Friday, April 19, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
As he sat behind Kumar Anna in the thumping bullet, he felt so happy that to be with Anna - a familiar figure with whom he can share his new found happiness. The midnight has lulled all the souls of the street into sleep. The roads were empty and the streetlights – at least, those that were not bust, cast eerie golden pools of shadow. Even the dogs and cats, that usually dart here and there were curled cozily into their own warmth and dozed. This would be Arul’s first visit to Kumar Anna’s place, even though they knew each other for more than a year now. He felt a little odd that his first visit is at this ungodly hour. But since Kumar had no issues about it, Arul rode wordlessly with him and they arrived at the gates of Kumar’s residence.
As Arul was about to get down from the bike, two dogs pounced at them out of the blue. With their teeth bared and a low menacing growl rumbling from their throat, the guys felt as if were dropped right in the middle of a scary movie. The ferocious black dog was looking at Kumar and barking furiously. Its barks echoed eerily in the cold deserted night air. In the ghostly moonlight, Arul could feel the shock and fear that was coursing through him reverberate in Kumar. They did not know how to tackle this beast and escape with all their flesh intact on their legs. To make matters worse, the black beast latched its paws onto Kumar's leg. Scared out of his pants, Kumar tried to scare the dog away by revving up his engine. This made the other dog to leap in front of the bullet. With its front legs planted solidly on the wheel, the second dog started barking angrily -not budging even an inch when Kumar tried to move his bike forward.
Arul could see that they were literally trapped between two crazed, frantically barking monster dogs. Arul, who is already scared of dogs, was at his wit's end. The barking continued unabated and the black dog, which was clinging on to the trembling legs of Kumar, turned towards Arul and started snapping at him. Arul could handle it no more. He jumped out of his seat and took off -running like a madman down the street.
To his great relief, Kumar watched the two crazy dogs take off like rocket and disappear round the corner of his street. He was perplexed and still shaky from his midnight adventure with the dogs. “I have come home numerous times at this hour, sometimes even later. What made these dogs –that too the familiar street dogs that I see everyday - behave as if they were possessed?” wondered Kumar.
He quickly opened the gates and let himself inside. He felt too nervous to venture again into the dark to lock the main gates behind him. He dashed into his home and jumped into his bed, quickly discarding his clothes and changing into comfortable shorts. As he lay, staring at the ceiling, he felt his heart rate return to normalcy. “Thank God I escaped without any scratches or bites” he murmured.
Even before the alarm could irritatingly wake him up, Kumar got up - wide awake. The mistress of sleep ditched him even without the final caress of the state between sleep and wakefulness. The time was 5.30 am and he didn’t have the usual urge to burrow into the bed and doze for another 30 minutes. Instead, he started thinking about today’s match. They were playing against their rival team –from the other end of the city. He started strategizing and plotting about the 15 over match.
Brushed and dressed, Kumar slipped on his shoes and pocketed his wallet. Swinging his bat on his shoulders, he snatched the mobile from the table and checked for messages.
“Dai, what the F*&% da? We are playing our rivals. If we cancel the match now, they will think we have chickened out!” Kumar shouted.
“Macha, listen to me da…our Arul…he is no more.” Sashi said quietly.
“Macha?? You there da? Am now at his home. They have taken the body for post mortem. Why don’t you come over?”
“Sure…sure…I will be there soon. What is the need of post mortem? Was he murdered? When will they release the body?” Kumar couldn’t stop himself from shooting questions to Sashi.
“These government procedures…I think we can count ourselves lucky if we get the body in another 5 hours.”
Kumar sat down heavily on his bed. Even last night he remembered taking his last fag outside Arul’s place. Everything was as normal as they could be. How come he died? That too so suddenly? Kumar’s thoughts kept circling round and round Arul.
“Sashi, what happened da? How did it die? Even last night I was here and everything was normal. When did you get the news of his death? Infact, today morning I was about to leave my home to pick him up for our match. I was so shocked to see your message.” Words tumbled out of Kumar.
Before Sashi could answer, there was a commotion at the gate. Two policemen were escorting a body bag, which was placed in the freeze box by two health workers. The police handed over some documents to Arul’s father –who wordlessly passed it on to Sashi. The police turned to us and said“Get these documents photocopied. They are the post mortem report”
Sashi was looking at the body bag in a stunned state and he was not responding to the police. Arul's face was swollen and blue. The face barely held any resemblance to the young and smiling Arul. When the police prompted Sashi again, Kumar nodded to them and dragged Sashi out of the house to his bike. Sashi climbed wordlessly and they went to the nearest“Xerox” shop. Kumar went to the shop and ordered for 3 copies, collected it, paid and came back to his bike.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The street was completely deserted. The road –a shiny black slick stretch of tar –stretched sinuously. The raindrops that fell on this deceptively smooth surface were given no opportunity to burst into tiny spray. They were just falling down and flowing into the drains, like water from an open tap. The occasional vehicles which glide through the street even in the wee hours were now absent. The looming trees were soaked black monstrosities, with water dripping down their branches. The entire scene, which was bathed in the gloomy golden light of the sodium vapour street lamps, was like a picture taken sometime somewhere in monsoon, with only the steady motion of the rain noisily proclaiming that the scene is being witnessed by a living, breathing human life.
The damp chill sensuously caressed the body of the silent witness of the impending storm. Her eyes were seeing this sight unseen through a window frame –the frame perfectly limiting the breadth of the vision. The view, that was framed by the solid brown wooden frame and marred by rigid black iron grills, comprised of a 2 storied flat right in front, a small box shop flanking its right and a house enclosed by a high walled compound in the left. The road was a still, black, shiny stream between the window and the other side.
She lifted a hand and gripped the grill –the chillness imbibed by the iron sending a jolt down her system. Craving for more, she pressed her cheek against it and savoured the anticipated coolness. Beyond her was the room –the bed rumpled in a fight with sleep. Her body was warm from the cocoon of blanket she had climbed out from. The restlessness, as against the content cozy feeling that the mind and body craves for in weather such as this, was the reason that sleep eluded her at this unholy hour of 2 am.
Her mind was blank...hovering on the grey area before sleep engulfs you. Like a flash of impulsive desire that a child gets on seeing a candy, the idea to don a coat and walk into the wet stillness that was just beyond her grasp struck her out of the blue. She smiled dreamily and whispered “when was the last time you did something for the first time?” The desire soon snowballed into a yearning so powerful she felt as if she was choking with the need to go out. The idea made her feel reckless, brave, adventurous and wild –all that she was not in her life. “It is just a simple matter of opening the door and stepping out” she felt. But was it really that simple? Her mind warred with the unacknowledged fear of the unknown waiting for her beyond the door.
She gave herself a small shake –an attempt to get rid of the urge. She ground her teeth and reminded herself that stepping out of the house in the middle of the night without any valid purpose... that too in a storm, was not something sane people do. “But then, what is the definition of sanity?” she felt her mind asking. “Is it simply confined to doing things that people and the society expect you to do and not doing things that people generally avoid doing? If it is so, then is being sane all about confining yourself to narrow thoughts and beliefs? Is being sane means denying and quenching your urges just because the whole society does the same? As long as my actions and thoughts hurt no one, then will I still be labeled insane for doing what I want to do?”
As if reflecting her state of mind, the storm that was in the bay slowly started moving in. The wind came first, by slowly teasing the leaves into a flutter. But as the might of the storm grew, the wind transformed into a mighty force and howled out its strength...wrecking havoc in the stillness. The trees swayed and bent and the rain, which was previously a straight line, was now almost parallel to the ground.
The world beyond her window, to which she was till now a merely a witness, invaded into her world and started drenching her face with ice cold drops that slapped her with stinging force. The slaps were as if all her repressed desires and wasted opportunities transcended from the immaterial, metaphysical plane to the physical realm...taunting her with a condescending smirk.
“Wimp! Never did you dare to reach out. Always living in a world of what ifs. Just look at you! Peering out like a prisoner while all that is holding you back is just yourself.” laughed the wind.
She could bear it no longer. Her 45 years of existence flashed past her. The could haves and would haves and if onlys –the fight that she should have put up for her education, the stand that she must have taken for her lover, the words and abuses that she swallowed from the spineless excuse of a husband she married, the children she must not have had, the jobs she could have taken, the things she could have done to prevent her life from becoming a pathetic excuse of living...society, parents, relatives, the show that she had put up to prove the world that everything was normal...the irony of not believing that her fate was in her hand but all the while, she was grasping the wheel that steered it.
A lightning flashed, briefly illuminating the eerie scene of the storm. The storm would soon pass and familiarity will soon return. She could take comfort in the breakfast, lunch, dinner routine...a routine she was resigned to. The sleeping form in the bed stirred. A stream of expletives flowed from him, accusing her of being a fool to have opened the window in the middle of the storm and disturbing his sleep.
She moved away from the window, paying no heed to him. She turned the key in the lock. Through the open door, the storm beckoned her –a dark seductive temptation. She basked in the primitive power lashing wildly in the atmosphere.
She stepped out.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Looking at her walking down the long street made him realise how much he missed her. His house no longer felt like home without her in it. He missed her happy greetings when he returned home from work. He missed seeing her frowning with concentration at her laptop. He missed goofing around with her over trivial things. He missed her nagging him to buy shampoo for her on Sunday mornings. Now, looking at her walking towards him, his spirits lifted. He started feeling happy that she is coming back...back home and back to him. But then, a distant chime brought him back to the present and made him furious all of a sudden. He frowned with displeasure. It was getting late. Why is she coming back home only now? She must be safe in her bed by this time. He felt like shouting some sense into her with a good measure of ‘this is why I don’t want you to stay alone’ thrown in.
He stood there, waiting for her...watching her. She was coming closer and closer, near to the door of her apartment. His skin suddenly prickled with unease. Danger! Yes! Acute danger was lurking in the dark – waiting her...awaiting his baby. He can see her pushing the door open. He tries to warn her, save her. He starts calling out to her, but no sound emerges from his throat. Frustration and fear grips hold of him. She pushes the door open and a figure leaps at her out of the dark. It smothers her scream with a rough calloused hand. He could smell the alcohol reeking out of the nightmare that was pressing itself against his precious baby. The scream that died in her throat rose in his.
He woke up with a scream on his lips...gasping for breath. It was a dream...again. with his baby in danger. His wife peered down at him, a bemused smile on her face. “She is safe. What was it this time? Accident?” He scowled at his wife. “This is precisely why I didn't want her to go stay alone in another city. Why did you let her go?” Now she started laughing. “Why you didn't want her to go? so that you won’t have bad dreams? Understand this clearly now! She is no longer a baby. She has to live her own life, make her choices. At this stage, it is essential for her to lay a good base for her career and that is precisely why she has gone there. Now go sleep!” With that, his wife – the mother, pulled the covers over her head and turn to her side.
The wife smiled beneath her covers. “You miss her a lot don’t you? So do I, but from now on, it is her life and it will not be fair to have her tied down to us.” she thought to herself. Their daughter became the centre of his universe the moment he held her in his arms 22 years ago. And in his mind, she had always remained that baby. If he had had his way, he would have always kept her within his sight, his domain and always with him. But now, her work has taken her to another city and the separation was making him very – to put it mildly, pouty. The wife remembered all the silly reasons that her husband gave to their daughter in an attempt to dissuade her from moving to another city. It ranged from ‘you don’t know how to cross the streets properly’ to ‘you are irresponsible’. From ‘you will stay out with friends’ to ‘you wont get good food’. The daughter had just smiled at all these, hugged him tight and happily went about making preparations for the travel. The mother had watched this all with a kind of patient amusement. It had been a lot easier for her to understand her daughter’s ambition to make it big, the need to be alone, the excitement to explore a new city and ultimately, respect her choice and decision. But, it has not been that easy for the father and his irrational fears about the safety of his baby often took the shape of nightmares and tormented him.
The last vestiges of the nightmare were still clinging on to him. He reached out for his cell phone and looked at the time. 11 pm. He speed dialed his daughter and held his breath. “Why the hell is it taking her so long to pick the phone?” he muttered under his breath. “She must be sleeping”, called out his wife. He just glared at her and dialed the number again and heaved a sigh of relief when she answered. “Where are you? Why didn't you pick up the phone?” he asked. “I was watching a movie in the laptop dad. Didn't hear the mobile ringing.” She answered. “Oh...ok ok. Go sleep now. It is getting late. I just called up to check if everything was ok.” He said. She laughed and said “Am fine dad. Go sleep now. Good night!”
She ended the call and rolled her eyes. But then, she couldn’t stop the slow smile spreading on her face. She felt that she was the luckiest daughter in the world, to have such a loving father. She continued walking her way home. She was returning back after having dinner with her friends. Ofcourse, she couldn’t tell this to her dad. That will only make him worried.
She was dressed in her most favoured attire of jeans, and her white kurti stood out against the darkness. There was a slight spring in her steps. She was feeling happy and relaxed and pleased with her day. She was humming a tune under her breath, swinging her handbag rhythmically. Her long legged strides were bringing her closer to the place where she stays...
Monday, October 26, 2009
The patch of golden sunlight quivering on the street, filtered down by the trees. The very slight dazzle of the same sunbeam reflected by the earring of a woman passing by, that catches your eye. The elongated shadow of yourself, cast by the slanting sun, making you look slimmer and taller. The beautiful hue of your skin, painted a glorious gold by the sun’s loving caress. The way the ordinary greens of the leaves shimmers with a life of their own, in tune with the teasing breeze that is flirting with them. The slowly sinking golden globe playing hide and seek with buildings and trees, making you pause at every break in the skyline to catch a glimpse of the deliciously sensual warmth that he radiates with an explosion of colours.
The uplifted face of a three year old, welcoming the rushing wind as he enjoys a bike ride with his father. A group of college girls gossiping their way back home. Women returning from work munching on scalding hot bajjis just out of the frying pans. The busy juice stall where people are indulging in a refreshing drink. Young men in fitting jeans riding away to glory in their bikes. A sulky teenager pedalling lazily to his tuition. Aunties clad in silk saris waddling their way to the bus stop, may be to attend some wedding, the oh so white and soft jasmine leaving a beguiling scent behind them. Kids weaving back and forth, across the streets unfazed by the irritating shrieks of horns that the drivers blow at them. An unexpected ‘manja’ line, ready to slice your throat and the skinny boy in shorts apologetically wounding the string into a ball, a torn kite tucked safely in his armpit. A young woman hugging her lover and happily distracting him from driving the bike. A sudden smile that blooms when you catch the eye of the mother struggling with the antics of her 2 year old.
The deep breath that people take involuntarily as they pass under the blooming parijatham tree, which had woven a beautiful carpet of orange and white beneath its awning branches. The startling gush of air as a speeding bike whizzes past you. The abandoned car covered with bird droppings. The way your heart swells as the beauty intoxicated blood infuses an indescribable sense of well being within you. The spring that automatically creeps into your step, with every other triviality that stretches your lips into a smile. The very slight sneer of superiority that you acquire – the byproduct of the general apathy displayed by the multitude around you, to all the glories that lay scattered around them. The slight tilt of the head which make you look down your nose on the other less appreciative passerbys.
And of course, a gleam in the eye of a fellow pedestrian, who in that brief microsecond, understands and nods back to you...making you realize that you are not the only one capable of appreciating all the simple wonders. And that instant when the smile sheds its sneer and becomes indulgent again...
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
keeping an eye on the clock, you hastily dress up, only to discover that most of your work clothes are either in the laundry basket or needs ironing. you say 'what the hell' and jump into a god foresaken piece of clothing that you had stowed away in the bottom of your wardrobe. and by Murphy's law, you have a bad hair day (of course). having no time to grab a breakfast, you rush to the office. there you find that the meeting for which you had skipped the signals and broke some other traffic rules, got rescheduled to another day. with an air of resignation and an iota of satisfaction that you escaped attending the meeting in a dowdy dress and tangled hair, you proceed to the cafeteria. and there, a 'closed' sign greets you-maintenence.
obeying to the dictates of your growling stomach, you walk in to a nearby restaurent. upon entering, you are pleasently surprised to see your cousin dining there with her kid. your 2 year old nephew rushes up to you with a cry of joy and flings himself on you. 'ah! atlast. something good' you think and lift him up in your arms. a feeling of warmth and wetness spreads on you...leaky diaper. shit! literally. with your appetite ruined along with your dress, you stumble out of the restaurent and sneak out your car from the office car park and drive home.
switching off your mobile and shuckin off your pissed dress, you take a bath...again. then you dial up for a pizza. after an excruciatingly long 20 minutes wait, the pizza finally arrives. you devour it up unmindful of the sinfully fattening cheese and flop down on your couch. the next thing that you are aware of is the scent of wet earth and the relentless pounding of the rain on your window. squinting at the clock, you figure out that it is only early afternoon. you sightlessly stare at the downpour through your window, deliberating whether to make yourself a cup of tea or not. you mentally imagine the pleasure of sitting on the window sill and enjoying the rain while sipping a cup of hot ginger tea. but your body, too comfortable and content, refuses to give up the company of the couch.
after much procrastination, you stagger into the kitchen and make the tea. breathing in its aroma, you sit down at the window sill and take yor first sip. heaven. the next sip. and the rain stops. damn. you totally loose the mood to relish the tea and hurridly swallow down the rest of your cup.
to fill up the entire evening stretching ahead, you call up your friends and try to sell them the idea of going to the latest block buster movie. and as luck would have it, none of them are free. you feel so lonely and depressed that, for a momnet, you even seriously consider the preposterous idea of marrying someone. pushing aside the boringly chiched thoughts of self pity, you roll up your sleeves and start cleaning up your home. afterall, what better way than this to vent out the frustration? done with it, you look at the time. you realize that if you just hurry a bit, you can still catch up the movie. you dress up, grab your keys and drive to the multiplex. you supress a smile at the weird look given by the man at ticket counter when you asked for 'one ticket'. you buy a tub of popcorn and settle down in your seat to enjoy the movie...and you do end up enjoying it inspite of the distractions posed by the young lovers and couples siting on either side of you and infront of you. you leave the theatre and drive your car along the ECR, with the stereos blasting hard rock music and the needle of the speedometer pushing at 100kmph. finally, you turn around and start driving towards your home.
midway, enroute your car grinds to a halt. you turn on the ignition again and again. the car just sputters and dies away. you get out of the car. the road is empty and deserted. the streetlights are non existent. the empty, lonely street is pitch dark and a slow steady drizzle starts. you take out your mobile and make a call to your mechanic. at that time, you hear foot steps behind you. you turn around...and then......
and then you realize that its too late.... you realize that you cant write anymore tonight. you throw away the paper and pencil, switch off the light and go to sleep... dreaming about what will happen next.