Category Archives: Stories

The Vanity of the Mind #3: The Redemption

The story so far…
1. Anathema
2. A damsel in distress

The Redemption

He nears the house. He sees the door and the pitch darkness inside. The Black Hole. Only this time, the door looks circular. The black circle grows as it nears him. It moves towards his forehead.
He hears a cocking sound.

“BANG! You’re dead.”

He came back to his senses.
The lady was aiming the muzzle straight at his forehead. It was his own gun.
“What the…”

“Didn’t expect this, did you?”, she asked with a smile, “Didn’t expect me to be the anonymous assassin who is going to kill you.”
“But I was paid to kill you.”
“Don’t you get it? It was me who contacted your agency for this contract.”
“It was a trap, wasn’t it? A decoy so that you could get to me. But I praise your fortitude to plan my assassination with my own weapons.”
“I knew you are weak. A person doing this job should have no relationships. He should have no heart. You were so in love with me.”
“But why no weapons?”
“Oh come on! You would have known the moment if I’d carried any weapons. Besides, I wanted to prove that I’m the best in business.”
“So have you proved it?”
“I will, in due time.”
“Have you ever played Russian Roulette? How about playing it now? Too bad we don’t have a revolver. You hold the gun against…”
“SHUT UP! Don’t play games with me.”

The hitman laughed menacingly. She grew confused as her smile faded away.

“Good guess. I indeed was intending to play games. As a matter of fact, I did expect you to betray.”
He opened his left hand. The bullets were in his hand.

She pulled the trigger frantically.
Nothing but the sound of metal hitting against metal.

“Give the gun to me. I’ll teach you how to shoot.”
He grabbed the muzzle. She didn’t even resist. The cartridge was empty. It was a deadlock situation.

“How did you know?”, she asked.
“Our dialogue sounded like something straight out of a Sidney Sheldon novel. Sounded too trite to be honest.”
“Lets do something which is less of a cliche. Lets play Russian Roulette then”, she had to buy as much time as possible.
“Yeah. Lets.”
He pointed the gun on her forehead instead of his own.
His arced lips were becoming straight, “An assassin should never listen to her heart.”
She looked into his bared left hand. There were only three bullets.
She suddenly realised, “Shit!”

“BANG! You’re dead!”
The silencer served both the purposes.
It made a tranquil silence of the gunshot.
It silenced her.

The hitman opened the cartridge. There were 4 bullets in the lower slots. He put back the three bullets in hand into the top-most slots.

The lady lay in the linen-covered floor, an exact hole on the middle of her forehead.
It was over. He walked away with his paycheck.
The mind won the battle. The urban legend was redeemed.

Courtesy: Thanks to Sanjeev for the constructive criticism on the last chapter.

The Vanity of the Mind #2: A Damsel in Distress

The story so far…
1. Anathema

A damsel in distress

He was pushed to the back seat of a helpless moderator who was about to witness a heated debate.
The heart and the mind were arguing. How could he not listen to either one of them?
The mind. Cunning manipulator.
The heart. Excruciating torturer.

He came back after quenching his thirst. But his thirst for an answer was still not quenched. The curtains were open and the soothing lights from the moon were falling inside. The warm doona was glowing bright white in the silhouette. Under that was a beautiful face, no less than the face of an angel, because it was glowing with twice the aura as the moon. His gaze quickly went again to his silenced pistol kept in the bedside table.

Please…No…I can’t do this…
I love her.

Did I really ever love any one? Did I really care about any one?
Do I know what love is?

All I know is that she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life..She is my sole solace from all the misdeeds I do.

Misdeeds? Or deeds? There is nothing wrong in taking life.

How can I take life when I can’t give life?

I don’t care. All I know is, this is what I’m good at and this is what I’m paid for.

But how can I? How dare I hurt such a person as her?

Because she asked me to.


Don’t I know?

The world then zooms to an alternate reality…what has already happened!
The assassin and his lady love are conversing. The heart and the mind are watching.

Assassin: I didn’t expect you outside so soon. You like parties.
Lady: I like to be in your company for as long as I wish.
L: Care for a smoke?
A: No thanks.
L: As usual.
A: We should stop meeting like this; these chance encounters make me feel insecure about myself.
L: Chance encounters? Heh. You have been hiding so many things from me.
A: Like?
L: Like what you do for a living.
A: You never asked.
L: I didn’t because I didn’t want to know.
A: Very well.
L: But I found out nevertheless. I’ve seen you hide that pistol of yours inside your tuxedo.

The hitman frowns.

L: I’ve known that the one the world thinks as an Urban Legend, is the world for me.
A: Still you love me?
L: Yes.
A: Why?
L: Because I’ve seen a heart of gold in you.
A: But I have a mind of stone.
L: But I see your heart in your eyes whenever your eyes see me.
A: Look. I’ve tried to tell you several times, but faltered every time. You should stay away from me. It is not safe.
L: How can one stay away from one’s shadow?
A: I am the shadow of the people I kill. I cannot be with you.
L: Then kill me.

The assassin frowns again. How the hell did she know?

A: That is the stupidest statement I’ve heard in ages.

A cheshire cat grin comes on her face. He senses her signal. He leans forward. He feels her satin-like skin. They hear the song played in the background.
I swear by the moon and the stars in the sky
I swear like the shadow that’s by your side

They kiss.

The heart and the mind come back to the present.

That is just a passing statement. Not good enough a reason for killing her.

It’s not finished yet.

They zoom to another reality.

The assassin and the lady are in the bed. He is lying on his back, facing the ceiling. She is lying sideways, her head rested against her left arm. Her other hand is caressing his chin.

L: Do you love me?
A: I don’t know.
L: That’s one honest answer.
A: But you are the only human I care about in this earth.
L: Then why did you come here to kill me?
A: What?
L: I know you are here to kill me.
A: I di…
L: I’ve seen the concentration in your face today. Today is the day you are going to make another hit. I don’t mind it being me.
A: I don’t get it.
L: I’ve been running away from them for so long. They want me dead. I’m tired. Tired from running. You see. I’d rather die in your hands than from the bullets of an unknown person.
A: Are you not afraid?
L: Not when you are around. I only have one request. Hold me close to you until I die.

The assassin doesn’t know what to say. He can’t keep his eyelids open. He feels sleepy.
What is happening to me?
He wakes up in an unknown place. He walks across the street, but this time it looks a bit familiar…The road laid with stones. The medieval buildings. He is back in his dream.

The Vanity of the Mind #1: Anathema

The story so far…



He woke up, startled.
He felt disoriented. He was gasping.
What was it that he just said? Who did he ask for help? Why did he need help from anybody?
What was it that he just saw? Do dreams have any meaning?
Questions! They come like bullets from a machine gun whenever they come, not giving time for you to answer, suffocating you. By the time you are ready to answer, they are gone.

He came back to his senses.

That was nothing but a bad dream.
No! Dreams have meanings.
A conflict of thoughts!

His .44 caliber Desert Eagle was lying on the bedside table, fitted with a silencer. It symbolized his gagged mouth. He had no one to confess to. His life was that of a solitary eagle, a cursed one.

He was the assassin.
He wasn’t sure how many people he had killed. But he was sure of something. If God existed…if heaven and hell existed…he had a sure seat in hell.
He killed for money. That was his food. That was his destiny.
“Destiny. A word coined by some prick who wanted to justify his deeds and explain his losses.”
“Who’s there?”, he shouted as he looked around.
No one! That voice seemed to come from inside him.

He checked the time in his diamond studded Rolex watch kept by the bedside table. He could afford expensive watches and suits, thanks to the handsome money he got for each contract.
It was 4 in the morning. He looked at his gun. Creases formed in his forehead. His eyes were showing hatred. Hatred towards his gun. Hatred towards his profession. Hatred towards himself.

“This is not hatred. This is confession. You are confessing to yourself, because you have no one else.”
“Who’s that?”
“I’m your heart.”
“What the…”
He got up. He needed some water. This was insane.
It was about to get worse, because someone else just barged in.

“Don’t listen to your heart. It will make you weak”

The Vanity of the Mind: Prologue

He walks across the street which doesn’t look too familiar. It is a crowded street, but the faces are blank. The roads are very clear, but the surroundings aren’t. It is as if someone has blurred out the borders of a picture. The road doesn’t seem to be asphalted; it is a walkway which looks an old-fashioned one with polished stones on the ground. The buildings too don’t seem modern; most seem to be festooned. They look blurred. Are they really constructed like that? Or is it a trick that his mind is playing?
His mind laughs cynically…”Fool!”

He then spots THAT building. It is not a separate standalone edifice, but still, it looks clear in the hazy virtual reality he is in. Why so? He knows not. It is a part of a chain of buildings which don’t seem to be separated, but continuous.

He turns towards the building. He senses the ominous artworks in the wooden roofs. He sees the black smoke rising out of it’s chimney. But he doesn’t see where it is going. It disappears into the infinite universe. He squints into the building through the open door. It is pitch black inside. It seems to have nothing; a black hole. Is it really a black hole? Is it true that anything would be sucked inside? Is it so tempting that anyone who passes by would go inside but never return?

He is tempted. Little does he realize that this is his last temptation. He has two choices. If he makes this choice, there may be no return. Still he goes inside. His mind resumes that cynical laugh. He doesn’t step inside; he floats. His feet doesn’t seem to hit solid ground. He frantically tries to get out through the door. But it’s too late. There’s no door. There is a sphere of darkness around him. For the first time in his life, he’s afraid.

Aldous Who?

Technological progress has merely provided with more efficient means for going backwards.

– Aldous Huxley

Well! I don’t really know who this Aldous Huxley is. Being the literal person that I am, let me try to guess “literally” from the words of wisdom he has spoken above.

1. Aldous Huxley is a professor of an engineering school

I had this doubt from an incident which involved my going backwards (literally) due to some technology.

My regular seat in class was in the front row near the main door. Before you think otherwise, I was not a nerd. The front bench on the side row had many advantages. The lecturer would watch out for potential law-breakers only on the back benches. You are literally free to do anything noiseless in front seats. For instance, sleeping (you shouldn’t snore though!!), playing Hangman. Besides, I had a good view of outside. Another advantage was the chance of sneaking out of the class when the lecturer turns toward the board.

All was well until one fine day, my physics professor announced that he would be making use of the OHP (Over-head Projector) from that day. On the day it was brought, I was in a mood to listen to the class. But alas! my bench was too much to the side that I was not able to see the projection because of the reflection from the window. (Technically, Total Internal Reflection!!)
As a result of that, I had to shift my place. As there was no other seat upfront, I had to go to the back seat.

I believe that a similar incident might have occured in Huxley’s class and he might have uttered the great words on that occassion.
Wasn’t it a technologically advanced way of going backwards?

This theory is enforced by the fact that ALDOUS may be an abbreviation of A Laughable Dimwit Of an Undergraduate School

2. Aldous is a professional swimmer of the Australian Team

The year was 2000. The Olympics was around the corner. Then the Australians came up with a special suit which would cover your entire body from neck to ankle. It would provide better streamlining, they said. Their swimmers would be able to swim faster with that costume, they said.
Well, this guy Aldous was a backstroke swimmer. The day he swam for the first time with the costume, he broke his personal record. After climbing back, he might have uttered those words of wisdom.
Obviously, it was a technologically efficient way of going backwards (or swimming backwards)
I have an abbreviation for this theory too…
Australian Lad Dedicated for Outrageously Uber-Swimmer

3. Aldous is a brilliant but eccentric scientist

This theory suggests that Aldous invented a device which I call the third eye. He probably got the idea from The Matrix, because the third eye was a CCD lens coupled into your brain, which would directly communicate with your brain. So it would serve the purpose of an eye, hence the name.

He successfully did the surgical procedure in his own head because no one was ready to be a guinea pig. (How would any one, knowing that it was Aldous the eccentric at the other end??)
How it was done is a mystery.

Aldous was probably eccentric because he did some silly mistakes (which he didn’t consider mistakes, BTW) in the procedure. The first mistake was that he implanted the third eye on the back of his head a la The Matrix. The second one was that the third eye would become functional only if both his real eyes are closed, because he believed that the third eye is a substitute for the real eyes and should always work when the real eyes don’t work. (He probably didn’t know the difference between “always” and “only”)

Now the problem started occuring because Aldous had the habit of sleepwalking. So, after the procedure and he went for sleep, he started sleepwalking. But since his eyes were closed, his third eye became functional. And since it was in the back of his head, he started walking backwards, thinking that he was walking forward.

This is how technology provided him with a means of going backward.

Oh! I have an acronym ready for this too. This was said by his Linux-geek neighbor, who made a recursive acronym as usual, when he saw Aldous walking backwards outside his house and was nearing a puddle of water.
Aldous Look Down Otherwise U‘ll Slip

Note: Aldous Huxley is a famous writer and is consider a leader of modern thought. I know very well who Huxley is, and the above post is solely for entertainment. The quote was a real quote made by Huxley, but what followed was made up by yours truly.


It was hell.
He couldn’t get a moment of peaceful solitude, because the mosquito was humming in his ears. Why does the mosquito always hum in your ears? How does it know where human ears are? Why does it hold this grudge to humans? A million unanswered questions.

He never knew about how annoying mosquitos could be until he visited Cochin. Of course, he had heard about the dreaded diseases like Malaria, but this experience was downright annoying… There was no other word for it.

The mosquitoes of Cochin were very smart. They knew how to live even in adverse situations. They had adapted to the growing threats that they faced. He realised that from the moment he landed in the bus station. He looked up, and saw a rain cloud in what otherwise was a clear blue sky. Rain cloud in the middle of summer? That was impossible. He looked up again. The cloud was nearing him. He suddenly was reminded of the artificially intelligent nanoparticles in Michael Crichton’s Prey. Then it happened. The cloud hit him like someone throwing several pebbles at him. He struggled and wiggled, but to no avail. The number of mosquitoes in that cloud would have exceeded the number of soldiers in the erstwhile Roman empire. He was enclosed in the cloud of mosquitoes until he reached near a garbage dump. Then they left him in search of a new victim. Talk about mosquitoes which hate garbage dumps. But as he recalled, the Cochin mosquitoes were different.

He finally reached his relative’s house. Inside he was feeling a bit suffocated and went towards the windows to open them.
Came the scream from everyone else in the house.
“Don’t open the windows unless you want to stay awake all night”

“What is it with the mosquitoes here? I’ve heard Cochin mosquitoes are unbearable; and had a first hand experience today too”
His relative started his epic monologue about Cochin mosquitoes…

Mosquitoes here are unique. They have adapted to the different condition here. They no longer travel in battalions; they travel in armies. There is nothing that can be done about it. In fact, the notoriety of these mosquitoes is so much that one can write a ballad.

Mosquitoes have given partial relief to the huge unemployment problem of the Cochin people. Nowadays people always will have one job — scratching their backs to get rid of that annoying itch caused by mosquito bites.
Even the tiger is afraid that it might be deprived of it’s National Animal status because of the mosquitoes.

Rashid, the lad who stays across the street had a nasty experience once. He was sleeping when he dreamt that he was checking his weight. His weight initially showed 70kg, then it came down, and down, and down until he was almost as light as a feather. Then he dreamt that he was flying; flying over the terrace. He was doing backstroke swimming in the air. Then somebody nipped him in his hand. He woke up, startled. But he was in for another shock when he realised that it was not a dream, he was indeed flying. A cloud of mosquitoes had lifted him over his bed, out through the balcony and all the way up to the terrace.

Chacko, our neighbor tried the latest Mortein mosquito repellent; the so called “Yama(God of death) of mosquitoes”. He plugged the repellent to the socket, only to hear a high-pitched, almost satirical comment from behind. “Thanks for the repellent, dude. We just love it’s smell.” The cloud was speaking!!!

So on went the epic until he fell asleep. It was then that the solitary skeeter came to disturb him. After sending in the army, was this the commando? Anyway, solitary mosquitoes seemed to be more annoying than the cloud. Just because they seemed to bite at places which were unreachable (by the hand), and at particularly difficult places to scratch, like the bare side of his feet. And they intimidated him with their pesky hum near his ears. They seemed to be very talented in evading his capture.

But he was not going to give up easily. After several minutes of grueling duel, he finally got a chance. The mosquito came and sat in his left arm. He waited until the mosquito burrowed it’s ugly snout to suck his blood. If that was done, he would get that extra time to kill it. He waited and waited, but the mosquito still seemed only to intimidate him. Finally, after what seemed to be an hour, it plunged it’s nose deep to sample his blood. Then he took his right hand and in a lightning fast move, slapped hard on his arm. Blood splattered. The mosquito was dead and was squashed beyond recognition.

He nonchalantly shoved off the dead mosquito from his arm. With a cruel satisfaction, he fell asleep again. He only hoped that Maneka Gandhi won’t sue him for the cold-blooded murder.

1. Thanks to Nadirsha, the parody singer for inspiring this post by one of his songs.
2. No mosquitoes were harmed in writing this post.

The Muggle Studies Professor – Part 2

The sun was shining brightly on the green meadows somewhere in England on the afternoon of September 1st. It made the land look like a royal green carpet vanishing into the hills yonder. I was once again silent, admiring the beauty of the countryside. There were a million questions inside me, like magma inside a volcano which would erupt any moment. But Jo was not giving me much hint.

All I knew till then was that I was allowed a free passage into platform 8 and three-quarters, because they wanted me to be a muggle studies professor at Hogwarts.
Were they some old crackpots? Was I worth it? What if students misbehaved? I didn’t have the slightest amount of magic to bring discipline.
“Well. Hagrid too doesn’t do magic”, said Jo.
I gaped at her. Her face was hidden behind Witch Weekly.
How did she know what I thought?

But most of the curses won’t work on Hagrid as he is so tough.
“You’re afraid some student might try a bat-bogey hex on you?”, said Jo, lowering her magazine.
I smiled and replied, “You are a Legilimens, aren’t you?”
Jo smiled back and said, “Don’t worry. We will equip you with all the essential magic you need.”
“But I thought one should have in-born talent for magic, just like music. It is impossible to make every person sing.”
“Yes and no. There are some tricks which anyone can do. For example, which spell do you say the most?”
“Try saying that with this”, she handed over her wand to me.
I carefully examined the wand, which was made of Ash.
“Go ahead. Wave it”.

“Lumos”, I said with a flick of my wrist.
Nothing happened.
“Concentrate.. Say a bit louder.”

Then it came…the bright light on the tip of her wand. I was grinning from ear to ear.
“I did….magic”
“Good!”, she said encouragingly.
“Nox”…and it was out.

“You shouldn’t give your wand to others like this.”
“Heh..What are you gonna do? curse me? Try doing that!!”
My grin was so hearty as I returned her wand, that all my 32 teeth were showing.


At long last, the train hooted once again as we reached the Hogsmeade railway station.
I heard the voice I was looking forward to hearing…”Firs’ years, this way”

When the crowd of the students was gone, I saw some elderly people in cloaks standing there. There was none mistaking the lady in the front.
Jo said, “Meet the headmistress of Hogwarts, Prof…”
“Pleased to meet you Professor McGonagall”, I interrupted with a grin.
“Glad to have you aboard, Mr. Kilby”, she said without the slightest sign of “gladness” in her face.
I easily recognised Prof. Flitwick and Prof. Sprout (lots of dirt on her cloak).


“I will be very brief for the time as we have to hurry for the feast, Mr. Kilby.
Your first question will be why we invited you to Hogwarts.
We let you into our world because we want you to become our Muggle Studies professor. That is only one side of the story.

A few years after You-know-who jinxed the DADA class, Professor Dumbledore had requested him to lift that jinx. For that, he replied arrogantly, “I would lift the curse the day a muggle starts teaching in Hogwarts”, and walked off.
It took these many years for the International Convention of Warlocks to decide on improving wizard-muggle relationships. As a result, several amendments were made wherein muggles who were particularly inclined towards the wizarding world were allowed to actually see and live in it. We didn’t want to obliviate anyone unnecessarily.

Your induction as a Muggle Studies professor is an experimentation to see whether the DADA jinx is lifted or not.
“Prof. Eowyn Banks will be the DADA teacher this year”, she pointed to a charming blonde lady, who bowed to me. I smiled and nodded.
McGonagall continued, “Prof. Pithius, our present muggle studies teacher, is retiring this year, and he has kindly agreed to stay till this Christmas to give you the necessary training. You will be given a wand, which can be used to perform simple spells and defensive spells. You will learn about other basic things like using brooms and all. You will do your shopping later this week. Sorry we had to arrange all of this so fast.”

“Alright. But why me? Why not any other muggle?”
“Because you have the most wonderful kinds of magic inside you. Joanne noticed you when she came for the publication of her book, ‘Quidditch through the ages'”
“I was voluntarily working for Comic Relief at that time. I’d seen her. And she’s my favorite author”, I winked at Jo as I said this.
“She was impressed by your work for charity through laughter. Afterwards, we had several magical folks tailing you and we learnt that you had the greatest wish to be in the wizarding world. So we cleverly started showing a few hints for you to catch on and come here.”
McGonagall was smiling now.
Of course!!! All those things which I was seeing!!

“So what do you say, Mr. Kilby? Yes or No?”
“Mmmm. Let me think….Of course, yes!!”

I never stopped grinning. This day has been the most wonderful and unbelieve day in my life so far. By then, our horseless carriages had reached Hogwarts. I saw the white tomb. I closed my eyes in prayer for Dumbledore. Too bad I couldn’t meet him.

Inside the Great Hall, I witnessed the Sorting Ceremony, then got a very good applause from the students when Prof. McGonagall introduced me. It was time to go to bed soon.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to. If this was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up and realise that it was a dream. I wanted to live in that dream.



One morning, I went to the white tomb to pay homage to the greatest wizard of all time.

As I turned to go, I heard “Hello Janus.” It was Jo.

Again questions started erupting. Why did Snape kill Dumbledore?

“Jo, you are my best friend here in Hogwarts and everybody but me knows what happened to Harry Potter and others. Jo, I’m curious. Please tell me. What happened to Snape? Was he really a death eater or was it all a drama scripted by Professor Dumbledore?”

“The drama was in fact scripted by Snape himself. Didn’t you understand? It was Snape, not Voldemort, who was the main antagonist. Voldemort and Dumbledore were mere pawns in the clever game played by Snape. All of us believed that Voldemort was the main threat, while all the time, Snape was brilliantly manipulating everyone to emerge as the antagonist.”

“It…It doesn’t make sense.”
“Who overheard the full prophecy and conveniently forgot to say some major points of that to Voldemort? Snape!!
Who led Dumbledore into believing that he indeed was a spy for the Order? Snape!!

“Snape was the reason why Voldemort attacked on Harry and his parents and met his downfall in Harry. Snape was the one who killed Dumbledore.
Don’t you see it? Snape was playing the Order against the Death Eaters as mere pieces of a chessboard. Loss of either side would be a gain for him, because he wanted to get rid of both.

“Snape didn’t kill Harry on the night he killed Dumbledore, because he knew that only Harry could get rid of Voldemort. And the part of the story that you don’t know: Snape helped Harry in destroying the horcruxes and finishing off Voldemort himself. Now the main threats in his rise were removed. Except one. Harry himself.

“He cast the death spell on Harry. But Harry was again saved by the very same magic which had saved him earlier…Love. Ginny jumped in front of him. She wanted him to live from the deepest of her heart. Harry didn’t want her to die either. This mutual love and mutual magic which emanated from that created what we call Orbicular Bounding. It was old, nay, forgotten magic. The spell rebounded off the shield and hit Snape. Ginny was in St. Mungos for 5 months. She recovered, but had lost her flaming red hair. Her hair changed to a short silver and black color. They say it will be a permanent relic.”

“But is Snape vanquished? What if he too has a horcrux?”
“We can only hope that he doesn’t..that he’s gone for good,” Jo said, as we returned slowly into the castle.
A cuckoo was singing somewhere near the forbidden forest. It stopped singing suddenly. I turned back and saw the whomping willow moving ominously. Was it a sign of the end of happy days once again?

The Muggle Studies Professor – Part 1

If there was anything which I yearned to do, it was to live in the magical world among wizards and witches.
There was a time when I wished that somebody would just apparate in my room and tell me that I am a wizard. That, however, never happened. So, there I was, wasting precious time and a good life in some muggle nonsense in London.

One fine day, I was walking along the Charing Cross Road. I used to be excited whenever I came here, because this was supposed to be where the Leaky Caudron was. The Leaky Cauldron…the gateway to Diagon Alley. Did that ever exist? I never found out. For several years, I thought it was hidden by a Fidelius Charm, but now I gave up. This time I didn’t even bother to look around for the inn. But I knew I was alert anyway, because I noticed somebody tailing me. What was more, that person was wearing the most unlikely set of clothes I had ever seen. I turned around when I reached an open place (so that he couldn’t hide). But he was nowhere to be seen. It was as if he had vanished into thin air.

Days went by, and I forgot that incident. On September 1st, I had to go to Manchester. I took a ticket from King’s Cross Station. The train was coming in platform 8. After the explosions in King’s Cross, they had restructured the platforms. Now the barrier was between platforms 8 and 9. I remembered the times when I would feel the barrier around hoping to find some hidden entrance to platform 9 3/4.

I couldn’t resist a smile as I looked at the barrier. But the smile was momentary. Then I saw that…a piece of black cloak vanishing into the barrier. Totally grossed out, I took a step backwards. Then, almost involuntarily, I ran towards the barrier and touched it. It was solid. But I was so convinced that I took 10 steps backwards and started running towards the barrier. As I neared it, I closed my eyes, a part of my brain saying, “Fool! You are only going to get bruised and hurt.”
The collision with the solid mass of bricks was just milliseconds away…But it didn’t happen. I went on and almost collided with a jolly young couple who jumped in their seats. Then I heard it…the long whistle..I turned and saw a black and crimson steam engine. “Hogwarts Express” was written in big letters in that.

A dream come true..that indeed was. My joy knew no bounds.

Then I saw someone I knew. It was Jo (J K Rowling). I went up to her and asked, “What are you doing here?”
Although it was something rude to hear from a stranger, she seemed to understand what I meant and who I was.
She just replied, “I’m a witch.”
I introduced myself as a muggle who happened to get into platform 8 3/4 (It was renamed now!) by sheer chance. She smiled and said that she was about to board the train with her daughter to Hogwarts. It was her first year at school.

“So it exists..Hogwarts and all”
“What do you think? I made up a story so vivid in a few hours of train journey?”
“So what you wrote was a story based on your world which actually exists”
“No. I wrote a biographical story. Harry Potter is a real life character and is very much alive. He’s almost your age now, is an Auror with the ministry and is happily married to Ginny Weasley, who too is working in the ministry.”
“Oh I see”, I said very seriously as if I wasn’t amazed. But only I knew what was inside my mind….The greatest joy since I was ever born.

I asked, “Why are you going to the school?”
“I’m a teacher there. I teach potions.”
“Er…I hope everything is finished, Voldemort vanquished.”
“Why? You afraid?”
“Shoudn’t I be?”
“Don’t worry. He’s dead.”
“I’m still wondering how the gateway opened for me.”
“You’ll get to know. Let’s get on to the train.”
I was not a fool to refuse a ride aboard Hogwarts express.

As the train sped past the green meadows, I kept on looking alternately outside and Jo’s face. Jo’s daughter was playing with a Reusable Hangman. Jo was immersed in a book. On the front cover, I saw the words “Witch Weekly”

I got an opening to talk with Jo only when the familiar witch with the trolley came. After buying a few chocolates for her daughter, Jo asked, “So…how’s it feeling to be in wizarding world so far?”
“I still don’t believe it. You didn’t answer me. Why give me…a..a muggle a free trip to Hogwarts when the ministry is desperately trying to hide it from muggles?”
“Because you are going to get a chance to be a part of the wizarding world forever.”
“I..I don’t understand. I don’t have the slightest amount of magic in me.”
“But you have the love and belief in magic.”
“But what am I gonna do in the magical world? I’m no better than a squib.”
“There’s a seat vacant for a teacher in Hogwarts.”
“But I’m not even qualified to be a wizard, leave alone a teacher”
“We have a subject called Muggle Studies.”
“Heh…You think I will accept that?”, I asked.
She mocked me, “Heh. You think you will refuse an offer to live your dream?
“Wait for a few hours…The answers are coming….”

To be concluded…

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of the characters or the articles mentioned in this story. They are owned by appropriate authorities


1. This is *not* a review on the movie, so don’t be dejected.
2. This has nothing to do with the movie except that both took place in Banaras.
3. The Bengali words in this post are from the minuscule vocabulary I have acquired from watching Bengali movies (with subtitles, of course). So please excuse me if I make a mistake in Bengali.
4. These are based on actual experiences of my uncle. Some names have been changed; others I made up because I don’t know.

They were four friends from four corners of India – studying together in the multicultural atmosphere of IT-BHU.

Bored with the intellectual routine of their engineering life, they decided to visit the outskirts of Banaras over the weekend. Their plan was to see the “Ramlila” – a kind of drama based on Ramayan.

On Saturday, they all got ready to travel. Ravi and George were packing their bags when Soham came and asked,

“Lokhan kothoi”

Ravi stared blankly at Soham while George mumbled, “There he goes again.”
That sounded like Bengali (they guessed from the lot of O’s) and by the tone of it, it looked like a question. But they didn’t understand what he had meant.

George said, “Talk in English, will you? How in the world do you expect us to understand every time you talk in Bengali?”
Soham said, “Oh…I asked where Lokhan……Lakshman is”
“#$%^!@. Talking to us in Bengali is worse enough for us. Do you have to change names also? Man. You’re impossible.”
Ravi said matter-of-factly, “So you call Lakshman as Lokhan…What do you call Lakshmi then? Lokhi?”
Soham sneered.


Soon they set off to their destination. That evening they watched Ramlila. It was a small stage in a large ground. The stage was “well lit” with a few tubelights but there was no microphone. There were quite a few people among the audience and all were watching so silently that you would hear a needle fall.
It was the scene where Hanuman and Raavan were talking before Lankadahan.
Raavan was saying one gargantuan dialogue about 100 words long.
Suddenly the lights went off. Power cut. All they could see now was the silhoutte of the actors in the pale moonlight.
Anyway, that didn’t stop Raavan as he went on with his talking.
Suddenly Hanuman interrupted,

“Ek minute roko” (Wait a minute)

Then he sprinted towards the side of the stage. When he came back, he was carrying a petromax light in his hands.
He casually told Raavan,

“Ab batao” (Go ahead now)

There was a moment of silence, then the four friends started chortling from the audience. They were laughing not because of the few sentences that came out of the blue into the drama, but because the naive villagers were still quiet, listening to every single word with intense devotion and thinking that whatever Hanuman did now too was a part of the script.

George gave a loud audible groan and laughed hysterically. The result of that chuckle – they were chucked out of the grounds and asked not to insult the Ramayana.


They were to stay for the night in the only house with a RCC ceiling in the village. That was the house of their friends’ uncle’s wife’s brother’s acquaintance or something like that. They were greeted rather curtly. The owner offered them a nice and plush bedroom. The bed room was the open terrace, which had no stairs. They had to climb to the terrace using a ladder. The terrace had no parapets, so it was a huge threat for George who usually would roll in his sleep and wake up in Delhi if he slept in Madras. Another good thing was the “mouth-watering” smell of the buffalo dung which was wafting around. The buffalo shed was just beside the ladder.

The owner told them there was a loo outside on the corner, in case they wanted to take a piss in the night.
They thanked the owner for the hospitality. (George murmured something which sounded like a pretty nasty swear word)

Ravi woke up after a few hours. He had no idea what time it was. He had to go to the loo. But he realised that it was going to be a Herculean task because he could not see anything. The moonlight was of no help. He went towards the side of the terrace and precariously stepped on where he thought the ladder was before.
He didn’t feel anything solid coming in contact with his feet. But before he could realise that the ladder was not there, it was too late, and he was on his way down. In the few seconds it would take to go down a height of 10 feet, an amazing number of thoughts passed through his mind. He visualised his friends carrying him to the hospital. He had a broken backbone, several compound fractures, a broken nose, a badly bruised face and loss of that heartthrob look.

Veering off topic, I’ve heard a nice PJ somewhat related to this.
Q. What is the difference between a person falling from the first floor and a person falling from the 10th floor?
A. For the first person, it’s THUD! AAAAHHH!
For the second person, it’s AAAAHHH! THUD!

He came back to the real world when he found that he had landed on something cushiony like a couch. Before he could thank God for that, he was in for another scare. A lazy snort coming from his behind and the swish of what felt like a tail. It suddenly dawned on him. That couch-like thing was the back of a buffalo. He had fallen on a buffalo, which, for reasons good or bad for him, was tied outside the shed.
He was totally freaked out that he didn’t move a muscle. A few seconds later, he realised that the buffalo too was not moving at all, in spite of something so heavy falling on its back. That day he realised the meaning of the popular Mallu phrase, “Pothu pole uranguka” (Sleeping like a buffalo).

By that time, the lights came on. The noise had woken everyone up. Ravi felt a jolt of pleasure when the owner too woke up.
When everyone came out to see what was the noise, he slowly got up from the back of the buffalo, gave a wink as if he had just pulled off a nice stunt and went to the toilet without much ado.


Fear of the dark…Fear of the dark…
I have a constant fear that something’s always near
Fear of the dark…Fear of the dark…
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

– Iron Maiden

Story 1

That day, my English tuition teacher took a particularly nasty ghost story. She was half-way through the story when Ram asked, “Teacher, Do ghosts really exist?”
My teacher replied, “I haven’t seen one to believe that. But my father has seen one. He once was returning home after a long journey. As you know, you have to walk through the road for quite a bit after alighting from the bus. And you know the road is usually deserted in the night. He was nearing the temple pond out there when he saw something silvery white moving. He squinted and noticed that it was, in fact, gliding across the pond. Something whose outline looked like that of a human. He, being a man of nerve, didn’t panic. However, being a wise man, he decided not to stay there any more and continued his way home calmly.”

Map of the road I had to take
Map of the road I had to take

Whatever the teacher said, it made my bones chill. I had to pass by that very same pond to go back home. And it was already getting dark. Why on earth didn’t I repair my bicycle?
When my tuition was over, it was dark. The street however was well lit with the sodium vapour lamps. But in a short while, the only source of light would be the moon. I had to cross around 1 km of a dark and almost deserted road, along the sides of which lies the “haunted” pond.
Soon I was leaving the light and the din. I mustered whatever courage that was remaining in me and started walking. I felt the cold breeze hitting my skin, ensnaring my nerves into a noose that would strangle me. Soon, the pond was way back. But there was still the deserted stretch of road to cross. I was half-expecting to see a woman clad in white saree and with long flowing hair to jump from behind the bush and waving at me. And I completely expected her to have long canine teeth dripping with blood.
I suddenly heard a woman whispering “Hello” into my ears. That sound was so unbelievably close.
I turned around, just by instinct.
No one.
Not a bee around.

I started shivering by now. Whether it was the cold or the fright, I didn’t know. I didn’t want to look back. I was trying to think of the delicious dinner my mother might have cooked; of the jokes that my dad would crack at dinner; of the pranks that I would play at my younger brother.

I again heard a voice. The voice of a scooter. I didn’t turn back. It approached and the time seemed to slow down. At long last it passed ahead. But before I could heave a sigh of relief, the man stopped. To my alarm, the man was wearing a white shirt and a mundu (a white colored loincloth worn instead of pants).
I didn’t dare to look at his face.
He then asked in a looming voice that seemed to come from the infinite beyond, “Returning from tuition?”
I didn’t reply.
He continued, as if he didn’t expect a reply, “Why are you walking? What happened to your bicycle?”
I could hear my heartbeats now, but I answered nevertheless, “Th…Th….The chain is broken.”
“Your father might have been back from his bank by now. You should have asked him to pick you up.”
I was startled as my heart gave another huge thump which was just short of a heartattack. How the hell did he know that my father works for a bank?
I looked up at his face, again by reflex.

It was Mr. Unni, my neighbor.

Story 2

Two friends decided to watch a movie in the local cinema on a Saturday. They went for the 2nd show and by the time the movie was over, it was midnight.

Unfortunately, there was not a single auto-rickshaw in sight. So they decided to walk all the way home, enjoying the pale moonlight and the tickling breeze.

Sean asked John, “Aren’t you afraid of the dark? You are! You’re afraid of ghosts.”
John said, “Bullshit. Ghosts can’t scare me. If the Grim Reaper comes with his scythe, I will cram it up his ass.”

So on went their talk with their walk and they reached the College Road. It was a treat to be able to walk through the middle of the road, when on daytime, people literally can’t get down from the sidewalk to cross.

John said, “Do you think you’d see a single human being here at this time?”
Sean said, “Considering that you are a monkey and I don’t have a mirror, I doubt so.”
“Bet it is!”

They went on. Then they heard a bell ring. A man was coming in a bicycle. He was wearing a creased shirt and a shabby lungi (A Mallu version of pyjamas, you could say).
John said, with a truimphant smile, “Ha! Give me my money, loser!”

The bicycle-man stopped near them and asked, “Excuse me, do you have a matchbox. I wanted to light my cigarette”
Sean said, “Sure”, and gave his matchbox.

The bicycle-man didn’t budge, but said sadly, ” I can’t hold it. Can you please light my cigarette for me?”

Sean got agitated and said, flexing his muscles, “You look like some thug who wants to loot us. Get lost or you’ll get something different than what you expected.”

Bicycle-man said, “No sir, I’m telling you the truth, I can’t hold things.”

Sean replied, “Don’t play games? You are riding a bicycle and you say you can’t hold a thing with your fingers?”

Bicycle-man replied rather shakily, “I don’t have fingers sir”.
And he moved his arms towards them.
In place of hands were hooves…U-shaped, like that of a horse.

The next day, there was a traffic jam in college road, when people found two youngsters lying motionless, petrified in the middle of the road.