Lift for Love – A Story

The newly built 15-storey building on the outskirts of Hyderabad had a rush of activities with families moving in one after another and occupying their new homes. With a truckload of their belongings, arrived on one fine morning a family of parents, their 20-years old son, Dev, and their German Shepherd, Zico. As the parents oversaw the unloading of the furniture, Dev went to the entrance of the building with the dog on the leash and started climbing up the stairs to reach their condo on the tenth floor. Zico loped beside him to keep pace with his long strides, panting.

The packers carried their belongings to their new home, set the cots, kept the furniture in place and left. The family had lunch and Dev had a good nap in the afternoon. In the evening, Zico started wagging his tail and growling and barking at his master. It was the time usually when he would take him for a walk. Today the dog was demanding this treat from his master more aggressively.

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Dev put Zico on the leash and took him out through the front door, holding the leash tightly in his hand. Going to the middle of the floor, Dev found that the lift was moving down fast from the fifteenth floor. He pressed the button, and within a few seconds, the lift came and stopped at the tenth floor. A girl of his age was standing there with a pug on the leash. She was tall, dusky and had nice flowing hairs. As the door opened, Dev smiled at her and entered the lift along with Zico. She smiled without raising her head, avoiding an eye contact with him.

Zico started growling a bit which frightened the dog. But Dev remained unperturbed, knowing that it was usual for his pet to show his superiority at every opportunity, which made him proud rather than concerned. It was all fine until a sudden power outage brought the lift to a complete halt just as it was about to reach the second floor! The lamp went off and it was little dark inside. Zico suddenly pounced on the pug and held it on its neck! Dev could not control him by pulling the leash. The little dog was traumatized! The girl picked up and calmed her pet by holding it close to her chest.

After a few minutes, the power was on and the lift started moving again. The girl pressed the button for the second floor, and as the lift stopped there and the door opened, she hurriedly went out with her dog, mumbling, ‘Savage! What kind of training has it got?’

The lift went down to the ground floor. Dev came out of the lift and stood in front of it for a while, expecting her to come down so that he could apologize, but the lift moved up to second floor and thereafter up again to the top floors. He was not at all happy about upsetting a neighbour and that too a pretty girl with whom he should rather make friends.

Dev went out of the complex with Zico. He shouted at the dog, ‘Who told you to attack the puppy? You’re a dog after all. A dog will forever be a dog. Your species can never be civilized!’ Zico cringed a bit at the sudden scream of his master whom he had never seen so angry. His master taught him to be aggressive at times and was happy when he drove away street dogs. On occasions, he also gave a pat on his back. Now what crime had he committed that made his master so furious!

The next few days, Dev did not take Zico out for the walks, which made him extremely restless in the evenings. Dev’s father used to take him out in the mornings. Afterwards he stayed home all day, bored and depressed. Dev’s mother, Srilekha asked, ‘What happened, Dev? You don’t take him out now. Why?’

‘You ask him why,’ Dev replied. ‘He attacks neighbour’s dog. How will I make friends?’

‘OK, he’s made a mistake. Don’t we make mistakes?’

‘Mistakes? He needs some lessons in civility.’

Zico understood all these arguments were about him, so he sat and stretched his neck on the floor, sporting an appearance of regret.

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Days passed. Dev would sometimes oblige Zico by taking him for a walk and sometimes not. As Dev would shut the door while going out alone in the evenings, Zico would protest strongly by barking. Zico would then go to the balcony and watch downward helplessly as his master would walk down the road in front of the building or drive away on his bike.

One day, Zico looked down to see something completely unexpected of his master. Dev had the pug in his lap and the girl they met on the lift that day stood beside him, giggling! A few days later, Zico saw her again in a nearby park, where his master took him for evening walk. The girl also came to the park along with her parents and her pet. As her parents were away for a walk, the girl secretly waved at Dev raising her hand only by half. Dev smiled and waved back at her, mimicking her way of it, which made her almost burst into laughter. Zico felt his master was now friends with this girl, so he should treat her as someone of his own and not as a stranger.

Srilekha came to know from newspaper one morning that a dog park had been inaugurated in the city. She suggested to her husband, ‘Zico is getting bored. Dev does not care for him much nowadays. Why can’t we take him to the dog park? All of us will enjoy!’

Zico was in the dog park a few days later along with Srilekha and her husband. He was surprised to see so many of his ilk there – Labrador, Bulldog, Pug, Dalmatian, Indian Spitz, Dachshund and Doberman. He felt like chasing them all and send them out of the park. But then he met a German Shepherd – a female one. His usual aggression gave way to tenderness and love! He sniffed at her and rubbed his body with hers as their masters stood appreciating their new friendship. She ran playfully, inviting him to follow her, and Zico did so with glee. They had to part after an hour of playing in the park, but Zico had a new feeling, a new spurt of emotions which he had not experienced earlier.

In about a year, Zico reconciled himself to the whims of his master though he was quite happy in his outings with him. It was the same routine of taking the lift and going down to the ground floor and then wandering around the streets or playing in the nearby park and coming back home, but he enjoyed it to the fullest. One day, while going out for a walk, they met the girl and the pug again in the lift. Dev greeted her warmly, ‘Oh hi, you’re also coming!’ Then they came closer. Zico looked up to see his master approaching her to plant a kiss on her cheek. The dog kept staring at them and as his master did it, he closed his eyes and looked down as if in acceptance of what the chance meeting a year back had eventually blossomed out into.

It was love of a kind different from what was between him and his master – a kind which he only had a feel of but did not know much about and for which his master was ready to put him aside and make way for himself. It would be wise to make friends with the girl and her pet rather than sulk about their warming their way into his master’s heart. He would now rather be a part of this new spring in his master’s life than protest and invite his wrath, Zico thought.

Horror at Midnight – A Story

A phone call late at night might be one of distress and I always pick them with a sense of foreboding. So when my mobile phone rang that night, I woke with a start, but perhaps I was a bit late, considering that the call came to an end as soon as I rose to collect my phone from the table.

But what I saw immediately afterwards made me spring to my feet. To my horror, the windows of my room were open! A strong wind was entering my room, and my bookshelves and almirahs were being rattled by it. My parents and wife were away for a few days. It was just not possible that I had not shut the windows before going to bed.

Horror at Midnight (representative image:

I stood there perplexed when suddenly the door creaked open and a voice was heard in the darkness, ‘Uncle, Ramukaka has fallen sick. He needs your help.’

I was frightened to have a stranger at my doorstep at that hour and my heart was palpitating. I switched on the torch of my mobile. A boy was standing at the door, his eyes downcast and his face etched with sadness.

Ramu he was talking about was our gardener for a long time. It was only in the afternoon that day that he came to my house along with his son, Pilu, to weed our garden. But this boy was not known to me, so I asked, ‘Who are you and where are you from?’
‘I’m his nephew. He’s suffering from chest pain and has to be rushed to hospital,’ he said.
‘Is Pilu not at home?’ I asked.
‘Whether he’s home or not, would you not help when your servant is in distress and seeking your help,’ the boy rebuked me.
I slipped on my trousers, wore a T-shirt and got ready to go to my gardener’s home. I quickly shut my windows, locked my room and told him, ‘Let’s go.’

The boy went forward and I followed him. The path he was taking me through was leading to the old part of the town and it was lined with trees on both sides. It was pitch dark as the moon was covered by clouds and the night was windy.

The wind was coming in gusts and swaying the trees, making strong rushing sounds. And from the top of a tree an owl was hooting relentlessly. I was a little jittery but held my fears in order to help someone in his hour of need.

Then there were more surprises waiting for me along the way. As we came to a crossroad, I could see from a distance tiny glows, most probably from mobile phones, moving from left to right and hear people chanting prayers.

It became clear to me that someone had passed away and they were carrying him to the cremation ground by the side of the river. The boy asked me to stop and let the funeral procession pass. I had goosebumps and my abdomen sank! It was an unlikely time to carry a dead body for cremation but in Covid time anything was possible, I thought.

As the funeral procession passed the crossing, I asked the boy, ‘How far to go?’
‘Not far. We’re just reaching,’ he said.
We started walking again and went past the crossing. Going about half a kilometre, he turned to an old house, which I noticed earlier but never quite bothered to know whether anyone lived inside. Peepal trees sprouted from the cracks in the red brick walls of the house. The boy opened the gate and ushered me in. The gate made a creaking sound as he opened it.

As we entered, the denizens of the house were disturbed and a squadron of bats went flying past us immediately. There were many small rooms which were dusty and abandoned. The boy led me to a room in the extreme corner, which looked habitable. I saw Ramukaka lying on a bed there, writhing in pain. Seeing me, he nodded his head and gestured me to a stool near him. He told me, ‘I’m suffering from severe chest pain. Please take me to hospital.’

I put my hand on his chest to give him a massage. Oh, my goodness, his heart had stopped beating and his body was icy cold! I kept a finger on his pulse. There was no pulse either! I had no clue to what kind of sickness it was, so I turned back to ask the boy. But he was not to be seen anywhere nearby! All my instincts sensed danger! Then I was terrified to see a hairy hand extending around my waist to grab me, and as I turned my head, Ramukaka’s head partly turned into a skull and his canine teeth seemed longer than usual.

My immediate reaction was to run and I ran fast to be out of the old house. I looked back to see if anyone was following me and ran even faster to return to safety.

Reaching home, I checked my phone and saw the missed call and then an sms from Pilu. ‘My father’s no more! He’s suffered a massive heart attack. Burning ghat is busy during daytime because of Corona deaths. I’m taking him for cremation right now.’

Mr. and Mrs. Sen’s Search for A Condo – Humour

Mr. and Mrs. Sen have saved for years to buy a condo with modern amenities and pleasant surroundings. There is no dearth of choices for them either in a fast-developing satellite town of Mumbai. Thus, flush with money, if they are now busy looking around the town for a suitable condo, that is only natural for anyone to do!

It is only that they have seen and rejected so many of them that one fears they will one day be left with no condo in the town to buy.

Today the couple has come to the site of Priya Constructions. The area is filled with dust of concrete; the skyline is dotted with cranes, scaffoldings; and one can get the smell of wet cement far from the site of the project. The ten-storey building they are interested in is quite big and is under construction with the structure ready and floors made, but the walls are yet to be built. The builder, Rajan Desai, waits for them as they drive up to the gate of the building.

Building under construction – representative image (Image Credit :

RAJAN: (On mobile phone talking to a customer) Your cheque has bounced! I told you to do fund transfer or pay in cash. The problem is that you don’t want to pay.

(Seeing someone wave from a car, he goes forward and points towards the parking space. Mr. and Mrs. Sen park the car and saunter towards the gate of Priya Constructions.) Oh, Mr. Sen. You called me a few minutes back. Welcome…welcome. Welcome, Ma’am. Please come in.

(Rajan exchanges greetings with the couple and ushers them in. Mr. Sen casts a look at the building.)

Mr. SEN: You told me that the building was almost complete. But a lot of work is still to be done, which will take not less than six months.

RAJAN : Six months…yes, your guess is correct. But that is the time others will take, not us. Mr. Sen, Priya Construction is the fastest builder in the city. (Smiling) While they move like a sloth, we run. Don’t compare us with them. We’ll finish it within just two months.

Mr. SEN : Oh, I see. But you won’t compromise with the quality of construction, I hope.

RAJAN :  Compromise with quality? Never, Mr. Sen. Our track record speaks for us. Please see our other constructions in the city. They have surpassed all standards of excellence.

(They come to the ground floor of the building. Rajan takes a brochure kept on a table.)

RAJAN : OK, let’s take the stairs and go to the third floor. You’ll get a good view of the surroundings.

(Rajan takes them to the eastern side of the building on the third floor. There’s a pond below, which is almost dry with some puddles in the middle. Buffaloes are wallowing in the mud and a foul smell was coming from it.)

RAJAN: (Showing them the plan in the brochure) This’ll be a 3BHK flat. This’ll be your kitchen. This’ll be living room, this’ll be master bedroom and this’ll be your dining hall.

Mrs. SEN: (Smiling) Oh, this is the kitchen. Quite spacious! Nice!

RAJAN: You like it? That’s fine. Thank you, Ma’am. (Going towards the edge of the floor) Here’ll be your balcony. (Smiling) You can see the lake and enjoy your cup of tea in the morning.

Mr. SEN: What lake, Rajan bhai? It’s just a pond. That too is dry and stinking!

RAJAN: We’ll revive the lake, Mr. Sen, and there’ll be fountains in it. You won’t see what it’s now after two years. It’s in our brochure, you see.

Construction in progress – representative image (Image Credit :

Mr. SEN: (Smiling) OK, but… many builders leave things unfinished.

RAJAN:  That’s what I said at the beginning. Don’t judge us, seeing what others do. We deliver what we promise.

Mr. SEN: That’s what we want…I appreciate it. Can we now see the other side of the building?

RAJAN: Oh, sure! Please come along with me.

(Rajan takes them to the western side. There’s a women’s college opposite the building and a road in between. It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and some girls are seen entering the college gate.)

Mr. SEN : What’s that? Is it a school?

RAJAN : No, that’s a women’s college. 

Mr. SEN : Hmm. A serious issue here!

RAJAN: What’s the problem, Mr. Sen? The condos in this side are selling fast. Most of them are booked and only three or four are left!

Mr. SEN: Rajan, do you have an 18-years old son at home? 


Mr. SEN: Then, you won’t understand. I don’t want anything to distract my son from his studies now.

Mrs. SEN: If you won’t take it, what’s the point wasting our time?

RAJAN : Would you like to see some flats on the back side?

Mr. SEN: That’ll be nice! Let’s go.

(They saunter towards the southern side of the building. The side is open to a forest. A few monkeys were hanging from branches of the trees and jumping from one tree to another and chattering.)

RAJAN: This is the green zone … urban forestry. You’ll get a lot of fresh air from the jungle. The municipality will not allow clearing of the forest, so no construction will come up there.

Mrs. SEN : Oh, Soumen, no, not these flats. You’re on tour most of the times. I can’t stay alone. Ghosts roam about this jungle. And these monkeys will enter our flat and trouble me.

Mr. SEN : My wife has a problem. She’s afraid of darkness and ghosts and spirits.

RAJAN: Ma’am I promise there’ll be no ghosts here. This side will be lighted and won’t be dark for you to be afraid. Besides, do they really exist?

Mrs. SEN : No…no. They’re there and I fear them! I just read in the newspaper yesterday that people in a colony are living in fear because of some strange things happening at night. I won’t take any risk. (She walks away.)

RAJAN: Would you like to see flats in the front then?

Mr. SEN: But I saw a signboard on the other side that read ‘This land belongs to some group of hospital’. That means a hospital will come up there.

RAJAN: No construction is going on for now. But even if it comes up, what’s the problem? You’re now middle aged. Hospital will be nearby. Good only, no?

Mr. SEN: No, Rajan bhai, I can’t bear to see the sufferings of the people! I’ll wake up in the morning and see people in pains! I can’t bear that.

RAJAN : (Keeping his hand on his forehead) Mr. Sen, on that side, there’s lake and you’ve rejected the flat. Then there’s a women’s college and you’ve rejected it. Now you don’t like a jungle, you don’t like a hospital either. Definitely, there’ll be something or other everywhere.

Mr. Sen : I love nature and like your jungle side flat. But my wife fears ghosts and what can I do about that? I can’t go against her. That leaves me with your lake side flats. Currently there’s a filthy, stinking pond. But you told me you would clean up that.

RAJAN: So shall I book one of the lake side flats for you, Mr. Sen? 

Mr. SEN: I’d think it over. I’ll call you, if I decide to buy one.

RAJAN: Thank you, Mr. Sen. Please decide quickly. This is the right time to book. As work progresses, price will only increase. 

(Mr. Sen shakes hand with the builder and takes leave of him.)

Mr. and Mrs. Sen drive away, leaving a swirl of dust. They are not likely to book a condo in Priya Constructions, but nevertheless they are quite happy about seeing it. Who knows a condo meeting the requirements of both of them may be hidden in it and not noticed by them? Now that they have seen it, they can rest assured that they have not missed anything. But having visited most of the constructions in the town, they have only a few of them left to be seen. One hopes that they are mindful of that and make a choice very soon.