Wednesday 29 August 2012

The 'Just Married, Please Excuse' Contest

I could listen to bawdy stuff without turning a hair, my newspaper office being full of intellectuals whose sole pastime was cracking smutty jokes. 
All through college, I had also read enough of hot sleaze as a result of foraging second-hand books on New Delhi’s Parliament Street and Karol Bagh pavements and borrowing from the British Council Library.
My family knew I loved books, right from my school days. A natural progression had been my Master’s in English literature, again much of which was not exactly Victorian.
So I was no stranger to innuendo and double entendre, but in conservative families such as ours, these are taboo when you are in the company of elders or young daughters and sons.
There was great excitement when I, newly wed, went over to my parental home for a night.
After dinner, I sat chatting with my parents and an aunt, uncle and their daughter-in-law. We talked about my marriage ceremony, how the wedding guests had behaved, my new home, and my honeymoon destination … the destination, mind you, not how the honeymoon went.
I knew what I was going to do would shock them, but a mischievous imp just made me go ahead with it.
For the first time ever, I sang. I sang a naughty Punjabi lyric my husband had taught me on our honeymoon. 
Even before I had finished reciting the song, the two sisters were blushing to the roots of their hair. My very, very shy sister-in-law had muttered something about the dishes and scooted from the scene.
There was pin-drop silence.
The men didn’t know where to look.
When no reaction was forthcoming, I asked nonchalantly: “Excuse me, what’s the matter? It’s just a song that bangle sellers sing!”
The foursome gaped at me, and cackled. “Yes, yes, of course, the bangle sellers indeed!”
I joined in the laughter before beating a hasty retreat, for now I could feel the colour creeping into my cheeks. As I stepped out, I heard my embarrassed aunt say, “What are the times coming to?”
Uncle retorted: “Come on, be happy. She’s obviously had a great honeymoon!”
I heard them break into raucous laughter.
Still, I’m sure they were also squirming inside, unable to accept just yet that the daughter of the house was suddenly no longer shy of discussing sex.
But I hadn’t talked sex. It was all in their minds.
And even if I had, what the heck … hadn’t I just got married!
I might not have recalled this for years, perhaps, but for the contest. Thanks, Yashodhara.

Monday 27 August 2012

Fighting the demons

Ateesh and his new phone.
Digital sketch: Harjeet
“How he has changed in these nine or ten years!” Ateesh marvelled as he watched the man talking so authoritatively on television.
The first time Ateesh saw the now-familiar face on TV, he had had difficulty in recognizing him. 
They had met when Ateesh took up his first job at the top.
A young head had bobbed into sight from the doorway. “Hey, hi boss. I understand you live my side of town. Mind if I hitch a ride home tonight?” it asked.
The cocksure head disappeared without waiting for an answer, leaving him stunned. Ateesh had joined the office just that morning. And here was this youngster, maybe 21 or 22 years old, armed with details of where he lived!  He was impressed.
Ateesh had led departments before, but never an organization till now. It certainly promised to be more exciting than the usual leadership challenges he had come prepared to face.
The ride home that night was interesting. The young man volunteered a lot of information … about himself, about his colleagues, the office. Looking back on it today, Ateesh realized he had got carried away by his smart talk, and had let it prejudice him. He knew better than to trust a raw mind now. But back then he himself was new to what they call “the corner room”, he thought defensively.
His new role was very demanding. There were department chiefs who had been there for years together, and their juniors who had been subordinates for as long. He had to change all that. Roles must be shuffled, the place must pick up pace and change.
Change. He had taken up the challenge of turning around the company using this one word. He had to bring in fresh blood, alter anachronistic procedures, chuck non-performers out of the window and churn the ranks. The place itself could do with some transformation. It looked seedy and mouldy.
Yes, it would be a vibrant place, exuding confidence and dynamism.
He had shaken up the status quo, and how. Young people got more play, some were sent to train for the next level. Snazzy workstations replaced stodgy, ungainly monitors. The place was brightened with better lights and more glass windows.
The television screen zoomed again on the man being interviewed. He had truly climbed up the corporate ladder fast.
Ateesh recalled that the young man had been recruited barely a month ahead of him. Ateesh had unwisely, blindly, relied on his observations even about staff members with whom the youngster had had no truck.
That was the first of a string of mistakes, Ateesh thought with a tinge of regret. He ended up hurting quite a few talented seniors, superseding some and giving others insignificant duties and their juniors more responsibility. But he erred in identifying the people thus promoted. Many good hands left in disgust.
His first tryst with technology was also an experiment gone horribly wrong. Here, too, he had gone by the first recommendation made to him, with no regard to factors such as efficiency and compatibility. He had not acted with due diligence as a CEO should. The result was an enormous investment poured down the drain. The owners had given him a generous budget for staffing and tech needs, which he had frittered away. 
He had had to leave that organization pretty soon, some hard lessons learnt. He became overcautious in his next job, where he was reporting to a seasoned chief executive. He agonized over issues too long for fear of making errors. Luckily he had a tolerant boss who had nurtured him in a previous job, and now patiently guided him through his insecurities. The decisions he hated most involved technology – purchase of hardware, choice of software, buying phones, installing CCTVs, allowing social media in office and the like – and he cringed each time.
Somehow technology and he just never could work together.
The man on television right now was an example of what was needed today, he grudgingly admitted. While Ateesh stumbled at every step, this man some 12 years his junior had forged ahead, riding on his knowledge of gadgets, totally clued into the market and willing to adopt whatever his line of business demanded.
Ateesh remembered that the youngster had bought a mobile phone when handsets were still ugly-looking and unwieldy. He promptly switched to a new one when more features were added. He even suggested that as CEO, Ateesh should buy one too, but to no avail. Eventually, the company’s owner had foisted a phone on him.
The sound brought him back to the present. He looked down at his jazzy new cellphone and smiled. His daughter had just pinged him.
He had steadfastly refused to part with the first handset he bought in his next job, arguing that he needed it only to make or receive calls. That is, till his boss chided him on a site visit one day for carrying a phone with no camera. The boss handed him his own phone, but Ateesh had no clue on how to operate it. A director of the host company had stepped in to help.
Ateesh decided it was time he changed. By the time he occupied the corner room again, he had overcome most of his apprehensions. Though his business was not heavily tech-driven, at times he had felt he would drown amid software and hardware, Internet platforms, Windows and MP3s, home page and e-commerce. Somehow he had been fighting the demons and keeping his head above water. 
Months back, his one-time colleague had been discussing on TV how IT firms had to battle for market share, how social media was growing and why the new generation was obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry, iPhone … and what’s app.
“What’s app?” A funny-sounding term that was. The expression stuck in his mind. He opened a Google page and typed “what’s app”.
The first search result: “WhatsApp : : Home”
“Okay, so at least I hadn’t heard it wrong,” Ateesh congratulated himself. He made a mental note, and focused on completing every task at hand. Then he headed home, sooner than usual.
His daughter was sitting amid a pile of hair curlers, his wife was in an apron trying to clear up after a kitty party, and the servants were wrestling with the mountain of dishes left behind.
That abstracted air around him was missing today. He asked his daughter to drop those curlers and join him in his study.
“What do you know about WhatsApp?” he demanded right away.
“Papa, dear dear Papa, did someone say something to you again?” 
Ateesh occasionally came back stung by some remark, and she would have to apply balm on his wounded self-esteem. She had grown up seeing her father resent technology he had to deal with at work, but she was proud he had conquered all his demons one by one.
“No,” Ateesh grumbled. “That man on television went on and on about WhatsApp.”
‘So, what about it?” she snuggled against him. “Papa, everyone’s on WhatsApp nowadays ... except you.”
“I’m so sorry, darling, b-but there’s only so much I can do with a phone,” he apologized.
“Don’t I know you, Papa? You are just scared, big man,” she teased him. “I can download WhatsApp on this, but frankly your phone is outdated.”
“Fine, so teach me,” Ateesh said.
Then he asked her if she had any weekend plans.
“No,” came the reply.
“And your mother?” he asked.
“No, Papa, we are both at home on Saturday,” his daughter told him.
“No, you’re not,” Ateesh drawled. “We’re buying me a new phone.”
His daughter let out a joyful shout.
Her mother rushed in. “What’s up?” she asked anxiously.
“No, no, WhatsApp!” they exclaimed in one voice.

Monday 13 August 2012

The nature lovers

Their sons were whooping in delight. Before them stretched a lovely green carpet of forest, laid out on undulating plains at the foot of the great Himalayas. Deep down, sun rays bounced off the tin roofs of huts sitting among golden wheat fields. Far to their left shone snowclad peaks.
Dhanu and Surilee grinned as they unloaded the car. Ruffie, now 10, and Rudra, 8, adored the guessing game every vacation: Where were they headed for this time … the hills, the seaside, the desert? They would not be told till they started. The journey was spent filling them in on the details.
The parents liked to book cottages with attached kitchens. That way, whatever they did on the trip – dig edible roots or pluck fruit, catch a fish, pick up a local recipe – they could experiment with its outcome right away, with the kids pitching in and learning along the way.
Dhanu went off to look up the manager.
“Mom, will we climb the snow mountains?” Rudra cooed at her beguilingly.
“Not so fast, my dear,” she said as she handed him some camping gear from the car boot. “This time it is all jungle, no rock climbing.”
Rudra and Ruffie with little Charit.
Digital sketch: Harjeet
“Are you going to climb rocks?” a little voice spoke up behind them.
Rudra and Ruffie spun around to look at the owner of the voice.
A small boy, some 5 years old, had sidled up behind them.
“No, little one, we are not.” Surilee had an athletic build, and seemed to tower over him. “Why are you here alone?” she asked him anxiously.
“We are living in that nice red house with a white hat,” the child replied.
The brothers laughed. “Oh-ho! Hut with a hat!” they teased him.
Surilee shushed them. “It’s rude to make fun of little children.”
She looked enquiringly at their visitor again.
“My Mama does not want me to climb rocks, but I can go with you,” he parried. “She will let me.”
A woman emerged from a cottage down the row. “Charit! Come back, son,” she called out. Scrambling up the slope, his mother Saroja began apologizing profusely to Surilee.
“It’s all right. He’s just curious.” Surilee introduced herself and her sons.
“Why not step in? How long have you been around? Your son could show my boys the works. The cottages are all the same inside, aren’t they?” she tried to put Saroja at ease.
“Well, thank you. Seeing that you have just arrived, it wouldn’t be fair. Maybe we’ll come over in the evening,” Saroja said, and led her son away. Surilee decided she liked the sensible mother.
Dhanu returned soon after. He had confirmed that there was a good camping site about two kilometres to the north. The family set about sorting climbing shoes, staffs, ropes, flasks, medicine kits and so on. Then they trooped into the kitchen for coffee.
“Who’s that?” Dhanu asked sharply.
It was Charit peering into the window.
Surilee made for the door. “A young acquaintance we have made,” she told her husband.
Charit was not alone. His parents were there too. “Hi. I am Yudhir,” said Charit’s father. “We did not want to intrude, but our son won’t wait any more. He has so many questions for you,” he apologized.
Dhanu glanced at his wife. Luckily they had not unpacked in the living room.
The threesome was shown in.
The hosts could see that Charit was beside himself with excitement, but admirably restrained. Surilee offered them juice and freshly baked cookies she had brought along.
Dhanu picked up Charit and put him in a large chair next to himself. “Shoot,” he invited him.
“Shoot? You are going shooting too?” asked Charit, wide-eyed.
“Shoot your questions, young man, Dhanu began to smile.
Yudhir spoke up. “You see, this is our first mountain trip. We are completely at sea about what to do here, apart from walking up and down the hill a little. But the child is getting fidgety. He thinks you people are planning fun things.”
Dhanu had not exactly appreciated their uninvited presence, but now he unbent.
They began when Rudra was only 2 years old, he and Surilee explained in turns. They wanted to teach their children by example, to be sturdy and tough, to be good nature lovers, perhaps conservationists even.
They both had long office hours, and the children spent most of their time with their grandparents. But at least twice a year the four of them left home, usually when school was closed: once every summer, and then in winter.
How did they plan it out? Two or three months ahead of each vacation they decided whether it would be the mountains or the backwaters, a cross-country drive or an animal sanctuary. They read up all they could on internet, such as good places to stay, infrastructure, connectivity, reviews, things to do and much more. Having finalized the destination, they launched into hotel and train or flight reservations, and if it was a drive into the hills, checked out if there were enough places nearby to fuel up.
“You are really thorough,” Saroja remarked, overawed.
It was trial and error at first, Dhanu admitted, but over the years they had done boating, canoeing, rafting, rappelling, skiing, sailing, crab hunting and much more. The boys were good rock climbers already. 
“Yes, we can swim also, and we are going scuba diving soon,” Rudra interrupted them, wanting to brag.
“That is some years away, Surilee glowered him into silence.
Ruffie could not hold back any more, either: “This time we will study animal tracks, trail slugs and snails, and click birds and their nests. And cook outdoors as well.” 
“But we always return to base before nightfall,” Surilee told the guests. “We take no chance with the kids.”
Yudhir stood up. “We shall detain you no more, but it’s been an eye-opener. Thanks. We’ll make a beginning right away.” He turned to his wife: “Shall we go into town tomorrow for some walking shoes? Good that we brought a laptop along. Tonight let’s read up about this place too.”
Ruffie was old enough to size up Charit: not shy, but certainly lonely. He could also sense that Charit was disappointed, and not ready to leave right then.
“Dad, are we going out right now? Otherwise Charit could help us with our room. And can they come to our camp one day, please?” he asked. Yudhir hesitated. 
“Yes, Dad,” Rudra chipped in, seeing that big brother had no objection to more company. “I won’t mind, seriously.” His parents laughingly agreed.
It was a bubbly Charit who took the bus home four days later. He had learnt why he must use water carefully, how to light and put out a fire, and how to climb a tree. He had also visited those huts below that looked like toys from his cottage. He had had the best holiday any boy could ask for. And Mama and Papa had promised a better one soon.
Ruffie and Rudra’s parents were proud of their sons for being so caring of Charit. The adults too had bonded well. The result: The three children had been promised a joint winter trip.
Dhanu and Surilee felt the little child had unknowingly launched them on a mission. Maybe they would run into more Charits and their families who one day become nature lovers like them.

Sunday 5 August 2012

The wedding gift

Minhi walked across to her husband’s desk. Shuvan, their boss, wanted to know when they would like to take leave.
“Is he joking?” Latik asked her, amused.
“No, he is serious,” she said.
They laughed. Shuvan and his naughty idea ... he was just too good.
When Minhi had lost her family, it was her job that kept her sane. Her colleagues got immersed in their respective roles once the usual rounds of condolence were over. Few noticed that she was losing weight. She was as quiet now as she had been bubbly before the tragedy had occurred.
The daily effort of going to work and coming back tired after wrestling for space in crowded buses left her with little energy to brood. She forced herself to cook and eat for enough strength to return to office the next morning.
This went on for days and weeks.
Shuvan has a naughty idea.
Digital sketch: Harjeet
Shuvan was the only one who made consistent efforts to reach out to her.
He was Minhi’s reporting senior. He would tease her about the meagre contents of her lunch box. At times he provoked her into retorting by unabashedly picking holes in her work. Then he waited till she accepted his apologies with a wan smile.
It was a particularly cold day when Shuvan advised her to step out into the sun. Soon he followed her outdoor, carrying two cups of steaming tea.
As she thanked him, he looked at her pallid face searchingly and asked: “Don’t you feel lonely?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“You could marry,” Shuvan suggested.
“Me? Who would marry me?” She looked stung, and turned to go.
“What if someone agreed?” That stopped her. “Would you trust me as one who has your well-being at heart? Would you let me broach the subject on your behalf with someone suitable?”
“You c-could,” she replied, and hurried back to her desk.
Three months later, Shuvan called Minhi out to the same spot. In the lawn stood Latik. He left them alone without uttering a word.
Latik had been stunned when Shuvan put the proposal to him.
They had worked together some years back. When he was made section head, Shuvan had asked that Latik be transferred here from his previous office.
Latik was smart, and quick on the uptake. Shuvan never had to repeat instructions or follow up with him. His commitment and dependability had endeared him to Shuvan, and they came to share a wonderful rapport.
His boss knew there was no woman in Latik’s household, and that it was quite a struggle for him to keep things going. Latik’s father had retired a few years back, and his only brother was still in college.
Shuvan asked him point blank if he had ever considered Minhi for a wife. Latik gave an honest answer. “She is a colleague, that is all.”
“You are both in need of good partners, so why not marry? Take your time and let me know.”
He had no doubt that Minhi would like Latik if she considered him in that light.
For a month or two, he bridled his impatience. It paid off. He noticed Latik’s eyes resting thoughtfully on Minhi’s face now and then. 
For her part, Minhi did not raise the subject with her boss again. Clearly, she had not considered his suggestion worth another thought.
Latik began making unobtrusive attempts to know her better. He would saunter past her desk and happen to be holding two cups of coffee or some snacks. Initially she gave him no quarter, refusing to entertain his polite offers. In a few days, though, her resistance wore thin. A comfort zone was quietly enveloping the two of them.
Latik soon drew Shuvan outside to tell him he would be very happy if Minhi agreed to marry him.
When the two of them stepped in from the lawn, Shuvan looked up anxiously. He was met with shy smiles.
“So it is settled,” he heaved a happy sigh of relief.
The couple got married shortly thereafter, but life was not that easy for very long.
“Sir, Latik is a wonderful husband. Thank you so much,” Minhi said to her boss one day. “But …”
“Don’t tell me there are ifs and buts already,” he smiled.
“My father-in-law …,” her voice trailed off.
“What’s wrong?” Shuvan was all concern.
“He is highly irritable, querulous. Haven’t you noticed how often Latik or I have had to take leave unannounced? Because suddenly he will stipulate that he will have only chicken for lunch, or he will throw a tantrum. Sometimes he will insist on visiting the doctor. And always just as we are leaving for office. Latik says he’s got more wayward since our marriage,” she told him.
“And what does Latik have to say?” he asked.
“He has been bullied for so long that he just cannot handle his father any more,” she replied.
“I am sorry about this, sorry that I got you into this,” but Minhi interrupted him: “Latik is truly worth his weight in gold. I have no complaint on that score, sir.”
“It’s just that we get no time together, no private moments whatsoever. My father-in-law is forever demanding one thing or another. He even grudges us an evening walk,” she added.
Shuvan stroked his bald pate as he contemplated the situation. This seemed to be an extreme case of a lonely old man seeking attention.
He would think of a solution over the weekend, he assured her.
On Monday, he told the pair he had a naughty idea: that they go on vacation on the pretext of official work. “Since you are in the same office, it is not difficult to pretend you are being sent together on a tour. Wanting some privacy is no crime. Just don’t give too much advance notice at home or you could find your plan pre-empted. That’s it.”
So here they were then, giggling like school kids playing truant as they checked out the calendar for suitable dates. They had to be sure Latik’s brother would be available at home when the two of them were away.
Luckily, the university would be closing for the autumn break in two weeks.
“This may seem like a conspiracy, but so be it,” Shuvan told the jittery couple. “Decide on a destination. Book your train seats and a hotel room, and keep your travel allowance forms ready. The day you are back, submit them, and I’ll arrange for quick reimbursement so that your finances are not unduly upset.”
They began to thank him, but he cut them short. His voice trembled a bit: “I have my own liabilities and cannot afford to give you anything substantial. But this at least is within my power. Consider it a humble wedding gift.”
He winked at Latik: “Honeymoon finally, eh? Stay in a posh hotel. Your wife deserves it. Your joint allowance will be more than enough, I am sure.”

Thursday 2 August 2012

An old tree without branches

“How long had your servant been with you?”
The question jolted Prajyoti out of his near-stupor. He had narrowly escaped death at the hands of his servant, the police inspector told him, showing him two daggers found hidden in the kitchen.
The “servant” in question was Sanjon.
Some 20 years ago, Prajyoti had stopped some policemen who were leading the boy out of a railway station to ask why he was crying. 
The child had boarded a train somewhere on the Bengal-Orissa border during an unscheduled stop. It was done in play, but the train started before he realized his mistake, and he dared not get off. A passenger handed him over to the railway police. 
When told that Sanjon would be put in a shelter for the homeless till someone claimed him, Prajyoti offered to take him in for the interim period. 
This period stretched on interminably. No one came looking for Sanjon. He was six or seven then.
Prajyoti had a daughter and two sons. His wife was reluctant to admit Sanjon into the house at first, but his submissive ways won her over. He followed her around like a puppy, undemanding and ever ready to help. Soon, everyone was calling out to him to fetch and carry, the housemaids no longer found his presence unsettling and he learnt enough of the local language to be ready for schooling.
Sanjon was Prajyoti's Man Friday.
Digital sketch: Harjeet
The children put up with Sanjon for their father’s sake, but were unhappy with the way Prajyoti showered attention on him. It was always “Help Sanjon with this” or “Let Sanjon ride the elephant first,” “Sanjon liked them, so I bought him those”. Of course, he paid their fees and sent them to good schools and colleges, but that was more by way of duty. Prajyoti’s children wanted him to be there for them as well, but he seemed to have shut them out of his affections for good.
His wife observed the growing alienation of the children, and broached the subject with him a number of times. However, they always ended up disagreeing on Sanjon and their children. He was so fixated on giving Sanjon a decent life that he was oblivious to the injustice he was doing to his own family.
His daughter had opted for graduation abroad and arranged for her brothers to join her there. They all settled down overseas after their studies. A big gulf had developed between his children and him, but he realized only now how deep a wound he had inflicted on them.
She was on a pilgrimage when his wife lost her footing and was carried away by the strong river current. It left Prajyoti shattered. He turned to his children for emotional support, but by now they had nothing to offer him. They returned to their homes after performing their mother’s last rites. He felt like a stump, an old tree without branches.
He really did bring up Sanjon as his youngest child, not as a servant. Except that the boy attended the local government-run school, there was little to differentiate between his three children and Sanjon. When he was about 16, Sanjon refused to study any more. Prajyoti was alone and his children visited India infrequently. Since he did not keep too well, he needed someone to attend to him 24 hours, Sanjon had argued.
What had gone wrong? Prajyoti wondered. He was not aware if Sanjon kept bad company, for almost every minute of his day was accounted for.
Sanjon virtually ran the house. From overseeing the daily help to operating Prajyoti’s accounts, he was entrusted with all the household affairs. Indeed, Sanjon often professed total devotion to his benefactor, reiterating the fact that he had no kin but Prajyoti and no home but this.
The entire neighbourhood trusted Sanjon, for that matter. He was Man Friday to not just Prajyoti but all his aged friends too. Prajyoti’s companions on his morning walk handed Sanjon their shopping lists, and he faithfully fetched the best stuff at the best prices. He negotiated rates with the laundry man on behalf of all the families in the colony. Courier packets could safely be left in his hands.
Elderly women banked on his presence, and working couples believed Sanjon kept a protective eye on their children. He was friend to schoolchildren and college-going youth alike. He had fetched stranded children from school, arranged emergency medical attention for the sick and helped organize family functions many a time.
Prajyoti firmly believed his upbringing had helped inculcate the best traits in the boy. He was pure of heart and had a soft corner for the less fortunate. Sanjon always talked of his good luck, but said he must never forget those struggling for two square meals a day.
Prajyoti had made sure he was financially well provided for. When he turned 18, Prajyoti opened a bank account in his name and transferred a fixed amount into it regularly. Sanjon periodically got his passbook updated and gave it to Prajyoti for safekeeping.
Struck by the thought, Prajyoti rose from his rocking chair in which he had been sitting for two hours now. The house was swarming with policemen, and the housemaid sat cowering in one corner. A number of people had been questioned about Sanjon’s activities, but no one reported having seen anything out of the ordinary.
He opened the drawer where he kept all cheque books. Sanjon’s cheque book lay there as well. He opened it. As far as he knew, Sanjon had never drawn money from his account, but today four cheques were missing and the passbook was gone.
His heart beating loudly, Prajyoti called up the bank. He was told what he did not want to hear: All the money had been withdrawn in four large instalments.
With leaden feet, Prajyoti dragged himself to the bedroom. He had told the police inspector all his cash was intact, but he was not so sure any more. He had not actually checked the safe. It had seemed untouched. Now he unlocked it and found all the money gone, as well as his wife’s jewellery and her two gold watches.
Prajyoti wondered why Sanjon had not used the daggers on him. Maybe because he had left unusually early for his walk today. Or maybe Sanjon’s nerves failed him.
His mouth went dry. He tried calling out to the policeman outside. No use. Gathering his wits after a few minutes, Prajyoti informed the inspector of his loss.
A forensic expert was to be summoned. “Why did you not call me? You should not have touched the safe at all,” the inspector shook his head at him.
“I still cannot believe Sanjon has done this. I wonder who put him up to it,” Prajyoti mumbled.
The policeman was no longer listening to him. He was being told over the phone Sanjon had been spotted crossing the Indian border, just a few hours from where Prajyoti lived.
“Drop all charges, Inspector,” Prajyoti said, his back now straight. “He deserves to live his own life, perhaps, and mine should go on too. I only wish he had told me as much to my face.”
He returned to the sitting room and picked up the telephone. He must check with his banker and his chartered accountant how best he could carry on in the circumstances. And then phone an agency … for a driver. Some long-distance calls were due, too. He must grow back into a strong tree.