“Whistle whistle…” – A short story


“What time is it?” whispers Robin over his left shoulder to Simon. The sound of foot steps on the gravel the only prominent sound, cutting into the deafening quietness of a gloomy afternoon. Occasionally, a quiet sob escapes from the front.

Simon gently tugs into his breast pocket and produces a small chain watch on his palm. Looking at it, he replied, “It’s just 2 pm”. Robin and Simon, both 10 years, have been marching along with the crowd for almost 20 mins now.

“What is that?” asks Robin quietly, indicating to a small pipe like silver metal sticking out from the pocket, as sound of slow momentous footsteps continue.

Simon re-adjusts it quickly and puts it back inside his pocket. “It’s just a whistle” he answers.

“Hmm, how far do you think before we reach Gilly’s Moor?” whispers Robin.

Silence fills the air. Simon, his head bent, slowly raises his eye brows and turns his head to meet Robin’s glance, “Not sure. I think about a couple of miles” replies Simon frowning.

Somewhere someone steps on dry leaves. The houses on the side of the path look sad and dull today. Close by, a child is crying somewhere. Curious onlookers gather in front of their wooden gates to watch the procession of the silent crowd. A man puts on a black coat and steps out of his house; as, his wife carrying a baby follows him till the gate. He quietly dissolves with the crowd walking down the gravel path.

“Is that Vinny, in the front there?” asks Robin tilting his head towards Simon. Simon lifts his head, following Robin’s gaze, trying to see between gaps.

“Where did the idiot get that piece of hat from? It’s ugly”, chuckles Robin. Simon caught a glimpse of a short boy with a black hat.

“Shush,” comes a warning from behind. Both the boys went quiet.

“Hey where did you get that watch from by the way?” whispers Robin to Simon again. Simon unwilling to cause any further disturbance replies quickly, “My uncle gave me.”

Robin with a wicked satisfied smile inquires again, “Your uncle from the city?”. Simon nods.

“May I see it”, asks Robin. Simon brought his hand to his breast and instead replies, “You can’t. It’s attached to my coat.”

Robin gave Simon one disappointed look and stomps the ground with a thud. Simon looking embarrassed pulls out the whistle instead and hands it over to Robin.

“Here, this is a special kind of whistle” whispers Simon, boastfully. Robin snatches the whistle from Simon, “How special..?” he asks and blows into it.

Nothing happens. No sound came from the whistle: just whist. Robin blew, and blew the whistle. Simon looked at him quietly, thinking that would keep him occupied for a while. Simon smiled silently, as the silent march proceeded. Some where a dog barks.

Robin blew the whistle again, his jaws hurt a little now. A low whistle escapes from his mouth instead. Mr. Miller, their school headmaster and a well-respected senior citizen of the town, stares back at him.

“Your whistle is broken. It can’t generate sound. It’s useless,” said Robin bitterly, blowing the whistle again.

Simon giggles uncontrollably. Robin looks at him irritated. The woman behind, grunts again.

“That’s a dog whistle. Only dogs can hear it”, explains Simon with a chuckle.

The barking of the dogs grew louder. Suddenly, there seem to be dogs everywhere. There were dogs barking on the side-walk. Excited dogs wagging their tails begin to follow the procession, as few jumps into the crowd. Soon, shouts and shrieks disrupts the motion of the procession.

“Where have all these dogs come from?” asks someone. “Keep quiet, Rusty”, commands another to their dog.

The silent procession of town folks, family members, teachers and students is now turning into a show. Few of the dogs decides to run around the procession party. People became frantic as they starts bumping into excited dogs. The solemnity of the procession has taken a new turn.

Mr. Miller couldn’t stand it anymore. “The whistle, Mr. Robin”, he demands. Robin wanting no further part hands over the whistle to Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller blew the whistle like a professional dog trainer. The animals drift to the sound of the whistle, like a piper mesmerizing the rats. The barking turns to low howls. The excited animals obediently adheres to one side of the path.

Finally the funeral procession of Mr. Franklin Dane, the Town Founder, could resume. But, Simon never saw the light of his special whistle again; while, Robin planted a bunch of flowers on the grave of Mr. Dane, mostly out of guilt. And, also, because Mr Miller was watching over them.

How I missed a chance to meet Kal Penn, because I thought I lost my blog


Yes, that happened yesterday and I don’t understand it any more than you do. Just a day ago, I was bragging to a friend on how I acquired the invitation from the American Centre in Delhi, to participate in the event, Interaction with Kal Penn and later watch the screening of Mira Nair’s film ‘The Namesake’, starring the great Irrfan Khan, Tabu and yes, Mr. Kal Penn.

As I write this I am still cringing in my cane chair. Oh, this is a misery! I skipped work, because it would have been difficult for me to come back to my flat, drop my laptop, shower, change and then head towards CP. I had it all planned. Oh, hell! I even went to the parlor on weekend. Okay, this is sounding more ridiculous, the more I think of it.

My blog on WordPress.com have been in a neglected state for a long time. I really wanted to get it started again: to be more consistent with my contents. I also wanted to change my blog name; and, try and stick to a particular content style for my loyal followers.

So I started working on my blog name, looking for hints and guide on websites. That was my weekend task and I was still on it yesterday. I was so engrossed in the task that I decided to skip cooking and cleaning the house. I was like a possessed Shere Khan, who badly needed to take control of the situation for a change. I thought I needed to be more professional and serious with the job. Oh! I still needed to get the print-out taken of the invitation.

I narrowed down my list and was really pushing for time. I went to get the print-out. I tell you, nothing was working yesterday. The lady at the cyber café could not get the pen-drive working. She went on scanning the pen-drive repetitively, when there was no indication of virus. Ah, the agony! I finally got it done from a different café. I then got packets of Maggies, which would be my dinner if I reached home late.

I got home, sat on my laptop again. I think I finally got a blog name I could connect with. I was following the instructions carefully provided on WordPress support page. I typed in the site name, the site description and then the new blog name. Lo and behold! When I refreshed the page it’s asking me to make my first post. I freaked out. I guess, its then, that I lost my cool. I went browsing the WordPress site looking for answers. My mind was clouded. I felt the stress. I was thinking about all the little efforts I had committed in keeping the site alive, my community, my friends, their precious comments… Bummer! I left a query on the site and shut off my laptop. I couldn’t bear the pain any more.

I decided that probably the Interaction event would cheer me up and inspire me someway. I started to get ready for the evening, when I received a call from the Blue Dart man, delivering my credit card. Now, a new thought struck me – what if I get a domain for the blog. I mean, yes, I may need to restart all over again. But, I was sure I have my community list somewhere in my email and stuffs I write are always saved on my personal folder. The idea excited me.

Now my mind was in a conflict. Should I start right away or wait for the tech support team to get back on my query. No, I should go to the event and work on the blog later. What if it gets too late? The timings between 5-9pm (I think). I mean like if I get lazy after reaching home. I was trying to justify my actions in every possible way I could. I was almost ready, just needed to fix my hair. I decided then, that, everything else could wait, except the blog. Hell! I don’t even like sharing pictures just to make my friends envious. The American Centre has also sent a caution note saying that the service would be on first arrival basis. I am not even sure how early I should get there? I mean, it would be terrible to reach there and know that the seats are full.

So, I opened my laptop. I can see the time; in case, I change my mind again and decide to go. I opened my Facebook page for the first time that day and I see that the American Centre has ‘Like’ my comment on one of their posts and yes, there is also a reminder of the days event. My eyes drifted towards the time on my laptop. There’s still time.

I called the card helpline number and activated my card. Now I have a domain name to call my own. I chose a theme and clicked on the activate button. Huh! What, the site is asking me to choose a blog on which I would like to activate the theme on. Oh! This is painful. And, just then, I mean just then, I receive another reminder message of the event from the American Centre and the change in timing, now 5-8pm. Oh! How I wish I could fly now.

So, now I have two active blogs, one with a self domain name and a not-so-useful print-out invitation page. I might just as well call up the Dominos. You don’t have to over think in that.

Encounter with death: My divine intervention


“Slow on the accelerator. Slow on the accelerator”, I cautioned myself. I was wary of getting too close to the edge of the hill. And then, my leg did just that: jammed on the accelerator. I froze. The car started rolling towards the edge of the hill. I knew what was next. Screams of shock began to rise in my throat. The car began to roll off the slope of the hill in what seemed to me like a slow calculated movement. I felt the cold chill rising up in my spine. I knew just then that death was inevitable.

I had just started driving some months back. That faithful day, I had gone shopping with our house helper. I remember the back seat being buried under several shopping bags.

We have a common open parking space for locality members, owing to hilly terrains and narrow pavements. The open parking space resembles a small field, but with dangerous steep slopes on two sides. When we reached the parking space only the vulnerable sides of the field were unoccupied. I asked our helper to carry whatever she could and head home, while I park the car. I had meant to park the car swiftly and head home, when that unthinkable life altering incident took place.

I felt lost sitting inside a falling car. My hands were on the wheel, shocked and then terrified low screams broke out. I wanted to pause the dreadful moment and set things right. Several images began to flash up in my mind. I pictured myself falling to the ground below, with the car fully smashed up. I wear glasses so the thought of broken pieces ramming into my eyes, making me blind, seemed obvious, even if I survived the fall. I pictured a ghastly hospital scene with my parents weeping by my motionless and disfigured body covered with white cloth on the bed. My heart went out to them, and I was thinking what would happen to them now? Who would be taking care of them? I also realized my unfulfilled goals and aspirations. I remember saying, “But I have dreams”, aloud in my mind and feeling sad that I have to give it all up. I wanted to eject myself out of the falling car. I felt so helpless. My mind was alert. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to stay alive. I did not want to die.

Suddenly, the car stopped. I was out of my reverie. I realized that the car had hit a small but sturdy tree with wild shrubs and climbers growing around it, supporting the car momentarily. I quickly stepped out of the car, fearing that the foliage underneath could spill out any minute. By then, the neighborhood had become aware of something going amiss in the parking area. I could hear voices calling, “A car has fallen off”, and running footsteps. I was somehow calm by then. Already, a man was leaning over the edge of the slope extending his hand towards me and asking me if I was alright.

For a while, then, this episode kept playing in my mind. People told me I was lucky that I survived a terrible and possibly life threatening accident without incurring any injury. Well, I was grateful for that. But, I was also baffled.

Lying on my bed, I kept playing the scene over and over in my head. I kept asking God, why? Why was it so important that I live? I mean, yes, I appreciate the second chance; but, I felt like I needed an explanation. Some sort of heavenly interpretation, as to why I was saved that day. You see, I am not a religious person, but, I do pray every night before retiring to bed. I rarely go to church for personal reasons. I have my own demons. I felt like I could not live up to my parents’ expectations, especially my mother’s. As a child, I have always felt that my mother favored my brother more than me. By the time I started working, my patience for her complains began sounding more like petty nags. Our differences grew and it became difficult to draw my point-of-view without being rude and harsh to them, resulting in silent aloofness for days. This would affect the environment in the house. It was like we were all living under the same roof, but, in our own world. It was emotionally draining for everyone.

This dilemma for answers went on for a long time. I was in awe of the situation. Perhaps, I needed counseling for post traumatic event or maybe, I simply needed to talk to someone about it. Every day, in some neglected corner of a newspaper we come across some ‘miracle’ story. This was a miracle for me. I managed to keep a smiling face before every one. But, when I am alone, I kept trying to ‘decode’ the fact of the situation because I had experienced the worst sinking feeling ever during those few minutes of watching my life, almost fading into an oblivion. I felt it was my earnest distress call to God that probably saved me then.

I experienced two great emotions that day- loss and regret. Loss, for fear of having to leave my parents half way (I come from a matrilineal society). Regret, though, I was comfortably settled in my career; I wasn’t doing exactly what I needed to do to accomplish my career goal. That dissatisfaction loomed large, causing emptiness.

It has taken me over a year to fully understand where I need to channelize my energy on. Ironically, I understood that my parents’ happiness were important to me and with all differences said and done, I knew their complaining was just a part of them growing old. The other thing was to work on my career path with more focus and determination.

It has been an eye-opening experience for me. Like a message from God, to stay true to myself and pursue my goal without fear. God has plans for everyone. Usually, we create such situations for ourselves that we ignore the very essence of our life, finding it easier to suppress our innermost desire, such that we often end up hurting the people closest to us. Self-doubting is a sickness, combined with fear, is lethal.

It’s been over two years now since my encounter with death. I have moved out of my comfort zone, pursuing my goal again. The journey has not been easy, but it’s worth the try. There will always be challenges to make a dream into reality. My parents have been most supportive this time and every time I start doubting myself, I recollect my moment in that falling car. Death is a reality no doubt, but, prayers give hope. For all I want, as I reflect back on my life someday, sitting on my rocking chair manning my gray hair, is to have lived a life without regret.