Monday, April 04
Cynthia woke up at 7am with a slight headache, induced by red wine. She picked up the intercom and ordered a lemon tea with honey. She entered in her father’s room he was snoring; his nose and forehead were red and swollen. She closely inspected his face and saw a clot of blood in his nose, she touched his arm, and he had no fever, all was well, almost. She knew that her father’s pride was broken; Rishi tricked him by spilling his drinks, her father’s plan to provoke him or intimidate him failed. She was sure Rishi had his own plan and he won. She was happy. She tried to recreate the scene in her mind and wondered how Rishi jumped to his feet and caught Russet falling on the glass-top-table, saved him from getting seriously hurt but then let him go, nose first, in the puddle of same water that he spat in and rubbed the bottom of shoe and that happened to be a coincidence. But how Rishi knew he was about to faint.
Tea arrived, it worked like magic and her headache was no more.
She took the bath then sat on the sofa in the living area.
Now what? It was Monday; Rishi will be going to his job. She cannot ask him to take off for a day, tomorrow early morning she and her father will be leaving; their Learjet has already left San Francisco to bring them back to United States. She inspected her mind; she won’t be seeing Rishi in the day, probably in the evening. She does not own him, he may see her in the evening or he may not. After all the time they spent together, as a courtesy he should see her, for the last walk.
She sighed, “Last walk”.
Her thoughts drifted to the day that was past, yesterday. It was very sacred. For a small time she touched the creation, she became a vessel and creation filled in but then she was back to the world. At the Bull-Temple, for some minutes her all senses became alive, simultaneously, and funniest thing was that she was not there but a vague sensation at the end. She tried to imagine her experience but she failed, she was hearing, smelling, feeling, each cell of her body became alive to everything that it was exposed to and then it came to an abrupt end.
She tried to recreate the whole day, each moment that she was able to think of. Laughs-laughs and more laughs at Bull-Temple, her ribs were paining at that time. Then she wept and then laughed again. Her mind was purged from the thoughts, from the miseries, from sorrows at least for the time being, at that time. She remembered, at that time she was wanting to stay silence, after laughing, weeping and again laughing she was feeling lightness in her mind in her chest, in her whole body. She was trying to preserve that feeling at that time.
Then Rishi said, “Cristina, relax and feel the fragrance in the air.”
She took a deep breath. She felt she was tense with all the effort she was doing to preserve the feeling. “Oh yes! It is wonderful,” she said and inhaled deeper, “how come I missed the perfume in the air?”
“Don’t say anything, just be with this fragrance.”
She closed her eyes aroma was so pleasing, she became one with it, and also she felt the movement of the cool air on her face, neck and on her bare arms, heard rustling of the leaves. And then her all senses became alive. She was simply not there but she was there too.
Rishi set her up to that experience, put up his own effort or may be that is his way of life, paying attention to his friends; he made a fool of himself at laughing-club, only to make her laugh and then asked her to weep and she wept. He made use of everything that the day brought to him or to them together.
She wished if she had incense sticks, probably the same brand that someone lit there. She even failed to notice who lit that stick. Couple of people climbed over the platform to pay respect to the tree and deities.
She went to her bedroom brought perfume bottle in the living room, sprayed it in all four directions and sat cross-legged on the carpet.
Cristina, relax and feel the fragrance in the air.
She tried to feel the fragrance in the air. OK it is nice, she felt herself relaxing, felt the tension in her muscles gradually being relieved. Sitting cross-legged and stiff, she felt it was an effort in itself, and she lay down on the carpet and completely relaxed, felt peaceful. She did not know when thoughts crowded her mind again and she again stumbled to daydreams.
Arvind, Director as well President of LaserGear was in his office at 7.30am. He could not sleep for last two nights. His face was full of worries, wrinkles and black eyes. Russet Frazier was not coming to the phone to answer his calls. Rishi hypnotized his stupid MD daughter; she was chasing him like a puppy. His daughter saw hen in a shopping plaza, both were hands in hands. Foolish Rishi did not know? Knows-very-well is much more like it that what he is doing. He was going to ruin a company, a technology icon, employing two thousand people.
Last Friday when he jokingly said that they know a person, whom some people consider an enlightened, he did not know the consequences.
He and Jatin build LaserGear from the scratch.
He was born very poor, he was a bright student. He rose to academic excellence with scholarships, help of friends, relatives and teachers and gained the admission in Electronics Engineering in the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology. Jobs were lined up to him even before he was awarded Graduate Degree. He joined a company that was making navigation equipments and parts for shipping industry. In five years he was Chief Technical Officer there. Company split due to internal partnership conflicts both sides wanted him. One side offered him a partnership in the new company and he took the opportunity. His hard work and marketing skills brought his company to zenith where other split part went bankrupt and defunct in only two years. He sold his share to his partners and formed LaserGear Electronic Corporation Private Limited, with Jatin, who was the son of a Shipping tycoon. The together pooled their money, resources and contacts. Jatin’s family was in banking business, so more capital arrived as loans and they were hit from the start. LaserGear went public in three years and become LaserGear Electronic Corporation Limited, in another three years it was listed on NASDAQ stock exchange, in United States of America.
Russet Frazier placed his first order in the second year of their inception, and then second order and then third and so on and on. He burdened them with his orders. His companies paid them in advance to enable them to arrange specialized custom designed machinery. In another two years, he was their only customers, either they abandoned all other customers, or they just took their business to elsewhere because of delays as well lack of the attention to them. Business was booming and they were making money, they knew Russet’s reputation but it was too late to do anything about it. Money was pouring and everybody was happy, stock price was rising. More orders, more payments, more loans, more spending, more factories, more hiring, till two days ago it seemed perpetual cycle.
Then this Rishi bunged a monkey wrench.
Now Russet Frazier was provoked, he refused to meet them, he was not coming to the phone to answer them; his offices were not replying their calls or emails. Suddenly all the communication with Russet’s corporation came to a halt. Russet was to leave tomorrow, the Tuesday. They were aware that his Learjet was returning to pick him up.
It is all because of this Rishi. He went beyond protocol, went beyond employee-employ relations. He took advantage of friendship. Whom we though enlightened, holy, Buddha, turned out a mean opportunist. Hooked a billionaire’s daughter in an instant, betrayed his employers and friends.
I, I, I, I, I, I, spent whole of my life to build LaserGear, Rishi – you, you, you, you, you, are going to butcher it in no time.
It was a cool day, windows were open but Arvind was sweating. He wiped off sweat from
It was 8am; his secretary has just entered in her office He rang for her.
She entered in his office, as she was to say ‘Good morning sir’ but when she saw his face, she said softly, “What happened? Are you sick Sir?”
He turned his head side to side and with a slow and sick gesture of his hand pointed her to have a seat.
“You know Rishi?”
“Let me bring you tea first,” she said backing away.
Arvind swallowed back the bile, he said, “Bring plain soda and a tablet of antacid.”
She returned with soda and medicine, took the seat, said, “Yes I know Rishi.”
“Draft an executive order, terminating him, immediately, without citing a reason. Call human resource manager to see me immediately.”
She was surprised because Rishi was Arvind’s friend but it was not her place to ask questions. Looking at her watch she said, “Sir, office will open at nine.”
“Call him on his cell phone to be here straight; he might be on the way.”
Rising up from the chair she said, “I will be back.”
Arvind swallowed antacid pill with soda. He was thinking if it was wise to take anti-anxiety table, empty stomach. Since morning he had not eaten anything, and recently he has discovered that anytime he took any medicine, empty stomach, he had nauseating sensation.
He rang for her secretary again, she appeared at the door.
“Email Rishi, that he is dismissed as of today. Inform him not to return to his office, box up his belongings and courier them to his address, he is not permitted to enter in our premises.”
She said turning back, “Yes Sir.”
“And forward a copy of that email to Russet Frazier.”
When she closed the door, tears fell from Arvind’s eyes. He turned his revolving chair to the back and placed his legs on the desk and wept.
Why you did this to us Rishi. You are not phony; my heart says you are not phony. Money never mattered to you. We revered you, my whole family, my little daughters, we loved you.
He tuned his chair back, wrote a personal message to Rishi, a brief email explaining few facts, selected words carefully, not rude. Instead of using his company email he sent Rishi that message from his email id on Hotmail, a friend to friend, a man to man.
He had no hard feeling about Rishi; he will find another job, most likely higher paying than they were offering. Once he bragged about becoming a teacher at his friend’s coaching center.
Rishi woke up at 8am, took bath and prepared to leave for office. His housemates already left for their jobs, He felt it was his responsibility to inform Cynthia, better if she is online and also to promise her that he will try to leave early from his work and spend some more time with her. He knew he will be arriving late at work but he turned on his laptop. Cynthia was not online.
There was an email from his office, informing him that he was terminated. There was another email, a personal email from Arvind, some resentment expressed very politely, and that they are still friends also offered his help to find another job, mentioned a job in New Zealand another one in USA.
First Rishi wrote an email to Cynthia:
How are you? Last evening, I lost my shirt in the park because when I reached home, I was not wearing it.
Want to join in the search? It is not expansive but is of emotional value.
We can go there anytime.
Say my hello to your Pa.
His second email was to Arvind:
My dear friend Arvind,
Thanks for your email, I am (and was) aware of your concerns and apologize you for all the troubles (you think) I caused you or anybody.
One day we will sit, drink beers and laugh it off.
We all try to make best use of the life or any opportunity it brings.
We all see things with our own perception.
Thanks for everything and please do not hesitate to call me when a need arises.
He typed Snuff in the Google, it was flavored tobacco mostly used for sniffing purpose. There was a knock on the door; a courier brought a box containing his belongings from his office at LaserGear and also a formal written notice of his termination. He signed the acknowledgement.
He was not sad or angry but happy, went to kitchen and made a cup of tea. He felt pity for Arvind and Jatin and others because doom was waiting for them. After tea was over he cleaned the kitchen and then started cleaning the house. By 9.30am all corners of the house were shining including his housemates rooms. He took bath again, was preparing to go to restaurant for breakfast, his cell-phone buzzed. It was Cynthia.
Russet Frazier woke up at 9am with severe headache and vertigo. He was wearing same evening clothes. He went to bathroom and vomited. He was shocked to see his face; his nose was double its size with frozen blood inside, right eye was black and right side of face was swollen. He tried to touch his nose and discovered pain in his right. He vaguely remembered, about what happened last evening. He was drinking and forcing Rishi to drink, yelling at him.
He washed his face with left hand, cleaned the dried blood from his nose. To sooth his throbbing head he placed it under the cold water tap for a minute.
Then what happened? One thing was clear that he made a fool of himself. This boy Rishi, this smiley Rishi dodged him, those two tequila bottles, six thousand plus dollars and party hall rental all went waste or actually it went against him.
His pride was wounded, he was angry at Rishi. Last night he was laughing when his daughter was repeatedly telling him that he was drunk. He was indeed drunk and passed out. One thing was set on the stone, when he will drink next time, he won’t be laughing at his daughter telling him to stop.
He was passed out, drunk. This never ever-ever-ever happened before. This Rishi, this bogus holy man, had drank like a fish, had outsmarted him and beaten him up in his own game, beaten him up on his own turf, on his own expanses.
He looked again at his face; it might have been a spectacular fall and who else knows about it? He wanted to know it all. Who else knows that he made a fool of himself? He was deeply wounded. His thousands of employee silenced and trembled when he walked in the aisles of their offices. His executives never looked in his eyes, always spoke with fear. The news that he was coming to his any facility triggers frenzy.
Cynthia was sleeping on the carpet, he shook her, and she woke up confused.
“Hi daddy, how are you?” she muttered looking at his swollen face. “Daddy you look worse.”
He collapsed on the sofa and she sat with him, inspected his face carefully and touched his pulse and forehead.
“Sweetie, Tell me what happened?”
She sang, “You went drunk. You passed out in alcohol induced coma. And you made a fool of you.”
He sang back in irritation, “And. Then. What. Happened.”
“You spitted in the glass of water. You dumped it on the carpet. You rubbed your shoe in the same water,” she sang in reply and raised her arm straight and let it fall straight. “You fell down, nose first in the same water.”
“So I fell down, and then what?”
She replied, chewing each word, “You were felling on the glass table, Rishi tried to catch you, but you being heavy still crashed on the carpet.” To tease him further she added, “In that same water, nose first.”
He said saying each word separately, “RISHI broken my fall but I landed exactly, nose first, in the same water. THEN what happened?”
“We. Waiter, bartender, I and Rishi. Loaded you. On a luggage cart.” She said in child like voice, “And hauled you here.”
“Who saw this all?”
“RISHI hung table clothes on the brass frame of luggage cart,” she replied, “nobody saw billionaire Russet Frazier being hauled in a luggage cart. Don’t worry.”
“Rishi had broken my fall and I felled nose first, in the same water.” He said sarcastically, “What a grand coincidence! Irony isn’t it!”
Face facts, Russet, you have been beaten by this little creep Rishi. He dipped your face in the same water that you spat and soiled by your shoe. Water is holiest he says, I will show him fear of water.
“I doubt if it was possible for one drunk to successfully target other drunk’s nose in the same water that you spat in and shoed. What a grand coincidence! Irony isn’t it!”
He repeated after her, “What a grand coincidence! Irony isn’t it!”
“I told you all, what happened after, hope you remember what happened before – you were insulting Rishi. Or you were too drunk.”
He found it futile to argue with his daughter, these days she was exceptionally happy and cheerful. She was not a meek girl anymore, at least here in India. His head was brutally aching and shoulder was heavy with pain.
“Hey doctor, give me some pain killer.”
“Wait daddy, you must eat first before taking any NSAID.”
She rose to call room service for breakfast and coffee.
Russet turned to go back to bathroom to brush his teeth; accidentally his right shoulder collided with the corner of wall. He caught his shoulder with his left hand yelped in pain. She rushed to him. “Oh my God! You hurt your shoulder also.”
She made him lay down on the sofa and probed his shoulder gently. “I must take you to X-Ray place; your shoulder might be torn.”
She started giving him motherly lesson against drinking but he stood up and shouted, “I am fine. It is only a bruise. Keep your lectures to yourself; go have a walk with that creep Rishi.”
She said to tease him further, “Go take a bath daddy, change these clothes and wash off that water.”
He was stung with anger as he was about to enter in the bathroom she shouted.
“Daddy, by the way this creep Rishi paid tip to waiter and bartender, for helping them to haul you here.”
This time arrow hit the center point. His mouth went dry, his face went pale, and this was the biggest insult. A low life creep paid tip to haul him to his room.
She saw his pale face and knew he was badly hurt. She said in soft voice, “He requested them to keep the whole matter confidential. Some one had to pay them tip.”
He said with a chill in his eyes, “You could have paid it.”
“Daddy, I was numb with shock. I was lucky that I myself walked on my own feet, after your behavior with Rishi, my best friend. I was weeping, you saw me weeping, did you care? And you ever cared. No. You never cared. It is always about you.”
He said, “Enough and now stop singing. You are turning even more theatrical than your mother.” He entered in the bathroom and slammed the door.
Another arrow hit the center point. Tears fell from her eyes but she was not regretful. First time in her life she stood against her father or against anybody.
She turned on her laptop, read Rishi’s email and started laughing.
She called him.
She giggled, “So Rishi, you lost something tomorrow.”
“I found something there,” she disclosed.
“You say: ‘I-found-something-there.’ right,” said Rishi.
“Right. I said: I-found-something-there.”
“It happened, when ‘your-I’ was not happened to be there.”
It took her a while to understand what Rishi said. She was stunned.
Rishi was hearing her breathing.
“See you in half hour, Cynthia. Bye.”
He didn’t wait for her reply and disconnected the call, neither she was in a condition to say a word. She understood and she didn’t.
That sacred thing indeed happened, when she was not there.
He knows, he knew.
Russet was thinking about her daughter while bathing. She was his only child and he loved her. Actually he was happy that she stood against him. It never happened before. She was the only heiress of his ever-growing vast Empire; it was good that she was showing the signs of courage. The only problem was this cunning, con-artist Rishi.
Knock on the door indicated the breakfast has arrived. Room boy arranged the coffee and breakfast on the table and left.
Her father too joined her with limping right arm, in the living room and to make her happy he said, “My little girl, come and give your daddy a big hug.”
She smiled and went in his arms and avoided touching his right shoulder. He kissed her on the cheek. She made sure he ate his breakfast, and then gave him two tablets of acetaminophen.
“Daddy let’s get your shoulder X-Rayed.”
“I am fine, honey, just fine. Tomorrow morning we are leaving.”
“Are you sure, you are fine?”
“Yes I am fine, I have a long day, and car will be coming soon to pick me up.”
“I am also leaving daddy.” She kissed him and said, “Bye daddy.”
It was 10.30am. Russet informed his HQ in San Francisco that his day has begun. All calls to him, even calls originating from India, each and every call was routed through San Francisco.
First news he had received that coup-e-dat has begun at LaserGear, confidential information has been skillfully and deliberately leaked on the street that Russet Frazier is canceling his orders and in after hour trading LaserGear stock has already started falling in NASDAQ. In no time news will reach India. Déjà vu has started for LaserGear. Tomorrow will be another Déjà vu.
He called General Manager of the hotel and summoned him into his suite, without delay. General Manager came running and gasping.
“I want to see both bartender and waiter, who served me in the party room.”
“But Sir, they are suspended; pending disciplinary action against them.” Manager said in trembling voice, “They were found drunk at the job, last night. I deeply regret and apologize if their behavior was inappropriate. In that case they will be dismissed …..”
Russet barked to interrupt him, “I want to see them, you have half hour to produce them.”
“Yes Sir.” General Manager meekly said.
Luckily Bansilal and Raghav were still in the hotel, both were there to beg and plead to their Managers, for reinstatement. General Manager himself paraded them to Russet Frazier.
Russet dismissed General Manager and asked Bansilal to wait outside.
First he interviewed Raghav, the waiter, in details and then sent him outside. Then he interviewed Bansila, the bartender.
Their stories matched with Cynthia’s version except that Rishi was draining his drinks on the carpet. Waiter told him that his daughter knew about Rishi draining his drinks.
They told him, indeed he collapsed, with the help of some sixth or eighth sense, Rishi jumped to his feet, tried to catch him and broken his fall before he hit the glass table, but still he fell, his nose exactly in the same puddle of water that he spat in, drained and booted. Rishi gave a tip of five hundred rupee and said: Now when a gentleman gets drunk, he does not wish that his in-laws should know about it.
Russet Frazier gave each of them thousand rupee tip, swore them to secrecy and threatened them with dire consequences if they disclosed anything about his collapse and this meeting.
Rishi set me up. He was draining his drinks Had he stopped drinking, fair and square? I too would have stopped. He tricked me into a fake competition. He is responsible for my insult and injuries. He does not know me; I can squash him like an insect, any time.
OK Pal, it will be man to man. Alligator see you later.
Eye for an eye.
Cynthia kissed her father and said, “Bye daddy.”
She walked out of hotel suit, took the elevator and begun waiting for Rishi in the lobby. She looked at the clock, still about ten minutes to his arrival, she had a thought in her mind and called that girl, Kalpana, who worked the garment store, whom she asked for her phone number for Rishi’s friend Fulka the Computer Programmer. Girl was at her home, about to leave her home for work. She had a long chat; she was still talking to Kalpana when Rishi arrived at 11am.
She said on the phone, “Good luck Kalpana, I got to go and you too got to go. Bye now.”
She held Rishi’s hand and begun swinging it, they walked out.
“Want to have cup of strong tea.”
“OK I will have a strong tea; it is too early for lunch.”
“Rishi took her to Muslim tea stall, it was crowded by auto-rickshaw drivers, and all were drinking tea. Same Muslim fat man with white beard was there.
Rishi shouted in Hindi, “Hoy my Chacha!”
He replied in shout, “Hoy my Bhatija! How did it go at night?”
“Thanks, thanks. Look at me. Chacha you fixed me up good.” Then he said to Cynthia in English, “Meet my dear Uncle, he fixed me up last night.”
Everybody was staring them, Rishi and India like them and a white girl, pretty but a bit older then him. A boy handed then little tea cups. It was the best tea Cynthia ever had, she wanted another one but Rishi paid and pulled her hand to an auto-rickshaw.
Auto-rickshaw driver looked at Rishi’s face, “Where?”
Before Rishi could say, Cynthia bunged, “Bull Temple.”
Arvind checked his email at hotmail. Rishi had replied.
He read the mail and muttered, “We all try to make best use of the life or any opportunity it brings.”
Huh! He openly admitted his lure for Russet’s billions. We were a small fry to begin with. How fast the lure of money changes a so-called enlightened, whom we considered a Buddha and whom we loved. We all try to make best use of the life or any opportunity it brings. Huh!
Blinking light of the intercom-phone at his desk broke his thoughts.
It was his secretary; she informed him that the Sanjay Mital, Vice president of a leading bank, in-charge of bank’s Mutual Funds Division is desperate to talk to him. He is on line three.
Arvind took the call, “Yeah!”
“Arvind is that you?
He screamed, “What is happening at your company?”
Arvind said helplessly, “I don’t know what you are talking.”
“Don’t you know? Your stock is falling at NSDAQ, rumors saying that Russet Frazier’s Corporation has decided to end business with you.”
Arvind felt chill in his spine. His face was dark he tried to disagree, “I do not know of such thing.”
Mayhem has arrived at the gates.
Sanjay said with finality, “I am entitled to know what is going on; we own seven percent of you equity.”
“Let me check what is going on, I will call you back in an hour.”
“An hour, it will be too late Pal.” Line went dead because Sanjay disconnected the phone.
Arvind wiped of his drenching face with his handkerchief and rang for his secretary.
“A glass of water please.”
She was shocked to see his pale sick face but turned bring water without saying a word.
She brought a glass of water, as he was swallowing anti-anxiety pill, she gave him a little look. “Please go home sir, you are sick.”
“I can’t.” He shook his face side to side; she left because there was a sudden avalanche of phone calls. LaserGear’s stock was nose diving in the bull market.
Arvind took one call, then another and then another. He felt very sick.
His secretary called a staffer who also acted as first aid expert in the office. He checked Arvind’s pulse and blood pressure that was double.
His secretary called his wife; she arrived and took him home.
Both phone lines at their home were ringing constantly, his wife disconnected both phones. NASDAQ trading hours were to begin at night then braced them for more bad news.
In the auto-rickshaw, Rishi asked Cynthia, “You had breakfast?"
“I had, “she replied, “One bagel and lots of coffee and then tea at your Chacha’s shop.”
Rishi asked Auto-rickshaw driver to drop off at a restaurant. There they had snacks, she ordered coffee but Rishi called back waiter and cancelled the order and asked for two glasses of mixed fresh fruit juice without sugar or syrup.
He did not say a word about why he cancelled the order of coffee, but she was happy, enough coffee already. Actually she ordered coffee robotically, as a ritual after each breakfast or snacks time.
They walked in the park on the path amid the croton bushes and flowers. Day was cloudy, windy and cool. Rishi saw a flat round rock he picked it and forced it in his pocket, heavy rock was half sticking out from his pocket and weight of it made his pants hanging in one side.
“What are you going to do with this rock?” she giggled.
He grunted, “It is very important to me.”
They entered in the rocky section of the park where small children were playing. Rishi stepped over the rocks, she following him. He lay straight at a flat but slightly inclining rock and placed that round rock under his head as a pillow. She again laughed.
“Now I get it. It was very important to you,” she said, “You lazy bum.”
“I have a little nephew, six years old. I told him about a huge ship grounded on a beach in Goa. A storm grounded it. Their owner abandoned it there, declared the bankruptcy and washed their hands off from it, or otherwise was more expensive to salvage it.”
“I know about that ship, I saw it on the TV and read about it in the papers,” she said.
“I told my little nephew that he can take this huge ship if he wants. I told him that I, he and his little friends all, can dig it out.”
Cynthia laughed again. “What did he say?”
“He says: It is very important to me. This huge ship.”
“Why?” sobbed Cynthia, through the tears of laugher.
“I asked him. Why? He said: He has a cash flow problem.”
Both were laughing. She was envious at the comfortable posture of Rishi; he took the best spot on the rock.
Rishi said, rising up, “Come Cynthia, it is your turn to lay down on this bed and pillow.”
She said in amazement, “How did you ……… know ….”
They exchanged the places, she lay at the exact spot where he was before and placed the rock under her head. She felt uncomfortable, uneven surface of the rock was biting her in the back. Pillow too was not comfortable. She laughed and sat up.
Rishi lay again at a new spot with the same round flat rock under his head, his eyes were closed. He was very still as he was sleeping. Dark clouds were building up.
As they entered in the park, she wanted to go straight to the tree under which she had that timelessness experience but she followed Rishi because yesterday what happened, he made it happened. She has not discussed it with him, what was the sense, he knows it. May be he is working again to make it happen. Day again begin with laughing.
She sat cross-legged, closed her eyes and tried to be aware of the surrounding noises. She tried and tried but, she was not able to concentrate, thoughts were drifting.
Rishi said, still keeping his eyes closed, “Stop wrestling with yourself.”
She gave up, and realized that her body was tensed up, it started relaxing, she became aware of the noise of children playing, chirping of he birds and gush of the air. She begun waiting for he same sensation but it did not come but she was relaxed and thoughtless. Everything looked brighter, children looked lovelier and happy, she looked at the bats on the top of trees, this time she saw a bat in detail, its spread wings, hooks, and how they sat upside down. She saw small insects crawling on the rock. That same timelessness and mindlessness sensation did not return but thoughts returned. When she woke up from day dreams she asked Rishi, “Why it is not coming back?”
“It is, when you are not.” His eyes remained closed, he stayed lying still.
She meditated over what he said.
It is, when you are not.
But her mind gave up. She asked, “How can I make myself go away.”
She thought for sometime to link up what he said but her confusion grew. She was getting desperate, this was the only day left, and this too was spent half.
“Then what do I do?” she asked.
“You would, should and could not do anything?”
Riddle thickened, she saw no sense in pondering upon what he said.
She asked, “What do I do, Rishi, what do I do?”
“First understand, we can not do anything, we are programmed by creation, our dreams; our thoughts make us do whatever we do. We find ourselves doing. Remember you ordered coffee; did you ordered it or it?
She shook her head side to side.
“That is the way our whole life goes, all creatures, not just we. That is the way we are programmed.”
“How can we break this vicious program?” she asked in defeat.
She sighed with tearful eyes, “Now you want me to give it up because I can’t?”
Rishi laughed, he held Cynthia’s hand. Now try it again.
“But I cannot make myself go away.”
“Do you know it as a fact or just a hypothesis?”
“I don’t know?” She said.
Look in you mind to search for the answer, start from here.
He rose; I am going to drink water and will bring you bottled water. He stepped off from the walk and went to the other corner of the park to a water tap, drank water. Then he went to market and bought a bottle of mineral water and returned.
Cynthia was laying on the rock with the flat round rock under her head, her eyes were closed. He threw a pebble near her, she opened her eyes. He climbed the rocks and gave her the water bottle. She was thirsty, she finished half the bottle.
She said, “I feel helpless and humiliated. I can’t send myself away. I tried.”
“You can try again.”
She shook her head. “No sense in trying.”
“What do you do in Vipassana Meditation?”
“We focus upon our breathing, we watch our thoughts, in the process we are separate from thoughts, because our mind paddles the thoughts, when thoughts are not fueled; they vanish.”
“Then what happens?” Rishi asked.
“Mind is peaceful and thought free.”
“But mind is a thought too. Mind is a dream within a dream within a dream. It is a thought within a thought within a thought. Mind is a layer upon layer upon layer of thought.”
Cynthia was trying to understand what Rishi said, he added, “What happened tomorrow was that mind vanished.”
Suddenly her mind cleared up. Indeed it happened, her mind vanished. Watching, listening, smelling and feeling was happening but watcher was missing, interpreter was missing. She – Cynthia was missing. She felt what happened to her was happening all the time but it is hidden behind many layers, layers upon layers of thoughts, dreams, sorrow, miseries and more.
She again sat cross-legged and tried to meditate but could not make any effort, she saw the futility of efforts; she gave up. Passively her thoughts were floating before her, unrelated thoughts. One came and went, another came and went. She found she was tense again, she relaxed, felt the flow of air, sounds of the park. She felt sitting cross-legged too was an effort itself, she sat with her legs straight and in total comfort, her arms touching the cold soothing rock surface. It started drizzling; air was now full of the fresh smell of the earth. Drizzling turned to raining. It was 2pm.
“Let’s go for lunch.” Rishi said.
She picked up the same round stone that served them as pillow and stepped down from the rocks. Imitating Rishi, she grunted, “It is very important to me.”
Rishi laughed. “Leave it here, we are coming back here.”
She placed the stone gently under a tree.
They walked in the light rain. She caught herself that she was making an effort to feel rain on her body. She laughed and her muscles relaxed. She discovered that any effort was a stress, herself, a game of her mind, her mind itself. She was playing hide and seek.
She laughed. One layer was playing hide and seek with other layer. It was very confusing, it was very funny. Repeatedly she caught herself making an effort to watch, listen and feel or sense, effort dropped and she relaxed but then it started again. She was feeling that no thought was missing her attention. She was wondering: Had not she was aware; those same thought were to make her sad or happy, weep or laugh. Those same thoughts had the power to give her bad or good day, mostly bad day. She laughed.
They arrived in the same restaurant where they had snacks. Thunderstorm had built up; it was lightening and pouring rain.
It was a simple lunch, lentil soup, rice and condiments.
It was 4pm LaserGear Electronics Corporation’s net worth was reduced to half, trading was stopped for the day for the things to settle down.
Russet was a private man; he hated publicity that was not good for his clandestine ways. He was not a media sweetheart. Only few people knew he was in India, including Arvind and Jatin. At noon he visited a new but fast growing Information Technology company and surprised all people at its upper echelon. His head quarter in San Francisco arranged that meeting without disclosing that Mighty Russet Frazier himself will be visiting their facilities. Many phones came alive and all Directors, Presidents and Vice Presidents, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technical Officer, CFO, ran to the company’s office. Wish they had known it ahead; they would have arranged a grand reception but still they did their best. He only accepted a cup of coffee but refused the lunch, it was his policy; he gave lunches and dinners but never accepted it. He avoided accepting any hospitality from anyone.
He asked for a tour of their facility and was genuinely impressed and interested doing business with them. At 3pm, at the time of his leaving he shook hands with ten people, (of-course his left hand, right shoulder was getting worse) waiting for their turn in a line, by his limousine, uniformed driver waiting for him to open the door.
“Get in the car I have to talk to you,” sitting in the back of car, Russet said to the President. President of the IT Company walked around the car and sat on the back seat, next to him. Car sped off to his hotel.
Free fall of LaserGear stock caught the attention of media. They also discovered his stay in the hotel. But sudden rain brought him luck, camera men were dispersed under cover to protect their equipments and failed to notice his arrival. His face was rarely in the press or television, not many of correspondents knew what he looked like.
Russet Frazier saw the media vans and understood that they were there for him, he thanked his stars and thunderstorm.
When limousine arrived at the hotel, thunderstorm was at its peak. In the pulpit of hotel, he stepped out of the limousine and told driver to drop the other passenger back to wherever he wished.
Last thing he said to the President, “See me at 12th of April in my office in San Francisco, bring along your Chief Technical Officer, I liked him.”
“Thank Mr. Russet Frazier, we will be there.” At 11th April his daughter was getting married, she can still marry in his absence.
Russet walked in the lobby, took the elevator, reached to his room.
He took off his shirt, his right shoulder was swollen; each movement of his arm caused a pang of pain, he was not hungry and had a fever.
He turned on the CNBC, as expected, stock of LaserGear was reduced to half and trading was halted.
He laughed because he was even richer. He started his career as a crooked stockbroker, his buddies were shorting LaserGear. He looked at his watch, it was 4.30. Some hours to open NASDAQ exchange in New York There he will make his juicy move.
It was usual stuff and no big deal. At 8am EST, his Head Quarter will make a press release that Russet Frazier Corporation is severing all relations with LaserGear. What a wonder, this information age. Stock can fall in day as well as in a night.
Where there is a day there is a night.
He laughed at his invention of a proverb, his shoulder heaved and he felt a severe jolt of pain. He remembered smiling face of Rishi.
I-I-I-I-I-I-I will wipe off that smile. He will never smile again. His smile must go.
Rishi and Cynthia waited for the rain to stop in the same restaurant. It stopped at 5pm., everything was washed and fresh. Air was windy and cold; she was shivering; now all people were wearing sweaters or jackets.
“Let’s have a cup of coffee at the same place we went yesterday,” said Rishi.
She nodded. They walked in the market, Rishi took her in store and bought her a simple shawl and wrapped it around her shoulders.
Rishi’s shirt was slightly wet, she advised, “You also need a warm cloth.”
“I am fine; little cold does not bother me.” He said, putting his hands in his pocket. She did not insist because she was not carrying any money or credit cards. Since Rishi met her she intently did not carry her purse, she wanted to become a complete dependent upon him, complete surrender.
They walked to the restaurant and this time it was even more crowded, sudden cold drew more people for hot coffee and warm snacks. Rishi made it to the counter, bought token and stood in the long line for coffee. She, standing outside, tried in vain to look at the world goes by, incense stick was burning at the next shop; at another store coffee beans were being roasted, she tried to be with the aromas. People were coming and going, birds were chirping on Mimosa trees, ladies were haggling for price in a store. She tried to become one with the scene. She spotted, and caught herself trying, caught her tense nerves. He mind was playing intense hide and seek, some time she was tired of it and something it was amusing. Some time sudden peace arrived and then flood of thoughts knocked it down. Her wrestling with her mind broke when Rishi handed her a cup of steaming coffee. They sipped it in silence.
It was 5pm.
They walked to the park, entered inside; she picked up that round stone.
Imitating Rishi she again grunted, “This is very important to me.” She tried to feel that rock, it was now cold and damp. She grabbed the stone with both hands, smelled it and held it at her cheek. They took the stepped path leading to Bull Temple.
She went to the tree, removed her sneakers, climbed on the concrete platform she sat cross-legged at the exact same spot where she sat before and that sacred thing happened. She placed the rock in her lap, relaxed and looked around. Clouds were now dispersing and a window of sunlight was opening here and here on the sky. Trees were washed and shining. Rishi did not sit there with her to give her the freedom and privacy. He was pacing around and then sat at the curb of the path leading to the bottom of the hill. She found him laughing.
“Rishi,” she shouted, “why are you laughing?”
Rishi rose, came to her and sat beside her. He was still laughing.
“What’s so funny, Rishi.”
“Look at those two coconut trees. “ He said, pointing to two storm agitated coconut trees. “They look like two people are fighting with each other.”
When she saw those two trees she fell in the laugh too.
Giggling she said, “To me they seem like they are kissing each other.”
Rishi said, looking at the trees, “Oh yeah! Now they are kissing and making it up.”
Another strong gush of air hit the both trees and they were fighting again.
Cynthia and Rishi were laughing.
“Let’s go to temple, “she said.
Rishi removed his shoes and socks and they walked to the temple. She was feeling wet soft earth and pebbles under her feet; at the granite threshold she felt the coldness of the uneven rock and water, she rang the big bell, felt the metal and cold of the hammer, felt the smell of incense, burning oil and butter and flowers. They made a circle around the very large Shiva’s holy bull Nandi. She felt the floor was sticky with oil and butter. Rishi gave her a coin to make an offering, coin was warm. At the threshold they again rang the bell and she sat at the same spot on the platform. She was worried about Rishi, it was cold, and everybody else was wearing a sweater or jacket except Rishi. She asked him to sit with her. He sat and she spread her shawl over him too.
“When you arrive to pick me up from the hotel, I was talking with Kalpana, that girl who works at that garment store, whom I asked for her phone number for your friend Fulka.”
“And now this fat pig Fulka,” said Rishi, “he wants me to call her,
She laughed. “You were not even able to obtain her phone number from her. How are you going to talk to her? When I was talking to her, she mentioned that, just few minutes ago a Romeo asked for her phone number and she almost slapped him.”
She continued, “Now anyway, I told her about your friend Kulcha and told her the whole story, about how I played my part to obtain her phone number.”
“She agreed to meet your friend on one condition, if he is seriously interested in marrying her. She said they are four sisters, she is number three. Her family has no money for dowry so her elder sisters are way past marriage age and still single.”
“This fat stubborn pig will marry any girl he will find himself, he has challenged his family that he will find his own bride, and his family has challenged him that no girl will ever stand near him. They are sure that one day he will rub his nose in their feet and beg them to find a bride for him.”
This was hilarious, she burst into laugh.
Kulcha was about five feet-two inches tall, bald and fat otherwise graceful and gentle face. He was software programmer, earning astonishing amount of money in Indian standards. His father and brother both were police officers.
“I told her that Kulcha will meet her tonight, she said she will wait for him at 8.30pm, outside of the store where she works; I forget to tell you this before. Hope he can make it to her.”
Rishi shook his head side to side, at least ten times. “No-no-no-no- no-no-no.”
“You don’t want this to happen;” she said with a shock “Was it a mistake.”
He said, chill in his voice, “You should have asked me first.”
“Well Rishi, I will call her again and put it off,” she said miserably, “I thought I was doing something good.”
Rishi said with raised voice, “Had you asked me first, I would have suggested you to arrange the rendezvous after fifteen days.”
“But what difference it makes,” she said, tears were building up in her eyes, “today or in fifteen days.”
“Damn it.” Rishi said loudly, “I was going to make him wash my clothes for those fifteen days.”
First Cynthia was confused then she had a fit of laugher, she laughed and laughed. When she stopped Rishi again pointed her to those coconut trees. They were hugging each other. They again laughed. She wiped her tears with her shawl.
Same tea boy with a thermos-flask and plastic cups came; in the cold weather tea was godsend. Rishi paid him and they sipped hot tea.
She was looking around her mind again started playing games with her, it was automatically happening, she had discovered that any thought was awaking awareness in her and she was catching most of them.
Rishi went to throw the plastic tea cups in the trash bin. She saw him walking to a parked motorcycle, upon which two small children were sitting.
Rishi saw two small children sitting on a motorcycle. A boy, about three years old was sitting on the seat and his sister two years old or smaller was sitting on the edge of the seat near patrol tank. Boy was laughing and cheering; girl was tightly holding the handlebar and weeping in the fear of falling. Rishi asked them, if everything was fine, boy said that his little sister is scared; she wants to go to her mammy and papa who went in the temple. Rishi raised his arms and girl took the offer and came in his arms, now she was calm. Boy insisted upon sitting on the motorcycle seat. Small girl pointed her finger to the temple, Rishi was wearing shoes.
“Let me take off our shoes then we will go to temple to find your parents.”
Rishi brought the little girl to Cynthia and sat her on the platform and removed her shoes, and then he took off his own shoes and socks. Cynthia found that child very pretty; she tried to cheer her up. Child was watching her with surprise because Cynthia was white, she had tears hanging on her big eyes and smile on her round lips. Cynthia’s felt a sudden surge of love in her heart. He wanted to hug that child tightly; child jumped in Rishi’s arms; he took her to temple, he raised her so she could ring the bell.
Her all senses woke up at once. Her eyes were not focusing on just one thing she was seeing trees, temple and earth. She was feeling the chill of the air, its noise, rustling of the leaves. Air was throwing her hairs over her cheeks; she felt her silky hairs rubbing on her cheek. She felt the fragrance of the earth, of incense sticks, marigold flowers those were offered to the sacred tree. She was hearing all sounds summed into one, sound of air, of people. Time to time a small fig like fruit fell from tree, her whole body was hearing. Her shawl fell down and she felt the movement of air on her whole body. She saw and felt the last of the sunlight on her bare arms. She was feeling her heartbeat and each pulse in her body.
A thought rose and she was back to the same world. She was shocked, was too helpless, and was confused weather to hold that gone feeling, to preserve it, but was not there anymore. How to preserve when she had no description of it except that everything was beautiful and bright at that time. She had no words to describe it because all she had was a vivid imagination.
Rishi returned he took up her shawl and wrapped it around her shoulders. She stayed silence and he stayed silence. He sat cross-legged but away from her. She was feeling a peace in the intensity that she never felt before, it was beyond her imagination. Her mind was thoughtless and body was completely relaxed.
A young couple emerged from the temple, little girl was in her mother’s arms. Little girl pointed to the place where her shoes were. Her father came and took the shoes and thanked Rishi, little girl waved.
Cynthia asked, “How old is your daughter.”
“She will be two in two months,” proud father replied.
“She is pretty, can I give her a hug.”
Father said, “Sure,” – then to his daughter, “Go give a hug to Auntie.” He placed little girl in her lap. She kissed her and hugged her and then jumped back in her father’s arms.
It was 6.30,
Rishi said, “I forgot my cell phone again today and I don’t remember Fatso’s phone number. Let’s go to my place and inform him.”
He held her hand and helped her to get off from the platform. They wore their shoes and at the bottom of temple, Rishi bought coconut water, and took hailed an auto-rickshaw. As they were sitting in the auto-rickshaw, she remembered she forgot that stone.
“Wait Rishi, I forgot that stone.”
He grunted, “That is very important to you.” She laughed.
Rishi paid ten rupee to auto-rickshaw driver for his trouble and they went back to the temple. Rishi picked the stone; he was forcing it in his pocket she took it away from him. “It is my stone.” She held it in two hands because it was heavy.
Arvind’s daughters arrived at home; his whole family was in mortification. Doctor injected him with sedatives; he slept for five hours and woke up at 6:30; whole family was gathered around him.
He tried to access the damage and situation. Russet Frazier’s office has not returned any phone call or email sent by his company. They did not make any effort to deny the rumor. It was unusual for the stock of a pioneering company to be reduced in half, just based upon the rumor. He called the underwriters; they informed him that there was heavy short selling as well selling. Three mutual funds unloaded the stock. Everybody was waiting for the announcement from Russet’s Head Quarter. It was 9am in New York and 6am in San Francisco. As per security exchanged rules they had to make an announcement at the starting of trading hours.
Whole family was watching CNBC. He was lying on the sofa and his wife was sitting on the carpet, holding his hand.
LaserGear stock opened a slightly higher than it was closed in India. After commercial, scene changed on the TV,
Live from New York, Russet Frazier Corporation’s spokesman is making an announcement regarding their relations with LaserGear Electronics Corporation, an India based company. LaserGear’s stock took a severe beating and has lost almost half of its value in India and in after hours trading at NASDAQ.
A middle aged man holding a microphone read from a paper:
Russet Frazier Corporation is canceling all orders placed at LaserGear Electronics Corporation, an India based company. Alternative arrangements are being made to choose another vendor. A written notice to LaserGear is already dispatched. There are several reasons for the cancellation, to name some: disagreement with management on certain issues, quality problems and most important - economical issues etc.. Russet Frazier Corporation is not in violation of any law or rule or agreement in ending the relations with a vendor, it is free to choose any vendor it wishes on any reason. It was always a part of the contract and agreement with LaserGear that Russet Frazier Corporation can terminate the contract, for any genuine reason, technology trend, and economic, whatsoever.
Announcement was over.
TV host said that Security and Exchange Commission will be investigating the leakage of the information ahead of its announcement. He also said that LaserGear stock is falling again in United States. One analyst appeared on the screen.
TV hose asked: What do you think about LaserGear, why it has gone from success to bust in just one day and what is next. Do see any future of it.
Analyst said: -- various reason for LaserGear’s fall.
First: its complete dependency upon just one customer.
Second: -- its lack of diversification.
Third: -- its lack of serving other customers
Fourth: -- for the time are they can not serve any other customer. They are contractors.
Fifty: -- three years ago they sold their brand products and patents.
Analyst said: I can go on and on. There are many reasons. He started laughing and also not to ignore the fact that Russet Frazier is involved in this whole matter, there is nothing new, nothing secret and of-course nothing illegal.
TV host also had a brief laugh.
He asked: -- Do you see any future of LaserGear.
Analyst replied: -- No I do not see any future. Either bankruptcy or someone takes it over.
He again laughed, who knows may be Russet Frazier will come forward to take it over; company is valuable to him more than to anybody else.
When Arvind’s wife saw he was not watching TV but crying she turned it off. Whole family was weeping.
Her wife’s cell phone buzzed. It was Jatin’s son; he said Jatin had a massive heart attack he was being taken to hospital. Jatin heavily invested in LaserGear, worse was that he made his many friends and in-laws to invest there too, all their life’s saving was in the stock of LaserGear. Insult to injury -- by any means his in-laws were not rich people.
At the end Jatin’s son said, “This Rishi. Billion Dollar baby.”
She wiped her tears, “Son, we will see son. We will see.”
“Billion Dollar Baby. Hah!”
“Russet will hand him his billions as dowry, on a silver platter. Hah!” She cursed.
“A wolf in the sheep’s clothes.”
She sobbed, “You know what he wrote my husband today: We all try to make best use of the life or any opportunity it brings.”
“Hah! He is already counting his billions. We will see.”
He unleashed names and curses on Rishi and first time in her life, she did not object to those obscenities but only agreed.
Russet Frazier watched the same news. His mind was elated, he wanted to have a drink, he looked at the window but was not dark yet. It was his policy to drink only after dark. Stock of LaserGear will fall more; his cronies will mop up the profit in short selling. At the end the whole company will fall in his lap for free. Stock will be picked by companies in South Africa, Granada, Switzerland, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Liberia and Thailand, in the stages for a song.
He also read the email that Rishi was fired from his job He had a laugh or almost had a good laugh because his shoulder shook and excruciating pain spoiled his fun.
Cunning foxy person like Rishi will find another job in no time but these duds Jatin and Arvind and other partners of LaserGear, what they will do now? Stooges.
His though drifted to the new IT company he visited three hours ago.
He laughed. Then he looked around in his room.
I will be here again, why not buy this hotel. Nah. No profit in hotels.
He laughed again but this time utter care, with his left hand he held his right arm tightly and laughed, he felt a pang of pain and stared cursing Rishi.
Rishi and Cynthia arrived at Rishi’s apartment at 7pm. Kulcha, Kulfa and Fulka were there. Rishi knocked the door and Fulka opened it, when he saw Cynthia he shut it back and shouted, wait for two minutes.
Rishi said to Cynthia, “They are clearing the mess.” She laughed holding that stone in her hands.
In two minutes, door was opened, they were allowed inside.
“Kulcha, I have a neeee …” She said to break the news to Kulcha but Rishi interrupted her. “Go call your boyfriend. Go in my room. Call him. That sucker.” He begun shoving her to his room and she was resisting him in confusion with the stone in her both hands.
“I I I, don’t have to ca ca caaaaa.”
Rishi whispered in her ear, pushing her in his room, “You will spoil the whole fun.”
She was still confused; he slammed the door and latched it.
Kulcha, Kulfa and Fulka all there were giving Rishi a nasty look. Kulfa was string and blinking fast.
“Why did you lock her? Coach.” Fulka inquired.
Rishi replied with lines on his foreheads, “She got to make a call to a boyfriend, that bastard.”
Kulfa blinkingly shouted in anger, “You are her boyfriend.”
“She got three.”
“Three!” they all said at once.
“Yep, I am in waiting list, and about to move up in RAC Quota, Reservation against cancellation. You know what I mean?”
They looked at Rishi in disbelief.
Kulcha said sarcastically, “No we do not know what it means. She is a nice girl. You already started harassing her.”
Cynthia was laughing behind the door. They heard her.
Fulka said in sad voice, “Poor girl is weeping?”
To muffle her laughs she placed Rishi’s pillow at her face.
Rishi said to Kulcha, looking at his face, “Point is that I have to tell you some thing very important.”
Kulcha replied, “Point is that I have to tell you too some thing very important.”
“But First I have to tell you and show you some thing very important.”
Rishi opened the door, Cynthia was there with pillow over her mouth and tears in her eyes.
“Give me the rock,” He rudely said.
She slid the rock on the floor, with her hand, Rishi picked it up and slammed the door and latched it again.
“Don’t you see she is weeping, what about this rock?”
“Cynthia called that girl Kalpana and then we went to meet her and told her about you.”
They three were very alert now.
Rishi continued with expressionless face, “She gave us this rock for you.”
“What is he going to do with this rock?” asked Fulka.
“She requested us to break your head with this rock.”
Kulcha’s face went white; two tears fell from his each eye.
Or she gave us another option.
He cried, “What other option?”
“That you should go there when the store closes, exactly at 8.30pm. She would, herself, give you a juicy slap on each cheek. She promised to be there waiting for you.”
“I won’t go there. No way,” said Kulcha backing up a step.
“You must,” Rishi said, walked a step to Kulcha.
“I can’t, I won’t,” he backed up another step.
“Dear friends Kulcha, there are very good chances that after she slaps on your both cheeks, she may regret and that could be the begging of love.” Rishi said, “It always happens in the movies.”
“No-no-no-no, it only happens in the movies. Today I saw another girl, tell Cynthia to get her phone number; I will make you tea for one full month.”
“Yeah-yeah-yeah,” Rishi said, “like getting girls phone number is Cynthia’s specialty.”
“Coach, I won’t go there. Forget it man.”
Rishi announced, “Listen guys, let’s all haul him to that girl.”
Kulcha backed up further and stood against the wall.
Rishi looked at Fulka and Kulfa and pressed one eyes. Instantly they started laughing; now they knew Cynthia too was laughing inside, she stayed there.
Rishi said looking at the rock in his hand, “What we are going to do with it.”
Kulfa said, let’s first have the tea and then bundle this fatso to that girl at exactly 8pm. If he resists, we will put him in the trunk of my car. He looked at Kulcha blinkingly.
They were laughing except Kulcha, he was very scared.
Fulka said, “Do you believe this fat pig is a son of a police officer.”
“His brother is a police officer too,” Kulfa added.
“His uncle too,” said Rishi.
Kulcha sat in the corner and sobbed, “I won’t go.”
Rishi opened the door; Cynthia was lying on his mattress and laughing.
Rishi order Kulcha, “Fatso, make us tea.”
He was muttering and shrugging his shoulders, “I won’t go.”
“Will you make us tea or not.”
He rose and went in the kitchen as he was scared of them all. They heard him muttering, “I won’t go.”
While Kulcha was in he kitchen, they had a quick conference, Rishi told them the truth.
It was too much for Cynthia, she was feeling pity on Kulcha.
She entered in the living room still laughing.
She forced herself to stop and shouted, “Enough is enough guys. Don’t tease your gently friend.”
She went in the kitchen and told the truth to Kulcha but he refused to believe her. He was only muttering: I won’t go. I won’t go. I won’t go. She fell in the laugh again.
She again tried to convince him; she put tea in the cups and served them. They drank tea, laughed and coughed.
Kulcha kept muttering: I won’t’ go-I won’t go-I won’t go.
Rishi hugged Kulcha and whispered in his ears, “Cynthia is telling the truth, man. Be nice to her. She is leaving tomorrow.”
Colors returned on his face, he started laughing.
“Really she said she will meet me.”
“She won’t slap me on each cheek?”
Cynthia said in kind voice, “No she won’t slap you. Take her to a walk and then to some nice restaurant.”
“I can’t, Coach must come with me.”
“Everything will be fine, you just be there,” She assured looking at her watch. “Look it is quarter to eight, only forty-five minutes left.”
Kulfa rose, “Come on fatso, I will give you a lift.”
“You damn fool; take a shower,” Fulka suggested, “Wear good clothes and put on some perfume and deodorant.”
Rishi nodded with a smile.
Kulcha went to his room and brought a towel, entered in the bathroom but in the next moment he was out. They all looked at him.
“Coach you were furloughing today, do you know that today your company sank. It is near bankruptcy.”
“Thanks for the news, now rush up and take bath.”
Cynthia was in a shock, she was sure that it must be the doing of her father; he was always scheming and plotting.
Fulka said, “Coach, bosses are your friends, they may fire you at the end.”
“I was dismissed in the morning,” Rishi said. He was smiling.
Cynthia was very embarrassed but stayed quiet.
Kulfa assured Rishi, “No shortage of jobs for you Coach.”
Rishi was nodding.
Cynthia’s cell phone rang, it was her father. He asked her to return to the hotel to assist in the packing, most of the luggage was to be sent to the airport on the waiting Learjet, by 9pm. They were to keep only items that they needed at night that’s the way it always worked.
Rishi my father asked me to return to the hotel to help in the packing. The all rose.
“We will leave in five minutes,” Rishi said, “let Kulcha come out of the bathroom.”
When Kulcha came out of the bathroom she said farewell to them and picked up her rock but Rishi took it from her and in the kitchen he put it in a strong polythene bag.
They all came out and walked to the main road, luckily an auto-rickshaw stopped for them. Rishi and Cynthia boarded on it and it sped off. Cynthia leaned on Rishi’s shoulder, a drop of her tear fell on Rishi’s hand; he held her hand.
Rishi stopped the auto-rickshaw about half mile before the hotel and paid him. Rishi They walked on the deserted road, holding their hands, in other hand Rishi carried the polythene bag, she was sad; she was leaving the happiness behind. Same life and loneliness was waiting for her in San Francisco.
Rishi said, “Be your own light, Cynthia.”
She sobbed, “Don’t ever abandon me, Coach.”
“Everything will be fine now Cynthia, involve with the life.”
“Do you have any girlfriend Rishi?”
“I always end up a Coach?” He laughed.
She abruptly stopped; his words hit her like a punch on her face and he knew it. He was regretting saying that but it was too late.
“Let’s walk Cynthia, you are getting late.”
They walked, what Rishi said was too much for her, tears were not stopping from her eyes.
Poor Rishi. When everybody leans upon him but whom can he lean upon. Look at me. I want his company, his comfort, his guidance. I want - I want - I want - I want - I want.
She wiping her tears and putting up a smile on her face, she said, “Rishi from now on ours will be a friendship on equal terms.”
“Cynthia, live effortlessly, like water flows, like a leaf in the wind.”
“I will try.”
“Trying is making an effort. Live effortlessly.”
“Let’s say I want to kiss you on the lips, let’s say, I want to move this relationship in the boyfriend-girlfriend direction?” She said in amusement to probe his mind.
“Do you revere me?” He asked in amusement.
“Of-course I revere you. You are a living Buddha.”
“A Coach can’t accept your kiss.”
Rishi knew he hit her again, there was a long pause.
“But if I want to kiss you, you said live effortlessly.”
“When water finds an obstacle in its way, what happens then?”
“It will flow around it.” She replied understandingly and laughed.
“Then you flow around it.”
“You told my father that water is the holies thing in the world.”
“Water made us. In this galaxy only earth has water. Water made the life possible. Water is sacred.”
She was thinking about it. Her hotel appeared and now road had traffic and pedestrians.
“Well Rishi, you should know I have a boy friend.”
“I am glad to know that Cynthia. I wish you best.”
“We met three months ago; he is a doctor – Dr. Ryan, an anesthesiologist in the same hospital where I work. He is a very talented, smart and good looking man.”
“Email me his picture.”
“Sure I will, Rishi but it is too early to say, what is in my future.”
“You are not returning empty handed from here, you know?”
“Yes I know it Rishi. My life has changed.”
“Sit with Dr Ryan or with any person quietly, do not make any effort, you will know if you find peace with him or her, or if he or she is peaceful.”
“How can I know it?”
“Do not make any effort but be there, you will know it. It only works, if you are peaceful.”
“My teacher at Buddhist center says that we all have an aura. Good bad or ugly.”
“Can he see the aura?” Rishi said laughingly.
“He says he is not yet on that conscious level to see other’s aura but he knows it exists.”
“But you know it Rishi, you know it very well.”
“Tell me, what happened to me at Bull Temple, twice. Any chance it may happen again? She said, “I know this time you made it happen but you will not be around me in America.”
“It is always happening. It did not happen to You Creation revealed itself to itself.”
“How can I catch it again?”
“Be your own light. You will know it.”
They entered in the hotel gate. Many media vans with protruding antennas and dishes were standing.
One man rushed to Cynthia with camera hanging in his neck.
“Are you Russet Frazier’s daughter,” he asked.
“Yes, why ….. ?”
Man with camera started taking her pictures, more cameras flashed. One by one many quartz lights were turned out, whole place was brightly lit. Many people with video cameras and microphones were competing with each other to get to her. They were shouting questions.
Rishi stood at the side and watched the show.
‘- How it feels to be a daughter of a Billionaire -’
‘- Why your father cancelled the contract with LaserGear Electronic Corporation -’
‘- Is he set to take over LaserGear? -’
‘- What you have to say about your father’s actions regarding LaserGear -’
‘- Are you his business partner? -’
‘- What do you feel about poor people of India -’
Cynthia was trying to protect her eyes from the glare of many lights, she ran inside. Hotel staffers were prepared to prevent media personals gaining entry in the lobby. Once she went inside they cameramen and crews started dispersing again. Rishi entered in the lobby, she was still there, in a panic.
Rishi handed her the polythene bag containing the rock.
Her hands were trembling; she stiffened her face to prevent the tears in the presence of many people; she said, “When are you coming to see me in United States?”
“I will send you Affidavit of Support.”
“I have ten years business visa,” handing her polythene bag, he said.
“Come soon Rishi.” She added, “This rock is very sacred to me.”
“All rocks are sacred Cynthia.”
“But this rock was your pillow, in the park.”
“All rocks are my pillow, whole world is my park.”
Her face relaxed and a smile appeared. Rishi begun turning.
“Bye Rishi and take care.”
“Bye Cynthia and eat well,” he grunted with very serious tone, arching his one eyebrow, “What you eat is only yours.”
Her laugh burst through the tears. Rishi turned, crossed the lobby and was gone.
She took the elevator, when she entered in the suit she was still laughing. It was 9pm.
It was 9am on the other side of earth, in San Francisco. Dr. Ryan woke up, very tired, his hands were trembling. He had no money, no car, no credit and worse – no cocaine. He informed his insurance company about his accident but he did not know what happened to his car, where was the wreckage and if he got any ticket or summon and or lost points on his driving license. Insurance company said they could not do anything till they get all information and police report. He will let the Bill handle it all.
He left the bed and took bath. Initially he thanked God that he had no cocaine, this will be a chance to quit the habit but he started feeling severe depressing and sinking feeling. Luckily he had a vial containing some Amphetamine caplets; he took a caplet, sunk in the sofa and waited for its effect. In half hour he gained his senses.
He turned on his computer, logged into Cynthia’s email address. She read his emails but did not reply. Lines of worry appeared on his face; probably she was busy or is simply not interested in him. His plan will fail and he will be ruined. He logged out from her email and logged into his own email.
It is time to write her another email or love mail or love letter etcetera, etcetera.
Etcetera - etcetera - etcetera - etcetera – etcetera.
He caught himself chanting, gave himself a slap on the forehead and chanting stopped. He typed ‘love poems’ on the Google, clicked many sites and selected two love dipped poems. He typed ‘love letters’ on the Google and browsed many sites and selected two love letters. He used the parts from both poems and two love letters and made a letter full of poems, prose full of love.
He clicked ‘Compose’ button, pasted his works in the message and typed Cynthia’s email address at the address line.
“Now what would be the subject,” he asked himself.
He invented: Life without you is a sage of thorns.
Love-letter/Love-email was ready.
He began clapping his own shoulder for that genius love-letter or love-email, and laughed.
Email was sent.
He again laughed, email was gone but not gone, and he can go back to Cynthia’s email address and delete it again and write it again.
She is in my hands. I own her.
He made coffee and fried two eggs, called Bill Murphy.
“What’s up Doc?”
“Just want to update you on few things.”
“Come here, and never ever call me from your phone.”
“Sorry Billy. I got no car, come and pick me up.”
“What happened to your car?”
“I had an accident on the bridge, I think it is totaled.”
“You should drive carefully Ryan.”
“Are you coming to get me or what?”
“I just left my home, will pick you up on the way. Ten minutes.”
“OK I will wait.”
Greedy bastard didn’t even ask if I am OK. You should drive carefully Ryan.
Dr. Ryan watched TV for half hour, walked out of his apartment when he heard Bull Murphy’s Mercedes car’s horn. He sat on the passenger seat and car moved.
“What is the news Doctor?”
First Dr. Ryan told him about his accident first.
“You should drive carefully Ryan,” Bill repeated his suggestion.
“Accidents happen, Consul.”
“Accidents happen, Doctor but you can’t afford to get hurt. They will take you to hospital; you know what they will find in your blood? You know it very well, don’t you?”
Dr. Ryan said tersely, “I know, you don’t have to tell me that.”
Bill Murphy gave him a furious look. “They will find AIDS in your blood; they will find cocaine in your blood. They what would you do. Russet Frazier is no dumb; he will dig it up for you.”
Dr. Ryan stayed silence; he was to ask him for more money, better if he stays cool.
This bastard has no compassion; insensitive dog. This son of bitch doesn’t know he difference in HIV and AIDS.
Bill broke the silence, “About the project -- what is the progress.”
Dr. Ryan told him everything about Nancy, Bill listened without interrupting him. At the end Bill was shaking his head side to side.
“What did I do wrong?” Ryan asked.
“You know something about IP Address and Computer ID and all that.”
“All these things are a part of the email that you can’t see but it is always there. IP Address, Computer ID and more things. They know which computer was used and where to send an email. You fool.”
“But we will never go to courts, Billy; it will be based upon some witness. We will only use printouts of emails.”
“You will use some black and white papers, do you know that even teenagers can print hundred dollar bills in these days.”
“Yeah I know that.” Dr. Ryan said meekly.
“Russet Frazier is not a fool. He did not become a billionaire for nothing.”
“Then what should I do, I know many girls in hospital, they will help me. You know me,” Ryan said with a grand smile.
Bill sighed, “Yeah I know you and your girls.”
Beautiful infected snake. He is going to spread the disease.
“I liked that journal idea. Tell this Nancy, to rewrite her journal. Start a new diary with new pen.”
“So we can use her.”
“Sure we can use her or other of your girls, unless you get yourself hurt or get arrested in possession of drugs. You know they test all inmates for HIV”
Ryan said, “I will be careful Billy.”
“You better be careful Doc.”
“So Doc, how are you going to your virus to this Frazier girl?”
“Don’t worry; I know what I am doing.”
“You better tell me for the sake of legal aspects. Tomorrow it will be I who will be handling everything. I don’t want any surprises at that time.”
“It depends, I am an anesthesiologist and I know how to make someone faint for a small time or long time. Or make someone’s skin numb for a short time by surface anesthesia. I will inject a drop of my blood in her body.”
“She may notice the puncture mark.”
“No she won’t notice. Puncture mark will be in her mouth, in the throat area. She will never notice or feel.”
“How long it will take her to catch infection?” Bill wondered.
“Four to six weeks? Let say two months, to be safe side.”
“And then what will happen.”
“I will pretend getting sick, will go to hospital, volunteer for HIV test.” He said, beginning to giggle.
He continued, “I will show her the test reports, either I will take her to hospital go get tested or she would be scared, and will run to the hospital to get herself tested.”
Bill said, “At that point my job will start.”
Bill was laughing, Dr. Ryan though it was the best moment to ask for money.
“Billy I need some cash man.”
Bill’s laugh disappeared at once, now he was furious.
“I gave you thousand bucks tomorrow,” said Bill with a chill in his voice.
“I had to give that money to Nancy, you know how it works.”
“But I don’t have money.”
“We have to have it to work on another girl. My paycheck will arrive in another three days.”
Dr. Ryan now owed Bill seven thousand dollars.
Bill breathed, “I can give you five hundred dollars, no more.”
“Thanks Bill, please take care of my accident problem,” he said, putting his hand in his pocket. “Police office gave me his card. Call him exactly at noon.” He gave the card to Bill.
Bill almost protest then a though flashed in his mind.
It is time to recruit him as a client now and also to avoid future suspicion. If need rose, I could prove that he was a client. This also covers his phone calls and visits to my office.
He said, “OK buddy, I will take care of your problem.”
Bill stopped his car in the parking lot of his office, opening his door he said, “Step into my office, you must sign the retaining agreement and power of attorney.”
Dr. Ryan said suspiciously, “Why do I need to sign these papers?”
“You must sign the documentations to authorizing me, to deal with police and with your insurance company and with DMV etc. I can’t just call them. It is the standard procedure.”
“You are going to charge me for this all?”
“Just on the papers, to cover mine as well yours ass; to prove in the future that we had attorney client relations.”
“I understand, consul.”
They walked in Bill’s office. Bill Murphy asked his secretary to prepare some documents. They chatted, had coffee and both signed the documents.
Bill Murphy pulled out his valet, counted five hundred dollar bills and passed the money to Dr. Ryan, of-course with great regret.
Ryan rose, shook hands with him and left. He had to catch the bus to go to downtown to buy cocaine.
Russet Frazier was on his fifth drink when Cynthia entered in the suit, he was wearing undershirt. One man and a woman were packing his computers, facsimile machine, printers, camera, routers and other many gadgets.
“Hi daddy, how is your shoulder.”
Russet said, shaking his head side to side, “Not good.”
She inspected his right shoulder; it was red, swollen and hot. He had little fever. She went to her room and returned with thermometer and a stethoscope.
“No sense in putting thermometer in your mouth daddy, your mouth is cold with ice,” she said, forcing the thermometer in his left armpit.
She placed stethoscope probe on his chest and listened his heartbeat, it was hard and fast.
“Stop drinking daddy, you are sick.”
“Sick or not, at least I am not draining my drinks like your friend – this Rishi.”
She said taking away his drink from his hand, “Daddy, some people know when to drain the drink but, unfortunately, you don’t.”
Russet did not say anything because he was appreciating her concern about his wellbeing.
“How it feels,” she asked, gently bending up his right arm and taking its weight in her hand.
“Hold it right here, I will make a sling for you,” she said, rising, reading the thermometer, he had slight fever. She went to bathroom and brought a long towel. Packing woman had a scissor and cello-tape. Cynthia cut a long ribbon from towel, held Russet’s right arm in it and joined the ends with cello-tape. Now his arm was supported.
He said, kissing her, “It’s much better now; how come this simple idea did not come to my mind?”
Woman asked her permission to wrap her belongings; she took her to her room and started packing except her laptop and night clothes. She wrapped the rock in her tunic, and gave to the woman who was now arranging things in the suitcases. Most of the packing was done and packing crew was excused at 11pm. She asked her father, what he wants to eat, he said he was not hungry but she called room service and ordered light dinner for both. While waiting for the dinner, she turned on her laptop, and logged into her email, it asked the password. When she was typing Buddha24 for her password, she smiled. Now she has found a living Buddha, it was the time to change her password. She changed her password to Rishi, but system asked her to choose at least six digits, she added a dot with Rishi - ‘Rishi.’ was her password now. There was another email by Dr. Ryan, a very sweet, romantic and poetic, she was moved. All the sudden luck was raining upon her; she was in love; and being loved by not one but two men. Rishi loved her unconditionally, but that love was without passion and pure, Ryan loved her, with passion, that love too was necessary and required.
She replied to Dr. Ryan and wrote she too loves him. Then she was writing a long email to Rishi, thanking him, dinner arrived.
They ate dinner in silence. After dinner she completed her email to Rishi and sent it.
Russet Frazier was snoring, she went to bed at quarter to twelve at night.
It was noon in California, Nancy logged into Cynthia’s email address to read her emails. Cynthia’s emails indicated that now loved Ryan and Rishi together. She wrote a small reply to Dr. Ryan saying that she loves him and a long email to Rishi, there she poured her heart.
Nancy had evening shift at hospital; she had three hours to leave home. On an aluminum foil she heated up cocaine and sucked it in her nose. It was her fifth dose in two days; a newest record.
She called Dr. Ryan; he was at home, smoking a marijuana cigarette.
“Hey Ryan, my sweetheart, guess what!”
“Guess what, what?”
“You have competition now? Sad girl Cynthia loves someone else too.”
“What are you talking about?”
“This guy is in India, the name is Rishi. She was spending all her time there with him.”
“You are not kidding, Nancy.”
“Check her emails Doctor.”
“OK, I will check. I will call you; bye honey.”
Dr Ryan tried to log into Cynthia’s email address but he was denied access. He tried several times but each time message said that either username or password was incorrect. He gave it up and called Nancy.
“Did you do something, she changed her password.”
“I checked her email just twenty minutes ago, Ryan.”
“Why you checked her email? Why? You did something stupid and she became suspicious.” Dr. Ryan shouted in anger.
“I swear, Ryan; I didn’t do anything, just read her emails and that’s all.”
“You stupid bitch, you …..”
“Hey! Mind your language.” She disconnected the phone.
But Dr. Ryan called her back she was now apologizing for his behavior and calling her sweetheart-sweetheart-sweetheart again.
Dr. Ryan wiped sweet from his forehead. It was the mistake from the beginning to give Cynthia’s email to Nancy. He decided to cut the use of drugs; they were impairing his judgments and action.
“What’s up Doc?”
“All is well Consul.”
“Listen, I spoke with the Cop and fixed the things for you. There are some complications; Construction Company is saying that you have damaged their boulder, but don’t worry I will take care of it. I spoke with your insurance company, your car is totaled; they will pay you the book value. I have arranged a rental car for you, a brand new Honda Accord, for two weeks, paid by your insurance company,” Bill said. “They will be delivering the car at your home, then come to my office to sign more documents.”
Bill was lying about Construction Company. They were not claiming any damage. All he did was, made three phone calls, first to Trooper, second to insurance company and third to Budget Car Rental. He would be making a pile of documents and a fat invoice. If Dr. Ryan’s venture with Russet Frasier and his daughter fails, he will be suing him for money and put a lean on his paycheck.
Dr Ryan had a dose of cocaine. New rental Honda Accord arrived at his apartment parking lot, he signed the receipts and first he drove to supermarket, there two days ago he saw a new beautiful girl at a cash register. Hope, she would be there and it will take him five minutes of workout to make her love him. After those five minutes she will be announcing her friends and family that she met her love, a Doctor. Too bad she works at days and he was on evening shift for another two days, but she will call sick tomorrow. Love sick; too bad I will be using condom.
He laughed and almost hit another car.
End of Chapter 4