Gorby’s Ghost

Characters:

Gorby (Govardhan) – Ghost, Ravi’s friend/adversary/ TV-movie star

Biba – Gorby’s love, Monu’s mom, Ravi’s wife

Monu (Mandeep): Ravi’s son fathered by Gorby

Kaka- bungalow caretaker

Ms. Rosie: Monu’s nanny

~~

Silently, ninja entered the house. Surefooted, knowing exactly where to go, he reached the bedroom. He tapped awake the sleeping man ever so gently.  It was movie and TV star the Great Gorby.  Once he was awake he threatened Gorby menacingly, “Leave Ravi Talwar and his family alone or else you will be sorry!”  Gorby quietly extracted a gun from under his pillow and tried to shoot but his hand was shaking badly and the nimble ninja deflected the gun. Gorby shot himself instead.  The gloved ninja left same way he’d come.

After initial hue n cry, the death was declared accidental. Mumbai’s tinsel town, notorious for its short memory span, soon forgot Gorby.

Gorby’s ashes were ritually immersed by his grief stricken dad but he never left.  His ghost roamed the bungalow determined on seeking revenge.    The caretaker Kaka was sorry that he had rented the place surreptitiously. He should’ve asked his “sahib” first.  It was too late now.

Ghost Gorby was bored.  He longed for real people to scare.  Ever since his ignominious end, he had been thirsting for revenge, stuck as he was between the living and the dead. To date, he had merely scared caretaker Kaka and a bunch of adventurous kids.

Ravi Talwar was a restauranteur in New York. He had had no desire to join the family business that was well run by other family members. Quick wits and hard work had paid off and now he owned three successful restaurants offering ethnic Indian food.  He had dark thick hair, laughing eyes, big forehead, biggish Talwar nose and full lips. His body was athletic due to morning workouts and careful eating.  Altogether, he was a well dressed easy on the eye marriage prospect. Happy and ready to settle down, he proposed marriage to his childhood fellow prankster and love, Biba.

Biba was a distant relative of Ravi’s mom and often came to stay in their house with her parents who were also their business partners.  Only child of doting parents, she had become a spoilt princess and being beautiful, everyone simply indulged her shamelessly.  Only Ravi did no such thing hence Biba had a love hate fascination for him.  She always tried to get the upper hand but failed- this had earned Ravi her grudging respect.   She even felt a sneaky kind of love for him. The minx had determined that only way to make Ravi succumb was to marry him. So far, Ravi had held out.

Ravi’s proposal had been everyone’s dream come true and they became engaged.

Gorby after graduation had left for tinsel town Mumbai to try his luck in movies.  A few pulled family strings had panned out and he had landed a small part in a TV serial.  He was a consummate actor and soon got noticed.  His drop dead looks, green eyes and chestnut hair also helped.  His mom had been a fair green eyed Kashmiri beauty whose family had been uprooted from their beloved Kashmir valley.   Enroute to their second home in Dehradun, militants had struck again and she had died on the spot.  Pandit Kaul hastily made a makeshift pyre to consign the body to flames and waited for dawn to gather her ashes. Thereafter, he hid his three year old son under his shirt and headed non stop for Dehradun.  His wife’s ashes were duly consigned to the holy Ganges there, amidst tears and chants.

Mr. Kaul’s close friend and neighbors, the Talwar family had taken them both in and healing had begun.  Talwars and Kauls were business partners and to occupy his grief stricken mind, Mr. Kaul took upon himself all out of town travel secure in the knowledge that his beloved son was in caring hands…  Gorby was easy going and charming but with a flexible slant to life unlike Ravi who had been molded by his mother and grandmother in strict moral code and conduct.   He and Ravi were close buddies.

Biba heeded to her inner drummer alone.  In their heart of hearts Ravi’s mom and granny would’ve been happy if Ravi had chosen another.  But love is blind and they were happy enough with this choice.  Better to deal with a known devil than an unknown one.

Dashing actor Gorby swept Biba off her feet at the engagement party and she fell headlong for him.  He praised her looks outrageously and encouraged her to become an actress.  Ravi and the rest were unaware of this.

A week before the marriage day, Gorby and Biba eloped to Mumbai.  Spoilt Biba was in for a rude awakening.  Nymphets like her were a dime a dozen and she was not amenable to the casting couch.  She was blacklisted and Gorby had to apologize to everyone and mollify Biba as well.  He genuinely loved her and wanted to marry her.  They both felt terrible about backstabbing Ravi but were madly in love.  In a moment of weakness, they made love after another scathing rejection of Biba.  She became pregnant.  Both were aghast as they did not wish for a child.  Repentant and tear stricken she returned home.

Ravi still loved Biba and both the families quickly got them married and soon after they left for New York.

The nurse brought the wailing baby to Biba but she turned her face away.  She had gone into depression.  Ravi singlehandedly took care of both and finally engaged an Indian nanny to care for his son.  They named the baby Mandeep but called him Monu.

To prove to herself her own self worth, Biba soon took an interest in the restaurants and became a cordon bleu chef. Digging out old family recipes and begging family ladies for recipes, she dabbled and created new dishes.  She gave them exotic names and gradually introduced them in their restaurants.  Their revenue trebled.  Finally the family had come together.  In time, she came to adore her geeky son Monu as well.

Monu was in the process of boarding his school bus when a brakeless car slammed into the bus injuring several kids.  Monu’s spine was injured and he lost the use of his legs.  He was only ten.

After trying all treatments, devastated Ravi and Biba decided to sell everything and return home to their beloved Dehradun valley.  Fresh air, Ayurvedic massages were next on their agenda.

Exercise equipment, physical therapy aids, computers et al had been shipped in advance.  The bungalow was readied for wheelchair accessibility.  It was then that Kaka made a clean breast of having rented their bungalow to actor Gorby without their knowledge and his subsequent accidental death. Kaka was unaware that Gorby, Biba and Ravi were childhood buddies.  He also said that their house was haunted.  Ravi and Biba laughed in his face.  Sheepish at this reaction, Kaka slunk out.

Monu was a nerd and it had been agreed by his US school principal that he could appear for exams online- so everyone was happy. His Indian nanny Ms. Rosie had agreed to travel with them and Ravi and Biba were relieved.

Monu was a night owl and as he worked on his homework, he felt a presence. He turned his swivel chair and saw a man seated on his bed. He was looking at him with love.  Monu asked, “who are you?’  Gorby replied, “I am your dad son! “ But how can that be Monu cried my dad is Ravi and not you! But Gorby insisted.  Then Monu asked why are you  still here? Gorby said he wanted to know who had plotted to scare him to death literally.   Then he saw that Monu was unable to stand and was stricken. He came to know about the accident and their move back home.

During subsequent days he noticed the love and devotion Ravi had for his son and he softened.

The day before, he had been seething in anger when he’d overheard Ravi and Biba talking.  Ravi had confessed to Biba that he had sent his close friend, a New York cop to scare away Gorby from them for good.  On chatting with a local Dehradun friend, he had come to know about the paying guest in their bungalow. The town was all excited to have Gorby the actor in their midst, his friend had expressed. He had had no intention of killing him he told her emphatically.  She’d believed him.

During childbirth, Ravi had come to know that Monu was not his son, but had forgiven Biba and loved Monu as his own flesh and blood.  Now he only wished to keep Gorby away from disrupting his family again.  That was all.

Gorby forgave his childhood buddies and quietly departed from their lives.  Next to Monu’s pillow they found an exquisite cameo with Gorby’s mom’s picture in it.  Gorby had worn in his neck when alive.

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