Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chapter # 3 (Tyaga n Arjun)


Location: Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India. [26.92° N 70.5° E]
Status: Indian Territory
Time: 02:46hrs Date : NOV-7-2006

Siddarth awoke with a start. The low rumble of his stomach made him realize that he was hungry. He sat up in his tent, searching for his glasses and the water bottle he remembered putting somewhere nearby. His hands reached beyond his sleeping bag trailing over the cold desert sand until he found the water bottle. Sipping the water, he walked out of his tent into the moonlit desert-scape. Around him two other similar tents lay in silence. He mentally cursed himself for coming on this trip with the 'B' wing guys. It had been total chaos from the start. Only after a long drive into the desert for the camping trip they realized that no one had brought the food meant for the trip from the hostel. Thankfully, they had had some beer and snacks, which had kept them going for sometime.

Siddarth looked at the luminous reading on his watch. 15 minutes to 3 AM. He stood there savoring the clear and chilly night. Wiping his glasses, he pulled out a cigarette, lit it and sat on small rock that lay nearby. Several miles ahead lay the city that had been his home for the last 3 years and 7 months. Calling it a city was an overstatement in itself. It was a nondescript little town, which had nothing of importance except perhaps the only thing he and the others here had come for – a highly reputed engineering college. Hailing from Chennai, he had traveled across the country for this.

Siddharth took a deep drag on his cigarette. He blamed it on the academic rigor. Others just called him a 'nerd' – a reference that had gained a near 100% acceptance. After spending 3 complete years burying his head into textbooks and worrying about grades slipping by a hundredth, something snapped. Tired of it all, he decided that he was going to take life by the scruff of its neck. The trip was his first with these guys and was already turning out to be a bad idea. First they had forgotten the food, then he had puked before the bon fire after just a beer and now he was hungry. Feeling frustrated and angry he took another puff savoring the warmth against the chilly desert air.

Halfway thro his tobacco cylinder, he paused. He heard a deep growling to his right from the sky. 'Oh great, Now thunder showers', he thought. It was an extremely rare event that too, in this part of this country. However these weren't the clouds rumbling. He was pretty sure of that. It was growing louder by the minute and beginning to sound more mechanical. Curious, he stood up, walking towards the SUV and went around it. He scanned the night sky for the source of the sound that had become a deep roar. Whatever it was, it was big, and close. Still nothing was visible. Lighting another cigarette he rushed toward the nearby dune to get a clear view over the area. It was a deep whine now – completely mechanical. An engine – he was sure of that. He felt the familiar adrenaline rush that he felt whenever he heard the deep roar of engines – a fetish that had driven him toward mechanical engineering. As he climbed up the dune, he tried to figure out the source, just like he always did playing back the digitized engine roars on his computer. He had a library of thousands of digitized noises right from a TVS 50 to an F1 V12 engine to a thrust vector controlled twin turbo advanced Jet engine. But this was one sound he had never heard before. The noise had just got deafening.

As he reached the top of the dune, he spotted a flash of light far to his right but it was not clear. As he stood there with his hand over his eyes trying hard to focus into the night sky thro his glasses, the light source grew big in size and so did the noise.

Then it happened. Out of nowhere, a big black bird of steel swooped down into the desert about 300 metres before him. Siddharth watched the giant craft hit the smooth desert floor kicking up a huge wall of weathered desert sand up into the air like the high-crest waves of the ocean. Screeching and skidding, the craft dragged through the heavy sand leaving a huge trail of ashes until it finally came to rest. Siddarth stood there open mouthed - his cigarette blown into the wind – shocked and not believing what he was seeing. A Su-47 Berkut had crashed right in front of his eyes. It stood there, the dark beast with flames spurting around.

Siddharth would never know what made him move towards that black silent bird with such haste – but he did. As he breathlessly reached the craft, he heard the other guys running up towards him. The sound had woken them up. More proof that it was all real. He slowed down as he neared the still bird. The only sounds were that of a small electronic whine from inside. Then the cockpit door slid back and the dark silhouette of the pilot stumbled out. He took a couple of staggering steps towards them before collapsing into the sand.

The boys acted swiftly. The flames were beginning to gather momentum and soon the whole thing would blow up. As siddharth walked away from the plane, pulling the unconscious form of its pilot, a huge burst of flame spread across the flying machine. He stopped as if mesmerized. There in the light of those flames he saw before his eyes one of the most advanced fighter jets he had ever seen in his life. It was mean, sleek and deadly. More shockingly as the tail was illuminated he saw the three big letters emblazoned on it: IAF. Then it blew. Siddharth thought that it sounded like a small nuclear explosion........

......The boys managed to carry the unconscious pilot to the tent. In the light they got a good look at the man they had helped. He was dressed in Indian Commando fatigues. And stitched over on the right side on his chest were the words 'THE HAWK'. His shoulder was bleeding and a dried up streak of blood stretched from his mouth plus there were bullet wounds on his right thigh. And his left hand held something - a device which looked like a miniature hard drive. The 8 boys stood there staring at the man who had dropped from the sky, unsure of what to do, and frightened by the surreal nature of what was happening. Around them, the night sky over the Great Indian desert was clear and silent as it had been and the flames had begun to die on the crashed bird. Little did they realize the dangers they were going to face over the course of the next two days…..

At the same time, down south in
God’s Own Country, a small fishing boat came into the fishing docks. The boat was moving slowly towards the small town of Parassala near Tirvananthapuram. Vallathol Narayanan, the docks watchman ever since it was built looked at the boat, scratching his head. The Motorboat spluttered and stopped near the artificial stretch of land built to host the tiny lighthouse for the town. No fishing boat comes in at 3 AM in the morning. Curiosity piqued Narayanan. He took a sip from his Brandy bottle, tied his scarf on his head and marched out to the Lighthouse to see what was wrong. He reached the lighthouse and flashed his dirty-yellow flashlight on the boat. The boat was empty. He walked into the water and reached the boat and climbed in.

Finding the cabin door ajar, he went in and flashed the light into the storage door on the floor. His eyes could see someone’s legs. Taking another sip from his Brandy bottle, he climbed down the stairs into the storage area. Halfway thro the stairs he stopped, frozen with fear. There lay in front of him two human corpses – rigged with bullet holes all over. He took a step back and turned fast to get out of the boat. A shovel came from nowhere and hit Narayanan’s head sending him headlong into the bottom of the boat. THE HOUND we saw driving the army SUV in the Island, climbed down the stairs to finish his job. THE HOUND never leaves anything incomplete… except for THE HAWK.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chapter # 2 (Arjun & Raju)

[Please Read CHAPTER 1 before reading this.]

Location: Jaffna[6°54′N 79°54′E]
Status: Disputed
Time: 0205Hrs Date: SEP-9-1994

The 'A' team of the guerilla unit of the indian peace keeping force (IPKF) moved quietly into the sleeping town of jaffna. In total silence the 15 men, covered in dark camouflage clothing advanced towards the town centre. 6 similar teams were laying seige to the town from other directions. None of them had encountered resistance yet. It was deadly silent.

Captain Vijay crounched behind the palms and waited. They would now have to make a run into the open in order to capture the Jaffna university - the strong hold of the LTTE leadership. Intelligence reports had suggested that the LTTE leadership were meeting there. Vijay, along with 14 others waited for the signal. His radio crackled, "Team Alpha, Proceed to step 4"The Alpha team spread out into the open town centre towards the Jaffna university. They approached it in a sweeping semi circle. Vijay ran towards its west wall. Quickly he scaled the wall and dropped down silently on the other side. On either side of him other commandos materialised. They were in. They waited. Radio crackled again, "Alpha, No reistance detected. Proceed towards Building Z".Building Z was the main academic building. They expected to lay seige to it with the least resistance. The dorms would be a different matter though. The targets would be there. They expected some resistance there but that was Charlie's problem. The dark silhoutte of the Main academic building loomed before them like a dark monster. Total silence.

Vijay had a bad feeling about this. Ever since they had arrived at the beach quiet and easy, he had been queasy. At each step, he expected someone to break this comfort; open fire, but none had come so far. It had been too easy, too quiet - almost as if that had been the intention. His eyes surveyed the dark university windows that fronted the face of the building they were approaching. He slowed down. On either side other members of Alpha swept past him quickly gaining on the still building. Vijay stopped. Something just wasnt right. He surveyed the dark rows of closed windows and thought he saw a one of them open up slightly. That was when it all happened - a lot of things; simultaneously and rapidly. The lights came on with the force of a mid day sun.

Vijay saw team alpha caught in the middle of the open ground before the building. They started to scamper but were totally trapped. Almost simulatenously the sound of the deadly Automatics started. It was a bloody trap. They had been compromised. It was like being in hell. Bullets whizzed past Vijay as he ran back towards the west wall. His face was set in a permanent mask of terror. He had just seen all his team mates fall down to the ground like nine pins. He had never been more terrified before. Several minutes later, as Vijay sat with the wounded and bruised survivors, on the hovercraft back to the base, he realised that he was the only member team alpha to make it back. They had been sitting ducks. 60 soldiers killed in under 3 minutes. The whole operation had been a set up. There had been a leak. Terror slowly became anger.

Over the course of the 15 minute ride to the base, anger bacame hatred. Hatred for one particular man - the man who sold his country and killed his team. Several hours later as the town of jaffna came to grips with the reality, a street tramp, dressed in tattered and soiled clothes sat outside the Jaffna university. He was munching on some dry bread he had bought at the local bakery. No one paid attention to him nor did they notice his bleeding left leg.....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chapter # 1 (Tyaga n Arjun)

Location: Island 15312 [5.57° N 72.62° E]
Status: Classified (Indian Administration)
Time: 1830Hrs Date: NOV-7-2006

The Island was silent. The total area of the 15312 Island is 7 square miles. The eastern portion of the Island is marked by a small hillock rising for about 40 metres above sea level. Though there is a steep gradient of 9 degrees from the western coastal plains to the top, the opposite face is a steep 40-metre wall plunging into the Indian Ocean with sharp rocks jutting out all over the base. Overall the Island looks like the famous Indian Samosa cut into half. The top of the hillock spans an area of 2 miles flat.

To any unsuspecting viewer on the first sight it just looked like an uninhabited chunk of land in the Great Indian Ocean. Many thought that it was just a piece of land extending from the Lakshadweep archipelago. But many did not know the importance of activities going on in the island.

Covered with shrubs and grasslands on the eastern side, the vegetation improved as the elevation increased. The vegetation was quite exotic ranging from tundra trees to the typical palm and coconut trees densely placed on the top. This enormous canopy was a good cover for the one and only concrete structure on the top of the hill with a small-unpaved road connecting the building to one of the 4 hidden piers and barracks in the base of the hillock.

The Concrete structure was a 1.5-mile square block painted in military colors providing excellent camouflage and making it almost impossible for the naked eyes to spot from a distance. It was an engineering marvel in itself. The building housed 6 storeys. With the top floor used for storage and vehicle garages, other floors ran down deep into the ground. Though the top 3 storeys would be similar to any military base worldwide, the final 3 storeys marked the importance of this classified Indian Army Base known only to the top people in the government and Army Staff. Only the elite unit of Army was sanctioned to work in the base and it is the best-guarded secret of India.

The Island was silent. With the sun rapidly disappearing behind the hillock, darkness loomed over the Island. Apart from the usual eerie silence that was the characteristic of the island, there was something unusual about the building. The east wall of the building had a blast door with reinforced steel and lead. There were no windows on the other 3 sides of the building. The walls were concrete on 3 sides. But a portion of the wall for about 4 meters on the left side of the blast door was made of brick. It was initially used as the alternate access to the building while the blast door was being constructed. Since completion, the brick wall was left as it was and concealed for exits during emergency.

Everything was silent around the building. The whole island was dotted with state of the art security gadgets and it was monitored 24/7. The blast door was closed. The red LEDs marking the emergency situation was on near the blast door. Exactly at 1837hrs IST, the brick wall on the left side of the blast door exploded with a shattering noise that shook the building. From the broken wall came a black Indian Army spec-Scorpio smashing the remaining parts of the brick into smithereens. It thundered down the dark road towards Pier-1 and was driven with the skill of an F1 Pilot. Inside the Scorpio was 'THE HOUND', trying hard to concentrate on the path ahead. He was breathing hard with blood flowing from his forehead into his eye-sockets.

As the Indian Army-spec Scorpio swerved along the tricky mountain road to the Pier-1, the whole building exploded with a massive explosion shaking the island altogether. The flame emerged from the building plummeting the roof a mile up into the sky and erupting into an enormous mushroom cloud of fire. In moments pieces of the building and the materials inside it were raining down on the island and the waters surrounding it.

Just a few seconds before the explosion, the mountainous wall on the western part of the island had started moving. A portion of the wall had opened up a cavity in the mountain and revealed a rectangular hole – almost 50 metres in height and 150 metres in length - right at the centre of the wall. The epicentre of the explosion was at the 3 floor of the base and was at the blast door side of the building. The impact of the blast door forced the powerful forces to turn down inside the base and the flames rushed out of the cavity in the western wall. It was a majestic sight, and to any layman it would have looked like the mountain was breathing fire out.

The flames reached about 150 metres from the opening and started to fold back into the opening. Just then a black Sukhoi 47 Berkut MKI gunned out of the cavity like a phoenix out of the ashes. The pieces clinging on to the wings of the Su-47 Berkut MKI were still on fire and the big black and sleek bird looked like fiery eagle on its flight. Inside the cockpit of the worlds most advanced fighter jet was 'THE HAWK'. Soon the SU-47 Berkut MKI disappeared into the horizon shaking off the burnt pieces of the base into the Indian Ocean.

The Island would soon be silent once again, as the flames were dying out fast.

To be continued…

Monday, August 22, 2005


I was back again in The Little Rome with Karthik after a long time. It was in this hotel where I met 'her'. We had heard so much about each other through Karthik and Divya , but had never seen each other till then. Whenever Karthik and Divya bought 'her' name up during conversations, I found myself listening intently, curiosity piqued, wanting to meet this stranger who somehow didn’t seem like one, as each day passed. But I never had the chance to let Karthik or Divya know about it. Though all of us, including Karthik,Divya,Me,Her and a lot of others were in touch most of the time, thanks to the BPL MOBILE NETWORK, I used to get 'her' messages meant for Karthik from Divya. With each day I was getting more anxious about meeting 'her'.

The first chance came in May. Karthik was in a hurry getting ready to meet Divya. I was confident that he would take me with him. But he was already late and completely forgot about me. He rushed off in his car and I was left behind, disappointed. My next chance was three months down the line. This time Karthik did not forget me. We were both cruising along,on time. It was raining like hell that day, i remember – More so coz Karthik had kept his time I’d like to think. Knowing my extreme aversion to rain and dampness, Karthik left me in the car and went off, to meet Divya. It was only later that I came to know that ‘she’ had come along for the meeting too. I was disappointed with myself this time.

Then came the unexpected rendezvous 4 months later. One cloudy morning, Divya showed up out of nowhere on karthik's doorsteps. My heart leapt, and I looked beyond her towards the door – expectantly – but to no avail. Never had I felt so disappointed, the gloomy weather reflecting my state of mind, Divya, too excited on seeing Karthik after such a long time, insisted on having lunch at the seaside Italian eat-out, their favourite. There was no sign of 'her' even in the car. I sat quietly with Karthik listening to the gibberish about Divya's superiors and how they had screwed up her promotion. I was feeling low, but somehow, had the strong feeling that 'she' was there somewhere.

So, there I was,sitting in that corner table gazing at the atlantic ocean, wondering when I would meet 'her'. Suddenly Divya went out to get her handbag from the car. When Divya returned couple of minutes later,I saw 'her'.We finally met, across the restaurant's big black granite table. My moment had finally arrived and ‘clicked’ off right from the start. We were on the same bandwidth and there was a huge amount of information exchanged, of course all in the SILENT MODE without disturbing Karthik and Divya.

From then on we met quite often, as Divya had moved into New York from Boston for her work. We both even had some time alone every time we met. 'She' was the quite, conservative type, with all the essentials though. To be frank, she simply had everything that I was looking for. I was quite 'her' opposite. I was one of those 'GEEK' types with chiselled looks and quite modern in my actions.I would say I thought quite ahead of the time I belonged to. Well that would'nt be a shock to her since I was with Karthik. And she would've heard about me when Karthik made his acquaintance with me. I realized I was falling for 'her'.

I woke up from the past into the present when Karthik asked for the time. I never believed that things could change drastically in such a short period of time. For me everything had always been planned and systematic. A few months ago, when I was hopelessly lost and in love with her, Karthik planned to take Divya to the Empire State building and Statue of Liberty. I was excited about it too as I was sure to be a part of the trip since Karthik just could not do without me.Finally, there we were In the top gallery of the Empire State Building,that fateful afternoon. Divya was warned twice by Karthik about standing too close to the wall. She was so excited and did not heed his warning.

Karthik was a bit careful in his stand and was concerned about Divya. I was taken care of before taking the elevator by Karthik. So there I was safely wrapped up in Karthik's Windcheater protecting myself falling from the colossal building's top. Divya was too excited about the height and the view of NY from the top that she let go of the safety railing and slipped on to the metal floor. Divya was holding ‘her’ hand before going down. Suddenly Divya lost her grip on ‘her’ while going down and ‘she’ fell headalong into thin air from the colossal building.

I knew there was no possibility of surviving that kinda fall. Suddenly everything came crashing down on me. I had lost her forever. Divya was upset for two full days. For Divya 'she' was more than a gift.After about a week, Divya had to return back to India to attend her sister's marriage and Karthik was left alone.I was lifeless, in a trance, my whole life a huge mistake. I was slowly losing everything, and as I gazed at the atlantic, felt drained, hopeless.

Not a single second has gone from then on, that I have not mourned her loss. I yearn to hear from her again, to connect with her,for no other Nokia 2300 can replace 'her'…… What more can a Sony Ericsson P910i do?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Living in the Rain...

The door slammed behind me once again, as I walked away from the world I knew all too well. I needed an escape. I felt as if my mind and my soul were being smothered. I looked at my car as i walked down from the porch. It was a gleaming black Scorpio which had seen some of the best moments of my life. I climbed into the 2800cc beast and gunned it down the long drive, not knowing where I would end up, but knowing anywhere would be better than here.

Night had begun to fall, and as the miles that separated me from home increased, I began to relax. It seemed as though my car knew where to take me, because the drive was effortless. Soon I had crossed the city limits and was powering the turbo charged MM V6 down the expressway. Then I turned right from the expressway into the much smaller and quiet country side. It was our get-away territory. I soon
ended up along the narrow road adjacent to the river. It was one of the roads I had driven during my college days with THE GANG. I hadn't been on this road for years. My life now, as an adult, was too busy to take time out for joy rides. I had board meetings to attend, taxes to pay ,wife Kavya and my sweet li'l brat Aryan to look after.

I smiled as I drove past the places that I'd spent so many weekends, parked with friends along this road. I had lost touch with some precious memories, but they seemed to be flooding back, filling my heart. I pulled over underneath a familiar gnarled tree and got out. It was the place we normally stop for our smoke breaks and to switch the driving seat. Although the trip to the farm house was a shorter one,
we used to switch places after every 50 - 60 kms. It was the drive that we enjoyed more than the stay at the farmhouse.

The wind had started blowing and I could smell the impending rain. Pushing my hair back and out of my face, I lit a cigarette. I slowly walked to the tree and searched the trunk. It didn't take long for me to find what I was looking for. "ARJUN and ADITI , True Love Always". Time and weather had faded the words, but they were still there. Tears came to my eyes as I traced the words lovingly with my fingers.
This was Aditi's favorite spot too. I turned and walked towards the river and my tear filled eyes seemed to act as a cue for the rain to start falling.

I sat on our favorite rock, eyes closed, listening to the sound of the raindrops meeting the river. I felt her hand cup my head and her lips gently touch my cheek. Her scent was mixed with the smell of the fresh rain and I could feel her warmth next to me. I didn't dare open my eyes, instead, I slid my arms around her neck and kissed her the way I'd kissed her two decades ago. Tears slid down my cheeks as
we embraced. I had spent years trying to forget how her arms felt around me, and here they were again, stronger than ever. I could feel the need in her and I wondered if she knew how badly I needed her too.

The rain was coming down in torrents now, but it didn't matter. I could feel her warm breath against my skin as she kissed my forehead. I ran my hands over her sweet and calm face, and through her long dark hair. Even soaking wet, I remembered the feel of it, the feel of her. A loud clap of thunder forced me to open my eyes and I realized that I was alone with my memories.

The accident hadn't happened far from here. The road winds along the river and the girl driving her car that night wasn't the first to miss the hairpin turn. The car rolled and the driver's side was crushed. They said the driver died instantly, but Aditi held on for a few hours. Those few hours seemed like an eternity. She had been so young, and I hadn't known how to say good-bye. She was going for the
farmhouse with her friends. I had seen her like 6 hours before, when she came down to get the keys.

For twenty years I've tried to replace the memories of that night with memories of better ones, memories of her smile, her kiss and of the wonderful person that I had come to love. I closed my eyes again and remembered Aditi introducing me to her friends as "My Mr.Right." I wondered what my life might have been like had Aditi not died that night, so many years ago. Would I really have been "Mr.Right?"

As I got up to leave, I felt a warmth envelope me. I blew a kiss to that old gnarled tree as I climbed, soaking wet, into my car and began my drive back home.

Thank you, Aditi. You were always there when I need you.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Marriages are made in Heaven

You might have seen Pretty girls got married to a 'Average-Looking-Boys' and Vice versa. That is Life...dictated by the Almighty. Wanted to write about this with little help from my 'Obsessive sense of Humor'. Enjoy !!!

Marriages are made in Heaven.GOD has to create 1000 humans today.
He tossed the coin in the air to decide the gender.Head for boys and tail for girls.
So far he has created 100 lives .Still a long way to go.Came the tail.

He wanted to make her most beautiful girl in the world.Moon came to his mind and he gave her the face.Bow came to his mind and he gave her the eyebrows.Fish came to his mind and he gave her the eyes.Rose came to his mind and he gave her the lips.He thought of all the beautiful things he has created.He took more time to finish the process.He sent her to Earth.

Seems god is not in the good books of Time.Only an hour left for the remaining 899 lives.He wanted to make it fast.He did not think of anything while creating those lives, not even tossed the coin.He did not worry about how they would look like.He finished creating 999 lives.

5 more minutes to call it a day.Decided to toss the coin.He has to create a man in 5 minutes, an impossible event he thought.He knows he cannot fully finish this creature
Worried about his fate on the earth.He just did few things and could not proceed further, exhausted fully.He decided to compensate for his mistake.Gave a divine link between this man and the beautiful girl he has created.He consoled himself and sent the man to Earth.

Years rolled by.The Beautiful girl meets this boy .Something attracts them together.
They end up getting married.On seeing this God wiped off his tears and put a period to his new statement "Marriages are made in heaven."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Anu would love to be here!!!!!!

Anu would love to be here.

He placed the lens cover back on the camera and started climbing up. The towering rock rose up to forty feet in front of him. It was the best place in the jungle on a humid Monday afternoon. Everyone who would like to have a bird's eye view of the green valley and serene river have to climb up this rock that is right in the middle of the jungle. Water sprinkling everywhere, the exterior of the rock was a sight to watch.

Anu would love to be here.

He knew the management would never let Anu come anywhere near the Jungle or the Camp or the water falls. Girls were not allowed on the field. They were confined to the research laboratory.She detested her job and envied him. He detested his job and loved her.

There was a stinking smell everywhere around the rock. For the first couple of weeks, it got on to his nerves. However as days went by he grew accustomed to such smells. Working inside a Jungle, though as an electrical engineer toughened with will , was not easy at this altitude. He reached the top of the rock. From the top he could say that the forest was in a mess. The giant cats were growling in their signature tune. He went to the edge of the rock, looked at them, listened to them and slowly started setting up the 8MP EOS – A routine since this project had been initiated.

Anu would love to be here.

Since his ELT days, he had developed an admiration for this bubbly next batch girl who unfortunately was confined to the air-conditioned interiors of the Lab – located comfortably near the Far East corner of the Game Reserve.In the final phase of their ELT, they had been assigned on different projects – different offices. She never knew him until he sent a mail. She loathed him at first. She fought tooth and nail with him but he never gave in. He did not even remember the face of this girl. Then they started talking. But he seldom spoke because most of the speech was done by Anu. He tried at times to meet her but she would chase him off. It was her moment. She would say that it would be difficult for you. Dont do it. But still he managed to get to her place just to see her face and listen to that hearty laughs. But even then he seldom spoke. She did most of the talking. He could be in the vicinity and stare at her as long as he wanted but he could not say anything back. He would've never let that happen with anyone else but this was Anu. So he let her inside where no one was ever allowed in his life.

Anu would love to be here.

He checked the aperture and shutter speed of the EOS and made a mental note that he should ask the technician to get an extra 1 GB flash card. It was an unwritten rule in the Organisation that Field Cameramen would not carry the toolkit. It was the technician’s job to take up the calibrations and enhancements. He had a similar view. He was pretty lousy with the tools. He could never take a proper lens cleaning without scratching the prism inside the SLR. Anu on the other hand loved doing such things with a remarkable finesse. She wanted to be an geek. When the IT Major wanted to offer her a campus placement she politely took it without even thinking about it. That's why they met in the first place. But Inner peace by Aurobindo was much more interesting to her than Roger.S.Pressman’s Software Engineering principles.

Anu would love to be here.

Their relationship had never been clearly defined. No one, not even them knew where it was heading. It all happened suddenly and so fast that neither of them could fathom something out of it. He suspected that the second most important factor which influenced her decision of joining this Wildlife Research was that he was also offered a job here. The first should be the Research and ofcourse the wildlife.

He fought with her all the time. She argued with him always. She screamed at him. But she was with him almost all the time. They shared a remarkable chemistry. They were the thickest of friends half a second and the bitterest of enemies in the next split. He flunked the very first Project assigned to him. She excelled in hers. He was selected by another project team then. She grew into a star in her team. Her inspirational speeches won her admirations from even senior management which is normally tight lipped. She was the star there. She made the place more lively than anyone else could have. She was the most sought after resource. There were instances when PL's fought with each other for her. And all this was in just 10 months of joining the company. Inspite of all that she was very close with him. She was changing him without him knowing that. Even she dint know that. They were talking laughing and having a great time and he admired her so much he fell in love without even knowing what he was doing. He never told her about this and generally kept his mouth shut all along. He was proud being associated with her.

Anu would love to be here.

He was completed with the shots. He had to leave. He had a long trek in front of him. He had to reach the TWIN WATERFALLS to collect the samples for research. The collection of Snake Venom was one of the toughest jobs. He was in love with the snakes right from childhood. He was amazed at their abilities even without limbs. The way they lived their life and they way they protected themselves from the big bad world left him speechless. He loved this job better than the old one. It was his kinda job. He was a Wildlife survey Officer now in this Himalayan Game Reserve. He felt his self whenever he was out in the mountains. He was also doing Freelance Photography. He was by now quite a famous wildlife photographer in Nepal and India.

Anu would love to be here.

He walked along the stream with its crystal clear sparkling water. He came to the rope bridge and started walking carefully holding the backpack for it held the field equipments like the sample bottles and films and snake collections bags. He momentarily stopped at the center of the bridge to take a look around the area for some kinda wildlife activity. It was so calm and peaceful and all that he could hear was the clicks from his Timex. He looked at it and breathed a heavy sigh. Then he started walking to the end of the bridge. He felt a bit thirsty and hungry. He climbed down to the stream and sat there on the bank with his thoughts filling about Anu.

Anu would love to be here.

She liked him too. She kept saying he was a real sweet guy. Although she dint trust him at the start, she started liking him once they started talking. Soon they found out they had so many common things between them. They were the best of friends that nobody knew. Noone knew about them until one fine day. It was that day when He decided enough is enough and quit his job. He was doing well but could not keep him going against his instincts. The day he left his job, she cried. He promised to call her soon but never did. But she knew how to track him and then came to know what he was and where he was.

It was a rude shock to her Manager when she told that she was quitting. She had got the job as a Research assistant in the same Organisation which conducted research and was majorly into Environmentalist Issues. It was backed up and sponsored by major companies. She was a well known Columnist by then and He was happy that she was there. On her very first day of induction, she was told that she’d be required to work with the Research Department of the Organisation whereas her friend would be in the field most of the time doing collection, photography and field studies that gave the data to be analyzed in the lab. She tried to reason with the HR manager that the very reason why she chose this job over a plush software job. But all went down in vain.

Anu would love to be here.

Helen of Troy grunted as if it was protesting its arrest. The 300 pound bear sitting right next to the wired fence was nicknamed The Helen of Troy simply because of her sheer size. She was kept in a 10 acre fenced area.The laboratory was located in a remote corner of Nepal. The employees knew nothing about the Helen of Troy until a Brad Pitt version of it was released in the town – dubbed in Hindi. Anu hated the movie. She drew comparisons with an old movie of the same story. She did not like Brad Pitt.

Anu would love to be here.

He was walking along the giant coniferous trees to his SUV. She loved those big trees. She had an uncanny knack of talking to the trees. The trees listened to her. When she ordered, the trees obliged. They shared a relationship perplexing to the three dimensional world. Perhaps they worked in a higher dimension.She wanted to be in the field; touch the wild flowers and say hi to the tiny insects crawling the huge forest grounds. However the management did not think so. She raised a hue and cry over the issue. She vociferously protested the gender bias.But it wasn’t gender discrimination. It was more of a safety regulation. Field work in the jungle was too taxing for the women employees. So they were mostly given office work, whereas the supposedly tough men were made in charge of running the field studies and survey's.

Anu would love to be here.

By then he had reached the far end of the forest.He walked over the fortified wall of the check dam the organisation had built for the locals living in that area.He went to the ladder and climbed down to the bottom of the dam where the electrical room was there.He leaned on the motor and looked around.From there, the hills presented a fabulous picture. It was very chill and getting slightly dark. The lights were blazing from the distant town some 40 kms away. The sky was filled with the spongy clouds. The color combination was mind-boggling. He inspected the auxiliary motors quickly and walked to the ladder.

Anu would love to be here.

He checked his watch. He had exactly an hour to log the LLF report and reach the Office for the briefing. He typed everything including the increase in poaching levels though he knew it was not gonna be considered.The weather was enthralling. The energy was almost visible. The forest had its own personality. Many of his friends held the opinion that the forest was living. Though the pay was more, the excitement of climbing a tree to inspect the injured kingfisher's nest was the USP of that job. More than that he loved it.

Anu would love to be here.

He walked briskly to the SUV. His favorite part in the whole day was the drive. The drive from the facility to these interior parts of the jungle was an uphill task. The roads were not good and thats why he loved it. His 2800 litre SUV was good on all terrains. He loved the drive up till the collection point and the return in the evening sun. He reached the SUV finally. He loaded the backpack into the back and sat on the rock. He took the tobacco cylinder and lighted it. He looked at the cigarette. Anu hated him smoking but never told him anything about that. They had small fights now and then about it. And he would stop it for her but he had his occasional puffs. She dint mind that. He threw the cigarette away and started his drive back to the facility.

Anu would love to be here.

He looked at the seat next to him. It was empty. He never allowed anyone to sit there. They both had gone on drives in the SUV quite a few times. All those times when she is with the nature, she loses her composed nature. She gets cranky. Those were their intimate moments. They had walked along the plush meadows together. Though she was not into the forest as much as He has, she knows the forest floor like a book. She has her favorite spots marked with some of her favorite trees and rocks. She was ecstatic when he took her to the twin waterfall which was in the unauthorized area of the game reserve.

Anu would love to be here.

He almost hit the tree branch when he got back to himself in the driving seat of the SUV. He had veered off the track slightly and the back tyre had skidded in the mud. He exerted all his energy and turned the SUV back into the track. He checked the electric fences for damages on his way back. Those electric fences were in place to prevent wild animals from entering the facility. Though many of the GEEKS raised their concern against it, he knew it was of very minute charge capacity and it would'nt kill any animal. Even Anu ahd fought with him about this issue. She had even written a column in last year's Reader's Digest. It did cause a stir in the organisation but the management never raised the issue against Anu, considering the merits she had within the facility and with the senior management.

Anu would love to be here.

He reached the facility and parked the SUV in front of his office and walked straight towards the canteen. His stomach had been growling since he started walking back. He was late as usual for the lunch. The Chef at the facility was standing outside the canteen with his hands on his hips.He apologised as he went past him into the canteen. The chef never said anything. He went to their favorite corner in the canteen. There was a big window in that corner which she liked a lot. As he slowly munched his roti, he saw the cafeteria was almost half full. He just wondered and looked at the time. It was almost the Evening Tea Break time.

Anu would love to be here.

He stared at his opposite chair.

Anu would love to be here.

She loved rice with yogurt. If the lunch-break was long enough, she would finish all the yogurt available in the fridge.

He looked at the entrance.

Anu would love to be here.

He stared at the empty chair.

Anu would love to be here.

He was slowly losing it. Anu would love to be there on the forest floor… She would love to be on the top of the check dam inspecting the 30 KW twin gensets. She would love to get drenched in the drizzle from the water sprinkling around the rocky terrain of the waterfalls. She would love to eat yogurt.And he would love to stare at her. He would love to get admonished by her. He would love to be just with her… in this forest.

Anu would love to be here.

The chicken curry, he loved so much tasted bitter. He placed the spoon on the table and took out his hand kerchief. Anu hated tears. At times he would crib when things were not going right but she would scold him whenever she saw his moist eyes. She never let him cry. According to her tears didn’t serve any purpose.He wiped a tear off his eye. She wouldn’t like to see it. She wouldn’t see it. The chef came from the far corner towards him and placed a hand on his shoulder. He held the chef's hand tightly and closed his eyes.

Anu would love to be here.

He broke down at once. Tears were flowing freely. The chef's question "are you alright??" was fading away in his ears.

Anu would love to be here… in this facility… on the forest floor… in this world… amongst all of us…

AnU would love to be here.

May her soul rest in peace.