Saturday, December 27, 2008
Ha! That's like an oxymoron.
An oxymoron? No, you idiot, you mean palindrome. And it is not.
Isn't it? Just reverse it and ...
Nooo! It is not! Okay, take the syllables for one thing. GO-IN-DI-IN-GO would be okay. But it is not that. So, my first "Ha" to you comes about now. Ha.
The letters, you douche. DI is not reversible. GO and IN aren't reversible. So, I give to you my last and final "Ha" just about now. Ha! In totality, a "Ha" and a "Ha" which makes a - Ha ha!
I see. Fine. Happy? Ruin everything. What do we do now?
What do you mean? We go back to counting number plates. Stop drifting so much.
So news flashes in every 2 minutes. It glitters and it glows. Then before it can fade out, something more glittery comes in and takes away the spotlight. Maybe a kid fell into a well. Maybe a couple got beaten up. Maybe someone's dog looks cute.
All this is old news, of course. We know how jaded it is.
But I want to know what happened to the one terrorist we caught at Mumbai. Where is he now? What do they do to him? Does he say anything else? Does he dream of virgins in heaven? Does he try and break out of his cage? Is he in a cage?
These things fall out of the news channel radar. Once they're done pointing out (in shock 'n' awe) how he looks like every other teenager in every other respect except his shooting people down with guns, and after they find out he's from Pakistan, it's all done. Let the big boys handle it now.
But where is he put when they ask him to step aside (so that the big boys may handle it now)?
I hope they're putting him on a plane. With good food, comfortable leg room and one of those advanced auto-pilot features which would take him straight back to his country. And when the plane lands in the tarmac and his people come to graciously receive him with garlands and things, I hope they time a bomb to blow up the plane.
The last thing you would deserve is a shot in the head or a sentence for hanging. Big people would have to sit together, and set up a date and time. They would tell you they were doing this to you. You would wake up that morning and know you were doing. You would have the privilege of making your peace with your life and your death before it came for you. They may ask you for your last words. And when you breathed your last breath, you would know it was your last breath.
You should die without a residue. Without a deep last breath. Hopefully in the middle of a kind thought or a pleasant daydream in your head. Your death should be abrupt like that. And brutal enough to not take more than a millisecond. No chances for a last thought or a last look up to the sky.
You are somewhere close to my age. You dress the way I do. I cannot begin to imagine just how extremely different you are from me though.
Wherever you are (I do not know because you aren't a news item anymore) and whatever you're doing (which I also won't hear of unless you come up with another confession), I hope you hear me somehow, saying this to you.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
How? How do you manage to turn every topic, no matter where it starts, to yourself? How does everything have to do with your life and your thoughts and what you got to eat the day before? I should ask you that.
But I don't.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sometimes it clatters and falls off the stand on to the ground, late at night, and lies there shivering with great force. Surely it screams too. Perhaps at ultra-sonic frequencies.
2. I have a homeless family living inside. They come out at night.
3. I'm against plastic. Say No to combs.
4. I could comb. But the only thing that would look nice would be the 'just-out-of-bed' look. I decided to keep that look natural.
5. Ah, my children. Oh, yes. The little ones have grown up now, haven't they? And like all teenagers, they rebel and they fight and generally not do what I say. But that's alright. I understand my duties. As long as they stay true to their roots, I don't push. As long as they stay clean, I let them find their own direction in the wind. Individuality, my dear, must not be lost.
6. Forgot to. Yes, again.
7. The Indian team hasn't stopped winning since I stopped combing. You want to mess the balance? Play with the hearts of a billion people? No? I didn't think so!
8. I saw Sweeney Todd. And that reminded me of Edward Scissorhands.
Cut it. Trim it. Chop it off. Do something about it. Please! Do not enter my office again until you have taken a good bath. Can't you at least comb it?
Having heard enough of this hateful and prejudiced dialogue , I ask everyone who has a problem with horribly mess hair to please ... takidango. Take it. And go. The problem, not my hair.
More excuses for why I shouldn't cut/comb my hair are welcome.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
who has time to stop running
the thoughts run by a thousand minds
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Is it a sudden crash back to ground level?
The change in your expression in a flash of a second, as you realize everyone else has a plan already.
Do you choke? Or do you blink and take a step back? Maybe turn away so they don't see, or laugh along so they don't see?
What do you do when you find out their plans have no space for you? No room in the attic, no place in the back, no king-sized throne. No extra ticket.
Maybe you shouldn't have taken it for granted that you were 'in'.
See, everyone has their own plan. Even if they say they don't. And in that one flash of a moment, the image strikes you of deceit and rat-like scheming, of men huddled and conniving in the middle of the night, sharp pointy teeth and hands rubbing in glee, while you slept peacefully and unsuspectingly. They could have called.
But no. That's useless talk.
The point is, where will you go?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
A desperate, frantic attempt to claw at what's letting go of you.
Stretching your arms and your fingers to hold, for some more time perhaps, something which can't be with you, close and comfortable, without end.
Begging and pleading, ignoring fact and embracing fantasy, to have what you cannot.
There is strength in being able to let go.
All things leave. Let it go and be the same. Accept and forget and abandon. Be like it never was.
I would want to see you do that, someday.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The tribe waits for him, waits for him to prove his age. He must hunt the tiger and bring him back to the men. Breathing can be a crime in the woods at night, he knows that. A fatal mistake. There are only the enemy beasts that walk the woods at this time. The black panther breathes, tense and alert, hiding in the bush. The serpents lie coiled on tree-trunks, tongues tasting the air and what the east wind brings through the leaves. Owls don't even hoot so deep inside the forest. It is all so still.
His bare feet find soft spots on the earth, free of twigs and stones. Slowly, quietly, he finds his blind way through the forest. He must find his way to where the tiger can be found.
Man eyes are not meant for the night. He must travel by sound or by instinct. His skin is easily broken, without fur to protect against cold or guard from minor scratches. The body is too small, with no natural muscles to ward off carnivorous attacks. The limbs are too weak and cannot outrun the smallest of natural foes. No dilating pupils, no retractable claws, no vicious teeth, no brute strength - man is not meant for the jungle.
As he unsheathes his knife, the hunter wonders how far man's singular superior weapon can take him - his mind. The mind that brought fire to the darkness of night, made sharpened claws for hands to hold, and brought intelligence and training to a hunt between unequals. The hunter knows how servile he is before a magnificent tiger beast. He has no such command in his gait, he has no roar to strike terror in his enemies, he has no such arrogance to dismiss a fresh carcass as mere sport.
Stories, sung by the mad shaman by the fires, told of how man was once united with the beasts. He hunted alongside friends and brothers of the animal kingdom. He was part of that animal kingdom. He was strong and tall and quick and proud - he could be a tiger himself. But the time came when he abandoned the path. The oneness was destroyed, as man took hold of his mind and sneaked for the first time. Hunters respected the kingdom, which gave them their food and their lives. But man peeled the skins, cut the tusks, burnt the children and tamed the weak. Carving ivory for art, stitching skin for ornament and using his fellow animal for amusement and petting - man forgot his place in the kingdom. He was banished. And left for lost.
And since then, he has been an outsider. The one who betrayed the secrets once learned, once taught by the beasts themselves. The shaman sang of the lost trust and the glorious days of the oneness.
The hunter wonders if the emancipation is worth the cost. He thinks of how it would be to be one again. To worship nature as She was meant to be worshipped. The outsider will always remain out of place. The outsider fills the gap with mindless pursuits. Only the outsider, the exiled, wanders place to place, land to land, looking for an answer to the question set before him. The answer, that the question need not be at all, will stay lost forever.
The hunter stops. A pair of yellow eyes glint at him through the bushes. A swish in the air tells him the tiger's tail is moving in the bush. Dry wood cracks under its paws. It does not need to be silent anymore. The hunter holds his knife behind him, circles the spot cautiously, and wonders for a last time - Who is the true hunter tonight? And who is the hunted?
Tonight, and for every night.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I still didn't want to go.
Even after I'd heaved my rucksack down off the top of the almirah and dusted it and thrown in the standard toothbrush, underwear and necktie, I didn't want to go.
But there's something about a village railway station post midnight. There are two platforms, both deserted. A set of neat, green benches are arranged but none occupied. One lone man sleeps on one bench. Far on the other end of the platform the tea-stall owner lies on another bench, listening to music off his phone. Straight, parallel tracks which trail away to meet at the invisible horizon. I sit down with a cup of hot tea. Cold breeze, hot beverage and utter stillness all around, broken only by a damned lady's recorded voice announcing the arrival of train something something at Platform One. Hmm. Now I don't really mind going.
[Note to self and lessons learned: Next time, I'll go till the station, breathe a little and come right back. The experience of sharing my sleeper seat with tiny hyperactive cockroaches does not hold any form of return value. A unique, enriching travel experience? No!
Also, Mumbai, I don't like you very much. A most literal mix of hustle and bustle, chaos and kindness, old people having nowhere to go and auto-drivers chatty about everything under the blistering hot sun - it reminds me of home. A home with bad street food, but home nonetheless.]
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
He says this out of the middle of nowhere. The adjective is inappropriate for the noun in question. And the word 'calculator' is pronounced an emphatic 'caliculator'. He usually says things in that way, so this time I only spare a left raised eyebrow in C's direction. The teacher is performing one of our favourite lullabies - Geometric Modelling using Hermite Cubic Splines. But then it's part of my job description to decode this to English and make legible notes for study. At the very least, I must try.
So I let it pass, and I try to think about the kind of man who names his son Hermite. It has to be someone decidedly evil, with a really cruel sense of humor. I'm guessing the mother tries to fight against the name in genuine concern for the boy's future, but patriarchal society shuts her up soon. And little Hermite (the termite, as other the little boys probably chanted) becomes an introvert because of, well, his name. A hermit, so to say, yes? Introversion leads to geekiness and all of that horrible mess churns in a giant cauldron in his head to spew out the summation of his life - Cubic Splines. Fathers can be so cruel sometimes.
But of course none of that matters. So C started again.
I mean, seriously dude. It just rocks. Look at this display!
It is the duty of all wise men to protect the strays from harm in their childish wanderings. The younglings are permitted to roam in dirty mires and etc etc, for they must learn through their own mistakes. But some gross errors must be rectified early, before they spread like a little carcinogenic something.
I take a deep breath. Silly, misled child. It is I who must bring this one back to the fold. I pat his back, and chuckle softly at his adolescent mistake.
It doesn't rock. It looks ugly. Your calci looks ugly, C.
Whaaat? What are you saying man?? Its perfect! I'm going to show my children this calci.
Ah, headstrong youth. More mistakes.
Your children, C, we have already agreed and accepted will be actually mine. Your ... phallus ... having dried up in the infernal sun of those blasted lands down south where you come from, will soon realize its own worthlessness as an organ, much like the appendix, and fall quietly. Like the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. Or autumn leaves. Think of autumn leaves. One Tuesday morning, without a note or a bonus night, it will be gone.
And secondly, the calculator isn't at all perfect. I mean, do you really want to get into this argument? You do? Look at those buttons on the top, so improperly and asymmetrically positioned. What does that mean? What does it show? Inferiority, my dear friend. The Casio 991ES bows is a poorly constructed, atrociously designed assembly which has no standing at all before a calculator of real worth - the Casio 991MS!
Your MS is stupid man. It can't even do definite integrals properly. Look at the graphical format ES has. It's just ... insane!
Nothing more than a child's toy, if it really makes things even simpler than they are. We of the Casio 991MS clan don't approve of such spoon-feeding. We are engineers, fully capable of integrating within limits by ourselves. And please let's stop talking about such frivolities as integration! Look at these buttons. Feel them! FEEL! Now examine closely the rectangular dimensions, just exactly correct to absorb the lightest touch of the tip of someone's index finger. A quiet, dignified grey tone on a navy blue body. And yellow text, man! Yellow text! It matches. Everything just fits.
He just didn't seem to get the point. On and on he argued. Seasons changed behind us and weeks and months passed. In case you check on factual accuracy so much, might I add our teacher knew how to bend the space-time continuum. He used his powers to stretch classes to infinite durations. At the end, he'd bring us back to one hour after he'd started. But anyway.
What nonsense! Look at the ES buttons! They're awesome! Texture and size and all, everything in place.
And then I had him.
Aha! But look at the big round button then. Can yours compete with the 991MS big round button? Be honest. My big round button whoops your big round button's behind!
A careful scrutiny of the two big round buttons was taken against proper lighting for the next half minute.
Fine. So your big round button is better. But the ES is just too sleek, man. It's just sexy.
What? Pardon me? Sexy? Really? Your calculator is sexy? I'm afraid I don't see how oval buttons, ridiculous color schemes and an insecure cover for the thing comprises a sexy calculator. Mine, on the other hand, is one such. Notice the smooth curves of the cover. See how it slides on so effortlessly. And yet, if you listen carefully, you hear the faint click of reassurance - your treasure is now safe, it says. Your work is secure. Go ahead, put me down. I'll be okay. And what of yours? You can't hear anything, God only knows if it has latched properly, and I'm just supposed to assume that things have worked out? No, C. Things don't work like that. Not if you want to get somewhere, be something. Do you want to be something, C? Do you? Then you have to let it go.
No ... it can't be true. Don't say that. I don't believe you!
But it is, C. It is. I don't mean to hurt you, but it's time you knew. It was never going to work out this way. Not in the long run. You have to let go, man. Do it.
No! Don't say this to me. Not now! I can't do it, I can't!
It takes a very strong man to take such a heavy blow and not burst into tears. And C is not a strong man. He's a weak little boy you could beat up if you were 8 years old and had jaundice. He cried. He sobbed into his sleeve, his head kept low on the desk.
I watched the crumbling of this mask ... this facade of his. What a beautiful insight into life! We treasure what we have, and ignoring the world we learn to love it. Despite it's mistakes, despite it's asymmetric key positioning, we learn to accept and to love. But isn't that just denial? The truth will catch up to us sometime. We must face it like men or it will tackle us from behind while we're having tiffin in school and everything spills everywhere and it's all actually quite funny, don't we see it and we can't cry because we're big boys now.
Yes, life is about things like these.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
It has been said before. It has been used before. Everyone does it. It's the easiest way out!
And yet, sometimes you still really want to. But you can't. What will they say?
So, we shan't.
Monday, October 06, 2008
If you looked deeply, you would ask yourself, what face did he see to make this one? How would he know what Dionysus looked like? Did he let anyone see it while he worked, or did he keep it away from outside eyes? Did he have a glorious vision of a god before him, or was he copying from others?
If you looked, you could see the effects of 2000 years on the surface of the stone. You could see lines and cracks across the ridges. You could see chips of stone missing and the difference in color in the chipped sides.
The lords had ordered the piece themselves, spoken to him in person. He would make a great commission of it, he knew. But that wasn't what was making him smile now. After working for 6 months without a pause, he was going to be done today. And it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
He turned it around, using his fingers delicately on the stone surface to feel for bumps or broken "skin".
It was perfect.
He wiped droplets of sweat off his brow and gazed into the face that had occupied his mind and thoughts for so many months now. He didn't know if he had done it intentionally some day, or did it just seem so real to him now, but he almost felt he could see the veins on Dionysus' forehead gushing strong blood into a mighty mind. An image of strength, force of will and sheer power, brought out by a mortal's work on eternal stone.
They would know his name now. He would be famous. His work would make him immortal for the ages and many years later when he was dead, they would remember his name.
If you looked closely, it seemed as if soft fingertips had caressed and carved those wild tassles of hair. No hammer and punch could be that perfect. Was it clay that the sculptor had modelled and somehow turned to hard stone? Had he known all the while the disastrous effects of one chip too big or one knock too strong? Or had his hands become one with the hammer and to the punch such that he didn't know where one stopped and the other ended?
If you cared enough, you could read the plaque giving information about the bust. It mentioned the approximate year of completion, off by only about 40 years. The sculptor had died by then, but no matter. The rest of the plaque spoke of the team that had found this magnificent but flawed reproduction of Dionysus. Modern historians and myth-experts now knew Dionysus had a longer face and less prominent forehead. It was but a common mistake of sculptors of that era. Such a pity, really.
But the point is, you wouldn't look so closely. You couldn't care so much. There was little time and clearly no patience for a closer look. Because a sign ahead pointed towards the Cappella Sistina. And The Last Judgment. And The Creation of Man.
* noticeable symptoms after leaving the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Ah yes. Our flight got cancelled, they brought us back from midway. And we've been sitting here since morning now.
Aaah okay. I shift you to Business Class. That good?
Some things in life money can't buy. Not when you're not earning yet.
Ticket from Amsterdam to Mumbai which got cancelled: Rs. 20000.
Waiting at the Airport munching on McDonalds: Rs. 650.
Being re-routed on the evening flight on World Business Class: Priceless.
And I'll tell you why...
[The M button is for Massage.]
Friday, September 12, 2008
Oh, snicker snicker. Jump for joy, jump for joy. Such charm, such poise in one so young! How could they refuse the visa?
Monday, September 08, 2008
It's been two years! Over two years!
Damn. I forgot!
[Does this blunder have at least the one solitary silver lining? In that I can henceforth be considered not as egotistical as I'm so often made out to be?]
Friday, September 05, 2008
Even as he began to press down upon the big, red button, the process started within him. As his finger pressed down further, he felt the expansion in his mind.
It was like a release. So many knots unloosened somewhere inside, so many twisted threads straightened once more. He stretched out in this expansion, this gaseous occupation of his soul in a bigger and easier plane of existence.
He drifted and he drifted. It pained at times. Oh yes, it did. Sharp prick-points of hurt and tears came through layers and layers of tough skin, and pinched and poked on cuts that had surely only just appeared.
But he was drifting away now, and he couldn't care much. He pressed down upon the button. Even further. Till it was completely depressed under his finger.
He was in the sky now, free of a dragging earth. So free, so disconnected. So utterly independent.
The molecules had broken loose. They moved themselves. Everything felt a lot lighter than it ever had. How little things do things really matter?
Which was entirely true. For the bonds had been broken, and the molecules released. What is, after all, a molecule? Nothing but a small portion of a whole, which by its infinity comprises the whole? And what is the whole without these molecules? Would he find out now? A new world, yes?
Sensation was lost now. Reason departed.
Before his very eyes, under the feel of his skin, he knew it, the bonds had broken. There was no more skin. What had happened of his eyes? And the last spark of coherence in his mind whispered this before leaving - You fool, like all others before you! How will you stand now?
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Oh. Haan theek hai.
And I realized the truck was stopped. It had grown dark. My watch said it almost midnight.
He got off from the driver's side. An old man he was. Our shipment interested him, he said. Were we engineers?
Yes, I replied. Students.
So are my sons. Three of them. I'm just barely paying the fees by driving long distances. Let's hope it's worth it.
I stretched my arms to open my side of the door. Wearily, I jumped off the seat, onto the ground below. The ride wasn't even half complete, and I was just so tired already. I kicked the air with my legs to get them working again.
Yawning, I walked up to the open-aired eatery. It was a small space, with a few chairs and a couple of tables. It was a small place to pause, on a long and lonely road frequented only by truckers.
A young girl, maybe 12 maybe 13 years old, was the one cooking and serving. She was dressed in a white shirt with a long green skirt below. The driver asked for two cups of tea in the local language I didn't know, and she got working on it.
Behind her, on the otherwise unoccupied table, was what looked like a lone reading light. On closer inspection, I noticed it was just a lantern. A boy, her younger brother perhaps, was studying under the light. I couldn't tell what he was reading. I couldn't tell what it even looked like. But he was studying dedicatedly, taking notes in a little notebook.
She poured the milk first, into the glasses washed quickly and kept together next to each other. She picked up the jug of milk and swung it over the glasses, spilling only a little on the tray she made it on. Having filled them with milk halfway up, she poured tea liquor into the glasses and stirred them both. She didn't add any sugar. I didn't seem necessary either.
Her hands moved fluidly as she prepared our tea. She was so young. Maybe life wasn't so mundane for her yet. While the mind was young and uninfluenced, even vapid tasks could be interesting through enthusiasm and ability. She didn't stare blankly into space or frown wordlessly.
But she didn't smile either. She just did her work with a pleasantness, maybe that's the word. Will it ever go away? Will it soon? Her brother continued to study behind. He was wearing a sweater, because soon the night would turn very cold. He wouldn't be sleeping, I guessed. Nor would she. More trucks would come and more buses would pass by this snaky road up the ghats, as the night progressed.
We drank our tea gingerly, in that manner everyone seems to adopt late at night, out in a journey, in strange and unknown surroundings. Slowly I sipped it, and looked around me, into the trees and up the hillside. There was no water in the milk at all. She turned away to serve the other customers, with that same efficiency of motion and action.
We paid her. And I walked back up and sat inside the truck. Ignition, and the great beast lurched forward into motion.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
He sings of might and of strength. He sings to inspire warriors and march armies.
In my mind, he is standing upon a ship's mast, back erect and gaze directed towards the horizon. He sings loudly, stretching out his lungs. Breathing in great gulps of air, he sings into the wind. In a voice so clear that the wind cannot break it. In a voice so commanding that the wind must indeed carry it, wherever he instructs it too. He commands a fleet and he goes to battle. He leads them on as only he can. The wind is his instrument, his string section, his orchestra. It amplifies his voice and it beats against wind-breakers to his rhythm.
He sings of poetry and of true answers. He sings to make the stones weep and the walls believe.
I see him stand upon a road, walking slow and alone. His head is bowed down but his feet march quickly and swiftly. In a straight line, the shortest path to nowhere in particular. His hands are in his pockets, he looks not to any horizon. He looks at the ground if anywhere, but he sees only inside himself. He sings softly, cajoling and persuading. He calls out for peace and ease of mind. He searches for answers inside himself. You see, he feels everything to know is already there, in front of him. We just have to ask the right questions, to find out. If we can't find out anymore, it would be time to leave. He strives, to seek, to find, while his feet march on. To shelter. To oblivion. To the mouth of a waking volcano.
He sings of beauty and of seductive wit. He sings to charm fairies and woo fair damsels.
In my mind he sits at a table. He sings to only her ears. No one else is to hear any of this. He doesn't really sing. He whispers, he murmurs. Softly. Sweet nothings into the ears of a beloved. He asks for her love and promises her his life, his money, his everything. Or if that doesn't work out, he adds wryly, there's always her sister too.
He sings of the sun and he sings of the mankind beneath it. He sings of long nights and of shivering and of no respite.
He sings of butterflies and zebras, and moonbeams and fairy tales. He sings of death and of destruction, and how he's become so numb.
He sings of you and I, in this beautiful world.
At which point I snap, open the bathroom door, and ask if he would stop it already.
My room-mate gets emotional sometimes, while washing his clothes. I tell you.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Say 30 years.
Because then wouldn't it be extremely depressing? To reach age 30? And not have a tattered, ticked-out list to look down upon?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Strange this life, he thinks. No doubt things will get simpler and rosier as time passes on and he grows up. But for now, nothing seems to quite work. Does it?
Getting up is such a pain!
There's just the one bright spot in the entire worthless exercise, and he prays it works right now. It's a better wake-up than coffee even. Or milk! Ugh!
Eyes brightening through the resistance of morning sand, he lifts his right index finger and gazes upon it. Like King Arthur himself must have gazed upon his sword every morning. Excalibur, that is.
Examining the tip of the nail for sharpness and exercising all relevant joints for agility, he shoves it into his right nostril. Turning it this way and then that, he maneouvres expertly, feeling for his prize. For extra yield. A dash here and an inspired strike there later, his finger climbs out with its rich hoard.
Mouth dropping open in wonder, he stares upon the golden yellow matter poised grandly on the tip of his index finger. It shines in the morning light, it does! He looks at it closely, this natural produce of his own. There is a certain translucency in its body - the golden yellow blending with light yellow in some parts and turning distinctly brown at the edges. The center of it is so distinctly translucent! Tenderly he reaches a left index finger, to poke it gently. Very gently, because he doesn't want to disturb the texture.
It's soft. The surface has a certain amount of "give", so to say, when he presses down on it. Nice and soft. The piece itself is round, or almost spherical. The bottom surface is flattened since it rests on his index tip. But the rest of it quite spherical, yes. And extremely large too. It's a Kohinoor, he would have said, had he but known of the famed diamond.
He does not care to understand what fixates him so much to these things. Everyone says they're gross. But why? Doesn't he produce it himself with his own nose? Do they not keep him so preoccupied while he sits on the toilet every day? Why should he hate it?
He looks at it from all sides. It's so...not beautiful, no...but so mysterious. What is it made of? How is it made? What is that golden yellow stuff? Will he ever run out of them? Will he? He really doesn't want to. But if he does?
What then? The very idea is too outrageous to contemplate! It just won't do.
He looks at it from all sides, as if choosing one over the other. But he realizes it's a tough task with no real grounds for selection. So he surrenders. And pops it right into his mouth. A slight chew, feeling for the gumminess between his teeth, and he swallows.
There. Now he won't run out. Ever.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
He sat at his desk. He took out a pen from the pen-stand. Upon the clean sheet of paper, he wrote the title "LIST - Sorting Out My Life". He wrote it exactly at the center of the line, the line itself on the top of the page leaving a just correct amount of upper margin. Gravely, and with conviction flowing through his very fingers, he underlined the title. Twice. With straight, uncut, neat lines.
There. It looked good like that. Even looked good just like that, with nothing on the rest of the page.
But he had more to put in, of course, so he went on. Just as neatly, he left two lines' worth of space and on the left margin wrote "1". How to frame it, he wondered. With a close bracket? Brackets enclosing it? A simple dot? Nothing at all?
Simple was a good way to go. Minimalist also. More to the point, so to say, which was exactly how he felt at this point of time. Good. A simple dot would suffice. He added it.
He knew what followed after this. It had been buzzing through his mind for a long time now. The urge to make a list had become overpowering before he'd finally found the time to sit down like this and do it.
As he put down point after point, he felt the strain release inside him. That sense of dejection in life, that feeling of helplessness was leaving him. He would sort out his life. He would make sense out of his mess, finally. As he wrote, he felt the optimism creep in. Like the sun's rays slowly entering through a dusty window on a winter morning.
There was nothing to be gained out of being unreasonable about it all, he thought midway through point number 5. One must make allowances for slight inefficiency, not only on one's own part but also the part of others. Even the minor experiences of his life had added up to leave him with some amount of wisdom. Right?
So he gave himself some more time there. He expanded the deadline a bit. No use being so unreasonable. None at all. And it would feel so much better to properly complete the list with all deadlines met. So neat.
By the time he approached the end of it, he was almost joyful. Everything looked so nice. So bright and so cheerful. It could work. It would, he felt deep inside himself. That boyish optimism, from younger days, was blooming inside him and it made him light. Sitting back in his chair, he let himself drift into it. He let himself swim in it's currents. And he dreamed.
He dreamed of a beautiful life. He dreamed of working through hardships, staying up nights to study, eating frugally, and toiling through double-shifts sometimes. He dreamed of holding money well-earned and buying himself a little something with it. He dreamed of opening a savings account, and visiting it every month to deposit larger and larger sums. He dreamed of buying a car one day. He dreamed of meeting that perfect someone one sudden day in his life's journeyings. Of letting her into his life, watching her eyes expand in wonder as she saw how much he did and how good he was. He dreamed of being one with her.
He dreamed of reaching the top of the ladder, of being an old man of many, wealthy years. He dreamed of reading great literature, speaking four languages, and advising a gathering of adoring, wide-eyed younger folk. He dreamed of admiration behind his back, of respect and of the acknowledgment of his achievements.
The list would sort it all out. It was so neatly made, wasn't it? Every point, coming one after the other, explaining the pros and the cons, letting in subtle hints of the hardships that were to follow. He could preserve this list for posterity, until it was a yellowing, folded piece of paper, slightly torn at the edges. A symbol of his young days and a symbol of his rise since them.
He lay back in his chair and he dreamed of such things. Then he got up and left for his minimum wage job. He knew it. He knew he would come back that evening, drained of all energy due to the work and the commuting. The landlord would demand his rent, and be postponed by another day perhaps. He would forget about this list. He would slide onto his slightly molding bedsheets. And he would fall asleep, into dream's oblivion. Weeks would pass like this, without notice and without greeting, before he realized he was getting nowhere.
Then he would make another list. And he would dream again Like today.
It feels so good to plan a life, he thought. To structure a path to success. Execution is just such an anti-climax.
Monday, August 11, 2008
And I think I could prepare a doctoral thesis on travelling by the West Coast Express. Not to mention arriving at train stations early in the morning, groggy and irritated, to be greeted by indistinguishable languages reaching for my luggage. Yes, yes. Once I'm done with all this, I will.
Till then, off I go again.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Minute (and not to mention extremely suspect) as the joy might seem, it was quite cool to me.
I can't wait for 9th September next year!
I like number plates that add up to square numbers. And I subconsciously add up the numbers in every car that passes by me. I feel let down if it sums up to a prime number at the end.
Does anyone else do such things?
Friday, August 01, 2008
There is...a key...for everything. For everyone. You won't like to hear of it. But I know.
Should I tell you what it is?
They look at me like that. They stare. I didn't do nothing! It was...my father. He made me...smile...this...way. I hated my father. But I like this. I like to smile.
I don't know what to do. I can't sleep. I can't breathe. I can't LIVE like this. I have to get out. I have to do more than just burning ... papers ... and ... boxes. My hands look at me with expectation in their eyes. So I give it to them. My hands make for me little...devices...from garbage.
A little joke?
I like that. They go tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Then they stop. I like that...
I don't want to kill innocent civilians. Nobody's innocent. You need to grow up and see it for yourself. Nobody.
Freaks... Running around everyday, locked in little lives in little houses with little kids and little troubles. All. The. Time. Everything is so boring, it's repulsive. How do they stand it?
Courts and judges. Cops and jails. Lawyers and cases. Men and women. Little children in big yellow buses going to school. With books and pencil. All of it! Your lives are so locked in. You don't move around. You don't change. You don't play. You have these...these rules. About everything!
I am a man who breaks rules. I am going to live. And for that, I need to break your rules. Your rules. Into little pieces, floating in the air, ripped apart by an explosion. A freak. Like me.
Blood oozes. Blood oozes out of little faces, twisted in shrieks and screams. In their last moments. I can imagine it now. I can dream it. Blood will call for blood. Screams will call for screams. For something so meaningless as a life. Like an ant in its hill, walking in line with a million others. Ha!
I will give you what you need, you normal people. I'm the entertainment program, every evening when you turn on the telly.
Laugh with me now.
The city will suffer. Pain. Horror. Loss. Oh, the usual riff-raff, you know! Its no....biggie. And I will watch it burn. When all of you, all of you, see yourselves in those last moments. All of you. You will realize what I know already. That deep down this pretense of normalcy, this charade of civilisation, this show of humanity is just that. A charade. A pretense. A show. Deep down, you're all freaks.
Scavenging off your neighbors, killing your children, burning yourselves - every single day. No? You dont believe me? I don't expect you do.
I'll show you. The fireworks. The burning smolders. The melting metal. The strewn bodies. And all your screaming, snivelling, primal bloodthirst.
Think of it as an experiment. A social experiment. Anthro-? Anthropology. And you...you are the white mice! Let the games begin.
I have your key now. I will turn it. Soon. I will be ready. I know how to turn you. I can see you all. Right now. Balanced on a knife-edge, trying to walk the thin line. You can't win it, you know. But you insist, you persist, on trying. The order, the stringent protocol, the red tape, the binding rope of your lives...that's what is keeping you sane.
That's not who you are.
Can I show you? The key? How with one turn you will turn to animals? To monsters, screaming for blood and blood and more? Just one turn. To break this system. To break this rope. To introduce an element of chaos in the universe. That is how everything exists.
Chaos is fair.
Laugh now. Laugh with me! Its a show!
There will be rolling hoops of fire, thin balancing ropes high in the sky, rampaging animals. Men and women will jump through hoops, dodge fire, balance themselves high in the sky, and try to tame my beasts. To stay alive. To live. And if that gets too boring, we have - a joker! To cut the ropes. To pinch the beasts. To bring more fire. Ooh, I can't wait to get started!
Let's put a smile on that face!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Nah...I'm not in a mess. Not since first semester.
Whaat? Where do you go then?
I...? Oh...I just mess around. So to say.
Am I really getting away with this?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
There were many search engines that we used then that we don't any longer. Dogpile, Altavista, About etc etc. I could never get myself to use Yahoo!. The name was repugnant, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Anyway, search queries were also entered in strange ways back then. In the olden times, when we were naive. A friend had said, AJ is so cool and user-friendly. If you want to ask a question, you actually do type a full question! And it gives you the answer.
I used to do that. Later I learnt the folly of my ways. Search engines only picked and used keywords. As long as you entered those, you could write all the prepositions and punctuations you wanted, and it wouldn't make any difference. Things got a bit colder that way.
But still, Google had arrived. And the rest of the search engines became history, as far as regular use was concerned atleast. I see Altavista and Dogpile still do function, so to say. But really, does anyone care?
After Google came Wikipedia. Everything seemed to change all over again. The two have now dominated the search engine field, as can be unanimously agreed upon by all net-users anywhere on the planet. A precious few do still use Yahoo though, out of loyalty or, well, something. I don't understand them.
My point is, search engine usage has now become a regular part of everyday life, for a lot of us. We use it to find movie show timings. We use to locate places on the map. We use it to find songs and ways to download them illegally. We use it to check up on food recipes. We use to find photographs of actresses and their navels. We use to verify if someone or something is of importance. Net presence, or your internet footprint, is a symbol of importance. You can't be really serious about anything unless you have a website to it.
Such is the dependence on search engines.
I don't know if you've asked yourself yet if all this has a purpose behind it. If I'm going somewhere with this. I'm not. I just found a picture of these online, and thought to share it.
They're called roasted pista. (Just in case.) I was munching on them just now, having rekindled fond memories upon finding this picture online.
The trouble with pista, as I see it, is that you have to go through some degree of trouble to get to the good part. You have to open the seals, and extricate the thing. Sometimes, they're too tightly enclosed and no amount of nail-wrenching can pull it apart. I don't like those. I just leave them behind in the container.
The second problem comes when you have to dispose all the left behind...seals. (What are they called??) You have to now have a second cup or a jar or a bin to throw them into. That equals more work. My solution is that I drop them back into the first jar. This way, the jar looks full always, which must surely be a symbol of positive influence to keep about the room at all times.
Also, as the jar empties of real pista, you have to dig your fingers into the jar and search for the ones left. You have to sift through the broken shells (Shells! That's the word.) and feel them between your fingers to reach the uneaten pista itself. I find it adds an element of fun and adventure, to an otherwise monotonous task.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Age brings journeys to completion. Age brings years and years of simple, everyday being.
Years bring experiences. Experiences we never thought we would have. Experiences whose effect on us is something we can never know, until they occur.
So, we must continue to breathe. To breathe is to continue to live. To live is to continue to experience. Every day has the potential to bring something new, something unforeseen.
Something new can be a moment of sheer joy and celebration. Something unforeseen, which happens more often, can be news of sadness and of disaster.
You see, we learn, as everyone says, from defeat more often than from victory. Sadness and loss forces us to think, makes us ponder. Victory, joy and happiness only call for mindless celebration.
Experience has taught me as well. I know loss now. Utterly helpless, I have lost all that was precious to enemies I didn't know existed.
But then that, I'm guessing, is life.
[If you have, like myself, also lost a laptop to a crashed hard-disk at some point in your life, drop in words of solace on the comment forum provided. A support group is on the cards. Condolences, in cash and kind, are encouraged.]
Friday, July 11, 2008
I feel its a hidden bonus, if you haven't read everything that's great too early. Or have it handed to you as a course requirement. It's nice to make a 'discovery' once in a while, by yourself.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle —
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me —
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads — you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I hope that this introduction suffices to justify, or at least explain to a slight extent, the flurry excitement that was generated when the strange and mysterious Mr. Tweed moved into the old Jameson’s' residence a couple of blocks down from the pub. The gossip mills had fresh stock to run on, and everyone wanted something original to say. The tiniest details of his historic moving-in event were brought up and analysed by men and women alike, over mugs of beer or pots of tea respectively.
"Did you see how little he brought with him? I mean, just about three or four suitcases. And furniture barely enough to cover one room! Do you think he's poor?” enquired Mrs. Jones, with more than a touch of smugness at her astute observation. Of course, she didn’t mention that she'd been watching the man move his things all the while from her living room window, with a pair of binoculars to her eyes. One did not say that sort of thing.
"Nonsense! How did he move into the Jameson’s' then? Humph! Poor! Take it from me, poor he can not be", retorted her friend, the sound of a final judgment in her voice. She had lived in the area for over 30 years, and considered herself somewhat of an expert on the property values in the surrounding locality. She had claimed often enough that she would have made a most excellent realtor had family obligations not tied her down. It was her favourite topic of conversation.
"I asked a few questions of some people myself. Turns out he's recently divorced! Something nasty about an affair of some sort. What kind of man, I must say!" exclaimed an outraged Mrs. Harding. Her husband had died two years before, not to too much sorrow from her side. Her lack of emotion, coupled with her efficient dealing off of his estate and properties, had made her a hot topic of discussion for a couple of months at least. She tried her best to stay on the other side of the discussion nowadays, and was quietly renowned about town for her local antennae and lightning fast information system. She was a sort of local breaking-newscaster.
"What kind of person moves house on a Tuesday morning? He must be unemployed!" said Jonah Burton, bartender and owner of Jonah's Pub. It was the following Friday night, and we were all sitting at the counter, discussing the new neighbour. Jonah's is the perfect image of the old village pub that you read about in stories. An old wooden sign hangs out above the wooden door, with a fancy JP written on it in flowing lines. The furniture inside is minimal and certainly not designed for pure sitting pleasure. The chairs are plain and wooden. The tables are round but small with crisp, white sheets to cover them. The stools are high and not very wide, although more comfortable than the chairs. That is good for business, since it keeps most customers right up at the counter, where a mug of fresh ale is always kept available. It looks like an age-old establishment, providing satisfactory service for tens of years to the surrounding male population. We believe Jonah gave it this specific look intentionally, for this very purpose. The pub opened its doors on the first day, instantly assuming the stature of an ancient and irremovable town fixture. A monument of local heritage, so to say.
This was the place we met every evening, work for the day having been concluded. I closed down the shutters to my shop, selling and repairing clocks and watches since the days of my father, at some time close to eight and headed straight to Jonah's. It was a soothing, daily routine for me. Be assured, I wasn't an alcoholic in any way. I only ever had up till three pints in a single evening. But the women had their tea parties, or circle meetings as they called them, and this was what we had for ourselves.
Since Mr. Tweed had just moved in, I could anticipate a long, fulfilling discussion ahead at the pub covering all the information and news gathered in from everywhere. We men, we listened quietly as our wives spoke over mealtimes. We pretended to not care, or hear much. Once or twice, I had even asked the missus if she could not talk about other people so much. But God knows all of us relied on our wives for the information and gossip we shared so eagerly at the pub. Secret and solicited information was like an ace up your sleeve. You kept it hidden, till the opportune moment when you brought it out before the unsuspecting audience.
It was a chilly evening and I entered hurriedly through the doors of the pub, both for respite from the cold and the curiosity to hear of this exciting new occurrence our lives. I must apologise once more for how it must sound, to derive so much joy from such commonplace events. We really had little else. And it was all essentially harmless, wasn't it? So there wasn’t anything very wrong about any of this.
A conversation had already started when I arrived to take my place. "Got in close time, eh?" laughed old Arthur, entering just behind me. We sat in close, nodding to the others. It was a chilly evening. The fire had been fed with extra logs of wood, and all the occupants of the bar wore scarves and a warm jacket. With a mug of beer in his right hand sat Kenneth, the centre of attention.
"...So this is what I've heard about this new chap. To fill you latecomers in, divorce in the city, was married for four years, no children, of course. There are only sketchy details of the divorce too. And the guy's bitter from the legal work, of course. But he must be a slinky one, eh? I mean, I picked up all the talk of an affair. That was how the divorce came about, of course. So, that's that", said Ken as he took his seat contentedly. Ken was a great believer in all things being a matter of course. It was his favourite way of ending his sentences, and it infuriated his customers to no end. He owned the local mortuary, and also ran a side-business that supplied coffins. The florist's across from the cemetery also belonged to him. It wouldn't be wrong, just slightly impolite, to say that he'd effectively cornered that market.
Anyway, divorce was something we didn't deal with that often in our quiet corner of the world. The word drew excited murmurs, as everyone realised they'd gotten enough fuel to last them for several more weeks. We discussed the nature of divorce, the hopelessly increasing rate and the futility of marriage itself if it had to end with a messy divorce. Someone raised the question of the futility of marriage itself, drawing some laughs and a couple of mildly admonishing remarks. Discussions over divorce led to discussions about the decadence of modern society, the crime, the corruption and the hopeless modern government. Soon, the existence of Mr. Tweed had been forgotten, although he had served his worthy purpose for the night.
The ladies' tea parties also discussed the topic of strange Mr. Tweed over the next few days. Mrs. Andrews exclaimed how she had been taken aback the previous afternoon, seeing Mr. Tweed walk up to her door. Mrs. Harding remarked that she had also seen him walking up that day. In mild consternation, at having her clinching experience shared thus, Mrs. Andrews continued with her riveting tale of mystery and soap-horror.
The man had introduced himself. His name was Howard Tweed. He said he'd just moved in recently, and couldn't find the local grocery store. Could she please point him in the correct way? He'd seemed not very friendly, and more than a little haggard. Then as a matter of course, as her story progressed, he even became a lascivious old lout with glaringly obvious moral deficiencies. His expressionless eyes had conveyed a mind inclined to unfaithfulness, and the way he nervously held his hands confirmed the impurity in his heart. He was a man, she declared emphatically, who certainly didn't know what love was. He could cheat and betray anyone. He had looked suspiciously at her pet kittens!
Thus, over tea and biscuits and jam and cakes on one front and over beer with the smoke of cigars on the other front, the reputation of this strange, disturbing, machiavellian, monstrous, and certainly heartless Mr. Tweed was constructed. Entirely outside of his knowledge. Of course.
We were all still decent folk at heart. Although we do appear to discuss relentlessly the lives of other people, never had anyone let that affect their relations with the person in question. Everyone knew exactly what was being said about him or her and by whom. We took it in stride. This was something we had for ourselves within the confines of our own privacy, and we let nothing drive a wedge through it. Not even ourselves.
But Mr. Tweed now, his was a different case. It was assumed before that nothing would be changed in his case. But the man was new, and never before had our little town collected such immense volumes of such incredible stories about any single person. The strange, mysterious, and now decidedly evil Howard Tweed met with a more than icy reception every time he tried to make conversation with one of us.
He met Doug Johnson, the local grocer and a Jonah's regular as permanent as the plumbing there. In his own words, Doug refused to make any sort of conversation with the blighted fellow, who had the nerve to ask him what people did for recreation around here. When he encountered some of the ladies on the street one day, they sniffed at him loudly and walked on past. He was left standing outside his porch, scratching his head in utterly bewilderment. I once snubbed him at the pub, when he'd shown the temerity to turn up and sit in with us. I must say, I felt quite proud of myself that day. It was a feeling of having done the right thing, for me, for our town, even for the country.
At the centre of all of these situations, the horrible and unsocial Mr. Tweed had not uttered more a few words. He had watched silently, his eyes betraying his confusion. He had gone on to show absolutely no reaction on more than one occasion. I think it was his lack of emotion that lit things up finally. No one snubbing another person likes to feel that his or her snubbing is going to such waste. It can be extremely frustrating. We were incensed to see our cold behaviour not producing a satisfyingly shocked reaction after the first couple of weeks. I mean, what right did he have to make us feel so irritated? He should have been the one suffering, right?
Thus, one thing led to another, and heated discussions were had. We had to know what next to do. Some step had to be taken. You might, at the point, raise the question about why a step was even necessary. We could just leave him be, couldn't we? In our defense, all I can say is that the option of letting things be did not occur to a single one of us. We were consumed in our surroundings. There is a feeling of bravado in one's self-righteousness that comes when a group of people together agree over something. Finally, after hours of argument and counter-argument, we decided to convert him. In his time of loneliness and desperation, it was unanimously decided that it would be best for Howard Tweed to turn to God. He would turn to the church to make him a better man and a respectable member of society. Now, now, it wasn’t an easy decision by any means. We knew it would be tough for such a man to submit to a higher power. Repenting one’s sins was no easy task, and we could admit so to ourselves. But no matter how difficult, we also knew that it was necessary. Howard Tweed would have to take this step.
And that is how, upon a well co-ordinated sudden impulse one fine afternoon, the prominent ladies of our area decided to confront the man. The men obviously followed in tow. We had to find out more about this man, didn’t we? In our duties as self-appointed local missionaries, we didn’t call ourselves that back then of course, we had to talk some sense into him.
So with all the look and determination of the Vatican Commission, we walked up to the old Jameson residence. I rang the bell myself, I remember. So I also remember the incredulous look on Howard's face when he saw the lot of us standing outside his door. In my best cold voice, I said we had a matter to discuss with him. Mrs. Harding added, from somewhere at the back of the line, that it would be best if we all stepped inside to discuss things fully. The rest of the group concurred, in voices dripping with condescension and self-righteousness. We were becoming more like the Vatican every minute. Deep inside, we’d begun to really enjoy ourselves too. Howard just nodded quietly and ushered us into his new, and rather derelict, home.
“To what do I owe this..err..this pleasure?” he asked, more than a little nervous.
“Now, Mr. Tweed, we are not your enemies. We are your friends and we wish you well. Let us first be clear about that.” I said. It would be important to placate the man first, I figured. We had to reach to him. He would be less inclined to turn to the Light if he thought we hated him too. I’d read that somewhere.
“All of us make mistakes in life, Howard. But try and understand what we’re trying to say. It isn’t too late for you. As a community, we would like to offer you the chance to cleanse yourself of your sins. This is your hour of need and loneliness. This can be your time of salvation. You must turn to the Lord.” I said, rather pleased with myself. I had had this nagging habit of never being able to complete my speeches without putting in those embarrassing umms and aaahs. It always spoilt any environment I was trying to stir up during sittings at Jonah’s pub, and that one time at cousin Marissa’s wedding things had gotten just out of hand.
Not this time though, I noticed, as I saw a shocked expression appear on Howard’s face.
Obviously I was reaching across to the man.
“I’m not sure I understand, sir...”
“Come now, young man. Get off it. We know. We’ve heard enough about your past. There’s nothing to be gained by feigning ignorance!” said Mrs. Harding, getting perhaps slightly too vocal about this. An opportunity had presented itself, to make the townspeople forget her own previous transgressions. She probably intended to crucify this man for it.
In light of what we ourselves were trying to do him, I think maybe that last was a slightly inappropriate comment. But I digress.
Howard was looking openly shocked now. But we weren’t quite done yet. Like any good general, Jonah noticed Howard’s shocked expression and pressed home the attack.
"Well, maybe we shouldn't go that far," said Jonah, "but certainly you have sinned, Mr. Tweed. Are you at all apologetic for your sins?"
“My sins? Now I’m quite sure I don’t understand you.” he said, exasperation rising in his voice. The man certainly had some nerve.
“Mr. Tweed, now you force me to speak of the things we would have wished to avoid mentioning. Suffice it to say, we know of your divorce. We have heard rumours of the dreadful affair you were involved in too. All of these, these are your sins. It is what you must repent, before God at his altar. I understand it might be difficult for you to accept your own baseness in front of –"
“My divorce? Affair? May I even ask what right you have to enquire of my private life?” he asked shrilly.
He was looking at us with hostility. This was not going to plan. Hostility, I remembered reading, had to be avoided at all costs. You must secure the lost soul in yours arms as a brother, and what not else. But the man seemed to be incorrigible. What right we had? That was just inconsequential talk now.
“Perhaps you would feel more secure if...aah...you told us the facts about this entire..umm...affair? Mess?” I offered. It was tough at this job, I tell you.
“Oh really? You want to know? You really want to know? Alright. I’ll tell you.”
“Yes you will. I mean, kindly continue. Please just remember, you are as our brother.” I said, hoping it would have some conciliatory effect.
“Right. I divorced my wife. And now she has my money, and my house. That’s all! If you would, kindly, point to me the part which requires me to repent my sins, I would be most obliged to you.”
“What do you mean, son? You committed a heinous crime. In the eyes of God, you are a sinner!” I said, rather loudly. The man was being thoroughly unrepentant about all this. The entire process of missionary conversion was getting derailed!
"You betrayed the bond of marriage! You cheated on your wife, didn't you? And now you've lost it all. Everything is hers, and rightly so!" I finished, panting now, and my face not so slightly red with indignation.
The man laughed. He laughed so loudly, the sound of it rang across his empty house. He laughed on and on, louder and louder, as we stared at him with disbelieving eyes, wondering if he had lost his senses too. Tears rolled down his eyes, and his body shook with spasms. After what must have been a full minute, he stopped laughing. He was lying on his couch now, brushing away the tears.
He looked at us, and he said, "I didn't cheat on her. For four years, I was a faithful husband to her. I worked hard, and I came home in time every night to be with her. One day, I came back earlier than normally. To surprise her. Nothing else. I caught her in bed, with a best friend from before our marriage. She didn't cry, or say it was a mistake. I hadn't had time to even absorb the magnitude of what I'd seen, and she gave me my two options. I could take her to court, and she'd run me through a long legal battle. Her friend, the one she was with, was one of the best lawyers in the city, and I had no doubt she could run me to bankruptcy if she wanted to. I was never a fighter. That was my mistake. My only mistake. That I backed away from a fight I had every reason to fight. As I looked up at her, the tears starting in my eyes, she gave me my second option. I could sign the house over to her. She would have 70% of the savings from after the marriage. Then I was to give her a quiet divorce. With the remaining money and my car, I could go where I wanted to."
We looked at him, our faces no doubt registering our shock, and he smiled sadly.
"Women, I tell you. I'm terrified of them now. What can a man do in this world? I mean, really, what chance does a decent man have? A woman slaps a stranger in the middle of the street and screams for help, accusing him of misconduct. The man gets jailed and loses his entire reputation, before the charges are even proved. They don't even have to be. Harassment, misconduct, lawsuits, the whole lot – so easy to arrange. We live in a gender-biased society, I tell you. Really, what can a decent man do in this world? Women. I hate them! All of womankind!"
The silence that followed his words rang through the house. We didn’t look at each other, and nor at him. I looked at my shoes, wondering strangely how we’d suddenly lost all our conviction and intent to rescue the man. We were all a little blind. The man got up and left the room, and we left his house.
The incident of the strange and mysterious Mr. Tweed has never been discussed in the town since. Not at the pub, nor at the tea parties. Mrs. Harding’s cunning still reigns as the most discussed topic. Nobody has spoken of what happened at the Tweed, and formerly Jameson, residence. Not until now, as I say this to you.
I wonder how much truth his words hold. The words he said at the end, about all of womankind. I don't know. I couldn’t say it in front of anyone. Not my wife surely. Nor in front of the guys at the pub, because surely they would tell their wives and that would be that. How really can anyone know this? I hope the wife never gets to hear me say this but, could it all be like that?
I don't know. I really don't know.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The first school of thought advocates the conventional process of applying shampoo on the wet scalp and gently massaging with the tips of your fingers. As illustrated by countless television commercials, you also take some time to grin widely at yourself in the mirror. Then computer special effects appear in the form of orbiting, blue lights that snipe off the growling dandruff-people one by one. At the end of it all, you have hair that is long, glued together and shines like nobody's business and your face turns into Katrina Kaif's. Or if you're a guy, your hair turns wavy and glitters alongwith your shiny, white teeth in all its Backstreet Boys style and glory. Also, you look gay.
The second school of thought is worth a mention here. The procedure does not involve singing any musical Clinic All Clear jingles for one thing. Also, with the ensuing rush of blood to the head, its more fun. Step one is simple - application of appropriate dose of shampoo to your wet scalp in the sanctity and privacy of your bathroom. Next, you screw your face into an expression of duty (for understanding what this means, watch Bruce Willis at the end of Armageddon. Or Nirupa Roy as she shoots one son or the other at the end of any Hindi movie). Now place your hands on your head, with the tips of the fingers in contact with hair and scalp.
This is where we become a bit off-beat. Instead of gently massaging with your fingers blah blah, you vigorously shake your head up and down and right and left. Doing this for long enough ensures a vigorous massage of your hair against stationary fingers kept in position.
Also, as I mentioned added benefits, rush of blood to the head is just super!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The sun shone brightly over their heads. There were no clouds today. The great works described it otherwise, he thought. Not like this. There were to be no dark clouds of battle, no ominous fog of war. It was a hot, baked summer day, and as he trotted his horse in front of the flank cavalry charge, he could see a stirring against the far horizon. They knew what was coming. Everyone had heard them long before. The co-ordinated, precisely trained march of a hundred thousand foot soldiers. The clatter of steels as shield and armor clanked together. The bellow of war-elephants. The bass, dull thuds of their feet, taught to approach in unison.
He looked intensely. It was a growing, black line which grew thicker and thicker against the horizon. In these vast flat plains, they seemed to be infinitely long. Did that line even have an end? And how many more behind them?! Was this young king sure of his tactics?
No. There was no time for doubts or hesitations. Plans of battle crumbled as soon as the first swords clashed together. Experience had taught him that. But today they would have to hold. Everything rested upon it. It was a glorious day promised them by the young king. And he had faith in the king. Alexander would lead them to victory again, as he had against the vile Greeks!
Faith. Faith is important. He turned to his battalion. Sun-burnt, war-scarred cavalry. He had hand-picked them for this strategy, from amongst the Hetairoi, the Companion Cavalry. He had taken away these few hundred vital men from ranks that were already outnumbered 20:1. But he must have faith. The young king had spoken it, and it must be true. Victory would be theirs. And glory.
He cheered his soldiers. He prepared them for battle. The enemy comes! Ready your horses! We fight for our motherland, my brave Macedonians! May she rise forever and be the light and glory of the world! May we have our own glory today!
Heroes! Heroes we shall be!
The line of command would be followed down to the last man. None would break ranks. The horsemen mounted. They checked their armor, subconsciously, as the years of training did to every man.
The Persians had became more visible now. He could see the front ranks, those unending masses of footmen spawned by the barberous lands. The line was endless. It could engulf them from all sides. How are we to fight this?
Faith is important. He thought of the ages to come, the thousands and millions of lives ahead. They would remember this day, this sun-baked cruel day of sweat and blood, as the day when their mighty empire was forged. Hundreds of years from now, the children would read of them in texts and in epic poetry. The first great Conquerors. The army that would fall to no one.
The Persians came upon the meagre Macedonians. They charged like animals! There was no discipline. There was no sign of any organised attack. Oh heavens, there was no sign of any body armor! What kind of leader could do this to his own men? Just how many could he afford to lose?
His own orders came swiftly. Alexander's orders to march out to the right, attack them from the left. Oh heavens. He had never heard of a more dangerous strategy. Nothing in the histories of war. Today, with his ingenious plan and the approval of the young king, he would write history. The hetairoi charged, but away from the scene of battle! Around the hills they would come, flanking the Persian army! Darius wouldn't know what hit him, until they were standing right behind him!
The cries of war were behind them, chasing them, as they raced. Shrill cries of men pierced with spear or sword. The mighty elephants' roar, mad in the delirium around them, as they trampled whoever came near. His horses galloped at twice the speed he normally ran them. Time was their most crucial factor.
The horsemen reached around. They were behind the Persians. The scene of the battlefield beckoned them. To join their brothers, and kill the vile army of Darius. They bent low on their horses, letting the air flow over them. And they charged.
Spears were thrust into unseen bodies. The resistance of flesh and tunic was the proof of success. Swords unsheathed hacked at a wall of footmen, terrified of the horses and the shining armor. They could not back away from him, they were pushed forward by the masses behind. The hetairoi charged on, through the swamp of shrieking, bleeding bodies.
He could feel the cuts on his arms, warm blood oozing out of the gashes in his skin. But they charged ahead, the delirium of war upon them, a blood-thirst that could not be satisfied. He charged ahead of them all. For many a year, this day would be remembered. His name would be etched in stone on the pillars, one of whom would stand in this very ground! Forever!
They had reached deep into the Persian ranks. And there he was! The man sitting on his ornate horse ahead, surrounded by a personal guard of the Immortals! Darius! With a cry that was heard above the din of battle, he charged at the Persian king. The Immortals defended, expertly, for they were the best of the millions in the Persian lands. He tried to slash through them, only half his vision on the armor-clad soldiers in front of him, the strength of his gaze on the vicious ruler himself.
I shall have him! Me! Victory to Macedonia! To Alexander, the Ruler of all -
The swords had pierced him already. But it was now that the pain shooted up, and paralysed his muscles. He twitched as he saw the multiple shafts sticking out of his stomach, through his battered armor. The Immortals. They pulled the shafts out, the bloodied shafts. And he fell to the ground.
Lost. I'm lost...
From the corner of his blackening vision, he saw Alexander on his steed, charging at Darius himself. The young king would slay that vile Persian ruler.
Remember my name, oh great king. It was I who led your flanks. It was I who planned these wild strategies. They worked. We will be forever! Remember my name, oh king. For the future generations. For the Macedonia to come...
His eyed closed a last time. The life of 40 years, of education in the Macedonian empire, of battle-training through wars with the Greek-states, of love and loss and duty and honour, faded away into black.
"Chapter 3 of your history books, everyone. Alexander the Great. Read from where we left off. In a bold and daring move against Darius, the mighty Persian ruler, Alexander led a small but trained brigade of his Companion Cavalry to attack the Persians from their flanks. In the ensuing surprise attack, he reached right upto the middle of their ranks and fought Darius himself hand-to-hand. The Persian monarch, terrified and shaken, fleed the battlescene."
"Cut the next two paragraphs. Description of the battle not important. Next, Alexander marches to the Hindu Kush..."
Thursday, June 05, 2008
But don't cry, my dear. Don't cry. Be brave. Walk on. Even if only about the room if you will, in descending spirals, until you bang into yourself or are otherwise rotating about a fixed spot. The doctors are good, and gentle. They will care. When the fields are white with daisies, and the sun rises over the eastern horizon, we shall return.
There there. There there.
PS: Tags (ugh!), fervent requests for little nick-nacks, pleading emails and suchlike will be taken care of upon return to regular net access.
*Corrections made. Hmpf, may I add.
Monday, May 26, 2008
So we don't have much time. So we're students. Studying is our first duty, above any need for recreation, leisure or basic human sustenance. Very spartan, I tell you.
That shouldn't mean we can't see each other. Of course we can! And we can sit, and we can chat. Even if there is really nothing to say. I mean who wants to talk about exams, right? Which colour pen I used? Does it really matter if I switch to blue from black? What really is bad karma? Is it a white lie if I keep my cell-phone in my pocket anyway, switched off and quite harmless, seeing as how I'm a wuss when it comes to cheating? Should I scramble through the attic in my head for answers, flip the pages through the book opened in my head and focus on that one blurred line somewhere? Or should I retain a certain poise, a charming countenance, a dashing handsome-awesomosity and an infinite grace as I cross out yet another question I can't answer?
Should I? Should we even talk about such things? What is there really in an examination? Tensions, hair-pulling-outing, glorious triumphs, disastrous losses and sometimes pyrrhic victories as you spend too much time to solve one question correctly (and away go the other two). Jealousy, envy, strife, corruption, conscience and that dammit Eye of Sauron, our invigilator! Agreed, it encompasses all of life's vexations. Plus great fantasy fiction. But that doesn't mean we must.
Speak of it, that is. No. No no. No no no. Please. It's over. Let it pass like the idle wind that troubles me not.
We can talk of better things, of happier things, of higher things, of greater things, of more meaningful things, and of things of little or no consequence to pretty much anyone.
For example, have you ever played with those rackets you get nowadays, that run on batteries and can be used to electrocute mosquitoes. I did! I warred with them! The wretched bloodsuckers fell around me as I, fresh from an inspiring re-watching of Star Wars, took out this strange, red, light saber thing and felled the mosquitoes right, left and center. I executed the most complex moves around the room, my each stroke stroked to kill. The racket hissed and crackled as mosquito toast was served again and again to my most excellent floor cleaners, my ants.
It was, so to say, in a colloquial sense, ozzum! I had my tactics all thought out and everything. There was always the good ol' straight charge, with rapidly oscillating racket to prevent them from slipping through any large enough gaps in the netting. That was for the initial rounds, before they could get prepared and require me to resort to advanced strategies.
Then there was the lull-into-false-security-and-then-launch-suddenly-back-and-get-em-boy maneouvre. Basically, I'd lull them into a false security (about their safety and well-being) and pretend to look elsewhere, or admire portraits, or comment on the weather outside and the like. You know. Suddenly, just when they'd let their guards down and decide to relax a little, I'd pounce at them with a "Hiya!!" on my lips and my saber cutting a deadly arc through the unexpecting atmosphere around. Hiss! Crackle! Crackle! Hiss! Hiss! Crackle! Crackle!
Finally, I had a vicious death-row move. I'd go almost blind in it, the racket a blur in my hand and my arms flailing with it everywhere. This works extremely well for inital charges as well. Or for a skirmish sake. Possible side-effects include a perplexed and bemused room-mate. You see, it involves breaking the sacred rules. You have to let rage take over for a bit. Now now, I know what you're saying. No good Jedi lets his anger rule his mind. Anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to a rush of blood through the head, a rush of blood through the head reminds you of Coldplay, Coldplay leads to more anger, more hatred and all new irritation now on top of it, and this surely does lead to the Dark Side of the Force. But don't worry. Have it under control, I do. Give those mosquitoes a whooping everytime, I do too.
And thats me. Right...about....now! You tell me, what up.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I watch the splattering of blood, the ripping apart of metal and the shattering glass panes, and I smile at the devastation unfolding. I hear the silence in the still millisecond immediately afterwards and I pause to listen in. I hear the rising clatter of shrill cries, the heart-wrenching wails of disbelief and that cry that marks the beginning of the realization.
It is the realization of calamity, of an abrupt, unforeseen shift in life, and I smile to myself as I see you wade through all this.
What is it? What is this you call your sorrow? These shouts, these screams. Is it this physical discomfort that troubles you? A broken leg or a dislocated shoulder? A few burns and a head injury?
Is it the shock that scares you? The sudden explosion and the loud noise that shatters your ear drums? Is it a helpless inability to deal with this evil, which has suddenly chosen you as a victim, that shocks you? Leaves you senseless and numb, until a shriek of primal horror escapes from somewhere within you? Really, is it that?
What is this you call your pain and your suffering? You pathetic mortals! What do you know of evil? What do you know of strife, of war, of loss or of wretched pyrrhic success? You can not recognize the face of evil anymore. It is a face that you have grown accustomed to. It is the champion of your existence, and an Atlas to your world. It has seeped into your system, replacing a gear here and fixing a fault there.
It has now become your system. You are an evil.
So don't blame me for what you bring upon yourself. I only smile at you now, as I watch you go about your works. I'm not the evil you can call the cause of your woes and your miseries. I'm not the evil that wishes you misfortune. I'm not the evil that attacks your loved ones or takes away your reasons to live. I am not an evil. I'm just a counterbalance.
I shall wash your sins at the very end, the end of it all. I shall have to deal with the poison in your system. I will live with you, with the utterly despised part in you. In all of you. And I, you say, am the Devil.
As heads is tails, just call me Lucifer.
And if you meet me, have some courtesy. Have some sympathy, and some taste. Use all your own well learned politesse, or I'll lay your soul to waste!