In the morning twilight, he knew where he was heading but why? That is what mattered. He knew he was not king but definitely his daughter is princess for him. Last night, his princess slept with tears. The innocent face of his princess made him to decide that he would do anything to see her smile every day. No matter how hard it becomes he will work day and night to keep her happy. He waved his hand to his princess as he was going for work with aim to â€œhis princess' smileâ€..
â€œAppa will not leave in morning from now onâ€ little Anjana gave out a sigh of relief. She used to watch him go to supply milk early in the morning and never to be around to bathe and dress her to school.
â€œBut, why does he lie on the bed all the time and why are so many people around?â€ This thought confused her a bit. She couldnâ€™t read the story from the bits and pieces she picked up from conversations. Accident-leg-operation and while she struggled with it, her own milk went sour in the dusty kitchen.
Entire night he guided and protected me in the darkness of the jungle. I had lost my way. It was so dark that I couldn't even see his face but somehow he could see everything. Moments before the first light dawned on us he left me at the edge of the town saying he's late. Thatâ€™s when I realized heâ€™s a vampireâ€¦
I asked, â€œHow come you didnâ€™t kill me?â€
He smiled and said, â€œI am not a human, I donâ€™t kill for no reason.â€
Then he turned and waved goodbye while leaving.
Shyam was waiting by his new Audi to drive his dad to his chai-stand at the railway station.
For the past twenty years his dad Ramlal rode to the station, served chai to the passengers.
It had been his mother's death bed wish that her new born should study and work in foreign land.
His dad had struggled, but made sure Shyam was educated and worked abroad.
Today Shyam waited to take his dad to the station.
Just then Ramlal came out, hopped on to his cycle, calling out "beta I am late today, my customers will be waiting.".
He was cycling at the wee hours of the morning as usual. A lone figure seemed to be waving at him.
"Bhaiya, can you tell me, where the road leading to New Zealand hostel is?", she asked with questioning eyes.
"I am quite familiar with this area, but I never heard of the place you just mentioned", he stated, all the more surprised by her query.
That very same day his wife happened to read about a desolate place which was burnt down years ago, owing to mass suicide by the students of the girls hostel..
In the midst of all the pollution, Ram had to take the bicycle and get exposed to all the deleterious and noxious fumes. The future was here and it looked very bleak. Global Warming had reached an alarming level and New Delhi was in a dire state, environmentally. "Only if the odd-even rule was implemented on a permanent basis back in 2015", wondered Ram. Only if the then ten year old Ram could understand that the people preferred convenience over health. .
"This is not necessary for you"
His grandfather told him. He remembered his grandfather, at the time when he is fast approaching his grand father's status.
Getting up at 4 in the morning was difficult, very difficult.
He somehow got up. His friend showed him the newspaper distribution beat after collecting the bundle from the distributor.
He thought of only two-day beat he did and his grandfather in this digital age..
X says, â€œHe is going to workâ€
Y says, â€œAnother invisible worker will be reduced to ashesâ€
X says, â€œHave you checked the bomb planted in his cycleâ€
Y says,â€œI have checked it twice, donâ€™t worryâ€
X says, â€œIs this man really important if not we can still plant our bomb somewhere elseâ€
Y says, â€œYes, Invisible Worker is very important to a country but in this country , no one cares for himâ€
X says, â€œGood, Now at least He will be news for some daysâ€
Y laughs â€œHahahaâ€
"How strange our relationship with nature is," mused Murali as he took his cycle out for the first time in several weeks.
For the whole of October, human and beast like were busy cursing the unforgiving heat wave.
Yet when the rains came, they just wouldn't let up. It wasn't uncommon for 10 feet of water flooding households and not finding an outlet.
The sun had emerged at long last. Life could go on.
Murali could go back to earning a living..
The far-fetched theories of alien abductions and malevolent magnetic fields made people uncomfortable. Nobody believed or rather nobody wanted to believe. Those who put forward such theories were scoffed at, even physically assaulted. Meanwhile young women continued to vanish mysteriously on every Friday. Finally a camera was mounted and clinching evidence of sorts was captured. But it wasnâ€™t conclusive because of the obscuring cyclist. He was identified and the investigation team decided to visit him and hear what he had to say. He was dead when they arrived at his home..
Raju took out his cycle, inhaled the early morning breeze and silently prayed to give him enough strength to last for the day.
Watching from behind, his son stood as his father continued with his daily ritual. As soon as his father hopped onto his cycle, he uttered, "Have your lunch on time, papa!"
"Yes beta", pat came the reply as he looked ahead to collect and deliver the lunch boxes to their respective owners before noon and bring them back to their respective homes by evening.
Raju simply waved at him and started cycling his way..
"I'm always with you, have faith in yourself & in me", Naren was remembering words, in Bhagavad-Gita. He never complained about his bad days. Always ready to work hard. "However is the dark night, it will always have bright morning.", something he believed in.
Everyday he welcomes sun with all his heart by waving his hands to it (even after his daily struggle for life) as if sun is smiling at him. Removing all the negativity in his mind, he daily welcomes the new morning in life. .
Court was on the verge of giving decision in favour of the four accused due to lack of evidences.
Then entered confident Irfan. His conscience didn't let him stay mum at home.
Explaining secrets of "goodbye" in the dark night.
Victim's family saw a ray of hope.
The advocate objected on the unknown.
Irfan continues "....Victim ran half naked, half torn clothes, attacked by the accuses. They raped her..."
The rapists were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Irfan read about the case-hearing in the same newspaper, which he was circulating that morning..
Secluded street. Late night. I'm walking home. Alone.
A middle-aged man on cycle catches up. "Let me walk you home. I'm dreaming of you."
I want to rush, but, his cycle!
My grandfather's cycle!?
The man describes my childhood cycle-rides with Daadu.
"Who are you?"
He never responds, but narrates anecdotes of my childhood. When we reach closer home, he vanishes into the thin rays of morning sun. His silhouette resembles a younger version of Daadu.
Suddenly, my phone buzzes.
"Guddi, are you fine? I had a nightmare. This is Daadu!"
...So it was you, Daadu!
As soon as the first rays of sun brighten the green valley, Arun took his cycle to ride it through the long black pitch road to join others for an early morning plucking of tea leaves.
Arun is one of those tea-garden laborers who breaks his back under the scorching sun or on a rainy day to bring you a cup of happiness in the morning, a refreshment during the work hours and a companion for the long conversations.
In return, he gets constant struggle with Poverty and the addiction of local liquor and debts to accompany him.
Mukundi's village was on the edge of the desert...frequented by duststorms - the bane of his life.
As he purchased Tarkari and chatted at the Tapri with friends, he felt the monster approaching. He mounted his bicycle waving 'Ram Ram' to all.
The eerie glow of sun would soon disappear. It was on one such fateful evening - he had lost his Laali to Flu as he couldn't reach home in time to take her to Dawakhana. Caught in storm, sand had crept into his eyes, ears and nostrils.
He peddled faster to beat the devil who was after him..
I watched the stranger come, order, eat and leave in a jiffy. He seemed in such a hurry that he not only skipped change but also left back his bag in the process.
"God is kind", I said.
"No sir! If I keep what is not mine, it will find a way to leave me one way or another.
By the time I could process the enormity of his goodness, he was already off, saying, "Please don't leave, I will be right back. I know you are still hungry!"
Now I had to find another way to help him..
I offered him the most lucrative package with the best in class amenities, but he was adamant. He could have been driven around if he had accepted my offer. Did poverty give him something I couldn't offer? I have to think of other means to get rid of him, I thought, as I watched the last non-digital writer pick up his battered bicycle and ride away bidding goodbye. The total dominance of e-books would have to wait some more. .
Three months since the notice period, he drove down to his village, once and for all. His family had been supportive of his Voluntary Retirement. The children had settled down. He didn't miss the paperwork or the phone calls or delegation, he told himself. Not everyone believed in that. He packed a few fresh vegetables from the farm and took his cycle as he rode down the village, greeting everyone on the way to his grandmother' house. Like old times. She wouldn't be there now, of course. But the drill was pleasing..