Thirteen Years Later…

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Scene One: Conference Hall in a beautiful heritage hotel…There is a banner which says ‘ Giving Back to Society: The Innumerable Ways !’

People milling around. The smart youth, in latest fashions. Camera men, journalists, participants with their ID cards.
A sudden flurry of activity when the Chief Guest arrives.Bouquets , flashes of camera, voices…

Cut to back of the room…A tall man, in his late twenties, sits quietly. He is looking at the speakers on the podium. He gazes at one face and is lost in memories.

*
On the podium.

Compère: ‘And now, we would like to invite Mrs. Karuna Menon to share her experiences as a counsellor and rehabilitation specialist dealing with juvenile delinquents for many decades.’

A young woman steps forward and manoeuvres a wheel chair towards the mike. There is a poignant sigh rising from the audience. The woman in the wheel chair is around seventy, with a shock of white hair. She is radiant and cheerful.

Mrs Menon : Dear friends on the dais and beloved members of the audience! Thank you for giving me a chance to highlight the need for sensitivity towards juvenile delinquents. No child is born a criminal…As members of the society in which she or he lives, we are responsible for nurturing that soul to the proper heights it can aspire to. For that, we should stop looking at juvenile delinquents as evil. We should learn to open our eyes and see them for what they are: children fighting for survival.

Then she continues with her speech.

Back of the room. The man, lost in memories…

The Q&A session begins.
Raised hands: hyper smart questions, cynical queries, opinions disguised as questions…Mrs.Menon answers with grace and humility.

Slowly, the man raises his hand. He gets up.

Compère: Yes, sir… please ask your question.

Man: I stand here as a testimony to the great work of Mrs. Karuna Menon. I was a drug addict in my teenage. A very dangerous juvenile delinquent who stole his own mother’s jewellery. This lady, she saved my life. When the whole world hated me, she opened her home to the likes of me. Madam, thank you.

There is a ruffling sound, as many heads turn to gaze at the man. Slowly, someone begins to applaud. Mrs.Menon, in her wheel chair, stares unbelievingly at the tall man.

‘ Thank you, thank you,’ she murmurs, overwhelmed. She beckons the man to come forward.

He moves. He climbs the steps to the podium. And hugs the woman in the wheel chair.

Mrs.Menon: Ravi! Where were you, all this while?  How many years, now? Thirteen, fourteen? You never got in touch!
Man: I had to do something worthwhile before coming back to you, right?

Compère: Sir, the audience would like to know more!

The audience is on their feet now. It is a standing ovation for both the mentor and the protege.

Man: There is nothing more to tell. I was lost, she saved me. I have started a company which is into skill development. We actively work with prisoners released from jails and delinquents who are released from Homes. We help them get dignified employment.

Compère: What is the name of your firm?

Man: ( Smiles) Karuna, or Compassion.

He bends and touches the lifeless feet of Mrs.Karuna Menon.
*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unexpectedly…

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‘ People do not have enough time to read or watch anything long. So , can you write something interesting, which is er, let us put it this way, amenable to quick enjoyment?Especially now that all are writing love stories, can you try one?’ My friend sipped her coffee.

‘ Can I write a murder mystery instead: very short?’ I wheedled. Wry cynicism is more my nature than  a naive trust in happily-ever-after. Give me  short films like ‘Chutney’ any day with Saki’s stories as accompaniment!

‘ Later…we will try that later. You have half an hour,’ she said.

She is like a sister to me; and sisters have the right to demand anything.

*

Love In a Train

**

Sound of rain…and a train whistling…The story unfolds in a train compartment

Young man: Damn! The train has stopped again! Someone must have pulled a chain..The phone has no range in these parts…where are we, in the middle of jungles? Who lives in such places?

Old Man: ( Coughs) I guess, people like you and me.
Young man: I did not mean to be rude.But see, there is no internet or mobile range.
Old man: Girl friend? Urgent call?
Young man:( laughs) Oh, no! No time for all that…Besides, I am yet to find someone that special.Just my mother…wanted to tell her that the train is running late.
Old man: Since we are alone in this compartment, may be you will like to listen to a story?
Young man: Oh, yes…there is nothing else to do, anyway! I mean…please tell me…
Old man: It is a love story…
Young man: ( curious) Really?

Old man… It began in a train compartment like this …some fifty years ago
**
Young man( Old man’s younger version) voice: Oh, blast this rain…and this train is moving through jungles! Who lives in such places, I wonder…Ah, not again…another station?

Sound of a luggage being dragged
Young man( whisper) My lucky day! What a beautiful young woman! That must be her mother…or aunt?
Middle aged lady: Beta, can you help with the luggage? We are drenched…

Young man: Oh sure…here we go..Where are you going?

Middle aged lady: Oh this girl works too hard and has fallen sick! I am taking her home for a vacation…
Young woman: ( laughs) You exaggerate greatly auntie..

Young man: You work here…in the jungles? It must be terrible…What are you doing…I mean ..Are you teaching? You should try for a job in the city..There must be options…
Young woman: These are tribal areas…and people are much nicer than in the cities…I am a doctor.
Middle aged woman: She is a gold medallist. Did her higher studies in England but insisted that she would work for poor tribals….Works with a missionary hospital here…
Young man : ( Utterly flabbergasted) Really! My God! I feel so stupid…I am sorry…I mean…
Young woman: It is alright….I hear that a lot. It is my choice and I am fine…What do you do?
Young man: I have my own business…

*
Cut to modern train scene…train chugs..whistles..

Old man: I told her that I was running my family business in the big city. I had just opened a new factory in a nearby town…I was trying to impress her…You see, I had fallen in love.

Young man: Whistles! ( It strikes him for the first time that old men were once young too!)

Old man: We got married eventually.My wife started her own hospital in the tribal region.Later we started a school too…
Young man: Wonderful! Where is ma’am now?
Old man: Sighs…Love is such a gift…but sometimes it is snatched away fast…The memories remain.She passed away five years before…
Young man: I am so sorry
Old man: Don’t be…We had a beautiful life together.Today, our only grand daughter took over as the new head of the hospital…she has just returned from England with a gold medal…like her grand ma…I went to bless her.She wanted someone to accompany me back.I refused.There is strength in my old bones still.Besides, I wanted to travel in a train back…for memories’ sake…

Young man: I am speechless.
Old man: My phone is buzzing….the range must have come back…Hello…hello dear…I am fine…I have a travel mate…a young man in the compartment…we are having a good time chatting….Yes, I shall take my medicines…don’t worry…What…ok, will give the phone to him…One second..
Young man: Hello, yes…Ensure he takes medicines before he sleeps? Oh sure, I will remind him..May I know, your good name? Ah..lovely name…sorry, I mean…yes, sure…Shall look after him…

Old man: ( Laughs) She is as stubborn as her grand ma…By the way, what do you do beta?
Young man ( respectfully ) I have my own tea plantations, sir.
Old man: Ah…a businessman…I like that…
**
End