hence the blurred vision. Get admitted in the hospital immediately. I’ll give you a letter.”
The doctor jotted down her observations on a paper and Sriram and his wife took an auto to the hospital.
The eye doctor made a request, “Once your condition is diagnosed, you please let me know what caused the pressure on from the top? I’m curious. A neurosurgeon will be able to help you.”

Sriram was made to wait at the reception. A neurosurgeon on duty at the hospital was given the diagnosis of the eye specialist. She rushed to see the patient. A tall lady, beautiful and confident. She looked at Sriram’s swollen eyes.
“Get him admitted immediately,” she barked at a nurse standing next to her, “And run all these tests immediately.”
What followed was an MRI scan.
The doctor analyzed the scan report.
She pointed to Sriram’s wife, “Look here! The blocks in veins! Tonight we’ve to do a lumbar puncture. That’ll give Sriram immediate relief. Then we’ll have to see what to de done next.”
“What’s the disease,” asked his wife.
“Cerebral Venous Thrombosis!”

Thrombosis occurs when a clot forms in a blood vessel. This can be a vein or an artery. Different types of thrombosis occur when the clot is in different parts of the body, such as the veins in the head or in leg in some other cases. Sometimes the clot can be carried by the blood stream until it causes a blockage in another part of the body. Headache in cerebral venous thrombosis can be very serious. Depending on where the blockage is, it can cause disease such as stroke, or even death. Worsening headache by the day, followed by seizures or eye problems is a warning signal. Never ignore headaches. Visit your doctor immediately.

A week in the hospital on the blood thinning drug heparin improved Sriram’s health. Headaches reduced and his health bounced back to normalcy.

Before discharging Sriram from the hospital, the good doctor explained, “You’ve to take blood test once a week. This Warfarin that I prescribe is an anticoagulant. It essentially thins the blood. Now, this drug warfarin is like a two edged sword. It thins the blood and prevents clots, that’s your problem. But too much thin blood is also a cause of concern. You could bleed through your skin, if blood becomes too thin. Come to me next week.”

Handful of medicines to pop up every day, injections and blood test followed. For Srirams life was medicines, hospital, injections and doctors. The doctor monitored Sriram’s improvement in vision. His eye sight soon recovered to normalcy.

Then one fine day, she told Sriram, “You must take an MRI scan again. Let’s look at the improvement. We have sent your blood sample for investigation into what actually caused clot.”
It was concluded by the doctors that Sriram had a protein C deficiency (nothing to do with intake of protein in diet). The doctor said that Protein C was generated by the liver. And the exact cause was unknown.

“You must visit a hematologist. My role as a neurologist is done. There are only two places in South India where you’ve expert hematologists. St. John’s Bangalore. Christian Medical College, Vellore. You’ve got to be on medication life long. There is no escape.”
“And the warfarin?”
“The warfarin, monthly blood test and everything must continue. What you’ve acquired is a rare medical condition, if neglected can cause even death,” the doctor warned.


Not many had not heard of Swami Ramdev before. It was only when the communist party leader, Brinda Karat, leveled unimaginable charges against him that grabbed our attention. Politicians play many dirty games, with the emotions of people. Because, they can easily get away as public memory is short. The Communist leader contended that Baba Ramdev’s Ayurvedic medicines contain human skull powder and parts of animal. Lakhs of people report getting cured with his breath control exercises alone. Only extreme cases are prescribed Ayurvedic medicines.

But the educated middle class wonders, whose cause was Karat championing? Why does she whine if millions of poor who cannot afford medical expenses are taught self healing techniques? If she had found non-vegetarian remains in Ayurvedic medines (made from plants) why is her attention not focused on allopathic medicines prepared from fish oil, animal fat, and skin powder of snakes, lizards and other reptiles and other non-vegetarian contents?

Lakhs of people who have been healed of their incurable diseases and are living a disease free life came down to streets, in protest against the disrespect shown to the living saint.
It is contended that Karat, the communist was playing to the tunes of Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited, the allopathic drug manufacturers who were afraid that people were becoming healthy without eating pills!

Ask any doctor and he will tell you that you’ll die if you stop Blood Pressure medicine. But lakhs of people have stopped their BP drugs and are living a healthy drug free life. Yes, they have to practice PRANAYAMA or breath control exercise every day of their life. This is an ancient technique for keeping good health, brought back to surface by Baba Ramdev for the benefit of humanity. But there are some representatives of big hospitals, stake holders and drug manufacturers who hate to see the number of patients queuing up in hospitals dwindle. They see their hospitals as investments and patients as customers that are supposed to provide returns.

There are many good allopathic doctors who do not even take fees for their service from poor patients. But there are also many doctors like Dr Kidney who brokered 500 poor men’s kidney and transplanted it on wealthy kidney patients.

Now if Baba Ramdev says, you don’t need kidney transplantation. Just do Kapalbhati exercise and get rid of your disease. Right from the hospital, down to the drug manufacturer till the fake drug manufacturer, everyone is affected. And hence ill-motivated people bark at the Baba, who works for eliminating the suffering of people.


Sriram and his wife visited the St John’s hospital. There were many poor and deprived who had to go hungry if they missed work for a day. These daily wage laborers, some with swollen head, others with swollen limbs, sat outside the hospital with their luggage pushed under the chairs. The poor, the diseased waited outside for the doctor. Their only hope was that the doctor will give them the entire cure. It may work or it might not. After God, they had come to the doctor as a last resort.

But for the Srirams, working for a software firm gave them the comfort of medical insurance and one month sick leave option at work place. The only concern was to get well. The doctor, a middle aged man advised Sriram to undergo a series of tests.
The results he said would be out only after a few weeks as the blood tests are very sophisticated. He advised Sriram to stop warfarin and wait for the test report.
“Once I get the test report, I can find the actual cause of your thrombosis. Then, I’ll prescribe a life long medication,” the doctor advised.

During the one month wait period, before the test result was out, the controversy surrounding Baba Ramdev was blown out of proportion by the media. It grabbed the attention of the family. Sriram and his wife followed Baba Ramdev’s breathing exercise or Pranayama meticulously. Bhastrika, Kapala Bhati, Anulom Vilom, Bahya, Bramari and Udgeet Pranayam were practiced by the family every day for 1 and ½ hours.

After a month, when Sriram visited the doctor he looked grim.
“The test result,” he said, “calls for life long anticoagulants. Before that I want you to take the test again. Just to be on the safer side, let’s run the tests again.”
It was another month before the results came in.

Sriram practiced pranayama every single day.
“The body works for you 24 hours. Why don’t you spend 1 hour for your body and 1 hour for your country?” asks Baba Ramdev on the television. An inspiring quote that keeps Sriram going.

The next time when Sriram and his wife visited the hematologist, there was news to rejoice. The doctor was shaking his head in disbelief.
“This cant be true! Last month’s report indicatd low Protien C level. Now this report indicates that you’re perfectly normal! I can’t believe this. What have you been doing?”
Sriram confessed, “I’ve been practicing Pranayama or breath control exercise as taught by Baba Ramdev.”
The doctor simply shook his head.
“It cannot be true!”
Srirams returned to their house. It was a day to celebrate. 3 years later, Sriram is in the best of his health. He does Pranayama for 1 hour every day. Baba Ramdev’s breathing techniques have given him a new lease of life. The family thanks God and Baba Ramdev for the cure from the deadly Cerebral Venous Thrombosis.

A few weeks after their last visit to the hematologist, Sriram’s wife called up the neurologist.
“Doctor, Remember Sriram whom you treated 2 months back? Doctor, I want a small favor from you. During our frequent hospital visits we saw many poor patients, lined up for treatment for CVT. What pains me is when these people have to struggle for survival, spending money for cure is next to impossible for them. My husband is off medication and drugs and leads a healthy life. From our personal experience it is due to Pranayama alone.”
The doctor on the other end of the phone line was getting irritated.
“Ms Sriram, your husband got cured not because of Pranayama but by sheer chance.”
“But Doctor, my request is you just suggest your patients to practice breath control exercises, when they are on medication. Just a parallel treatment!”
“Unscientific! Baseless!”
“Science mustn’t make one blind! It must make you more open minded. Medical science has become like the autocratic Church which once upon a time persecuted scientists. Today it is modern medical science’s turn to persecute the natural healing process. In what way are you different from the Church that was narrow minded and harassed scientists like Galileo?”
The doctor interjected, “I’m not going to tell my patients all the yoga and pranayama unscientific things. Your case was a sheer chance!”


You can visit for more information on Baba Ramdev who has cured lakhs of BP, cancer, skin disease, diabetics and heart patients. You can order the VCD that shows the 5 simple breathing techniques.
You don’t lose a penny. Just try it and let the ancient Indian wisdom (buried by people with narrow minded intentions) provide the gift of healthy life to one and all.

Let there be peace!


Story 2: Incredible India

All of 16 - full of life, adventure and frolic, Janet was saving every penny for the international travel. A small town girl from Arizona, simple and suave. A thousand dollar check from her father knocked her doorsteps on her birthday. It was a wonderful gesture from her father dearest, who worked in the construction industry on the East coast. He knew his darling was saving for the Asian tour. Thailand, India and Sri Lanka was on the travel agenda. Now she had Ten thousand dollars, sufficient to call the travel agents and book the cheapest flight tickets. Her mother couldn’t accompany her as she was down with viral. She didn’t want to take chance with the south Asian hot humid weather. She suggested Europe, but Janet was firm. South Asia, it was going to be. The warm beaches of Goa, the densely populated Kerala coastline, palace city of Jaipur, and the capital city Delhi were the places she was eagerly waiting to visit. She wanted to ride the mighty Thai elephants and dig into the spicy authentic native cuisine. The final leg was the majestic monasteries in the island nation of Sri Lanka.

“Next year Janet,” her mother pleaded with her, “why not postpone the trip by another 10 months? I’ll accompany you then.”
“I’m not a kid, mama,” rebelled the vociferous teenager, “I’ve booked the tickets anyway.”
“Child, think again. You’ve to travel across the globe, live with complete strangers and visit unknown places.”
“There’re guides whose services, I’ll hire. Some motels allow online reservations. They’re expensive. I can rent small motel accommodations for cheap fares. Joe told me his adventures. I’ll simply follow his footsteps.”
It was on a Friday. A warm hug and a soft kiss. Janet waved her mother a big goodbye and bounced joyously through the sea of humanity in the international airport.


They called him dada. Yunus dada. Dada is slang for boss. His area was the outskirts of Mumbai. When dada went on his usual rounds, the petty vendors never complained. They palmed into his huge hand, a rupee or two. He was better than the cop who came on rounds. The cop wanted 5 rupees. Ask him why? Tat came the reply, “The money has to go all the way up the ladder.”

But dada was different. Yunus dada saved the obedient and slayed those who stood up against him.
Dada employed 50 uneducated youths who found no constructive role in the society. They were from poor slums. Yunus dada, trained them to pick pockets in crowded bus, rob at knife point and yank gold chains from women’s necks. After the crash course, the young man were let loose for field work. If they were caught by the cops, their families were well taken care of by the dada. And dada often came to their rescue, bribing ministers and top brass police to secure their release.

Dada’s cell phone buzzed. His men stopped talking. It was their usual afternoon in the Blue moon tea joint, a decent cafĂ© that served only tea and non vegetarian snacks. A joint were women never set foot in, despite the well kept furnishings and low cost. The pungent smell of cigarettes filled the air and cheap country liquor made its way stealthily on some tables. The men sat in groups. Some of them since two days, ordering tea after tea. The hotel owner never dared to ask them to leave or pay. The men would pay, not today, but when they strike booty. They would toss hundred rupees bundle on his cash counter and tip the waiters handsomely. Such hotels are spread across the country, a place for goons to meet and chalk out their plan of action. Half the most wanted criminals can be nabbed in these open dens. But who wanted to catch them anyway?

“Booliyee saab,” Yunus’s polite reply to every cell phone buzz.
Yunus’s eyebrows narrowed. His face frowned.
“Shall I send a prostitute instead?”
Yunus was getting irritated. The caller seemed to be pleading. Dada was reluctant.
But the caller seemed persistent.
“Let me try. Give me time.”
Yunus banged the phone on the table. The constant chatter across the tables stopped for an instant as though there was police raid. Every head turned at Yunus dada’s table. Then the different gangs went back to their group chatter.
Yunus murmured.
“I know only the one case of Canadian tourist who had come to see the birth place of Lord Krishna. She was the only straight one. Poor woman, raped and murdered by the tourist guide. The cop, the local rickshaw puller all knew it. Nobody to fight for her. Except for a few like her, all the other white skins are here for the drugs, ganja and cocaine, banned in their soil. And last week the little girl was hacked to death in the God’s own country by the drug peddler, theft, rape and murder.”

Yunus dada sipped into his tea that was getting cold. His men looked on waiting for him
to spell out orders. A short bald man, his oldest faithful was cleaning his ear with a matchstick. He closed his eyes as he delightfully rolled the stick in his left ear. Then he suddenly cut into Yunus’s conversation.
“I get you the biggest money, dada. I bribe the cops. My money goes till the assembly and sometimes the parliament. How do you thing I manage to sell drugs in the open? Doesn’t local police know it? Everyone knows it. It’s drugs, drugs and more drugs. They come for it. They get drugs, I get money.”
Yunus looked at the bald man. He hated him. This stocky ass had almost got Yunus into trouble. He had raped and murdered two British women and killed a German tourist who was haggling for drugs. He had bartered sex for more drugs.
“Ass how much I had to pay for you, to get you out of trouble. 5 crores. That is not half what you’ve earned for me.”
Yunus would have ignored him, let the bald ass rot in jail. But the bald man threatened to expose Yunus’s underworld mafia. Not that Yunus was afraid of him, but didn’t want to get into more trouble. Yes, his friends in the police had assured him that they would knock his head in an encounter at the first opportunity. But for now, two uneducated labourers from Orissa languished in the dark dungeons of the prison on the rape and murder charges. The laborers had simply no idea of what rape and murder was and why they rotted inside. But they were given the names of the bald ass and his associate drug peddler, hauled before the magistrate and handed down the sentence. Their pleas of innocence remained locked within the iron prison gates.

“I lost so much money because of you, bald ass” ruminated Yunus.
“Don’t forget that you make the most money from me,” came the retort with haughtiness, “Anyways the foreign chicks don’t mind it. It is normal in foreign. Sex before marriage, after marriage, extra marital, it’s natural for them. So, what I want to conclude is that white chickens don’t mind rape.”
Yunus pulled out a revolver and pointed it straight at the bald man’s huge forehead.
“Bastard! I’ll pump the whole load into your fat head!”
Beads of sweat slided down the huge bald forehead. He trembled in fear. Yunus’s hand quivered in anger. The bald ass wept then suddenly laughed, laughed like a mad man.
“You can’t kill me, Yunus. I’m your precious little bald ass. You …”
Bang. Bang. Bang!
Three shots. Smoke. Then silence. Yunus and his men stormed out of the hotel, leaving the bald ass for dead.


Janet basked in the beaches of Goa. There she met many Americans and British tourists. It was fun! After a week she boarded a train to Kerala. At the face of it, the trip was rejuvenating, soul scratching. But deep inside there was the strange uneasiness, a veil, a veil that shrouded her and her alone. The other tourists never spoke of it. They cracked jokes and she blinked. They talked of something in hushes, which she wasn’t sure. They talked about dope, marijuana, she believed. She didn’t ask them. She didn’t come here for that. She wanted to see places. She boarded the second class compartment. But her mind was uneasy. She felt someone was watching her. Someone was breathing down her neck. She turned around. There was no one. The railways station was buzzing with people, men in uniform, porters in red, the poor and rich. But there was someone watching her, watching with evil eyes.

A hand suddenly grabbed her from behind. A white handkerchief with a pungent odor covered her nose. Her eyes drooped down. Her body swayed out of control. In fading consciousness she managed to grab a glimpse of the man who tried to pin her unconscious. It was the taxi driver, the good man to whom she had tipped $20.


Yunus dada looked at the cell phone again and again. Its black face had all stains on earth. He wrenched his wrists in anxiety. It must ring. Why didn’t it? Then finally the black instrument jumped to life.
“Booliyee saab!”
“Yunus dada! We have got a foreigner. A woman traveling alone to Kerala. The taxi driver has bundled her from the railway station. A pretty fish.”
“Got her? The politician is behind my neck on this. I’m getting calls every half hour. When will I get her?”
“24 hours. She’ll be yours.”
“How are you sending her?”
“By truck. Petroleum tanker.”
There was a chuckle on the other end before the line went dead.
Yunus murmured under breath, “ The rogues want a foreign chick. They’ll never get caught. One lady dies. Some poor laborer goes to jail for no crime. The politician’s party continues. Justice served. All ends well.”
He dialed the politician’s number. He had to convey the powerful criminal that his requirement was on its way.
“Why do these women travel alone to a foreign land?” wondered Yunus, “How many women must die before they realize that the world is a bad place, a very bad place!”

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Story 1: Pardon for Raghav

The central jail was a place for hardcore criminals. It was a place where those who indulged in cruelest of cruel murders were locked away. Dark dingy small rooms that smelled foul, poor food quality, despicable toilet facility, harsh weather conditions, unimaginable living condition – a detrimental combination that can made even the healthiest extremely sick. When Raghav was pushed down the police van, handcuffed, beaten and battered, he was unsure what his crime was. Fifteen years rolled by in the solitary cell. Some prison guards referred to him as the sagacious, others called him mad.

But for Raghav it made no difference. None of the cops, who hurled him into the dingy cell and broke every bone of his fragile body, were still in this facility. Some he heard were transferred to bigger posts. Why they hurt him, he had no idea. He had been loyal for 15 years to the four walls, its mundane routine and back breaking labor. He had grown saner over the last decade and the fighter in him swooned away. He never disobeyed the guards and never got into tiffs with other inmates. Being a no trouble maker, he was the facility warden’s favorite. A balding man in his late thirties, the warden liked Raghav. In one of his routine rounds, he noticed the aging prisoner lying on the cement floor in his solitary cell. The prisoner’s countenance was soaked in despair, no joy, no hope. When his dusty feet and palms that bore deep cracks bled, the warden arranged for doctor and medicines, a privilege for a selected few. The bald man wanted to see some smile on Raghav’s face, something that no one ever saw. He tapped the rusty iron grill that locked the faithful prisoner in.

Raghav lifted his head that rested on his bent elbow. His body that lay folded like a crescent, reluctantly stretched.
“You!” the bald man tapped again. Raghav’s reflexes had started fading ever since the brutal beating by the uniformed men long ago. He didn’t complain.
“So what if cataract has eaten my eyes, there is only misery to see. So what if my eardrums don’t respond, there are only painful wails to hear,” were his famous lines.
“Old man, some news to cheer!” announced the warden.
Cold he sounded, yet his intentions were noble. He wanted to put a smile on Raghav’s face. Small gestures from the unrelated bonded by fetters of compassion. Little did the warden know that the prisoner was of the same age as him. Lack of proper nutrition, human company and bucket of woes had eroded Raghav’s age.
“I’ll recommend you for pardon!”
Raghav looked dazed unable to digest what he was hearing. Two times when he tried to escape, once during a minister’s visit and the other time when a bunch of yoga gurus came to teach them calm their agitated minds. Both the times, he was caught, mercilessly beaten up and locked in solitary confinement. The second time the beating was so severe that the lost his entire front row of teeth. So did he abandon the desire to escape to the free world.

“Pardon?” blinked Raghav.
“Yes. Next month, on Gandhi Jayanti!”
The bald man awaited a Tsunami of joy on the wrinkled face that bore black patches, reminiscent of physical torments.
The prisoner merely looked like an unscripted blank paper.
Raghav was not always like that. These years had made him a stone, emotionless and cold. More because his senses couldn’t grasp the world around him.
“To be free again,” he pondered, “for whom?”
His eyes become moist. The dead and cremated wounds came alive again. It was like someone pierced a red hot iron rod through his heart. Tears of pain rolled down his wrinkled face. He was now weeping like a mad man.

The wounds came alive again. Screams. Shrill screams. Wails of hunger, as the empty stomach was eaten away by digestive juices. The older girl was 8 years, the younger was barely 3 then. The day began with their wails for food. And food there was none. The crops had failed and Raghav owed money to many. He had borrowed to buy saplings and fertilizer. But this time the untimely rains washed away his crops. And what he had at the end of the season was unimaginable debt. The children half naked, hungry and dirty wept again.
“Not a grain in the house! What do I feed you? Ask your father to bring money,” came the usual taunt from inside the straw hut.
It was the usual day. The children will cry for food and gradually collapse into the arms of slumber.
The neighbor committed suicide unable to digest the damage to him crops. He had lost all his investment and his family was left with nothing to eat. Big cars rolled into the village. The minister announced big relief package for farmers affected by the fury of nature. The media highlighted their plight. But the next day, all the focus shifted to the India-Australia match where the nation watched with enthusiasm a proxy war of sorts. And the dead farmer was forgotten under the display of pseudo nationalist fever.

Raghav scratched his head as the past came tumbling forth like a gushing stream joining a lake. What happened to the dead farmer’s wife and children? They lived on alms from the rest of the village, before one fine day their mutilated bodies were found on the railway track. The administration termed it as an unfortunate accident but the entire village was convinced otherwise. The government official demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 to release the 1 lakh compensation awarded to the bereaved family. The family that lived on alms couldn’t even muster a rupee. Raghav learnt his lesson. He wouldn’t commit suicide like a coward but fight like a warrior. He wanted to be a survivor, who swam over the tides of misfortune.

The warden was still waiting for signs of joy.
“Why do you weep, old man? I’ll see that you walk free.”
Raghav was speechless and the warden walked away with a big sigh.
“Raghav!” called out a shrill feminine voice.
He turned around. It was the prisoner from the cell diagonally opposite his.

“You’re a lucky man, Raghav. I heard the warden. Soon you’ll say us all a big good bye.”
Raghav went back to the cement floor and curled back his fragile body on mother Earth. His inadequate ear drums could hear the prisoner in the diagonal cell continue nonchalantly.
“What use of letting you out? No wife, no children. All dead. I haven’t seen my son for last 30 years. They say he is working in a big factory. Why not they let me out instead? Lucky man! Lucky for you who killed …”
There was a pause.
“Why are you in, Raghav? Whom did you kill? Never did you share your tale with us.”
There was something of a yearning in his voice that drew Raghav’s attention. More so he wanted to pour out his anguish, the bitter past that was consuming him gradually. He sat up.
“Even I do not know why I am in here. I do not know why they shot my children like a pair of birds. How can a woman survive when a bullet goes right through a her forehead? I saw it all. I screamed. I pleaded. They asked me to forget it. I said I couldn’t. Then the police came, picked me up, beat me till I was declared mentally unsound. No case, no courts. I am here, I do not know why.”
Inmates in other cells listened to Raghav’s story in all inquisitiveness. Never did he share his basket of woes in public.
“Why they shot your wife?”
“She wouldn’t listen to me. I told her to let it go. She wouldn’t listen to me!”
He broke into vociferous sobs, like a baby who was looking for his mother.
“Who shot her? Why did they?”
“They’re the ruling party’s goons. They call them party workers. Then they brought into our village all criminals locked up in jails, truck loads of them. These men outnumbered us and intimidated us with their sophisticated weapons. They shot at anyone who said a NO!”
“What did they want?”
“What else? Our source of food. Our land. For decades, we tilled the land and fed the country. Today, they want to kill us and set up a chemical plant. Can a chemical plant feed stomachs? Mother earth, the only asset of a farmer. All we know is to grow crops. The crops have failed and we go hungry for days together. But as long as we have the piece of land with us, we have hope. Hope that some day, we can reap a good produce. Some day, I can send my children to school with that money. Some day, I can build a comfortable life for us. But no land, no hope. My wife was adamant. I told her they are hardened criminals. She wouldn’t listen. As the goons razed down our hut, my wife and children lay on the field refusing to budge. One shot in the air, then three shots, three screams. Their bodies quivered as life wedged out of it.”
“Did they take only your land?”
“No! They needed 10,000 acres for the chemical factory. They razed down village after village, sending people homeless. They killed scores of farmers, in cold blood. This was fifteen years ago.”
“And the chemical factory?”
“The construction took place for a year. Then the government changed. The project was abandoned. None of the people who lost their lands received any compensation. It was all eaten up by the party workers. We lost everything, our land, our family, our lives. Many of the villagers became daily wage laborers in cities. Some others took up begging in tourist spots. The remaining no one cares. Yes. No one cares about the poor. No one cares why my land was snatched from me. No one cares if I live or die. No one cares what happened to all the families that lost their source of income.”
Raghav went into grim silence. He didn’t answer any more queries. He sunk back into the ocean of despondency.

2 October. The birthday of the Father of the Nation. The Karma Yogi, who led the nation in its struggle against the imperialist British Raj. One Gandhi was required for over throwing the British. Nothing less than hundred Gandhi are required to eliminate corruption in the nation today. It is easy to weed out an enemy who is an outsider, but when the enemy is within your house, it is next to impossible. The warden tapped at the dingy cell that housed his favorite inmate. Carrying a fresh set of cloths, neatly pressed on this left hand, the warden called out.
“Raghav! Today you can go home, a free man.”
He tapped again. Raghav did not move. His stony eyes stared at the ceiling.
“Old man! Get up. Wear these cloths and walk home.”
No response. He took out large iron keys and inserted it into the rusty old lock. He ambled into the cell. Raghav did not budge. The warden tapped at his shoulder with the tip of his cane. The cold frigid body of Raghav rolled down on the hard cement floor. A small piece of paper clung between his lifeless thumb and pointer finger.
“Send that prisoner in the opposite cell home. He’s waiting to see his son for 30 years!”