Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pappu Mama a.k.a Prithviraj


The fumes from the incense sticks formed a myriad of shapes and merged into the morning air. The minute hand of the clock kissed twelve, and a gentle chime reverberated through the walls of the house - seven times. Faint sounds arose from the cleaning activities of the two servants.

Sunanda sat in her puja room with folded arms gazing  at the idols , that stared back at her. They looked almost real, bathed in the glow from the faint light, that the flickering lamps scattered upon their marble faces.

She had been sitting there since 4 am , dripping wet initially; now just a little damp.

She kept repeating all the chants that she knew over and over again; gently throwing fragrant flowers at the feet of the idols.

Her legs screamed with pain, in proof of the two and hundred times she had circled the temple yard, the previous evening.

Unperturbed by it, she kept chanting. Her eyes were pale and sunken , her face gaunt and tired.

The prayer would go on for another two to three hours. The servants were accustomed to this routine of hers.

Ever since Dhruv went missing.

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At the neighborhood park, Shekar was gasping for breath and sweating profusely. Gathering every ounce of the remnant energy he continued to run. As fast he could! As if somebody was chasing him!

He wanted to flee!Escape!From his own thoughts and fears. From horrifying images that formed in his mind.
From the feeling of guilt that clawed at him from inside.

At one point his body revolted and refused to move any further.

He collapsed on the grass, facing the ground and started crying. Uncontrollably.

The other people in the park did not stare at him in astonishment.Some just nodded their heads out of pity and understanding. They knew that this occured often.

Ever since Dhruv disappeared.

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Eight months ago, on Dhruv's third birthday they had visited the Mahavishnu temple around 50 km from Bangalore, their city of residence. The child had been extremely amused at the little sights that met his eye and kept running around gleefully.

Sunanda and Shekar offered some special prayers and distributed food .

Suddenly it dawned on them that Dhruv was nowhere in sight.

Sunanda did not panic . This had happened before;he would hide somewhere just to freak her out and then peep out and break into a musical laughter.

That fateful day it did not happen that way.

For more than half a day, they searched every nook and corner of the place.

Dhruv never appeared. Thats when panic and terror engulfed them.

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The couple were affluent and police initially suspected it to be a case of kidnapping. Even after a whole week,  no calls or threats were received  and they ruled it out.

Special police teams searched all over the city. Shekar placed huge ads in almost all newspapers. He arranged for posters of the missing child to be stuck wherever possible. TV ads, Facebook , Emails - he left no stone unturned.

Sunanda was shattered and wrecked.She started all methods she knew and was advised, of pleasing the Gods, begging and pleading with them to show mercy and return her baby.

She stopped reading the newspaper. Every piece about crimes related to children, cut through her like iced blades.

Shekar immersed himself in the search for his son. He was haunted by his thoughts of what might have happened to his boy. With time he learnt to shut the images even before they formed in his mind.

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The police now had other things to look into. Like all unsolved  'missing' cases, Dhruv's case became a lost file in the police cupboards.

Friends and relatives tried their level best to help the couple to track their son.

None of their efforts had borne any fruit so far.There was absolutely no trace or even the slightest clue about the whereabouts of the missing child.

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The wooden horse pranced and then started trotting, manouvered here and there by the tiny hands that held it.

The child kept looking at the door every now and then. It was time Pappu Mama came home.
"I wonder what Mama will bring today" the child thought.
Pappu Mama had gotten him the toy horse a month ago. Usually Mama brought rice but every now and then he would get him a toy.
Dhruv loved Pappu Mama. He played with him; took him on piggy back rides;tickled him and made him laugh.
But he called him Kishore . He did not know why.

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'Chanakya Detective Agency' was engraved in simple dark blue fonts on the wall behind the reception in that office.

The receptionist gave them a warm smile and asked them to be seated.

Sunanda mechanically turned the pages of a magazine on the coffee table with one hand, the other gripping Shekar's hands tightly.

"Mrs and Mr Shekar, you may go in now" the receptionist announced.

Sunanda got up with Shekar and was about to go in when something struck her on the inside.

A thought? A feeling? An instinct ? She did not know. She could not comprehend completely. It was hidden in the depths of her heart, somewhere between her conscious and unconscious minds. She sensed its presence and pressure but could not decipher what it was.

Inside the cabin, there was a young man probably in his early thirties.
"Please have a seat sir, madam" he addressed the couple. "My name is Deepak.I am extremely sorry about what you are going through. We will put our soul and heart into this case and will surely find your son, no matter where he is. I have received your email with his photograph" he said.

'Photograph'! 'PHOTOGRAPH' the words went charging like an arrow into Sunanda's mind and released the knot. As if a dam just burst , what had eluded her earlier gushed out with a tremendous force.

She ran out of the room and rushed to the coffee table. With trembling hands she grabbed the magazine and hastily turned the pages.

'Pick of the month - Ace photographer Sridhar Iyer and ten of his most recent photographs' the title ran in pale gold with around ten black and white pictures below.

"Shek...Shekar!" she yelled in a stuttering frenzy. "Shekar...see this,...Dhruv...My Dhruv...I know...Its Dhruv..Dhruv is alive" . Shekar came running to her side and grabbed the magazine from her.

The magazine blurred in his vision as his eyes welled up. The picture on the left bottom corner was that of a man. The child on his back was Dhruv, he was absolutely sure.

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The sun had just set in the small town of Jamunanagar.

Prithviraj was done for the day. His manual labor had yielded him plenty of rice and ten rupees.

He would buy the small car in the shop near the temple. Kishore would love it.

A week ago he had taken him for an outing. The little one had been seated on his shoulders and had shrieked with delight on seeing the car.

***********************************

Pappu Mama alias Prithviraj entered the hut with a bundle in his arms. 'Kishore' he called out in a gentle voice.

The child turned around, broke into a grin and moved towards him with outstretched hands.

Suddenly Prithviraj saw the child's expression becoming fearful and felt two strong arms on his shoulder.

He kicked the air and tried to free himself  but his frail body was no match for the muscular men. A young couple rushed into the hut.

"Dhruv" the woman shrieked and ran to the child who had crouched in a corner with fear by now.

She took him in her arms and held him close. Dhruv struggled to release himself. Home had become a distant memory for the little mind.

There was something familiar about the hold, the touch, the embrace; About the sweet smell that seemed to come from her; About her voice; About the spark in her eyes.

A wave of  recognition hit the child; His eyes grew wide and he uttered "Amma" . Sunanda broke into tears and held him tightly. From behind her back Dhruv watched Pappu Mama being taken away by the cops.

********************************
Sunanda and Shekar had left the place with Dhruv and the place had become silent after all the commotion.

Deepak was speaking to Ramkumar who lived a few yards away from the hut.

"He came here a couple of months ago, Sir. We have no idea where he is from.  He was quite harmless, Sir and he loved the boy and always took good care of him.
He was pretty normal in his activities.
There was only one thing that was a little strange about him.
Every Thursday he would sit outside the hut during the late hours of night.
He would wail and cry and keep repeating 'Kishore...Radha...Train...Accident' again and again."
This post is part of the contest A picture can say a thousand words.. on WriteUpCafe.com

91 comments:

  1. Lovely, Jaish! Great plot line and superb narration.

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    1. Thanks Suresh . I felt like participating after seeing your Gates to Hell. That was one masterpiece :)

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  2. Beautifully narrated Jaish.....loved it. It gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes... it is so touching. A mother's love, a broken heart mended somewhere as one broke somewhere else...

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    1. Thanks a ton Me! When someone writes a comment with words like 'goosebumps' and 'tears' its the best compliment one can receive. Thanks a lot :D

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  3. your narration my my..was awesome.....full of emotions and twist..
    one suggestion...give a serious thought in writing(novels) prior to that write as many number of short stories as these to hone yr excellent writiing skills..grt wrk seriously :)

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    1. Hi Saikat

      Thank you so much for the encouragement. :)

      My dream is to become a full fledged writer some day.....And Yes, Novels too...Dunno if it will materialize...I am grateful for being in an era where we have something called blogging ...Its a great medium ....

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  4. awesome! what a narration..and what a story! and, splendidly treated!

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  5. Jaishree, that was a masterstroke narrative and truly admirable! Kept me on the tenterhook till the end!

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    1. Thanks a lot Rahul. Glad that you liked it :)

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  6. All the best for the contest dear

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. The above comment was published in my google account. So I removed it. Hope you don't mind.

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  8. Very touching and I like the positive rather happy ending of the story.
    best wishes for the contest.

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    1. Thank you !we all love positive endings don't we ? :)

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  9. Oh so nice Jaish! A great story line and awesome narration...loved it! All the best:)

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    1. Thanks Amitji :) you always stop by to comment . Thank you for the continuous support :)

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  10. Amazing Jaish. Powerful narration. loved every bit of it.

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    1. Thanks Jas . Glad that u Liked it :)

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  11. Brilliant once again, Jaish. Very emotionally gripping story. When I am reading you, I'll be so involved that I can seldom be distracted.
    One small typo I noticed, you mentioned her name as Shreya, when they go to meet the Detective. It has to be Sunanda right? ;-) Hehe! Sorry. :D

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    1. Oops I read it multiple times before publishing . Not once did I notice that ! Thanks for pointing it out Akshay . Will correct ! :) Thanks a lot for that lovely comment

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  12. Brilliant! All the best Jayashree:)

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  13. you are one awesome talent.. Best wishes for you to win the contest..

    Someone is Special

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  14. Was listening to 'Caught by the river - the doves', stumbling upon sitting on the roof of my home at night .. stumbled here, read the story, there were tears in my eyes.

    Loved your writing.

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  15. Good One Jaish! The story line is a perfect fit for the photo! Good luck with the contest!

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    1. Thank you Vaish . Your A-Z series rocks :)

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  16. Hmm...that was grrrrripping!
    Way to go, Jaish.

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  17. You've done justice to that picture. :)

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    1. Thanks Divya for that nice comment . Happy to know that you felt that the post has done justice to the picture :)

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  18. Jaish, my comment is gone..:( I couldn't wait to read it till I got home and I read it during my lunch. You narrate wonderfully girl. I wish I could write one story all my life. The cell signal is horrible at my work. I think, it lost connection and my message disappeared. I'm working on your tag questions..will post them shortly..sorry for the delay..:)

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    1. It happens with cellphones :) this ones intact :) . Take your time with those questions . I know it takes time :)

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  19. Wow Jaishree ..a great narration and perfectly woven around the plot. Good luck in the competition.

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  20. Great story line....... Keep writing!! You will have a book soon! ;)

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  21. Thanks Danny . Felt great to read that comment :)

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  22. they do say a picture says a lot and how the mind works on seeing one .. what a lovely story this is .. thanks for sharing it with us :)

    all the best with the contest


    Bikram's

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    1. Thanks Bikram. The different entries for the contest show the different ways in which the mind can work on seeing an image :) Thanks for the lovely comments :)

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  23. Gripping narration...!
    All the best Jaish:)

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    1. Thanks Ghazala...Your entry was also awesome!

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  24. What an amazing story. You weaved in so many emotions. You kept me engrossed right till the end. A poignant tale and so scary too for parents.

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    1. Any such story or news piece is indeed scary for parents . Thanks for the comment Rachna :)

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  25. Nicely scripted. Liked the image. All the best. Look forward to more.

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    1. Hi Sabyasachi

      The image was given as the topic for the contest by Write Up Cafe. Thanks for stepping in and thanks for the comments.

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  26. Thankfully Dhruv was united with his parent ...but somewhere i do feel bad for pappu mama as well .... your narration was brilliant !

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    1. Thanks TTT. Many crimes some times have tender stories as their root cause!

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  27. Lovely story and super narration.
    Thank God it had a happy ending :-)

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    1. Thanks Lekha.Quite a few are pleased that its got a happy ending. Even I dont like sad endings :)

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  28. That was a gripping narration. It doesn't matter why you did it. I am happy you chose to do it. Way to go!

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    1. I am happy for receiving that comment from you Umashankar. Thanks a lot for the encouragement and support :D

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  29. i cud picturize every scene ..so well written ! as if the snap is truely about this story ! Well narrated ! very nice !All the luck for the contest !

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  30. That was such an absorbing story, Jayashree. Intense piece...am glad the little one was finally home :)
    All the best...

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  31. I liked your racy style of writing and the denouement revealing the intention of the thief in just one sentence; most of them, though, as with the man who stole a child from Mumbai CST station recently, do it for money.

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    1. Hi Sunbyanyname

      Thanks for stepping in.
      True, in reality quite a few kidnapping cases are purely targeted at money!

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  32. Good luck for the contest and I've tagged you to a Liebster and an awesome blogger award :). Check this link : http://nehasjournal.blogspot.in/2012/07/two-in-one.html

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    1. Thanks a lot. That was so nice of you. :) And hearty congrats :)

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  33. Very absorbing tale. Makes one shudder to think of what can actually happen. All the best for the contest :)

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    1. Yes Zephyr, Some stories in reality are much harsher and a lot more difficult to digest! Thanks a lot for the comments :)

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  34. wow :) excellent one! The last line was too good..

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  35. Wonderful narration! Very gripping, Jaish! All the best with the contest :)

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  36. That was a brilliant story. Very gripping and a great and tightly woven narrative. And loved your small touches as well. Very expertly written and very emotionally rich story! It touched my heart. All the very best for the competition.

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    1. Thanks a ton Raj :) Glad that you liked it :)

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  37. That was real something, Jaish...
    You should write a novel or something.. :)
    Just wonderful..

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    1. Thanks a lot Satish...Was very happy to see that comment...Thanks again!

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  38. Lovely lady! :) This is one of the best stories I have seen in THAT writeup cafe competition!

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  39. P/s I read Pappu mama as Pappu mammma.. n thought the child was with a different dad and mom at first!

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    1. Thanks kappu . Ha ha . One letter can totally change a story eh ? :D

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  40. Excellent narration. The plot has often been dealt with in old Tamil and Hindi movies but you managed the narration quite well.

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    1. Hmmm...Guess our movies have left no plot unexplored :) Thanks for stepping in and thanks for the comments TF :)

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  41. A gripping story.. I really enjoyed reading it!:) All the best for the contest!!

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  42. Absolutely loved it. The Snippet like presentation made it easy to separate the various parts. amazing style of writing. Wonderfully done :-). You've found yourself a new fan :-)

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  43. Heartfelt emotions Jaish! You narrate so well! You stitch all loose ends together so there are no loopholes, atleast with the fast pace of the story, I couldn't find any! Excellent!

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