Friday, 16 August 2013

Dead, yes I am dead and I have the rare privilege of watching my dead body lying face down. The froth has settled and dried near the mouth. My corpse has started decomposing, emitting foul smell. It is greeting every one passing through the corridor of my dwelling. Wide lane leading to my flat is thronged by curious onlookers who never knew me. Isn’t it ironical that when you are alive and in adversity no one comes to seek your welfare but death makes them to mourn or mock at your demise by their presence? Lately I was never interested to know anyone in the near vicinity. It then makes no sense that I should blame others for not being familiar with me and joining my funeral.  I am hovering over self. Curious onlookers are waiting for a glimpse of people from bollywood to show up? But none will come. I know. The producers, the directors, the writers, the actors, the production assistants, the spot boys, the canteenwala, with whom I had interacted during the short period of high voltage bonding, no one will turn up except those to whom I mattered most. Even for the sake of making an appearance on TV, which is quite a rage with everyone remotely associated with film and TV industry and joining the discussion as to how & why I died. People from my own fraternity may not come.
 Leaving the body does not mean you are oblivious to yourself and your surroundings. As per the hindu scriptures, a soul remains in the cosmos till it takes the next birth. That may be the reason why I am here. I am very much present here waiting for police to be called, panchnama to be made with the help of two witnesses, to be thrown into the vehicle declaring me a body anonymous. For some proof they might keep a photo of my decomposed body especially the swollen face or maybe not. It all depends on availability of police photographer!
Look, the TV crew of small known channel have arrived. They will now flash breaking news. The anchor has got hold of the mike and asking the cameraman to span his camera towards the surroundings and the interiors where my body was lying.
“We are reporting from Andheri. Actually we are the first channel to report to you the death of a budding character actor & writer Brijdas Verma alias Biju Bhai.”
I think he is receiving some massage from the studio as he has halted suddenly. I see him nodding his head vigorously and then asking the cameraman to shoot the crowd. The anchor is going  to ask one old lady holding the mike near her mouth in such a way as if he wants her to eat it.
“ Mataji, mata ji. Did you know him”
“Yes, he was a very honest man. He used to help everyone.”
“Do you know why did he die ?”
“It could have been a heart attack” someone from the crowd butted in. People have this habit of sticking their neck everywhere particularly when it is a matter of getting space on the electronic media.
“No, he must have committed suicide, he had such tendency.” another showed his intelligent side.
“It is murder. He was quite healthy and did not seem to have any problem. I had seen him in the garden yesterday morning. Why should he commit suicide? It is murder, I say.” Someone comments loudly and before the cameraman can turn his camera, he is gone. The TV anchor again gets hold of the old lady for bites but before she could answer, the arrival of police makes her nervous and she goes out of the camera range. Police has started making its own investigation in its own indifferent way.
Some more TV people have arrived. They were blaring at their mike.  I am laughing but none below me seems to notice.
“A life snuffed out at the young age of 22. An aspiring life lost before it took to sky”
“We have blurred the image of the dead body but we want to ask you. Is this a natural death or is this suicide or Is this a murder? Watch this channel at prime time and we will bring the whole truth. Nothing, but the truth.”
Phoo ! These TV channels! They can do and say anything for increasing their TRP. Inventing and planting the stories, stings, generating gossips everything in the name of entertainment.
But who knows the truth except I and I am dead. Yet I think I should tell it. That TV anchor has raised a question which made me to rake over the past and search my inner conscience of soul (whatever I am called after death). Whether I died naturally or did I commit suicide or was I murdered? He may not be able to find the truth. The truth is always naked yet no one sees it as it is wrapped in egos, false honour, greed, deceit, envy and showmanship. TV anchor is crying hoarse ‘breaking new-breaking news’ but I feel that it should be I who should be breaking the story.
I was robust, well built, a rustic villager. Hardly 21 years old educated through hindi medium only with God given gift of writing fluently in hindi .The face cut was similar to Devanand of yore. I could easily pass as a hero of a film.  I was addicted to movies, dramas, nukkud nataks. Writing scripts, plays, poems/lyrics/songs was my passion . I used to act also. My acting talent once fetched me a silver medal. That was sufficient to goad me to take these things seriously. The applause I used to get after my performance or reciting my own poem was like enjoying a patiyala peg with tandoori  murg. But here I warn you. Praise either makes you or destroys you. Had it not been so, I would not have left everything to pursue my passion in this city of mayanagari. Passion begot insanity and I became so insane that I forgot my village, my family, my higher education, my love. All I had in my eyes and brain was destination bollywood. Soon I found myself guarding the gates of Chand studio in Andheri !
 Since shooting in the studio was occasional, I had to guard only main gate with a cabin attached and had enough time at my disposal to write. I used to observe and write. I used to experience and write. I wrote stories and poems on everything that touched my heart and jolted my conscience.  It was one of those days when Aarti Pradhan met me. She was a well known writer of tinsel town. Her rise to fame was sudden and quick. How? God knows. Rumor mill in bollywood churns rumors like butter from the milk. It sells like hot cakes. I was least concerned. I only knew that she was an established writer at the age of 36 years though she joined the writing fraternity only at the age of 31 years. I also learnt that she had circle of novices and budding writers on her pay roll who were always feeding her with creative inputs. I shitted this as a mean gossip spread by her detractors in the filmdom.
 She was taking a stroll near the gate when she spotted me writing , while the shooting was going on the other side.  She became interested and asked me to show her some of my works. I was more than happy to oblige. Shooting continued for five days. During these five days Aarti made it a point to meet me, read my manuscripts of lyrics and stories. She became so impressed that she asked to leave the security job and join her as a bodyguard cum writer. Though the designation sounded funny to me but it was God given opportunity. A onetime chance to grab and you know beggars cannot be choosers. I left the job and started working for her.  I believed her all the more when one of my lyrics and a story was interwoven in the plot of a film she was currently writing. You can yourself imagine how best could have I written to warrant intermingling of my stories with the main plot of the film. Or was it a ruse to take me into confidence?  Within nine months I was christened Biju Bhai instead of Brijdas Verma by writers lobby close to Aarti Pradhan.  Courtsey Aarti I was cast as side hero in a film. I was on the seventh heaven. Everything changed for me. I started living with her.
 You know a sort of live-in-relationship. This live-in-relationship is a strange concept amongst couples taking roots in our society. You feel like a married person but yet you are not actually married. You share responsibilities yet you don’t feel yourself to be responsible. Relationship, bordering platonic or physical, without the social sanction is always like a damocles sword on respective partners. When one partner deserts another on flimsy grounds, it makes this relationship even more risky proposal. However it is pure matter of convenience between the two partners. You just feel like standing on a beach where waves after waves come and go taking away the sand under your feet, yet you manage to stand on the sandy beach on your own.
 People started associating me with Aarti. My name was tagged with hers’ even though she was fifteen years older. We neither rebutted nor accepted the claim. I never questioned her also. It was true that she created such circumstances and evidences herself that I became to be known as her paramour but yet she pretended to be my mentor and guide. I did what she wanted me to do. Time flew. She introduced me to some producers and directors who always promised me to make a part of their next film. One day she got me to sign some documents on ticked dotted lines. I smelt something wrong but like a pigeon, who closes its eyes when the cat approaches thinking that the cat won’t eat it, I let her be the cat calling the tunes. On that day I, metaphorically, committed suicide.
Thanks to charitable organizations which have done a real favour to the dead by dedicating vehicles  to take the dead to hospitals or cremation /burial grounds. State of the vehicle does not matter and non- availability of four shoulders make these vehicles most important part of a dead’s last journey. My body is bereft of pallbearers but watching my own body being lifted by the police men gives me a sense of relief as I have been always at loggers head with the authority. Gate crashing, overspeeding, joining in drunken brawls. I was always keeping lawmen busy somehow or the other. Stop. Stop. Someone has turned up. He is being shooed by the policemen yet is persisting to lend a hand to lift my corpse His eyes is moist. He is muttering. “ I told you so, I told you so’. He is my one time friend Sudesh Mansukhani.
Sudesh Mansukhani was the only man whom l could trust. He was the person who baptized me to the world of illusions vs reality. He was instrumental in getting me recruited as security guard at Chand studio. He knew my passion for acting and writing. During those initial months he was my God Brother. His perception was totally different than mine. His ideas to go slow and steady sometimes made me mock at him. He thought twice to get into a venture. I was hungry as a wolf to attain fame. He was sane amongst all of us. I was insane who never adhered to his advice. Yet he continued to pester me with his unconditional love, advice and brotherhood. Alas! We could not carry on. In this film industry no one remains your friend or foe permanently. SM as I fondly called him was always looking out for some acting or writing assignment for me. When Aarti showed interest in me, he all of sudden took affront and warned me against joining hands with her. But I did not listen to him. Our meetings became from regular to occasional and then to seldom. I wondered how he was able to keep track of me and my activities. Whenever we met, he had nothing but my welfare at heart. It was I who started ignoring him. I thought he was jealous of me.  A small break in this industry was enough to get into head. I then started ignoring  those very steps of the ladder on which I had come up.
The day I was eagerly looking for, arrived. Two films were simultaneously released. Both were based on my story. In one the films besides my story two songs written by me were also included. Premiere was held in one of the best theaters. Everyone who mattered in the film industry was invited, though only few turned up besides cast & crew of the films. Aarti had ordered for a special three piece suit for me. We attended premiere of both the films on two different shows. I was introduced to the audience as the future writer of bollywood whose stories and lyrics would take entire film industry by storm.(An advertisement gimmick) Audience response on first day was appreciative. Trade pundits predicted a hit on the cards. A party was thrown to celebrate first day’s success.   Aarti and I both let our hair down. Gossip mill and yellow journals made sure that we both remained in the mainstream news off and on. Both the films did reasonably well on the box office and I had my own fan following.
  I am still hovering over my body. I have accompanied the van carrying my body to the hospital. The police have brought the body to mortuary of the hospital. It is wrapped in a white chaddar. It is placed near the gate of the mortuary. Police and a junior doctor exchange some papers. A ward boy with a mask on his face takes hold of my body by legs and throws inside a room resembling some sort of operation room.  A few more corpses wrapped in white coffins are also lying there. A body is lying on the table with its chest cut down to groin and guts protruding on the table. Bodies are waiting for the post-mortem. I am trying to find any other soul around me for accompany but cannot find one. Since this post-mortem is time consuming, I want to carry on with the post-mortem of my own life.
My life was now an open book. I came to be known as Aarti’s paramour in page 3 parties. I did not mind as she did not have any qualms about our relationship status. She always laughed at such insinuations in public. I had given myself to her. Completely trusting her whatever my creative mind produced, I handed over to her. Soon I learnt that two more pictures were on the floor and two were in the pipeline. All the four were based on my stories.
 For formality sake a meeting of other writers on her payroll was held bimonthly. Sometimes I was made to chair the meeting. Slowly and gradually writers opened up one by one It was here that I got the first shock of my life. I felt like getting stabbed through the heart. I was informed that Aarti was nothing but a pseudo writer. Whatever she was, was because of these unknown writers. They never raised it at any forum as they were paid handsomely. They earned thousands and she earned in lakhs at their expense. They had their own reasons.  They had to survive in this city with their families.  Moreover she had connections with authorities and under-world as well. Actually they had no guts to walk away from her.  She could have destroyed them. She had also got herself protected from legal hassles by getting the documents signed by them pledging all their writing to her.
 No matter how much effort you make to keep things secret, it is bound to see the light one day.  The secret was well guarded till one of the writers spilled the beans. Skeletons started falling. Earlier I thought I had committed suicide, this time I felt like being murdered. This was too much for me and I decided to confront her sooner or later. I wanted to strike at an opportune moment.
------------------------------------------x-----------------------------------------The body on the table has been removed. Soon my body is placed on it, this time more respectfully than when bringing it inside. A man in whites enters with mask and head gear along with some three to four guys in the same dress. They all seem to be interns/students. My body is opened chest down and post-mortem cum education starts. Lungs, spinal cord, bronchial tubes, heart, liver, kidney ,intestines everything that is instrumental in keeping the life going are itselves lifeless now.
“Now tell me, what should be the cause of his death ?” The senior doctor asked washing his hands from a blood stained washbasin.
“It is a heart attack” one of the medical student said examining the heart and everyone nodded.
 No. It is not. He has died of cardiopulmonary arrest” he said
“Same sir, what is the difference?” the student said but soon found himself being glared constantly.
“Huge difference. Check the heart. It is a little swollen. It is the failure of the heart to contract due to cessation of normal circulation of blood whereas the heart attack is cessation of  normal blood supply to heart muscles” He explains. He is right in his assessment. I am dead as my heart stopped contracting due to the shock. The shock, which turned my whole world spinning.
One evening as I was sipping mango shake in the balcony of her flat and she was reading one of my script written the day earlier, I broached up the subject of her taking the advantage of gullibility of writers. She first gave me a strange look. Got up from her chair, threw the script and approached me in such a way that I thought she would attack me. But her posture changed as she advanced.
“What are you talking about Biju ?” She asked stopping a breath away from me and wrapping her hand around my neck.
“All the name and fame that you have is because of ghost writers you have around you. The films you have done so far are all written by them. You are and have been exploiting  them to further your own interests. You have been putting your own seal on their works. Why don’t you allow them their own space and help them to get due recognition.” I said throwing away her entangled arms. The pigeon was trying to get rid of the cat and fly skywards.
“Look who is talking, an unknown entity whom I brought to forefront.” She said and took out a bottle of wine making me forcibly to sit close by. Not to get bogged down before her I jerked her hand and stood up.
“Don’t think you owe me. Living under one flat and just sharing everything, gratifying each other with our respective desires and needs doesn’t mean that I have become a slave of yours.”
“ Yes you are my slave. Both intellectually and physically. You are. Whatever you are now, you are because of me. Isn’t it true, isn’t it ? She shouted and became hysterical.
“Yes but what did I gain from it except making myself your paramour. My novels and stories, my intellectual juice, are being touted as authored by you. The films on floors which are actually written by me, credits are given to you. You are nothing yourself. You are because of me and other ghost writer and not vice versa.” I had really lost of my temper and pushed her. She was shell shocked. She could not see into my eyes. Anger is blind and it makes you to do things which are to be repented later. Soon she got up slowly and slapped me hard and pointing to the door she asked me to get out. I was so enraged with her behavior that I left in a huff banging the door behind vowing myself never to see her and nothing to do with her.
Soon I found myself on the footpath. Sudesh Mansukhani was there as always to help me out. He took me to his house. He granted me asylum when needed most. I started to take up some random work far off from the world of bollywood but could not forget Aarti. I started losing interests in everything.
 Three months passed. MS told me that films were about to release. He insisted that I should go and see the films as the films were based on my stories. When I told him the fact that those stories had been hijacked by Aarti and got produced as films, he did not believe me. Still he made it a point to pay a visit to the nearest cinema hall. Though I was also curious to know the fate of the film, I did not have the courage to watch the films. My life as it was, was in doldrums. I could not write anything since I left Aarti. The passion had died within me.
It was evening. Two things happened simultaneously. A TV crew was at my door informing me that entire bollywood is searching for the writer of the films. Secondly I was informed by the same crew that Aarti had committed suicide and in her suicide note she had given the credit of writing the film to me. Not only that before committing suicide and before the release of the films she had instructed the producer and director to change the credits under the caption ‘scripted and written by’ to Brijdas Verma instead of Aarti. She also had willed her entire property and intellectual property rights to me. Both films were huge success based on good script and story. Mobile started ringing non-stop. I was asked to come out of hiding. I regained whatever I had forsaken.
 I never could hold back my tears whenever I visited Aarti’s flat. I used to weep like a child. I always felt like getting stabbed by my own conscience day in and day out. Slowly and steadily realization dawned on me that she was not mean, selfish,  man eater as she was made out to be. She was a vamp in the eyes of those who wanted her to be the vamp and helped her to become vamp. She also did not help her cause by succumbing to the undue demands of unscrupulous elements in the bollywood for gain and fame. She was the victim of circumstances rather than chances. I realized I was madly in love with Aarti. I was missing her and her absence was telling on my health. It was one such day when I saw her on the balcony beckoning me to her. Before I could reach her, she vanished in the thin air. I experienced a strange sensation and heaviness in my chest. I fell down clinching my chest. I was not able to breathe. I tried to raise my hands to get to my mobile but slipped and then I saw her and the whole universe responding to my calls.
Post-mortem is over. The body is handed over to the police. The cause of death has been ascertained as due to natural causes. Only SM and a canteen boy Rishi are there to claim my body.
The body has been bought to the cremation ground. Now I find some people from the bollywood there discussing their projects on one hand and placing wreaths on the other. Mourning a dead is fast becoming just cursory instead of customary. The Death itself  is never blamed for taking away a life. The reason behind every death is always blamed. Some discuss the death itself. Its various ways to accomplish its assigned task, life cycle, life after death. Some say goody-goody stories about the dead making promises to themselves to be upright, honest, God fearing and pray avoid providing reasons to death to snatch their lives. Once outside the crematorium, these philosophical wisdom is immediately forgotten. SM has arranged for electrical cremation.……………………… Soon I am watching my body turned into ashes.
Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Written by Tribhawan Kaul     


  1. Shubhra Tandon 11:04pm Aug 17
    sir i read ur blog
    nd the story is soo gud... i'm incapable 2 cmnt on it
    it was a treat to my eye nd mind...all i can say/ via Facebook

  2. Dear Tribhuvan ji,
    Read your blog in one sitting. It was very interesting. I look forward to your more such writings.
    Thanks & Regards
    Niraj Kumar Tiwary
    via e-mail dated 17-08-2013

  3. Good story and difficult not to finish in one sitting.

    Keep it up.

    Thanks and regards,

    Utpal.........via e-mail dated 17-08-2013

  4. Namaste Tribhawan ji

    Your Ghost story was so well written, I actually could visualise the whole thing like a film. Marvellous. Very interesting and captivating.

    May God bless you.
    Yogam ....via e-mail dated 17-08-13

  5. Wonderful story uncle .....keep it rolling
    On 17 Aug 2013 15:55, from Atia Imam vid e-mail dated 17-08-2013

  6. Jen Walls commented on a link you shared.
    Jen wrote: "Very flowing read, with deep gestures to ponder. There is a mystical quality within this piece, and I enjoyed digging deeper to feel it, Tribhawan. Thanks!" via facebook/ 18-08-2013

  7. Srinivas R Setty 10:26pm Aug 17
    Hi Tribhawan sir.
    Your story "A GHOST WRITER" is good..
    When I actually started, I taught that it would take time for me to read.. But without my knowledge the story took all my concentration unaware of my time..
    via Facebook dated 17-08-2013

  8. Susana Hazelden commented on a link you shared.
    Susana wrote: "I couldn't stop reading. I think this is wonderful." via facebook on 17-08-2013


  9. Indrajit Rai 12:29pm Aug 18
    Read your blog,,, your works are awesome ,i take spl interest in your poems... i have publish few poem on my blog.please go through whenevr u r free...

    Note:-commented on my link in AAI page/Facebook

  10. a great read sir. There are sides, sometimes 2, sometimes more, to every story in our life. And this one is just great. No words to praise it.

  11. Dear Bhawan,

    Read the story in a one go and enjoyed it. You have written a story which is a fact of life.
    Keep it up

    With best wishes,

    Via e-mail dated 18-08-2013
    Messaged received via Facebook on 18-08-2013

    Akanksha Chaudhary deep, different, and thrilling.
    Archna Tyagi
    I read the entire story. I was totally engrossed. Loved the minute details of emotions u write....I look forward for more.
    Sandra Martyres
    I just read your short story.. Awesome is the word! You had my full attention and interest from start to finish.. You are an amazing story teller too in addition to your poetry!
    It is not possible to post a comment on your blog spot. I tried twice.
    Akmal Nazir
    Nice blog sir! I really appreciate it.

  12. Heather Burns 6:00am Aug 19
    I have read it very interesting. astral projection when the spirit leaves the body and looks down on it. I love the story.

    Message received via facebook on 19-08-2013

  13. Brucewayne Ccy 5:40pm Aug 20
    I like it^^ the plot

    via Facebook message.