Update as of 26 Nov 2009
Peter, like most young adults in his country had flown out of the nest. He went to University and stayed in an apartment that he shared with 2 fellow students. Study life was quite different from the one back home – he had to do his own laundry and dishes, the food at the college cafeteria was the tastiest meal that he ate, evenings were spent either at the gymnasium, swimming pool or the local mall. His flatmates lead a similar life except that one of them, Carl was also a guitarist and strummed his guitar at odd hours. Jules was the odd one out, as he spent lesser time at home and more at the university, flitting between the lab and library while attending classes in between. He was what the other 2 called a “nerd”. When they graduated and moved out, they kept in touch with each other – writing a letter once a month, or sending greeting cards on festive occasions. Jules went on to join the military and rightly so, he had at least one aspect of that life well practiced – discipline. Peter was waffling between a day job and a possible post graduation, while Carl followed his heart and joined a local club where he played his guitar and wrote songs, and sang some of them as well. Their lives were not exactly smooth-sailing, but not particularly patchy either, until…..! Until, a war was declared in the Persian Gulf. Jules, who was holidaying with his family was called back to report to duty on the war-front. Carl and Peter were horrified with the news of the war and although they could not stop it, they formed an association opposing it quite blatantly. They knew that Jules would also have supported them, but his duty always came first. And then Peter got a call from Jules’ home in the country. Jules had been killed the previous night in combat and his body would be flown in on the weekend. Jules’ father wanted both Peter and Carl to attend the funeral. Infuriated, yet emotional, Peter drove those 344 miles in silence while Carl sat beside him, silent, yet with his hands on the guitar. At the funeral service, Carl dedicated a song to Jules and Peter laid a wreath. The body was not buried, but cremated with full honours. Jules’s father was heart-broken, but remained stoic and when it was all over, he walked upto Peter and asked him for a favour that Peter would never refuse. He wanted Peter to scatter Jules’ ashes in India, in the famous river where Jules had once found peace, while on a University exchange program. Despite the squalor and chaos and the filth in the water and outside, Jules had confided in his father that this was the most mystical and peaceful place he had ever seen. Peter took the urn, wrapped in white cloth and departed.
The D Street Boyz were not in a particularly happy mood, but they were not sombre either. This Thursday was the monthly expiry of the F&O Nov series, so they did anticipate some downwards moves and some shakiness. They carried on their work at D Street moving between flat to about 100 points down. Then the shocking news from the Persian Gulf spelt gloom on D Street – at 2 pm the SENSEX plunged 150 points and stayed 350 points below previous close and no amount of cricket cheer could get the Boyz to perk up their SENSEX. Perhaps the Malayali Bowler who took 6 wickets in the cricket match against the Lankans, helped get the SENSEX a wee bit up – 6 points upwards to end the day at a sombre 16854 – 344 points down.
And then he saw the bearded mendicant wearing ochre robes and the brown bead necklace around his neck. His red vermilion mark on the forehead only accentuated his piercing eyes. He waved his right hand at Peter and beckoned him. Peter took quick paces towards him, and pulled out a container from his rucksack. Holding it with both hands, he followed the mendicant and walked down the wet and slippery steps to the river. No words were exchanged between them, as they stepped into the water and stood waist deep – the mendicant then mumbled a few prayers, and motioned Peter to empty the contents of the container into the flowing waters. Peter was emotional, but in control of himself and closed his eyes for a moment before submerging himself into the water and then stood up, turned back, pulled out a few notes from his pocket and dropped it into the mendicant’s wooden basket.