Keshav was rushing hurriedly through zigzag gully of Aminabagh to catch 9.55 bus. As he reached the bus stop and was panting for breath, he saw 43 C low floor bus slowing down to stop in Aminabagh bus stand. Carrying his bag (with special Naga artwork) he rushed inside to take the window seat. Having sat in the right middle end of the bus he breathed a sigh of relief. As was his usual business, he took his 5 years old low battery Samsung mobile and started to open ‘Opera mini 4.4’. He dialled *5 as speed dial to go to the Face book link. Keshav was exited to see who all celebrate their birthday. “Wow” he shouted in excitement as he saw it was Bill John’s birthday. He calmed himself as he saw the staring eye of the lady-co-passanger who sat beside him.

Bill was Keshav’s close friend. They both work for the NGO “Bharatiya Chatr Sevak Parishad”. It was an organisation committed to the welfare of Indian student community and to give awareness about the richness of Indian cultural values.. They both met for the first time in Sat Tal Asram, Nainital during their training to become “Chatr Sevak”. Since then they used to meet together and discuss a lot of things.

His contemplation on giving surprise to Bill was disturbed as the bus conductor shouted, “bhai sahap…. Ticket”. He opened his eight years old leather purse and took a 10 rupee note which and stretched it to him. The conductor handed him a ticket having Rs. 9 printed in it. “One rupees balance” he asked the conductor. “Crying for one rupees…. No change. Collect tomorrow” shouted the conductor. Telling “hey Yeshuji“ he took a deep sigh. He recollected the way Bill was planning to surprise Lavanya on her birthday. His planning was so great and it was really a surprise for Lavanya.

Keshav made in his mind to give a pakka surprise for the master of surprises. He took his mobile again and texted “2day s Bill’s brdday. Don’t vsh him. Lets plan sum srprise 4 him” to all his naughty colleagues. As he kept back his mobile back in the pocket, he realized that it was Kesarbagh and got down from the bus. As his wrist watch showed “10.26”, he walked in jet plane speed to reach the office which usually starts at 10.00. By the time he reached all other Chatr Sevaks are doing their daily adhyan from the Pavitr Shastr. Without making any noise Keshav quietly sat in one end of the carpet with his leg folded and opened his Sanskrit Pavitr Shastr from his mobile. He was so surprised to see Lavanya and her ladies gang reaching the office in time (who usually come at 10.45). Lavanya gave a sarcastic look on Keshav to say, “you are late”.

After the adhyan, Keshav asked, “Did you receive my sms?”. All sang the chorus “yes”.
“Shall we discuss on it?”, asked Keshav in a gentle voice. “See he is late” complained Lavanya to the guruji Mr. Sejo. “Hey you look smart today” commented Chandrika on Hritik. “Can we plan some surprise” shouted Keshav. Nobody responded. All went to their respective places to prepare for satsangs before their deadline ended. Poor Keshav too patiently went to write on the topic “Western influence vs Rich Indian Heritage”

The clock struck one. Our union chairperson Aishwarya announced lunch time. All opened their lunch box and sat on the carpet and started to relish their lunch. Keshav also opened his lunch box and started eating half baked Rotis (in the shape of Srilanka) and bachelor’s special kala tomatar curry. (Overcooked tomato without salt or chilly but was more bitter than bitter guard). “Surprise to Bill” was still rolling in Keshav’s head. As none responded in the morning he did not want to open up the topic again.

“By the way… What is our plan for today” shouted Lavanya.
“what plan” asked Johny Lever.
“The plan to give surprise to Bill” cried Lavanya.
“Share your plan” told Keshav.
“What???? You want us to give our plan???? Then why did you text us in the morning? We didn’t call and wish our dear dear brother Bill. We thought you could have already planned something. Now you are asking us to give ideas. What a person are you? If you don’t know to organize a programme, better don’t initiate it. We might have wished him in the morning and might have been happier.” Screamed Lavanya.
“I was thinking to go to Bill’s house as a group” said Keshav in a smooth voice.
“Are you mad? Usually Bill goes out during special days. Today Bill is on leave. It was a good opportunity to give surprise. What a leadr are you? You are a perfect example of poor leader. ” shouted Lavanya
Poor Keshav’s mouth got shut. “You are a poor team worker too Lavanya” Keshav mumbled in his heart to himself. Johny was happily enjoying the scene.

As usual Keshav thought for a while and started to defend him saying that he wanted all the team members to plan together.

“What is this going on?” shouted guruji Sejo. “Stop it. Why are you fighting among yourself? Why can’t you think ahead of this? Stop all blabbering and analyse the situation on the basis of team management I taught last Friday. Don’t you understand the difference I talked about team effectiveness vs one man show?”.

“Yes. I am wrong. I wanted Keshav to do all the work himself. I might have contributed some ideas to him or at least responded to the text message. If not we all could have talked about it in the morning itself and might have come up with a plan then itself.” realized Lavanya.
“Oh no. I too was wrong” screamed Keshav and added “I could have shared my plan in the morning itself instead of expecting others to speak”

“well. Good that you realized. Now you plan together” guruji gave counsel.
“Inability to understand each others personality lead to this unnecessary quarrel. Now the only option left is calling him and we all singing “Janam dhin mubarak” through phone.” said Lavanya gently.
“Bill has a mobile with video calling. I too got one yesterday. I will make a video call” said Keshav in excitement and dialled 987465123.

As they saw Bill’s cool face through phone, all sang with one accord “Janam din mubarak…”

“Shukriya” said Bill and exclaimed, “it’s really a great surprise to see and hear your wishes through video calling. I never expected this from you. Who organized? Lavanya? Keshav? Or who else”
“We did as Chatr Sevak team” exclaimed all as a chorus


What To Write On TEMPTATION?

What to write on temptation?

Praveen had just entered his room. He opened the room and found an envelope lying down in the floor. He bent down and took it which was addressed to: Praveen, Room No: 17, AMV Boy’s Hostel, MGK University, Varanasi. He was delighted to see “Campus Link” printed on it.

Praveen took out the magazine and glanced through the pages. He stopped at page number 18 which had the caption:  ”WRITERS!!! YOUR  ATTENTION, PLEASE”.  It contained the themes of the subsequent issues. After a perusal he added “temptation. Interesting topic. Why not I give a try?”

Praveen dropped the magazine on the cot and took his seat by the table. The question papers of previous years were lying on the table along with the hodgepodge.  He arranged the books in order and took the question paper; he gave a quick look to it. After reading the last question, “Discuss the use of flash back technique in R.K. Narayan’s novel The Guide” he pondered over it for a while; dropped it in the drawer and got ready to go out.

Praveen put on the overcoat and the monkey cap; locked the room and moseyed towards the cricket ground. Chill whether breezed the uncovered part of his face. He sat on the ground and started to think. His mobile gave the popular airtel ring tone: tin-tida-tin-tin——. He inquired the well being of his mother, sister and brother. He did not forget to kid his sister for the funny e-mail she sent last week. After the talk he switched off the mobile and connected himself with the busy-free network of God through the mobile, prayer. He prayed for special wisdom to write the article. After few minutes of prayer, he started to contemplate, with very little success.

Praveen started to his room. In the carrefour, he met Yogi and Sonu. The sweat flowing from their forehead disclosed that they were returning from the gym. Sonu asked him, “did you start reading Mrs. Dalloway? Kumari mam will teach the novel next week”. As they all walked together Yogi said “read at least first thirty five pages”. They reached the hostel.

Praveen opened his room and took out Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. He opened the book and started to read. After a while he heard a knock at the door. He opened it and let Nabu in. Both discussed the novel. They also discussed the day’s first class where Kumari madam was banging the students for not reading the novel. Nabu left the room saying “keep ‘stream of consciousness’ technique (A literary genre that reveals a character’s thoughts and feeling as they develop by means of a long soliloquy) in mind when you read Dalloway”.

He related the phrase ‘stream of consciousness’ with flash back technique of the question paper. He thought for a while and asked to himself, “Why not I apply stream of consciousness and flashback technique to write article on temptation?” He recalled his old days when he was addicted to unhealthy hallucination. He jotted down few instances when he was badly influenced by it and was pondering over unholy subjects, even after accepting Christ. Those were the days when he started the days with a ‘meaningful quiet time’ and ended the days with ‘powerful prayer’. He was tempted very often when he was alone or at the time when he lay in the bed and prepared to sleep. The latter one was terrible. The pity was satan had blinded his mind that he could not identify that he was sinning with his imaginative faculty.

Raju anna was the one who helped him to overcome this temptation. He used to visit him in his hostels every Wednesdays, apart from their regular meetings in Thursday Bible Study. Initially Praveen did not share this problem with him. After many days, Raju anna took the topic. In their next meeting Praveen opened his problem. Raju anna started to explain him Biblical concepts. Also he gave him a practical tip too: to divert his thinking faculty in a useful way. Praveen recalled the exact words of Raju anna and noted them: “before you sleep or when you are alone, meditate on the day’s quiet time portion. You can also recollect those you studied in the class. You are also interested in creative writing. Say, you can ponder over Orissa issue; ponder over topics of Campus Link; write a poem, or story or an article. In these ways use your brain productively. Don’t forget to pray also”.

Praveen adopted the new method. Initially filthy hallucinations overtook his Quiet time contemplation. He could not overcome the temptation in a fortnight. He was constantly praying and was fighting with filthy hallucination. Finally, he adopted the method of ‘diverting the imaginative faculty productively’. Before he lay in the bed, he kept a book, pen and table lamp in the chair close by the bed.  He pondered over the topics given in Campus Link. Whenever he got a point he noted them in the book and again lay in the bed. He did this till he slept. He developed those topics to short stories and sent them to Campus Link. He was translating all these thoughts in to the paper – where he was writing about temptation- and put the title ‘conclusion’. By then he got a phone call. It was Dr.Aravind from Chennai; he taught him Indian Fiction in BA. He said,” congrats Praveen. I read your short story in the last month’s Campus Link. Really nice. I was really blessed. May God use you more and more. Bye”

Brave chachi


The clock struck 12.00 at midnight. Ben downed his pen.
Got up from the wooden chair and moved towards the shelf and took the yellow
shawl hanging in the upper row.

“Come, let’s go for a chai” called Ben.

“No”, replied Raj,
his roommate and commented “The shawl is eye-catching”

“I bought it from the IP Mall
yesterday for 2000 bucks” replied Ben proudly and added “when you have a
lie-down don’t bolt the door. Just shut it. Bye”

Ben, donning the Kashmiri shawl on
his shoulder – already puffed-up with sweater and jacket-, stepped down out of
room no. 122 of Birla Hostel –C. Chill breeze socked
gently in his face – the only uncovered part. Humming tunes, Ben moseyed towards
the main entrance of Banaras Hindu University. Sodium
lamps on the sides of the Hostel Road, the lights from different hostels and
the shaft of light from the vehicles passing by ousted the darkness. Ben
sporadically touched and felt the velvetiness of that Kashmiri shawl. Crossing
the main entrance he reached Chachi’s Chai Dhookan.

A raised platform of wood, two
benches, a stool, a stove, three or four casks containing milk, some glasses,
few tins containing chai pathi
biscuits, beedis, cigars, pans, gudkhas and a plate containing beetle nuts, lime and
tobacco leaves in the al fresco constituted chachi’s
chai dhookan
. Behind
this dhookan was a grocery shop – closed by
now. Ben took his seat in a blue bench and ordered “ek
special chai”. Chachi
was busy serving chai, pan, gudkha, biscuits, beedis
and cigars

In a few minutes chachi
– a wiry, rickety, anemic lady of 35 – came with a lovely smile and handed me a
kullad and filled it with chai.
Her hands, rather her whole body, were trembling as she poured the chai. As Ben surveyed her, the flimsiest sari she
wore as a substitute for a woolen shawl caught Ben’s attention. Somebody from
the next bench conveyed “continuously for five days the temperature was around
7 degree”

Voley of Questions gushed out of Ben’s

so week, why does she work the whole day and night?”

couldn’t she make her children work?”

she employ a child
labourer by giving pea nuts?”

Ben decided to wait till chachi frees herself. Ben waited for about an hour
sipping some more chai, eating biscuits and
site seeing. As he was scrutinizing Lanka, Malviji’s
statue caught his attention. The light of the sodium lamp was reflected clearly
in a few dew drops in the cheek of Malviji’s statue.
It seemed to Ben as if Malviji was crying

Chachi sat to rest. She drove the stool near
the stove and took her seat. Seeing Ben, she asked, “what betta?
You are here for a long time…”

“I want to ask something” replied Ben

“To me?” laughed chachi
and said “ask whatever you want”

“When do you come to start the day’s
work?” was Ben’s first question

“At 8.30 in the morning” said she
with a surprise.

“When will you go back for lunch?”

“At 2.00 in the afternoon”

“When will you come again here?”

“At 10.00 in the night and will be
here till 3.00 in the early morning”

“What are your children doing?”

“The elder boy is reading in 9th,
the second girl in 7th and the third girl in the 6th
class. All study in Malviji’s Kendriya

“Being so weak, why don’t you make
them work in the dhookan?” asked Ben with a
sense of humanity.

“They do work, but after their
school-time and regular study-time.
Vishwas takes care of the dhookan in the evening after returning from the
school. Prema and Sahaya
cook and water the vegetable plants. I just take care of the dhookan. That’s all” replied chachi
with pride.

“See there. See how energetically the
two boys work in Sharmaji’s chai
dhookan. See here. See how his own children
work in Yadavji’s dhookan.
See the shop next to it. See there too two children are working. You too should
bring your children to work or employ some kids to work in the dhookan. With kids a peanut salary will do” said

“I am proud of not employing child labourers. Children can support their family
but not at the cost of education or child abuse. I will go to the extent of working
the whole 24 hours, yet I will never give consent to child
labour. Come what
may” proclaimed chachi.

Marveled at Chachi’s
determination, Ben took his shawl and draped her. Touching her feet, he left
the dhookan.

On his return, Ben threw a glance at Malviji’s statue. Now he found a smile of happiness too in
that moaning statue of Malviji.