Friday, December 19, 2008

The Masquerade…

Attracted by the charming evanescence bursting through the yellow bright halogen light; purloined from the slippery grasp of the world at large, the moth reached its demise by immolation on the hot tubes of the halogen lights. Its sudden jerking noise of death was heard by nobody over the drumming of drums and cymbaling of cymbals. Nobody paid attention to its twisting body-on-the-plastic-reflector as it convulsed feebly in unexpressed pain and burning heat. Nobody looked up from the drama unfolding on the lowly earth beside the river to hear the twirling of its wings, curling of its leg in unseen coruscation. He was unknown, a non-entity in death.

Except that somebody had indeed paid attention. Just as it were going to evaporate off its existence, just as its last traces of being were absolved criminally by heat pain and deceit of light; Vishnu the director of Ram Leela looked up from the act, his attention diverted by the scrawny noise emanating from creature-melting-on-the-reflector. He quickly withdrew his eyes though; murder of an ignominious insect from the millions zooming across was of least concern to him. Big things were happening and were scheduled to happen that night. Of course he didn’t know then that they were not in the manner he had designed or anticipated…                                                                                          

On the stage, Inder, the person enacting part of the monkey god Hanuman was doing a perfect gig. Jumping and swaddling, with his artificial tail swinging behind him; he effectively conveyed the loyalty and allegiance towards his saviour lord.

‘Thou lord, O mine! Don’t worry you should. This humble monkey is on your footsteps to serve, he will do anything you need. O swear of the heathen skies of this tempestuous day; O witness this rowdy winds! Because thy will do anything for you, so be it to cross the seven seas. For your help, I’ll uproot the world if you need, my benevolent master!’

The older generation of the crowd ooh-ed and aah-ed at the display of such heart rendering fealty and kinship. Most of the young lot were not present, and those who were, were on verge of falling asleep. Trials and travails of idealistic gods were out of vogue, it seemed to Vishnu. But it wasn’t the composition of crowds he was concerned about. It was the reactions of seeing somebody like Inder enact their favourite part he was worried about. It had been tough decision to cast Inder. But he was fabulous, and fitted the bill with his huge frame and power packed arms.

Inder was a recluse without choice. He was an idealistic man, who was left without any other option but to be alone. People avoided Inder simply because they were afraid of him. More often than not, streets of crowd would vanish wherever he went. And that is not a hyperbole. It was too much to face what he might say. Of what he might make them realize. Of what he might make them stop them from doing. He was far too honest and blatant to be accepted by majority. Inder was devoid of any empathy and any belonging. He just floated adrift as if a tiny pore; unhinged and uncared for. Shunted and avoided, he had slowly started to become paranoid. Not mad. Not demented. Not delinquent. Plainly filled to brim with fear and anxiety of how the world was turning out. Fear, which we usually ignore…

The next scene was about his conversation with Shani; Saturn who had chosen to arrive in Hanuman’s destiny at the crucial junction of building of Ram setu. According to the script he had to convince him to come some other time, since he had to do such a tedious job. But Inder being Inder did what he wanted to. Or what he felt he should have.

‘O thou master of discipline! Thou harbinger of hard work! Thou supplicant of efforts!’ he cried loudly, deviating away from the script and dialogues. The guy who played Shani looked confusedly towards Vishnu, who gave anxious and urgent looks; as if asking him to somehow cover up for heavens sake!

‘The lord of those divine rings of sternness! The master of ultimate tests of life! The bringer of all the trails to meek humans; how should I lend protection to these twitches running at my door to seek help against you?’ Inder continued. A young boy laughed and everybody looked at him in surprise which stifled it immediately.

‘I am helpless o lord of toil, I am puzzled and simply out of wits as to what and how to say to these shameless and spineless creatures… tell me what should I do, so that they can avoid hard work you want them to go through. Tell me what should I do, so that they live a life without learning lessons. Lead me my lord!’

The crowd got startled and started buzzing like a huge sonorous bee. This was one of the reasons why Vishnu was so worried about casting Inder. He was forever controversy’s illegitimate child. The bee was almost ready to sting when the Shani character got up, hurriedly blurted some dialogues and changed the scene. Inder, crestfallen and disappointed walked to the backstage. He felt abject frustration. Something he wasn’t able to convey to anybody properly. Ironically that fuelled the frustration. ‘It is high time’ he thought.

When he was supposed to imitate Sita; who was applying the sindoor on her forehead as a mark of respect for her husband Rama; he had to apply the same sindoor all over his body to show the innocent gesture of unwavering fealty. But, after applying the sindoor he again started to deviate from his scripted dialogues. Thankfully for Vishnu it started to rain then which distracted the viewers and gave him the opportunity to usher Inder aside and promise to murder him the very next opportunity if he at all alter his dialogues once again. This blew the lid off Inder. He could take that no more.

Just when his last scene was to begin, he picked up a drum and slung it around himself. The scene did not need him a drum. It was where he had to tear his chest to show the divine pair was present in his heart and thus always was with him wherever he went. But Inder had different things on his mind.

He started beating the drum loudly and began in an announcing voice. Ignoring the rest of the cast and whatever dialogues they were uttering, he began to rant his tirade against a world which had always suppressed him under its feet. And then there was no stopping him.

‘O listen the skies as I defile this innocuous platform for expression. O hear the gods as I besmirch the tranquillity of thoughts. O heed the lords because I come out and say what I wanted to say, what I had to say, but what couldn’t say, hadn’t been given a chance to say all throughout! Open your ears O fools because this is no drama I am doing. Listen to me once for you may never get a chance to follow the path of right again…’

‘O the supreme almighty, O the creator of universe, I have been denied in this creation of yours! I have been shunned and made desolate in this enchanting world of yours. All because a few ears were getting pricked by the words coming out on your order. All because somebody had taken up the mantle to say what had to be said; what was supposed to be said. Come to my aid O goodness! Help me in their distress…’

‘This world you created has failed you miserably. You made them for peace. They fight for maintaining that. You gave them intelligence to create. They destroy using that. You asked them to spread love through religion. They spread hatred through that. You asked them to be united, together and for a single cause. They divide themselves on the basis of cause. You asked them to be satisfied. They ask for more and more after that. You asked them to do good. They keep on doing bad. You asked them to search you within. They search you everywhere but there. You asked them to grow. They pull down the one who does that. You asked to repent, become compassionate. They do just the opposite of that. This world is a failure my lord. We are all being led into a huge gaping blackhole of demise. Slowly but surely. We are inching near and near all the time, each second, each moment every time one of your million children does something against your wish we are nearing there… very surely and most definitely.’

He started prancing around the stage then. His red sindoor coloured body got exposed to rainwater time and again making him look as if he had had a blood bath. He beat his drums even more loudly, as everyone stared at him in complete silence, in rapt attention to his every word.

‘What am I? Who am I? They make a mockery of me my lord! They whisper behind my backs, yes. They don’t think I know, but I most certainly am aware. They call me an ape. A stupid idiotic brainless monkey, who follows every order of you; my lord! Without once thinking up for himself! They just outwardly respect me. It’s just a show off, pernicious attitude. They don’t really care. They don’t really learn. They don’t see that Hanuman brought the Sanjeevani Booti on time. They see that he has brought the whole mountain along. They don’t see that Hanuman is pure and consummate. They see that he is loyal and unquestioning. They don’t see the devotion. They see his unwavering service. They keep on jesting in their minds. They don’t respect. They lie to you and me that they respect. They lie to the world that they respect. They lie to themselves when they say that they respect. The fact is that they don’t respect themselves my lord. How can they ever respect us?’

‘They don’t learn my lord. I keep on trying to make them learn. I keep on showing them hints to learn. Keep on telling them stories to learn from. Try to rouse the devotion in their soul so that they might learn. But to no effect master. They remain the same every time. They keep on continuing with their idiocy. They keep on following each other and end up going nowhere. They keep on failing me, you once twice thrice every time. They fail and fail miserably. And after doing that they try to hide the failure by acting. Yes my lord, we have gathered a world of actors out here. They are just acting, masquerading hiding in the shadows of self doubt to SHOW that they know. But do they by acting to do so? No my lord. They remain as ignorant as they were. They do not grow. They do not move out of their comfort zone…’

The drum beat reached the penultimate level of crescendo then. The world seemed to revolve around Inder and his volcanic eruption of suppressed thoughts anger anxiety, oh whatever you name them.

‘But do I despair? Nay my lord, I don’t. But do I lament? Ye my lord, sadly I have to do that. I lament that I have not been listened to. Not once, twice thrice but since forever. Oh hear they do, but never ever have they paid attention to my voice. Never ever thought about what it said, what it guided. I have just been heard as a drone, as a lecture. Or else they use me, woo me, lure me, bribe me whenever they need help. Yes that is what they do. Either ignore or bribe. Nothing else. They don’t see they don’t pay attention. They don’t feel my beloved lord! They have lost the sensation. I am now a nothing, a variable, a non entity amongst the hordes of troubling matters you had created for them to enjoy. They have lost touch with the simplicity which imbibes in the greatness of creativity. They are just copying, freaking bloody copying. They don’t look out for real lesson. Everything is supposed to be tailor made and spoon feeded into their mouths now. The exploration has been lost. The voyage into the inner realms has been lost. They look at me as if I am just a symbol. Hanuman the Lanka torcher. Hanuman the ring carrier. Hanuman the planet saviour. Hanuman the abstract strength. Hanuman the blah blah blah… but not the Hanuman of innocent innocuousness. Hanuman the devoted messenger of hope. Hanuman the personification for grit and perseverance. They just see me as the one who tore open his heart to show to people that you are in there.’

Inder started banging his chest dangerously then.

‘But they don’t see that I actually want to say that you live in there.’

He started to pull at his skin, digging his nails and his brute strength into his body.

‘They don’t see that I mean to say that you are everywhere, here there and nowhere’

Blood started to trickle out then. Vishnu realised what was happening and broke away from the trance when it happened finally.

‘They don’t see that you are in them, me, yourself and everybody my lord, my master. They fail to recognise you; fail to see you feel you get connected with you. They fail to see that you are in here.’ And he tore apart his chest.

Dead silence followed. Slowly it came around to Inder what had happened. He saw his body ripped by his own hands, his hands stained red by the sindoor, wet by rain and his blood; managed to fall down with a smile and swam in a pool of red water, his blood mixed with rain and sindoor.

Nothing happened at all. Just a single ring of fright shame and realization rang across hundreds of hearts as the rains raged on and clouds thundered. After all it was just one person less at the end. If you see it from the mathematics perspective. Clouds were fighting and rain was falling, within few hours they would subside and probably after few years Inder too would become an object of gossip, his final message being unheralded after all. It was just one down according to maths. No big deal…

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dancing eyes!

The sudden, harsh outburst of light struck me defenceless, crippling me for few moments... Getting up before it, as a victim raises its head before its impaler seconds before he is going to be executed, I saw that it had blinded me completely. All I could see was the swirling mist of darkness. All I could feel was helplessness, desolation.

Then there was a jerk, a shrieking noise of friction between two metals resisting each other’s inertia, a bump somewhere, and clouding sigh as if something exhausted had taken a long deserved break. The cumulative result was that I had been spared of one nightmare to enter into another. And this time there was no escaping it. I guess when you live a reality of nightmare; there is no end to your woes. To put it in mundane words, I woke up.

I got up from my berth, which was the lowest one, and felt around in the darkness for water bottle. The bloody jerking halt of train had rolled it down. I squatted on the floor and finally traced it cuddling along with luggage under the seat. Breaking into its leaky romance, I opened the cap and drank some noisy gulps of water spilling most of it on my dress. 

My movements woke her up from the top most berth, so I decided I did rather switch to discreet mode. But unlike me there was respite for her in matters of dream and reality, so the question of transition existed too. Albeit a slow one.

She yawned loudly, though never pointedly. I would have loved it had she done it that way. Oh the list of the things I would have loved in her! Incorporated and sealed like an unchangeable programme... But I haven’t been given that luxury. I have to live up with pity and remorse. Remorse and pity. Like alternating current these two things keep on coming and destabilising my paradise. Sometimes from my side. Sometimes from theirs.

‘What happened Shyam? You need something?’ she asked, her voice coated with unbearable affection.

‘Nothing dear. I’ll manage’ I grunted, trying to keep away the derisiveness in my voice.   

‘Oh well then I’d rather go back to sleep…’ she said again falling down on the hard makeshift bed sprung up between the top and the bottom berths. Within seconds she was again peacefully snoring. That left me with my darkness and loneliness. And incompleteness. And of course the living nightmares. Nice little chirrupy world of fascination of mine. Complete in black and white. Black for good and white for bad. So easy was it to fall back saying its ok and peacefully ease into sleep. So damn fucking easy!   

Swirling within the light grey hued tempest of visions I tried doing the same thing as her. I fell back on my inflated pillow. I tried to rest. To be calm. To imagine her face as I had known it and visualise that smile which used to cool off everything within me in an instant. No that was not working any better. I’d rather throw the pillow across the seat and suffocate the heavy snores obviously coming from an elderly lady. Alas!

I got down, rummaged around the floor to locate my footwear, finally found them crushed beneath the elderly lady’s suitcase, snatched it out and set rolling about in the crowded aisle of the dark train. Managing to get down, I rumbled a few feet into the darkness on the empty station platform. When I asked a hurried gentleman about the station, he told we had reached Igatpuri. It was safe. The train was going to wait for long since the engines were changing for uphill climb of the Sahyadri. There was plenty of time.

Sudden hooting of a horn brought back those excruciating memories. Wasn’t it at a similar juncture in a similar environment I had lost my ability to be normal again? Ever again! Do I hear the same horn blaring in the midst of that rain washed street? Do I see the same child jumping across the road, bobbing behind his ball which had gone astray on the road? Do I see the same car zooming across, zipping past deliriously? Do I see a drunken truck driver losing control of his gargantuan beast? Do I feel the sickening rise of realisation up in my throat? Do I run in the middle of an obvious crash to rescue the confounded child? Do I see collision just inches away from me? Do I realise the gravity of the situation when my eyes watch the last scene of their lives? Do I dread, get appalled fascinated intrigued angry guilty confused moved and marvelled all at the same time when I see tiny shards of glass from the exploded windshield of the car fly towards me like mini daggers? Tiny pesky little bits of glass which wouldn’t have caused anything more than a tiny pinprick if it had hit me at any other part of my body! But these tiny pesky little bits of glass were deemed to hit the most sensitive tissues of my body. And render me a cripple forever. Do I scream in anguish agony dereliction frustration agony pain excruciation torment and loss at the spasms of paining running through my body? Do I collapse down writhing and jerking like and repugnant dead body? Do I hear the doctors announce my fate nonchalantly, pushing me into an irrecoverable hell? And does the oddly silenced hospital air is troubled when my cry rants into it when I realise I have been announced a blind without any hope of recovery? Yes I do. Because judging from the fluttering of wings on the nearby tree, and resting of a soft hand on my shoulders, I had again screamed out in exasperation. Another thing which I realised was the station must be empty, devoid even of the station master, since no one else had been roused enough to get up and help me.

‘Shyam… Oh Shyam!’ she sighed into my ears, cradling my head into her bosom. I cried uncontrollably, sniffing and snotting like a kid in his mother’s arms. I felt lost, even when I had no reason to feel so, when I had the most treasurable treasure in the world. I felt incomplete even when I was crying in my lovers arms, even when I was under the warm and cosy comfort of the blanket of love. To tell the truth, I was not crying out of anxiety. It was the understanding of the loss in the battle which made me behave like a puny. They were tears of anguish which trickled down my cheeks. It was hopelessness.

When there is darkness, absolute and muffled darkness around a person, it is then he can feel the need for light. And when the darkness is the call of doom; irresolute and unchangeable; it is then the person feels the loss of life. I had lost my life then, there in my lovers caring and compassionate arms. Her sweet words of consolation making me realise their futility, making me realise the absence of life light joy fun and happiness. I lost a battle in a field of comfort and got slayed by my benefactor.

I felt for her face, trying to memorise it the way I remembered; the indent of her nose, the long eyelashes, the high cheekbones, the neat brow line, the soft curl of hair falling on her ears, the smoothness of her skin, the suppleness of her lips, the lusciousness of her pout, the edges of her smile, the dimple on her left cheek, the birthmark on her back… I tried to see everything with my hands, feel the love radiate through my fingers, feel the passion of my love through the touch. I smiled for the last time, giving up in my battle. The white flag was unfurled.

She took my face into her cupped arms, and the waft of her aroma entered my nose. My knees went weak again, as I felt the burden on my heart relaxing. Then she brought her lips to touch mine. And then the world got lost as I got united with my benefactor/slayer. I felt the heat pulsing through each pore of my body, felt the wetness of her lips, the shyness of her tongue, the impatience of her lips as they slipped over mine; trying to overcome each other, but overcoming the world… For once, and the last time I was devoid of anything. It was just she and me and overlapping lips fighting the world under the pretext of one another. And the rest was a zilch.

After several millenniums solace, I broke away and smiled. And smiled some more. The fatigue was slowly coming back, but something still kept me guarded. There was some light still. Or some trace of it. Like a remnant drop of elixir in the goblet of eternity. But then, just like the door shutting out the single slit of evanescence bursting in the darkness, everything turned pitch black and dark again. Darkness was victorious once more.

‘Come inside Shyam. We’ll fight this. We shall overcome everything. I love you. And you love me. We will waddle our way through.’ She said. I listened with irony bearing down on my heart again.

How sad... How very sad!

My native town was bang in the centre of the country at Nagpur. Since my early childhood the train journey from Mumbai to Nagpur through Vidarbha express was a matter of habit. And every time I had noticed the prolonged halt at Igatpuri junction for change of engines. I suppose it was destined I had to use this innocuous bit of information so cruelly later, after my death before death.

‘Of course my love. I know you will be there for me. I’ll come… soon.’ I said.

She lapped it up, all that pretence and holding of grit and nerves. I barely could hold back my tears, but I had to, it was me and not she who was blind. I can still imagine her smiling in agreement, her face smeared with collective tears both from her seeing, and my blind eyes. I can imagine her coming near my face for the last time and kiss me silently first on the cheek, then lightly on my lips and after rubbing her nose against mine turning behind and leaving nothing but bitter memories and her sweet fragrance in the air.

I turned in the darkness to face god knows what. Now picture this. A boy is deeply in love with the girl who loves him equally in return. Fate plays a cruel game with them when the boy is rendered blind for the rest of his life. Both are destroyed and devastated but both react differently to the situation. One is still hopeful, still believing, still optimistic. I don’t think there is any further need to elaborate the others condition. On insistence of the one, the other and the one are about to be married. The other suddenly comes up with an idea more than a month after the accident and a week before their engagement. He books a ticket for an up-down trip of his native place for both of them. One happily agrees to come, getting an opportunity to spend some time with the other. In midst of the journey other gets down on the station he knows is a long stop. The one follows him and they share their last good moment together. Other promises the one to come back. But other had different plans right from the time he booked tickets. He does not climb the train even when it hoots loudly. He lets it pass by and stays alone on the platform, distancing the one from the other. All smiles and grimaces he hears the bogies pass as the train carries away one from the other. And then the other stays… … … …

You might feel I am a very stupid and pessimistic person. But I am in love. And my love saw what my lover with eyes could not see. My love saw the incompletion which would have created a huge void between me and her. And thus my love decided it was better that we don’t stay with each other.

I am not weak. I am fearful. Not for myself. But what I would have done to her!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quenching the thirst of love...

I had traversed through the heathen realms of this asphyxiating world… I had crossed the seven seas of obstacles of this universe but my attempts in search for you went futile as it were. I had been failed, completely derided off my objective; mocked and trampled down upon by this cruel world. They laughed at me at my utter failure; they made fun of me at our separation. I was in disdain, left without grace or any supplication for survival. I am lost, o love, ‘coz this world has failed me, and has leaded me to my failure… I have been searching for long and yet devoid of your heart-warming countenance...

In your search, my love, I have been kicked and butted everywhere. Disgusted and frustrated, I have been thrown away and shown the door at every place I went for help. I have not been spared of single cause worthy of humiliation; yet don’t worry my love, I will persevere throughout. The flame of love that burns inside me will either immolate me, or incinerate this world at large. Our love shall lead this blind and uninitiated world to their destiny. Our love will pave path for them to realize love’s power. Our reunion will once again create history, as it creates every time we come together… don’t be in vain my love, I’ll tear down the three worlds apart, but not rest until I have finally laid my eyes on you.

And then whilst I was crossing the sun baked road of communion of the life, I saw you across the borderline and once again the thrill pounded my heart. Once again, my lips went dry in your thirst, and my throat screamed, willed to drink the immortal elixir through yours. I started to cross that golden hued street of rush, which had stopped suddenly to witness the marvel of our union!

But then, O my goodness, how bloody cruel can the creation be, because it sent the red wagon to carry you away from me, and once again we were separated in spite of being so near! I shouted in despair, I exclaimed in helplessness, I ran, I ran and ran behind you feeling you wanting you needing you yearning for you, yet still unbelievably away from you, so away yet so near, my fingers inches away from your neck, yet time and speed making a mockery of me again, and rushing ahead and ahead creating a void between us, a void I unsuccessfully kept on trying to fill, yet still maintaining to keep myself as distant from you as ever, and running and running I feel the scorching heat burn away the world, tear apart the land and redden the rust laden skies from which no tears of hope were ready to fall and cool down the aggravation of its child. But still I had to keep up with you, as fatigued and pained I was. And keep up I did, and still loitered in my ache, my throat burning in your desire, my heart melting at the torture of our distance and my lips thirsting for contact with you. I run and halt and breathe and exhale and sweat drop falls from my chin and Splash! it makes as my feet thumps on the blazed concrete of the road and pain sears through my sides and world starts to blur and things start to fade and eyes start to water but feet don’t stop because of passion of your ardour and the perseverance finally yields and you, my beloved love, my overflowing bounty of nectar in famine, my prized elixir of existence; you finally come within the grips of my hands!!!

And then I throw away the cap shrouding your lips from me, and finally I am able to feel those delicious rims of your smile, as the joy of your drink flows into my mouth.

Yes, Mangola never tastes better than when you are in real thirst of it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Justin is a girl!!

Just a few days ago, I got enrolled into my second year of Degree College, and within some days I got know this very pretty girl in the next class, who was in my year.

I had first seen her in the library, and then after a few casual glances exchanged; I was introduced to her by a common friend.

Oddly, her name made me go into a funny bit of nostalgia, not because I knew her previously, but because I knew a hilarious incident related to her name.

She said her name was Justin…

My childhood days were great adventurous times. I used to spend half my time outside the house in some or the other way. My mother used to find excuses to keep me off the house in some pretext or the other, the prankster and tazz-like whirlwind that I was! Sometimes I would be sent for extra curricular activities, sometimes to recreational classes. And this way in my first twelve years, an attempt was made to make me a jack of all trades! I would be sent to singing classes, and also to calligraphy and fine arts courses. I would be trained for dancing and also every weekend, I would be made to don a white robe, tie a long, loose and weird belt on my waist, which had to be tied by some weirder knots which I never figured out how to do myself. And the place in question was the weirdest; my karate, or as the instructors there used to prefer, my martial arts classes. And man they were full of peculiar incidents!

A particular one which I vividly recollect is the time when we had been taken to their bi-annual field trip of a week at Panvel.

Now at such times, students, or rather ninjas from all the branches spread in the city, would assemble together. Special training would be given by the top notch echelon of the institute and even the higher degree examinations (yes, believe me, they used to conduct paid exams!) would be taken over there.

I remember that the hall where we used to be trained and practiced was a tad bit walk away from our dormitories, and these bloody heartless twitches would make all of us, the young (I was twelve, and there were people younger than me!), and the old, up to that huge hall, which we had termed as room of echo’s, on account of the rebounding sounds issued in the place.

Now we were all organized in these strict files, and assigned partners randomly, in a way of order of standing. Usually people of the same class got to partner themselves, but once or twice, because of the serpentine queues, you could end up with someone really unknown. And that day I had.

Now I was twelve at that time, and naturally, hormones had not kick started their activities in my body as yet; and hence my affinity and amiability towards girls was hugely restricted. And particularly, I did not like ending up paired with a girl on the to and fro rounds of the room of echoes (you would have to hold their hands!! Eeesh!) Thus I was fairly relived that day, when my hand was held by a slightly intimidating guy who looked some two-three years older to me; having a crop of hair that seemed to be hacked off in a brutal fashion which didn’t suit him. There also came a sort of a subdued and delicate vibe from this person, as if his exterior frame was just a deception and he actually was a very frail and kind person. Even when he held my hand, there was this touch of frugality which tip-toed on the border of being feminine!

“Huh! What bozo!” I thought. “Cant even hold hands with the pre-requisite firmness!” To compensate for his weakness I strengthened my grip, to give a signal; be a man, hold tight!

He looked quite astonished when I did this, as if to say I had no etiquettes! But he spoke nothing, and just turned away his face. I thought I saw something reddening in it, but didn’t pay attention. I was in one of those jovial moods when I wanted to talk to everyone around, and I would have chatted him up even if he would have been a stone.

“What’s your name, by the way?” I asked

“Justin” he replied without turning away.

‘Justin’ I thought. ‘Cool’

“So Justin, where do you come from?” I cheerily asked, trying to sound extra care-free.

I think I missed my mark, because he looked more and more uncomfortable. The grip was progressively slackening, and I thought he was trying to sidle it off. I reinforced my pressure, and this time I distinctly saw him turning sunset red.

“Vile-Parle” he mumbled, hoping, I think, that that would shut me out, and slacken my grip. It wasn’t so although. If anything, it made me more curious.

“So that means you must be under Jugnu sir! How is he?” I asked.

Jugnu sir was our district head, and of all things I knew about him, he taught at Parle was one sure thing.

“Fine” he replied, his tone degrading to mortification.

What was making him so embarrassed, I thought? Was he one of those weirdoes’s that my friends were discussing previous day, who behaved peculiarly towards other guys, I wondered? Dunno. But this item is particularly strange…!

I gave up the idea of continuing my conversation with him, thinking it would not be fun. As it is we reached the hall in another minute, so my mind drifted easily.

Next day, as I trundled back to my dormitory after the evening session, I overheard the conversation of my two seniors. And their conversation was about this same guy Justin.

“Did you see her, man… damn sexy, huh?” one asked the other, his expression almost drooling. These were some just-turned-seventeen year olds and I guess had their hormonal activity going on in strong force.

“What? You prefer tom-boys?” the other one replied.

“No man, I mean her hairstyle is not so great, but did you catch the figure? Dude…” he replied, his voice dreamy, as if he was into some un-mentionable fantasy.

Thinking that these big dodos were misled, I decided to correct them. Unfortunately.

“Are you talking about that Justin who’s got that colossus height? The one who looks like he can knock the wind out of you, but can’t even kill a fly? Nah! He’s a guy.” I said, feeling I had brought enlightenment to two foolhardy idiots.

They stared at me for full two minutes in astonishment, wondering, I guess whether I was a human or not? Admittedly, at twelve I was lot smaller than them. That should have intimidated me, but it did not. I felt a strong sense of arrogant superiority. As if I was some super intelligent, big brained know-it-all and they some petty laymen. Stupid, idiot, foolish me.

Then suddenly they both burst out laughing, and my arrogance turned into chagrin. What was so funny?

“You got to grow up before you talk about girl’s kid” the first one said, pulling my cheeks in a rather un-innocently, reprimanding way.

“How will you know, you tho might not even be getting arousals!” the other guffawed, and gave a victorious high five to his partner, as if he had made a match-winning slam dunk! And then they moved on.

Next day I decided to scrutinize that guy/girl properly with my friends. When we were standing in our usual parade line in the morning, I and my chums minutely observed him/her.

I was aghast! He was indeed a girl! What am I speaking, she was indeed a girl. She was having this curvaceous body that would have put any normal guy to shame-of-suicide. Again I was laughed at and more humiliatingly, because it my friends this time who did so.

I was completely subdued and morose after that incident for a few days. I decidedly vowed never to use my big-useless dung of a brain. Apparently that trip was spoilt.

But on the last night, when there was this party thrown for every student to have a time of their lives (although it was preferable to stay asleep, the management and arrangement was so pathetic!) this girl Justin accidentally got just behind me in the queue for dinner-buffet. It was my turn to turn red and avoid things this time. She however had something else on her mind.

After she loaded her plate (I scurried off with an almost empty plate, to locate a deserted, Justin-free location), she caught up on me and smiled a wide smile.

I was taken aback at first and didn’t know what to respond. Strangely, I could still see only a guy in her face. Or maybe it was because I did not look anywhere below her eyes. But there was a strange glow in them, almost as if winking. She wanted to acknowledge my ignorance and stupidity. More importantly, she wanted to let it pass off. She wanted to absolve me of any guilt or shame…

Justin was a girl… But more-importantly, she was my first girl-friend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Across the Borderline!

The artillery fire had started quite early in the day, waking him up from his dreamless sleep earlier than usual. He was lying upside down on the no-mans land, his stomach heaving up and down, and fleas battling out for prized possession of his ears when a distant light shone on his face, alighting his gooey, saliva covered nose with mosaic of colors. Next second, a loud bang woke him from that troublesome reprise, and with a fear ridden, sleep deprived mind, he reacted on stimulus. The enemy would have unkindly called it jackals midnight call, yet it was his way of remarking to the brutality of the enemy. As it is, his cry was overshadowed in the incessant din caused by the continuous shelling.

It was nearing day break and he realized the futility of trying to rest and the day needed big preparations. The enemies were as it is creating environment not so conducive for peace. And preparations for war needed a lot of care to partaken. Sneezing, he braved through the suffocating mist of oncoming smoke to reach his den.

It seemed that the enemies had stocked unquenchable ammunition with them. The gunfire seemed to come from all directions, booming and ricocheting off from everywhere, making him shiver. He as the supreme commander of his forces knew it was practically impossible for his forces to overcome the enemy attack, yet he had to take a formidable stance to boost morale of his men. Yet the rattling of another bout of artillery made him shudder. But he had to fight. The time water reaches above its level, and patience is tested beyond it can be endured, there is no other way but to rebel and throw the brick back at the tyrants. Even if it posed danger to your life…

Through the thoroughly dirty by lanes near his den, strewn with roughly million pieces of blasted off grenades of those weapons of mass desecration, he moved on, lamenting how the once friendly relations with their enemies now had spoiled to become what it had became. Crunching the red and white bits beneath his paws, he moved to make preparations for the general assembly of all his comrades scheduled in the evening, just before the actual attack.

*

Almost everyone was present, fellows from every nook and corner, places as distant as another towns had gathered at the den in evening. Even the bourgeoisie class, those few favored, petted and fretted upon class; on whom the shower of affection was sprinkled by their enemies, managed to attend. Raghu, the supreme commander of the forces eyed them mistrustfully, as they were from the enemy camp, they might even be there as spies. If all he could, he would have debarred them. But Angad, the commander of forces in line desisted. He was of opinion that whoever and from wherever they were, at the end of the day, they were their own brothers. It will be a big blow to the morale of army if they saw their own people assisting enemy crowds. He also hoped some could be converted. But Raghu was not so hopeful. He still viewed them suspiciously. And he had also arranged for two of his men to surreptitiously keep an eye on the entire bourgeoisie attending that meet.

It was almost the time for twilight to mingle darkness with remnant residue of orangish green light of the day. Stars had started to twinkle, but the pale ghost of moon was missing that night. The atmosphere was charged, and apt for the gargantuan step they were about to take.

Scratching and sniffing, the congregation still behaved as rowdy mobs, which the truth be said, were. Rabies infected, rowdy, still they were just pernicious… apparently harmful, but from inside, completely hollow and as scared as wimps. As a matter of fact he could himself trace some groans and whimpers running amongst the crowd, noticeably Dadu, and Lobo, both of whom scared to hilt, two of the most timid of their kind. At every new noise of booming fire around them, they jumped in air, looking everywhere from the corners of their eyes, ready to run at the drop of the hat. It was piteous to see how hideously they behaved.

A rough growl suddenly erupted, drawing attention of Raghu. It was from Lukha, the most ferocious soldier of their army. Raghu relied on him very much to put the plan of action properly. If ever there was a person on whom he could trust his life on, it would have been Lukha. He had big plans in the night for him.

“I am getting impatient for action… I need some fight…” he said, spittle dribbling from the end of his mouth. His chain dangling savagely as he shook his head in anger.
Raghu decided that time was ripe to tell them now

“Friends, brothers and fellow hounds, we have gathered here to decide and execute our attack on the draconian humans, who have now reached the highest level of despondency… though the rules and traditions of the natural order suggest something else, through mutual decision, and after a lot of deliberation, we have decided that time has come to throw the brick back. And for that we have decided a three point short term plan. We also have on our agenda a major upheaval of the system through a systematized revolution which includes use of guerilla warfare, if need arises. As for the three point programme, it includes, as obviously you must know, three points. They are…”

His speech was interrupted suddenly by the accentuated increase in the shelling around. Few dogs jumped in fright, while others pretended grit, while their tails were firmly stuck inside. Raghu scowled. Humans might feel they were just crackers. The torture that they had to go through was inexplicable in words… oops, barks to put.

The whole drama started to increase from past five years. It was since last five to six years that they had started use of these terrible sky bombs which went up in a small shoot, but blasted at great heights blooming into multi colored flowers in the sky. To him it was as ugly as it could be; the voice and smoke notwithstanding. The terrible bombs which they used to blast on earth, and rails of crackers which they used to alight for obnoxious continuum of time were as it is difficult to handle, what with high number of cases falling casualty to such kind of ‘fun’ annually. But with advent of the era of such sky diving bombs, it had become unbearably intolerable. Frequency in cases of hyper-whimper, excessive stress, stuck tails, injured ears, un-pacifiable barking spree, excessive timidity, loss of barking or biting abilities, physical deformities or malfunctioning’s in newborns greatly increased, leaving apart the actual damage done by stray crackers, hidden for some sadistic enjoyment in nooks and corners, gang chase and attack on singled out dogs, and limps and physical injuries inflicted from actual contact with fire. After seeing this for five years, Raghu, born with a rebellious and self asserting streak, decided he had to do something about it. And his answer was this.

“Comrades, brothers and fellow dogs, don’t be intimidated by the enemy. Today is the day for vengeance and strife for equality and justice, for which we will fight and which we have to gain for our future generation. So please calm down, and listen to my plan, because today is to prove to these merciless pitiless hounds, that they are not alone. Pay attention to my three point plan.”

This seemed to have worked magic. As if infused with some new vigor, everybody brought back their attention, trying to overcome their fear and anxiety. Some actually did, and throwing their nose forward, they flapped their ears eagerly to show they were listening raptly.

This pleased Raghu. The spell was working.
“The first point is- A committee shall go and take care of ground level action. All the plausible and relatively resistible fireworks will be dampened or fused out using their you- know-what. Everybody having an urge to go to a pole, please sign up for this committee.”

“The second point is- Another group of most ferocious barkers will trail every alley and bark loudly each time they see anyone lighting a cracker. Especially a bomb. They will turn tables and frighten our tormentors instead!”

“The third point is especially for bourgeoisie class. They will openly challenge their so called owners, and destroy and rip all the firecrackers in their arsenal much before they are actually brought to battlefield. This can be done only if they are actively contributing to the fight, otherwise the three points will remain two; an unsupported lame struggle!”

He looked at the privileged members. They all had a look of somber anticipation and they wagged their tails ferociously in reply to assert their agreement to the cause.

Satisfied, he took a deep breath and barked, “CHARGE!”

*


In newspapers next day:
Sporadic incidents reported in the city. Disruptions in festivities due to stray dogs. Many injured because of accidents caused by sudden barking of dogs. Many frightened from bursting firecrackers again.

In newspapers after a year:
Steep decline in this year’s sale of firecrackers. Dog menace continues from last year. Very few areas peaceful.

And on muddy pawed headlines on a paper ten years later:
Noisy and polluting crackers BANNED!

*

P.s- I hope this does not happen.

P.p.s- This is not in any way inspired, or influenced or pepped up by the Hindi movie ‘ROADSIDE ROMEO’. I haven’t seen that movie yet.

P.p.p.s- The last part is my Diwali wish this year.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guilt, Shame... and End...

Guilt, shame, resignation, petrol, smoke, blood, tears, freshly wet mud and his own perspiration were the mélange of smells clotting his nostrils. The downpour of incessant shower unleashed from the gray skies cooled down little the conflagrated earth, though it could not douse the raging fires; whether inside his heart, or outside...
But putting out the flames was of least or no concern, at least to him. Because sometimes the burn is enough to deal an everlasting damage... And there is no repair to it thereafter…

He had started off his day amidst a lot of duress, but its end was seemingly unimaginable. Yet that was how it was and that is where it had to be, so he could not think beyond or above what had happened except for accepting that it had happened because it was destined to happen so…

Yet mind plays games with you, and time and again it wishes, it wants and constantly keeps on wanting, craving for an opportunity, a chance to turn around and change, whatsoever and howsoever it cannot change.

Through the torturing gasps of nauseatic concoction of smells he was inhaling, his mind raced back into last few moments, hoping struggling fighting in vain to change what had happened despite knowing that all his attempts for this cause were futile…

Nevertheless he relived again those heart-stopping moments of pounding incarceration, where each nano-second seemed to be filled with resounding echoes of his heartbeats as it went into frenzy. Each thumping beat was punctuated by the exaggerated silence clashing against his ear drums making him feel as if he had entered an unhinged void of vacuum.

And then the six foot high man in black pathani, with a white skull cap, kohl eyes and two missing teeth turned and grinned at him, and everything seemed to stop instantly, barring the dumbfounding silence. And when he met the latter’s eyes, those ferocious pair of hazel eyes, an unknown understanding passed between them and the grin no longer seemed pronounced, but nothing different than the missing piece of jigsaw puzzle. And then something clicked instantly, like an electric bulb flaring up in darkness and picture became clear to him and he could not, despite himself, despite the anxiety caused by such clarity, do anything more than hang his head down in shame.

Yes he did that, howsoever and howmuchever ashamed and guilty he may feel now, he did nothing, but hang his head down; in shame, in defeat, in resignation, or in surrender, you name it as you wish, but that is all he could manage, in spite of all his idiosyncrasy, in spite of all his modernity and fraternity he couldn’t manage anything except for a head which hung in shame.

But he did manage to do one thing. For all his weakness, for all his timidity of character, he did one (last?) act of defiance, one (final?) act of revolt against something which he had so much antagonized all his life, yet something which was enforced upon him as an ad hoc characteristic of his creed. He stood against it. He refused to run away from the situation, no matter even if it did pose a danger. In one (concluding?) act of insurrection, he made himself a living epithet for difference… between love and hate, between crime and compassion, between truth and apparent, between god and devil, and between good and bad. He stood rooted in his place, not wavering from his position, he sent back his feedback; I am different…

The nasty kohl eyed (brother?) of his caste scowled at his reaction, and moved down the aisle to alight from the bus. And then, feeling relieved like never before in his life, feeling exonerated like he hadn’t experienced ever; he closed his eyes and his composure became suddenly of a man about to achieve peace, about to be liberated from the chains tied on his toes, about to achieve the bliss, the salvation of accomplishment!

And then the heartbeats quickened suddenly, because a sound started to emanate from the bag left behind by the pathani clad fellow, and beep beep beep it started to rise in the crescendo as beep beep beep it began its march in a progression which threatened to reach the penultimate because beep beep beep it leaped the seconds and minutes like a running cheetah and beep beep beep it slowly started to replace his heartbeat… so that the beat started to become beep, and then it was just heart beep… beep… beep… beep… … … beep… … … … … … BEEP!!!

The amplified sound of the last resonance got amalgamated into a fire which usurped everything, and then all was whirling into one as earth air water and fire united to completely seize the world in its grip, and sound sight feel everything got erased into the overlapping whiteness (or darkness?) of light. And then he was in an inferno or a heaven because nothing seemed to exist beyond what was there and nothing seemed to make any sense in a meaningless world of care…

And then he was falling through that whirlpool down down down… straight to the fathomless bottom of the depth and light (or darkness?) and then he landed softly just like a feather on the hard ground of reality as the dream shattered and truth came back and finally, he was lying down on the road beside a burning bus and dead corpses of those many innocent people and darkness fading out the gray skies at the corner of his eyes, and guilt shame and end embracing him in their arms…
And in the end, while he twitched, struggled to get independence from a life so beloved, yet a life ended in such a misery; the pathani clad man entered his vision, all smiles, his arms raised in anticipation of an embrace, and he too raised his arms, yet neither did the man came to him, and neither did the struggle against life stopped… just what remained was pain loss and grief. And then when the movements became less violent, and pupils dilated, and eyes met eyes a smile lit another smile... and the world started to fade in front of his eyes… and all that was left was deafening muteness..