Knowing

Knowing

21 mins 12.5K 21 mins 12.5K

Happiness is a very strange thing. I mean its strange how we can be happy about the smallest of things. Getting up early morning and seeing a cloudy sky was one such thing for Anirudh. And the fact that today was his day off made his mood even more jubilant. He left his bed at 5 am. Exercised a bit. Cleaned up his apartment.  Next he had to take bath and put last night’s pizza in the oven. That was his breakfast!  He had planned this day differently. He was supposed to meet his girlfriend at 12’o clock for lunch. After that they were supposed to go for a movie, then spend some “quality time” together. After that they would be going for dinner and another movie before he would kiss her goodbye for the night. So obviously he was jubilant that day.

 

Anirudh was a young professor at an engineering college. Currently, he lived in a rented apartment. He was pursuing Ph.D too. So was his long time girlfriend, Sagarika.  Just the thought of seeing her pretty face was enough to make him happy.

He took his bath and came out, humming a tune, put the pizza in the oven. Newspaper was delivered. He picked it up and reclined on his sofa to read the cartoon section. It was his habit to read the cartoon section first before going on to other things.

Just then he was startled by an unfamiliar sound. “TRINGGG TRINGGGG.” His landline rang. He had got the landline connection because of the internet and as such did not use it much. So he was a bit surprised on getting a call on that number. Not many people had that number.

He picked up the phone.

Anirudh - “Hello.”

A grave voice said, “What  if u could see the future?”

Anirudh was taken aback. He was confused, “Excuse me…? Who’s this …??”

The voice - “My Fuhrer lives on.”

Anirudh’s mind was racing. He felt that he has heard the voice somewhere. The voice sounded familiar, but he was not sure.

Anirudh - “May I know who’s this?”

The Voice - “Sure u can, a-hole. This is Schindler.”

Memory is a weird thing. As soon as Anirudh heard the word a-hole it flashed in his mind.

Anirudh - “DHRUV SEN! U s****r! Where have u been all these days? You just vanished man. What are doing? I knew I have heard this nonsense before.”

Dhruv - “Ha-hahaaa... got you, a-hole. Tell me honestly, have you forgotten me completely?”

Anirudh - “Not at all, my dear Schindler. I have just been too busy. It’s been like... what... 13 years? After we completed 10th, papa got transferred and we separated. I missed you man. I really did. Especially those discussions on historical stuffs in your semi dark room. And your bullshit regarding super natural stuff. ”

Dhruv - “But you always sucked at history. God knows how CBSE let people like you pass the subject.”

Anirudh - “ I know man. History was never my thing. Leave all this. You still remember those nick names! I mean really, dude.”

Dhruv - “Yeah, buddy. Hail Hitler... he-he.”

Anirudh - “How did you get this number? Where are you nowadays?”

Dhruv - “I am in Delhi, dude. Just returned from Germany.”

Anirudh - “Germany... what did you go to Germany for? What do you do? Are you into business or something?”

Dhruv - “Fuhrer, you know very well I am not meant for business. I did my masters in History. I teach history at JNU. I’d gone to Germany to gather material for my thesis.”

Anirudh - “Wow man... seriously. You are living your passion. That sounds so great, you know. I am so happy for you, dude. You are doing what you always wanted to do. And what thesis?”

Dhruv - “It’s my Ph.D dissertation, on mysterious deaths of Schindler and Hitler.”

Anirudh - “Awesome! So you are still pursuing your search for virus telly. He-he. I thought that was a legend.”

[For those who are unfamiliar: Schindler was hitler’s war scientist. He was infamous for conducting experiments on prisoners of war. Legend says he had developed a VIRUS TELLY. The possessor of mother virus would be able to get full compliance from those infected by the children virus. He completed his research on the day when Hitler committed suicide. Hearing about his fuhrer’s death he blew off his underground lab and committed suicide too. Some say it is the greatest cover up in german history since bodies of Schindler and Hitler were never found and identified. Conspiracy theorists say that if Schindler had completed his research one day sooner, the history of modern world would have been written differently.]

Dhruv - “Legend is just distorted reality, my fuhrer.”

Anirudh - “Yea-yea... Tell me, where you are right now. I will come, pick you up. Can’t wait to meet you man.”

Dhruv - “I am in Rohini. Listen, don’t come from the direction of Rithala metro. The road is damaged due to rains. Take right after Rohini East.”

Anirudh - “Sure thing, man. See you Schindler.”

Right at the moment when he put the receiver down, his cellphone rang, playing the theme tune of titanic. In an instant he knew that the call was from Sagarika since he has assigned that tune to Sagarika’s number. The next moment he realized that he was in trouble. He had just promised to meet Dhruv, but he was supposed to spend the day with his girlfriend.

Anirudh - “Hi, sweetie.”

Sagarika - “Hi, baby. Listen, I am sorry. I won’t be able to come today. I am not feeling well. I’ve got fever.”

Anirudh got worried when he heard this. He said, “Don’t worry, I am coming. I’ll take you to the doc.”

Now Anirudh was in a fix. He had promised to meet Dhruv, but in his excitement, he forgot to take his number from him. Since the call was on landline he couldn’t call him back, on the other hand Sagarika was ill.

Just then the landline rang once again. And instinctively Anirudh knew it was Dhruv on the other side.

Dhruv - “Hey fuhrer, come after 4 pm please. I have got some work to do.”

Anirudh - “Thank god, you called up man. Listen, my girlfriend is ill. Maybe I won’t be able to come today.”

Dhruv - “Fuhrer, you will have to come today, bro. Tomorrow I may not be here. Don’t know if we will get the chance to meet again or not.”

Anirudh - “Hey, stop talking like that. We both are in Delhi. We can meet up anytime. But since you are insisting, listen you have work till 4 pm, don’t you? I will take my girl friend to doc and back to her PG in the meantime. After that, I will come straight to your place. Is that ok with you?”

Dhruv - “Sure thing, man. See you. And write down my number 9953167*^#.”

 

Anirudh skipped his breakfast. He took out his car and headed straight to his girlfriend’s place. when he reached there, he found that Sagarika was in bed covered in blanket. Her roomie Vishaka was sitting by her side.

Vishaka - “Here comes the lover.”

Anirudh - “Hi Vishaka.” 

Then moving up to Sagarika’s side, he said, “How are you, sweetie?”

Sagarika - “Not good.”

Anirudh - “Okay. Don’t worry. Lets go to the doc. I have brought my car.”

Anirudh took her to the doc. The doc said it was nothing serious, just seasonal fever. Sagarika had slept with her a.c on the previous night and because of the rainfall during the night she got a bit of body temperature. She would be fine by morning. Anirudh was relieved upon hearing this. He took her back to her P.G and made her lay down on bed and covered her up with blanket.

Vishaka came in from the other room and said, “cho chweeett.”

Anirudh and Sagarika both smiled mildly.

Sagarika said to Anirudh, “Thanks baby.”

Anirudh just kissed her softly on her head and sat down by her side holding one of her hands in his palms.

Anirudh - “Sweetie, I have to go meet up a very old friend of mine. Tomorrow he will be leaving and not sure when he will be coming back. So would you be fine if I go and meet him. He is in Rohini and I will be back in 3 hours max.”

Sagarika - “Ok. I am fine now. Tell Vishaka about my medicines. And do meet me on your way back home.”

Anirudh explained the medicines to Vishaka and told her to take care of Sagarika. He bent down over the bed and again kissed Sagarika on her forehead.

Vishaka - “You know, lips are a better place to kiss..!”

Anirudh - “Shut up and do take care of my sweetie.”

Vishaka - “Yeah, sure,” and broke out in a giggle.

 

Anirudh left her PG and headed straight to Rohini. He was excited to meet Dhruv. Both of them had been inseparable in their childhood. Dhruv had a knack for reading. He was particularly interested in those aspects of history which are still mysterious. Like the conspiracy theory that America faked Neil Armstrong’s voyage to moon. Conspiracy theorists claim that the whole episode was shot at Hollywood just to be able to compete with Russia during the periods of cold war. He also read a lot regarding mysterious disappearance of Netaji Shubhash Chandra Bose.  He heavily indulged in Nostradamus’s prophecy. Character’s like Rasputin, Tutankhamen, flying Dutchman, Houdini, Schindler immensely interested him. He was obsessed with Schindler since the time he had read of his attempt at making virus telly. Dhruv was not much of a social creature. He was always engrossed in books. Dhruv had no friend except Anirudh. And with Anirudh he used to discuss all these stuff. Though Anirudh was not much of a fan of history, he liked hearing these mysterious things from history. After his class 10th, Anirudh’s father got transferred and he lost touch with Dhruv. He got the call after 13 years today morning. Nostalgia was gripping every part of his body.

He reached Pitampura. From there he was a bit confused which route to follow. He asked an auto-rickshaw driver for directions. He told him to follow the metro line till Rithala and then turn left form there. Anirudh remembered that Dhruv has asked him not to come from the direction of Rithala.

Anirudh - “But that road is damaged. Isn’t there any other route?”

Auto-rickshaw driver -  “No, sir. The road is fine. I just dropped 2 passengers on that route. It’s perfectly fine. There are other routes, but that will take you extra 25 minutes to reach Rohini using those routes.”

Anirudh was in a fix. He decided to use the Rithala road. But he was a bit hesitant so he asked another rickshaw driver regarding the road. He too said the road was fine. So Anirudh followed the road till Rithala. Just as he was about to reach Rithala, he saw a long traffic jam. He asked one guy on bike what had happened.

Bike guy - “Electric pole has broken down and has obstructed the road. All the traffic is being diverted.”

Anirudh was frustrated. He was angry at the auto-rickshaw guys. They claim to know everything and end up getting others harassed. Anyway, he followed the traffic and after 40 minutes of drive that was full of frustrations, he reached the address given by Dhruv.

 

It was in the outskirts of Rohini. It was a simple one storey kothi. There was a little open space in the front and it was full of overgrowth. The house itself looked unkempt and clearly lacked maintenance. The paint had peeled off from the walls. The front gate door was rusted. It was around 5pm, but due to heavy clouds it was quite dark. He was standing at the front gate thinking what to do, he couldn’t find a calling bell and he wasn’t sure whether or not he should shout. He thought he should call the number. He took out his mobile from the pocket and was dialling the number when he was shocked by a sudden heavy barking. He nearly dropped his mobile. A big german shepherd was barking at its full strength. He was jumping and trying to get over the gate and Anirudh was sure if he could come out of the gate he was going to surely tear his throat.

Just then he heard a heavy voice call out, “Bruno.”

The dog instantly calmed down. Anirudh looked to find the source of the baritone and he could see a tall, lanky figure coming out from the house. He was in jeans and a t-shirt. Long hair, unkempt beard. He had a heavy spectacle.  He walked with a slight limp. Anirudh had a feeling that this was Dhruv. Dhruv waved at him while walking towards him.

Dhruv - “Hail my Hitler.”

Anirudh - “Hi there, Schindler.”

Dhruv came and started opening the gate. Anirudh asked if it wouldn’t be a good idea to tie his Bruno somewhere first.

Dhruv - “Don’t worry. He’s just not used to visitors. In fact, you are the first visitor he has seen. He’s very sweet, buddy.”

Looking at the big and imposing figure of Bruno, Anirudh was just not able to associate the word sweet with him!

Dhruv welcomed Anriudh in his humble abode. It was dark outside. So he switched on the light. But rather than illuminating the room, it only augmented the darkness. The bulb was not very powerful. But as soon as the light was switched on, Anirudh was struck by the number of books that were stashed in the room. There were 3 almirahs full of books. There were books on the dining table. There were books on the sofa. There were books on the TV cabinet. And this was the case when this room was supposed to be his drawing room!

Dhruv came back with a glass of water.

Anirudh - “Don’t you think there are too many books around?”

Dhruv - “Nah. I try not to congest the drawing room.”

Anirudh and Dhruv both smiled.

Dhruv - “So... Tell me how have you been? What you did after 10th? Must have taken up Science.”

Anirudh - “Yep. Took science. Then did B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. Then M.Tech in Production Engineering. Now working as a faculty in an engineering college. Pursuing Ph.D as well.”

Dhruv - “Wow man. I knew fuhrer will do something good in life.”

Anirudh - “What about you? You took humanities, right?”

Dhruv - “Yeah. Did graduation in History from JNU. Masters again in history. Now working on my  Ph.D.”

Anirudh - “Cool man. I too expected you to do something like this. How was the trip to Germany? You know many of my friends have been abroad. Only I am being a frog of the well.”

Dhruv - “It’s no big deal. Yeah, went there to find out some facts regarding the early life and times of Schindler.”

Anirudh, laughing a little - “What’s up with this Schindler man? Are you still seriously pursuing the issue? I thought it was just a childhood joke. He-he.”

Dhruv, in an angry hissing voice, - “History is NOT a joke for me.”

Anirudh was taken aback by this reaction. He didn’t expected Dhruv to react in this manner.

Anirudh - “Hey, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Dhruv - “No, I am sorry bro. Actually in this life, I have been just the butt of jokes of everyone. You know, I never had any friends. Everyone thinks I am weird. After you left, I could never have a conversation for even 15 minutes with anyone. I knew you wont joke about my eagerness for history. But at last you too did it.”

Anirudh - “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was just joking. Lets’ forget this for old time’s sake.”

Dhruv - “Yeah. Let’s get something to eat. Since you are here today, let’s go out and have dinner.”

Anirudh - “But it’s just 6 pm. And moreover, you will have to excuse me for today. My girlfriend is ill. I’ve got to see her on my way back.”

Dhruv - “I wont listen to anything. Lets go out for old time’s sake, man.”

Anirudh was apprehensive about making him angry again. So he consented.

 

They went to a nearby restaurant, Aapki Rasoi. But dinner was not available there that early. So Dhruv suggested a dhaba on the highway. They served excellent food there. It started raining. The weather was very fine, but Anirudh was worried for his girlfriend. He thought of calling her up but there was no network.

Dhruv - “Take a left from here.”

They reached Sangam Dhaba. Dhurv ordered butter naan and shahi paneer.

Anirudh - “Wow. You like them too. I just love butter naan and shahi paneer, man.”

Dhruv - “Yeah, they are awesome.”

They had the food. Dhruv was silent for sometime. Anirudh did notice it and asked him, but Dhruv said it was nothing. He was just craving a smoke. He gave up smoking just a few days back and he still craved for a smoke often, but he was persevering.

They were back on the highway. It was around 45 minutes drive till Dhruv’s place. Anirudh was driving.

Anirudh - “So... dude. Tell me what do you want to do in future?”

Dhruv let out a mild laugh and said, “I want to do a thing but only if you allow me.”

Anirudh - “What thing? How do I fit in?”

Dhruv - “It’s been long since I have driven a car. Will you allow me to drive your car?”

Anirudh - “Oh. Sure man, but promise me you are a good driver.”

Dhruv - “Yeah, you can trust me. I won’t let you die.”

Anirudh found his replies increasingly weird. But he thought maybe years of being isolated from societal interaction had made him unable to have normal conversation. He and Dhurv switched their places.

Dhruv looked at his watch. “It’s 7 :30 pm. Maybe you won’t be able to meet your girl today.”

Anirudh - “No, man. I will have to go and meet her. Otherwise she and her roomie Vishaka will kill me.”

Dhruv again let out a mild laugh, “You did good, man. You have friends to care for and friends who care for you. Wish I had some friends like those.”

Anirudh - “Hey, come on. Now that I have found you, I will pester you till you give up your isolation. We will find a bookworm type of girl for you. And then both of you can dig out historical facts. It’s time to say goodbye to your old life.”

Dhruv again let out a mild laugh, “Well, I too guess that its time to say good bye soon.”

Anirudh didn’t understand what he was talking about. Both were silent for some time.

Dhruv - “What if you could see the future?”

Anirudh - “What? What future? Whose future?”

Dhruv - “Suppose, you could see your future. Say for the day ahead, would it be a good thing or bad thing?”

Anirudh understood that Dhruv was still stuck with his nature of discussing weird things. During their childhood too, they used to run such impossible scenarios. Like, what if batman was made the president of the country. It was good fun.

Anirudh - “It would be the best thing. See if I had known you were going to call me today, then I would have got a gift for you. Maybe a big voluminous book on history.”

Dhruv - “Dear fuhrer, I already have almost all the big voluminous book on history.”

Anirudh - “ That was just an example. But it would be nice to know before hand which questions the students are going to ask. To know what questions would be there in the question paper. You know that way we can control our future.”

Dhruv, again in an angry hissing voice, “No one can control the future.”

Anirudh was again taken aback. They were silent again for sometime.

Dhruv - “You wondered from where did I get your number?”

Anirudh really din’t know from where he had got the number. 

Anirudh - “Yes.”

Dhruv - “I saw myself dialling it.”

Anirudh, laughing, - “Right.”

Dhruv - “You don’t believe me.”

Anirudh - “Listen to yourself, dude. You saw yourself dialling the number. Does that sound believable to you?”

Dhruv again looked at his watch - “You know, I did not have any work today, I told you that so that you could take your girl to the doc.”

Anirudh was till laughing - “Right. So did Sagarika call you to tell me that you have work till 4pm?”

Dhruv - “No, I saw that.”

Anirudh - “Come on, man. Cut it out. You are stretching a joke too far.”

Dhruv, in that hissing voice, - “It’s not a joke. Do you think it’s easy knowing the future? Do you think it was easy when I saw myself in an accident breaking my leg? Do you think it was easy when I saw my research paper being rejected? Do you think it’s easy to see your life getting destroyed and not being able to do anything? Is all this a joke to you?”

Anirudh - “Dude, what are you saying?”

Dhruv - “Have you noticed I walk with a limp?”

Anirudh - “Yes.”

Dhruv - “I saw me and my car getting in an accident. Due to fear, that day I didn’t go out anywhere. But still I couldn’t save it. I fell from the stairs the next day and broke my leg. I never tried driving after that day. You know you can avoid it but can’t cancel it.”

Anirudh was at a loss for words. Dhruv went on and on and he was continuously increasing the speed of the car.

Dhruv - “Every morning. Every damn morning I see these dreams. I see them like a movie. I see everything that’s going to happen. I see myself going out, doing my things. I see any accident that will happen. I see my students making fun of me when I am writing on board. I see other faculties calling me weird. I see that I have achieved nothing in this life.”

The car was now touching 100 kmph. Anirudh was panicking.

Anirudh - “Dhruv... Dhruv. Slow down the car.”

Dhruv stopped the car to the side of the road. He kept his head on the steering wheel. He was sobbing.

Dhruv - “I just wanted to do something good. I just wanted to study history. I never did anything bad to anyone. Why did I get this weird thing on me fuhrer? Tell me, fuhrer, why did my life turn out like this?”

He continued sobbing. Outside the rain fell harder.

Anirudh - “Hey, man. I can’t say about the dream kind of thing which you see but I sure can tell you one thing, I am here now and I wont leave your side. Believe me, I did try finding you. After graduation I went to that locality in Noida, but I couldn’t find you. No one was able to tell anything about your family. But your bro is here now.”

Dhruv - “But it’s too late my, fuhrer.”

Anirudh - “What do you mean?”

Dhurv looked up from the steering wheel; his eyes were strange. “Today morning I saw a dream. I saw myself dialling your number. I saw myself talking to you. I saw myself telling you to come after 4pm and not to take the Rithala route.”

Anirudh was getting nervous - “Then?”

Dhruv - “I saw Bruno barking at you. I saw myself welcoming you. You were in a hurry, but I saw that we were having dinner at SANGAM. After that I saw myself driving us back.”

Anirudh - “Then?” Dhruv again put his head on the steering wheel above his hands.

Dhruv - “I saw myself parking your car to the side and telling you everything. I saw you consoling me, telling me you will be there for me. But I said it’s too late.”

Horror. Horror was gradually gripping Anirudh’s body. Dhruv continued.

Dhruv - “It’s a rainy day. Our lights are off. Trucks ply on this road. A heavy loaded 24 wheeler truck is going to come.”

From the distance Anirudh could see a stream of light cutting through the rain.

Dhruv - “Visibility is reduced. You can’t really blame the truck driver. Also due to rain the road is slippery. Brakes are not that effective.”

Gradually the stream of light diverged in 2 streams of light.

Anirudh panicked - “ Dhruv. Dhruv... a truck is coming. Move the car. Switch on the headlights at least. Move... Move!”

Dhruv - “ The car can’t move, fuhrer. Tank is empty.”

Anirudh was getting restless. The truck was approaching. Dhruv again looked up at Anirudh.

Dhruv - “I am happy that I took my last meal with you.”

Anirudh - “ No! Get out of the car. NOW!”

 

The truck had spotted the car and it was pressing the horn. The driver was wildly gesticulating to move out. Anirudh took off his seat belt and had opened the door but Dhruv was didn’t moved. He was sitting at the wheel calmly looking at the approaching truck.

Anirudh got inside and tried opening his seat belt; Dhruv did not even try to get up, the truck was just 20 metres away now, the brakes had been applied, but due to the slippery road the truck was skidding.

Dhurv lunged towards Anirudh, there was a gleam in his eyes, he said, “I can avoid it but can’t cancel it. I prefer dying in front of my fuhrer rather than dying alone. MY FUHRER LIVES ON,” saying this, he pushed Anirudh out of the car. 

Anirudh fell and rolled down the slope on the side. The truck came and rammed the car, crushing the front half of it.

Anirudh - “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…”

 

Screaming, Anirudh rolled over his sofa. It took him around 20-30 seconds to realize all that had been a dream. There were tears in his eyes. From the kitchen, a burning smell of pizza was filling up the room.

Anirudh laughed out in relief. Thank god it was a dream. He went to the kitchen to make tea. He thought of having a breakfast of tea and lots of biscuits.

 

Just then he was startled by an unfamiliar sound. ‘TRINGGG TRINGGG’. His landline was ringing. Anirudh was hesitant while approaching the phone. He picked it up apprehensively.

Anirudh - “Hello.”

A grave voice came from the other side, “What if you could see the future?”

Anirudh’s blood turned cold. Fear was spreading through his body. In a shaking voice, he asked, “Excuse me… who’s this?”

The Voice - “My fuhrer lives on…”


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