Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Face to Face

They put him in a 6 feet by 6 feet cell.It was good riddance they thought.He would now rot in there for all eternity.And they couldn't think of anyone who deserved it more.He was one of the worst criminals...and an even worse human being if that was possible.No one shed a drop when the judge announced the verdict of life sentence.No one deserved it more richly than him.

He sat in the court day after day and heard all the allegations they brought.He was an underworld gangster.He had killed hundreds of thousands of people.He had built an empire on all sorts of illegal businesses.Everyone testfied against him.All of his closest aides cut a deal with the police.They gave him up to save their asses.They hung him out in the open.

But he didnt speak a word.Didnt for even once open his mouth to refute any of the charges.His lawyers tried their hardest.But it really was an open and shut case.There never was a doubt from the beginning.

And thus they put him away.And everyone thought that was that.Justice was served.


It was a busy day in the News Kolkata office like usual.It was busier than usual.Because today was a huge day.News Kolkata has acquired the exclusive rights of an interview with former gangster and underworld don Viktor Fernandez.Six years ago Fernandez was convicted on 37 counts and sentenced to lifetime improsinment.And now News Kolkata had acquired the rights to an interview with the man who didn't defend himself during his trial.

The chief architect of this triumph was senior journalist Arjun Sengupta.Arjun has always had a great vision.He knew a great story when he saw it.And when he was covering Fernandez's trial six years earlier he thought what a great story it would be to bring out the personal life of the dreaded mafia.The man convicted of 77 known murders.And now after six years of fight he had been able to acquire the permissions from all concerned authorities for an interview with Viktor Fernandez.He had actually wanted the live interview to be telecast on News Kolkata's channel.But in the end he had to settle for an interview for the newspapers.Even that was quite an achievement Arjun thought as he boarded his car to set out for Alipore Jail.This was going to be his day,his moment.All great journalists have their defining stories...and this was gonna be his.

He had it all worked out.All the questions framed after much chopping and changing over six years.Yes he was going to be famous.As famous as he dreamt of being when he started this job.His rise in the profession has been meteoric.And this was going to seal that.

As he entered the cell Arjun felt kind of nervous.Seated in a chair was Viktor fernadez.His hands and feet were fettered,And there were 10 armed policeman standing around.What the hell,thought Arjun,he is a gangster not a fucking psycho.

'Gentlemen if you would be kind enough to step outside...then I can begin my interview...' said Arjun to the guards.

'Sir,we are here for your safety...he is one dangerous son of a bitch' said one of them.The others nodded in agreement.

'He is all tied up at the moment...stay outside fellas....I will give a shout if he tries anything..He isn't exactly Dr Hannibal Lecter is he' laughed Arjun.

'Who is this doctor?He is a gangster...Viktor Fernandez' declared one of the guards emphatically.

'It was a joke...never mind...just give me some privacy ok??I will be all right..'said Arjun.

The men hesitated for some time-then slowly filtered out.'Please close the door..I am not saying lock it..just pull it please' asked Arjun.

Finally everything was ready and he was sitting down in the most important assignment of his career.Face to face with one of the most dreaded criminals of the country,the Goanese Viktor Fernandez.

Viktor looked much thinner than when he was last seen during the trials.However aside from that and a patch of grey hairs on the sides of his face he looked no different.

Arjun spoke first-'I guess you are wondering who am I?Well I am a journalist....I believe your story need to be told to the world...During your trial you maintained silence...Now you should tell people your side-'

'Save the bullshit brother' cut him off Viktor....a faint smile on his face..'You dont give a shit about me pal...It's all about a story...you are gonna beat the shit out of your competition with this story...In my days,I had people in the press you know....I know all you fucking hypocrites down to your bone marrows'

The room was pin-drop silent for a couple of seconds.Then Arjun spoke again.

'Let's get down to the questions.Did you really do what you were accused of doing?' asked Arjun.

Viktor was looking at his feet.After a short pause he looked up at Arjun,a trace of the faintest smile his face-'Yes...and then some.'

'What led you into this...life of criminal activities??Some childhood trauma??Abusive parents??Bullied at school???WHAT???'Arjun was slowly getting into his stride.

'You know my background perfectly well.But still I will say this for the tape recorders.No...I did not have any troubles in my childhood...I did not face any abuse....I had a great family,the best education everything.'

'Wow...' said Arjun sarcastically 'You're really gonna get some sympathy you know that??Had everything...but no,it wasn't enough!!!NOT FOR YOU!!!You wanted more....no matter how many innocent lives you had to waste!!!'

'Innocent???Who is innocent???The people I killed were all drug dealers..or fucking pimps or rival gangsters....THE WORLD IS NO MORE POORER FOR THOSE BASTARDS!!!;' shouted Viktor.



'You have an answer for everything don't you??Nothing was your fault was it??you have NOT ONE morsel of remorse for your wrong doings!!!'declared Arjun emphatically.

'Do you have any regrets for your wrong doings??' demanded Viktor.

'Me?what have I done???When did I murder anyone???when did I kidnap people??'

'No you haven't murdered anyone.But you stick your goddamn mic in the face of the relatives of the victim.No you haven't kidnapped anyone.You have simply made them your news item.Isn't that correct??' Viktor was actually smiling.

'The duty of the media is to dig out the truth and report it to the people.That's what we do' said Arjun.

'No...that's not what you do...you show people things as YOU view them...NOT AS IT HAPPENED...YOU ARE AS GUILTY AS US.But you know what's the difference between you and me???You stand there smug in your imaginary world of importance.Not knowing that you are just a fucking medium.At least I was king for 15 minutes.I would rather be that and spend the rest of my life here in the jail than be like you.A SCHMUCK FOR A LIFETIME.'

'Why you two-bit punk-'Arjun lunged at Viktor.The guards burst in the room and dragged him out.

'What the fuck were you doing?Are you out of your mind?'asked the senior officer present.

'I was wrong about him.He really is Hannibal Lecter' replied Arjun breathing heavily.

'I dont know what the hell that means...but I know one thing-THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER.Get your ass out of here' replied the Inspector.

As Arjun drove back towards his office he reflected on the day.The day he thought would make his career had gone astray.He had come out empty-handed.He didn't have enough substance for a story.But that wasn't bothering him...what was bothering him was Viktor's words.Was it true??Was he really a schmuck for a lifetime??Was he??

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Kolkata Tale

Act 1
It was yet another Saraswati Puja.This day was always hard for him.Brought back a lot of painful memories.Since that year,every year he hopes the day would pass quickly and he would not notice it.But cruel as the days are they always took 24 hours to pass.Bringing back yet again those memories.They cut through his mind like broken shards of a mirror.
There wasn't any reason it would be any different this year.But what he hadn't anticipated was that this day could go worse.He was woken up by his phone vibrating loudly.He reached out from underneath his quilt and grabbed it-
'Wow up already you lazy bugger??I called you 5 times since the morning!!!'-said a voice he hadn't heard in 2 years.
'Aniket???" He asked his heart pounding.He was now wide awake.
'Oh so you remember??I feel really honoured man!!!You are such a big shot these days....I was afraid you wouldn't remember an old college friend' laughed Aniket from the other side.
'Wow!! I dont believe it dude...It's really you!!!!' he cried.
'Now now...don't wet yourself in excitement...so..you got any plans for today??' asked Aniket
'Well,I...' he was actually thinking of spending the day by himself...
'Ok Ok...I understand...I was thinking maybe we could go out...you know...go someplace...catch up on the old times...but if you are busy....' his voice trailed off.
'I dont believe you man...you call me up on the morning of a holiday to make plans....but hey,you know what...I am an impulsive guy...YOU'RE ON!!!!' .
'Now we're talking....meet you at Pacific Blue at 2 in the afternoon..cool?' asked Aniket.
'Cool....see you...bye for now'

Act 2

He was standing inside one of the Pacific Blue bathrooms-trying to figure out how things got like him this afternoon.When he left his house today he had thought that this would be a quiet afternoon with his best friend in college..catching up on the old times.Maybe it would take his mind off the depressing memories associated with the day.But things haven't gone to his expectations and now he was stuck in this bathroom.

At exactly five minutes to 2 he had parked his car in the parking lot of Pacific Blue.When he entered,he saw Aniket was already there.He had thought that the place would be quite full with today being a festival but it wasnt.As he sat down he noticed Aniket looked the same as he looked in college.Aniket was a stud in those days.A handsome guy who used to make girls go weak in their knees.

'Let's order first shall we?' asked Aniket as he motioned a waiter to their table.

'Yeah ok,,,' he replied.

'I will have a Chicken Enchilada Casserole' said Aniket.

'Same for me too'

'So big guy,how is life?'asked Aniket.Aniket had this habit of calling him big guy because of his larger than normal stature.

'LIfe is fine...although pretty boring at the moment...how about you?'

'Hey...couldn't be better man.....I got a promotion at job....and there's this girl...man,is she is a kisser or what?'

'Still think you are a casanova eh??Give it up dude...the girls only feel pity on you...'

'Yeah well...jealous people tend to demean other's credentials...Hey Kabir!!!' Aniket suddenly shouted.

He turned his head towards where Aniket shouted and saw a suave-looking guy in tux and a girl beside him.His heart nearly stopped the next second as he realized it was Raya..Aniket didn't seem to be perturbed.He then realized Aniket didn't know Raya.He had heard about her but didn't know her.

The guy Kabir and Raya reached their table.Aniket began the introudctions-'Kabir this is Amit.Amit this is my colleague Kabir and his girlfriend Raya.'

Kabir smiled and extended his hand.Amit shook it.'Nice to meet you.'

Everyone smiled awkwardly for a moment.then Kabir spok-'Well...I guess we will be seeing you then...'

'Yeah...well...bye...'smiled Aniket.

As they moved away Amit and Aniket sat down.The waiter came and kept placed their food on the table.They started eating.But Amit was hardly in a mental state to eat.He never knew chicken enchilada casserole could feel so tasteless.He had then excused himself and came to the restroom.As he stood before the mirror all the memories came flooding back.

Act 3

Well, since my baby left me,
I found a new place to dwell.
It's down at the end of lonely street
at Heartbreak Hotel.

You make me so lonely baby,
I get so lonely,
I get so lonely I could die.

-Elvis Presley 'Heartbreak Hotel'

Amit and Raya has were first introduced by a common friend in their last year of high school.A month after that Amit had proposed and Raya said yes to him.After that their two-year long relationship saw some up and downs but it was in their second year in college on Saraswati Puja day that things finally broke down.

On that day Amit and Raya were supposed to go on an outing.But the previous day,the couple has had a huge fight and they weren't on speaking terms that day.Amit was pretty angry and had gone out with a group of friends.He had decided to let things cool down a little before talking to Raya again.

But fate had other plans for him.As he and his friends were sitting down for lunch in a South Kolkata restaraunt,one of his friends said-'Isn't that Raya?'

Amit quickly looked up and saw Raya sitting at a table some way in front with a boy whom Amit didn't know laughing and joking.

The blood rushed to Amit's head.He went to there table and shouted at her calling her a lot of foul names before storming out of there.He swore never to see her again.

But love is a very unpredictable emotion.When Raya called him in the evening he couldn't help receive the call.

'Congratulations' said Raya in an icy voice. 'I was having a huge guilt feeling for leaving you.But today you proved how right I am.'


Raya cut him off-'And I loved you but you aren't worth it.You don't have any respect for anyone.You don't know how to behave with ladies.It's over.Goodbye'

And with that Raya cut the line.Amit sat there motionless for quite some time.

After that day 5 years had gone but the cupid did not visit Amit again.He felt he still hadn't let go of Raya.And today's chance encounter only accentuated this feeling..

Act 4

After 20 minutes he returned to his seat.

'Hey.you could have told me about your stomach infection.We could have ordered Crocin instead.' quipped Aniket.

'Maybe we could live without the wisecracks??and Crocin isn't for stomach problems you ignorant oaf' said Amit.

'Of course you would know a lot about that wouldn't you?' laughed Aniket.

'Let's get out of here' said Amit.

They left the restaraunt 5 minutes later.The encounter with Raya left him shook.But he trusted Aniket's quips and poor jokes to cheer him up.Maybe they could go to his home and chill over a pack of beers.What a depressing life it would be without friends.he thought.Maybe he should try socialising a little more instead of going into the shell.

The story might appear stupid to you.It may appear pointless to you.But this story does not try to tell an universal story for all ages.This is just another Kolkata tale.Nothing more.Nothing less.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Still...We Are Friends

I might appear to you quite rude
Actually I am obsessed with solitude
People are complicated sensitive beings
If I talk,I might end up hurtin' feelings
And I can do without your tears
Making you cry-my biggest fear
You're not to blame-It's my fault
I am just an imbecile dimwitted dolt
That's why I stay away from you all
Dont respond to any of your calls
Make some excuse,get out of town
Am really tired of playing the clown

See I possess this 'Holier than thou' attitude
That justifiably pisses off all the other dudes
They make me out to be a villain
All bragging and talking,no feelings
I admit to all that.but please spare a minute
Lemme tell you my side of the story-what's in it.
See I am just a weary guy cynical of the world
Seen so much,I hardly feel twenty years old
But I dont want to keep wallowing in self -pity
After a time,I can tell you-this stuff ain't pretty
So what I do is keep trying to mask this all up.
Maybe be the centre of the storm in a tea-cup
That way I can come out,all my guns blazing
No tiredness,nothing-just acting plain crazy
But Nuff' said!!!II am tired of talking
The walls of nonchalance are cracking
Next time I see you maybe I will smile
Make small talk,like normal guys-keep a low proflie.
Maybe we will sit down have coffee and chat
You can tell me,how I have gotten grumpy and fat
And I will tell all the stupid poor jokes I know
Then talk about this and that,just go with the flow.

We laugh together,we cry together
Sometimes we fight,but we love each other.
That's why they say friends are forever.

Yep...I love you all...