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Bachchu

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Just a storyteller who wants to hide behind the stories told...

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Prologue :

The train moved slowly, at a snail’s pace. Already five hours late. It started from Nagpur on time, but took generous pauses all through the night and even in the morning. Sleepless hawkers had a ball of a time, running through the compartments with chai and chips and what not, waking up the sleeping passengers with their shrill call hoping to make a sale. She was to reach the CST terminus of Mumbai at 12. It was already 4pm with the train romancing the distance between Dadar and Thane in slow motion.

Part 1

All morning she had uttered every kind of curse she knew, blaming the government, the administration and destiny. Each hawker that approached her had gone back with a furious tongue lashing. She had important meetings scheduled at Colaba at 2 and 4.30! What a massive waste of time. God knows why she was drawn to travel by train all of a sudden, when flights could have been far easier. Helpless, frustrated and irritated now, Sia closed her eyes, as if to pass off this Chinese torture under disrupted slumber. A mild sound of flute floated in. Though disgusted, she seemed to calm down. The music felt like a lullaby. Just when the slumber was progressing towards a nap, the train came to a screeching halt. Shocked, she looked around wondering what happened. The flute too had stopped abruptly. It felt like a hallucination of her tired brain now. The momentary pleasure disappeared for good. In a while the train started again. She opened her eyes to see the wheels gain action and was startled to find a man sitting before her, reading a magazine. Where did this one come from, and when? She certainly didn’t sleep so sound that a presence won’t register. Watching her getting startled, he smiled and went back to his reading. She felt awkward about her abrupt reaction.

“Mumbai?” She asked, trying to battle the boredom with a casual conversation.
He looked up at her through the black spectacles. “If the train is willing to take me elsewhere, I am all game.”
Sia chuckled at the foolishness of her question. “Sorry, quite obvious.” She looked around. “Wasn’t someone playing flute here?”
“Flute! At 4pm on a summer day? Mumbai isn’t that romantic.” He smirked and stared at her disappointed face. He closed the magazine and kept away.
“Flutes made for a great story when we were small. In fact, people were scared whenever the flute played, expecting some mess happening with someone or the other.”
This made her sit up. “Like?” Her eyes shined.
He smiled and leaned forward.

****

Zilla Faridpur in Dhaka. River Padma ran ferociously towards its North. Sitting below a banyan tree a small boy whistled the music of the flute. As strange as it may sound, no one would have differentiated between the sound of his whistle and the melody of a flute, unless they saw him at it. No one knew where he came from. Rags and tattered clothes, dirty and dark skinned, he never begged. Just whistled. He appeared all of a sudden and floated the divine music through his mouth. Initially people stopped to hear him. The villagers affectionately called him Bachchu, meaning kiddo. But soon there was a time when they ganged up to throw him out of the village. They looked for him with sticks and brooms, but he was nowhere to be seen. Happy that he had left by himself, the villagers sighed relief. And then, just unexpectedly he would appear again to meddle up things, only to disappear soon after.

“Whoa! Why so?” Sia kept her shawl away. The AC wasn’t so unbearable now.
“People said he was a ghost.” She was told.
“Ghost!!!!” Sia exclaimed with great amusement.
“Ya, why not? You don’t believe in ghosts?” He asked politely. He seemed as much calm as Sia was hyper.
“Well, I haven’t been fortunate enough to interact with any.” She laughed out loud.
The spectacle in front suppressed his laughter. “What do you know of ghosts? I mean, how do you think they are?”
A host of ghost stories she had read as a child clouded over Sia. And also those that were used by her grandmother to scare her and her brother. But she stopped.
“First tell me why did those people turn against Bachchu?”

Bachchu went everywhere uninterfered, as if the world was his territory. He would be seen roaming barefoot like a vagabond early in the morning, at noon when even dogs looked for shades and during late nights when the country folks were preparing to sleep.

That morning, milkman Sabbir woke up humming a tune praising the almighty. Just a few days to go before Eid, this was the time when he was looking at making some extra bucks. Four kids and one bibi had some expectations from the man of the family. He was indulgent and affectionate. But then, two cows can only give so much milk. What on earth is man’s power against nature? Feeding them more ensured extra dung, but not an extra bucket of milk. Noor, his wife would take care of the dung. She’d use a few and sell the rest. Now what to do about the milk? How much water can someone add to dilute it? Sabbir was an intelligent man. This morning he had taken the rice water from Noor’s kitchen to be added to the milk. That way it would maintain some thickness.

“Remember Naren chacha? When we were small, he would tell us, the children of the neighbourhood, enchanting stories of the Hindus. Ashwathama was fed rice water by his poor parents when he longed for milk.” He told Noor. “Why were these tales written if human beings wouldn’t apply them in real life?”

His impeccable plan though had fallen flat. Early in the morning Bachchu made a surprise entry, as usual playing his music. Lost in that melody, Sabbir miya lifted his milk can and set out on delivery riding the bicycle he inherited from his father. The rice water lay unused at the corner. He realized the folly only when the can was empty after servicing barely a few houses, far less than his target.

Sabbir was furious!

Part 2

Sia burst out laughing. “Did he find Bachchu to pour a piece of his mind?”
“Nope.” The man laughed. “Bachchu had disappeared by then.”
“What happened next?” Asked Sia anxiously.
“Its your turn. What do you know about ghosts?” She was told.
“Uff, this is so mean!” She took a while to get her thoughts back. “Ghosts are cold.” She finally said. “They come and go at their whims. They laugh to inject fear. They never cry. They stay on top of trees. Sometimes they enter the bodies of humans and make them do weird things. They are usually covered in white cloth. They appear in lonely nights, isolated streets and broken houses. And they…!”
She couldn’t finish. The man in front was in splits. He looked cute as he laughed. He pulled out a handkerchief to wipe the water in his eyes.
“What?” Sia asked impatiently.
“Nothing.” He composed himself. “Tell me something, how are humans different from the ghosts?”
“What do you mean?” Sia frowned.
“Humans are also cold. They don’t care much for each other any more, unless they have a lurking interest. They come to the powerful; run away from the needy. They laugh at other’s sufferings. They stay in high rise buildings but are miser in their hearts. They enter each others brains, polluting them with shrewd gossips and small talks. They are colourfully dressed though, but the horror about humans is, they don’t restrict themselves to lonely nights, isolated streets and broken houses. They are everywhere!” The man was still laughing through his eyes.
“What nonsense.” Sia grunted, unable to find a fair logic to argue with him. “Forget it. What happened with Bachchu?”

****

Tension was spiralling up in the world of the Sheikh’s. The eldest daughter of Taufik Sheikh was to marry the youngest son of Bansi Ahmed. The Ahmed’s were reputed and rich, with their flourishing jaggery business. But their tongue was as bitter as sweet was jaggery. Every item included in the matrimonial gifts had to pass through the strict and stringent quality control of Naushad Ahmed, Bansi’s mother. Taufik and his bibi were tired and nervous. Daughter’s wedding was not for the parents to celebrate, but to mourn and panic! On the wedding day they were expected to make a show of the gold and cash they were giving with the daughter. The Ahmed’s didn’t only target to rip off the Sheikh’s. They also wanted to enjoy the jealous look of the invitees as added bonus.
And right then, in walked the one who wasn’t invited!

The Ahmed’s valued business over relationships. They wanted to count and weigh each and every item to match whether the bounty was as promised. Since serious discussion was going on, the shehnai players were asked to stop. They were more than happy to take a tea break. When no one was expecting the flute, it started playing.
Hardly did anyone notice when Bachchu had sneaked in. The relatives standing at the gate couldn’t remember welcoming him. The party felt his presence only when the music played. He stood there whistling, looking straight at the groom sitting like a lion on the throne planted for him for the occasion. The bride was behind the purdah, waiting for her would-be in-laws to satisfy themselves after which she could take the vows.
The little boy’s music pleased one and all. As he turned to leave, the impossible happened. The groom called him from behind and pushed a note into his little palm, shocking every guest present there.
The Ahmed’s were not known for a charitable heart. They didn’t even smile much, fearing that it might cost them some benevolence. Now this!
Taufik Sheikh rushed in to replenish for the groom’s loss, but Fardin Ahmed refused flatly, disgracing the image of his own parents that took years to build.
“Let’s get along with the rituals please.” He ordered. Taufik and his wife bowed before him with folded hands.
“Very soon, son. We are just at the end of the calculations.” They tried to reason.
“I don’t want any of those. We are not taking the cash and gold. Please take them away. Is Firoza ready?”

The wedding hall went into pin-drop silence. Not a single person moved. Even Firoza, Taufik’s daughter, hadn’t dreamt of such a development. She looked ahead from behind the veil, half in awe and rest, shit scared.
Bansi Ahmed thumped his foot in terrible anger. He tried to take him aside and reason. He threatened to leave the wedding with the rest of the family, to commit suicide and finally, to have the Sheikh’s pinned under some legal case for practicing black magic on his son. Nothing worked. Fardin was adamant.
For the first time in the history of the Ahmed’s, a boy got married without dowry.

****

Sia clapped her hands in glee. “This is too good. What happened to Bachchu?”
“Since that day people started feeling that Bachchu was actually an evil spirit. A ghost who deviated people from their task. A mind-deflected soul who would lay hindrance in the path of humans. They were scared of him but they didn’t know how to please him so he stayed out of their ways. Money, food, requests, prayers, had no impact on him. He appeared suddenly and disappeared silently, without giving people much time to pull up their defense.” The man adjusted his spectacles.
“You can’t be serious. How can they think of him as a ghost? He was God sent! Evil were those who wanted to cheat or were ready to take dowry.” Sia blurted out.
“That’s exactly why I said, man is no different from ghosts. Every ghost thinks that whoever comes blocking their path is a ghost.” A faint smile appeared on his face.
Sia was more interested in hearing more, than arguing with him on things that mattered the least.

Part 3

Aamna Fakruddin. The ferocious district collector didn’t judge while taking bribes. She was the first and only woman in the zilla, to have qualified the civil services exam. Her husband left her soon, intimidated by her growing ambition and unflinching merit. But Aamna had a strong will. Having grown up in the servant’s quarter of the rich babu’s house where her mother washed and cleaned, Aamna may not have ever slept hungry. But she had to withstand on her body, the eyes and hands of their master. Her mother never entertained her complains. Wasn’t the babu paying for their meals and even sponsoring her education? If he wasn’t entitled to everything they had, then who did? Everything meant everything. After all wasn’t there something called gratitude?

Aamna had grown up with a vengeance. She hated men from the core of her heart. Every time she was approached by rich people within her jurisdiction, she made sure to make things difficult for them. After harassing them for days, she passed their files after accepting heavy bribes in cash and kind. No one in the zilla could figure how all complains against her always fell into deaf ears. She played her cards pretty well and was always one step ahead of those who conspired against her. No one could touch a hair on her head. No one could match up with her diplomacy and guile.
Her wedding fell apart almost as soon as it was held. Why would a man accept domination of a woman? Didn’t he have his self-respect? Under the pressure of the families and scared of her political powers, Fakruddin still dragged it along for 5years contributing to her life no more than three children. Much to his distress, all three children had the same temperament as his wife’s. He wished they had something from the list of his virtues. But, tough luck. Eventually he pronounced talaaq and broke free. Not that Aamna was any heart-broken.
She was ruthless.

Strange as it may sound, Aamna loved Bachchu. Right from the first day, her tough heart found its soft corner in his innocent face. She called him often, whenever he passed by, inviting him to whistle before her. She could listen to him uninterrupted for hours, looking blankly at nothing. Perhaps, her only repose. She fed him everything good that was prepared at home. She stopped him every time he got up to leave. She wanted him to stay with her. Bachchu didn’t accept her offer, neither rejected it. But he came in when he pleased, and went missing without informing. Aamna had tears in her eyes, a rare for her, every time she knew he left her mansion. She knelt down praying to Allah miya for his safety.

Finally, one day when the entire community ganged up against him, Aamna Fakruddin stood up against them like a blood thirsty tigress. A group of menacing mob at one end and a foul mouthed, armless female at the other! What a scene. Not that the crowd was any happy with her notoriety. Corrupt, and a woman on top of that. By the time police intervened, Aamna had blood oozing out of her head, eyes swollen, bruises on her body and her feet refused to move. But her zest hadn’t gone down by an inch. She still cursed, she still abused, she still defended!

****

The spectacled man stopped and took a deep breath. He looked at Sia, who had grown speechless by now. She watched him getting up and picking up her backpack.
“What happened?” She asked, astonished that he was prepared to leave so abruptly.
He smiled. “Madam, it has been 12 minutes that we reached Mumbai. The train is empty. Look around. I thought you had meetings to attend.”
Sia jerked up from her seat. Indeed, the train was empty. The station outside had board of Mumbai CST written on it. She smiled sheepishly.
“My god! I never realized. But it was lovely meeting you. Sia Chopra.” She offered her hand.
The man took her hand and returned a warm shake. “Azaan Aamna. Nice meeting you too. Take care. I had a nice journey, by the way.” He pronounced and walked away.
As Sia walked out on the station, pulling her trolley, a group of young boys and girls – probably students, came rushing towards her.
“Who was this man with you, ma’m?” One of them asked, surprising Sia.
“What a magical guy!” Exclaimed the other.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. And heard. Someone playing flute through the whistle. Was he for real?” Another one gushed.

“Excuse me! What did you say?” Sia could not believe her ears. “Whistle! Flute!”
The group looked equally flustered. They had no idea why the woman in front was so shocked. Sia turned around desperately, looking through the crowd. Of course the man had disappeared. What was his name he said? She couldn’t remember. All she remembered was Bachchu.

The train moved slowly, at a snail’s pace. Already five hours late. It started from Nagpur on time, but took generous pauses all through the night and even in the morning. Sleepless hawkers had a ball of a time, running through the compartments with chai and chips and what not, waking up the sleeping passengers with their shrill call hoping to make a sale. She was to reach the CST terminus of Mumbai at 12. It was already 4pm with the train romancing the distance between Dadar and Thane in slow motion.

All morning she had uttered every kind of curse she knew, blaming the government, the administration and destiny. Each hawker that approached her had gone back with a furious tongue lashing. She had important meetings scheduled at Colaba at 2 and 4.30! What a massive waste of time. God knows why she was drawn to travel by train all of a sudden, when flights could have been far easier. Helpless, frustrated and irritated now, Sia closed her eyes, as if to pass off this Chinese torture under disrupted slumber. A mild sound of flute floated in. Though disgusted, she seemed to calm down. The music felt like a lullaby. Just when the slumber was progressing towards a nap, the train came to a screeching halt. Shocked, she looked around wondering what happened. The flute too had stopped abruptly. It felt like a hallucination of her tired brain now. The momentary pleasure disappeared for good. In a while the train started again. She opened her eyes to see the wheels gain action and was startled to find a man sitting before her, reading a magazine. Where did this one come from, and when? She certainly didn’t sleep so sound that a presence won’t register. Watching her getting startled, he smiled and went back to his reading. She felt awkward about her abrupt reaction.

“Mumbai?” She asked, trying to battle the boredom with a casual conversation.
He looked up at her through the black spectacles. “If the train is willing to take me elsewhere, I am all game.”
Sia chuckled at the foolishness of her question. “Sorry, quite obvious.” She looked around. “Wasn’t someone playing flute here?”
“Flute! At 4pm on a summer day? Mumbai isn’t that romantic.” He smirked and stared at her disappointed face. He closed the magazine and kept away.
“Flutes made for a great story when we were small. In fact, people were scared whenever the flute played, expecting some mess happening with someone or the other.”
This made her sit up. “Like?” Her eyes shined.
He smiled and leaned forward.

****

Zilla Faridpur in Dhaka. River Padma ran ferociously towards its North. Sitting below a banyan tree a small boy whistled the music of the flute. As strange as it may sound, no one would have differentiated between the sound of his whistle and the melody of a flute, unless they saw him at it. No one knew where he came from. Rags and tattered clothes, dirty and dark skinned, he never begged. Just whistled. He appeared all of a sudden and floated the divine music through his mouth. Initially people stopped to hear him. The villagers affectionately called him Bachchu, meaning kiddo. But soon there was a time when they ganged up to throw him out of the village. They looked for him with sticks and brooms, but he was nowhere to be seen. Happy that he had left by himself, the villagers sighed relief. And then, just unexpectedly he would appear again to meddle up things, only to disappear soon after.

“Whoa! Why so?” Sia kept her shawl away. The AC wasn’t so unbearable now.
“People said he was a ghost.” She was told.
“Ghost!!!!” Sia exclaimed with great amusement.
“Ya, why not? You don’t believe in ghosts?” He asked politely. He seemed as much calm as Sia was hyper.
“Well, I haven’t been fortunate enough to interact with any.” She laughed out loud.
The spectacle in front suppressed his laughter. “What do you know of ghosts? I mean, how do you think they are?”
A host of ghost stories she had read as a child clouded over Sia. And also those that were used by her grandmother to scare her and her brother. But she stopped.
“First tell me why did those people turn against Bachchu?”

Bachchu went everywhere uninterfered, as if the world was his territory. He would be seen roaming barefoot like a vagabond early in the morning, at noon when even dogs looked for shades and during late nights when the country folks were preparing to sleep.

That morning, milkman Sabbir woke up humming a tune praising the almighty. Just a few days to go before Eid, this was the time when he was looking at making some extra bucks. Four kids and one bibi had some expectations from the man of the family. He was indulgent and affectionate. But then, two cows can only give so much milk. What on earth is man’s power against nature? Feeding them more ensured extra dung, but not an extra bucket of milk. Noor, his wife would take care of the dung. She’d use a few and sell the rest. Now what to do about the milk? How much water can someone add to dilute it? Sabbir was an intelligent man. This morning he had taken the rice water from Noor’s kitchen to be added to the milk. That way it would maintain some thickness.

“Remember Naren chacha? When we were small, he would tell us, the children of the neighbourhood, enchanting stories of the Hindus. Ashwathama was fed rice water by his poor parents when he longed for milk.” He told Noor. “Why were these tales written if human beings wouldn’t apply them in real life?”

His impeccable plan though had fallen flat. Early in the morning Bachchu made a surprise entry, as usual playing his music. Lost in that melody, Sabbir miya lifted his milk can and set out on delivery riding the bicycle he inherited from his father. The rice water lay unused at the corner. He realized the folly only when the can was empty after servicing barely a few houses, far less than his target.

Sabbir was furious!

To Be Continued in Part 2…..

Sia burst out laughing. “Did he find Bachchu to pour a piece of his mind?”
“Nope.” The man laughed. “Bachchu had disappeared by then.”
“What happened next?” Asked Sia anxiously.
“Its your turn. What do you know about ghosts?” She was told.
“Uff, this is so mean!” She took a while to get her thoughts back. “Ghosts are cold.” She finally said. “They come and go at their whims. They laugh to inject fear. They never cry. They stay on top of trees. Sometimes they enter the bodies of humans and make them do weird things. They are usually covered in white cloth. They appear in lonely nights, isolated streets and broken houses. And they…!”
She couldn’t finish. The man in front was in splits. He looked cute as he laughed. He pulled out a handkerchief to wipe the water in his eyes.
“What?” Sia asked impatiently.
“Nothing.” He composed himself. “Tell me something, how are humans different from the ghosts?”
“What do you mean?” Sia frowned.
“Humans are also cold. They don’t care much for each other any more, unless they have a lurking interest. They come to the powerful; run away from the needy. They laugh at other’s sufferings. They stay in high rise buildings but are miser in their hearts. They enter each others brains, polluting them with shrewd gossips and small talks. They are colourfully dressed though, but the horror about humans is, they don’t restrict themselves to lonely nights, isolated streets and broken houses. They are everywhere!” The man was still laughing through his eyes.
“What nonsense.” Sia grunted, unable to find a fair logic to argue with him. “Forget it. What happened with Bachchu?”

****

Tension was spiralling up in the world of the Sheikh’s. The eldest daughter of Taufik Sheikh was to marry the youngest son of Bansi Ahmed. The Ahmed’s were reputed and rich, with their flourishing jaggery business. But their tongue was as bitter as sweet was jaggery. Every item included in the matrimonial gifts had to pass through the strict and stringent quality control of Naushad Ahmed, Bansi’s mother. Taufik and his bibi were tired and nervous. Daughter’s wedding was not for the parents to celebrate, but to mourn and panic! On the wedding day they were expected to make a show of the gold and cash they were giving with the daughter. The Ahmed’s didn’t only target to rip off the Sheikh’s. They also wanted to enjoy the jealous look of the invitees as added bonus.
And right then, in walked the one who wasn’t invited!

The Ahmed’s valued business over relationships. They wanted to count and weigh each and every item to match whether the bounty was as promised. Since serious discussion was going on, the shehnai players were asked to stop. They were more than happy to take a tea break. When no one was expecting the flute, it started playing.
Hardly did anyone notice when Bachchu had sneaked in. The relatives standing at the gate couldn’t remember welcoming him. The party felt his presence only when the music played. He stood there whistling, looking straight at the groom sitting like a lion on the throne planted for him for the occasion. The bride was behind the purdah, waiting for her would-be in-laws to satisfy themselves after which she could take the vows.
The little boy’s music pleased one and all. As he turned to leave, the impossible happened. The groom called him from behind and pushed a note into his little palm, shocking every guest present there.
The Ahmed’s were not known for a charitable heart. They didn’t even smile much, fearing that it might cost them some benevolence. Now this!
Taufik Sheikh rushed in to replenish for the groom’s loss, but Fardin Ahmed refused flatly, disgracing the image of his own parents that took years to build.
“Let’s get along with the rituals please.” He ordered. Taufik and his wife bowed before him with folded hands.
“Very soon, son. We are just at the end of the calculations.” They tried to reason.
“I don’t want any of those. We are not taking the cash and gold. Please take them away. Is Firoza ready?”

The wedding hall went into pin-drop silence. Not a single person moved. Even Firoza, Taufik’s daughter, hadn’t dreamt of such a development. She looked ahead from behind the veil, half in awe and rest, shit scared.
Bansi Ahmed thumped his foot in terrible anger. He tried to take him aside and reason. He threatened to leave the wedding with the rest of the family, to commit suicide and finally, to have the Sheikh’s pinned under some legal case for practicing black magic on his son. Nothing worked. Fardin was adamant.
For the first time in the history of the Ahmed’s, a boy got married without dowry.

****

Sia clapped her hands in glee. “This is too good. What happened to Bachchu?”
“Since that day people started feeling that Bachchu was actually an evil spirit. A ghost who deviated people from their task. A mind-deflected soul who would lay hindrance in the path of humans. They were scared of him but they didn’t know how to please him so he stayed out of their ways. Money, food, requests, prayers, had no impact on him. He appeared suddenly and disappeared silently, without giving people much time to pull up their defense.” The man adjusted his spectacles.
“You can’t be serious. How can they think of him as a ghost? He was God sent! Evil were those who wanted to cheat or were ready to take dowry.” Sia blurted out.
“That’s exactly why I said, man is no different from ghosts. Every ghost thinks that whoever comes blocking their path is a ghost.” A faint smile appeared on his face.
Sia was more interested in hearing more, than arguing with him on things that mattered the least.

To  Be Continued in Part 3…..

Aamna Fakruddin. The ferocious district collector didn’t judge while taking bribes. She was the first and only woman in the zilla, to have qualified the civil services exam. Her husband left her soon, intimidated by her growing ambition and unflinching merit. But Aamna had a strong will. Having grown up in the servant’s quarter of the rich babu’s house where her mother washed and cleaned, Aamna may not have ever slept hungry. But she had to withstand on her body, the eyes and hands of their master. Her mother never entertained her complains. Wasn’t the babu paying for their meals and even sponsoring her education? If he wasn’t entitled to everything they had, then who did? Everything meant everything. After all wasn’t there something called gratitude?

Aamna had grown up with a vengeance. She hated men from the core of her heart. Every time she was approached by rich people within her jurisdiction, she made sure to make things difficult for them. After harassing them for days, she passed their files after accepting heavy bribes in cash and kind. No one in the zilla could figure how all complains against her always fell into deaf ears. She played her cards pretty well and was always one step ahead of those who conspired against her. No one could touch a hair on her head. No one could match up with her diplomacy and guile.
Her wedding fell apart almost as soon as it was held. Why would a man accept domination of a woman? Didn’t he have his self-respect? Under the pressure of the families and scared of her political powers, Fakruddin still dragged it along for 5years contributing to her life no more than three children. Much to his distress, all three children had the same temperament as his wife’s. He wished they had something from the list of his virtues. But, tough luck. Eventually he pronounced talaaq and broke free. Not that Aamna was any heart-broken.
She was ruthless.

Strange as it may sound, Aamna loved Bachchu. Right from the first day, her tough heart found its soft corner in his innocent face. She called him often, whenever he passed by, inviting him to whistle before her. She could listen to him uninterrupted for hours, looking blankly at nothing. Perhaps, her only repose. She fed him everything good that was prepared at home. She stopped him every time he got up to leave. She wanted him to stay with her. Bachchu didn’t accept her offer, neither rejected it. But he came in when he pleased, and went missing without informing. Aamna had tears in her eyes, a rare for her, every time she knew he left her mansion. She knelt down praying to Allah miya for his safety.

Finally, one day when the entire community ganged up against him, Aamna Fakruddin stood up against them like a blood thirsty tigress. A group of menacing mob at one end and a foul mouthed, armless female at the other! What a scene. Not that the crowd was any happy with her notoriety. Corrupt, and a woman on top of that. By the time police intervened, Aamna had blood oozing out of her head, eyes swollen, bruises on her body and her feet refused to move. But her zest hadn’t gone down by an inch. She still cursed, she still abused, she still defended!

****

The spectacled man stopped and took a deep breath. He looked at Sia, who had grown speechless by now. She watched him getting up and picking up her backpack.
“What happened?” She asked, astonished that he was prepared to leave so abruptly.
He smiled. “Madam, it has been 12 minutes that we reached Mumbai. The train is empty. Look around. I thought you had meetings to attend.”
Sia jerked up from her seat. Indeed, the train was empty. The station outside had board of Mumbai CST written on it. She smiled sheepishly.
“My god! I never realized. But it was lovely meeting you. Sia Chopra.” She offered her hand.
The man took her hand and returned a warm shake. “Azaan Aamna. Nice meeting you too. Take care. I had a nice journey, by the way.” He pronounced and walked away.
As Sia walked out on the station, pulling her trolley, a group of young boys and girls – probably students, came rushing towards her.
“Who was this man with you, ma’m?” One of them asked, surprising Sia.
“What a magical guy!” Exclaimed the other.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. And heard. Someone playing flute through the whistle. Was he for real?” Another one gushed.

“Excuse me! What did you say?” Sia could not believe her ears. “Whistle! Flute!”
The group looked equally flustered. They had no idea why the woman in front was so shocked. Sia turned around desperately, looking through the crowd. Of course the man had disappeared. What was his name he said? She couldn’t remember. All she remembered was Bachchu.

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8 Response Comments

  • Bishakham10/04/2019 at 8:18 AM

    Nice story. The flow and the narrative kept me hooked. Comparision of men and ghosts is quite thought provoking. The ending leaves much for imagination as the entire story throughout. A good read.

  • Nidhi Jangid10/04/2019 at 9:43 AM

    Such an interesting read! Wishing that it continued little more as I was completely immersed in it! Well-woven story with a beautiful end! 🙌

  • Aparna Mondal10/04/2019 at 10:05 AM

    Interesting read. Was quite hooked with progression of the story . Lovely end .

  • Liza10/04/2019 at 10:16 AM

    Very well portrayed . This story shows how people converse( which is not done in recent years) with each other while travelling and their journey gets over without even realising it . The way how man is no less than a ghost, now and the surprise at the end , were all astonishing. Well written.
    .

  • Kheya Baidya10/04/2019 at 12:36 PM

    Very nice read. The story has a natural flow and elements of a good short story.

  • Swetha Amit12/04/2019 at 7:50 AM

    Very compelling read. Gripping and immerses the readers into its details.

  • Preesha Reddy15/04/2019 at 11:01 PM

    The narrative was very vivid. It’s a beautiful story. Was hooked to the screen ❤️

  • NANDANA DASGUPTA21/04/2019 at 11:15 PM

    What a wonderful tale. Such gripping effect from the very first to the very end of the story! And amazing work with the vivid narrative. Nice work, keep it up.

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