A good bargain

While I had clearly been informed that under no circumstances would I be allowed to meet the person who received the kidney I had donated, curiosity got the better of me. I got in touch with Haneefa, the ‘agent’ who I had approached back in my village, Koprankudi in Idukki district, Kerala, and requested him to at least give me the name of the patient to whom my kidney would be donated to.

Haneefa, while fully aware of the rules regarding the donor-recipient confidentiality, empathized with my situation and shared the name and address of the recipient. It was time to see what Appan Menon’s problem was and why he needed my kidney.

My story was simple. Achan had left behind a plethora of gambling debts that needed to be cleared and the tharavadu was already mortgaged. Since I was the only survivor of Achan’s drinking habit and had only the house to fall back upon, I had no choice but to sell my kidney for the princely sum of 7 lakh rupees. The money would be just about right to save the house, and I had to rely on hard physical labor at the timber yard working alongside the other paapans and elephants to earn my living. A few well-meaning acquaintances had advised me against exerting myself physically immediately after my surgery, but I had no choice. At this point in time I had decided that I would cross that bridge when I come to it.

After the initial tissue sample test where my samples matched those of Appan’s, I was advised six weeks of complete bed-rest before the surgery while he would be readied for the kidney transplant. And although Haneefa had arranged for a lodge where I could stay for this duration, I simply had to hunt down Appan and find out his story. After all, a part of me, albeit a really small one; my kidney, was going to be part of his future, wasn’t it.

By sweet-talking a couple of the ward boys in the hospital, I managed to get Appan’s address and there I was, two days later, standing outside his flat, ringing the bell. The door was opened by somebody who looked 50-ish, and was visibly on medication, given the sluggish way he moved and talked.

To his queries as to who I was, I told him that I was a cook looking for a job and had heard from the watchman (with whom I had made discreet enquiries before I walked up two floors to the flat) that the owner of this flat needed one. After a few preliminary enquiries, I was ushered into the kitchen and asked to make some sugar-less tea, and serve the same with some Marie biscuits.

Pretty soon Appan warmed up to my company and started sharing some of his old stories with me. He had run away from home in Malappuram district in Kerala when he was 16 yrs old after his childhood love with his maternal cousin Malu was discovered at home. An orphan, he had lost all contact with his extended family and had since migrated to Dubai, courtesy a sympathetic pastor he had come in contact with in Kochi to where he had fled to as a teenager.

He had made more than his fair share of fortune the hard way working first as a server in a hotel and by sheer dint of his hard work, perseverance and ability to build good relationships with almost all those he came in contact with, he had managed to settle down well. However, he could never forget Malu, his love for her which prevented him from ever thinking of another girl again. Even as he was narrating some of these old stories to me, Appan’s eyes teared up and his voice choked. It was clear that he missed Malu, his extended family and his childhood support system that the extended family had provided to him as a young orphan.

One fine day, I decided to take charge of reclaiming some of Appan’s lost memories. Using my network of friends from among the lorry drivers of various transport companies, I managed to get the address of Appan’s tharavadu in Malappuram. Given that the family was a well-known one in the region, this was accomplished without too much difficulty. Without telling Appan anything, I packed his bags and asked him to accompany me to his car, whose chauffeur had already been given the address with instructions to keep the destination a secret.

Six hours later, when we finally turned into the driveway of a palatial bungalow was when Appan finally realized where he was. Although he recognized the general direction in which we were travelling earlier, not in his wildest dreams did he realize where the final destination was. And the look on his face when he was greeted by his elderly strong grandfather when the car stopped was nothing short of sheer, unadulterated joy. Pent up emotions from more than three decades of missing his family and their bonding broke open and he started sobbing like a small child amidst at least a dozen or so uncles and aunts who were still staying together as a joint family.

Pretty soon, Malu made her way through the commotion and managed to see Appan for the first time in three decades. And when Appan learnt that she hadn’t married all this time and continued to love him as much as she did when she was a teenager, he couldn’t control himself and started sobbing all over again. It was only when Malu , his uncle and aunt consoled him, saying that it was only today that their family was ‘whole’ again and that they had finally regained a long lost son that he accepted the reality as it was.

After a week or so of staying in the tharavadu, it was time for Appan to come back to Kochi as the surgery was scheduled four days later. By now I was convinced that my kidney was being donated to somebody who had seen his fair share of sorrow in life, and was somebody who deserved a second chance at happiness. With his homecoming, Appan had finally achieved ‘closure’ to what was a sad, lonely, depressing chapter in his life, and I was sure that this second innings of his life would be lived happily and contented.

The day before the surgery, I left behind a small note cooking up some arbitrary reason for having to go back to my home town and got admitted in the hospital. The surgery itself was quite uneventful and since the doctor informed that it was successful almost immediately after I regained consciousness, I felt happy for Appan. I also told the doctor not to let Appan pay any money whatsoever to Haneefa or anybody else for his new kidney and although the doctor knew the rules which forbade payment or any consideration in return for a kidney, he agreed to strictly go by the rule book in this case, based on my instructions.

I was discharged the next day and managed to peep into the private ward where Appan was recuperating. It warmed my heart to see that a couple of his cousins had come over from Malappuram to assist him with his recuperation and ensuring that I was not noticed by anybody in the ward, I made my way out of the hospital, back to Koprankudi.

So what if the moneylender would take over possession of my tharavadu, I was only losing a house, but helping somebody get back to a home. End of day, it was a good bargain after all.


Tharavadu – Ancestral home handed down over the generations

Achan – Father

Paapan – Mahout or elephant keeper


This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was “Tell us about the time you performed a random act of kindness, where the recipient of your kindness never found out about your good deed. How did the deed go down?” and I took the liberty of writing down this fictional short story around the same.

Murphy and his law … or maybe not

Pineapple-CakePadmini, or Puppy as she was called by all her friends was a nervous wreck today. October 7th this year was quite unlike any of the other years.

Vaishnav, or Vy, as her eight yr. old son was called by everybody had insisted that they celebrate his birthday outdoors in the lawns of the residential complex they stayed in. Puppy was quite surprised at the fact that Vy put his foot down and insisted that his birthday be celebrated the way he wanted to. The silver lining in this whole situation was that for some reason Vy wanted his birthday to be celebrated with very little pomp and preparations, spending as little money as possible and he even volunteered to help his parents with the entire preparations including setting up the table and decorations on the lawns, and he had also promised to help out with serving food to the guests who turned up at the party. His only condition was that Puppy would bake the birthday cake herself.

While Puppy loved the fact that her little one was growing up to be money conscious and loved cakes baked by her, the fact remained that she had never dared to bake a cake as big as was required to feed at least twenty five hungry guests that the invitees would make up. Despite her misgivings, she gave in to Vy’s demands and geared up for a tough baking day on Oct 7th.

However, fate, the universe, the stars and all planetary alignments ended up conspiring against her on that day and despite following the instructions of YouTube chef Sanjay Thumma to the ‘t’, her cake ended up a sorry soggy mess which was barely able to stand upright. The party invite began at 5 in the evening, and here she was at 4.30, ready to burst out into tears. She didn’t have the heart to tell a hyper-excited Vy that she had ended up ruining his favorite pineapple cake, but she didn’t have a choice. She knew that for kids in their ‘tweens’, prestige and their image in front of their peers meant more than anything else, and she didn’t want Vy to cut a sorry figure in front of all his friends at his own birthday party.

Everything seemed to be going wrong today, of all the days…

Surprisingly Vy took it quite sportingly when she showed him the 4 Kilo mangled mess that she tried to pass off as his birthday cake. He looked at it thoughtfully for a while, just dipped a finger in the whipped cream on the top and licked it, and then turned around Amma, don’t worry. You have done more than enough to ensure that I have an awesome birthday. Just wait and watch.

He then took her smartphone and started typing away furiously while walking back into his room. Puppy assumed that he was probably messaging his friends on Whatsapp telling them not to expect any cake in the party. But five minutes later, he came out of his room, wearing an old white sweatshirt and his boxer shorts.

Puppy knew that he probably was disappointed and was trying to hide the same earlier, but she didn’t quite expect him to cancel the party itself. Just as she began to apologize and asked for her phone to call up the nearest French Loaf outlet to order a new cake, he looked up at her Amma, I suggest you get into clothes which you don’t mind being dirtied. I have a surprise planned at today’s party.

The entire situation was getting more and more mysterious for Puppy and she wondered what Vy was talking about. In any case, by now, she had decided that she would do anything to compensate for the bad cake and dutifully changed into an old sweatshirt and track pants. In the meantime, JP, her husband had arrived home from office and had also been instructed by Vy to change into something that he didn’t mind dirtying. Being the sport that he was, JP, went ahead and did exactly what his son asked him to.

When the trio went down the elevator, they sure made up for a funny sight in their old clothes with an ‘almost ready to collapse’ soggy cake in hand. And in five minutes when they reached the Events Area where Vy and his friends had decked up a small table and the thirty odd chairs with various streamers and balloons, they saw that all of Vy’s friends and the parents who had accompanied them had all turned up in similar attire. Puppy’s questioning look to Vy was answered only by an all knowing smile.

This was just getting crazier and crazier…

Vy then put the cake on the table and stood in front of it. Friends, aunties and uncles, first of all thank you so much for coming to my birthday party. I will ensure that all of you will remember this party for a long time to come.

As you can see, Amma managed to bake up a storm, quite literally, in the form of this pineapple cake, which by the way has the tastiest whipped cream I have tasted in quite a while. But then, unknowingly, she has given me a wonderful idea to make this party the most memorable one I have ever had.

Saying so, he put his right hand into the cake, scooped up the cream and went up to Puppy

What are you guys waiting for? Attack!!!!

He took the fistful of cream and pasted it all over Puppy’s face, and all his friends followed suit with each of them grabbing fistfuls of cake and pasting it on their parents and on each other. Before the parents could figure out what was happening, they were all doused with the soggy cake. The next three odd minutes saw mayhem with kids, parents and even pet dogs attacking each other with cake in their hands, and as Vy mentioned, it turned out to be the funniest, most memorable birthday party their apartment complex had ever seen.

Puppy couldn’t control her tears; tears of joy which streamed down her cheeks for her wonderful smart little son had managed to convert an unmitigated disaster that her cake was into a fun, laugh riot of a birthday party.


This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong – and then suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

Guest Post : The 40 hour week – Part 1

My cousin and daresay, a person who knows his ‘words’ more than me has graciously decided to provide my blog with one of his short stories. Split in two parts, the same shall be published. All you readers are requested to read the same, and provide him with your valuable feedback in terms of content, style and narrative.



The auto-rickshaw had stopped at the signal, promptly enough, in response to the light turning red.  Of course, being in India, we were well within our rights to stop a few feet beyond the stop line and it was something everyone took advantage of.

My friends and I were on our way to lunch at a new restaurant, as we had heard great things about it. Good food, swanky interiors, courteous staff and a wide variety of aperitifs and digestifs too. It was going to be a good Saturday afternoon. We were going to do something we knew all too well and associated quite firmly with the weekend – Indulge.  Very justifiable considering it offered the perfect solace from the 40 hours of skull drudgery we put in every week making our “livelihood”. Our conversations revolved around the usual topics: Stock markets, businesses, hierarchical changes in big corporations, sports, movies and a fair amount of gossip.

Vicky was in the middle of a particularly juicy narrative about a kitschy Bollywood movie he had the misfortune of watching, when we were interrupted by a young boy who appeared right next to our auto-rickshaw. He was begging for alms, a sight not uncommon in India, particularly in and around neighborhoods where people went to spend their money for leisure.

The boy evoked the appropriate amount of sympathy in me. I asked him his name while I reached around to my back pocket. “Jishu” he replied quietly.  I had nearly pulled out my wallet when Rakesh stopped me. “Don’t encourage this stuff man” he said

“It’s all part of a big racket”. He then went on to recount an article and a movie he had seen about this phenomenon. “These guys are just a small part of the entire picture” he said “They are just the lowest rung of a ladder and this pathetic form that you see is just a costume that they don for the express purpose of cheating us out of our money. These people infest strategic parts of the city from morning till evening, squatting and not doing anything particularly productive AND they get paid for it. Didn’t you see that movie?”

The movie he spoke of was one that I had watched as well. It showed a complex network and a well set hierarchy behind the “enterprise” that begging had become in India. The children, women carrying babies and disabled people we see on the street, each reported to a person who took most of the alms from them. The pathetic creatures we saw on the street were beaten down, tormented and tortured if they did not make the specific amount of money that their “supervisor” set as their target. Worse still, a supervisor could maim and mutilate a beggar when he felt that the beggar’s frail frame and stained, torn clothes were not enough to get people to sympathize and give their money away. Once the supervisor got his cut, he in turn gave nearly all of it to a faceless person who sat in a plush house doing none of the work, winning all the profits and losing all of his conscience. All these beggars got was a chance to watch a movie or eat a decent meal once in a while, if the supervisor/evil overlord felt ever so inclined.

It was quite a conundrum I was in as I pondered if I was making a completely immoral person richer. What I kept coming back to was that, his cut aside, this child would still get something. Besides, the 5 or so Rupees that I was going to shell out made no difference to me whatsoever, but the one rupee this child may get out of it certainly made a difference to him. As I lamented over all of this, the cranking of the auto-rickshaw’s engine interrupted my thoughts and almost immediately, we were off. Signals stay red only for so long. It was too late and in a few minutes I had forgotten about Jishu and by extension, the entire incident.

<< PART 2 >>

Born to swim


Shannon was born to swim.

Genetically, she was bound to have inherited some of her love for the water as both her parents, Jim and Jane, were professional swimmers and had even represented their country in the Olympic Games. All of the first five years of her life were spent around water, in swimming pools and on the beaches in Miami, where her parents lived, trained and worked as lifeguards. Her childhood was as fun as it could be.

All that changed on that fateful day in mid August 2005.

The Met Department called it Katrina, and classified it a Category 5 hurricane. It was scheduled to make landfall before sunset that day. But its effects were already visible in the seas where the waves were more than double their normal height. Jim and Jane, along with the rest of their lifeguard team had managed to almost clear the entire stretch of the beach in their control except for a gang of surfers who refused to heed to their warnings.

A couple of them were even foolhardy enough to venture out quite deep into the waters to ride the largest of the waves. Maybe it was the adrenaline pumping through their veins or more likely it was the heroin coursing through their bodies from the ‘hits’ they had taken earlier. One way or the other, they threw caution to the wind and were determined to make the most of the crazily huge waves that day.

While Jim was rational enough to figure out that he didn’t want to risk his life trying to pull these doped kids out of the water, Jane couldn’t quite bring herself to let go. Despite Jim’s best attempts to dissuade her, she ventured out into the waters planning to physically drag the teenage surfers back to the beach.

What she didn’t know at that point was that Katrina had picked up both speed and strength in the course of her journey over the Gulf of Mexico and was now headed straight towards them with unanticipated fury. Jim who was following the hurricane over the lifeguard radar rushed out to try and get Jane back ashore. 8 yr old Shannon was left all alone on the steps of the lifeguard hut peering at the fast disappearing back of her father. She had already lost sight of her mother around five minutes ago.

Ten minutes went by, the waves were bigger now, yet there was no sight of them on the horizon, but Shannon knew they would come back. Twenty minutes went by, the waves were stronger, the rains had started, but Shannon knew they would come back, they had to. Thirty  minutes went by, the rains were stronger now, the waves were darker and larger, and by now Shannon’s hopes had turned to prayers, would they come back. An hour went by, and Shannon had to rush back into the lifeguard hut as Katrina’s outer tentacles had made landfall and the winds and rain were too strong for a young girl to be exposed to the elements.

Shannon now knew that her parents would never come back.

Shannon was born to swim and had it not been for her fear of the water since that fateful day, she probably would have.


This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “Tell us something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).” The post above was my interpretation of the prompt from the viewpoint of a teenager who was guaranteed to succeed at swimming, but chose not to even learn to swim due to circumstances.

Onus of the oath – Epilogue – Guest Post

When my good friend and fellow blogger Sid B (http://iwrotethose.com/ and http://foodnessme.com/) wanted to post an epilogue to my novella “Onus of the oath” I was honored (obviously) but more thrilled to bits as this is a writer whose work I tremendously enjoy and to me it was more of an acknowledgement that Sid found my novella good enough to pen an epilogue to and add his two cents to the narrative.

Without further ado, here goes Sid’s epilogue to Onus of the oath.


Read the novella here ( Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 )


A loud set of knocks on the door brought Ravi’s attention back from the oath he’d been staring at. He looked at the clock on the wall. He’d been in the room for over 30 minutes. He replayed the earlier scene in his mind, where Circle Inspector Bhaskaran had been at his feet, begging him to save his daughter’s life. As he continued to replay the scene in his mind, over and over again, he could start to feel his blood boil. It was because of Bhaskaran that he’d not even had a chance to tell his father how proud he had been of him. And now he had the choice to make Bhaskaran go through the exact same pain and anguish, that he had been through.

The series of knocks started to get more persistent and Ravi walked up to the door to unlock it. It was his head nurse, Mariamma. Doctor! The girl’s condition is getting worse. We have put her on the respirator. But you need to tell us what to do next! she said, her face etched with panic. Ravi simply continued to stare at Mariamma and said  Keep her there. I will let you know”. He slammed the door shut and looked around the room. He hated Bhaskaran with ever fiber of his being, and he wanted him to suffer. But every object in that room, stood as a testament to the oath he had taken. His eyes stopped at a picture of his late father, Dr. Sudheesh Nair. As his eyes started to brim up with tears, only one thought crossed his mind.

CI Bhaskaran had to pay the price for his grief.


Ravi looked at his disheveled reflection in the mirror. He hadn’t slept properly for days. His eyes were bloodshot and his 3-day-old greying stubble gave him the appearance of a drunken, homeless person. He leaned over the washbasin and splashed his face with the freezing cold water, giving him goose bumps. He shut his eyes, unable to look at himself in the mirror. The face haunted him, as it had been doing for the past few days. He looked at the Tissot watch on his wrist. It had been his last present from his late father. It was almost time for the meeting.

Ravi slowly put on his checked blazer and tried to pat down his messy hair. Dr Tharakan had specifically asked him to clean up and dress up well for the hearing. But Ravi no longer cared. He closed the door to his apartment and looked up at the sky. It was cloudy and overcast. It looked like another storm was headed their way. He sighed and started the long trek to the medical center where Dr. Tharakan had offered to pick him up from.


Dr. Tharakan put a hand on Ravi’s shoulder as if to help him relax. Ravi stared blankly at the three senior doctors from the Medical Council. One of them, Dr. Lakshmi Warrier, an octogenarian and head of the disciplinary committee, wrinkled her nose and pouted her lips in disgust as she glanced over his disheveled state. Dr. Ravi Nair, you have been summoned here, before the Disciplinary Committee of the Medical Council, because of a complaint filed by Circle Inspector Bhaskaran R. He has raised allegations that you neglected the oath that you had sworn to protect and uphold, when you completed your medical degree. He has also put forth an allegation that due to your personal rivalry, you initially refused to treat his daughter, Preethi Bhaskaran, aged 10, which led her condition to worsen. Do you deny any of these allegations? asked Dr. Warrier, in a shrill voice.

Ravi remained silent and continued to look straight ahead, his face still expressionless. Dr. Ravi, I repeat. Do you deny any of these allegations? recapped Dr. Warrier, her voice starting to quiver slightly with anger. But Ravi still said nothing. One of the other members of the disciplinary committee, Dr. Joy Thomas, interjected at this point and said Dr. Ravi, Do you have anything to say to defend your actions? If you say nothing, we will have no other alternative, but to revoke your medical license and also pass the case to the Police department for further investigation”. Ravi slowly stood up and pushed his chair backwards. I have nothing to say. Do what you must! he said, and walked out of the room. The disciplinary committee looked at Dr. Tharakan in shock, who too stood up from his seat.

Outside, Ravi took a long drag of the cigarette. The nicotine from the cigarette surged through his body, and he closed his eyes. He could see their faces again.  But one lone face appeared clearer and sharper than the rest.  It was that of Preethi Bhaskaran. Her expressionless eyes stared back at him, giving him a chill. And then, she slowly spoke in a raspy voice. Why did you have to let me die, doctor? I was only ten years old. I had my entire life ahead of me. You took out your anger on me. What did I do to you, doctor?  Why?” 

Ravi! Dr. Tharakan’s voice snapped him out of his nightmare. Let’s go, he said to Ravi and together they walked towards where Dr. Tharakan had parked his dilapidated Maruti Zen. As he started the car, Dr. Tharakan asked Don’t you want to know what they decided? Ravi just stared through the windshield, without muttering a word.


Ravi slowly opened the door to his office at Nightingale Medical Center. Everything was as he had left it on the fatal day. He shut the door behind him, and walked towards his desk, behind hung the portrait of his late father, Dr. Sudheesh Nair. Almost instantaneously, images from that day, a few weeks ago, raced through his mind.

Though he had wanted to punish CI Bhaskaran, he knew it was against his ethics to let his daughter pay the price. After all, his father had been the epitome of an honest, ethical doctor and he would have not accepted that. So he’d asked Nurse Mariamma to get the operation theatre ready, and had started the preparation for the surgery. However halfway through the surgery, Preethi’s lungs had given up and they were unable to resuscitate her. And as a result, she had died. Though he’d not intended for that to happen, Ravi had been ridden with guilt ever since that day. He’d rushed out of the operation theatre and gone home, leaving the nurse to convey the tough news to CI Bhaskaran and his family.

Initially he thought that he would get over it in a few days. The morbid image of Preethi in the operation theatre haunted him every time he shut his eye. And slowly, his guilt worsened. Deep down, Ravi believed that he had been inadvertently responsible for her death, because of his delay in making the decision to operate on her. Although Dr. Tharakan and the rest of the doctors had told him otherwise, he couldn’t help but feel, that if he hadn’t let his hatred for Bhaskaran get in the way, Preethi would be alive today. Due to Dr. Tharakan’s testimony, the medical committee had agreed not to revoke his medical license, even though he himself had walked out of the room, without offering any kind of defense.

As he put on his clean, white overcoat, he looked at the piece of paper he had cut from the local daily a few days ago. He slowly placed the stethoscope around his neck and picked up the portrait sized black and white image of a little girl. I’m sorry Preethi ! he whispered as he placed the paper cutting back into his desk drawer.

It was time to do what he knew best – be a good doctor.