I Sense A Presence X

Sally’s gaze was fixed on the diary but feet petrified. She stood at the window all night long as a motionless statue but her mind was raging. There were tornadoes, volcanoes, whirlpools swirling, erupting and devastating her from within. She wanted to cry, shout, scream but it seemed as if something caged her at this moment. Panic attacks aren’t new to Sally, her emotionally vulnerable nature have always put her on the receiving end.

Hours passed and it was dawn. Henry woke up around 6 AM and was terrified for a moment to see a motionless and emotionless Sally standing at the window staring at him without battling an eyelid. It seemed as if she is possessed.

“Are you Ok honey?” Henry quizzed as he got from the bed to get a hold of Sally. But before he could touch her she collapsed. Her body couldn’t take more.

“Sally!!” Screamed Henry catching her. He lifted her to the bed, placed her body comfortably. Meanwhile Tracy entered their room as she heard Henry screaming.

“I heard you screaming, what happened? What happened to Sally?” Tracy asked as she looked at unconscious Sally.

“I don’t know, when I woke up I found her standing at the window, looking pale and ghostly. When I tried to reach her she collapsed” explained Henry.

Tracy without furthering the discussion or showing any concern asked Henry if he would be going to office today or shall she start without him.

Henry gave a stern look to Tracy but cordially replied “gonna take a leave today, can’t leave Sally in this condition. And to think otherwise is a stupidity to say the least”.

To that reply Tracy walks up to Sally, settles beside her and gently carassess her hair and says “yeah, she will need a lot of that care now (emphasising on the last two words). Ok I shall take your leave now” and she left the room and Henry returned to Sally. As he was attending Sally, Tracy turned her head once more to get a glimpse of them over her shoulder. She had a smirk on her face.

Around 2 PM Sally woke up, struggled to get up straight as her head was in immense pain and felt dizzy. Henry at once dashed to her to help her. But even in such misery she was cold to the concern that Henry showed. He noticed that at once.

“Look I explained myself yesterday itself that how Tracy ended up at dinner with my client. To accept it or scrutinize my words is your call. I can handle your unwelcoming, cold, suspicious behavior towards me. That’s not my concern, people do change. This is surely not you, I mean not the one I know or have known. My worry is what or who is changing you” and he left Sally to ponder over his words as he got busy arranging lunch for her.

Resting her head on the pillow she turned to her left with Henry’s words now echoing in her head. She thought “he is not completely wrong. Women around Henry isn’t a new sight to me but I have never found it awkward or untoward or say never looked at it in that perspective where I could doubt his loyalty towards me. He gave his explanation, then why I am not able to process it. Am I really getting influenced, is there anything that is taking a toll on my common sense and understanding of circumstances”. She was immersed in her thoughts while looking at the diary as Henry entered the bedroom with lunch. She was so lost in her thoughts that “adventures and miseries” of Anne Turner couldn’t magnetize Sally to pick and turn to read the next turn of events in her life.

Sally and Henry had lunch in utter silence. As Henry got up to take back the lunch set up to the kitchen a sorry escaped Sally’s lips. That was nothing more than a whisper but did reach Henry’s notice. He simply smiled and nodes and turned towards the door to leave.

But before leaving he once again paused at the threshold “by the way honey I forgot to tell you a guy called Josh called when you were asleep”.

This made Sally a bit uncomfortable as she never disclosed about Josh to Henry, though she has been in touch with him for quite a some time now. “Oh Josh! Wh..what he was saying? She enquired in an inquisitive yet shaky tone.

“He asked you to call once you are awake, nothing in particular. Call him” Henry gestured to give a call and left. He left Sally in a guilt ride by not asking Who, Where, What…….


Candles Online

Based on a true story:

A group of 8 young explorers, me among them, entered a house that was surrounded by not only darkness but rumors of being haunted. The air was eerie and the silence so thick that even a pin drop could set hearts race. I got a chance to enter with seven others, I was excited to prove. It was my chance to prove a few nay-sayers that I am not boring and when I mean adventure it isn’t about millennial pranks. I meant serious business and what can be a better option to set the adrenaline rush going than a haunted house. I would be dishonest if I say fear wasn’t on my side along with the seven others.

We together stepped inside the house that smelt pungent and we thought “let the helper at our house take off for a while and our houses won’t…

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I Sense A Presence – Final

Tears and blood started flowing at an equal pace leaving Henry inert and collapsed at Sally’s feet. His gaze locked at her face with many questions struggling to find a voice.

Sally got down at her knees, gently ran her fingers through Henry’s hair, and blew softly repeatedly and her voice choked with pain “I am sorry honey, I had to help Anne. For so many days she suffered silently. He cheated on her. As she spoke to him she raised her left-hand and kept it angled at a shoulder level as if someone was sitting next to her. She looked that side and nodded in agreement to something.

It was unbearable to Henry now, the pain as well as Sally’s lunacy. He groaned in agony “Stop it! Stop it! tell me why I am being punished this way?” He mustered strength and tightened his grip around Sally’s throat , now his tone was filled with rage. “Answer me”

Sally wrestled to get herself out of his grip and in her bid to so she crashed a wooden bowl on Henry’s head that her hand managed to get from the table behind her. Henry lost the grip and was wriggling in pain. Sally gasped for breath.

Now Sally chucked the cloak of innocence and grief she was hiding in. She pulled Henry’s hair and her face was in extreme proximity to his as she said ” You can fool the law, not me? Seems you care about Tracy more than me, like my father, isn’t it?”. The villainous smirk, anger, and blood on her face made her look demonic that no one is aware of. And it was her counter-question that rattled Henry beyond belief.

With a struggled Henry asked “you knew it all the time, isn’t it?”

She laughed like a maniac and paused to look and answer him. “I was fortunate to get a whip of dirty rotten secrets of my father. I found how he used to meet Tracy secretly to give her the fatherly love that he himself deprived her of. I kept silent, until mom (Sally’s mom was dead long back) spoke to me. I realized my father cheated on two ladies. And he has the audacity to give away not only love but what was MINE, a part of my properties. My nerves imploded as my mom stood there asking me how I will set things right and I had to put him at rest. I wish he had seen our marriage though. Mom told me, he is well-behaved man now. And when we moved here, I met Anne. I offered my shoulder to lean on but saw my pillar of strength crumbling under the cascades of tresses of my nemesis. You tell me what wrong I have done. How can I part from what is rightfully Mine, be it property or Love, My Love !”.

Sally’s statement left Henry more puzzled than putting an end to his trauma. Is she a victim of undiagnosed, unattended mental illness that breached her sanity completely or is she a smart criminal who knows how to use her cards well. Why she waited so long, what happened that night between the ladies is still a mystery.

“But now you don’t have your love. You should have trusted me instead of Anne” Henry said as he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore. Clutching to his wound tightly, he felt how slowly his breath was escaping his body.

Sally kissed Henry passionately as he lied motionless “I am sorry, I was hard on you but can you blame me? Seeing you in her arms is more painful than anything else. Now I can rest” and she sang a lullaby the entire night, keeping Henry’s head in her lap.


Josh at his home (relieved after months) accidentally ran into grandma’s letter. He read it over and over. Was it a coincidence of mental illnesses and unfortunate happenings or something else beyond his capabilities and understanding occured in that house, that grabbed his attention after his friend got home. He decided to meet and greet Sally the next day.

As the door bell rang, Sally slightly peeped from the window upstairs, holding the diary of Anne Turner and said ” Anne, Josh is here, to see me. Do you think he will love me truly?” …

One More Time…

The bird of hope fluttered high and was dashed strongly with disappointment. Bruised and hurt, everyone expected it to give up, but it said “just hurt, not broken yet, let me try One More Time”.

It soared high again, hiding its pain under the wings of smile. Thunder of failure burnt its wings, making it crash to the depths of despair and doom. But it said, “just broken, not dead yet, let me try One More Time”.

It kept looking at the skies, marred by the dark clouds of pessimism yet searching for the silver lining to guide its way. In its longing, breath eluded its body and it said “just dying, not finished yet, I will find you again & try One More Time”.

**A page from every success story where every hurdle became a stepping stone, every failure became a lesson future reference, every insult became fuel to “try One More Time”.

I Wish…

Originally Posted On Candles Online

Rocking her baby, bogged down by the opinion of nay-sayers around and about her, her gaze traversed the window. She saw another woman donning the hat of an “equal breadwinner” for her family and making her stride into the world. She thought “I wish I was in her shoes” 

Marching ahead towards her awaiting deadlines and agendas as her heart was crushing hard under the gloom she was carrying. “Not a mother yet” pricked through her heart. She rolled down the windowpane as she saw a kid jumping in muddy puddles with glee as the mother looked on with joy. She thought “I wish I was in her shoes”.

The happiness of the kid was short-lived as his father reprimanded him for being a mess. As the kid was being dictated by commandments of DOs & DON’Ts that sad face rolled to the other side and saw a rich man surrounded by a brigade of servants and only his say mattered. The kid thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.

The rich man as he awaited for his vehicle to arrive saw a young man riding a bike with his guitar hung across his back. It reminded him of his lost love in the depths of oblivion while he chased new heights tirelessly. The rich man thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.

The young man whose struggles have just begun in the pursuit of his passion pondering over his future probabilities and possibilities felt the heat of venturing out in the tricky, tough and often merciless stage called the world. He stopped by a house to ask for a glass of water. A lady came out with her baby in her arms and it reminded the young man of what a safe haven home is. Looking at the baby, the young man thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.

And the baby in the arms of the mother who was sleeping blissfully smiled in his sleep…

This is a simplistic view of how we perceive and look at the world. Deep down in our hearts, we are convinced that others are happier than us. Our eyes are open to looking at the merrier view and our shallow wisdom restricts our capability to even conceive the thought that every story has a different background and narration. As we grow up, horizons of our intelligence definitely expand but wisdom is seldom not proportionate to our age. It is like a beautiful cover page of a magazine that attracts our attention, mesmerized by the gloss and the colour we instantly forget that it’s a collaborative effort of many technicians and technicalities. About the physical, emotional, mental stress people might undergo in the process is not even a distant thought in our thoughts, for we are takers of only happy faces. And not to mention that our obsession with those pretty faces is so much that we start to loathe our reality – a harbinger for unhappiness, think about it !!

I Sense A Presence – XXIV

Investigator to Henry: Is it a new bluff, its better be not.

Henry replied with a smirk: Neither you are my friend nor this is a place and time to be bluffing around. I would rather choose to prove my innocence, I trust your intelligence, don’t question mine.

Investigator (sighed): hmmm, how can you prove your point, and does Sally know about her step-sister? How can step-sisters crop up all of a sudden, over the night? I am not ready to buy your fantasy fiction yet, keep trying till you drop and the truth finds its way out.

Henry gave a detailed account of when and how the secret was revealed to him by the family lawyer and put across a few valid cross-questions. He was not going to be a passive spectator of proceedings that clearlyspelledt doom for him and his love.

“Extra-marital relationships are usually less spoken about or completely kept under wraps, no matter how progressive we think we have become. I don’t blame Sally if she is unaware of her relationship with Tracy(He also stated that he doesn’t remember the lawyer mentioning anything about Sally’s knowledge of Tracy). Had she known about the same I don’t think she would have kept obscured from me. She let Tracy stay in her home” Henry put forth a strong point.

Investigator: Letting someone stay at home doesn’t acquit you directly especially when the person gets murdered on your premises and no traces of any outsider’s involvement has been found. Tell me one thing, was Sally never bothered by Tracy’s presence in the house, to be precise around and with you? Even if I give her a benefit of the doubt when it comes to her relationship with Tracy but no woman can tolerate a strikingly good-looking woman constantly making her presence around her spouse. Can you deny that? wasn’t there a single moment in all these months where Sally was wary of your closeness with Tracy? I bet you that can be a big motive enough to commit this “accident” as specified by you. I need you to speak up NOW (he placed his fist with a certain amount of force on the table as he looked intensely into Henry’s eyes, as if he wanted to scare him of consequences of holding onto the information).

Henry remained unfazed. “Yes, Sally was a bit disturbed and it was natural for her to be so, also given the trauma she had been into. She imagined things and I suppose after her medical condition has to do more with it rather than anything else. And on the given day when I entered the house, it was Tracy who was trying to attack Sally. What happened then was a tragic accident. I had to save Sally, but unfortunately, I couldn’t do it for Tracy.

Investigators are really finding it hard to break Henry’s defense. They will need more evidence and probably a reverse psychological game to ascertain the modus-operandi and the motive behind the crime. For this moment it seemed to be an open and shut case where these two people are under trial by a conspiracy of fate.

Meanwhile, each and every detail of Sally, Tracy, and Henry were being dug up. No matter how hard they tried there was nothing that could even remotely associate Sally or for that matter Henry to this murder. It was proved that Sally didn’t have any idea about Tracy as the investigators cross-checked with the family lawyer. “Mr.Pattinson was a man of secrets and this secret settlement of property is not an exception. I couldn’t settle it immediately or for that matter bring it to light due to my own professional and personal reasons. I did meet Sally after her father’s demise and spoke about other settlements but she completely seemed to be aloof” the lawyer concluded.

To add to the testimony for Sally and Henry, Tracy’s own stint with illegal activities, her act of disappearance from the city, owning a gun illegally proved quite helpful, receiving petty sums of cash from an anonymous account that traced back to Sally’s father proved quite a big point against her. Josh also chipped in with his statement “Sally always complained of someone trying to attack her, someone watching her. We can completely squash those fears as illusions or imaginary but given how things have shaped up now, how Tracy used her relationship with Henry to enter Sally’s life says a lot of things”.

On the other hand, Sally’s condition improved. She gave an account of what happened that day. She also showed a few injuries that she received in the scuffle. Sobbing and trying to regain her composure Sally said “I was alone when that night when Tracy attacked me. She was repeatedly saying that I took from her what was rightfully hers. I didn’t get what she was trying to say. She said her only motto in her life was to get revenge for her mother who died in misery and poverty and it was my father that caused her so much pain. Things seemed to get clearer then. But before I could apologize to her…”

Then why did you say “It was Anne who made you do this,” the investigator asked Sally?

“I am sure by this time you all know my condition. Chaos all around triggered voices in my head” and she hid her face in her palms.

After two months of rigorous investigation when the cops failed to prove anything substantial they did let Henry and Sally go and it was the case was recorded as an accidental death in the course of self-defense. An undertaking was taken that Sally will continue her treatment.

Feeling comforted to be in their house, Sally and Henry embraced each other tightly. Sally softly whispered into Henry’s ears “Thank you for being on my side”. Henry kissed her passionately and picked her up in his arms and took her to the dining table, where he laid her on the table, looking lovingly into her eyes. Caressing her hair softly, kissing her forehead, he was indulging himself in the moment as past few months have been nothing less than catastrophic to their relationship. He was just mending everything. Suddenly he asked in-between their lovey-dovey talks “You never had an idea who Tracy was? What has actually happened that night honey?”.

And Sally looked right past through Henry and said “Anne you are here again?” and she stabbed Henry with a knife from the basket nearby…

There’s Someone Else Who Needs You – It’s You!!

Originally Posted on Candles Online

Crossing the realms of love and sacrifices that keep relationships alive and working, there is a highly guarded zone that we are not privy to – “Sometimes I am Unhappy”. Unhappiness crops from the fact that we are mentally not prepared to delegate or chuck down the pressures off our shoulders to prepare and keep them strong for responsibilities.

Over the years our brains have been fed with extremely wrong notions about how roles (as in relationships) should be carried out. And what rules the roost among such manipulated picklists is Sacrifice which more concisely mean “Stop caring for yourself”, “Never Complain”, “Speaking up, out & against strictly prohibited” and at the end of the day we frown and fall asleep with resentment.Over the years of observation and study, I have realized we often misuse the word “Sacrifice” in our lives. An instance: I sacrificed my last slice of pizza for the sake of my son and spent the whole night navigating through the Pizzahut brochure and drooling over the colorful images and not to mention that I mentioned my bravado act to my husband zillion times. Does my act count as Sacrifice? My understanding says No because sacrifice demands both detachment and satisfaction as a result. And in this case, both were missing. And this is how dissatisfied lives look like under the camouflage of sacrifice.

Am I suggesting selfishness? Please hold your horses We have this bad habit of polarising everything (if you have an interest in Indian politics you will understand this better ) There is always a midground for addressing the issues concerning our lives. If you are purchasing an unaffordable ticket to a Rockband concert that you love giving your child’s term fees a miss or ignoring your next month’s home loan EMI, that’s Selfish (you can add idiotic too). But instead of involving in such compulsive, impulsive, stupid acts you have arranged a karaoke night at your place with your friends and family or had a good cards game night. Now you are in a happy space even if you have given up on something you like and definitely sans rant “Maine kya kya nahi kiya iss Ghar ke liye par uff nahi kiya” (there’s nothing that I haven’t done for this house and never complained), ironically in a complaining tone. This is the realization that I am suggesting as this is the change I have discovered that I should go for – Stop Complaining, Start Living, and Loving. First things first we should stop tagging words like “sacrifice” at the drop of a hat; That word got a deeper connotation to it. These are the little adjustments we are making with many financial, situational, emotional constraints and forces in work. We in relationships mean us shouldering the responsibilities prioritizing others ahead of us, be it our kids, parents or partners, and so on. And in our exercise of keeping things afloat day in and day out we are somehow ignoring someone really important calling us from within, it’s our innate self only, demanding some moments of happiness and relaxation. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about it. If you can’t keep yourself happy you can’t do the same to your loved ones too. Let me give you a picture of the other side of my personality which I am unapologetic about – I am a very irritated person almost like a twilight beast as the Sunday evening approaches and if my kids don’t tuck into their beds by 8PM they see the worse in me. I simply hate Sunday evenings when they prolong, for I am waiting for my Monday week off following Sunday, in absence of which I might go insane and not to mention the heavy toll on my physical health. And my rude behavior that might come across as unruly, unexpected, and unacceptable on every account is simply an indication that I need my space to rejuvenate myself to carry off my responsibilities as a mother and a wife. If they need me, I need me too, isn’t it?

Suppress it, It will pent up: All of you must have attended history classes at some point of time in your life, isn’t it? What was the reason behind all the major revolutions in history marking major transitions for people, undoubtedly Suppression! Suppressed by the tyranny and injustice, an upsurge of strong emotions spearheaded the revolutions, quite bloody one in fact. Now let me tone down the scale of comparison and make it personal. What would happen if you suppress pain for a long time in your body, it will pent up and show itself as a disease, sometimes chronic and beyond repair. Our emotions aren’t different. The need to vent out our pent-up negative emotions/ frustrations (not directed towards people though) at regular intervals is of paramount importance and shouldn’t be a guilt-ridden exercise. There are days when we feel lethargic, we want to dress up, want to eat our favourite meal, catch up on our favourite series, grab that last piece of cake, and many more things where we usually put ourselves down the hierarchy of “whose needs or wants matter”. The point is simple – Everyone matters so do You!!

My call to you all – You have to be present there in good health – mentally, physically, and emotionally because cardboard cut-outs can’t give warmth to your loved ones. And yes they are not superhumans to know how you feel unless you express it. If sensitivity is alive well and good, if god forbid not then don’t be guilty of you are not a magic wand either!!!

I Sense A Presence XXIII

Cops quickly surrounded the place and took Henry and Sally into the custody. Recovered a gun that was lying by the dead body’s side. Josh had to stay out of it as he wasn’t present there as a cop but a friend and an acquaintance. As the day progressed, silence blanketed the house but the cover was quickly off the news and took the neighborhood by strom. Gossips, speculations, doubts and not to mention the old demons of rumours loomed large and loud.

Department had to keep Josh officially out of this case because of his proximity to the accused. But nevertheless they needed his help unofficially.

Henry and Sally were in separate cells and in the same palpitated situation. Interrogation still hasn’t commenced. Henry was struggling to keep his inner turmoil veiled from everyone whereas Sally on the other hand couldn’t restrain herself from exhibiting the frail self. Swearing profusely, clutching her hair in despair with both her hands while covering her ears and continuously murmuring and vehemently shaking her head. As the guards came to fetch her they overheard her saying in the same position “Go away please!!” For a moment they paused and paid attention to her words. It seemed she was talking to someone else. Sally continued “Anne you have to go now, you have already troubled me a lot. You smeared blood on my palms. It was your revenge, not mine” and she broke down crying hysterically.

She was truly not in her senses. Was it the incident that troubled her mentally or something oblivious earlier came to the surface for everyone to see. Is she a victim herself? Looking at the disconsolate state of Sally cops checked with Henry and he gave the details of her psychiatrist with whom they were in touch since the time of her father’s death (murder).

People close to Sally always had an idea of how sensitive and feeble she was emotionally. But the true revelation was made by her psychiatrist that left especially two people shocked – Henry & Josh. “She is schizophrenic. After her father’s death, she had a complete meltdown. Henry accompanied her for about three months or so. After that she used to visit alone. She complained of visions haunting her. She told me she always sensed as if someone is lurking around her, watching her. I conducted few observation sessions and it was clearly established that she is suffering from schizophrenia. But she pleaded me that it should be confidential between her and me, she meant not even Henry should know about it” the doctor explained the reason behind Sally’s puzzling behavior.

For Josh things were falling into places as far as Sally’s complaints were concerned. “Could everything be possibly completely dillussional or there is something more than what meets eye, may be an intention to bury something more heinous” Josh pondered over as many more tangles were still in tact.

Henry meanwhile was brought for the interrogation. Sally’s mental condition ( even barring the fact that she Schizophrenic), the way Tracy’s identity was kept under wraps, huge property involved, presence of a gun in the premises (ownership still to be traced), the fact that Henry has his past intertwined with Tracy – everything surely had Henry in the docks. All Henry had to say was he had to intervene between the ladies and this incident was nothing but an unfortunate accident in the course of avoiding a disaster.

Five days have passed and, Sally was still in the observation where she still battled with her demons. On the other hand preliminary investigations confirmed that the gun belonged to Tracy, her troubled past, murky identity in the police records firmly established that she was indeed Lizzie. Now the investigators worked in the direction of tweaking Henry – Tracy relationship. And to add to the misery to Henry’s wounds deleted data from their phones was churned. And they found what they were looking for – an intimate photograph of Henry and Tracy from the dump. Though just one, cops thought this could possibly help to dig out the truth.

Now the cops were more determined to frisk Henry to give this case a closure.

Cop: “You didn’t tell me how is Tracy, I mean Lizzie was associated to you? Don’t give us the crap of childhood friends, I warn you” and he flung across the photograph. Henry glanced at it and maintained his calm and said “we both were completely sloshed when this picture was taken. I don’t know if that can establish anything. I have been always loyal to my wife. This trick of yours won’t prove anything. I told you earlier that it was an accident. The ladies had an altercation and I stopped, I mean I tried to stop them” Henry concluded.

Cop chuckled “why would two ladies fight? Let me guess, could be because of the same outfit for the same event” and he jeeringly looked at Henry. And continued “nah, I don’t think the case is so here. Let me make another guess, isn’t it about the same man?” This time the tone was serious.

“So tell me who had your favour – wife battling with mental illness or a temptress” Cop questioned Henry.

To which Henry replied “why you forgot that there’s a property involved too. Lizzie was Sally’s step sister, can you ascertain the cause of the fight now?” Henry’s revelation shocked everyone…

Spare Me The Drama!!!

Originally posted on Candles Online

Whenever the word Nostalgia is received by my auditory senses, my heart responds here we go again– “Humaare Zamaane Mein” (in our times). Raising my daughter in a foreign land, in an environment completely alien to me, handling her tantrums over the type of shoes, clothes, accessories, parties, and a whole range of girly, kids stuff is quite an exercise. And I have unintentionally started quoting lines like “in our childhood”, “had it been my mother”, “we never threw such tantrums”, “we never had so many choices” and my daughter be like “stop it, Mom, blah blah blah”. I believe she has heard this “in our times” rant quite more often these days. But can’t help it, falling to the human tendency of comparing what’s in hand with what has elapsed.

Stepping out of my parenting shoes, as a person I really get nostalgic about the 90s TV shows. Surfing on YouTube, coming across various roast channels roasting TV serials, including reality shows it evokes a sense of nostalgia. We witnessed epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana that used to bring households under one roof and glue to the Television screens; women-centric and progressive programs like Shanti, Aarohan; informative gems like Surabhi; half-an-hour window of movie songs featured every Wednesday & Friday; Sundays were meant to be blocked for kids to be entertained by Disney characters; meaningful cinema that included regional movies as well. In short, we were served a complete package of entertainment, information, and knowledge by the two state-owned television channels. From there we have come a long way to something gross like”Rasode mein kaun tha” (who was in the kitchen). With a plethora of channels as compared to the famous (rather favorite) 90s, quantity has overridden the quality. No matter whatever channel we choose to switch, change is limited to the titles of the soaps aired but the format of everyone scheming against everyone, excessively regressive content, one central character whose role is to endure, endure and endure even more pain and the jarring background music coupled with every reaction frame is on default mode. And the less I speak about the dump of reality shows the better off I would be. To be precise we moved ahead in our calendar but marched back in times as far as our television content is concerned.

Nostalgia really stings me even when I view news channels especially portals and mediums concerning the Indian context. DD era which I would like to refer to as the 90s was the time when news had a particular time slot and what mattered was to highlight the important issues rather than sensationalism like what we have now. Omission of facts from past, repeated recital of few selected unfortunate incidents connecting them to every incident, irrelevant illogical high pitched debates with more participants than the viewers themselves, branding of victims and culprits as per convenience or complete silence on matters that don’t fetch business is particularly what the media is into.  Here only the numbers and competition matters.  To cut it short – Media today is biased and here I refer to both the poles of polarisation. The 24×7 nature of news channels is only doing harm by prompting to generate news instead of reporting the same. The need to churn news anyhow is the reason why we see everything categorized as news – from the case of lost pet of a celebrity to how a minister prefers his/ her food, and not to forget the brigade of advertisements shouting at us – BUY, BUY, BUY. Objectivity is subjected to agendas and personal/ political objectives. Excuse me for ranting again but DD Era was the peaceful one.

What went wrong? The amount of junk we have been fed over the years has actually reversed our intellectual evolution, or say for the majority. When introduced it attracted masses that was viewed for relaxation. But just as any addiction grows on a person, time and again interface with the same content over different channels registered itself in the mind as a guilty pleasure – we watch, we bash and we watch to bash but watch it. And this has tapped the market for the makers, and when numbers pour in, it’s enough motivation for the production of more such content. And for more Nostalgia rant!!!

With the advent of OTT platforms millennials swiftly moved to that for consuming a better content but unfortunately a majority of “humaare zamaane” people (includes precedent generations) still stuck in the loop “Dhoom Tana na na Dhoom Tana na na” (dramatic music).

We started from this:

And reached this:

I Sense A Presence XXII

Both Henry and Josh were quite a bit puzzled by their respective callers and kept it obscure from each other. The former had no reason to tell and the latter has every reason to hide. Both dispersed from the scene without concluding and with odd excuses.

Henry wasted no time and reverted the call to Mr.Chad. As the call was on its way, Henry was blank as to what to expect from this conversation. Mr.Chad, the family lawyer of Sally for a long time now is just over an acquaintance for Henry as their relationship was cordial and professional to the core. But Mr.Chad calling Henry late that evening seemed unnatural to him.

Mr.Chad answers the call ” Henry, thank you for returning the call. I tried to call Sally but she is unreachable and I am afraid I couldn’t wait till tomorrow. So, I had to give trouble you at this hour” his words had a tone of unmistakable urgency to them.

“That’s fine, please tell me, what’s the matter” replied Henry.

“After your father-in-law passed away, as a legal advisor and the lawyer of the family I am entrusted with the responsibility of settling the legal issues, property settlement to be more precise” and there was a pause for fraction of seconds but long enough for Henry to raise his doubt.

“huh” Henry cleared his throat and continued “Settlement? I thought property belong to Sally as a sole legal heiress of her father’s properties and valuables. Am I missing something?” Henry raised his eyebrows as he slightly exclaimed over this new development out of his knowledge.

“Can you drop by at this moment? I could have waited till tomorrow but I have a flight to catch early in the morning and my return is quite ambiguous considering the nature of my visit. So I would like to explain few things now, so that proceedings become easier in my physical absence and for everything else I will be available virtually”, Mr.Chad concluded and awaited Henry’s response. And it was affirmative. It was going to be a long night for Henry.

Meanwhile Josh called back his caller but received no answer. He called Sally thrice but met with the same response and was directed to the message box. He was in a fix now whether he should go check her or not; whether Henry would be there or not by the time he reaches; if yes, then his entry might trigger or add to the unnecessary tension to their strained relationship as Henry’s visit to him was quite eloquent in itself of how things got complicated between them. Josh tried to convince himself that that call might be accidental. He went back to home with his head clustered and suffocating with voices and thoughts. He badly wanted to call it a day. As soon as he reached home, he hit straight to the bar and made a drink. His poison was Glenfiddich which he liked on the rocks for himself and gulped it at one go. He repeated. Four drinks down, and he snoozed off.

Even in his inebriated state his mind was mobbed by strange visions. A wailing girl, people shouting at each other and amidst them Sally pacing up and down the stairs in a rush and saying “come I have to show you something. You didn’t believe me but the thing is you didn’t know me well, don’t get surprised or shocked” and there was a lot of commotion.

Around 1AM in the morning his phone rang incessantly that shook him out of his slumber. It was Henry again. The moment Josh answered, rubbing his eyes, a wave of shock jolted him out of his sleep. “Tracy is dead, please come soon” Henry was in utter state of shock himself.

Josh rushed wasting no time. Lizzy alias Tracy was lying in a pool of blood, shot twice in chest and abdomen. His stare instantly shifted to Sally who drew herself to a corner in the kitchen, petrified and pale. And he looked for Henry who stood next to her, equally motionless.

Breaking the silence that blanketed the entire house there were sirens approaching the house (Josh intimated 911 as soon he set out to reach Sally’s).

On hearing the fast approaching emergency vehicles, Sally finally spoke in a panic stricken tone “I did nothing, it was Anne that prompted me. Otherwise Tracy would have taken him away (gesturing towards Henry). I swear she was here, please tell them not to punish me. It was Anne. Anne!! Anne!! Where are you? Come show yourself” She was screaming hysterically, clinging to Henry and pleading Josh. Josh felt as if he is still walking through his dream as this is the Sally whom he just now came across in his strange vision.

And soon the police entered, surrounding the crime scene…

I Sense A Presence XXI

As Henry’s name flashed on screen Josh was a bit confused. “What could have driven him to call me at this hour. Hope Sally is fine, hope everything is fine between them” and amidst such thoughts clouding his mind Josh picked up the phone.

“Hello” Josh answered the call.

“Hi Josh, Henry this side. Is it a right time to talk to you? Even if it’s not I am afraid I have to speak to you before it’s too late” Henry’s words had quite a restless tone to them, well at least this time around which is unusual of him for the kind of personality he is.

While Josh still in his elements and a stark contrast to Henry on the other side softly said “Yes, I am hearing, go on”

“Are you seeing Sally?” Henry minced no words as he continued “if it’s the case I am ready to be out of your way but want to know the truth”.

Josh chuckled at the weird question as he very well knew what might have ignited the same “Really Henry! I never thought this would be so easy. No hue and cry, no possessiveness, not even a hint of feeling emasculated at the verge of being rejected or looked over for the kind of GENTLEMEN the world has been a spectator too you are indeed a rare specie. Did you speak to Sally about the sacrifice you intend to make ? ”

Henry wasn’t feebleminded not to catch the sarcasm of Josh’s words. “I am man enough to see and accept things as they unfold” said Henry in a firm voice and continued “can you meet me now? I am at the fountain park near your place”.

“Ok, I am coming” Josh disconnected the call wasting no time. In ten minutes he reached the spot. He meant business when he greeted Henry with “when did the idea of giving up on Sally dawn upon you. Is it sacrifice or harbinger to an unexpected end?”

Josh paused to let Henry speak. “Well I want Sally to be happy. Since we moved here she is drifting away from me or say moving closer to you. What I saw today…” Henry fumbled and was immediately interrupted by Josh “What? What did you see? What’s the catch Henry? Is it really about Sally or TRACY has a role in your over the top altruism? Anyways did you speak to Sally about your decision to sacrifice your relationship?

Henry sighed “speaking to Sally!! How do you think it’s possible with her volatile self. Josh, I don’t understand how to put it, even if I struggle my way with my words and feelings I am sure you won’t understand. But one thing that is beyond my comprehension, what’s with Tracy, what are you hinting at?

Josh chuckled, put his hand around Henry and guided him towards a bench in the park. “Come let’s sit and talk. Forget about Sally for I know her really well and I can actually fathom to give you a benefit of doubt if it was really about Sally and her unpredictable nature. At this moment I am really interested in talking about Tracy. Is Tracy her real name? I hope it is and I really wish that you are not holding any cards close to your heart. In case you don’t know Tracy have an uncanny resemblance with a convict who went missing in thin air. I shared it with Sally, didn’t she tell you?

A long pause ensued. Henry was visibly uncomfortable and hesitant, yet he decided to spill the beans of things he know for he needed a face off with truth. “See Josh, I don’t know what are you talking about but I would like to confess that I concealed a truth from everyone’s glare. Her name isn’t Tracy indeed. When I saw her for the first time, I reached out to her and addressed her as I used to during our school days. But to my utter disbelief she told me that she has severed ties from her past including her name. She told me that she was being harassed constantly by a man called Manny and he happened to have strong connections in the police department. Her world completely collapsed under fear and abuse. And when she lost her mother she decided to move out of Texas with a new identity. Anything that reminded her of her past haunted her, so is her name. That’s why TRACY. That’s the reason I was hesitant to meet you as I know you were posted in that zone. I was only trying to protect my childhood friend”.

Josh was all attentive to what Henry was narrating. And by the time Henry finished a strange veil of calmness was clad over his face that was missing since he started his conversation with Josh. It was Josh’s turn to drive the conversation – either towards an end or through another round of interrogation. Placing his right hand pointer on his lips while his thumb firmly held his chin up, eyes closed and Josh sighed “hmmm” as if he understood and bought the entire story Henry just mentioned. “By the way what’s her actual name?” Josh asked with an “obvious” pinch of curiosity.

“Lizzy” Henry replied. And it fitted the bill of Josh’s intuition/ doubts about this beautiful, mysterious lady around Sally. It’s time for action And before Josh could say anything their respective phones buzzed. Sally was calling Josh while Mr.Samuel Chad, Sally’s family lawyer was trying to reach Henry. One glance at the screen and now they were looking at each other, a bit alarmed!!