[ A really long post, please have patience, I think its worth it ]
The Teacher sat quietly next to the pond. The water was clear once again, after the erosion from the garden had been stopped by rebuilding the low rock wall around the pond. It had been a tiresome job rebuilding the wall with rocks. There was noone else who was interested so he had to do the heavy lifting himself. It had been worth it he decided, before he berated himself for again allowing his mind to wander to the past. Though he felt good at his accomplishment, he was aware that the feeling of “good”ness had a cause and was not his own creation. He had drifted into the past again. He smiled as he embraced his humanity once again. The masters were right, it would take a life time.

The student arrived, dressed in suit and tie as if he had just walked out of the office. His feet were bare, shoes are not allowed in the teacher’s house. The student had first come to the teacher a month ago. A friend of a previous student. The previous student had stopped coming a little after he got what he wanted. The teacher would have been happier if he had got what there was to get. A tinge of melancholy passed through his mind, the teacher embraced it again and it vanished.

“I am sorry I am late” the student said as was his habit every week.
“as am I” said the teacher smiling.
The student stopped himself just as he was about to continue. He looked puzzled a bit.
“I have never really understood what you say everytime I say that” he said
“Did you say ‘as am I’?” he asked.
The teacher smiled
“You are becoming present, that is good” Said the Teacher.
“I said ‘as am I'” the teacher explained.
“I still didnt get it” said the student feeling foolish.
“You said you are sorry that you are late” explained the teacher grinning “and I said ‘as am I'”.
“why should you be sorry that I am late?”asked the student after thinking about it a bit.
“Exactly!” exulted the Teacher “that implies that I should not be sorry at all”.
“uh huh” nodded the student slowly, completely confused.
“Now !, I asserted ‘as am I’ that means my ‘sorryness’ is the same as your sorryness” said the Teacher as he laughed out loud.
“Which is not really sorry at all” said the student sullenly as the reality hit him.
“You should celebrate, not be sad” laughed the teacher “You have moved closer to reality, now you can be really sorry”.
The student laughed.
The tea came and they both drank the tea in silence. There was never any discussion over tea. The student had tried many a time to start a conversation over tea, but all he got was silence. Strangely he never felt snubbed by it. It was as if he knew that the teacher was somewhere else.
The teacher placed his teacup slowly on the saucer. The student did the same although he had not finished, his head was buzzing with questions and the tea was not his top priority.
“Did you enjoy tea today?” Asked the teacher.
“Yes very much” said the student, eager to launch into his questions.
The teacher nodded. This was the sign that the student could ask his questions.
“You said ‘I had become closer to reality’, but aren’t we always in reality? I mean we are completely surrounded by it” asked the student.
“Yes, but the question is, are YOU in it?” asked the teacher.
“I didn’t follow” said the student lost “can you explain”.
“You had tea correct?” asked the teacher
“Now the question ‘did YOU have tea’ seems meaningless” continued the teacher.”But I assert that YOU didn’t have the tea, just like YOU are not in reality, you also didn’t have tea”.
“I don’t follow” the student said finally after futilely trying to reorganize the statement in his head to make more sense.
“Let me ask you a few questions” continued the teacher “Did you enjoy the tea?”
“Yes I did” said the student impatiently “but how is that related to Reality?”
“What did you like about the tea?” asked the teacher staring down the student.
“Its tea, its nice” said the student “what more can I say”.
“Exactly!” said the Teacher excitedly, like a hunter finally seeing his quarry. “The tea is nice because it should be!”
“uh huh….” said the student having a sinking feeling that the rug was about to be pulled from under his feet again.
“The tea is nice not because you tasted it and enjoyed its flavor, but because its tea so it should be nice” said the Teacher picking up his walking stick.
“So I assert that your body had the tea, but YOU were elsewhere” said the teacher prodding the student with a flourish.
“yes you are right, I didn’t really taste the tea, it wasn’t terrible so I said it was nice, its kind of my mechanical answer to your question, so that I could get onto my agenda” said the student smiling.
The teacher narrowed his eyes and stared at the student for a bit, as if there was a bit of tea left in the students beard.
“What this means? mechanical?” he asked finally.
“Well it means automatic” replied the student.
“Exactly” said the teacher “your whole life is run by automatic, sometimes you wake up and do something but mostly automatic, you are elsewhere”
“So” continued the teacher making a circling gesture in the air with his stick “I assert, reality is around you, but YOU are elsewhere, maybe elsewhere not good word, asleep is better”.

A walk through the mind of Ms Bose – part 9

NOTE: This is the last and final part of the the story, if you want to read the story, start from part 1 !

I visited the gym on wednesday and Thursday, but on all days, it looked as if Mr Bose was too tired for any nocturnal activity. I became quite pally with Maria the secretary and noted that she did indeed have a ring on her finger, but it wasnt a butterfly on the crown, but a cobras head. I could see how Mrs Bose could mistake it as the color scheme was the same. It would be interesting to find out how Maria got that, but I left that for another day.

On Thursday, as I was leaving the Gym with Mr Bose and Maria, Mr Bose invited me to his anniversary bash on Friday. So that is the family function Mrs Bose had mentioned, I noted. The Case had suddenly lost a lot of weight.

I told him that I would look through my appointments and get back to him.

That evening, I reported to Mrs Bose that I still hadnt got the evidence and she needed to wait. She wasnt happy at all, insinuating that I hadn’t done any work and refusing to pay unless I got something. The problem was I couldn’t conclusively prove the case, one way or the other.

On Friday Morning, I reasoned that I wasn’t even going to get paid for my work, so may as well enjoy the party. So I called Maria and asked her if she would be my date for the party. She accepted after a few umms and ahhs and checking her schedule (which probably didn’t exist). Women always need to show that they are not desperate. She then told me how to get to Mr Bose’ house. I patiently listened. She sounded positive overall. Maybe this case would be of some use personally.

I reached Mr Bose’s house half an hour late, which is my habit, as I like to make an entrance. As the door was opened by the driver, a happy scene danced before my eyes.

Mr and Mrs Bose were arm in arm happily talking to the guests. Mrs Bose in a pink ball-gown with glitters, which made her look even more attractive and Mr Bose in a
suit, you know the type they wear in GodFather. Around Mr Bose’s waist was a cummerbund, but if you looked closely you could see that the buckle of the trouser was open.

Most importantly, on the ring finger of the right hand Mrs Bose was sporting a beautiful diamond ring, with a crown in the shape of a butterfly.

Mrs Bose avoided me for most of the party. She finally confronted me as I was leaving the restroom.

“I was a bit shocked to see you here” she said , “but I heard my husband invited you, I guessed you met him during your investigation” she said.

For once a correct deduction, I thought.

“I think everything is fine now” she continued slipping me a cheque.
“you know how I know?” she asked as she walked away.

“on Monday he forgot to buy my Karela”.

Or was it the diamond ring? I was about to ask, but you know what they say… never bite the hand that feeds you.

The End

A walk through the mind of Ms Bose – part 8

As luck would have it (ok maybe a little calculation as well) we got quite friendly and as we walked back to the dressing rooms together she introduced me to Mr Bose.

“I dont know, I feel I have seen you somewhere” he said.

Ofcourse I played it down with my standard reply, “So many people tell me that!”and assured him that this is the first time we have met.

After taking a shower, Mr Bose came out in his towel and entered one of the outside changing rooms. These are like the changing rooms in shop stores. They are located outside the main changing rooms for a quick change without a shower. The secretary stood outside. I had to walk away as the secretary suddenly glanced in my direction but I kept my ears keen so that I could catch any conversation.

I heard the scrumpling of paper, it must be the bundle I thought.

“ouch, I think its stuck” I heard Mr Bose say.

“push harder sir” I heard her say.

What were they doing?, I thought?

“Wow sir, thats so nice” I heard the secretary again.

On a sudden decision I turned and ran back to the changing rooms acting as if I had left something. Just as I entered the changing room I took a quick glance in the direction of the open changing rooms.

The secretary and Mr Bose were both outside the changing room. Mr Bose was in a suit, you know the kind they wear in GodFather, but the pant would not zip up completely. The zip was “stuck” at about 3/4ths and it didnt look like it would be going north unless Mr Bose lost a couple more inches.

“I need to lose 2 more inches, I think” said Mr Bose as the secretary nodded.

Mr Bose then changed back into his working clothes and they drove back home. No motel visit on the way, no dinner even, nothing. Maybe he overdid the exercise?

Well, I thought, that explains the late night marathon AND the suit. But I still dont know for whom he is doing this.
To be continued…

A walk through the mind of Ms Bose – part 7

My next stop was to the jewellery shop to track down that ring.

Feigning immense interest in the butterfly piece that I had seen a week ago in the shop window, I was able to ascertain, from the shopkeeper, that the piece had been purchased by a young lady. I asked them again if I could have the address of the buyer from the receipts. Initially they resisted, so I called a policeman friend of mine to talk to the owner.

This is a regular ruse I use. Shop owners and Indians in general are police-phobic, as contact with the police complicates life incredibly and can in many cases place a black mark on you socially. So far in all the cases that I have used this stratagem the shop owner immediately complies with the wishes of the policeman and doesnt bother to check credentials or follow up the case.

As I half expected, the buyer was a Mr Bose, and from the billing address it was THE Mr Bose. A further datapoint was that the ring was NOT gift-wrapped and infact the lady had discarded all the packaging, and worn the ring on the way out of the shop. So I guess the ring remains on the list.

Confused, I drove back to Mr Bose’s office and was lucky to catch them just as Mr Bose with secretary in tow were leaving. The secretary was carrying a crate of Redbull.

Redbull, I thought, maybe to keep him in good standing? I laughed.

I considered following them, but decided on another strategy.

Once they were out of eye-shot, I walked into the office and presenting myself as a bank executive (I have a fake visiting card from hdfc) mentioned that I had an appointment with Mr Bose, to which I was told Mr Bose had just left. I then asked whether he was going to the Barton center, to which the receptionist replied “No he is going to the market to buy groceries”.

Its so easy to lead people to conclusions with just the right pointless question and a lot of confidence.

What didn’t compute was, why would Mr Bose accompany his driver to do the groceries? and take his secretary with him?

The whole hand-shake charade was beginning to make sense. He doesn’t want his office to know that his driver does the shopping, so that he can go on a fake grocery tour himself.

The chips were beginning to fall out of Mr Bose’s favor. I had to find out where they were going.

I rushed out to see the car turn left at the end of the street. I ran to my car and took chase.

As luck would have it I managed to catch up with them. Their destination was the Gold Gym on Richmond road.

As you probably know by now, I always travel with a number of disguises. I also have gym clothes so I enrolled for a year membership (billed to the client) and decided to start straightaway.

In between my treadmill and cycling, I espied Mr Bose gulping down red bull and going flat out on the treadmill. He had ofcourse paid for a personal trainer who was putting him through the paces.

Maybe the young secretary demanded the deluxe version of Mr Bose?

The secretary was also training, although she really didnt need to. I positioned myself to use the treadmill next to hers and slowly broke the ice.

To be continued…

A walk through the mind of Ms Bose – part 6

No such luck, the secretary got in and the car left the home for a second time. The car then retraced its way back to Mrs Bose’s office and went on for about 8 Kms and stopped in front of Mr Bose’s office.

As Mr Bose got out of the car, he shook the drivers hand. What a strange thing to do, I thought. Then I noticed that the driver was now holding a scrap of paper behind
his back. Obviously Mr Bose had handed it over during the handshake. What were they playing at?

Once Mr Bose had entered the building, the secretary got out of the car, straightened her dress and just as she was about to enter the building, the driver opened the dickey and
passed the bundle to her. She held the bundle under one arm and entered the building. Was she trying to hide the bundle?

Curiouser and Curiouser. I had to find out what was on that paper.

I put on my white nehru cap and started chewing the pan. Looking like a simple indica cab driver I approached Mr Bose’s car.

The driver was now sitting inside, taking a nap by the look of things. I tapped on his window. It slowly opened and I was hit by a blast of AC chilled air. I could see the scrap of paper on the dashboard.

“Kya hai bhai? new hai kya? yeh boss ka gaadi hain, yahaan hee rahega!” (whats up brother, are you new, dont you know this is boss’s car, it will stay here only).

“haan haan”(yes, yes) I said trying to sound as cabby as I could. “thoda directions chaahiye, airport jaana hain” ( I need some directions, need to go to the airport ).

“Kya log” (what people) he grumbled “sone nahin dethe”(they dont let you sleep).

With obvious reluctance, he leaned toward the non-driver seat and pulled out a map. As he was doing this, I deftly picked the scrap of paper from the dashboard.

After listening to a reluctant expose on how to reach the airport I departed with the scrap of paper safely in my pocket. As I looked back, I could see the driver frantically looking for something. I quickly got into my car and drove a block away before I had a look at the scrap of paper.

1kg urud dahl
1kg channa dal
1kg bhindi
1kg karela
2kg sugar

I didnt see anything suspicious here, apart from the 1 kg Karela(bitter gourd), I mean who eats that ?, .

It then hit me. This is how he is keeping on top of the chores. He just gives it to his driver. The whole hand-shake thing looked like guilt , but guilt about what?, using your driver to do your house work?, the bloody innocent fool.

And then he goes and has an affair with his secretary??. It just didnt add up. Anyway, I struck “chores” from my list. One down 3 more to go.

To be continued…

A walk through the mind of Ms Bose – part 5

The next day was sunday, so I didnt do any work, crazy nightout with the ladies and woke up on monday morning with a splitting headache.

The important thing in these cases is to seperate fact from fiction. The circumstantial evidence seemed unsurmountable, but I needed to ascertain which of her “complaints” was based on reality and which were as a result of incorrect wiring of her neurons. I made a list of her complaints

1. chores
2. marathon running at midnight?
3. suit
4. Diamond ring

On Monday morning I set off in my non-descript white tata indica, and parked near the Bose’ house, giving me a clear view of the driveway. At 7Am, the car arrived. The driver parked in the driveway and got out. The front door of the house immediately opened and a bundle was thrown into the drivers arms, which the driver immediately placed in the dickey. I couldnt make out what the bundle was, but it seemed to be rolled up neatly.

At 8Am, Mr and Mrs Bose came out. Mr Bose was clutching a small piece of paper. They both entered the car and within minutes it was out of the driveway. I followed cautiously from a distance. After a 15 minute drive the car stopped and Mrs Bose got down and entered her office. The car then returned to the Bose house. Wierd. why would Mr Bose go fully dressed just to drop his wife and then return back home.

My questions were sufficiently answered when I found a young girl of about 25 waiting near the house. Enter the accomplice. So I guess Mr Bose knows Mrs Bose is not too fond of the secretary.

Would they have a quick roll in the hay? I wondered, hoping for a quick end to the business.
To be continued…

A walk through the mind of Ms Bose – part 4

“He never takes me shopping.” she continued ” he suddenly calls up one evening and says meet me at 4th block. I wasnt busy so I humoured him. I reach there and call him, and he says to come to a jewellery shop.”

She took out a cigarette, fumbled with it, fumbled with the lighter I gave her, barely managed to light it and took a clumsy drag, coughed a bit, closed her eyes and continued. You could see it was a recently acquired habit.

“I ofcourse thought it was for me, probably to apologize for the suit issue, but I will tell you about that later. So I rushed over there to see him poring over an exquisite diamond ring. The crown was shaped as a butterfly with tiny ruby red wings studded here and there with small diamonds, with small diamonds along the body and head.”

Another clumsy drag.

“He asked me to try it on. I was willing to forgive him for everything at that point”, she sniggered “But finally he tells me “A friend of mine is thinking of investing in some jewellery for his daughters wedding. She has your size fingers””.

Another sudden forceful drag.

“I tell you, my face went as red as those rubies, I controlled myself ofcourse and smiled, but if I had a knife at that time, I would be in jail for murder”.

“And if that is not enough, a week later I see the same ring on that secretary of his. Shamelessly flashing it to me. I asked her if there was any good news coming and she said “No, no, it was a gift from a friend”. I am not sure, but I can swear I saw her winking at my husband.”

“You mentioned a suit issue” I asked, patting myself on the back for not missing a beat.

“Oh that” she said carelessly “I have stopped thinking about it, compared to all this, its nothing.”

The cigarette had about 2 cm of ash dangling on top of it. I pushed an ashtray towards her. She tapped her cigarrette on it and then took another drag.

” I bought him a suit, you know the type they wear in The God father. But till now he hasnt worn it. Atleast not with me. Whenever I ask him, he says.. its not a special enough occasion. But whenever I check that suit bag, I see the suit has been taken out, worn and neatly put back. I console myself that the money atleast has not gone waste.”

She stubbed the cigarette and placed her elbows on her knees.

“The other thing is that for the past 3 months he comes back late. The secretary accompanies him in the car even at 9pm and they both look like they have run a marathon. He thinks I don’t notice. I can only wonder what all positions he was trading!”

I suppress a grin, cough and start in an official tone. “I am sorry to say, that, it looks like an open and shut case.”
“Give me a weeks time to gather evidence, and then you can confront him with the divorce.”

“I need the evidence before Friday. We have a family function on Friday. I think he is going to break the news to me after the party, so he doesn’t embarrass himself in front of his friends. The scheming bastard.”

“That should be fine as well, because if he is going regularly, forgive my being so frank, with the secretary, I should get the evidence in no time at all.” I said.

With that she got up, said her thank yous and left the office.

To be continued…