The matter of few minutes...

By Neeraj Shinde
Mangalore, India
(This is a work of fiction but some parts of it are inspired from my real life incident on 11th July, 2006)
This story has bagged the first prize in the story contest at Infosys-Mangalore!

It has already started raining in Mumbai and the fun is back with the monsoon thrill – reminding me of those childhood days when I used to run out of my home to soak up my body in the early showers of the monsoon neglecting Mom’s cries to stay back home. The days when she used to worry about me over small issues and the days when she used to caress me passionately when I suffered from the slightest known fever.

Today, I am not that small and her worries have shown a gradual decrease with the passage of time. This is the time when I sit in my cubicle engrossed in my work miles away from home. Gone are those days leaving behind sheer memories of those good times.

I look outside the window to see the waters pouring down that fail to excite me anymore. Then I throw my sight at the oak tree just in front of the window that looked so fresh despite standing there for years. Reminds me of the freshness of Mom’s kiss she offered me on my forehead at times when I made her proud. I take a small sip from the coffee cup and glue my eyes back to the computer screen. I make several futile attempts to build back my concentration and finally stand up and walk towards the window and start staring at the cloudy sky which was once my sole reason of happiness during monsoons. But nothing succeeds to entertain me in this alien land. I start thinking about my city where the rains have a different meaning for me. Wish I could rewind my life a few years back to enjoy the rains and play in the mud, scaring Mom and making her run behind me. Wish I could still feel that healing touch at times when I am down.

Now my sight wanders deeper inside the clouds and so do my thoughts soon to realize Joyan patting on my shoulder.

‘Heard about the serial blasts in Mumbai? You’re from Mumbai right?’ Joyan said.

That was quite enough to distract my stream of thoughts over the past few minutes. I looked back at Joyan to discover that what he said was something damn serious.

‘Yes! Where did you hear this?’ I interrogated.

‘It’s in the news! Just a few minutes back several local trains were burst open.’ Joyan said.

That was enough to shake the floor beneath my foot. In no moment I came back to my desk trying to call my Brother Nikki’s cell. I looked at the watch that showed 18:46 IST - the time when commuters travel back to home – the peak hours of train travel. The news was enough to pump out liters of adrenaline off my body and I was able to feel the vacuum generated within my stomach. My heartbeats started multiplying when my every attempt failed to connect me to his cell. Somehow I was able to connect to the home number - never expecting Nikki to pick up the home phone at this point of time.

‘I heard of the blasts in the local trains! Is everybody safe?’ I asked.

‘Dad is still in office. No idea where Mom is! May be she is on the way home. I am very scared! Not able to contact her on cell too! Seems like all the mobile phones are jammed!’ Nikki was about to weep.

‘Damn! You mean she is traveling in train?’ I asked.

‘Yes!’ Nikki replied.

‘Don’t worry! She will be all right and I’ll give you a call after 10 minutes’ I allegedly spoke back pretending to handle the situation.

I kept the receiver down. Joyan was still standing behind me. He noticed the fear that was prevailing in my eyes that almost spoke everything.

‘Everything alright Nee?’ Joyan asked.

I shrugged unable to speak a single word.

That was followed by a continued silence. Then I tried in vain connecting to Mom’s cell a dozen times. I stood back in dismay and walked back towards the window unable to think how to react. All that wandered in my mind was Nikki’s voice and Mom’s face that were followed by malefic mentations. I looked back at the clouds that had by this time gathered the momentum and were down pouring vigorously than ever. The howling of the winds continued to scare me. Then I tried to look back at the oak which now resembled a faint outline and gradually started fading out of my vision. I could see its branches waving seeming to fight against the storm; struggling for its existence. The window pane made a huge bang over its frame but unable to distract my attention. Joyan closed the window. The darkness of the dusk started spreading its arms over me. Within a minute it was pitch dark and the tree was no more in the scene.

I came out of the building unable to bear the situation. It was raining like hell and I kept walking to find my oak which I wanted back from the arms of the dusk. But all I could see was darkness. I was able to feel the weight of my tears on my cheeks that were now mixed with the rain drops and were swept along. The wind was driving me crazy. I came back to my building and started walking upstairs back to my cubicle and saw Joyan coming towards me.

‘Where were you Nee? There was a call from your father. He told me to tell you that your Mom has just reached home.’ Joyan almost yelled.

And that seemed like a statement for which to hear one would like to die a thousand times. I could feel my lips stretching below my eyes that were still shedding tears – tears that now had a different meaning. I wasn’t able to stop myself hugging Joyan and ran at my desk and called Mom.

‘You scared me to death Mom! You cannot imagine how worried I was!’ I said.

I looked outside the window. The rains had calmed down.

‘You thought I would die?’ said Mom.

‘Oh! Come on Mom! This isn’t funny’ I said.

That reminded me back those days when I scared Mom and ran out in rain. It looked like she had taken the entire revenge in just a few minutes. Clearly she deserves a lot more than this. I was lucky to have my Mom back but the incident took away several mothers, fathers and husbands who no way deserved such a cheap death.


  1. wow .. ! u do write well mate !

  2. U write good!
    write a book sometime!
    this post forced tears in ma eyes!

    Well Written!

  3. I can totally understand.. i went thru the same thing during mumbai blasts in 2003

  4. @Rashu - I'll keep that in my mind :)
    @Rakhi - That's the story of ever Mumbaikar...

  5. :)

    seldom, we think about how much others love us..!!
    and how we should value that..

    nice write up...