Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tonight, We Feast On Human Flesh

For infidelity, Tiger Woods receives censure and the upturned noses of the entire world. ATP's Player of The Decade is criticized by television reporters and journalists from around the world, his every single following day tracked and pored over. Will he do something again? Will he talk to someone about it? What will he say? How dare he??

Random talk-shows on random networks discuss perversity, unfaithfulness and Tiger Woods all in the same breath. Celebrities offer condolences or issue carefully worded neutral statements, a barely concealed schadenfreude dripping like drool from their mouths.

I don't support what Tiger Woods did. But we still don't know if he had any reasons to push him into such affairs, seemingly in all corners of the popular world. So I also don't support our collective hypocrisy.

Why is that the women he slept with get called on talk shows? Why is it that one after another, as more and more women come forward to claim relationships with the drowning ship that is Mr. Woods, they only gain more fame and more sympathy?

Each and every one of them knew of his marital status. They knew he had children too. What made them get into a relationship with a married man? What kind of mind do they have to be involved in such an affair with such a public person? Surely they didn't think it would always remain a secret? Of course. If you live in America, it is simple to see. It is, both financially and socially, a golden opportunity to have an affair with a married man. Get whisked away to hotelrooms all over the world, be showered with gifts and apartments and cars. Rat on him whenever you choose to, say when his money for you runs out, and society will come forward to offer you a shoulder to cry on for your sorrows and a prime time slot on David Letterman or Oprah Winfrey to give out the spicy gossip.

Again, I do not condone Tiger Woods' actions. I only condone the people who do not dole out the same social exile and criticism to the women who were involved with him.

There are 14 of them, apparently. What are they thinking of now? When some others had come forward to dent and then destroy the sportstar's life, what made them also come forward and throw a few bricks of their own? Where did that sudden conscience come from?

What were they thinking of while they indulged him all those years? Why were they not tormented then by guilt?

One woman came out with the truth, looking to cash in on this shot to instant fame. The others wanted a share of the spotlight too, and came scampering out before the spotlight died out and the story got old. They must be running right now too. It will be a tough few months for them. Doing their best and worst to get on the top talk shows, to have only their voice heard and cheered and applauded by a teleprompted studio audience. Making their story appear most unique - how they hated him all the while, how he was lousy in the act, how sweet he was to them, how swept off their feet they felt, how kinky he was - anything to grab hold of the camera and keep it on them while they still could.

They will be running very, very hard. There is so much to do. In a few weeks, the first books will come out - "My Life With Tiger" or "Behind the Greens" or something else. The first book will sell the most copies. So they will have to run very hard now. Magazine interviews must be sought, with Playboy, Time, People or Good Housekeeping. Secrets must be blurted, by accidents feigned and anger precisely churned, and tantalising details must be released to the press at specific intervals.

I feel sorry for Tiger Woods. Not only is he getting divorced and losing half his fortunes, he is also going to be the most emptied out man in the country. He betrayed a wife for love or lust or fun. Who knows? And now he is being betrayed by every single women he trusted instead, for money and fame leeched out of his own body.

We are a society of cannibals, with no civilization and a God to whom we sacrifice everything truly precious. Occasionally, when the food runs out on us, and it does so every now and then, we pull down one of our own. The bigger he is, the better. We raise up that God, enshrining him and worshipping him. We lift him up over our heads and sing songs in his honour. Then we feast on his flesh, mocking him for thinking he could be great.

We will run out of food one day and wonder what went wrong where.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Of Death

It was damp. The sky was in a perennial dark cloud. It seemed of a single mass, enveloping and overshadowing the town. The sun hadn't been seen, except through a haze, for weeks now. The clouds bore a cold rain, which had beat down without stop for the last three days, drenching the damp earth and forming little rivulets in the mud, which led downstream to a river, black in the darkness of the days. Men shivered in the rain, the cold reached their souls and spirited away any warmth in the blood.

Not a single clean road remained. The paving stones had been broken in the rains the previous year. Those who could repair them and build new ones were not around anymore. The cold, and the dark winds, had claimed them too. No one stepped outside anymore, for fear of the dark wind. The Black Wind, as some called it. No one knew what it was. It whistled past trees and homes, rattling wooden windows and frightening the children. Not just children, the men feared it too, as well as the women. It brought with it death, silent and swift. A healthy man could go to sleep one night and not wake up the next morning. Children died in groups, siblings and playmates. Women were found fallen on the street, still clutching vegetables already rotting in the evil air. It had come upon them. It had come upon them all, and even the priests had no answers except to pray.

The man in the black cape walked slowly, with measured steps. He chanted under his breath to himself, stringed beads in his right hand. With his left hand, he carried posies, flowers that somehow kept alive in these winds and times. They would ward off the evil, and his fingers clenched them in a death grip as he walked down the muddy path.

The rain had slowed to a drizzle, as good a time to be out as any he had seen in recent days. But this was not an ordinary constitutional today. He had been asked to visit. A family had called him to aid their son, an only son, who lay insensate in high fever for the past two days. The parents feared for his life and had called the young priest to heal the boy. He knew what he needed to do, but he did not know how much good it would do. Two days was a long time the boy had lasted. He could succumb to the Wind at any moment now. The priest did what he had to do, however, and bereavement would also be one of his duties.

A group of children was playing in the mud outside, near some trees. It may have been a meadow before, in better times, but now not a single blade of grass could be seen. They ran round and round in a circle, their dresses coated with mud, chanting words in glee. The innocent happiness of children was a blessing at all times, he knew, but parents should be more prudent in such times as this. Girls with their hair in neat ribbons and young boys ran together, round and round. Then they jumped down on to the muddy ground, chortling in joy. Their clothes were blackened with mud. They looked as if part of a funeral procession. The young priest wondered where their parents were. The dirt only increased the Wind's ire, everyone knew that.

Ring around the rosy

Pocketful of posies...

"The world comes to an end, father. The signs are for all to see now." said a voice from beside him.

The young priest jumped in alarm, to the other side. He had not sensed the man approach him.

"We must be brave at heart, at all times. Humanity must stand together even in days of plight and sorrow. Have faith in our Lord and you will yet be saved, my son", he said, more out of rote than anything else. Strangers always came to him for consolation, he expected that. But the numbers had increased of late, and he could hardly walk down any street without being consulted by a man in need of reassurance. They doubted the strength of their God. Death, cold and ruthless, would always hurt the human spirit. But senseless, strange and sudden death, like this, could crush it.

He had heard a lot of talk from the townsfolk, about the world coming to an end. Men had stopped coming to work, taking to the hills instead. Trades were drying up, the supply of fresh produce was lesser and lesser each day. It seemed as if the entire world was beginning to lose hope in its capacity for existence. The endless damp and the unforgiving cold may have shaken their faith, but it was the Wind that had destroyed their courage to survive.

The king, he needed to do something fast for his people. The Vatican should be consulted at the very least. God would not continue to let His children die this way. The high priests at the Vatican would have answers to that. But they had not spoken them out, if they did have them.

"Yes, the signs are all here. It is the end, father." repeated the man. He was taller than the priest, a good foot taller, and his clothes were ragged. They had the look of wealth to them though, wealth that had suddenly become pointless and of no value.

"What signs might these be, son? What do you see that shakes you so?" the priest asked patiently. It was his duty to calm the people as he may. If he could only help the man gain some peace, that would be enough.

"The world comes to an end, father, when even the children sing of death." he said, and pointed.

The priest turned to look at the group of children again, listening carefully to their chant.

Ashes to ashes

We all fall down!

They fell again onto the muddy earth, laughing in delight.

"Come away now", urged the young priest, "Do not pay heed. Come away!"

He cursed the Black Wind and walked again on his way. He walked hurriedly, not caring to splatter mud on his cape. He wanted to be out of earshot of the children.

Death. They sang of death. The end of all things. And the Black Plague.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Climax Redux

The man casually tossed aside two barrels standing one atop another to reveal himself, pointing a pistol at his adversary and arch enemy.

"You! But you … you're … you're supposed to be dead!" he spluttered, unable to believe his eyes. He rubbed them once to make sure. A dirty business that, with all the soot and grease on them. Escaping with a briefcase full of money from an abandoned factory was never a clean job.

"Yes, that. That didn't quite work out", sneered the pistol waving, black-jacketed hero. His enemy trembling before him, he took a personal moment to wave back his shiny, wavy hair. He spared another moment's thought for the soot hanging in the air around him. It would rough up all the good the new shampoo had done. Anyway, he needed to keep himself together now. Later, he would get his hair done again somewhere nice. To business for now.

He continued, "You will not escape me like the last time. This time, victory will be won. Defit will be yours!" At the pronouncement of the word 'defit', one would think lightning had crackled in the blistery afternoon sky outside. The hero, some variety of Vijay or Kumar, did a double-take of his intense eyes for a friendly, but imaginary, camera.

"This time? Last time? What last time? And why aren't you dead?" blabbered the graying, middle-aged villain, simultaneously stroking the well-laden briefcase he felt he may be parting with very soon. Oh yes, he had a feeling he might not now be taking that trip to the Bahamas. His widow would be furious over him cancelling again. Though, he had a valid excuse this time, didn't he, being dead and all? No. She couldn't care less. The woman was a monster to her core. Funny, a second voice in his head said, funny how you can think of all this while a dashing young man in tight t-shirt and low slung jeans points a pistol at you. He shook his head to clear his thoughts as much as he could possibly and asked again. "This time? Last time? What last time are you talking about? And what are you doing not dead?"

"You have a remarkable thirst for knowledge, old man. But I will humor now, before you die. I shall tell you the why and when of it as I point my father's pistol at you, as per noble tradition. First, you defitted me on the plains of the holy Ganga river when you slew my father. You had your men hold him from behind while you laughed and shot him like a coward. He fought you to his dying breath, pausing to spit on your face at the end when you peered down to see him struggle for life. I was there. I watched, old man. I swore vengeance. Since then, I have been chasing you." He finished with his eyes narrowing even further, as he took aim to make sure he hit the right side of the chest. His left, so … my right. Ya. Okay.

"The plains of the holy Ganga river? What was I doing killing him there? I don't remember doing such a scene," he reasoned. Not that he would mind having such drama to his credit. But this was just untrue. A pity that it was, but then again.

"Oh we had a house there. A little corny, and I never had many friends to play with. But my father liked it. Couldn't even play in the water. Holy water is not for you, son. Holy water is for the Gods. And the germs and bacteria, daddy? He didn't like the joke much. But anyhow, that's where we lived. How can you not remember? We had a big swing outside and a well so that we could actually sometimes have some clean water. Oh wait, you'll remember this. We had like this really noisy chicken coop. I mean, they'd be bawling all the time! You couldn't get them to stop."

"Oh that place! Yeah I remember. Annoying chicks, those. Hope you got rid of them. I killed your father, yes. True, that." He was glad to have at least remembered the reason for his impending death. "That was quite long ago. I mean, seriously, I don't mean to tell you what to do or anything, but let it go already? Get a life, or something." Sheesh, he thought inside, if I lived with so much hate held inside me, I sure wouldn't last very long. This guy is just a time bomb.

"Oh I will get a life. In fact, I am about to get one right now, old man. Yours." He felt good about that. He had worried incessantly - somewhere deep within his steely heart - on the way to the abandoned factory that once he got there he wouldn't really have a good line to say. Dialogue mattered so much in such things. But this was good. Very good. He chuckled as he saw the fear in his victim's face. Victory this time. Not defit.

"Pardon me again. But you said this time you would win. This pre-supposes that at a previous point, you met with defeat. Mark the word down by the way. Defeat, not defit", he argued reflexively. He knew he should be scared stiff for his life right now, but the young man's arguments just had so many holes in it. He couldn't help it.

"After you killed my father, you and your men laughed over his dead body for a good five minutes or so. I sat and watched from behind the well, petrified and teary-eyed. Then when you started walking away towards your Maruti, I ran shouting wild cries and bit your leg. You scraped me off with your other leg. As I was flung to the ground, I vowed revenge a second time. That was my first … defeat. But now, I will win. I did not die by the hands of your minions, you villainous brute. I was just sleeping. Prepare now to meet your end, old man and arch foe." He stiffened and pulled the pistol back up at the man, determined to not be distracted by silly questions anymore. It wasn't like he had nothing else to do. There was a dinner appointment to keep and he needed to be up early for the flight back tomorrow. So, to business.

"That was you? God, you were scrawny! I thought it was a bug or … something -", he began, suddenly delighting in this whole reminiscing business. The good old days were, indeed, good and old. Business was better, his liver wasn't being such a nuisance and he had hair on his head. A dashing hair-style, if he remembered correctly. Perhaps he should ask the young man? In case he remembered? He seemed to remember an awful lot. But then, that pistol was a conversation killer. And he was pointing it at him quite animatedly now.

"I just took time growing up! I wasn't scrawny, I was just a little behind the other boys. Some people need more time!" he shouted. Stupid, old father-killer, hitting him where it still hurt sometimes. Those other boys, all calling him Shorty and messing his hair up all the time. "Wouldn't let me play cricket even …" he mumbled half to himself.

"My boy. You have suffered. Indeed a lot. Let us sit here, you and I. Let us talk about this. Tell me your troubles. I mean it, I do. Take a barrel. Take two, be comfortable."

"Well, my father always told me I'd be big and strong one day. But those days I couldn't believe him. The other boys always bragged about gaining a half inch or a full, and I had nothing to show for myself. It was hard, growing up. Next to the freaking holy Ganga, for God's sake! It was so ... so hard." He opened himself to the villainous murderer of his father, seeing in his soon to be dead face a kind gentleness he hadn't seen in many years.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

He Does Strange Things After Hours

"Hey, you there! Peon, yes. Come here. Why is that turbaned man dancing in my office??"

"He's very happy, sir. He has got a rocket."

"Rocket? WHERE??"

"In his pocket, sir. He's got a rocket in his pocket."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Diary of a Hitman, Chapter 1: Initiation Ceremonies

The two men in black suits, one of them startlingly handsome and the other not so much in comparison, quietly exited the black Audi R8 which had arrived at the corner of the street in stealth mode. Not a leaf waved at the arrival of the black car-monster, specially modified for its silence mode. No baby would even stir in his or her sleep, if the Audi braked at 60 miles an hour. It was made for a purpose, aside from looking awesomely gorgeous.

"I still think we should have brought the black Lamborghini", said the startlingly handsome one, obviously right. The Lamborghini brought infinite style and a sense of rogue wildness, resembling his own character.

"Let's concentrate on the mission, shall we?", said the other man, reeking of envy at his own inferior looks and weaker personality.

Whipping out his black cellular phone, the other man called HQ for confirmation.

"Yes. I've reached the location. Confirm that we are as yet undetected. Plan is proceeding as per, well, plan. Yes, ammo checks have been done. Yes, I had my milk before I left."

The other man looked over to his cooler partner, to see whether he would be sniggering. He wasn't. Even in his coolness and infinite style, he understood the gravity of the situation at hand and the task ahead. The task ahead was no mean joke.

Some months ago, the organization had been threatened with destruction, a terror which would strike at its very root and dismember its centuries old extended agencies. The source of this very real threat, those in power had confirmed it was very real and very imminent, needed to be found and taken out.

Well, he thought wryly, take-out was his favourite kind anyway.

He was really funny.

But he was on back-up watch right now, and there was all the need for precaution. He took up a good position behind the other man, with a clear panoramic view of the street's buildings. No one should escape under his watch.

The other man, the lesser man in all but experience, looked to his left and to his right as he crossed the empty street. He took out a black bar-shaped object from his pocket. It looked to be quite ordinary. This was because it was a chocolate and he needed his energy. Like an A4 sheet through a shredder, he quickly decimated the chocolate bar. Nothing was left to suggest he had been eating on the job, except for maybe his well-fed plaque on the left inner molars. Quite thorough he was, this less gifted man.

The other man took out another bar from inside his trench-coat, cut in the Neo-Matrix style. This was a special device, this bar. Clicking a near invisible button on the top of it, he scanned the buildings in front of him, one floor at a time. The bar conducted a thermal scan through the walls, feeding visual data into his glasses. His glasses were black too. The other man was slow at his job, felt the younger back-up man in the suit which fitted him better. But he knew he had to learn to rise to the top and this was part of the process.

The other man stopped suddenly in his scan. He had found what he was looking for. Red-bricked building, 4 floors tall, a large wooden doorway at the front. He walked up the porch and examined the electronic lock system. He could break it if he wanted, but that would be unnecessary ruckus. Anyway, the target, was just next to the window to the left side on the 2nd floor. He could make it from the outside.

The other man gestured to his cooler half, signalling for him to come and join him at the porch. As the cooler partner strode up in his masculine, powerful gait, the other man felt another stab of jealousy. Why him, he thought angrily. He is much too young and much too cocky.

He was correct. The younger man was indeed much too cocky. His impressive strike rate with the females proved that.

But the job needed to be done and the other man knew he had enough years and active hours on the agency's payroll to take care of this.

He signalled the stud to stay quiet and communicate only through signals and facial contortions. He showed him the facial contortion for "I'm shot! Down there! I'm dying, but save yourself!" to remind him of the danger of this mission.

The suave, sexy man nodded gravely. He understood. He always understood.

Signalling "Start Position", the other man took a disc out of his trench-coat. It looked like a chikki, a fried Indian snack. And it was. He ate that too, giggling at his humor. He didn't realize he wasn't very funny. There were a significant number of things he didn't realize.

He took a second disc out of his trench-coat. Although this one looked like a chikki too, it wasn't. As he whirled it upwards towards the terrace of the building, it unwound from his fingers. Voila! A climbing rope, strong enough to carry an ox, were the ox able to acquire fingers to climb the rope in the first place. The rope would hold, always. The scientists at the organization didn't spend their funds on discs for nothing.

They climbed up, stealthily. Their trenchcoats adapted to the red-brickstone colour of the wall. As the other man climbed first, the hot chocolate man behind, they were soon camouflaged against the wall. It had begun to drizzle, but their training ensured they did not slip.

As the other man reached the window, he lifted it open gently, without making a decibel's worth of sound. He may have been less attractive than his partner, but he had his specialties. Wasting no further time, the two men climbed inside into the darkness. This was the room. The target would be asleep.

The two men, in black drench trenchcoats, scanned the room with their thermal scanners. The target was right in the center. The other man signalled his sexier partner to approach but with absolute stealth. He understood. Like always.

It was a distance of merely 2.5m to the target, but they covered the ground slowly. The target should not awaken before time.

Crossing coloring books lying strewn and crayons scattered across the floor, the handsome man stiffened within himself in distaste. He knew the job was necessary. And he understood his duties. But moments like these really served to remind why he did what he did.

They reached the cradle. And then the other man did something totally unexpected. He signalled his younger, awesomer colleague with the sign to execute.

He looked up at his senior,limper partner. For confirmation, in case he had misread the signal in his self-distraction. The other man repeated it.

He smiled to himself. This was going to be his breaking in. His initiation. He crackled his knuckles, not caring for the noise anymore. Before the baby could even react, he had landed a sweet right hook on his chin.

They exited in stealth and agility and dexterous speed as the baby's wails filled the building. As he sunk into the passenger seat of the black R8, the ravishingly handsome man sighed to himself. Stunning good looks aside, he couldn't help feeling giddy. He had just completed his first field assignment.