PS: Today, as life turns the bend, I look at the long and straight road ahead!
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
My mind started racing down memory lane, two days after the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal, (April 25, 2015) and shook the very foundations of the Himalayan kingdom. The huge loss of human lives sent shock waves across the world. The whole of Northern India was in a state of shock. Since Lucknow too was shaken to the core, the aftershocks that followed led to panic all around. So when a severe jolt rocked Lucknow at around 11 a.m. on April 27, 2015, to be precise, I saw two of my colleagues hurrying out of our university building, with their backpacks, camera et al.
I watched in bemused silence and at that point in time, I was sitting in my Director’s cabin when we heard the rumbling and saw the tables shake. When my boss expressed thoughts about moving out of the building, I comforted him saying that by the time we would walk down our first floor office, the tremors would have ended. That was that.
After an hour, when I saw my young colleagues trundle back to the faculty room, I asked them in a concerned tone as to why they had rushed out despite being aware of the fact that Lucknow did not fall under a high seismic zone. One of the colleagues turned to me nonchalantly and what he said made my hair stand on end: “Arre sir, you have already lived 80 per cent of your life. Now, let us live out our young lives.” The sentence had a life-changing impact on my life. I then began to wonder what exactly life –or for that matter- death meant to me. I immediately recalled my younger days where I used to be constantly haunted by the fear of death.
I recall when I was 16 years old, one day my father fell down in the bathroom and injured his head. The house was thrown in disarray and when the doctor who was rushed in, diagnosed it to be a severe case of hyper-acidity, I somewhere felt I was responsible for it. When my father came around later at night, he turned to the assembled family members quite dramatically and in a severe tone declared: All the stress I am going through these days, is because of Chander’s wild and wicked ways”. I was dumbfounded.
On the positive side, my fear of death made me hungry for knowledge, so that I could dispel the notions of darkness that seemed to permeate my soul. I dabbled in the secret orders of the day and became a part-time occultist. That soon lead me to flirt with Indology and mythology and I became a die-hard fan of the ghoulish misguided genius and necromancer Alistair Crowley. His Book of Thoth became my guiding light in my ‘dead and decaying’ profession of journalism. I soon felt it was fashionable to flaunt my deviant thoughts to stave off my fear of my death.
Coming back to the present, now in the 20 per cent of my remaining life, I needed to come to terms with life on life’s terms and did not want death to come in the way of my happiness. I decided to catch ‘death’ by the horns and fling it out of the recesses of my mind. Just at that point in time, the university was conducting the final year students’ concluding ceremony. The term concluding ceremony triggered a thousand thoughts in me. I wondered what if I could watch my own concluding ceremony. I fancied my chances of watching my own death as an out-of-the-world experience and then return the next day to haunt my own body. When I shared these blissfully ‘wicked’ thoughts with my colleagues they laughed me away and forbade me to think in such morbid terms.
That night I wondered if I was just being grandiose in entertaining the idea of death or was it to shock myself from the stupor of being ‘living dead’. I honestly admitted to myself that the idea of a personal concluding ceremony was fine as a dramatic thought but in real life was I ready to face my own separation from this world? Did I need to hoodwink myself to think the world is an illusion and it is time to call it a day? I full well realized that if I had to opt for death voluntarily, then the pain and suffering could well be hard to endure, but endure it I must. As a family man, who had miles to go and family promises to keep, was I trying to escape responsibilities? No, not really. I then pontificated on why thoughts of death are taboo in society and why is it such a dreaded subject. Or it could well be that I was trying to play out a romantic abstract notion of death that would bring me sympathy and affection by the troves.
PS: Today, as life turns the bend, I look at the long and straight road ahead!
Monday, May 2, 2016
|Photo credit: The Hindustan Times|
Dopehri is a huge visual feast, with no actors. There couldn’t be a better compliment that one could pay Pankaj Kapur and his return to theatre. Every character has been beautifully fleshed out without any physical presence on stage. Pankaj Kapur’s novella by the same name came alive at the Sangeet Natak Akademi auditorium on Sunday night. All we saw on the dim but surrealistically lit stage was a diminutive thespian who was slowly transporting his audience to a willing state of disbelief, nay I would say belief. Here was this theatre artist and passionate narrator, who languidly used minimalist theatrical props to cast a spell on us. Even as the soft strains of music raised the narrative tension, we sat, riveted for over one hour and twenty minutes, eating out of his hands. By then I had developed a special affinity towards this colossus called Pankaj Kapur. It then struck me that whenever he delivers, he delivers a hit.
His distinctly Lakhnavi Amma Bi, all of 65, came alive brilliantly. Through outstanding visual imagery, I could see how he used the power of words to build his protagonist. She came across as fragile, tough yet insecure, not willing to come to terms with neither her loneliness nor her growing irrelevance in the canvas of urban life. In the late afternoon of her life, (Dopehri) she was the quintessential modern city women, for whom time and children had become ghostly apparitions. With her husband having passed away years ago, her son Javed lives in the USA with his family and he sends her a princely retainer that probably offsets his guilt in not being with his mother at this station in life. Still rooted to her Nawabi past, she is fiercely proud of her royal lineage and yet yearns for the company of Jhumman, her hair-brained domestic help to see her through her daily bouts of loneliness. Jhumman’s character comes alive as he saunters through Amma Bi’s Lal Kothi with the irreverence of a Shakespearean Falstaff.
By now Pankaj’s stage presence starts looming across the length and breadth of the stage, as he walks around and climbs up the strategically placed Munder (barricade or railing) to deliver brilliant knockout narrative punches. It reminds me of the looming visage of the diminutive Dusty Fog in J.T Edson’s western novels.
Pankaj goes on to introduce whimsical yet powerful characters like Dr Saxena, whose retired life revolved around round sugar-coated pills that formed the basis of his homeopathic medicinal cures. He also brings in a degenerate Nathu, the idiosyncratic teacher who convinces Jhumman to try and get Amma Bi to go stay in an old age home. The scene at the old age home is terrifyingly portrayed by Pankaj. He brings out the lack of compassion among Indian urban families in treating their ageing family members. His narrative etchings come across as a stark reminder of the lack of empathy that dominates our daily lives.
Pankaj Kapur the master narrator, then introduces a twist in the tale by bringing in Sabiha the tenant who comes in to change Ammi Bi’s life forever. She comes in like a whiff of fresh air. She is young, single beautiful and strong and one who never hesitates to speak her mind. Kapur also brings out the rich regional cultural imagery by helping Bi identify with Sabiha since she too comes from her home town of Jaunpur. The Jaunpur connect lights up Ammi’s life and in Sabiha she sees her daughter. We then witness a mysterious element in Sabiha’s life as she agrees to spend the Dopehri with Amma Bi but under the condition that the latter will not enter her room in the afternoons she spends at home. Amma Bi has no idea as to what she does for a living and now comes the piece de resistance. When Sahiba praises Jhumman for the wonderful cup of tea he has made for her, Jhumman is in raptures. Pankaj Kapur shows how the irascible domestic help tries to transform himself into a smart and eligible lover, by wearing flashy western clothes. The delicate twists and the deft touches of Jhumman’s romantic inclinations have the audience in splits. Meanwhile, we are told that a man is willing to give his daughter’s hand to Jhumman in marriage. Amma Bi plays the reluctant mediator and agree to pay Rs 500 as Meher so that she can safeguard the help’s presence in her lonely life. The girl who is willing to come into the whimsical and idiotic Jhumman’s life is called Sharbati.
One day, Sabiha goes missing from Amma’s homes and she receives a call from a man saying that she will not return for a couple of days. Amma is mortified and her make-believe world comes crashing down. The demons in her mind began to gnaw at her lonely suspicious demeanour once again, and in a fit of pique she tells Jhumman to break open the door to Sabhiba’s room. She enters, only to be shocked by what she sees. The colourful stuffed toys that she sets her eyes about surprises her no end. She wonders why Sabiha had never told her what she did and in one touching moment she picks up an unfinished ‘squirrel’ and completes stitching it to ‘life’.
This is the brilliant turning point in the narrative. Sabiha returns and is stunned by the fact that her room was broken into, when she had left her room keys under Ammi’s pillow. The sense of fear is palpable. And the audience is doused in emotions. Amma Bi is at a loss of words. It is then that Sabiha notices the well-stuffed squirrel and then reveals to Amma as to why she had gone out looking for a party to complete her order for 500 pieces of stuffed toys to meet her contractual obligations.
Amma Bi suddenly finds a new purpose in life. With renewed zeal and channelizing all the positive energies she has at her command, (considering she was the Bibi of Lal Kothi) she helps Sahiba complete her contractual obligations within time. When Sahiba hands her over a cheque for her share of the work, Amma Bi is caught in a spiritual bind. At this point, Pankaj subtly introduces a mythical and mystical element by saying that the stuffed toys had gotten a life of their own, much like the animal characters of Sher Khan in The Jungle Book. He also manages to invoke a chord as in Oscar Wilde’s story of the selfish giant wherein the snow-clad garden springs to life the moment the giant allows children to come into his garden.
More importantly, his comic mastery comes to the fore when he declares how Jhumman is now married to Sharbati, and is now off his romantic rocker. He tells us with his comically convoluted logic as to how Sharbati is able to control the wayward Jhumman because she is cock-eyed. He goes on to explain how she sees here, but looks there. Because of her squint she is able to see Jhumman straight (pun intended). The audience is heaving with laughter.
There is now a final shift in the scene. By now, Amma Bi realizes what she has achieved and we see her celebrate life in a triumphant note of self-empowerment when she declares that she is Mumtaz Siddiqui and has an identity all of her own. By now, the audience is wiping away tears, tears of joy or tears of pain, one can’t say. Even as Pankaj Kapur receded into the background, the characters continue to breath and the stage continued to crackle with his punctuated dialogues.
As I stepped out of the auditorium, I was reminded as to how one of my senior aunts would implore me after having lost her husband. She had said: “you are a communication professional, do something for us to live a life of dignity. We have the money and wherewithal to live a comfortable life. But of what use is a life of ignominy and anonymity when we cannot productively contribute to society and have our own distinct identify”. Whether this is a matter of old age or perception, Pankaj gave me the answer, in the way, only he can.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
|Courtesy: Google Images|
For the past one year, some of my office colleagues gently chide me for becoming too spiritual. ‘Your adhyatmikta sucks in the office place, they tell me. They have reasons to say so since I had ostensibly returned after a three-month stint in Dehradun to reflect, and rejoice after dealing with my character defects and flaws. Once I returned to the big, bad world, it was business as usual. However, despite the odds I decide to stay rooted to my spirit and conduct a daily self-inventory and maintain transparency in all that I do. What gave me greater courage to tread this path less travelled were my daily meditation lessons. I have been trained to stop chaining my thoughts and live in the present. I am also trained to live life, one day at a time, in true Zen Buddhist traditions.
In the beginning I found this to be a slightly difficult way to walk the talk, but my daily thoughts and reflections hinge on playing it right. When I say playing it right, I mean listening to my inner voice and taking informed decisions based on this. Given my newfound spiritual wisdom, I wish to share that I am now an expert at the art of articulating my thoughts but I now make sure to exercise restraint and not speak out of turn. One of my colleagues and well-wishers often reminds me that I need to be more diplomatic in my daily dealings. He tells me that if you look directly at the sun you are likely to go blind. Strong words these, but I am convinced that if I tender my opinion assertively and not aggressively, I will come across strong but gentle.
I am further cautioned to live life in more practical terms when it comes to office matters. They tell me that the real world is a battlefield and everyone is fighting a war that must be won. This piece of advice should hold particularly true since you are involved in the daily drudgery of working in an office surrounded by image-managers and spin doctors, or so I am often told.
This set me thinking. I wonder what further impels me to write about such ‘dysfunctional’ thoughts on matters spiritual. Is my thinking too tuned to look at life as an outsider? So, when my wife decides to fast on the opening day of the Navarra fast that just got underway, I unwittingly remark: “It seems like you are turning into a ‘prude panditain’ as you are getting older. She turns around quizzically and says; ‘Come on now, it is my trigger to detox the body and clean my system.” Her retort gets me deeper in thought. I then wonder why I am so suspicious of organized religion and the ritualistic ways of the world. It also makes me aware of the fact that fasts and penance trigger my disdain for seemingly simple religious beliefs.
By now I am confused. I also turn to quell my cynicism towards such acts since people prefer to be gentle during fasts but turn ‘fast and furious’ on non-religious days. I ask myself whether spirituality is a religious event or a way of life. Slogans, prayers and visits to temples are not my ‘elixir of life’ but then each person is entitled to his concept of God. Who was I to pontificate and sit on judgment? In a flash, I realize that my wife always bring out my higher self. Thinking of women and godly matters, my thoughts race, unhinged on my mentor and muse, the great singer Leonard Cohen who is always considered a ladies man. He too finds spiritual solace and unconditional love in his metaphorical love for women.
In one of his brilliant songs he talks of them as his thin, little gypsy thieves. I think I am smitten by his thoughts on how in order to be complete the man and woman must become one. Did he mean that spiritualism means the union of the man and the woman, the conjunction of the body with the mind? I am not too sure but what gives me certitude is the notion that if you want to say connected with your inner world, the world will scorn you, upstage you and leave you on the dark side of the moon.
I soon find echo of such outlandish but honest thoughts when two of my women colleagues share their similar predicament in how they are perceived in their social milieu.
The first gracious young woman I talk to, has the gait of an empowered Indian woman, the smile of a soulful diva and her laughter rings through the air. .” She is holding forth on how she is looked at suspiciously, when she talks of God and matters of the spirit. The fact that she is only recently married only compounds matters. But I am not going to change the garment of my soul for anything in life, she smiles.
The second beautiful woman I broach the subject of spirituality and how impacts her life on a daily basis, she throws back her head and her hair cascades down her shoulder,
I guess like Leonard Cohen, strong women awaken my spirit. I also realize such spiritually-inclined women are not too loved in an office environment since projections matter more than perceptions, and image matters more than reality. My questions abate and calmness permeates my soul. After all, my goal in life is to bridge the gap between me and my shadow, like the yin and the yang. By now, I am convinced about how the office and the home --like a man and a woman -- are only two sides of the same coin. The so-called ‘dysfunctional’ spirit needs to be constantly nurtured with the twin fountains of transparency and honesty – be it the marketplace, office space or real-time relationships. Who says spirituality sucks?
Sunday, April 3, 2016
I always lost my way in order to find myself in life. It may sound preposterous to the well-heeled and successful, however, for me, it always sounded like manna from heaven. The catchphrase ‘if you know your way around, you are bound to make it in life, has had a mortifyiing(ly) opposite effect in my thoroughly dramatic life. I never ever found anything that I set out to look for; I always found everything by losing my way in it. So when I was finding my feet at the age of four, my grandmother found that I was losing my ‘right hand’ in society because of my pronounced left-hander pre-disposition. Having been born into a traditional South Indian Brahmin family, I was made to realize that my writing and eating with the ‘left’ was a slur on our society. That is because the left hand was not God’s hand; it was the potty hand that smelt of the scum of this earth. Sooner than later, my hand was tied with a bandage of turmeric and red chilli powder, and I knew I was ‘lost’ as soon as I was born. Within a fortnight, I learnt to ‘force-feed and write’ with my right hand. I later came to know that I was a right-brain driven individual and psychologists pointed out that one should not mess with nature, when it came to matters of the brain.
Well, I now realized I had lost the plot since the signals in my mind were crossed. Being a short circuited thinker, I thought up solutions to problems that others were not wired to deduce. That my friends, is not a formula to succeed as I was to later realize in life.
As I turned a teenager, I decided to become a cricketer but the right-hand batsman and left bowler in me could never come to terms with each other. I found myself a great left-arm spin bowler but my poor batting skills got me out of the reckoning of the school cricket team. I then realized if team sport was not cut out for me, then I was determined not to lose the plot as a sportsman. I then turned to Badminton as my sport of choice and carved a niche for myself as a state school badminton player. My deft net play, my supple wrists and my drop shots became my visiting cards, my feather in the school girls’ caps. I then found that my lungs were not strong enough and my coach told me I needed daily jogging and yoga exercises for building my stamina and muscles. It was during one such yoga session in Humayun’s tomb in Delhi in the late sixties that I ran into a bunch of school boys dragging deep from a ‘lumdigo’ for that is what a cigarette was called in Lutyen’s Delhi. One of the ‘smoking’ boys suggested it was a great way to strengthen your lungs, and I simply fell for it. Maybe I wanted to fall for it. Ever since, I became a chain smoker and unwittingly blew my ‘badminton’ career up in smoke.
It was then that I came across the works of classical western poets and was particularly enamoured by what the French poet Mallarme said in one of his poems. He had pompously declared that there must be some smoke between me and my world. I was now happy to lose my way in the throes of hippiedom that had begun to rare its head in downtown Nizamuddin where I stayed. The Flower Power children had started to stream into the first Tourist Camps that sprung up adjacent to Humayun’s tomb in Nizamuddin. My weed-smoking ways helped me lose my soul to Sufidom and the Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia’s dargah became my tipping point in life.
One on of these smoking expeditions, I fell off a park bench and was taken to a doctor for first aid. Here I found another anecdote to lose my way in life. When the doctor asked me to get a blood test done, it soon emerged the next day that I tested B-ive. The doctor exclaimed that my blood group was rare and that I needed to live a positive life, in every which way.
By now, I was in senior Cambridge in school and was trying hard to find a way out of this maze of physical and intellectual negativity, so to speak. It was when I was class 11 in Delhi Public School I came to learn that I was a very insightful and gripping essay writer. This was the greatest positive feedback I got from my class mentor who was also a brilliant English teacher and her name was Dr Sanyal. She was deeply suspicious of my weed-smoking ways and would often taunt me in class about my deviant streak.
One day I distinctly remember that she had given us an essay topic asking us to write an open letter to the older generation telling them about the widening generation gap. By then, I was tripping high on the ethereal sounds of Bob Dylan belting out the iconic song of our generation, “The Times they-are-a-changing.” The whole school held Dr Sanyal in great reverence since she was an authority on Shakespeare and her husband was a nature painter of international repute. More importantly, they lived in Nizamuddin, the emerging cultural repository of the country.
When on the following week our essay copies were distributed in class, I found that I had scored 8 out of 10. (The highest in class). However, the 8 was struck off and replaced with 6. Dr Sanyal’s remark on my copy stunned me further. She wrote, ‘two marks deducted for negative thoughts’. Now, what seemed like my moment of glory had suddenly had me stumped. I ‘lost my way’ in the public humiliation and so I strongly felt. I then decided to come clean and put my point across to me mentor, however, biased she was towards me. What followed was a high-strung argument following which she fainted. As the girls in my class turned to me disdainfully with a collective ‘Oh, no’, I knew I was lost forever. The outsider tag hit me hard and the next day in class, Dr Sanyal caustically commented that she would not hesitate to ruin my life if I continued my wayfaring ways. I didn’t think she would follow-up on her threat and I left it at that. When I finally passed out of school and turned up to pick up my transfer certificate and Character Certificate I was in for the shock of my life. Dr Sanyal had issued me a certificate stating the following: “Chander Mahadev is a brilliant young man with negative tendencies in life.” This corrosive remark brought my life to a halt. I had hit a brick wall when it came to my university admission. No Delhi University college was willing to give me admission and in the process I lost one year in my pursuit of higher education. The next year in 1972 I gave a good conduct undertaking and managed to get provisional admission in Hansraj College, in the English Honours course.
By now my dream to turn a writer had begun to take shape. The heady flower power era was beginning to consume the creative youngsters of DU, and I too was sucked into what became the hippie movement. I didn’t realize it was time to lose my way yet again. My Professor who taught us Shakespeare told us about the bard’s negative capabilities. I was enamoured by the thought that a stable hand could write such classical plays while he was back home after a few stiff shots of barleycorn.
By the time, I graduated I was convinced writing was the way forward. It was 1975, and the black clouds of emergency hung across the Indian firmament. I lost my way in the restoration for democracy and volunteered to work for an underground English resistance newspaper named Subterranean Sun. This was my first foray into journalism of courage and I found my calling. Once the Emergency was lifted, I had done time in Tihar jail and became a rebel without a pause. Soon, I got a break in a leading English Daily and it was then I found my real self. After having spent nearly four decade as an Editor I realized I had made a positive impact in chronicling life in India. My negativity bore my fruits and even as, doom, death and devastation shook hands with me in the newsroom on a daily basis, it became my daily handmaidens to success.
At crucial turning points in my life I lost myself only to find my intuitive purpose in life. Whether my projections match your perception is something I leave up to you
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Friday, November 27, 2015
When Dr Manjusha went about writing her intense verses on the God of her understanding, Lord Shiva to be precise, little did she realize that she had redefined divinity in this age of information and technology. Deeply in love with Lord Shiva, she sees herself as his divine consort Gauri. In her debut book of prose & verses Magic of Divine Love, she invokes Lord Shiva whom she sees as the Super soul. She says that according to what she has assimilated while undertaking the divine journey of writing these, she realized that Shiva is indeed Shav without Shakti. But since Shiva and Shakti are one, they compliment each other.
That is the reason why they are non-existent without each other. She says that her intense love for Lord Shiva sprang out of long meditation sessions and it was her inner urge and the Lord’s divine will that made her put pen to paper. In her spiritual fiction of poems & short stories, she longs to be one with the Lord, whom she embraces in the form of Gauri, Lord Shiva’s mythical consort.
Much like in the bhakti ras tradition of Meerabai, Dr Manjusha has ardently penned her divine passionate verses in the praise of her Lord. Her lilting verses invoke a great sense of devotion and she comes across as an earnest devotee seeking consummation with her Lord. Her poetry is endowed with fluid grace and her lines rhyme like a gurgling brook seeking its final destination at the Lord’s feet. Sample these lines:
…Not even for a moment now
Apart from You can I exist!
You are my Lord, my Saviour,
Don’t ever go out of my sight,
Otherwise this beloved of Yours
Will die a thousand deaths in just one life!
You rule all my actions, my every behavior,
Etched forever in this heart of mine
Are these two Lotus Feet of Yours,
That I ever lovingly want to kiss & hold;
And wash them daily with the pure waters
Of love, devotion & surrender,
That pour out from the depths of my heart,
Making way through my love soaked eyes!
A doctor by profession, Manjusha’s poems come across like a whiff of fresh air that caresses the soul in these stress-filled times. She reveals that her work has been inspired by Jaidev’s Geet Govinda & Kalidas’s Kumar Sambhav and she feels that it is her inner striving to be one with the Lord that keeps her going. Even if you don’t believe in institutionalised religion, take a dip into the Magic of Divine Love, and you are bound to emerge refreshed if not pure.
Monday, October 19, 2015
I watched the movie Talvar two weeks ago and ever since there is a lump in my throat that refuses to go away. The reason is that the Damocles’ sword of my middle class moorings stopped me in my tracks when I got the opportunity to play an active role in espousing the cause of Nupur & Rajesh Talwar way back in 2012. No doubt, the movie is a touching commentary on how dispensation of justice is an emotional and egoistic issue in this country. Both Vishal Bhardwaj and Meghna Gulzar have very sensitively portrayed that the killing of Arushi Talwar, daughter of Nupur and Rajesh Talwar and their domestic help Hemraj, was the handiwork of a criminal investigation system gone horribly wrong.
Being a member of the media fraternity, I had to relive the guilt on two counts now. One for what I could not do and the other because of the media trial that the parent-couple were ruthlessly subjected to, all through the hearing. While coming out of the movie hall I realized how a botched up case, lack of a scientific approach and nefarious intent can make a criminal out of two innocent parents.
A thought flashed through my guilty mind. I realized what my friend would often say: that there is no justice for the common man in this country. Only in this case, the two seeking justice were well-known doctors and dentists living in an up-market colony in the National Capital Region. Since circumstantial evidence went against Rajesh and Nupur, there were declared guilty and the death of their daughter became an albatross around their necks.
As for the ethical dimensions to my track record as a senior journalist, I hardly have anything to hide from anybody, nor do I have too many reasons to feel guilty about. But the fact that my middle class misgivings have come in the way of my journalistic pursuits continue to haunt me, day in and day out. Why am I suffering from this cognitive dissonance over an extended period of time is what I need to share in this post?
In order to come clean on this vexed issue I need to honestly confess that in June 2012, I came face to face with the fact that the Talwars could be innocent despite the fact that the criminal investigation authorities were hell-bent on framing them as the actual culprits.
Getting down to brasstacks, a smart young lady, who had been a successful banking professional and posted in a European branch of an MNC bank contacted me from Delhi. This was in June 2012. I later came to know that one of my former media studies students had given her my contact details. This was because Lady X (as I call her) was looking for a ‘brave and honest’ journalist who was not based out of Delhi. Her contention was that media veterans in Delhi were not willing to go against the diktats of central investigating agencies and hence she needed to tap ‘outside’ media sources to get justice. She went on to share a harrowing account as to how she had been professionally ruined by the Central Bureau of investigations’ ham-handed and obtrusive ways. She revealed that she had evidence in hand to show how they framed her and held her guilty for a banking fraud she never committed. She said that when she refused to be play ball with one of her immediate bosses to remit money to benami accounts in India, she was sent back to India ostensibly for siphoning off funds. When the CBI was handed over this case, the officers reportedly took kick-backs from the errant boss and framed her by taking a commission.
The young women revealed that having fallen a victim to the machinations of the CBI, she decided to start a forum to provide justice to those who suffered at the hands of the agency. She also sent me documents about how CBI had misused their powers by filling premature ‘closure reports’ for a consideration and then brought the ‘guilty to book’. I was shocked by the appalling state of affairs.
It was during the course of long discussions we had over setting up a forum that she made the damning revelation that she had been approached by Rajesh & Nupur Talwar seeking her help to initiate steps to set up an online forum for getting support from a ‘misguided’ public. She then went on to tell me in detail how the couple had been framed by the same CBI that had messed up her case. She revealed how the agency had manipulated a report of the Hyderabad-based Central DNA & Fingerprinting Diagnostics department (CDFD) wherein it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the blood stains found on the pillow cover found from prime suspect Krishna’s ( Talwar’s clinic assistant) room did indeed match with that of Hemraj. According to a report published in Firstpost dated January 17, 2012, it clearly stated that: “The blood-stained purple-coloured pillow recovered from Krishna’s residence was also sent. The CDFD report dated 6 November 2008, showed that the DNA profiles of samples extracted from the blood-stains on Krishna’s pillow-cover, a bloodstained palm-print on the terrace wall of the Talwar residence and the blood-stained scotch bottle found on the dining table were identical. The DNA profile, in turn, matched with the DNA profile of samples taken from Hemraj’s personal belongings - two razors and a broken comb. Thus confirming that the blood on Krishna’s pillow cover was that of Hemraj.’
In the given backdrop, the movie scenes showed how a typographical error ‘crept in’, thus strengthening the argument that deliberate manipulation lead to the case losing it sense of fairplay.
The key player who shared this information also wanted me to help her set up a forum and I even had a meeting lined up with Rajesh Talwar but it did not come through. At that point in time I felt that powerful vested interests did not want the Talwars to come clean. I also sent detailed mails to the honourable lady regarding an anti-corruption forum, which could help people to fearlessly knock at the doors of justice to rid himself or herself of a corrupt system. Following is the excerpt of a mail I wrote to Lady X on July 4, 2015:
“Hi! I suppose you have been caught up with the Nupur Talwar bail plea in SC and are too preoccupied to answer my mail. By the way, I had mentioned in my previous mail that I had talked to website developer about a rough estimate for erecting a dynamic and interactive website for the Whistle-blower Foundation of India. The developer has sent me his profile along with an estimate of Rs 80,000 for doing the job. I had specifically asked him to include a feature enabling people to send their SOS or help message to our website by mobile phone. While the web developer said publishing people's message on our site directly would be costly, he has included an option wherein public messages will be recorded on our back panel and we can then publish them on our site.
Please go through it and revert with your inputs.”
That was the last time I sent her an email. When I shared that I was scheduled to meet Rajesh Talwar the coming weekend, both my family and close friends categorically told me that I was treading a fine line. When public opinion, the judiciary and the CBI were all ranged against the Talwars, why should I rush in where even angels fear to tread. More importantly, I developed cold feet. Seeing that the odds were stacked against me, I decided to put my new-found revolutionary zeal to sleep. However, I was further helped by the fact that the lady in question too stopped interacting with me, and that was that.
After having watched the movie, like I said the lump in my throat refused to go away. Armed with my new-found stream of consciousness, I decided to re-establish contact with Lady X. I sent her an SMS seeking her consent to talk to me in the wake of the new developments. And presto, my efforts bore fruit and on October 10, 2015, I had a talk with this lead player and what she shred with me made me feel a bit better.
Lady X told me that a Bengaluru-based law firm was busy drafting a public interest litigation that she hopes will be admitted by the Supreme Court sometime in late November. She also wondered aloud as to why the Talwar’s did not pursue the line that the doctored CDFC report be made public as this was the most crucial piece of evidence that could change the dynamics of the double murder case. Even now, I am not able to live down my act of omission and look to find a reason to believe – in the judiciary