Friday, April 08
At 1am Rishi was not sleeping but worrying about Cynthia. In thirty hours he was to catch flight and in fifty hours he was to arrive in San Francisco. On a paper he tabulated the time difference in India and San Francisco, hour by hour. It was 1.30pm but still April 7th Thursday, in San Francisco. Cynthia was supposed to be at her job in the hospital. Rishi wanted Dr. Ryan to stay away from Cynthia for 7th, 8th and 9th April, till he arrived there.
On the Google, Rishi did research on HIV, made three new email IDs. Using one ID he wrote an email Dr. Ryan and one similar to Cynthia. He wrote an email to Anil, writing him all necessary instructions to send a bogus email.
He went to sleep at 1.30am.
It was 2pm in San Francisco area, the girl from the supermarket left, fully convinced that Ryan loves only to her.
Bill called Ryan he wanted his car back.
“Just give me one hour Consul.”
He took a dose of cocaine, turned on his computer, replied to several women and forwarded Rishi’s email to Cynthia.
A strange email was there too, probably spam. He opened it.
Subject: Urgent message from IDDCRC
To: Ryan Wilkins
From: Won Chin, Coordinator (Records)
Dear Ryan Wilkins,
Our records indicated that you have not followed up with your clinic regarding HIV positive status. California law requires that all HIV patients must undergo re-screening in each consecutive 180 days to determine and research the effect of medicines, genetic mutation trends of virus etc.
California law also requires that a patient can choose to stay anonymous; in that case a number will be assigned to you and your identity will be permanently deleted from our database. To avail this privilege you must meet me personally at my office between 6pm to 8pm (Thursdays and Fridays only).
To maintain the confidentiality of the patients, we do not accept phone inquiries. Do not call us.
Infectious Diseases Data Collection & Research Center. (IDDCRC)
California Department of Public Health
Office of AIDS
MS 7700, 1616 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, 95814 CA.
Dr. Ryan was very upset. His excitement was gone; he had no choice but to take another dose of cocaine to make his mind think.
He thought and thought. He never gave his identity to anybody in the anonymous HIV test center. How his name has entered in the database. He went to bathroom again to relieve himself, this time cocaine was taking time to work. He found his hands shaking.
Bill called him again, “Doctor where are you, I need my car back. My important documents are in the trunk.”
“I am coming.”
Let’s discuss it with Bill Murphy.
He had no printer. He will use Bill’s computer to show him this email. He walked out of his apartment and sat in the car. While pulling out Bill’s Mercedes from the parking space, he hit a Toyota Corolla. He looked around, nobody was watching, he sped away. He stopped in a Burger king for a Chicken Sandwich and inspected the car, there was a dent and scratch marks on the back, at the driver side. He decided not to tell it Bill Murphy.
He forced himself to eat sandwich.
Bill was in his office talking with a client. He had to wait at the reception, he was very nervous and shaking his legs and wiping sweet from his face. Bill’s secretary watched him but didn’t say anything. When client stepped out of the office, he entered.
“Hi Doctor, what’s up.”
He handed him his car’s keys, Bill gave him back his rental Honda Accord’s keys. He sat on the chair.
“We have a problem Bill,” he said wiping his face.
“Tell me about it.”
“I have received an email; I need to use your computer to show you.”
Bill slid his laptop to him, Ryan logged into his email and opened that mail and slid back the computer to Bill.
Bill read the email and clicked for a printout. He was more confused than worried.
“First of all, this email has come from Gmail. Not from some government office.”
“I didn’t notice that.”
“Second thing is that someone knows for sure that you are HIV positive.”
Ryan said in trembling note, “Yes, but who. I never gave any personal information at the clinic or never told it to anybody except you.”
“You know that, you are a big mouth druggie and junkie.” Bill said calmly, you can’t keep your trap shut; you sleep with a different woman each day. I doubt if you know what you are doing?”
Ryan was feeling hurt. He said with eyes full of tears, “I swear, I never told to anybody except you.”
Bill said, placing his hands on the table with a noise, “OK, I will check it out, most probably this email is fake. This only tells us one thing; someone wants to meet you at the venue in Sacramento in between 6 to 8, today evening.”
“Should I go there?”
First let me check out few things. You can take a walk outside and fix yourself.
“Can I have a cigarette?”
Bill gave him a marijuana cigarette; Ryan rose and went out to smoke, in the cold wind he was feeling very hot. He sat in the Honda, started the engine and AC at full.
When he returned to Bill, he was talking on the phone, it was a long conversation but his mind was not there.
Bill said, placing the receiver, “The agency CDPH exists, AIDS office exits, address exists, some sort of database exits. I could not find this person Won Chin, Coordinator of the Records. I spoke with many people there; they said this IDDCRC could be a new agency within the agency. They had 21 departments and then several sub departments. It is a confusing network. They all say, time to time they use their personal email address to conduct government business. All people there are assigned an official email address but many either do not know it or do not know how to use it.”
Ryan asked, his face trembled, “What do I do now?”
“Well, go there today; it is about three hours drive. What else you can do?”
“But today is my date with Russet’s daughter in a park, the rendezvous we have planned.”
“You fool, don’t even go near her. Now someone knows you are HIV positive,” Bill said. “Who knows; there is your name in some government database. Probably you gave them your ID and filled out your information, when they gave you choice to stay anonymous or not. You are using too much and too many drugs, you are always in delirium, I doubt if you know what are you doing?”
Ryan burst into tears.
“I am making some documents, to pursue this matter but discreetly to get your name removed from the system,” Bill said, clicking on his computer, “Wait for half hour to sign some documents and then you better go to Sacramento.”
Ryan said in submission, “OK, as you say Consul.”
“Have a walk or go to some restaurant and have a soda, I can’t work while you are standing on my head.”
Ryan left, he was stooping. This time his face looked ugly to Bill.
His secretary entered, she asked, “Bill I am going to lunch, do you need something?”
“Where are you going?”
“To the pizzeria next door, for a slice.”
“Bring me a chicken perm sandwich and come soon we have to make some documents.”
“OK Boss, I will be bringing takeout.”
She was gone, but returned to his office after one minutes.
“Billy, your Mercedes has been hit. Come out, take a look at it.”
Bill jumped as if he was struck by electricity. He rushed out to inspect his car, his secretary following him. He caught the accident mark, before his secretary could point to it.
Shaking his head side to side, Bill Murphy was muttering, “He is going to pay for it, he is going to pay for it, he is going to pay for it.”
His secretary said, “I am hungry, will be back in ten minutes.”
He shouted, “I am not hungry, I want you back in five minutes. We have to make more documents.”
Sitting in her car, his secretary said, “Bill. Calm down, accidents happen. Don’t ever give your beautiful car to that druggie again.”
He walked inside the building; his head was still shaking side to side.
He knew that the Ryan’s dream or their dream was coming to an end. One email changed everything.
When he entered in his office, Ryan was still logged in his email. He started reading them; Ryan was in communication with at least fifty girls, mostly obscene emails.
He will be paying me back every dime in interest.
From Ryan’s email he began composing a reply to CDPH-AIDS Office/IDDCRC. It was a very strong and threatening message to Won Chin of IDDCRC. He threatened of a massive lawsuit, against State of California, against CDPH, CDPH-AIDS office, IDDCRC and to Won Chin himself. He ordered to the State of California, CDPH, IDDCRC and to Won Chin, to remove his name from the database without delay. He wrote they were breaking the law, storing his information in their database.
He clicked send button, email was gone.
His secretary entered in his office and placed a wrapped Chicken Perm sandwich on his table.
“You can eat it if you want?”
“I am fine.”
“Then bring your notepad, we have lots of work to do. This swine Ryan is going to pay me.”
Ryan returned to Bill’s office, slurping a milkshake, several black and white documents were lying spread on the Bill’s table.
“Doctor, you didn’t tell me that you hit my car.”
Ryan’s face ashen, he replied, “I don’t think so, Consul.”
“Well, you have to sign all these papers.”
“Why, so many papers?”
“You have to authorize me to deal with the Government and IDDCRC etc, some formalities.”
“OK,” said Ryan in suspicion. He had no choice, he begun signing every document Bill was pushing towards him; he tried to read them but was not able to focus upon anything. After all documents were signed, Bill said, “Don’t try to infect Russet’s girl with your virus, at least for the time being. You can go to jail. You should still marry her and we will find a way to make money.”
“But I don’t want to stay married to her.”
“Just pretend, you are a good actor, of-course your marriage with just any woman will not last even one month but hope I may get you a big alimony. Russet will definitely pay you money to keep the things quiet.”
Bill said, looking at his watch, “It is 3.30pm; you better leave for Sacramento or you will be stuck in the traffic, forever.”
Ryan drove off in his rental Honda Accord.
At 4.30pm Cynthia was in the ICU, checking upon the patients who had kidney or liver related surgeries. She was sad because all her father’s medical reports arrived; he was type II diabetic, double blood sugar and double triglycerides.
Ryan called, “Hi Honey.”
“Hi Ryan, how are you?”
“Cynthia, I won’t be able to meet you today. I am very sorry dear.”
“What happened? Ryan is everything fine.”
“One of my friends had an accident, he is in a hospital in Sacramento, I am on the highway to see him.”
“Ooooo My Ryan! How sad.”
“Well Cynthia, honey, what can we do?”
“Yeah! What can we do? Ryan.”
“I miss you Cynthia. Bye now.”
“I miss you too, bye and drive carefully.”
Cynthia checked upon last two patients and wrote the prescription on the chart, gave instruction to nurses and at 5pm she left for her home but traffic was worse. She took the exit to Buddhist center that was not far.
Mitsuki greeted her in his office. They had unsweetened green tea mixed boiled with raw Ginseng that a monk brought from China. They sat, eyes closed, in silence for five minutes.
She broke the news, “Rishi will be coming here at day after tomorrow, Sunday 10.30am. I bought him the ticket and he said: Thank you very much.”
Mitsuki was smiling.
“What we talked tomorrow, please keep it confidential.”
“Mitsuki,” she said, feeling hurt, “you need not to say it to me.”
“Cynthia, please forgive me, I am selfish. I was more concerned with your telling about my vision to Rishi.”
“I understand your point Mitsuki,” she said sympathetically.
“It is about the vision; I told you about, that I will meet Buddha at the airport. He will give me water. If you tell this to Rishi ……Things will be influenced. ”
“I will not tell him, Mitsuki. I haven’t told him about you, will tell him. From the airport I will bring him here straight.”
“Thank you very much, Cynthia.”
She laughed because both Rishi and Mitsuki said same thing: “Thank you very much.”
They sat in silent for long time; she was not attending her Vipassana session that was in progress now in the hall.
“Mitsuki, I will be around for another hour till traffic dies,” she said rising.
“Rishi can stay here in my room; I can sleep in the hall.”
“Sure, you can ask him. Yesterday I asked him: You can stay at our home, if you wish,” Cynthia told, “Guess what his answer was?”
Mitsuki begged, “Please tell me.”
“He said, “OK, you can take me to your home first and then ….”
“Then …. What?”
“Then – like water, it flows to the least resistance.”
“Buddha has arrived,” Mitsuki sighed, “Hope I am ready; hope my ground is prepared for seeding. Hope he finds me.”
Cynthia laughed aloud. “He is so funny; you need not to be so serious about him.”
“There were laughing Buddha too, he is the one.”
“Mitsuki he is not like that, he is a friend. You should greet him like a friend.”
She walked out, still laughing.
Monks were sitting and chanting in a queue, drinking week tea. She asked for a cup and took it in the garden and sat there listening to the birds, feeling air, smelling fragrance of incense sticks. One hour just flew away; she drove off without saying farewell to Mitsuki. First time in her life she was feeling pity on him. She laughed aloud in her car. At least one thing has reversed her relationship with Mitsuki. Now she will be taking care of him.
She arrived at her home at 7.30pm. It was 8am in India. It was the time to catch Rishi on the internet but he was not there yet but Kulcha was on line.
‘Hi Cynthia, how are you?’
‘Good, how is Coach?’
‘He is sleeping. Wait. I will wake him up.’
“Hold on. How is Kalpana?’
‘We are fine.’
Laughing, she typed: ‘Who are this ‘we’’
‘I and Kalpana who else.’
‘Any new news?’
‘There was a new drama yesterday, guess who was the hero?’
“It was Coach, right?’
‘Was it too funny?’
‘Yes, it was too funny; he created a scene in my office, then whole day he made us fool.’
‘Wait-wait-wait, write me your phone number. I will call you; I want to listen it all.’
Cynthia called Kulcha, he told her the previous day’s events. It was extremely funny; she was laughing and heaving with tears in her eyes.
She said, “May be he was not right, there is a probability?”
“No way, he fooled us whole day.”
She was laughing again.
Kulcha said, “Hold on, I woke him up. Talk to him.”
Rishi said, “Hello Kalpana.”
“I am Cynthia.”
“Oh, hello Cynthia how is everything?”
She said laughingly, “Rishi all you OK?”
“Yes I am OK.”
“Did you find your dog at dogcatcher’s yard?”
“No, it was not there.”
“Cynthia, how are you?”
“Fine, fine, hope you are OK, Rishi you made me worry?”
“How is Dr. Ryan?”
“He is gone to Sacramento, the capital of California. His friend had an accident.”
“Oh! Sorry to know about that. Cynthia.”
“Don’t forget you have a flight to catch tomorrow.”
“Do you need anything from here?”
She giggled, “No. Thanks.”
“How big is Dr. Ryan’s foot size?”
“I think it is nine, why?”
“We are looking for someone who has number thirteen feet.”
It was too much; she burst into a violent laugher. When she was able to control herself, line was disconnected.
She checked her emails; there was a strange email from California Department of Public Health. She wrote a polite reply, saying that, my mistake they sent that email to a wrong person.
Ryan also forwarded her email where Rishi sent him a link to his own pictures. She clicked the link, strange, she was again asked for password, and then Rishi’s pictures appeared. She saved them all on her computer.
She composed an email to Mitsuki, attached Rishi’s pictures but then she remembered what he said, she abandoned the email.
Rishi logged into the email account he made last night, received the reply of email from Dr. Ryan, threatening massive lawsuit, against State of California, against CDPH, CDPH-AIDS office, IDDCRC and to Won Chin himself, that they were breaking the law, storing his information in their database.
Second email was from Cynthia, she politely reminded those agencies about some mistake, requested them to double check.
And Dr. Ryan was gone to Sacramento.
Kulcha handed him a cup of tea and drew a line across the day on the calendar.
“When are you going to talk with my father?”
“But you are off to America for one month.”
“But I will be back.”
“You should call him today.”
“Calling won’t help. I will go to your home, spend a week there and at some evening, gradually break the news to your Pa over a drink.”
“Why one week, this can be done in just one day or maximum two days.”
“I have nothing better to do here at home.”
Kulcha went out stomping his feet in anger.
He logged into his personal email address, there was another email from Kulcha’s company’s email server. It was Cynthia’s username and password, so her password was ‘Rishi.’
Two tears slid down on his face, he lay down on the bed and let the air dry his face.
Kulfa came in the room he was prepared up to leave for work.
“Coach, even today I am not blinking.”
“My friend is a homeopathy doctor; he told me if we potentize that liquor, it will cure me permanently. He asked me to bring him that liquor. And also he we should know the contents, and try all one by one.”
“I will be catching flight at ten in the morning; we can go to my friend today.”
“I would try to come early.”
“I will write you the directions; you come there straight, after the work. I will be there.”
“I have nothing better to do at home,” said Rishi.
Kulfa burst to laugh because same thing Rishi said at Kulcha’s office and made him nervous. Rishi made a rough map on the paper and told him the directions.
They left for office.
Rishi took bath, went to a restaurant and had breakfast. Went to a bank and withdrew money and converted the money in two thousand US Dollars and returned home. He inserted the money in his pillowcase.
Turned on his laptop and logged into the new Gmail email address that he made on the name of Won Chin. There was another email, Ryan Wilkins replied.
Dr. Ryan reached in Sacramento in at 6.30pm. Located the building where California Department of Public Health - Office of AIDS was situated. He spent two hours finding IDDCRC or Won Chin; all offices were closed except few late working people. He had to fight with security guards to get inside the building. Nobody gave him satisfactory answer, everybody was confused. They said, this strange IDDCRC department might be in some other building, government was opening too many departments. There were reorganizations, reconsolidation or splitting of the departments each day.
He returned to his car, drove off in frustration, had a dose of cocaine in a deserted parking lot and took the highway back to San Francisco. When he reached to his apartment it was 11pm.
He was scared, sad and shaky. He took a dose of cocaine to steady his mood and hands and checked his emails.
One email has arrived from Won Chin from his official State of California’s email ID, explaining him, email servers at the site were now working properly, were under maintenance. He instructed him to refer to his emails at Gmail and also reply only and only there till further instructed.
So after all it is government business.
He forwarded that email to Bill Murphy, wrote another reply at to Won Chin, at his Gmail emil, explaining his visit but was unable to locate the office.
Won Chin replied instantly.
Subject: Urgent message from IDDCRC
To: Ryan Wilkins
From: Won Chin, Coordinator (Records)
Dear Ryan Wilkins,
Please accept my regrets about your failure to locate me in the CDPH offices premises. I express my apology in failing to inform you that appointment in advance is necessary to make arrangements to see me. We are a new department and share a temporary office with other department. Since I owe you an apology, I also owe you an explanation that our office hours are from 6pm to 2am and appointment hours are from 6pm to 8pm, because, in this duration database servers are off-line, all updating is done in that interval.
Considering your desperation to resolve this small matter, I am scheduling your appointment tomorrow at 7pm. I suggest you to be at the gate and you will be directed to my office. If you are unable to make this appointment, please inform me by email. Next available slots are after three weeks. Do not forget to bring with you, any government issued photo identification; for example Driving License or Passport etc.
I acknowledge the receipt your previous reply, and I have forwarded you email to relevant authorities. You will be receiving a written notification of the action taken.
Infectious Diseases Data Collection & Research Center. (IDDCRC)
California Department of Public Health
Office of AIDS
MS 7700, 1616 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, 95814 CA.
Ryan cursed him and informed in the reply that he will be seeing him tomorrow, at 7pm sharp, he better be accessible otherwise he will be seeing a letter from his lawyer, Bill Murphy, Esquire.
Ryan was so frustrated and suspicious of Bill, he did not call him to inform the situation. He knew Bill was making him sign this or that document, one day he will be going to court, demanding payment, or putting a lean on his paychecks, unless his plan to infect and marry, Russet’s Frazier’s daughter Cynthia works. Also Bill stopped believing him, branded him druggie and junkie and he was in the impression that he was advertising his plan to all the girls he was seeing. Ryan shook head in disbelief.
All was going on express train, one email derailed it.
It was a very bad day for Ryan, first day in his life when he did not return any call or email to his any of his numerous girlfriends. He took another dose of cocaine, his brain started working again. He thought about this Won Chin, it might be a prank. He only told Bill about his HIV infection, he doubted if Bill was playing games with him. Yes Nancy could be, she is mischievous but she was in the hospital. He called hospital to double check; they said Nancy was in Operation Theater for the last two hours. May be, Nancy was ganged up with someone, but he could not see any motive or gain in making him to run to Sacramento not once but twice.
He must find Won Chin tomorrow, and settle up this matter. It was a do or die situation.
Ryan logged into Cynthia’s email address, he opened all folders one by one, in the sent folder, in her last long email to Rishi, and she was telling him all about him, how he proposed to her etc. etc. Also she paid for Rishi’s ticket. Wow!
What a loser, bagger and bum, this Rishi. Let him arrive here, I will have some fun.
It was around midnight, Ryan was unable to sleep. His whole day was ruined.
Rishi did all he could do to protect Cynthia, now the ball was in the Creation’s court. It was noon. He left home, bought two small 30ml glycerin bottles, and two disposable syringes from a chemist shop. Had lunch in a restaurant, took a bus and changed to another that brought him out of the Bangalore, and walked to the pond by the temple ruins. It was 2pm.
He sat on the rock, in the shade. Air was cool, many birds were taking bath and chirping, butterflies were flying, a donkey was grazing. It looked at Rishi, fanned its ears and begun braying.
Rishi laughed, he felt donkey too was laughing at him. It came near him their eyes met; it lay down on the soft grass and started rolling from side to side. It was a hilarious scene. Donkey rose on its feet and now started galloping, like it was doing all acts only to amuse Rishi. Rishi also started galloping and braying in joy. Two kids were returning from school, they were clapping at the comedy. Donkey ran away.
Rishi took the path among the farms, and arrived at Chandrababu’s home, a young man in early twenties was sitting under a tree, outside. He told he was Chandrababu’s son, his name was Ketan. Chandrababu was gone to till his farms, was expected to arrive at anytime.
Rishi asked him, “Any chance Rajugopal would be at home.”
“He is my uncle, he has gone to Bangalore. He is expected to arrive in the evening.”
“What do you do?” Rishi asked.
“I am unemployed, looking for a job.” He said, “Who are you?”
“I am your father and your uncle’s friend.”
“Are you a friend of those very rich people in the red bungalow by the lake?” Ketan said, “My father was talking about you.”
“Yes, I have many friends.”
“Please come inside and have a cup of tea.”
“I have all the day, will be having a drink with your father and uncle but now I need something, may be you can help me.”
“What do you want?”
“I need about twenty drops of the blood of an eel fish. Your father fishes in the pond and may be you can too.”
“That blood is poisonous.”
“I need that to make a medicine; in Homeopathy it is called Serum Anguillae.”
“I will come with you to fish, may be we get lucky and catch an eel.”
“But I hate to see a fish being killed; can we suck some blood from it?”
“We can try; I know where its heart is?” Ketan said, “Can you try to find me a job.”
“I can certainly try?” said Rishi.
Ketan went inside the cattle shed and returned with that same bamboo fishing poll and hook. They went to the pond. As Ketan was digging moist earth to find earthworms for bait, Rishi saw some crows fighting. He went there, crows flew away, and there was a dead eel on the ground.
“Come here Ketan, here is an eel.”
Ketan came, he said looking at the dead fish, “It is an eel, probably someone threw it in the noon, and it seems fresh.”
“How you will get me its blood in this bottle.” Rishi took out a glycerin bottle from his pocket and drained the contents on the ground.
Ketan took the mutilated fish, brought it at a clean rock. Its guts were hanging. Rishi gave him the disposable syringe. Somehow Ketan managed to fill quarter of the 30ml bottle. Rishi opened another glycerin bottle, he mixed equal amount of eel blood with glycerin, closed the bottle and put both bottles in his pocket.
“Does your uncle have a cell-phone; my friend can pick him up in his car.”
“Yes he has it, I know the number.”
Rishi dialed Kulfa.
“Hello Coach, what’s up?”
“Take the number of my friend, who gave me the liquor, he is in Bangalore. Call him and see if he is in you way and you can pick him up.”
“Yeah Coach, I will be leaving in half hour, what is the number.”
“Speak with his nephew Ketan.”
Rishi gave the phone to Ketan, he spoke with Kulfa and gave him Rajugopal’s phone number.
They were in the village, when Kulfa called Rishi.
“Coach, I will be bringing your friend Rajugopal.’
“Good. See you here. Bye.”
Ketan’s father Chandrababu was at home, waiting for them at the threshold of their home. His two cows too were agitated to see Rishi but when he creased and patted them they minded their own business, eating the straw and ignored him.
He took Rishi inside his home, and they begun sipping tea.
“How are you Rishi?”
“Are you hungry?”
“No, thanks, I had meals in the restaurant.”
“Today what are you going to have in dinner, Chicken?”
Rishi laughed. “Chandrababu, it is too early to think about dinner, another friend of mine will be joining us, he will be bringing Rajugopal from Bangalore.”
Chadrababu was pleased to hear this.
Rishi asked, “What are you growing on you land.”
“We are removing sugarcane, roots were getting old, and yield was down. It is a hard work to remove the roots, and then hopefully we will sow vegetables if it rains we dug wells twice but found little water, not enough to pump out.”
“I have a friend, a geologist scientist; he might be able to help you.”
“Bring him along here, we love and respect our guests.”
“Tomorrow I am going to America for a month, so let’s wait for a while.”
Chandrababu and his son were excited to know that their guest is going to America.
Ketan asked, “Is it first time you are going abroad.”
“In our line of work, we visit many countries.”
“My son has completed his BIT, any chance you can help him to find work?”
“We will try, I already promised him.”
It was 5.30pm. Rishi asked to Ketan, “Let’s have a walk, take me you your land.”
They left the village; Chandrababu’s had two pieces of lands, half mile away from the village and half mile apart. At one place he had a tube well, but other was barren, completely dependent upon rains. They walked on the winding trail amid the low thorn filled hills. A snake crossed their path, they let it go first. Sun was setting down; everything was bathing in the orange. They arrived at Ketan’s land that was closest to the village. It was six acres, with an electric submersible pump in the middle. Roots of the sugar cane were scattered around, there were many insects around.
“What are you going to do with these roots?”
“These are waste, but illegal liquor can be made, it is a hard work. It is cheaper to make liquor with sugar or gurh.”
“Last time I had liquor at your uncle’s home. Probably he used these roots.”
“Yes, he used these roots and then added many herbs.” Ketan said, “These roots also contain many poisonous insects and fungus. These types of liquors could be lethal.”
“Your uncle gave me a sample, last time,” Rishi said, “My friend, who will be bringing your Uncle Rajugopal, had eye blinking problem, that liquor cured him. I don’t know if the cure is permanent or temporary.”
Ketan said, laughing, “Anytime when liquor is made or distilled, there is a riot in our homes. Ladies made a big noise, home becomes a bar.”
They walked to their other land that was on the slope of a hill, it was barren. There were two dry pits there they tried to dig two wells but found little or no water.
Rishi’s cell-phone buzzed, it was Kulfa, he and Rajugopal arrived in the village, were waiting for them. On the way back Ketan showed some herbs to Rishi but daylight was not enough for him to notice the identification.
They walked to the village. Kulfa’s car was standing by the Rajugopal’s home.
When Rishi and Ketan entered in the living room, Rajugopal and Kulfa were already drinking. Rajugopal rose to hug Rishi. Kulfa made a drink for Rishi, he was not blinking. Rajugopal’s wife and two daughters came to greet Rishi and then left.
Rishi asked, “Are we drinking the same liquor.”
“Nope that is gone, this one is different,” Rajugopal said, looking at the glass, “came from my other cousin’s home.”
Kulfa said, “Don’t worry, there was still quarter bottle left, I have it here. That’s all we need.”
“Anyway next Saturday I will be coming here, we will be making a new batch. Too bad you are going to America, you will miss the fun.”
“Who are ‘we’?” asked Rishi, raising his one eyebrow.
Kulfa giggled, “I and Rajugopal, who else?”
“Save what you got, next batch may not be the same.”
“I didn’t know that,” Kulfa said, he was worried.
Rajugopal said, “Next batch is never the same. Rishi is right.”
Kulfa said, “Next Saturday, at noon we will be finding the herbs, then we will be chopping up sugarcane roots and then add herbs.”
Rishi asked, again raising his eyebrow. “And then what?”
Rajugopal was laughing, he found it very amusing.
“Then we will mix everything.”
“We will cook it up all and then party at night.”
“You fool owl, it takes three weeks to prepare the liquor from sugarcane chips and then you put herbs distill it.”
Kulfa was very disappointed, “I didn’t know that.”
Rajugopal was laughing. Chandrababu joined them.
Pouring a drink for himself he said, “Chicken will be ready in half hour?”
Chandrababu had informed Rajugopal’s wife in advance that guests would be eating dinner in his home.
They chatted till Ketan came, asked them to come to his home, dinner was ready.
Rishi whispered in Rajugopal’s ear, “What have you cooked at you home?”
“Vegetable curry, but your dinner is at Chandrababu’s, he won’t like your eating here.”
“Send some vegetable there.”
“Oh! I get it. I get it. You are vegetarian.”
They went to Chandrababu’s home, had another drink, and then had dinner.
It was 9pm, they were slightly drunk.
Rishi said, “It is time to leave.”
“You can sleep here.”
“I have to catch a flight at ten in the morning. Have to pack up.”
They left village and arrived at home at 10pm.
When they entered inside the home, Kulcha had his cell-phone in his hand, was crying, Fulka was trying to console him.
Fulka told them, “Kalpan is not talking to him.”
“She has turned off her cell-phone,” Kulcha said. “We had an argument.”
“What kind of argument?” Rishi asked, bemusing.
“I talked with her for two hours,” he replied, “she started arguing upon everything.”
“You stupid song singer,” Rishi said, “If I sing songs to you for two hours, what will happen to you.”
“I will become cranky.” Kulcha sobbed.
“Bingo,” Kulfa said.
“Women are such,” Rishi said, “If you stop chasing them, they will come after you.”
“Rattrap never runs after rats,” Fulka gave his opinion, “rats come to it.”
“Well, Fulka, you stop calling her,” Rishi said, “She will be calling you like mad.”
“I don’t think so; she says twenty guys are chasing her to marry her.”
“They all say: twenty guys are chasing them to marry them.”
Kulfa said, snatching Kulcha’s cell-phone, “Give me your cell-phone and let me try.”
He was very fast in typing an SMS and sent it to Kalpana, before Kulcha could figure out what he was doing.
“What did you wrote to her?”
Rishi took the cell-phone and read out-gone message aloud, “You can go to hell; twenty of you are chasing me. The End. Period.”
Ground slipped under Kulcha’s feet he was falling down and fainting. They caught him and put him on the floor.
His cell-phone rang, Rishi pressed the speaker button. It was Kalpana she was weeping and asking for forgiveness.
Kulcha opened his eyes, returned to his feet to take the call but he was too late. Kulfa disconnected the phone.
Ground again slipped under Kulcha’s feet he was falling down and fainting again. They caught him and put him on the floor.
Again his phone buzzed, this time he jumped abruptly and snatched his phone.
“Kalpana, my lovely flower, please don’t cry. If you are happy I am happy.”
They were looking at his face; he was sticking his cell-phone to his ear, enclosing it with his both hands so they can not overhear.
“Love you too. They all are watching me. We will talk later.” He disconnected the phone.
Kulfa said, “It was a very fast happy ending.”
Fulka said, “Kulcha, show them the book that Rishi had in his pocket yesterday.”
Kulcha went to his room and returned with a very old and fat paperback in his palm
“No way! This is so huge; it can never fit in any pocket.”
“You want to bet,” Kulcha asked them.
Everybody placed ten rupees on the mattress, including Rishi.
Kulcha lost the bet; they even tried the pockets of the pants that Rishi was wearing last day.
“How you did it, Coach?”
“It was never in my pocket, it was in the pillowcase that I hooked inside the pants.”
“Oh! I thought I saw you pulling it out of your pocket.”
“No sir, I was pulling it out from my pants.”
“We don’t’ believe a word you are saying, Coach.”
“You want to make a bet,” Rishi said.
They all agreed. Everybody placed ten rupees note each, on the mattress. Rishi brought a pillowcase, and stapler and his same pants. He stapled pillowcase in side of his pants next to the antitheft pocket. He put the book in the pillowcase; he stapled the pillowcase around it, to position it around the pants pocket. He was not done yet but his friends knew that they lost the bet.
They were having an attack of laughter; they were rolling on the floor, patting their thighs. Rishi took off his pants and changed into the other pants, three-thousand-paged book was bulging at the place of his pocket, as it was to tear away the pants. Rishi did not close the top button of his pants; he buckled his belt very loose. He exhaled his breath, shrieked his belly and pulled the book with some struggle, pretending as he was pulling it out of his pocket.
Kulcha, Fulka and Kulfa were still in the epilepsy of laugher.
It was a pleasant noon in San Francisco bay area. Cynthia and Ryan were in the hospital. At lunch time she walked to his office, he was there, looked very sad and different. She leaned to kiss him on the cheek but stopped.
“I didn’t know you smoke Ryan,” she said in protest.
“I don’t, my friend is dying in Sacramento. A friend offered me a puff, to relive stress, but I hated it.”
Kissing him on the cheek, she said, “Thank God, I was sacred for a moment. You look sick today.”
“Yeah-yeah, my friend is dying.”
“I am really sorry to know about your friend.” Creasing his hairs she said, “Let’s have lunch together.”
“Honey, I am not hungry.”
“What are you doing in the evening, you can talk me to that park, you were telling.”
“I am going to Sacramento again. My friend is dying.” Tears rolled down from his eyes.
She kissed him on the forehead. “Ryan, I think you want to be alone, please call me and let me know if I can help you or you want to talk about it.”
Raising his hand he said, “Bye.”
Cynthia left his office with heavy heart. She loved him, now she was not hungry anymore. She went to the hospital lawn and sat on a bench. She was a bit upset, two small children were playing, in no time she was completely absorbed in their acts.
Bill Murphy checked Ryan’s forwarded official email sent by Won Chin. Now there was no doubt that Ryan’s HIV positive status exists in Government databases. He wiped his sweat from a tissue paper and though about it. Plan was a complete lost. He must cut his damages.
He did not bother to check the authenticity of the email etc. Why bother?
He called, Ryan’s insurance company, they said the insurance money check will be mailed to Ryan soon. He argued with the lady, to mail him the check instead of Ryan. She put him to talk with her supervisor and who in turn put him to talk with another manager. Finally they agreed to send Ryan’s check to his official address but check will be still be made upon Ryan’s name, if he faxed them power of attorney.
He already had his power of attorney and faxed it to the insurance company. They were paying him twenty-five thousand dollars for his totaled BMW. He would make Ryan sign, more papers and put that money in escrow account and eventually forfeit it towards expanses.