This is a true story.

Recently, Reba was in news. She was arrested along with gang of other girls in a sting operation to uncover escort prostitution ring. I wish to share her story to you, so that if there are females working as an escort or contemplating doing it, they may know what they are up against.

She is 24 year old college student originally from the state of MP but now studying in a prestigious college at New Delhi. She is from a middle class family having lost her father eight years ago. Her mother took petty jobs in the neighbourhood to bring her up along with her two elder brothers. Of her brothers, none of them could study beyond school levels; the eldest started doing business of some kind and got separated from the family after marrying a girl of his choice. The other one is more of a criminal mind and keeps getting in and out of jail most of the time.

She herself was of a bit studious nature, wanted to make her life better so, after her higher secondary opted to come to national capital for getting admission in a college to finish with her studies and look for some job. But staying at Delhi proved hard for that so far mamma’s daughter, to make the ends meet. Besides food and lodging, the college fees also! While her peer group was busy partying after the college, she took up a couple of tuitions to help her out. It was while coming home from one such tuition that she met Afrida at Karolbagh bus stand. Afrida was approaching forty, it seems. She had curly hairs and must have been a thing to sooth eye-sores in her prime. As girls from small cities always seem to have this knack, she quickly got familiar with Afrida. Taking her sympathetic views as a cue for interest in condition, she even told her about it, exchanged the cell phone numbers and rode her way when the bus came.

After about a week from that, she got a call from Afrida asking her if she wanted to make quick bucks. Her interest was now sky high. And why it should not have been in her situation? Even a rupee was more than welcome to her. Afrida was in a hotel with a guy whom she introduced as her cousin. Cousin was more like a cheapo – middle-aged with deep penetrating eyes behind the specs. Reba could not face those scanning eyes for long, turned her face downwards and kept tying – untying the corner of her dupatta (Head Scarf) on her little finger for some good five to ten minutes. Afrida introduced her as Rabeiya, not Reba and quickly vanished from the scene on the pretext of fetching soda water for her aching stomach.

No sooner had Afrida been out of sight, that Abdul, the cousin of hers started behaving erratically. Reba wanted to run out but the door was locked from outside. The beast, seeing the situation got motivated, came out in his true colours, pounced on Reba, over-powered her and finally ended up raping her. Reba could not but only make feeble cries for help from outside – which was further muffled by the towel used by Abdul to gag her mouth. I don’t think any one passing through the corridor could have noticed her cries. When the beast was done, he dressed up and went out leaving Reba alone on the bed, semi-naked, with her tears and sobs. After about ten minutes she was awakened to her senses by a known voice. That was Afrida who had returned back and aghast; she was smiling cheek to cheek at her condition. Realising that, she was setup; Reba jumped at her with rage of a hurt lioness and brought her to ground. After she pounded her head 3-4 times against the ground, her strength gave way and she restarted crying, “…Why me?” Afrida had no answer she brought out a bundle of notes from her side, literally threw at Reba’s face and said thus, “Keep this and don’t cry. You require money.” Reba first thought to slap her hard but after some quiet and tense moments picked the money up and into her blouse. … Yes, she required that money! That evening she had a full meal and why not, rightly or not, she had earned that! It also came to her mind to call her criminal brother and get him repay Afrida in her own currencies! Thinking, her brother had enough of his own problems, she restrained her revengeful ideas. Besides, who knows whether he was in or out of jail at that time!

Then, that became a routine. Afrida used to call her for some clients, introduce her as Rabeiya, send her to some hotel rooms and used to take her and Abdul’s commission from total payments. Abdul used to help her in commuting in his own auto rickshaw. … Yes, he was a respectable auto rickshaw driver during daytime and not just a pimp! Reba had started going out of city also on calls. She continued this new business of prostitution and escorting for about a year. But, hold on, don’t we often get the news of rackets of such gangs being busted by police? What about that …? She thought she knew the ropes; the likelihood of getting busted was very low. She knew what to do and, if ever got busted; it was unlikely to cause her problems. She then got courageous and started putting ads on the Back pages of magazines and adult websites for escorting. Was she ever wrong?

One day she got an email. It was from a prospective client. She accepted to meet him at a major hotel. Abdul drove her all the way to the hotel and she went to the room. She walked in, looked around and everything seemed in order. They started a little chitchat and neither of them was going to get to the point right away. Seeing her client struggle to maintain his breath in control and taking him as naïve, she decided to break the ice by saying, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” as she had done in the past. She unbuttoned her top to the skins and asked the man to loose his pants. The man dropped his pants and … bang! He had a hard on! She raised her skirt and dropped the panties. They, for some time, indulged in touching of private parts. This had been her modus operandi when she used to go out escorting. He told about his desire to have intercourse with her. She told like an expert it would be Rs 5000 for an hour and he would have to use the condom supplied by her. She always used the best of condoms. He gave her the money and she gave him the condom. Both of them got completely undressed. He asked Reba to lie on the bed and start by masturbating because he liked to watch that. So, she lied on the bed and started to masturbate. This went on for several minutes as she was enjoying the idea of entertaining him. Then all of a sudden, three men from the adjoining room came in with a thud and said, “You are under arrested for prostitution.” She was immediately handcuffed and was told to stand there. The police searched her clothes and purse while one of the cops took out the camera that was hidden in one of the corners of the room. A few more pictures were taken of her in nude while she was handcuffed. Then one of the cops said something into others’ ears. Barring one, they all went out. The guy standing there pushed her to bed, twisted her breasts, sucked her cheeks, lips and had sex with her like an animal. After he was done, he got dressed, went out and some one else came for the job. Reba was on the bed all the time thinking about whether there was any difference between these men and Abdul. After they were finished, they un-cuffed her, allowed her to dress, re-cuffed and led her out of the hotel into a police vehicle. Smiling cheek to cheek, they took her to the police station. There a press conference was called and she, along with other girls caught in different sting operations, was shown as prize catch with ‘V’ signs to the flashing camera lights. The next day the story was in the local papers, on the local television news and on their websites with all the details of her arrest and pictures with her face – either blurred or masked behind black squares. She was publically humiliated.

She was told of the charges against her at the court. She was charged with two felonies – one for prostitution and the other for harbouring a terrorist. … Harbouring a terrorist? Yes! Abdul and Afrida were also caught and they were booked by the police in some old bomb blast case to help save the face of otherwise failing investigating authorities. Reba chose neither to answer any question nor to contest the charges. Case prolonged for a few months. One day she was visited at her cell by no one else but her mother. Mamma’s little daughter then could not control her emotions. They both cried there full aloud so much so that guards had to rebuke them against making such noise. Her mother, while going out, told her that she would do any thing to get her out on bail. She was finally released on bail a week later; off course, it did cost her mother all her savings. The worse was yet to come.

Wild_Dreams002Boosted financially by the savings of her mother and emotionally by her presence itself, she decided to fight the trials out. She hired an attorney who asked Rs 5000 per hearing for her case. But, what she heard next was enough to take the lid off on her. Attorney told that any evidence presented at trial is a public record and after trial anyone could get a copy of her video and pictures … much like a legalized pornographic material! She was sure to get 4-5 years in jail if convicted. The attorney offered to set a meeting for her with the judge who was hearing the case. He said she could get the charges converted into a case of misdemeanour and get lesser sentence if she was agreeing to give her ‘services’ to the judge! She, initially, was blown out of the water like a fish but her mother then persisted. She did as asked and came back to college after 6 months in jail.

Today she is back again with her ways though she had promised her mother to keep away from the escort business. She has also befriended a rich guy who was yet another of her client. She does not keep in touch with Abdul or Afrida and doesn’t know about their fate. She has now become very active in student politics at the college. And why not, she has to make her way up the social ladder!

Lastly, if any of you still want to follow her foot-steps, my best wishes are always with you.


Myths And Legends Of Nagaland


It is often assumed that the rationale of people’s activities, the myths and customs of a society can be traced in the concept they have about the universe around them. It usually attempts to advance understanding of the way people or the society relate to the various entities of the universe around them, inside or outside of their body, animate or inanimate and the way they perceive their action – benevolent or malevolent, and their relative position in the hierarchy – conceptualized as instrument for forecasting or divination.

The effects of five main primal elements viz, Either, Air, Fire, Water and Earth can be seen so beautifully intertwined in the myths and customs, the folklores and the folk arts of every society that these appear just natural to them. A Naga way of life is always full of struggles- even in the contemporary times. And this struggle for existence is amply reflected not only in the socio-political fabric of Nagaland but also in the multifaceted art manifestations- be it visual art form like- dance form or folk song or creative arts like weaving and handicrafts.

In this article, the entire flow of the cultural milieu of the Nagaland, particularly the art and craft forms, is presented in a sectionalized format which is tried to be integrated by weaving together the following micro-themes of myths and legends into a cohesive holistic story.


(Story about Origin and Identity)

As per the myth, the Nagas unlike other groups of the region came from the rock- a symbolic metaphor for the sturdy people as they are.

Historically, the Nagas were not known by the names of the tribes they are today, rather by the name of a group of villages or ‘KHEL’. After the 1816 invasion of Assam by Myanmar, the area along with the Assam came under the rule of Myanmar. But from 1826 onwards, through the East India Company initially and by 1892 directly also, all of the modern day Nagaland except Tuensang district, came under the British rule.

Originally, of the Indo-Mongoloid race, the fourteen major naga tribes are the Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchungar, and Zeliang. The Chakhesangs are further subdivided into Chakri, Khezha and Sangtam. Each tribe has its own specific language and culture. There is no caste system but each of the naga tribes is divided into as many as twenty clans – in fact, bigger the tribe, more is the number of clans.

Nagas have different stories about their origin – but most of them point towards their origin from hill or rock. The Angamis, Semas, Rengmas and the Lothas subscribe to the KHEZA-KHONOMA legend. According to this legend, in a village named KENDMA, there was a huge stone slab that had magical properties. Grains and farm-produce spread over it for drying in morning used to get doubled in quantity by evening. The three sons of the old couple, that owned it, used it by rotation. One day there was a quarrel between the sons regarding whose turn it was. The couple fearing blood-shed, set the stone on fire, which as a result got cracked. The spirit contained within the stone escaped and the stone lost its magical properties. The sons thereafter left the village to bring the spirit back in different directions but never returned back and became the forefathers of the Angami, the Sema and the Lotha tribes.

According to another legend, subscribed by the western Angamis, the first man evolved from a lake called ‘THEMIAKELKUZIE’ near Khonoma village. The Rengmas believe that until recently they and Lothas formed one tribe. The Aos and the Phoms trace their origin to the LUNGTEROK (Six Stones) on the Chongliemdi hill.

The whole life of an average naga revolves around the hills and rocks and after death also practice in vogue till early twentieth century was to give them Stone-Urn burial and placing megalithic menhirs.


The Angamis traditionally build a fireplace with three stones. Before building a new house also, the man of the house builds an inglenook. When the construction of a house has only thatching left to complete, the fire is brought from the house of a KIKA KEPFUMA i.e., a man, who has performed the LESU ritual and thus has earned a right to put horns on his home – earning thus a higher social status. If there is no person in the clan of the house-builder, the fire is brought from the house of any person, none of whose children has died. This fire is considered sacred and thought to carry good luck from the person whose house it is brought, to the person having the new house. Owner of the new house bears a ceremonial dress and carries a spear during this ritual. In the fireplace only wood is burnt and if possible it is not allowed getting out. Even now in tribal villages, it is considered a serious crime to put a man’s fire out.

In Angami tribe the culmination of marriage ceremony is denoted by construction of a fireplace. On the third day of marriage the bridegroom sends three stones to the bride for construction of the hearth at their new place of residence. Then, both the groom and bride go to forest to collect firewood. The firewood collected by them only is burnt first in their new house signifying the start of the conjugal life for the new couple. There also exists a notion of pure and impure fire in every tribe of the Nagaland and so does the superstitions associated with it.

At childbirth, the mother is kept separate from rest of the household and a separate hearth is built for her in the same room as the general hearth. This is still practised among the non-Christian Angamis. The building of a separate hearth relates more to the liminality of the status of mother and the polluting effect which the process of giving birth may have on the household hearth.

At the time of an illness, especially an infectious one, fire was burnt in the door-way to ward off the spirit of illness.




shcSpontaneous human combustion (SHC) is the alleged burning of a person’s body completely or partially without any apparent, identifiable reason and/or external source of ignition. The combustion may vary in severity from as mild as simple burns and blisters to the skin to a complete incineration of the body.


SHC was first documented in early texts as the Bible, but, scientifically speaking, these accounts are too old and often second hand to be seen as reliable evidence.

Over the past 300 years, there have been more than 200 reports of persons burning to a crisp for no apparent reason.

In 1673 for the first time Frenchman Jonas DuPont published a collection of cases of SHC in the form of a book called “De Incendiis Corporis Humani Spontaneis” after encountering records of the Nicole Millet case, in which a man was acquitted of the murder of his wife when the court was convinced that she had been killed by spontaneous combustion. Millet, a hard-drinking Parisian was found reduced to ashes in her straw bed, leaving just her skull and finger bones. The straw matting was only slightly damaged. DuPont’s book on this strange subject brought it out of the realm of folkloric rumour and into the popular public imagination.SHC02

April 9, 1744, in Ipswich England, 60 year old alcoholic Grace Pett, was found on the floor by her daughter in a state of  “a log of wood consumed by a fire, without apparent flame.” Nearby clothing was undamaged in this case.

Then many authors started putting such stories in their books. One such author was Captain Marryat who, in his novel “Jacob Faithful”, borrowed details from a report in the Times of London of 1832 to describe the death of his lead character’s mother, who is reduced to “a sort of unctuous pitchey cinder.”

Twenty years later, in 1852, Charles Dickens used Spontaneous Human Combustion to kill off a character named Krook in his novel “Bleak House”.

George Henry Lewes, philosopher and critic, declared that SHC was impossible, and derided Dickens’ work as perpetuating an uneducated superstition. Dickens then responded to this statement in the preface of the 2nd edition of his work, making it quite clear that he had researched the subject and knew of about thirty cases of SHC. The details of Krook’s death in Bleak House were directly modelled on the details of the death of the Countess Cornelia de Bandi Cesenate by this extraordinary means; the only other case that Dickens actually cites details from is the Nicole Millet account that inspired DuPont’s book about 100 years earlier.

On July 2, 1951 the Mary Reeser case found the public interest in Spontaneous Human Combustion. She was found reduced to a pile of ashes, a skull, and a completely undamaged left foot in her apartment in St. Petersburg, Florida.

On May 18, 1957, Anna Martin, 68, of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was found incinerated, leaving only her shoes and a portion of her torso. The medical examiner estimated that temperatures must have reached 1,700 to 2,000 degrees, yet newspapers two feet away were found intact.

On December 5, 1966, the ashes of Dr. J. Irving Bentley, 92, of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, were discovered by a meter reader apparently ignited while he was in the bathroom and burned a 1 by 1.5 metre hole through the flooring, with only a portion of one leg remaining intact. Nearby paint on the bathroom wall was untouched.

In 1944 Peter Jones, survived this experience and reported that there was no sensation of heat nor sighting of flames. He just saw smoke. He stated that he felt no pain.


Spontaneous Human Combustion is not a natural phenomenon. There are many theories put forward to explain this bizarre phenomenon – two most prominent of which are – the non-spontaneous “wick effect” fire, and the rare discharge called “static flash fires”. Although scientifically it can be shown that the human body contains enough energy stores in the form of fat and other tissues to consume it completely, in normal circumstances bodies will not sustain a flame on their own.


Many Spontaneous Human Combustion victims were chronic alcoholics. But experiments in the 19th century demonstrated that flesh impregnated with alcohol will not burn with the intense heat associated with Spontaneous Human Combustion.


Many victims were overweight but a few were lean and thin also. It was proposed then that body fat stores could have lead to spontaneous combustion.


It was also taken as a sign from God, as divine punishment.


Electrical fields that exist within the human body might be capable of ‘short circuiting’ somehow, that some sort of atomic chain reaction could generate tremendous internal heat. Build-up of static electricity was also proposed as one of the hypotheses for triggering spontaneous combustion of human beings. Similarly, an explosive combination of chemicals formed inside the digestive system – due to poor diet was also considered as a possible cause.

No satisfactory explanation of Spontaneous Human Combustion has yet come to be accepted as full proof reason.


The body is normally more severely burned than one that seen after a normal fire. The burns are not distributed evenly over the body; the extremities are usually untouched by fire, whereas the torso usually suffers severe burning. It suggests temperatures of above 2000 to 3000 degree Fahrenheit occurring suddenly in human torso.

In some cases the torso is completely destroyed, the bones being reduced completely to ash.

In some, small portions of the body (an arm, a foot, maybe the head) may remain unburned.

Objects immediately associated with the body are charred but the fire never spread away from the body. SHC victims have been seen burnt up in bed without the sheets catching fire, clothing worn is often barely singed, and flammable materials only inches away remain untouched.

A greasy soot deposit covers the ceiling and walls, usually stopping three to four feet above the floor.

Objects above this may show signs of heat damage (melted candles, cracked mirrors, etc.)


All reported cases have occurred indoors. Some events of Spontaneous Human Combustion were witnessed but some were not. The victims were always alone for a long period of time. Witnesses who were nearby (in adjacent rooms) report never hearing any sounds, such as cries of pain or calls for assistance.

In the witnessed combustions – people are actually seen by witnesses to explode into flame; most commonly. Here the witnesses agree that there was no possible source of ignition and/or that the flames were seen to erupt directly from the victim’s skin. Unfortunately, most of the known cases of this type are poorly documented and basically unconfirmed. Sometimes there are no flames seen by the witness.

Non-fatal cases – Unfortunately, the victims of these events generally have no better idea of what happened to them than do the investigators; but the advantage to this grouping is that a survivor can confirm if an event had a simple explanation or not. Thus, there are far fewer cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion with survivors that can be explained away by sceptics without a second look.

Spontaneous Human Combustion is till date an unsolved mystery.




… The Interlude (SCRIPT)




Fade Out from Darkness.

The sound of an engine, passing traffic. Inside a car.


Suburban streets flash by passenger side window. Tarun is staring blankly through the glass. He is 37, tall, slim. A buzz from his jacket brings him back to his senses. He takes out the vibrating mobile handset, checks caller ID. He looks across at the driver: Ajay (35, slighter figure, Bearded) meets the glance. The phone continues to vibrate.


On the roadside is Ajay’s car; a slightly battered, Hyundai Santro, 2004 model. Ajay looks through the wind screen (Camera Follows); lights from a suburb at the end of the green. Tarun has his phone tucked to ear, but the hiss of traffic overwhelms his voice.


Ajay looks out at Tarun, but cannot hear him. Tarun shakes his head, kicking the ground beneath his feet. His expression widens, an abject palm sticking out. Lips spell out a phonetic response, jabbing hand gestures to make the point. He screws his face up with his free hand – shakes his head, repeats no, no, no. The routine of a face-to-face row spilling over to a phone call.


The car pulls in to the driveway of a suburban, semi-detached house. Car stops, handbrake. Engine dies. A female watcher is silhouetted in the window, her arms folded pensively.


Tarun and Ajay stand beside each other, staring at furnishings. The door is closed, but Leena’s screams can still be heard.

Leena (O.S.):-

(distant) Fucking shit-head bastard!


The bookcase. Is that a Godrej or-


That’s a Zuari. Godrej has more discrete shelf holes. But Zuari has more options and accessories. That one has the extra shelf extension.

(Ajay nods affirmatively. The sound of SMASHING DISHES. )


Finally got cutlery sorted then?


Ceramic dinner set, yeah. Better than the plastic plates we had for house warming.

(Leena (37) bursts in, leaving a heavy suitcase lodged in the doorway. She is pretty but her face is twisted into a mask of rage. She brushes past Tarun, pulls a picture of an elderly woman from the mantel, casually knocking a piece of crockery onto the ground. She slips the picture in her handbag, then approaches Ajay, takes both his hands, looks in his eyes and says with utter sincerity.)


You know he is an idiot?

(She leaves and tugs the suitcase outside. Silence, no eye contact between the two friends. Then)


The sofa-


Oh yeah I completely forgot, the sofa. It’s also a Zuari original from Malaysia.


(repeating) Zuari.

Leena (O.S.):-

(distant) Useless lover. God! Fucking useless in bed.


With effort, like an ant pushing an oversize piece of food, Leena get her suitcase in the trunk of the car. She gets in the front passenger seat. Waits. Ajay slowly emerges with Tarun holding the door behind him.


Make sure you see her to Seema’s door.


I’ll give you a call after.


Thanks Aji, you’re a good mate, just take care of her.

(Looking concerned)

And maybe later …

Leena leans over and holds down the horn, the blare of horn silencing them.


Ajay driving. Leena passenger side, struggling to light a cigarette with a disposable lighter. Her agitated fingers can’t make the mechanism work. Ajay’s tone is slightly superficial.


You know, I thought… I thought you guys were good.

(He pops the car lighter, holds it up to her cigarette. She holds both his hands to steady it… she lights, inhales.)


Maybe some time apart is a good idea. Distance makes the heart, and all that.

(She spits out a ‘Smoke-ring’. Drags on her left-hand held cigarette)


It’d be a shame, you know.(Inhales)… to lose that. A real shame.


What makes you think I have any interest in returning to that slithering asshole’s bed?

(With the last word she makes eye contact. )


You see? He-he-he (Superficial laughter) That’s original. Guy’s really got to get under your skin to be called that.

(Despite her anger, Leena smiles, shakes her head.)


You can think whatever you like.

(He observes her carefully. Then pointing to her finger)


If it’s finished, why you are still wearing it?

(She follows his gaze to her hand. She lifts it as if inspecting for cuts after a fall. Gold ring on ring finger. She takes the cigarette between her lips, winds down the window. Cold air fills the car. She slips off her ring and throws it out the gap. Winds up the window again. Ajay slows down and pulls over. The car stops. Leena stares dead ahead, not saying anything. She puffs on the cigarette.)


What are you doing? Keep driving.

Ajay looks uneasy though calm – brotherhood of men is at the fore, but Leena seems resolute. He pulls out, moves ahead. Leena keeps gaze fixed to the distant horizon.


What .. ?

Silence. A long silence.


Ajay and Leena sweep flashlights over the grass. Beams strafe each other. A beam finds a glint of gold. Ajay dips, picks up the ring. Gives it to Leena. Leena’s shoulders sink in relief. She puts arm around him and kisses his cheek in appreciation. Then his mouth. He breaks it, leaning out of reach – who would like to risk kissing a hot-head! He puts his hand over her lips and shakes his head.


Leena smoking passenger side, calmer now, staring blankly at the road ahead.


Did you know he cheated on me?


What makes you think that?


I went through his text SMSs.


That’s not very nice.


Nor is fucking a girl up the arse… and not having the courtesy to respond to her messages.



He didn’t reply?


(Makes lips in a oh! Pulling her Cellphone out and looking at the blank screen. Murmuring to herself)

Tarun? Why haven’t you called? I thought we were special.

(drags cigarette and now talking to Ajay)

He’s a guy, I married a guy, I didn’t marry a monk. If he slips up sometimes… all I ask is that he covers his fucking tracks.

(looks at him)

You know what I mean?

(She runs a hand between his legs. He reaches down and un-clamps her.)


Leena… we agreed…


That was then. This. This is now.

She forces her hand down between his legs, begins moving her hand up and down. He takes her hand off, but she snaps it down again as soon as his hands go to the wheel.


For God’s sake, I’m driving.


Better stop then.


The car pulls over at an unlit, gravel parking area overlooking the green. an ideal spot; it has tree cover to the road.


Ajay forces the brake pedal. Leena’s seat belt snaps off and she lunges at him. She slides on top of him. His face shies away, so her lips finds his cheek, his neck. Then she grips his face with both hands and kisses him repeatedly on the lips. His body is still, not reciprocating. She gently slides up and down on top of him. A hot woman is the biggest aphrodisiac! Slowly, he tenderly responds. Now, he kisses her hungrily, undoing his seat belt, their lips parting for a second as it passes between them. He claws at her top, lifting it up. Her pale skin and bra… The touch and smell is not unknown to her. She lets him kiss her breasts, her arms wrapping over his head. She looks vacantly aside… She sees something by the window. Fear in her eyes. Leena taps Ajay’s shoulder. He shirks her hand, continuing at her breasts.


Stop, stop.


What is it?

(He follow her eye-line to the steamed window behind them.)

A figure in a torn clothes( about 45) is standing outside, holding a begging bowl in hands. Leena dismounts from Ajay. She pulls down her top tightly.


Ajay closes the door, stands up straight. He is now facing off with intruder, opposite, hands in pockets. He doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere in a hurry. intruder slowly pulls his hand away from bowl… points at Leena through the steamed glass of the car.


Ma’am I haven’t had food for last two days.

(Leena still unable to come out of fear points at Ajay)




Sir, can I have a rupee please?


You mean you are a…

(He looks around. Bursts out laughing.)


Wait a sec – sir…

(swallows his saliva in)

… Oh God I’m so sorry. I have four small kids to feed


No – No, don’t worry, I’m not going to shoe you away.


I would never do this if I thought – I mean – I thought – it was strange, you know? Couple here on the roadside, because this place is a stopover usually on weekends. … but, ..but otherwise this place is not safe sir!


Well, we are leaving anyway.

(Hands him a ten rupee note)


Back on the road.

Leena is fuming, arms pressed to chest.


I can’t believe you talked to that pervert.


Seemed like a reasonable guy.


A real man would not have used words.

(A long pause. Leena’s arms loosen from her side. Her hands drop to her thighs. Still uneasy, one finds a shoulder to cling onto. Her eyes become lively and unfocused.)


Are we going to yours?

(He looks at her.)


You’re staying at Seema’s.


Well yeah, but… I just thought…

Sound of knocking on door.


Ajay and Leena wait outside a front door. Seema (38) answers. She wears a sleeveless blouse and long dress. Even in her bare feet, she is taller than Leena. She immediately clamps arms around Leena and gives a big solidarity hug. Leena sobs deeply into Seema’s bosom. Seema mimes a sad pout at Ajay, who smiles.


Leena’s suitcase placed midway outside a bedroom. From the bathroom, the sound of a shower.


Modern framed prints on the walls. Ethnic art on the mantle. Bookcase full of art books. Some taste, some money, some junk. Seema and Ajay on the sofa. Seema is rolling a joint.


You think this split is final for her?


I think the one before the last one.

(They laugh morbidly. )


Who hit the ejector seat?


Leena says, She.


She would, wouldn’t she?



Tarun seems pretty distraught.


Funny. Always thought it would be him doing the ejecting. She is very, very high maintenance type.


Tell me about it.

A door closes upstairs. Footsteps on the landing. (Hushed tones)


Who’s she staying with?



Why? You. She’s staying with you.


Couple of nights, sure, but this isn’t the hotel. This, I am sure, she knows.


Leena is drying and combing her hair in dressing gown. A knock on the open door – Ajay pushes through. She ignores it and him. He steps through, closes door gently behind. He sees the wardrobe is open, a couple of outfits inside. The suitcase is otherwise unpacked.



(She continues straightening her hair.)


… Leena.

(No response.)


You can’t stay with me.

(Suddenly she drops the comb and races to him, begins pounding him with the side of her fists, each swearword a thump. )


You fucking bastard you! You fucking, fucking, bastard…

(He takes it. Her punches weaken, and she breaks into sobbing, arms resting on his chest, head dipped. Ajay puts his hands over her shoulder and rubs her back, soothingly…)


I’m useless, fucking useless at everything… useless at men…


No you’re not. Shh. Listen. You’re not. You’re great – look at me.

(She looks up)

You’re a great person. And nobody knows that better than You and Tarun.



He won’t take me back, Aji. I fucked everything up for nothing.


One phone call, babe. Just tell him how you feel now.


Ajay watches Leena pace the roadside, mobile pressed to ear. She sniffs and wipes her eyes with the palm of her hand as she speaks in a dim, intimated whisper. The whole world could have gone dark for her; the only thing that matters is the voice on the other end of the phone. She nods and breaks into smiles and tears.


Passenger door slams as Leena rushes up the driveway into Tarun’s arms. Ajay gets out of the car, hangs around uselessly. He watches them kiss, instantly familiar though, idling in circles as they make their way inside, never looking back. The front door closes, leaving Ajay alone. He steps out onto the road, ingesting the atmosphere. The sound of crickets and the night ambiance becomes increasingly noticeable as he looks around the estate. He looks up.

curtained front rooms dimly leaking sound from the television news bulletin. Spotless family cars parked outside the garage on show. endless front entrance conservatories and hanging baskets. Satellite TV dishes and aerials pointing into the starry night. manicured lawns extending to infinity.

The ambiance reaches a CRESCENDO – then CUTS OUT.

Ajay shivers, braces his jacket. Turns to the car.


The ignition key turns. Engine raves on start.

Fades Into Darkness