The Present

August 16, 2008, 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Chapter 1

8:30 AM at Aluva

    A great pang gripped his heart. He was in a desperate need to do something but the situation resisted him to do that. Sitting on a seat by the window in the first row of the bus which is diagonally behind the bus driver, he asked the driver, “How far is it?” The bus driver seemed familiar and after a few moments of recollection he could recognise the driver as his project manager at the IT organisation that he worked. “What is the project manager doing here?” he asked himself. The bus was speeding up the rough road jerking severely.

    “It’s only a few kilometres away,” the bus driver aka project manager grinned at him rocking his head and torso back and forth in sync with the movement of the bus so much so that it looked as if he was dancing to an unheard tune. He also twisted and twirled the steering wheel frequently but not even a single time did the passengers on the bus raise their voice of discontent against the ridiculous behaviour of the driver. At times, it even felt like they would be thrown out of the window of the bus.

    He felt uneasy, overstrained and grew more and more melancholic with every passing minute. He could see many co-passengers standing by his side holding on to the rods overhead. One among them, with a knife in his left hand, was staring at him for no particular reason. “If I get up from this seat, I may lose it and will not be able to sit for the rest of my journey,” he told himself and asked the driver loudly, ”How far is it?”

    “Only a few kilometres more,” repeated the driver loudly while he continued spinning the steering wheel rapidly.

    The co-passenger, who was watching him, told him reassuringly, “It is fine that you attend to your need from the bus itself. Go ahead, do it through the window.” Thanking him with a nod, he pushed aside the window pane and relieved himself. He peed with such a force that it resembled the water gushing out of an open dam. Luckily the window was low enough for him to do it sitting on the seat. Occasionally he looked behind to ensure everyone else on the bus was sleeping. After a while, he zipped up his pants and said ‘Cool…’ merrily.

    Having accomplished the job, he started to sleep on his seat. But the relief didn’t last long as after a few minutes, he wanted to piss again. It puzzled him when the bus conductor called out his name: “Pa-aaa-ndu-uuu...”

    “Finally the conductor has identified me. I need to wind up the act,” he thought.

    But the unpleasant liquid didn’t seem to stop. Rather, it regenerated itself like the river water that gets replenished from an unknown source in the Himalayas. As he tried to zip up the fly, he could see the salty water getting sprayed in the air wetting many places in its course. “Hey Pandu,” the voice came closer.

    “It seems the conductor knows my nickname too,” he murmured.

    The conductor tapped him on his right shoulder.

    “Get up, you idiot. Aren’t you ashamed of sleeping like this peacefully?” shouted Gopal who is now standing angrily by his son’s bedside. He was seething with anger at his son who was curled up in his bed, immersed in a beautiful dream, while the whole world is up and awake. The frown on his face matched the folds of the bed spread on which Pandu, his son, was sleeping. He pulled it with such a force that Pandu fell from the bed with a thud.  The 56-year-old man was so blind with anger that he folded the lower portion of his purple-coloured lungi and stormed out of the room, not speaking another word. But for a split second, his conscience assailed him: “You are the one responsible for his carefree nature.”

    “What? I didn’t do anything. How can you say like that?”

    “Yes, you didn’t do anything. You didn’t tell him your story.”

    “Stop! stop! That is not my mistake,” Gopal defended himself, “I felt that I should not burden him with my sorrows. I wanted him to be happy. It didn’t mean that he could forget his responsibilities.”

    By uttering the statement ‘Pandu forgot his responsibilities,’ the conscience saw Gopal’s blood pressure rising. Having achieved the intended result, the conscience stepped back in search for some more means to trouble Gopal.


    Furious eyes of father were the first to be seen by Pandu that morning followed by his bulged out waistline hidden under the white vest. Pandu reacted little to his dad’s anger and realised with relief that the whole embarrassment of pissing while travelling in a bus was just a dream. Little did he know that the dream, which he took lightly, reflected his personality – in times of strife, he could do anything to maintain his inner harmony.

    “Did I wet anywhere?” he asked himself while he checked his bermudas and the mattress carefully. After ensuring the bed was indeed clean, he pulled himself up to the table by the bed side. The table, made from pure teak wood, had a couple of drawers and stood elegantly near the window that faced Nandini’s house.

    The town of Aluva, where they lived, had lots of teak and mahogany trees. Gopal was proud of the furniture at his house made out of teak wood from his backyard. He would boast about it loudly to his friends. By now, Pandu has got used to his words.  “Did you see this?” Gopal would call his guests’ attention to his furniture. “I designed it myself and got it done by the carpenter. I picked the right wood myself. You know, it isn’t easy.”  The guest is expected to exclaim, “Hey Gopal, this is marvellous!  You are a great artist.”

    Even after the above description if the guest is not impressed, then Gopal would add some more points, “This is genuine wood. You will not see this type of wood anywhere other than Aluva. It is much cheaper too.” He would go on adding many features to it until the guest would agree with him.

    On that renowned table, Pandu found his black Sony Ericson W230i between his personal file and Harry Potter. The phone displayed 8:40 AM, Saturday, August 16, 2008.

    He jumped out of his bed and rushed to the restroom making distinct thumping sound with his footsteps, murmuring, “The damned Project Manager troubles me in my dreams too.”