Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ghost



Pratap got into the old style elevator of the 14-storey building in Connaught Place.  He was going to pay the premium of his Relevance Life Insurance at the office on the 8th floor.  Built during the days of the British Raj, the building which looked quite ghostly had elevators with grille doors.  Pratap drew both the grilles shut and pressed on number 8 on the panel.  As the lift was about to raise itself with a thud, a shabbily dressed man with a grisly beard crept into it through the grille.

“How did you that?” asked Pratap whose rationalism couldn’t accept a solid body making its way through iron bars.

“I am a ghost,” said the fellow traveller.

“Oh, I see.”  Pratap looked at the guy with his rationalist eye and wondered what this phenomenon could be.  E=mc2.  Mass can be converted into energy.  But not this way.  Pratap was still exercising his rational brain when the ghost started sobbing louder than the noise produced by the crawling lift.

“Hey,” said Pratap with the compassion that comes quite naturally to any genuine atheist.  “What’s wrong?  Can I help you?”

“I am a ghost but nobody is frightened of me.  How horrible!”  The ghost sobbed.

“How stupid!” said Pratap.  “You expect Delhiites to be frightened by such melodrama?  We are people who have seen politicians and babas separately and together.  We live with a whole lot of bloggers too, let alone managers and traders.  Who can frighten us anymore?  By the way, why did you become a ghost?”  Pratap was actually trying to find out whether ghosts were indeed real.  His rational mind could never accept ghosts.

The lift had reached the 8th floor.  Pratap put his hand on the ghost’s shoulder and brought him out to the narrow corridor.

“Oh, I was a businessman working for Bill Gates.  Providing software.  Outsourcing of software, you know.  Billy was supposed to be the only producer of billionaires in the 21st century.  Cutthroat competition, you know.  Cut my throat in the end.  I became a software, you know.”

“I love software,” said Pratap still holding the ghost by his shoulder.  “But some software is beyond my understanding.  Anyway, I think I can help you.”

“Yeah, you can,” beamed the ghost.  “Give me a few drops of your blood.  I’m hungry.”

“Don’t be stupid,” said Pratap.  “I have Pepsi here, drink it.”  He took out the Pepsi bottle. 

The ghost’s nose wrinkled.  Forehead wrinkled.  Body wrinkled. 

“Ok, ok,” said Pratap.  “I understand.”

They were already inside the Relevance Insurance office.

“Wait a moment,” said Pratap as he went to the counter to present his cheque.

Having completed his business, Pratap turned around to look for the ghost.  The ghost was sitting inside the office on a chair.

“Bye,” said the ghost.  “I have got a job.”



PS. This is inspired by one of the few ads that I love watching again and again.  There actually is a private Life Insurance office on the 8th floor of an ‘ancient’ building near Connaught Place in Delhi with an ‘ancient’ elevator.  I did meet a ghostly man who had been following me for quite a while when I went to pay my last premium for a policy that I want to cancel but am not able due to the conditions laid in the policy.  He left me when I entered the Insurance office.  The rest is fiction.  Delhi is watchful, I understood.  The man was following me right from the Rajiv Chowk Metro station where I spent some time trying to figure out from the map provided where I should get out to reach my destination easily. 


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34 comments:

  1. I loved the twist you gave to the story, using a real life experience. 'Few drops of blood' is great.
    By the way, I would have been frightened. May be I haven't been amongst the bloggers for too long. Give me time, and I would be immune, probably.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nimi, most bloggers are pretty innocuous, so don't worry on that count :)

      Life Insurance has now become, thanks to privatisation, a blood-sucking business. So the ghost has found the right place :)

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  2. Tom, you are anti-Pepsi and anti Bill Gates?? You can't see the grand contribution they have made to human development? :)

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    1. I'm not anti-Gates or anti-Pespi, really, Sunil ji. But my satire can sometimes be quite comprehensive, I agree.

      Pepsi would have killed the ghost, I'm sure ;) though Billy wouldn't have contemplated a second murder.

      Delete
  3. That would have been scary for me. :)
    I liked your twist to the tale.

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    1. Indrani, whenever I wrote ghost stories they turned out to be satire and not horror. There's some place in me that loves ghosts, I think.

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  4. A captivating write up! :)
    And a perfect way to conclude it. :)

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    1. Thank you, Nikhil. I'm glad you liked it.

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  5. The anti climax was kick ass. You know what Tomichan, your writing has that rare simplicity you see in narratives by the likes of R.K. Narayan...way to go! Have always enjoyed your posts.

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    1. Thank you, Jithesh. It's a flattering compliment. I have cultivated that simplicity because I believe it is more effective than ornate style. Being a teacher also helps in nurturing a simple style.

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  6. Now this is what we call story with a twist! Nice one, simple and beautifully narrated story. Kudos Sir, each of your stories has some take away.

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    1. Thank you, Krishna, for the support and encouragement.

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  7. That was Weirdly Good. I don't know how to react on the subtle humor you used. Weird yet brilliant.

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    1. The weirdness belongs to me, Prakhar. And I shall not stake any claim to brilliance :)

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  8. "Life Insurance has now become, thanks to privatisation, a blood-sucking business. So the ghost has found the right place" : This obsevation has the added flavour to a nicely told tale.

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    Replies
    1. I like to leave my stories with a due share of subtlety. That's why a lot of things remain implicit.

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  9. That was really brilliant. Pardon my ignorance but i was unable to make out the ending properly. Was it an open ended story? Does ghost saying 'I have got a job' means something?

    Thank you and kudos to your work :)

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    Replies
    1. Sagar, I've given a clear hint in one of the comments above. And Rajeev Moothedathu has repeated it in his comment. I'm sure you will understand the ending with the help of that comment.

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  10. Brilliant story..it has some nice observation and introspection. It's good that you have written it from different perspective

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    1. All my stories come from some real experience or other. But the experience undergoes a terrible metamorphosis when I change it into fiction. As Prakahr said above, "weirdness".

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  11. Haha. Enjoyed this one. :)

    Cheers
    CRD

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    Replies
    1. The joy is mine for having entertained you. And I must share the credit with the copy writer of the chocolate ad in which a ghost makes a similar entry into a lift.

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  12. Story is brilliant. If the following is for a purpose be careful. The man may repeat it again after some time or some one else.

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    1. My gut feeling is that the follower must be someone from the security/intelligence section. Anyone who spends time in an underground metro station reading maps may be a potential terrorist, especially if he has a beard :) Perhaps, I over-interpreted the experience - the man might have been going to the same destination... But he did question me. He asked, "Are you going to the xyz insurance office?" And he was not interested in continuing the conversation when I questioned him whether he worked for the same firm.

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  13. Nice one, had a great time reading it :-)

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  14. Still smiling after reading this ghost story, very well written

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  15. Very interesting climax. I was expecting to see a real ghost in your story. :)

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  16. True, sir. I too enjoy this ad so much. Even while I was reading the story, the ad was being played at the backdrop of my mind. Any way, the ghost left Pratap and you too. Hmm... what will you do with the rest of the weird contraptions around you?

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