Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mika (Part VI)

For those who missed the earlier parts, here are the links
Mika - Part I
Mika - Part II
Mika - Part III
Mika - Part IV
Mika - Part V

---------

Mika looked straight ahead and saw the old couple coming towards her.

"Hello, we seem to meet again. Amlu told me your son lives here."

"yes ... I am praying that he is all right ... he hasn't contacted home ever since the disaster happened ... ", said the grandmother almost in tears.

"Mother, be brave ... your son will have survived this."

Mika escorted the grandmother to a nearby bench on the road to comfort her.

"By the by, you shouldn't have brought Amlu to a place like this ..."

"You maybe right but ... Amlu might be just five years old but I get the feeling that she is much more mature than myself ... in fact, she believes that she will be the one who finds her father ... in fact, she believes in this to the extent that she said she would never forgive us if we let her behind ... she emanates the same strength of character as her father ... so we had no other choice ... But seeing her here I am not afraid since she is the one who has been the most active ... contacting her father's friends and neighbors and gearing them up to build a search team ... I really can't believe it is Amlu ..."

"Oh, Amlu did so much?", Mika was astonished. She looked at Amlu who was standing at the road with Arun and her grandfather. She turned around and looked at Mika and smiled.

-------------------------------
27th December, some unknown time

Hemanth opened his eyes weakly. He did not know how much time had passed. The loss of blood from the wound on his leg had made him extremely weak. It was extremely difficult to remain sane in the total darkness and there was no way he could end this. He cried and talked to God, "God, why me ....... this is not the way you want me to die!".

The memories of the day came back again and again in spite of him trying to push it back. Now, his mental resistance had died down. He just let himself be drawn to his past .....

------------------

Hemanth reeled over with the unexpected slap.

"uncle .. sto.."

Sunita's father slapped him again.

"UNCLE!", Hemanth growled head facing down.

Sunita's father stepped forward to slap him again. Hemanth caught his hand in mid air and looked up into Sunita's father's eyes.

"UNCLE ... once more and ... ", Hemanth hissed. Sunita's father stepped back surprised by the ferocious anger that he saw in Hemanth's eyes. Just then, his parents entered the house and wondered at the situation.

"Raj sir, what happened? Why are you beating Hemanth?"

"Mitra, ask your son what he did to my daughter ... "

Hemanth's mother looked from her husband to Hemanth.

"Hemanth, what is Raj sir telling? What did you do to Sunita?", she looked beyond Hemanth and saw Sunitha crying.

"Hemanth!", she continued.

"Ma, I did not do anything! ..."

"Then why is Sunitha crying ...", she turned towards Sunitha.

"Ma, leave her alone ..."

Hemanth's mother turned back and started at Hemanth.

"Why? I must know what is going on!"

Sunita's father interrupted, "Mitra, he does not want the truth to come out. What else could be the reason?"

"UNCLE!!!", Hemanth turned towards Sunita's father and then said, "Sunitha, come with me!"

Sunitha stood surprised. "Sunitha, I said .. come with me!", Hemanth walked towards the door.

Sunitha's father opened his mouth to object ."But ... where ... "

Hemanth looked at him again with a deadly stare that conveyed "better not say a word more". Sunitha quietly followed him leaving everybody in the house astounded. They heard Hemanth starting up his bike and they were gone.

--------------------------

Hemanth stood facing the sea. He had brought them to a deserted dock. This is where he used to spend his time contemplating in solitude. Sunitha sat at a stone bench some distance away. He
walked back to the bench and sat beside Sunitha.

"Sunitha, what is the boy's name? Maybe I can talk and convince ..."

"No Hemanth!", Sunitha interrupted him. "No!, I can't marry him .."

"Buy why?? .. that is the most obvious solution out of the problem ..."

"No!", Sunitha almost screamed.

A long pause.

Hemanth spoke very slowly, "Sunitha, I know you well enough not to do anything hasty like the mess you have got yourself into .... "

Sunitha was still silent.

"You are hiding something from me ... tell me what happened"

Sunitha burst into tears and collapsed on to Hemanth's lap for support still crying bitterly.

"Hemanth ... you are right .... I did not lose my virginity of my accord! ", she sobbed.

"What!"

"My family and I cannot bear this disgrace .... I dont know what to do .... "

Both were silent for a long while. Sunitha still crying.

"What .... is that boy's name ... and address?", Hemanth asked.

Sunitha got up and looked into Hemanth's eyes ...

"If I know you, Hemanth, then I know that he is a goner once I tell you about him ... I dont want you to do anything of that sort ... So I will not tell you his details ..."

Hemanth, sat quietly, smiled to himself and said, "huh ... You gauged me rightly"

Hemanth stood up and walked to the edge of the dock again and stared at the ocean for a long while. Finally he turned.

"Sunitha, I ..."

He saw Sunitha standing on the other edge of the dock as if planning to jump. Sunitha looked at him with a stricken face, gave a faint smile and then ... jumped into the void ...

"SUNITHAAA ...."
------------------------------
Hemanth dragged Sunitha out of the water with a final heave and then collapsed with exhaustion. He took a few deep breaths and then stumbled over to Sunitha. She was sputtering water out of her mouth. Sunitha then saw Hemanth and started sobbing again.

Hemanth sighed. He got up and pulled up Sunitha by her arms.

"Hey, I can get you out of this ... but you have to believe me ... dont question what I do ... okay?"

Sunitha looked at Hemanth and nodded weakly.

"Okay then ... come on with me"

-------------------------------
Hemanth and Sunitha returned to Hemanth's house. Both their parents were still there. They noticed that Hemanth and Sunitha were completely wet.

Hemanth's mother came over. "What happened to you both?"

Hemanth walked over to Sunitha's father "I am going to marry your daughter".

Sunitha stood stunned. "Hemanth, what ..."

Sunitha's father replied, "there! I told you .. the truth has finally come out!"

Hemanth's mother came over to Hemanth and started beating him. Hemanth stood still.
"Hemanth ... you have broken the faith I had in you all these years ..."

"Ma, listen to me .."

"No! what more do I have to listen! ... oh god, all my prayers were in vain .... ", she collapsed on to a chair.

"Everybody .. please listen for what I have to say! .. "

Sunitha's father again interrupted, "You ... you ... whatever you say is not going to change the truth ... "

"UNCLE ! BETTER WATCH YOUR WORDS ", Hemanth's anger that he had a hard time controlling started rising again.

"Oh ! ... no! ...", Hemanth realized his anger was taking over him again.

"Sorry uncle! .. ", he said in a soft tone.

"Ma .. please listen, you see ...", he turned to his mother.

"Hemanth", his mother said slowly, "leave the house and never come back .. I can no longer call you my son"
"Maa!!"

"I said leave!"

"Aunty, you are making a mistake ! ... ", Sunitha intercepted.

"Sunitha, dont stop me ... tell him to leave ... "

"Aunty, let me tell you what happened ... "

Hemanth said, "Sunitha! ... no..", he nodded. Hemanth began to leave.

"Ma, remember one thing 'Don't doubt, learn to believe' and you don't hurt anyone."

Sunitha stood at the door. As he came near, she held his hand. "I'm going with you."
------------------
27th December, 12 noon
Mika remembered the talk she had with her mother about three days ago,

Mika's mother:Mika, you are twenty six and still not willing to marry ...
Mika: Mother, I told you: arranged marriage is not for me .. ! I will marry only a boy I love!
Mika's mother: See Arun has been a good boy and married at the correct age. Why don't you learn from him?
Mika: Mother, let talk about this when I come to Chennai tomorrow, shall we?
Mika's mother: Okay, but remember my patience is running out!
Mika: Okay mother! ... we will make a firm decision in my visit to Chennai

A sudden commotion roused her out of her reverie. She turned and saw Arun running towards her.

"Amlu's father has been rescued."

Continued at Mika (Part VII)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mika (Part V)

For those who missed the earlier parts, here are the links
Mika - Part I
Mika - Part II
Mika - Part III
Mika - Part IV

9.05 a.m. 26th December 2004


Hemanth opened his eyes, yet everything was still dark around him. He rubbed his eyes to find out whether he was really awake or dreaming. He felt around with his hands. He felt the cold touch of stone about three feet on either side. On the top, his hands did not reach anything anything in spite of stretching. He started to get up and then a searing pain ran through his legs and set him back flat on the ground. His left ankle was locked below some huge stone. He could not budge it. The slightest moment since shock waves of pain through his nerves. So he decided to stay put.

The total darkness enveloping him was mesmerising. It seemed like time had stopped still. No sound could be heard as well. The events of Hemanth's life played through his mind in this enclosure which he realized could very well be his tomb. His thoughts went back to the most important day in his life.

--------------------------------

Hemanth was rolling over on his bed on a hot Sunday morning in Chennai. It was 8'o clock in the morning but he kept rolling over from side-to-side trying to convince himself to go to sleep again. His parents had gone to the temple.

The doorbell rang loudly. Hemanth got up cursing. Who was it? It couldn't be his parents. They would have taken a set of keys with them. Why did people have to trouble early in the morning on a Sunday?

He meandered towards the door. He brought down the latches and opened the door.

It was Sunitha, his
neighborhood friend since childhoo. She looked very uneasy, eyeing the road on either side alternately.

"Hi Sunita. What's up? ... so early in the morning?"

"Hi Hemanth, err ... is aunty or uncle at home ? "

"Nope ... they have gone to the temple.... they will be back in about half an hour I guess ..."

"could I come in?"

"sure .."

Sunita came in and seated herself in the sofa in the living room. Hemanth shut the door after her. Hemanth hastily flattened the tufts of hair standing upright on his head and sat down facing her.

"Tell me."

"well .. Hemanth ... I dont know how to tell it .... ", Sunita seemed to be fighting her emotions.

"hey, u all right? any problem?"

" ... Hemanth, you are the only person I know from childhood and the person who will .... who will understand what I have to say now ....", Sunita started crying.

Hemanth was alarmed. He went over to her and put a hand over her shoulder.

"Hey, whatever the problem is - tell me and we will find a solution. Now please stop crying and gather yourself"

".. ok .. promise me that you will not disclose what I say to anybody ... ", Sunita calmed down a bit.

"uh .... ok ... I promise"

There was an awkward pause as Sunita prepared to tell whatever she had to say.

"You remember the boy I told you about ... the boy whom I met on the train ..."

"Well, yeah .. "

"Well ... last summer I spent somedays with him at Ooty ..."

"uh ... oh ... fine ..."

Sunita looked as if she was going to break down again. She was silent.

"Well? ", Hemanth enquired

" ........ I'm pregnant ........."

---------------------------

Only a few minutes must have passed since Sunita had spoken those words, but it seemed like an eternity to Hemanth. A lot of thoughts had raced through his mind. Why has she come to me now? Maybe something happened to the boy .... My god, what has she to say next?

"ok .. ", he finally said. " ... go on ..."

"he ..... he ..... he says he will not marry me!"

"What?!"

"says his parents will never agree to it ... also, since he would not be married off for at least a year or more ... he says any thought of marriage, if any, is possible only if we ... we ..."

Again a long pause.

"I understand ... so....", started Hemanth. "You disagree to that ...."

"Yes"

"Aaah, .... humph ... what do we do then .... ", Hemanth started contemplating."Anything else you have to add?"

"I can't marry him since I know his true colors now ..."

"Okay ... that too ... umm ... anybody else who knows about this?"

"No one except the doctor who treated me"

At that moment, the door bell rang again. Hemanth walked over and opened the door. Sunitha's parents were standing outside the door. They saw Sunita inside and then turned to Hemanth. Before Hemanth could speak a word, Sunitha's father slapped him.

--------------------------------

Hemanth's senses came back to the present. His forehead was bathed in sweat. He decided he could not let his emotions take over him at this moment. He had to concentrate on survival. He remembered he had his cellphone still with him. He took it out and smiled sarcastically. Murphy's law was too good! The cellphone was on the brink of going out of charge. He realized he had enough charge left for maximum one call or one message.

Thinking for a few moments as to what the best use of this last ounce of charge could be. He started keying in a message.

--------------------------------

8.56 a.m. 27th December

Mika alighted off the train with her Arun brother at Nagapattinam. The past twenty four hours had been a blur with the amazing number of phone calls she had made. Arun on the other hand, had been using his online search skills and his network to find out as much as he could gather about the mail id catchmeif.ucan@yahoo.com. This was the email address from which the messages had come. The email id seemed to be a metaphor for what she had undertaken. Arun had found that the message had actually been routed from a cell in some secure fashion. But some experts at the cellphone company had helped her in tracking down the call to the town where it originated from - and here she was.

The whole town of Nagapattinam was in total chaos. Ambulances rushing past every minute or so. Rescue workers covered with face masks carefully sifting through the rubble that was every house. It was a total devastation here. Distraught relatives screaming for their loved ones. In fact, a fishing boat was grounded and the waves had brought it nearly a kilometer inland and here it lay right in the middle of one of the main roads in the town. There was a stench of death, disease and destruction all around. If all the rubble and bodies were not cleared off soon, this would trigger off a major epidemic. Arun went to a nearby rescue worker tent and fetched a couple of face masks for them as well.

Arun stopped a passer-by to ask how him for directions on how to reach the beach. It was not far away, only about a kilometer. So they started to walk. As they walked, one question by Mika's mother still rang in her mind, "Why did the person decide to send probably the last message he/she may ever send to a person whom he hardly knows?" He had mentioned he hardly had any friends, did he not have anybody else who cared for him? She had been running this question through her mind ever since. More stinging was the statement that her mother made, "Mika, the person believed in you to save his life!"

Mika suddenly felt someone pulling at her skirt.

"Hello Mika"

Mika recognized the voice and turned around in surprise. It was the little girl whose life she had saved in the morning.

"oh! hello Amlu! what are you doing here?"

"My daddy's house is here."

Continued at Mika - Part VI

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mika (Part IV)

For those who missed the earlier parts, here are the links
Mika - Part I
Mika - Part II
Mika - Part III

----------------------------------------------------

Mika reached the grandfather first, almost out of breath.

"There's ... there's ...", she fought to regain her breath, half out of shock and exhaustion. "there's a huge wave about thirty feet high headed here ... please take your wife and get to safety as soon as possible ... I will get your little girl .... go!"

"But ... but ... how can I go without my lil' girl ...", said the old man, almost in tears.

"Please sir, get going ... you have to believe me ... I promise I WILL get your child back for you.... GO NOW please ...and FAST"

The grandfather made his way back as soon as he could taking the grandmother along with him. Mika turned around to see where the little girl was. She was swimming in the water about sixty feet away. The girl had moved further into the sea with the retreating tide.

Mika started sprinting towards her. As she raced towards the girl, she looked to either side to see if there were other people on the beach. She could see some boys playing cricket some distance away, she waved to get their attention. She screamed at them, "BIG WAVES COMING! GO BACK! GO BACK!" They could not understand why she was screaming like that. She pointed at the sea and then continued to scream.

She had almost reached the girl. The little girl on hearing her screams had turned back. Mika looked at the sea beyond the girl. She could see the water line on the horizon rising at an alarming rate.

"Oh bloody shit!"

"Come on", she grasped the little girl by her arm and they began to run towards the shore.

"Don't look back! Just keep running!"

They were about forty feet from the shore when the sea breeze suddenly stopped and she felt as though the ocean's breath had stopped for a moment. Mika glanced back as she was running, the wall of water loomed like a skyscraper. The stopping of the breeze probably meant that the wall had reached it crest and it was going to unleash its fury at any moment. She ran harder, the breeze started again, this time it was from behind her. Their shadows on the sand before them grew dimmer and dimmer. She knew that the moment had come. They were about a yard away from the end of the beach when the wave hit them. It was about ten feet high and it swept both of them off their feet. The waves engulfed them with enormous force but she did not let go of the girl. As they were swept along, her head banged against something hard. She instinctively engulfed her free hand around the object. It was round and rough. She did not let go of it. The wave lost its force and the water became still, only just for a moment, and then the water began to recede and take a lot of things along with it. The receding waters started gaining more and more force but Mika still held firm onto the object. Slowly, the water level receded and they began to float towards the ground. Finally, the wave deposited them flat on the ground.

---------------------------

Mika and the girl lay still for some minutes. Mika gradually regained her senses and glanced in the direction of the sea to see if any more waves were to come. But it looked as if the tsunami had lost its fury. She looked up the object she had held onto. It was a coconut tree. Most of the leaves of the tree had been washed away by the fury of the wave.

She sat up and looked at the girl. The girl was lying to her side facing her. Her eyes met Mika's and she gave a weak smile. Mika could still see the shock in her eyes. She lifted the girl and hugged her. The little girl started to cry.

"It's all over... don't be afraid ... we are going home now .. come on ...", Mika comforted her.

She got up, the little girl still held fast to her. She carried her slowly towards the road. The little girl's grandparents who had been taking refuge in a compound nearby came out. When they saw Mika, they came running forward.

"Oh .. Thank god ... Thank god .... you both are safe!"

She deposited the little girl in her grandma's arms. The girl took a while to release her hug on Mika.

"We .. we don't know how to thank you .. you were sent by God to save us ...", said the grandfather.

"Oh .. no problem sir .. I'm glad I was able to help .. take your little girl home ... she needs a good rest to get over the shock ... "

"Thank you, akka ..", a little voice said. It was the little girl.

Mika kissed her. "Hey, go home and have a nice sleep. Then you can go and play with your friends. ok?"

"ok", blinked the little girl. The color was returning to her soft chubby cheeks.

"You have some cuts on the head .... will you come to our house and put some ointment for it?"

"No, problem sir .. I will immediately attend to it .. you go ahead .. my house is just here .. bye"

The old couple gave her a joint hug. "We will never forget what you have done for us".

The grandparents left with their granddaughter, looking back from time to time and waving at Mika.

---------------------------

Mika tiptoed into her house. Just as she was about to go up the stairs. Her mother came out of the kitchen and caught sight of her. She noticed the cuts on Mika's face.

"Mika! What happened? You have hurt your face and you're dripping wet as well!"

"Mama, there was a tsunami just a few minutes ago. I was on the beach.."

"Oh my god. Thank god you are fine. Wait here."

Mika sit on the sofa. She rushed to the bathroom and brought a bucket of water mixed with dettol. She bathed Mika's head wound with a wet towel. Mika winced on the touch.

"It seems to be just a superficial wound but anyway you cannot say anything about head injuries .. we will go immediately to the doctor after you dry up a bit."

"Oh mama, I think it is just a light wound .. it doesn't pain much .. no need for a doctor"

"No way, we must go .. only then will I be happy"

"Oh! .. right ... but not immediately ... let me dry up and take a bit of rest and we can go in the afternoon"

"Umm ... ok ... but if you feel anything uneasy, let me know and we will go to the doctor immediately"

"Ok mama, sure"

They went upstairs to Mika's room. Mika's mother helped her undress and get into the shower. The hot water helped a lot to subside the tension in her nerves. She came out refreshed from the shower and got into the dress that her mother had kept ready for her. Her mother then brought a hair dryer and started giving her long hair a good drying. Mika's brother came out of his room with sleepy eyes. He too had not known what had happened in the morning at all. He peeked into Mika's room.

"Hi Mom.. Hi Miki ...", he noticed the long cut on Mika's forehead. "hey, what happened? where did you get hurt?"

"Oh Arun! There was a tsunami in the morning .. and Mika was at the beach!"

"Oh shit!... you all right now, miki? want me to take you to the doctor?"

"No daa, I feel fine ... I just want to take a good rest to get over the shock ..."

"Oh okay ... yeah, you need a good rest ... "

"Right Mama, my hair's quite dry now .. thx a lot .. now let me take a nap."

"Ok dear"

Mika lay on her bed and her mother nicely tucked her in into her blanket and gave her a peck of a kiss on her forehead and then left the room.

"Come on Arun, let Mika have a good rest"

Arun gave Mika a reassuring smile as he left. "Sleep well"

He closed the door quietly behind him. Mika was left all alone in her room. She looked a while at the ceiling unable to close her eyes. Then, the exhaustion and then the hot bath took their toll. She drifted off into a deep sleep.

------------------------------

A beeping sound roused her out of her sleep. Another SMS! What did this have in store for her.

She realized it was still in the pocket of her wet dress. She got up and took the cell out of the pocket. Somehow, the cell was still in a working state. This must be some usual message, she thought. Every message could not be as significant as the last one she had received. She opened the message.

The message was short :
S.O.S, neo

Continued at Mika - Part V

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mika (Part III)

For those who missed Part I and II here are the links
Mika - Part I
Mika - Part II

----------------------------------------------------
Hardly had she logged in that the little blinking star appeared again. She clicked it and a window popped up.

"Hi, your system still has a vulnerability that enables me to login via the ssh port on your system :). If you want to counter it here is the webpage that describes the steps." An browser window opened up on her system.

Mika was surprised. True, she had wanted to find out the person was but this person was tracking her every move. She tiptoed to her brother's room and peeked in. Her brother was still soundly asleep and the system switched off. So, it was not one of her brother's pranks. Who was it then?

She came back to her chair in her room in a very pensive mood and placed her fingers over the keyboard.

"Hey, whatever be the security holes on my system, I think it is rude to intrude into other's privacy like this!"

"Oops ... sorry guy/gal .... I just was ambling around the network to see what vulnerabilities various machines were exposed to. Found yours one of the toughest machines to crack :) ... looks like you have set up some pretty good defenses on your machine ... so I just found it a nice challenge to find a loophole ... and once I did find one .. I wanted to inform u so that you could gear up for it."

"Oh, you are some sort of a cyber evangelist are you?"

"Now that you do mention it, I feel I just help people help themselves."

Mika felt her tension melting away as soon as it has risen. "hey", she said to herself, " here's a guy I wanted to thank for making me feel much better and the first thing I do is to bark at him and yet he handles me with ease"

"Hey, by the by, I wanted to thank you for the message you left on my screen in the morning. It was nice."

"wow, an admirer ;) ... thx .. I've always liked that one"

Mika , for the first time, realized that she had been chatting to him in an application window that she had never seen before. It displayed his name as "neo". Rightful name for such a hacker, she thought. This also suggested that the person was a "he".

Mika: "Hey, do you have a yahoo or gmail id?"
neo: "Umm .. of course, I do .. but .. I guess it would betray my identity to you ;)"
Mika: "Aha, do you know me? or viceversa :) .."
neo: "I only know you as much you have told me since the last five minutes .. no more, no less"
Mika: "Umm .. u expect me to believe that?"

There was a long pause from the other side.

neo: "You got to realize that giving out personal details to an unknown person is quite an uneasy job .. for infact you might be anyone"
Mika (thinking - "does this guy really not know me or is he just pretending!)": "Well, you potentially had and still do have access to my whole system. Have I not sympathised with you for so long that you can't even give me a small info I want"
neo: "What you essentially are asking for is an act of faith ... I need a bit of time before I can make that decision .. . you will hear from me very soon on this "
Mika (realizing she probably had been a bit too hasty) : "Hey, no problem at all. If you dont want me to know your identity then let it be like that .. but on my side, I dont mind giving you my contact details since I would like to be friends with you ... Here's my yahoo id mika.sparkles@yahoo.com"
neo: "well .. uh .. am a bit stunned ... I hardly have friends ... and you are the first person whose reached out a hand to me ... I deeply appreciate it ... "

Mika too was a bit stunned at her own courage in giving her mail id to someone whom she hardly knew. Yet there was something in this "neo"'s character that so deeply connected to her. She did not feel uneasy at all. His reply sent her wondering as to why so nice a person hardly had friends. She could almost feel that his heart was searching out for companionship and yet none had come. Mika decided that she would be his friend.

Mika: My name as the id indicates is Mika. I live at Chennai by the beach.

At that moment, Mika heard her mother coming up the stairs calling her.
"Mika, can you come down here. I need you to help me with the preparations for the party"

Mika (quickly typed) : Hey, my mother's coming up .. I am going to sign off ... catch you later
neo: Looks like I am a secret friend ;)
Mika: Yup :) bye
[Mika closed the window]

---------------------------------------

26th December 2004

Mika woke up early again and went out to the beach early in the morning. She was beginning to love the time spent in quiet contemplation savoring the beauty that the world had to offer. She realized she had unduly imposed restrictions on herself after the incident. In fact, Anand had done nothing wrong from his side. In fact, going through her relationship with him, it had been she who had harbored wrong intentions from the relationship. All this meant something more to her, it meant she had to just go on and enjoy life, it was not life who had let her down - it was herself.

Mika looked towards the sea and saw a small girl playing in the water with her grandfather. The grandmother was sitting on the sand watching them play. An old fisherman in a catamaran passed along quite close to the shore. The little girl waved her arms at him and he returned the gesture. Mika felt a strange peace floating around her. The people, the sea, the sun rays .. everything around her seemed to radiate the same feeling.

A slight vibration in her pocket brought her out of the trance. It meant that she had received an SMS. She reached out for her cellphone in her pocket and brought it out. She opened the message - it was sent to her yahoo id. She had configured her yahoo messenger messages to be delivered to her cell when she was offline. She read the message wondering what it meant. Strange things seemed to be happening to her suddenly. She re-read the message and looked at the sea again. The tide seemed to have retreated further into the sea. She then realized the truth in the message. She jumped up and ran towards the child and her grandfather. The message had said ....

"Tsunami . Any moment . Warn people! - neo"

Continued at Mika - Part IV

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mika (Part II)

For those who missed Part I here is the link Mika - Part I

----------------------------------------------

It wasn't much, just a few lines but yet they had shaken her to the marrows. But the optimism that filled her after that had made her feel much better than she ever had in the past six months. These were the lines


"True love strikes as disaster does - when you least expect it,
Disaster tests you the same as true love does - when you least want it,
Test do they your faith, upto the last strand,
Face them head on, answered will you be,
The power to believe against all odds,
And that makes all the difference!"

She read the lines and looked at the horizon. She did not realize how long she had been staring ahead but suddenly out of the blue, she heard someone calling her name. "Mika! Mika!"

Mika turned and saw her mother walking hurriedly towards her.

"Oh, there you are... I was beginning to get afraid that something happened to you ... you have been out nearly three hours"

"three hours .. " Mika couldn't believe herself.

"Hey, you are all right, are you not? You have been acting different from morning. "

"Well, Mama, I'm all right, was just thinking about something. Come let's go home."

------------------------------------

After lunch, Mika made sure her mother was busy in the kitchen below. There was a big family party at their house that night and her mother was very busy preparing for it.

She sat at the computer and switched on the power. She waited until the desktop appeared but by some impulse, she went and lay down on her bed and closed her eyes. Her thoughts wavering around the morning's events. What had come over her?


------------------------------------


"Mika! where are you?" Anand's voice rang out through the window. Mika peeked out, her chin resting on the window sill.


"What is it, Anand?"

"Hey, come down fast. I want to show you something."


"Show it from there itself .. I can't come down"


"No way .. are you coming down now or I am not going to come up there and get you!"


"ok baba, coming .. but it better be a good reason"


"come down, you wont regret it"


"ok"


Mika jumped up from bed and hastily made her hair. As she did so, she looked longingly at the computer screen. Her mailbox was open in the computer and it showed a long list of mails from Anand. The mail subjects read ...

"Chocolates by mail from Switzerland by way of Wisconsin :)"
" Snowing at Atlanta .. wish you were here"
" Stars up and away - photo taken at the lawn in the night"
" I'm coming to India in June"
...

She hastily picked a small, ornamental bindi and fastened it to her forehead. Then rushed down the stairs, smiling to herself. She ran to the front door and out into the lawn. Anand was waiting for her there. He looked so handsome in the sherwani. He seemed to be gesturing to somebody on the far side of the house, but he swiftly turned as he heard her approaching.

"Hiyee", he yelled.

"Hi! .. ouch... why on earth do you have to yell like that for? .. by the by, whom were you talking to when I was coming."


"Me talking to someone? .. not at all!". There was a twinkle in Anand's eyes as he said this.


Mika got a wind of something being hidden from her, "Anand!", she said in a mockingly slow manner. "I know you are hiding something from me... come on .. tell me."


"okay .. okay sir, I accept defeat ... that was a part of the surprise"


"oooh ... okay, what's the surprise?"


"You will have to close your eyes ... come on"


Mika closed her eyes.


"Hey, no peeking !"


Mika laughed and kept her eyes closed. She wondered what Anand had in store for her. She heard some shuffling noises by the bushes. She willed to open her eyes, but she kept them tightly shut so as to not disappoint Anand.


"okay now .. you can open your eyes"


Mika opened her eyes to see Anand standing along with another girl. She was dressed in a traditional saree. Mika was lost for words, she looked from Anand to the girl and then back at Anand.

Anand then spoke, "Hi Mika, she is the surprise. Pavithra, meet my close friend from childhood , Mika"

"Hello"


"Hi..", Mika managed to bring out from her throat.
What had come over her? Why was she struggling to talk?


Anand continued, "Mika, this is Pavithra, the girl who I am going to marry. We were classmates while I did M.S at Wisconsin"


The lump in Mika's throat hardly allowed a single word to emerge "Oh..cool".


"Hey Mika, are you ok?"


"Uh, well .. I have a bad headache ... that's why I was lying down .. it will go away soon .. don't worry"



"Oh ok then, I'm really sorry for disturbing you but I wanted you to be the first person whom I introduce Pavithra to. All others can come after that"


"oh, come on .. that was not really needed ... err .... hey guys, could you excuse me for sometime ... I want to take a bit of rest now to trash this bad headache ... I will come and meet you guys in about half an hour ..."

"oh, no problem at all," Pavithra said. "take your time .. get completely well and then come to see us ... besides I guess we will be seeing each other much more often in the future". Pavithra gave Mika a wink.

"ok thanks ... bye guys"


Mika turned and ran towards the front door, hardly able to conceal the tears in her eyes.

She rushed up the stairs, ran into her room, slammed the door shut and dropped to the floor crying"

Mika jumped out of the bed, bathed in sweat.

Oh! [Mika sighed in relief] it had been a dream!

She had never been able to remove that incident from her mind. She drank some water from the jug on the table by her bed and looked at her computer again.

The happenings of the morning came rushing back to her. Smiling to herself, she swore to find out who the mysterious messenger was.


Continued at Mika - Part III

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Mika

25th December 2004


The first rays of dawn kissed Mika's tender cheeks as she lay curled up in her blanket. She dismissively pulled the blanket over her head. A subtle tinkling sound penetrated through the darkness under the blanket. Although half asleep, it roused her curiosity; she tried to dismiss it as a dream but somehow it kept continuing. She flung open the blanket and sat up straight in bed. The sound seemed to continue. Strangely enough, it seemed to be coming from her computer which she had left on screensaver overnight. But the screensaver running on it was not the one she had set. It was a beautiful house bathed in snow. Little snowflakes were dropping all over the screen. In the centre of the screen, in shiny carpet red, were the words "Merry Christmas". She then realized it was the start of her Christmas hols and what a way to start than to get up to mysteriously see this greeting on her screen.

She gently gathered the curls falling all over her face with her hands and made a loose knot of them at the back. Her blue eyes twinkling with curiosity, she got up from bed and walked over to the computer. She pulled up a chair and blinked at the monitor. At her touch, the screensaver disappeared leaving her staring at her desktop wallpaper. But something caught her attention. It was a small blinking star in her "system tray" to the bottom right of the screen. It seemed so unreal to her, "who had done all this in surprise for her?" Her father was not in town so it couldn't have been him. Had he returned sooner than expected as a surprise or was it her one of her brother's tricks or her mother? She moved the mouse over the blinking star and clicked it.

-------------------------------------

Mika's mother was cooking a sumptuous breakfast of omlette, bread and butter. The Christmas cake was getting ready in the oven. The aroma was turning heads out in the street. She heard Mika coming down the stairs.

"Hi Mika, Happy Christmas dear, it is a wonderful day today"

"Yes Mama, it is"

Her mother turned around to see her. Mika was dressed in a light pink skirt.

"Wow, you look lovely dear. Fully ready at 7'O clock in the morning! Any new resolutions you have taken?", her mother asked jokingly.

"No, nothing of that sort ... err.. Mama..."

"Yes?"

"Can I go over to the beach for sometime?"

"Well, sure. Go on. I am a bit busy with the kitchen chores right now. You go ahead."

"Great, thanks Mama ... I will be back in about half an hour... bye"

"Bye"

-------------------------------------

Mika's house was about two hundred metres away from the beach. She fidgeted along on the pebbled pathway to the beach. The fresh sea breeze blew her hair all over her face every few seconds. A few joggers passed her on the way. Apart from that, the road was pretty deserted.

She replayed the events since yesterday in her mind as she walked along. Yesterday evening, she had arrived after a nine hour journey from Bangalore. The train had been late by about three hours and the journey had left her totally exhausted. She had just garnered enough energy to have a small chat and an early dinner with her mother and brother. She had also send a short mail to her father in a dreamy state. Then, her senses had just melted away and she had a vague remembrance of her mother gently laying her down on her bed and covering the blanket warmly over her....

"Hi Mika, Merry Christmas!"

Mika turned in the direction of the sound to see her school friend Radhika. She and her husband were jogging back home from the beach.

"Merry Christmas, to you too.."

Mika continued walking towards the beach. She had just reached the stone wall that indicated the start of the beach. She sat on it and looked at the spectacle in front of her. She could not understand what was it that made her do the things that she had done since morning. It seemed so unlike her but something excited her about doing it. She remembered what she had read when she clicked the blinking star on her computer. Whoever the person was, he/she knew what exactly to make her realize on this day and in a fashion that she would never forget. As the person had mentioned, she had taken a printout of the content and brought it out with her to read all alone in this serene environment. She unfolded the printout, closed her eyes for a few moments to calm down her emotions and then began to read.

Continued at Mika - Part II