Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts

It was a near perfect Sunday morning. Clear blue skies and a cool breeze which would kiss your face softly if you stepped outside. It was a great day to relax and unwind and get ready for the upcoming battles in the coming week. I made myself a cup of tea and started reading the newspaper. Tea and newspaper was a satisfying experience. Especially on Sunday mornings. So, while I was reading the newspaper an ad caught my attention and it suggested an interesting way to spend my afternoon. A saint claimed that he was enlightened and was giving a discourse on the inner workings of our universe. I decided to attend the discourse as I had nothing better to do. I was mostly suspicious of Godmen and organised religion but the saint's claim of enlightenment made me curious to know more. Not that I believed in the concept of enlightenment but I definitely had a fascination for it. Listening to what the saint had to say would be an interesting experience.

Anyhow, I arrived at the place of discourse and saw that a substantial number of people were interested in what the self proclaimed saint had to say. I hoped whatever he had to say would be interesting enough to make my sunday afternoon worthwhile. I took my seat in the hall and eagerly awaited the saint's arrival. I was expecting an old gentleman in flowery robes and a beard that would reach till the man's stomach. But, I was quite surpised to see a young professional looking gentleman in his mid-thirties. He wore a prim blue shirt and nicely fitting black pants with formal shoes to boot. His rimless glasses, clean shaven face and neatly combed hair reminded me of a news reporter. I could see that I was not the only one who was surprised as many of the people had bemused expressions on their face. The person sitting next to me thought he had arrived at a business conference accidentally until I assured him that he was indeed at the right place.

The saint began his discourse by clarifying that he was not really a saint but a philosopher. A philosopher who had experienced enlightenment and that's why people considered him a saint. His philosophy was quite straightforward and personally I thought that it was a ripoff of Buddha's teachings. Anyways, his idea was that all human actions emanated from one source. Thoughts. The stream of words and sentences that come in our heads quite randomly. Thoughts were random but they defined our lives and would be a precursor to our behaviour, actions, emotions and feelings. But his philosophy was not the reason he claimed enlightenment. He claimed he could read people's thoughts with pinpoint accuracy. And hence he could understand any person's feelings and emotions. He claimed he could even predict people's future actions as thoughts propelled action. To prove that he could read thoughts he would randomly pick five people from the audience and predict their thoughts. He was a human thought detecting machine. And he claimed only an enlightened being could be that. He argued that thoughts signified the true inner nature of an individual. After hearing these words, the atmosphere in the hall had become electrifying. The experience was akin to attending a magic show where incredible things could be witnessed. Even I was eager to see how things would proceed from here.

The saint initiated the process by randomly picking a woman in the audience as his first volunteer. The lady promptly walked to the stage and stood beside the saint. The saint explained that to access any person's thoughts he would have to gaze at the individuals eyes for a minute while holding the person's hands. He proceeded to hold the lady's hands and looked at her intensely for around a minute. "Whom have you lost recently my dear lady. I can see so much of grief in your thoughts" he asked her abruptly.

The lady seemed genuinely startled at this proclamation and she looked a little unhinged. " I lost my son three weeks ago" she answered slowly.

"And I sense guilt too in your thoughts. Do you feel you could have saved your son's life"

"Yes. I feel extremely guilty. I feel I could have taken better care of him. Maybe then he could have survived"

"No my lady. There is nothing that you could have done. You cannot fight destiny. No one can. Forsake your guilt. I can see that it is crushing your heart. Take a deep breath. Let go and be free."

"Thank you Sir" the lady replied gratefully and proceeded to take her seat in the crowd. The gathered crowd was both impressed and shocked at this magical display of mind reading. My logical brain was inferring that this was probably staged and rehearsed. But my instincts were telling me a different story altogether.  I felt that the reaction in the lady was extremely genuine. There seemed to be a visible improvement in the demeanor after the saint reassured her. Her drooping shoulders had picked up and it looked like a huge burden had been taken off her shoulders. That gave me reason to believe that perhaps it was not staged. Still, some people were just good actors and hence any judgement at this stage would be premature.

The saint then began to pick another person from the crowd. He picked a sleek and sophisticated person in his late twenties. The person was slightly hesitant to go to the stage as if he was scared of his thoughts being strip searched. But he eventually took the plunge and reached the stage.

The saint held both the volunteer's hands and looked at him squarely. After a minute or two, the saint remarked "You should not have come to the stage son. Now I know why you were fearing to come to the stage son. You wanted to hide your thoughts"

"No no. There is nothing like that" the sleek man stammered in a rather alarmed way.

"Ofcourse it is like that. I can sense fear in you. Fear due to infidelity. You have cheated on your wife haven't you"

The lady who was sitting next to the sleek man, presumably his wife, suddenly broke down at those words and started crying incessantly.

"It's not true. It's not true at all" denied the young man.

"Do not give me untruths and insult my powers by suggesting I am saying untruths" shouted the saint. "I suggest that you confess everything to your wife. the burden of lies will eventually eat you away to the core. Go and unburden yourself without regard to the consequences."

The sleek man stood there for a while before meekly nodding his head and proceeded to his seat. It looked like he was going to take the saint's advice and confess to his wife.

The whole family drama that had unfolded in front of our eyes had elicited a lot of gasps in the crowd. This time, nobody seemed to be in doubt about the saint's capabilities. Meanwhile, the sleek man and his wife had left the hall with the wife still crying profusely.

The third person the saint called for volunteering plainly refused to go to the stage. A few people laughed and someone in the crowd made a wisecrack statement of hidden affairs and dirty underwear being washed in public. I personally could not blame the person for not volunteering as the idea of having your thoughts being X-rayed publicly was indeed scary and not everyone's cup of tea.

Eventually, the third volunteer was found in the form of a thirty something male with a moustache. The saint again responded by holding both the hands and staring intensely at the volunteer. This time the saint reacted differently. He quietly hugged the volunteer and clenched his shoulders. "Do you want me to share your thoughts. I can understand if it's too personal" asked the saint.

"No. You can share whatever you have to say I have no problems with it."

"Thats very brave of you I must say. So, have you attempted it or are you planning it" the saint asked.

"Attempted?"

"Yes. I think you know what I mean. Suicide"

"I attempted it three days back. I was about to hang myself but my wife intervened and saved me"

This time there was an uproar in the crowd with quite a few "Oh my gods" from the people at this revelation. I was taken aback and shaken too. I observed the volunteer closely and saw a normal looking person. I could never have guessed that the person was suicidal.

"What led you to this situation. I am not able to pinpoint the exact reason" asked the saint.

"I lost all my money in the stock market. I gambled it all away" the volunteer replied solemnly.

"I do understand your anguish. But I suggest that you do not take this extreme step. If you go who will take care of your family. Do not orphan them. Restart your life. Get a job. And build your wealth again."

These words seemed to re-energize the volunteer. He nodded vigourously and worked back to his chair with what seemed like a spring in his step.

After this episode, I was virtually convinced of the saint's thought reading skills. And so was the crowd. Whether this constituted enlightenment was debatable but even I had to admit that what I was seeing was remarkable and extraordinary. After seeing the three volunteers, I was quite confident that the process was not staged. No one could be this good in acting. Not even Oscar award winners.

The saint called on the next volunteer. She was a middle aged woman, most probably a housewife. I cannot recount the exact details as her thoughts were mundane and unremarkable especially when compared to the other volunteers. She was worried that her daughter was not eating her food properly or something on those lines. One of the crowd yawned loudly at that. That was perhaps the most remarkable incident with regards to the fourth volunteer. Even the saint seemed a little disappointed at the anti-climax.

For the next volunteer, the saint pointed at the general direction of where I was sitting. "You!" he exclaimed. I looked around me wondering whom he had chosen.

"You in the yellow shirt" said the saint. Yellow shirt! I thought excitedly. That has to be me. I looked at my shirt and confirmed the colour. Of all the multitudes of people, I was chosen as a volunteer. Wow, what were the odds! I had no reason to object going to the stage as my thoughts were as boring as the lady's before me. After this, there would not be a semblance of doubt about the saint's thought reading abilities since I would be a part of the experiment.

My head was in a tizzy as I was walking towards the saint. I was extremely nervous and excited and my knees trembled as I walked. Someone was going to read my innermost thoughts and feelings and perhaps my innermost nature. I was generally skeptical of people who purported to do anything supernatural. But if there was ever a person who could read my mind the saint was one. I reached the stage and stood next to him. He clasped my hands as he had done with the others. His hands were ice-cold and sent shivers through my body. The first thing I noticed about him were his eyes. They seemed glazed and intoxicated. Yet he seemed in total control. He then went on to look at me intently. I realised that he was not looking at my eyes alone. Infact for the first thirty seconds, he looked everywhere but at my eyes. My shoulder, my chest, my stomach, my legs, even my crotch before he finally settled on my eyes. I looked back confidently, comforted by the fact that I had nothing to hide and no troublesome thoughts. Meanwhile, even I was also staring and observing him. His arms were twitching involuntarily. Something told me he was getting uncomfortable. He took around four minutes before he eventually stopped staring at me. My instincts were telling me that there was an art and science behind what he was doing. I felt he was trying to tune in to my body language by mimicking it and thus understanding the vibes. His approach seemed extremely scientific.

When he finally spoke he seemed disturbed about something. "Since you are my fifth and final volunteer and there were so many others with whom I have accessed their inner nature, I feel exhausted. That explains why I have taken more than my due time. Anyways, here are your thoughts, my friend. You like to be alone. Intensely alone. You can remain alone without company than most people can. And, uh, you are worried about the health of someone beloved. Isn't that true my friend" His diffidence in mentioning the second part told me that he was not completely sure of it.

"Yes sir. You are right. I have a tendency to be alone. And yes, my father has suffered an accident. I am extremely concerned about his health" I replied.

The saint heaved a sigh of relief. "Meet me after the discourse" he said quietly as he shook my hands.

I walked towards my seat and as expected the crowd were none too happy with my thoughts. The crowd had got used to fireworks after the first three volunteers. But, I was quite satisfied with the experience. I sat down at the seat while the saint went into the finer details of his philosophy. There were far more buyers to his philosophy now that he had impressed everyone with his performance. I was not paying much attention to the discourse as I was busy piecing together the experiences I had with the saint. The more I thought about it the more I was getting confused. He had successfully penetrated my thoughts and found out something very few people were aware of. Was it due to a supernatural ability that he was able to access my thoughts. What he had done was unbelievable. He had guessed what could be considered my inner nature. And most remarkably, he knew I was concerned about someone close to me. Unless he followed me regularly there was no way he could have done that. What he had done was truly magical.

I was shaken from my introspection when I heard a loud applause from the crowd. His discourse had ended. Many people decided to honour him with a standing ovation. I stood up too and clapped enthusiastically. While everyone were departing, I proceeded to the backstage as he had asked me to meet him.

The saint seemed to be waiting for me and shook my hands warmly as I entered the backstage. "Hey. I found it really difficult to access your thoughts. I would like to conduct the exercise once again. For my satisfaction. I take this very seriously. Would you care to join"

"Ofcourse. I would love to join" I replied.

"Great. Meet me at Hotel Ramada then. Say tomorrow 6 P.M"

"Sure. I will be there" I said excitedly.

"Very well. Thank you so much for catering to my whims and fancies" he said smilingly. "By the way, do you play Poker?" he asked.

"Yes. Occasionally"

"That explains. Anyways, see you tomorrow" he said and departed to his room backstage.

I could not believe my luck. I would get another opportunity to interact with the magician. In my eyes, that's what he was. And I wanted to find out his tricks. Because every magician had one. I could not wait to see him the next day

The next day, I reached the Ramada hotel at the designated time. I had a hard time sleeping the previous night as I was recollecting and analysing the events of the day. I felt that I was missing something. Some trick or sleight of hand which could explain something as mysterious as thought reading.But, I was hoping that my meeting with the saint would change the equation.

I knocked at the saint's room and almost immediately he opened the door and led me inside. "I am glad you could make it. You know, yesterday I found it difficult to understand what was going on in that head of yours. I almost guessed at what you were thinking and going through. But for me there is no room for guessing. That is why I take it really seriously. So I want to take another shot at it"

"Sure" I replied.

"If you don't mind, I would like to take this medicine before I start. It really helps me you know" he said pointing at a box containing a green coloured powdery substance.

"The medicine helps you in the process?" I asked. I was quite intrigued. The medicine looked like a psychotropic substance and maybe it was the reason for the saints glazed look that I had noticed the previous day.

"Yes. This is no ordinary medicine. Without this, it is virtually impossible to access other people's thoughts" he said while putting two spoons of the green powder into the glass of water. Once the powder dissolved, he quickly gulped down the glass.

And sure enough, his eyes had become glazed and his body had completely relaxed while he was sitting in his chair. His eyes were gazing at me intently as if trying to penetrate me.

"Now come here my friend. Let me hold your hands" the saint said calmly.

"Wait. Can I try this too. Can I try to gauge your thoughts and inner nature.

"What. How can you? You don't know how to"

"What if I try the medicine too"

"No. You still wont be able to. You are not me. You are not a saint. You need enlightenment for that"

"I know I am not. And if I am not able to do what you do, it will just confirm you are a saint. If I am also able to gauge your thoughts then it is basically the medicine which does most of the work. Right?"

The argument struck a chord with him but he was not totally convinced. I realised that he still had doubts of his saintliness. So, I decided to use that point in convincing him further

"If I fail to read your thoughts which I most probably will, it will show for sure that the medicine only works for saints like you. There will be no disputing that you are a saint and not some street magician"

My persuasion seemed to be working. "There is no way you know a thing about this. You wont be able to read my inner nature and what I am and what I have done. And that will prove I am a saint" he said while handing me the medicine.

"Surely" I said while gulping down the medicine. The medicine tasted like a pungent version of vanilla. It was nothing like I had ever tasted before. And its effects were instant

The colours in the room suddenly looked brighter and with a clarity I could not imagine existed. I looked at the saint and smiled at his smiling face,. But after the medicine the saint was looking like a totally different person. After around two minutes, the effects of the medicine really started kicking in. It exponentially improved my observation and made my thinking extremely sharp and acute. I stared at the saint and observed him intently. I could observe the minutest of his expressions in his eyes, face and even his nose. The medicine introduced intuitive, perceptive and discerning abilities that I never knew I had.

"So, how does it feel my friend. Is it working" the saint asked curiously.

"You have trained for years haven't you"

"Trained in what" said the saint taken aback at my observation. He had not expected this.

"Trained in the field of face reading and body language. I can see that in you." I replied. "That's how you are able to make the accurate judgements about people." I said. The medicine was actually working. It was not like I was reading his mind. I was just reading the signals that his mind was emitting through body language and facial expressions. I was just able to discern things that I normally wouldn't. Someone like the saint  who had years of extreme training could combine his experience of reading people along with the acute observation that the medicine induced to make it look like he was mind reading.

"Listen. It's enough. Stop observing me. The medicine seems to be working to an extent. I don't want you to read me anymore" the saint said. His expressions were changing. He was extremely worried about something. I wish I had his skills to make more refined judgement. But my mind was still piecing things together slowly. The saint had something to hide. That had become clear to me.

"I think you better leave. It was a bad idea to give you the medicine" the saint continued.

"But don't you want to read my thoughts anymore"

"I want to but I don't want you to read mine. Do you know who I am" he asked. His voice had suddenly changed. It had become more edgy and dangerous. He looked at me without smiling. I suddenly realised what he seemed to be hiding. His eyes reflected the answer. I got the vibe that he was a hardened criminal. He was not your usual conman who pretended to be a saint. He was far worse. I suddenly realised that he could sense the fear in me. He could read my mind and know that I had found out.

"Do you have a revolver with you" I asked. I did not intend to ask that but the sentence just poured out of me.

"No. I do not carry a revolver. But since you already know, the knife is the weapon of my choice" He opened the cupboard in his wardrobe and showed me a large glittering knife to prove his point. "I intend to use this on you if you try any funny business" The way he smiled at me told me that he meant it too. The look in his eyes terrified me. It told me that he was very capable of murder. I had to keep my calm but. I knew I was not dealing with a reasonable person. I knew If I panicked he would use the knife as a reaction. I did not have many options in front of me while he was contemplating killing me.

"But you have changed. I have read you. You are a saint now. The past is behind you. You have reformed now. Killing you will not help you. It will only take you back. And you need to go forward" I said pleadingly. I was bluffing at this point. I had no idea whether he had changed or not. But I was desperate and I could not think of any other choice.

"You have changed right. you are a saint now remember" I continued calmly. He kept looking at me with a strange expression while I said this. I was not sure whether my strategy had worked or not. I knew he could read me much better than I could read him. I half-expected him to say "Nice try kid. But it doesn't work on me" and then use his knife to perhaps slash my head.

"You are a philosopher now. Remember, that's what you said during the discourse. Philosophers are rational people" I tried again.

The final sentence had a definite effect on him. Mentioning the word Philosopher had done the trick. His reaction was completely different. He kept the knife on the table and fell on the chair. He was on the verge of breaking down. My bluff had worked. It was strange to see a self proclaimed murderer almost cry in front of me. But I was more than relieved. He was trying to reform and luckily my words had reminded him of that.

"I assure you that I will not mention this to anyone" I said.

"Get out of here before I change my mind" he replied quietly.

I overcame the temptation to run and slowly walked out of the room and closed the door behind me. As soon as I was outside the room, I ran down the stairs and fled the hotel as fast as I could.


















Friday, January 4, 2013

Him

He was giggling needlessly. He was not even feeling happy. In-fact he was feeling totally useless. The world felt he was too fucked up. Too neurotic. Too dopey. Too stupid. And the world was right in its own way. He was all that and more. He went to a friend's home to have a cup of tea. The tea was really good. He could taste the milk in the tea and if he wanted to he could just taste the tea powder. The bitterness of tea powder. The strange aftertaste it left after gulping down the tea. He could imagine the tea powder in his head. He smiled. It reminded him of similar looking things. Things that could stone you to death or worse.  It was good shit anyways even though he did not know what it meant and did not know where it was taking him.

The next sip of the tea gave him an overpowering taste of sugar. Sugar reminded him of the world. The world was sugary sweet from the outside and full of alcohol from the inside. The world made him nauseous. The world and its society and its structures and its impediments and its smartness and its ugliness and he went on and on in his head. He was a bit dazed inspite of the tea. He went outside to have a walk in the park  and to see if God was around. He was not sure if God existed but there was no harm in finding out. Instead he saw a butterfly. He started chasing it. The butterfly was really beautiful.  Its wings kept fluttering on and on. The butterfly was whizzing around rather quickly but he could swear it was flapping its wings rather seductively. He noticed the world looking at him. They thought he was insane. He gave them an insane smile just to freak them out. Kids in and around the park were wondering why someone so old would be having so much fun. Grown-ups were not allowed to have fun. They have forsaken that right. That's the look the kids gave him. One of the kids gave a rather jealous look to him as his mum was around and was really screwing his happiness. He had a thought that the kid had become a grown-up already and must be having mundane thoughts already. Mundane thoughts the world has about success and achievement and all that shit that scares the fuck out of you. By which the world judges each and everyone around them. " I am more successful than him. He is such a loser. Haha". That is what the world generally used to think of him when they are around him. But when the world is around someone more successful than them they think "He is so wealthy and successful. He has 2 BMW's and makes a numerical amount of money. I suck" The world always thinks in numbers. In numbers and in objects and what they own. "What do you feel" he used to ask the world "Get away from me. I have all these numbers to achieve. I am not like you. I want to wake up in the morning. Unlike you. I want to do something. Unlike you" the world used to respond. "But what do you feel" he used to ask again. "Fuck you, you dimwit. You fucking retard. You stupid twit. I am judging you. Look into my eyes" Then he looked into their eyes. That used to scare the shit out of them for some reason. The world is full of liars and liars will not be able to see you in the eyes because they are freaking scared. Phoney people used to say that eyes are the gateway to the soul. He believed the phony people had a point even though they did not even understand what they were talking about. Stupid and phony people are though less stupid than him. Freaking gateway to the fucking soul. People saying things they don’t even understand. People knowing things they do not even know. Yet the world was alright. They were too judgmental yes but they were alright as long as they left him alone. They were alright from afar. Their stupidity was contagious as one song used to say. But they were pretty ok otherwise. Trying to reach the goals they had set for themselves. Trying to make people happy. Trying to love and be loved. Most often they wanted to think of themselves as smart. Thinking themselves as smart was a common disease amongst all the mankind. He did not care for that shit at that moment. He was lost in his own world. The outside world did not seem to bother him too much. He giggled at the world and the world responded with a funny look which seemed to crack him up further. All that giggling had made him hungry. He went to the nearest restaurant around him and munched away to glory.


He was feeling happy. Nothing seemed to bother him at that moment. He knew he was going crazy but even that thought did not seem to bother him. He knew nobody would understand him either. The world was going through too much shit of their own to bother about other people’s shit and understand others. He carried on munching till the waiter gave him a weird look for eating so much. He gave a blissful look to the waiter and the waiter responded with a “Stay away” look. He stayed in the restaurant for hours together but eventually he started integrating with the world and was becoming just like them. He paid the bill, started to leave and was walking towards his home. Someone in the road gave him a brotherly smile but he could not care any less and walked away without responding. He wasn’t fucked up anymore. He had landed to the ground.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Roger's night out

Roger could not handle his drinks well. His head was swirling around and he was trying to make sense of the world. The hostess was talking kindly to him and was perhaps pointing at the dinner table. Maybe she had not realized that he was too drunk to understand he was drunk. "Ofcourse, my dear lady" giving her a smile which could mean anything but most probably did not mean anything. "Oh, what a pleasant Gentleman" thought the hostess. "He did not flirt with me and neither did he stare down my neck. Perhaps I should date him. A nice find!!" she thought while greeting her next guest.

Roger then proceeded to the drinks table. Not because he wanted another drink. He wanted to undrink himself. The bartender was too used to drunks like himself. He pointed out the restroom to Roger. "Thanks my Lord. I will be damned if you are not Jeeves the Butler. You can solve anything. I wanted to undrink myself and you pointed out the restroom!" Roger said. He continued towards the restroom but he was stopped by an anaconda or what he thought was an anaconda. The anaconda seemed to have that Brazilian dirt still hanging around its crease. Now Roger was an immaculately dressed gentleman and could not afford to get his party shirt dirty. He shied away from the anaconda. The anaconda slithered away from Roger as if he was a snake charmer. Snake charmer? Maybe. Or perhaps he was just some uninteresting individual with whom the anaconda had no chance of having any fun. It is anybody's guess that it could have been due to Roger's spectacles which gave the impression that any moment Roger could begin a discourse on some lengthy but inconsequential philosophical debate which hardly anybody else is interested in. It may have been tolerable during normal times but is quite boring during party hours. Anyways, by all accounts, the anaconda just slithered away to its next destination leaving Roger behind to complete his toilet formalities.

Roger decided to take a walk in the park. He was hoping that people did not realize he was finding it difficult to walk in a straight path. He was also finding it difficult to spell things. In this state, he would definitely find it tough to pass the third grade exam. Second grade would have been a breeze but not the third one. He noticed a random stranger singing a song to himself. Roger felt a weird bonding with the random dude as they were fellow co-habitants  of the park at that moment. Roger came close enough to the stranger to make sense of the wordings of the song. "Dont ignore me just cause I m ignorant. Save me from me. I m warning you. Its not best to leave it till its too late. Dont ignore my warning just cause I m an ignorant" went the song. "Makes sense" Roger thought to himself. Quite proud of his analysis of this song, Roger decided he had enough of the walk and went inside to the party hall.

Roger was still an immaculately dressed gentleman sitting in a corner during the function. His brain wasn't functioning too well because he had had one drink too many. The thoughts were getting intertwined and intermingled with one another. He could feel it. He had a feeling that everyone around him thought he was going crazy. And he could not blame them completely either. He was losing control of his faculties. But he wasn't crazy yet and he was not ready to give up yet. Roger knew there was still one last chance for redemption. But he thought that he might be going crazy. He was thinking of the Arabs who weren't too well dressed themselves but they did not leave any opportunity of making fun of him. Rogie Rogie they cried. Roger the Dodger was his nickname. Then the music started. It was slow to begin with, but then it got slower and slower. It got smoother and more refined, like high quality whisky. It got more rhythmic and slower till it got really exhausting. Too exhausting to handle. Till he fell fast asleep, Roger did.

And when he woke up the next morning, he was sober again. Just a slight hangover and embarrassment of sleeping over at someone else's place without notice. After that, there was nothing to write home about. It was just the drudgery of normal sober life. Until the next party happened. But that's another story.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hahaha

"I am gonna have lot's of fun with you my boy"

"Wha"

"Hahahaha. Oh yes, I am gonna have a good time all right"

"What are you talking about. Dint I just kill myself"

"Yes. You did. And that's why you are with me. Those who kill themselves end up with me. And that will teach you to have killed yourself"

"Is this life after death"

"No. And it is neither heaven nor hell and neither is this judgement day. And nor am I a devil. Though I am something even worse. Haha haha hahahaha"

"Why am I here. My back really hurts"

"You my boy are going to be roasted and boiled like you did to all those eggs and meat. You are going to feel how they felt. Hahaha"

"But I was a vegetarian"

"Were you? Then I may not have done my homework properly. Then lets look at your last days before you killed yourself so brutally. That would be fun, wouldn't it"

"Why are you tormenting me"

"Because I am a tormentor. You have just killed yourself. Thats where I come in. You have done a grave sin by killing yourself and cutting that soul's life short. I have to teach you a great lesson by tormenting you. And it gives me great pleasure to do so. Oh, don't give me that sad look. Come on, we haven't even started already"

"What are you going to do"

"Now, my boy we have the privilege  to watch your life backwards. I love doing this. This way I will get to know you better. Hahaha. Three days before you shot yourself in the head, you in your desperation to stave off your financial crisis, bought a lottery ticket. You checked out the results the next day, found out you had not won anything and then you continued being dejected with life, dint you my boy?"

"Yes"

"Hahahaha. Wouldn't it have been nice had you won the prize dear boy"

"Ofcourse"

"Do you remember that before buying that lottery you met an old beggar in the street and you gave him some change"

"Yes"

"Well, my dearest boy, that nice little gesture of yours lost you a bunch of money. The person who bought the lottery ticket just before you did, won the lottery. Had you not spent that extra time giving money to that beggar, you would have got that winning ticket. Hahahahahahaha. And we would not have been here together Santosh my poor chap"

"Unbelievable. Fate raped me again"

"Hahahahahahaha. Funny! Isn't it boy. It is. It is. It is my boy"

"The first prize was 15 crores. Even after paying my loan I would have had more than enough. I would have had a great life afterwards"

"Oh yes. Absolutely. Have to agree on that. Now lets go further back into your life. When you were 16. You dated this girl for a few months, dint you boy"

"Yes. I remember her. Shweta her name was"

"Yes. She had killer herself too. And she had killed herself because of you Santosh"

"No, she dint. I dint do anything"

"Hahaha. Oh, you poor kid. You give me so much pleasure. Two weeks after you two stopped dating each other she killed herself. She even called you three days before she killed herself. Had you been considerate in that conversation she would have been saved. Instead, you shouted at her and told her to go to hell. Poor girl. She was so obedient. A few days after talking to you, to hell she straight went. And now she must be burning in hell. Hahahahahaha. Oh, am I funny. Hell, yes I am."

"I am sorry"

"Do you know why you dated her"

"I liked her"

"No"

"She was beautiful"

"She was beautiful yes. But that's not why you dated her"

"She was caring"

"No my boy. It was because you were horny and stupid as well. Like any other kid your age. You cost that girl her life but. Do you want to know how she felt before she put fire to herself"

"Yes"

"Now, that's an unusual answer. Most people attempt hitting me and screaming at me by this time. Nevertheless, your words pleases me immensely. You see that girl Santosh. There, about to light that fire. Lets get into her head my boy"

"I am so ugly. So ugly. He hates me. I wore that pink dress when he ditched me. I used to think I look good in that dress. Oh, I am so worthless. I cannot make anyone happy. And nobody can make me happy. Ever. Never. Now light that fire, Now! ....."

"Hahahaha. My poor boy. You are not used to it. Are you not. It was brave of you to have faced this but this is not punishment enough for killing that girl"

"Why did she do..."

"Befuddled you are Santosh. I have more news for you. There is more punishment in store for you. You cant get away with it just like that my boy"

"Now what, I am ready to face it, whatever it is. I deserve the punishment for what I did to her"

"You think you are brave don't you boy. But you were not brave enough to face that world of yours. And you ran away by killing yourself like a fool. Now listen. You think that wife of yours, whom you love so much, was working at office while you were shooting yourself in the head"

"Yes"

"Hahahahahaha. No she was not. She was having mind-blowing sex with her colleague Rajeev. The best sex of her life. Hahahahaha. Hahahahhahahahahahhahhahahahhahaahaha"

"Aaaah. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Nooooooooooooo"

"What happened Santosh"

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. No. No. No"

"Santosh. Look at me. It's ok. It's just a nightmare. Listen to me"

"Huh. What?"

"It was a nightmare Santosh. A bad dream while you were sleeping. Its Ok Santosh. What is happening to you?"

"Yes Latha. It was a nightmare. Yes"

"What was the nightmare about. It must have been horrible?"

"Nevermind Latha. Nevermind"





Sunday, September 16, 2012

Doggy Style

It was around 6 in the evening when I had finally completed my work in office. I was all too eager to seek the company of my bed at home with other companions being a book and a cup of hot tea. It had been a difficult and tiring day at office.

The place where I was staying was a 10 minute walk from office. But the route was beset by unfriendly dogs who hated the sight of me. Me especially for some reason. The other day, I was walking back home and minding my own business when this dog came running towards me and before I could respond took a bite at my leg. It was almost a playful bite but it did hurt later. After the bite, the dog stared at me mischievously to see how I would react. I just stared back. The dog eventually got bored and galloped away somewhere else with its good deed for the day done.

So, basically I was not much of a popular figure among the dogs, which was a pity. When I was a small kid the dogs used to be pretty friendly with me. The puppies especially loved me while the parents acknowledged me with an approving nod. Those were the days. But with the erosion of time, as I grew taller and bigger the dogs first ignored me and then started collectively hating me. Thats life.

Anyways, the distance between my office and that comforting bed at home was 3 dogs. 3 goddamned dogs. Two of them were stationed a few minutes away from office and the other dog, whose ferocity was matched only by its disdain and hatred for me, was a few minutes away from my home. I set out towards my journey watchfully and cautiously. The thing is, all that caution and watchfulness kind of makes you want to pee. Its one of those mysteries of life. A little bit of context is necessary here. I was walking on the streets of India. There is a saying that in America you can kiss on the streets but not pee. India on the other hand, you cant kiss there publicly. No sir. But when you pee on the streets hardly anybody gives a damn. Now I find peeing on the road particularly distasteful. Its shows lack of civic sense and all that jazz. But there are exceptions to the rule. Especially when I am the one who is peeing. This time around it was kind of an emergency so it had to come in the exceptional category. The next step was to find a private place to pee in. The ideal location was a dog free and people free location. And there it was. The perfect place. The oasis in the desert. I hurriedly walked to the location and started the process. Ah, what bliss. Unfortunately, before there could be a happy ending,  I heard a dangerous growl a few metres away from me. And then incessant obnoxious barking from another dog. It was the 2 dogs. The pair of lunatics who had undying loathing towards me. I was literally caught with my pants down. A strange philosophical insight occurred to me at that moment. If you search for something really closely you will tend to miss it if its right under your nose. I had miraculously managed to miss looking at the dogs when I was finding a place to pee. I was abruptly jolted out of my philosiphising of fundamental arguments when the two dogs started approaching me in an unfriendly manner. I instinctively pulled up my zip and bolted from the scene as fast as I could. I somehow managed to get lost in the crowds and was able to outwit and outrun the dogs who were chasing me as if their life depended on it. It was a close shave and I had come out of the battle unscathed. Well, to be honest, almost unscathed. In my hurry to flee from the battle scene I was not able to complete the business that I had set out to do in an orderly manner. The dogs had interrupted when the fountain was flowing in all its glory. The end result was an event that normally occurs to small kids when they are sleeping. I believe that a storyteller should never forsake realism and should always safeguard it. But some details can be omitted, especially in exceptional circumstances, if you know what I mean.

Now there is a reason for me punishing the readers with an in-depth analysis of my ill-mannered bathroom exploits. There is a very practical lesson in store for the reader who paid attention to the story. The lesson is that do not, intentionally or unintentionally, pee in a dog's territory. No matter what the urgency or emergency. And especially if they harbour deep, inexplicable and murderous resentment towards you. Dogs dont take too well to competition in territorial matters. You pee on their territory and you are asking for trouble.

After that brief but scary encounter with these two dogs I carried forth with my journey. Now only one dog separated me from my destination. And there it was. Around 100 metres away from me. We looked at each other. Neither of us making any move. It reminded me of those western movies where 2 enemies keep looking at each other and are about to pull a gun any moment. Basically, I had two options. The first option was to be brave and walk past the dog anyway. Hoping that the dog gets confused with the apparent foolishness and lets you go. The second option was to be safe (Or be a coward. Depends on the way you see it and which side you are on) and take a longer route to my home which would circumvent the dog. Obviously, I opted for the safer route. The dog, as I had previously mentioned, was pretty ferocious.

Even though the safer route would increase my travel time by 5 minutes it would ensure that I would land up 200 metres ahead of the dog while taking the lane to my home. I congratulated myself for being a sensible person and for outwitting another one of the dogs once again. I had almost reached the lane to my home when suddenly out of nowhere that giant, unfriendly, monstrous and ferocious dog leapt into the road with only a few meters between us. It was an ambush! I was completely taken by surprise and was virtually caught with my pants down yet again. The last time the dogs chased me, there was a teeming crowd which helped me get away. But this area was almost deserted. Also, this would be my second sprint in a matter of minutes and thus would not be able to sprint as hard due to tiredness. Taking everything into account, the odds of me evading that dog were on the lower side. If I had to bet, I would give myself a one in twenty chance. I had to shake myself off from my mathematical meditation as the dog started approaching me and I could almost imagine a grin on its face. I sprinted away as fast as I could. But as I had foreseen, the dog was winning the chase and would be on me any moment. Just when all hopes seemed to be lost, a kid on a bicycle came to my rescue and threw a handy stone at the dog. The stone missed, but the dog was startled by the entry of a third force. This called for a change in strategy. The dog had not accounted for allies who would come to my support. If you see it from the dog's perspective, the bicycle would seem like a tank and the stone would seem like a bullet. The dog made the tactical decision to go for prudence rather than valour. And quietly and sulkingly retreated to its territory.

I thanked the wonderkid for his unexpected help and support and awarded him with an ice-cream for his valiant efforts. The kid was happy with the ice-cream but I have a feeling he felt sorry for me. I was hoping that the kid could accompany me till my home but unfortunately our paths diverged at a park some 300 meters away from my home. We shook hands graciously and separated as friends while parting. All alone, I decided to sit in the park for a while. I was tired with all that sprinting and running around and wanted a breather. And, uh, I was waiting for the coast to get cleared. You never know, the dog might be lurking around for another ambush.

I sat on the first bench I could reach. Two small kids and a maid were sitting on the bench next to me. One of the kids was a boy of around 3 years and his elder sister was around 6. The boy seemed like a pain in the neck. A bit like me when I was a kid. His sister on the other hand, seemed to be in love with that rotter. She played with him, told him stories and held him affectionately. The rotter was a jerk but. He would make a big scene when his elders told him to not play in the mud. When nothing worked, his sister pulled out her trump card- a packet of chips. The rotter's eyes were wide open now and he was greedily eyeing the packet. The sister was struggling to open the packet. After eventually opening it, she took a couple of chips in her hand and offered it to me. "Here Uncle, have some chips." she said sweetly. Though I was a bit offended at being called an uncle I was touched by her offer and thanked her for the chips. The rotter was staring at her furiously for distributing the treasure to strangers. While she was handing me the chips, he had grabbed the packet and was guarding it close to his chest. He gave a few chips to the maid but refused to give any to his sister. The sister was trying to cajole him but to no avail. The maid offered some of her chips to the sister but she steadfastly refused even though I could see she was tempted to have one. I then heard her saying "We should offer it to everyone should we not". The punk responded by giving one more chip to the maid but none to his sister. I thought to myself "I really hope I have a daughter. Sons are nothing but punks and rotters"

The sister was then telling the maid "You know how the other children at school make fun of me. They say I am Ak Ak Ak Akshata. As if they are sneezing". The rotter had a sadistic smile on his face as if enjoying his sister's torment. That's when I decided that enough was enough and intervened. I approached the sister and said " Thanks again for the chips. And Akshata, you are a good girl".  "Thank you Uncle" she replied shyly but happily. Then, with as much depth in my voice as I could muster I told the rotter "You should give some of those chips to your sister". The rotter turned from bully to pussy in front of authority and immediately offered a handful of chips to his sister. "Thats like a good boy" I replied and left from there. When I looked behind my shoulder, Akshata was happily putting chips into the mouth of that rotter.

I carried on my journey towards my home. It wasn't too far now. The bed and the book were beckoning. I was looking around carefully for another ambush from the ferocious dog but the surprise came from another source altogether. A cow and a smaller bull were galloping straight towards me!

"Woooooooooooooooo" I cried and jumped away in the nick of time while the cow and the bull passed me dangerously closely. The Cow and the Bull were excited because the smaller Bull was trying to hump the larger Cow. And the Cow was either not interested and was looking to avoid the Bull or it was trying to find a private spot in a hurry. The Bull was making repeated attempts to climb the Cow. The Bull's penis kept coming in and out and was sharp and pointed. It reminded me of a Swiss Knife I had seen. In and out. Sharp and pointed. "You bloody motherfucking Bull. That Cow is old enough to be your mother" I thought and proceeded towards home. I finally reached home and opened the gates to my apartment while warily checking for crazy creatures around the corner. It felt good to be home and to be alive and kicking.





Monday, August 27, 2012

A dinner conversation

"Robin, Pass me the juice"

"Sure Mama"

"Did you taste the Risotto Robbie? It is just the way its made back home"

"Absolutely Mama. It reminded me of Aunt Teresa's cooking"

"Yes dear boy. Did you read the thank you letter sent by Chatterjee? It was so sweet of him dont you think?"

"Yes Mama. It was nice. Its good he has not forgotten us after becoming President. Thats sort of humble"

"Forget us? My foot! He will never forget us. Not because he likes us. But he knows which side of his bread is buttered. He is a wily cat that Chatterjee. But he is always loyal to the family and you have to grant him that. Thats why I chose him for presidency"

"But Mama, if he does not like us why did you make him the president"

"Because you cannot be an emotional fool. Robin, hasn't Politics still taught you that trust no one, like no one and respect no one except your family. This decision was for the family. Even if Chatterjee loathes us from the bottom of his disgusting heart, which I think he does, I would still reward him. He has been loyal to the family and that's what matters. Judge everyone by their loyalty first and last. I know that Chatterjee will choose our family over his country any day"

"Thats true Mama. Chatterjee deserves a promotion after all the doggie work he has done for us. I have to appreciate your thinking Mama"

"Plus he knows things. If he had not been such an invaluable soldier for the family I would have considered disposing him. In Chess, it is sometimes important to sacrifice minor pieces like soldiers so that other important pieces get a superior positional advantage"

"Other important pieces like the Queen. Right Mama? Can I watch the news Mama. Please."

"Not today. The news is too depressing. The laalis are hounding us again today. It must be all over the news. Put on something nice and pass me the roasted Lamb"

"What do you want to see. Can we watch some soccer?"

"Yes. If you wish. And Robin, you still need to learn to be discreet about Rosemary. Tell her to quieten down. She cannot be all loud and belligerent. The laalis are always on her lookout so this kind of behaviour is not tolerable. One slip and our reputation goes poof into thin air"

"I am sorry Mama. I will inform her you were displeased with her behaviour"

"And be discreet about Tanya as well. You see, I dont want Rosemary to ever know. When you displease a woman you risk your whole empire falling apart"

"But how did you know about Tanya?"

"Oh Robin. I thought you would be more sensible than your sister but you have a totally different set of problems. You are turning out to be so gullible so naive and so innocent which just does not befit the man in the family. Try to understand that even if you want to let go of Tanya she will not want to let go of you. You are the goose that will lay her the golden eggs. Really Robin, I am getting sick of your affairs. You think you can hide things from me. If I was so stupid I would not have been in this position. You should be ashamed of yourself. Hiding things from me like this. And make sure you keep your hot-bloodedness in check the next time"

"But Mama, she was saying things like she cannot be without me and that she worships me and is devoted to me like no one else can ever be. She said she could not live without me"

"You fool. You get suckered into those things. Next time she contacts you inform me immediately. You cannot tackle a silly girl how will you be able to handle your cunning party people and those horrendous laalis"

"I will be careful next time Mama"

"Just remember that when you rule this country you will need to have your wits around you. You will be attacked from all corners. One goof-up and they will tear you apart into pieces. You have to sober down and be more aware. If you dont get smart quickly even your Mama will not be able to save you"

"I have cut down on my smoking and my drinking"

"Yes, but that has not stopped you from acting stupid already. Buck up baby. Its very important. Look how our village has become more prosperous. Look at our family back home. You have to carry on the legacy and make the family proud"

"I promise you Mama that I will take care and be more careful. I will be really smart and cunning as you want me to be"

"Thats like my good boy"

"By the way Mama, the violence seems to be escalating in the eastern part of this country"

"Dont worry Robbie. Our dear old Sampath Singh is working at it. And Subramaniam is always there. I have informed him that if need arises he has to divert the issue"

"Ah. Subramaniam Uncle is on it. Then there is really nothing to worry about. What would we have done without him. What do we have for dessert tonight Mama?"




Saturday, August 18, 2012

Memoirs of a sleepless traveller

I have a particularly mixed record of sleeping during train journeys. In some fortunate journeys, I fall asleep instantaneously. Almost as soon as I put my head onto the pillow. But not so in most journeys. During these journeys its a constant battle between sleep and just tossing and turning restlessly in the rather smallish bed you find in Indian railways. This particular journey that I am recounting was one such battle. It was three AM and sleep thus far was successful in evading me. The more I longed for sleep the more it ran away from me. Like a wily temptress. For some obscure reason I always think of sleep as a feminine entity. Perhaps, due to the unpredictable nature the better sex commonly possesses.

I finally gave up longing for sleep and decided to venture out to the station that had just arrived. It was a chilly night and I had an irresistible urge to purchase a steaming hot cup of tea that was being sold in the station.The tea was excellent but whatever semblance of hope for sleep I had were dashed. The tea had made me wide awake. Instead of going back to my allocated bed I decided to sit near the entrance of the coach. When the train would start, a gush of windy fresh air would strike my face.Its quite a pleasant experience especially if you are in a reflective mood deep into the night.But it seemed I was not the only one with the same idea. The person who was sharing my cabin in the train was already seated there. I sat next to him, slightly irritated because I was looking forward to some solitude and reflection.

"So you are not able to sleep as well" He asked me cordially

"Yes. Sleep has been elusive tonight. You are Manjunath if I remember correctly" I replied. We had already exchanged pleasantries and made small talk in the evening. I wanted to test whether I could remember his name. I generally have a bad time recognizing faces and remembering names. So I preferred to sort out the issue at the onset rather than get corrected later on.

"Yes. My name is Manjunath. Sleep has not been kind to me either. So I thought I might as well get some fresh air"

"You look especially tired. When was the last time you had some good sleep. Because it looks like you could do with some"

"Hehe. I would love some sleep. I haven't slept a wink the last 4 days to be honest"

"No wonder you look so tired. What's bothering you if I may ask". I have generally noticed that people do not mind if you are intrusive in a train journey. So I felt it was a perfectly legitimate thing to ask.

"Well, there are things of the past that bothers you. You know something that keeps haunting you"

"You mean something of the past that you regret now". There is something about train journeys that makes you talk. In one instance, a person had revealed to me his darkest and most intimate secrets. Maybe its the fact that you may never meet the stranger again and that makes people tell stuff to strangers that they would never dare to tell anyone they know.

"Exactly. You have the right word. Its regret"

"Regret? What sort of regret?" I was kind of piqued. These sort of things make me really curious.

"You know, general things" he said vaguely. He was suddenly becoming uncomfortable. As if realizing that I am a complete stranger rather than a confidante. I did not want to pester him but my curiosity was getting the better of me

"Even I have regrets" I replied "Had I studied harder for the entrance exam I would have secured a better college". I hoped me stating my regret would tempt him to reciprocate

"I do not mean any offense but I advise you to not lose sleep over that. It is a bit childish If I may use the word. Is that all you regret about?" He asked me in an obviously envious tone

"It may seem childish to you but it is something I regret. What about you. What's your regret?"

"The thing I regret happened a long time back. Around 6 years ago. When I was around your age"

"Back when you used to worry about exams" I said tongue-in-cheek

"Yes. Those were the golden days when I had still not grown-up. I had gone to visit a friend in a neighbouring town. I remember we had gone to see a movie that evening. While we were coming back we witnessed a bunch of people with swords and sticks in their hands going after a man carrying a child. It was a mob. The mob was chanting religious slogans continuously and in front of our eyes they managed to catch up with the man they were chasing"

He began to hesitate at this point. This time I was not keen on goading him to talk. Even I remained silent. I had half a mind to terminate the conversation and go back to my bed. While the other half was resisting the temptation and wanted to hear the whole story. Before I could decide he got over his hesitation and began again.

"What I saw next was unbelievable. The mob caught up with the person and in their frenzy started brutally assaulting the person with their swords. And they did not spare the child as well. It was a little girl. Both were being butchered. Their cries were like scared chickens shrieking during their deaths. Luckily, as it was dark, me and my friend were not noticed. After around 10 minutes, the mob started walking away from the scene. Me and my friend were shaking heavily during the carnage. But once everyone left we came out of hiding and approached the man and the child. The man was writhing in pain. He was not dead yet but we could see he would not survive. He had been viciously slaughtered. Inspite of the pain the man was pointing towards the kid. His daughter. As if pleading to us to save the kid. The girl was bleeding as well but not as much as her father. I asked my friend 'We should take the girl to the hospital. I think she may still survive' My friend thought for a while and then  replied 'But they started it 2 weeks back when they had slaughtered one of us. Why should we spare these idiots. Its better we leave'. And do you know what I replied"

"What?" I asked

"I said 'You are right. Lets leave at once. The idiots need to be taught a lesson'. And I left that little child, that little girl lying there in the pool of blood. I just left her. Heartlessly. Mercilessly. Mindlessly. I even conveniently forgot about it and successfully removed from my mind all traces of guilt that I should have felt. Until a few days back. A few days ago a little girl was born to me. To remind me of my sins.

And he started sobbing thereafter. A grown up man sobbing in front of a stranger. My mind had become blank after listening to his narrative. I put my hands on his shoulders and tried to console him. He withdrew his shoulder and wearily retreated to his bed trying hard to control his sobs.

A couple of hours later his station had arrived. Before leaving, he came towards me, nodded his head and gave me a slight grin. With that silent goodbye, he unloaded his luggage and climbed down into the platform of the station.