Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3. g

“What time?” I ask Sneha.
“Five thirty” she says.
“Where?...same spot?”
“Yeah…Opposite the ice cream parlour”

It was a lazy afternoon. Aunty was sleeping inside. The place was almost empty because the flockers of the place were busy with lectures. The roll I ordered for formality lay between us. Within the range of my hands. As in a preparation for a quick escape. We were making a plan for next day’s meeting in the city part, after her college.

A sweet little small date. At least that’s what we always expect it to be. It begins off as it too. Then slowly it creeps into us and we go wild. We want to watch a movie, and we end up making out through it. We want to sit with our legs dipped in the cold waters of the lake and we end up groping each other. We want to talk about things sitting along the dark shore of the river, and we end up with hands in each others clothes.

She is like a wild mare, like all rebellious teenage girls are. She wants to drink, smoke, make love and eat meat against her strictly religious vegetarian family background. She wants to break free. She wants to adopt the life of other privileged carefree girls of her age. And I am her passport to that life. At times she changes her clothes before meeting me. The Sneha behind the counter and the girl who meets me in the city are two totally different attires. I like the later more. Because it’s fun to tame a wild mare. It’s a different kick.

Suddenly I saw her straighten up. It was an alert signal. She had seen someone coming. It’s a consensus. If she sees someone coming over my shoulder, she alerts me. Same on my side. I picked up my roll and turned.

I have a surprise walking towards me. It’s Rahul!

The urge to call him Aditya has died in me. He no longer is Harshal’s roommate, whose leg I can pull anytime and then somehow manage to escape his wrath. He was a different individual now. I quickly move out of his way. He looks at me threateningly. I walk away and take a seat at the farthest table.

He buys a Vada Pav and sits at a table close to me. I avoid and interaction with him. Even the one with eyes. I look outside. Beyond Aunty’s netted fence, I see Harshad standing with Dhananjay, the youth party spokesperson and his henchman Akshay, the PR on the opposite footpath. I find them looking at me strangely. I wave out to Harshad. He waves in return. I signal him to come over and join me. I don’t feel like making my repayment clear at the moment. There’s always a right time. He waves back in refusal. But what puzzles me is the company he has. It could be that they had caught him the way they had caught me. But if that had been the case, why could’ve they been staring me with preparedness. I try to create a circuit board of thoughts trying to find the right connections. They loose their interest in me and start looking somewhere else.

I finish my roll hurriedly and get up to return the empty plate. Rahul stands up with me and crosses my path on my way back to the counter. I bang into him, after a futile attempt to avoid him. The left over ketchup draws a neat line on the right arm of his T-shirt. He turns around enraged.

“Lost your eyes?” He asks in a menacing tone.
“Sorry man!” I reply gently.
“What sorry?!…you spoilt the shirt!” He held his arm before me for a moment.
“Didn’t do it purposely man!”
“Are you back answering me?...It’s your mistake fucker…wash it and give it back to me”
“Yeah…sure man!...take it off!” I try to evade a situation with a smile.
“You think this is funny?...Madarchod!”

Suddenly I felt a hard punch in my stomach. Waves of agonizing pain spread through my belly. I curl back holding my belly.

“You still think this is funny?...Laugh now.”

A strong punch settles on my jaw, unsettling it.

A sharp sound occupies my ear and starts dissolving everything in itself.
I loose my balance and I lie on the ground.

“You want jokes na?...take this joke!” He kicks me in my thigh. It is obvious that he had missed his aim.

He leaves the plate at the counter and walks away.

I try standing up again. Sneha comes to pick me up. I get up on my feet again. I feel throbbing pain in my jaw. A metallic taste spreads onmy tongue. I go to the net and spit it out. I see red drops spewing out of my mouth. They land on the leaves of an grown by itself alont the footpath. My heart beats occupy my head. A slow blur invades my sight.

I see Harshad and the party workers walk away from the point where they were standing. I see their erect backs. That is the last sight I see. The world dissolves in a pitch black vacuum after that.

But before I pass out, I successfully get all my connections in the circuit right.


(Contd.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

3. f

She continues talking on phone. The warmth of her body glues me to her. I don’t feel like letting her off. Her touch spreads through me. It absorbs me into itself. I melt in its warmth. She jerks me back. I keep on holding her. She continues talking. I unhear what she speaks. It’s her personal matter. She is my personal matter. I gently rub my cheek over the smoothness of her neck. She hits her elbow in my stomach. I bear it. I kiss her gently on her neck instead. I have learnt from great Indian leaders to love in return of hatred. I hear a small sigh. She hits her fist on my hip in return. Her conversation with Harshad on phone goes on uninterrupted. I love Matahari for this. She doesn’t let even the closest confide know whom she is with and doing what when such incidences of seduction occur. I slowly slip my hand down, taking it below her belly. I rub it over her zip. She tries to push me back in vain. I spread my fingers and hold the entire region in my hand, anchoring my fingers at soft notches. I press the area gently. A light moan escapes her mouth. She hits me lamely on my thigh. I unzip her pant and push my hand into the newly formed gap. I feel her body shudder.

I run my fingers over the smooth cloth of her Victoria’s Secret. My finger reaches the upper edge of the Secret. I fondle with it. I touch the softness of her lower belly that descends into her depth. A temptation blooms within me. The temptation to pull it down and reach the depths. To feel the touch of the tender skin at the edge of the depth. To rub my finger softly over it. To caress it with tips of extensors of my palms. To scratch a steady line with my blunt nails. I hear a soft gasp. I pull the elastic edge lower. She disconnects the call and turns around.

I look into her eyes. The hostility in them transfixes me. I keep looking into them with my hand struggling to get out. Within a fraction of the second, her hand lands on my cheek. Everything darkens before me for a moment.

“Stay off fucker!!” She almost shrieks.

I move back. But my hand is stuck in her zipper.

“Pull this shit off my zipper you motherfucking arsehole!”

I drop the book and put my other hand on her mouth. She abuses further in a muffled voice. I desperately attempt to pull my hand out of her zipper.

She manages to free her mouth from my hand.

“You womaniser…”
“Shut up Barkha…you will wake up everybody!!”
“Let them wake up and see what an arsehole you are…”
“What happened?”
“You are asking me what happened?...Don’t you know what happened?”

I have a fair idea of what has happened. But I continue to be ignorant. But I want to hear it from her. Just as a matter of conformation. I jerk my hand to get it off her zipper. It moves in millimeters.

“What?!” I ask.
“Will I have to tell you that too?”
“Yes!”
“Okay…” She attains pseudo calm. “…Tell me…did you enjoy?”
“Enjoy what?”
“Her you fucker!”
“What?...Who?!”
“Her!...Shamita!...was her cunt juicier than mine??” She spit words out.
“Shut up Barkha…what’s got into you?”
“Come on tell me…were her thighs warmer?...”
“Shut the fuck up Barkha!!...”
“Why?...cant handle the truth??”
“What truth??”
“What truth??!!...Sleeping with Shamita you son of a bitch”
“What?!!...who told you this shit?” I know who has. But again I give in to the factor of confession.

“Whoever told me…what you have to do…you had your dick happy na…”
“Whichever fucker told you…is lying…or doesn’t know the truth.”
“Then…what’s the truth?...you took her to a hotel room for taking notes from her…”
“Nope…I took her to meet her brother…”
“To the hill-station?”
“Yes!”
“Do you think I am a fool?”
“I didn’t…but now I think you are…you are outta your mind Barkha…” My hand slips out of her zipper in my final attempt.

“And you are outta yourself you bastard!”
“Alright…If you aren’t listening to what I have to say….you will know the truth at the right time…see you than Barkha!” I say calmly and leave.

She stays dumbfounded by the serenity in my line. I leave there quietly. She stands speechless, dumbstruck by my move.

I exit her compound and walk away with heavy steps. And a stab-punctured heart.

I know who is behind this. He has a due to pay now.

(Contd.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

3. e

I get down from the rickshaw and I call her up. She doesn’t answer first three calls. She answers the fourth one.

“What?!” she stings.
“I am outside your house” I say.
“Why?”
“…the book”
“I said tomorrow”
“I said I was coming!”
“Anay…”
“Barkha…”

A brief pause passes between us. “Wait there…I am coming” she breaks the silence.
With all the lights off, her house seems sleeping. A restful darkness peeps through its windows. A see a quick switching on and switching off of her study lamp. Her room fills up for a second with its light. The way lightening fills the skies for an instant.

The door of her bungalow opens and she comes out watchfully, with the book held to her chest. She closes the door carefully, to avoid waking up her grandmother, the only inhabitant of the bungalow. The indirect benefactor of my sexual exploits with Barkha. She sleeps early and wakes up late. To add to her generosity, he doesn’t hear properly. Her Mom and Dad stay in Dubai. My statistics say she couldn’t get through any institute there. Her reason says that the quality of education is better in India. Be whatever, she lives here alone with her grandmother, studying in my college and prefers me to share her bed. This information is enough for me.

She comes walking feather light steps and stands before me.

I look into her eyes and smile. She returns it with a stern glare.

I move a step closer. She pushes me back with the book and holds it out for me. I take it touching her hands gently. She quickly draws them back.

I hold the book tighter. My first attempt wasted.

“What happened?” I ask “Why you so grumpy?”
“I am not…” she snaps back.
“But the nosy here doesn’t say so…” I touch the tip of her nose.
She slaps my hand off with an irritable “Don’t touch me…”

Second attempt failed. Her behaviour is getting on my nerves. This is an ordinary reaction seen in people who suddenly stop getting something that they are so used to getting without much effort.

“What happened Barkha” I ask her with a sprinkle of firmness, holding her by her shoulders.

“Nothing Anay…” she says shaking my hands off her shoulders. There is a sharp edge of sadness to her voice.

“Then why are you behaving this way??...” It erupts out finally.

The phone in her hand rings exactly at that moment. He answers the call instantly.
“Yeah Harshad…tell me.” She says a bit louder for me to understand.

She moves away from me talking on phone. I follow her. Her swift moves blow me over once more. I keep walking behind her. We enter the compound of her bungalow. We reach a dark corner in her premises. Her attempts to gain privacy give me a chance to follow her to the cosiest of places.

She stands with her back at me. I move closer. She moves farther.

This time I am determined.

I move closer to her again. The darkness in the corner intoxicates me. She stands still. I wrap my hands around her.

(Contd.)

3. d

I move closer to Barkha. She moves farther.

I don’t understand what the fuck is happening.

I had been observing it since morning. Through the day she wore a sensuous black Ganji deep enough to give a glimpse of her miracle bosom. Her harem pyjama added to the voluptuous gorgeousness. I spent every moment of the day in the shade of her ebony seduction. Her every movement was a schooner of wine. My eyes were transfixed on every flinch of her stunning body. And an irresistible urge of attaining it burned through me. I approached her with my predatory instincts on every moment that I could. But she somehow, unlike herself , she lugged herself away from me each time. I was guessing if this was some new tactic she was devising. But my concerns grew stronger as the day ended and she avoided even a slight brushing of our skins. Forget sensuous touches. It was not so her.

Barkha, as her name meant, was a shower. A shower of chilled rain drops. The one which pricked you and soothed you at the same time. The shower of countless cold and wet needles. The shower which taught you of the pleasure that lay hidden in pain.
Like the abundance of a shower, Barkha was an abundance herself. An unending reservoir of lust. You could jump in. Take a plunge. Have a sip from it. Or, if u had enough guts, gulp the entire thing down. But this abundance showered only on the chosen ones. Like rain chooses to empty its clouds on the villages along the foothills of the mountains, and drizzles faintly on those over the other side.
Like everybody else, she too had her share of desires. Just that it was a bigger one. Big enough to keep her constantly occupied in an endeavour to quench it endless thirst.

I had noticed her pull towards male bodies through her overfriendly physical gestures and repeated attempts to establish a close affinity with male friends. My speculation was cemented by the news from Shamita’s room. A place for college girls to gather and gossip. A word spread out that she was loose. And I rode on the wave of that word. I impressed her, lured her and subdued her. I made a territory in the pool of her desires. A very large one. And I swam in it proudly, keeping petty contestants at bay. And what I got in return was hundred per cent accurate information about Shamit’s room briefings, Harshad’s heart and Dilip’s inner secrets. She was my Matahari. And my chocolate. My ebony obsession.

I call her up.

“I need a book…” I say.
“Which?” She says rather impassively. The draughtiness in her voice leaves a tearing scratch inside me.
“Any” I could have said. But I thought of being more specific in this delicate situation.
“Ramaswamy and Namakumari” I replied.
“Okay…” she said “take it tomorrow.”

She had begun attacking with a stream of ballistic missiles. I had to move forward facing them; attacking her and protecting myself from her jet stream of curt replies.

“I wanted it today….in fact…now!” I said appearing as normal as I could. That was my only defence and attack.

“Now?!” she exclaimed with gentle insolence and then fell silent for some moments. I had felt the heat radiating through her words. But I was unable to lead myself to the spark of it. “can’t you take it tomorrow?”

Damn! It’s the fuck up day. But one has to take chances.

“No!” I say. “Today…I am coming to your place…now!” I disconnect.

I rush down. Catch a rickshaw and reach her room. Using Piyush’s bike once has proved risky enough. I decide not to mess up my life further.

But I detest the idea of going to her house walking. It’s considerably far.

The rickshaw begins moving at the speed of light. Or at least I feel so.

(Contd.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

3.c

“Uth Bhenchod!!!” I felt a kick in my waist.

I woke up with a shock. I couldn’t comprehend the surroundings around me for a moment. I felt I was still asleep at my home. The kick had brought me back to reality. The place where I was. I looked up. Piyush stood with a wicked smile on his face. I thanked him for waking me up.

“Wake up…what did you get from home fucker?”

“There is nothing in the bag near the study table.” I said rubbing my face with my palms. “Don’t even look at it!”

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha” Piyush laughed villainously. His melodramatic laughter rattled the windows. He took long steps to the bag. I jumped to protect it. He jumped over me. We fought over the bag. A judo match. A wrestle duel. He finally over powers me. He twists my hand and sits on my back. He laughs aloud again.
“Fuck you rapist” I shout in return.

He leaves me and sits resting his back on the bed. I turn around massaging my hand. Villager had a hard grip. Madarchod!

“When did you come fucker?” Piyush asked stretching his legs.
“Afternoon” I reply yawning.
“How are you?”
“Best…until you wringed my arm!”
“What’s in the bag?” He asks looking at it.
“Diamonds”
“Heerey!” He pulled the bag close, opened it and pulled out a packet of Chaklis that Mom had packed in it.
“Chakna!!!” He shouted!
“No Gandu…Maa ka pyaar!” I shout back.

He pushes it back in. The next thing in his pull out campaign is a plastic jar filled with Besan Laddoos.
“Maa ka pyaar!” He mumbles poignantly. A longing spills out of it.
“Meri Maa…tumhaari Maa…divide them!” I say.
“Pick one” says he taking one of the laddoos.
“Take as many…whenever you want!” I declare.
“As if I need your permission…” He bites into the laddoo in his hand “Lovely!” words somehow find their way out from his filled mouth followed by “Welcome back!”

Yeah…I say! Welcome back! I am back.

“How are things?” I ask biting into mine.
“What things?”
“Everybody here!”
“Everybody’s fine….nothing much happened…what will happen in two days man?” He replies taking another bite of the laddoo.
“Cool” I say.
“Did Shamita come back with you?” Piyush asked me devouring the last part of the laddoo.
“No…Why?” His question puzzles me.
“Even she came around the same time you did…I saw her going to her room with her bag…”
“Okay…no man…she didn’t come with me…”
“But Harshad’s guess was partially correct I must say….”

“Harshad?” The sentence baffles me. But lesser than the name that is a part of it. I couldn’t comprehend why Piyush mentioned Harshad’s name in his situation. There could be over thousand conclusions. Nine hundred and ninety nine of which could be comfortable excluded. Except one. And that is Harshad poisoning Piyush’s mind with the same thought. A misunderstanding. A strategy to counter my afflation with Shamita. A strategy coming out of a blindfolded jealous mind. And this conclusion was strong enough to be worried about.

“And what was his guess?” I ask concealing my distress.
“That if we see Shamita around….then we will see you around too…”

Son of a bitch had dropped a bead of poison in Piyush’s mind to seep.

“And what else did he say?” I inquire with emergency.
“Nothing…that’s it!”

I just shook my head in acknowledgement. I forcefully displayed my discontent of my face. I had to build up my wall of defence. I had to state wordlessly that I disapproved this thought line.

It worked on Piyush. He changed the topic.

“Can I steal one more?” He asked.
“Go ahead Sonny…it’s your pick!”

I wasn’t much worried about the loss of laddoos from my bag. What ate me was the fact that Harshad was spreading his venom voraciously over the little universe that encircled me. I was sure Shamita had had a very good time at the Hill Station with the bastard. But she had chosen a very bad time to return. There was a large space left behind for Harshad to take his guesses.

As Piyush finished his next Laddoo, I thought of all that would follow and how could I counter it.

I say to myself once again,

“Welcome back!!!...the game is not the same now!”

(Contd.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

3. b

Morning had just descended into noon when I reached the weird city. I trespassed the toll zones which didn’t bother much about the motorbike riders. They let me pass.
I entered the arsehole of the world.

I had covered the distance of two hundred kilometres with a heavy heart. My head was a mixed bag of thoughts. Some from the world I had left behind and some of the world that I would be a part of soon. As I approached closer to my destination, the memories, words, thoughts from the past two days began shrinking like the evaporating drops of water on a glass pane. They left behind an outline with its centre shrivelling slowly. To disappear with a permanent blotch on it.

I crossed the Chowk, rode up the hill. I saw small shops along the border of the road. They all seem new to me. It always happens to me. A break from the usual, even a small one, makes the entities from the usual appear novel to me. It feels like coming back from a memory dilution. And these objects prove a mapping points for returning to normalcy. I try and recollect the sequence of the shops to test my memory. I pass by each of them, in the correct sequence proving the worthiness of my reminiscence.

I see familiar faces on the road. Some recognise me, some don’t. Those who do, smile or wave to me. I acknowledge their gesture with a similar response. They remind me of the day when I had reached home. During this passage, I recognize that I have set up a pseudo world here for myself. A world that is a pitiable attempt to replicate the world I lived in. An artificial world, like the one we see in old Hindi film sets. A world in thermacol and plasticine. A Plaster-Of-Paris imitation of the world I had left behind. And it’s not just me. It’s many more like me who have done this. We are a group of proxy existences. People who create their lost ambiences on compromising pieces and extracts of their precedent lives.

I park the bike in the veranda of our landlord’s bungalow. I climb up the wrought iron stairs to our floor. There isn’t anybody at the room. I thank god, since I consider this moment as extremely private and want it ti be crumbled by some hyperemotional idiot’s verbal outburst. I open the lock and enter inside. I look at the bed and I decide to change and lie down with eyes closed. I go to the overcrowded cloth hook and find out my shorts from the heap of clothes that hang upon each hook. My absence has pushed it to the innermost position in the sequence. I carefully unhook it from the notch and hurl it on the bed. I look at it.

I thank god again that I haven’t got a bag to unpack this time. Because when you unpack your bag after returning from home, you don’t pull out your stuff from your bag. You pull out the elements of your personal nostalgia from it. The clothes washed by Mom. The snacks she packed. The envelope of cash dad had pushed in. Some weird gift stuff from sis. A worn out note of fifty from grandmother. A pen left back by a friend. Things keep coming out and you keep going back to the days you spent at home. They tie you to these days till you get used to them. They don’t let you dissolve in today, keeping you afloat on it, attached to the borders of yesterday.

I wear my shorts and lie down on the bed before me. I close my eyes. The two days at home slowly unfold before my eyes. At one moment I realise how, at the same time yesterday, I was sleeping at home. I realise that I have come very far in very less time. I realise that I am so far away from my house that I can’t be there in a jiffy if I want. That I have transported myself in a completely different habitat within a span of hours. That I was far. Very far.

I feel water rolling down from the corners of my eyes. In straight lines towards my ears. I don’t feel like opening my eyes.

(Contd.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Declaration

Bhagwad Expressway is a work of fiction. The characters specified in it are PURELY FICTIONAL. They bear NO RESEMBLANCE to ANY PERSON living or dead. Any such resemblances should be considered purely CO-INCIDENTAL and UNINTENTIONAL.

Readers are requested NOT TO draw any conclusions from the work.

(This Declaration has taken shape owing to the growing discontent amongst audiences regarding their exploitation in the form of characters in the work. Such readers are requested to look at this work as pure fiction and enjoy it.)

World around needs to grow up urgently!!!!

- Writer

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chapter #

3.a

I woke up with a gloom. The parting day.

I hated the days when I had to go back. More than I hated being at home. But there was a certain comfort to it. Being in your own space. Sleeping on your own bed. Stare at your own ceiling. Bathe in your own bathroom. And stand before the mirror which has seen you change over the years.

It’s not about attachment with the people. It’s more about the attachment with inanimate things that holds me back. I am so accustomed to their presence, that it makes me feel at home rather than humans living there. And the thought of detachment from these elements weighs down on my heart. It fills my heart with molten iron and on cooling it laves the heart heavier.

I feel reluctant to leave. I feel lazy to even move a finger. I forcibly take myself out of the bed. I feel like smoking. But I can’t. I am at home. I realise that I haven’t smoked much in last two days. I didn’t feel the need to. I can’t live without them there.

I heavily walk to the mirror and look at myself. I turn away and brush my teeth. The though of going back grows like a festering tumour within me. It chokes my throat. I brush my teeth. I fill my moth with a minty lather to counter the clog up in my throat. Brushing suppresses it successfully. But doesn’t overcome it. I finish other chores with the same lump stuck in my throat. I dress up and get ready for the journey back to the weird city. A prison with the walls of freedom.

Everybody in the house suddenly realise the onset of my absence. The change in their behaviour is evident. A dull outline of acceptance marks their faces. Acceptance to the fact that I was supposed to be here just for two days. That I was no longer a part of the household now, but just a visitor. A visitor in my own abode. A place which I would visit rather than return to. The brief returns which I spent here were like stays in some mediocre hotel. Run by people who you were directly related to. Whom you had seen all the years of your life. They served you. They pampered you and saw that your no demand remained unattended, unlike the times when you were a part of it. Because a visitor always remains an outsider. And that was what the distancing from home had made me. An outsider to the place where I belonged to.

I had my breakfast. Everybody behaved cheerful, concealing their twinge. Me too.
I wore my shoes and everybody grew restless. I promised them I will come back in a month. I assured them that the two cities weren’t far from each other. And I console them saying I was just around. Dad held up my words. He repeated the proclamation that he had made when he had agreed over sending me to the other city. “Come on…it’s just two hours by the Expressway”

Mom handed me over with bagsful of eatables. Dad handed me over my source of survival. Cash!

He came down to leave me to the bike. I greeted him farewell.

I sat on the bike and left waving to everybody.

The lump in my throat had by now occupied my entire chest. I left back my building. Then my lane. Then the turn which had brought me home. I kept leaving behind everything that had drawn me home.

The tyres of the bike touched the highway. I was on my way to the weird city. And the arsehole of the world.


(Contd.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2. s

I get pulled towards them. Like they have lassoed me. I feel like a zombie walking on his master’s command. Except that I have no master. Or I don’t know who my master is. I only know these voices. These vague voices.

In slow steps I move towards them. The voices open their large moth. They suck me inside. A high power vacuum. My feet detach from the ground. I begin floating. I am dragged towards those voices. I give in to their pull. I go flowing towards them. Like a gush of wind takes a dry leaf along with it. I sway upon them then and land before their source.

A voice blares something over the hand held speaker into my ear. Two voices sing rhythmically to compete with the voice on the speaker.
I come back to the senses dazed. I can just see these men on speakers tearing their throat out and voices ringing in my ear. I keep looking at them. And something catches my dilating pupils.

Bhagwad Geeta.

This time it was ‘Geeta Gyaan Prasaarak Sangh’. Another sect claiming to be the true patrons of Bhagwad Geeta. Another fundamentalist organisation exploiting the mysteries in Bhagwad Geeta.

The man said “Geeta Geeta….Bhagwad Geeta!...Real Geeta…No editions.. Geeta Geeta…Bhagwad Geeta!”.

Two men behind him sing aloud “Bolo Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna…..Bolo Radhe Krishna Radhe Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna”.

All backed by a neatly chiselled idol of Krishna.

And a Krishna on the cover of the Bhagwad Geeta. The eternal Sudarshan Chakra on a tallest human index finger on one hand and a clean palm with rays radiating out from it on the other. As I looked up, I realised that it was the same as that on the book. A neatly chiselled Krishna.

I don’t understand why couldn’t I realise it before. Hadn’t I observed it before. Or was it that there was some different idol here which was not there on the book. That they had changed it instantly. Or was it that I had seen something else.

The wheel-chaired beggar blew air into his wooden pipe with seven holes. And sounds of a flute filled touched the station’s roof and spilled all over the place.

Something came fluttering at my feet. I looked down. A peacock feather had rested on my toe. I picked it up.

A man covered in blue distemper from station renovations, walked past me. His body brushed mine. I saw my hand. It was coloured in blue.

“Oye!...What are you doing here?” Sudesh wakes me up. “I thought you would stand there….I am so sorry for the delay yaar”

I just shake my head blankly.

“And what happened?...why are you standing here?...you buying a Bhagwad Geeta?...I can’tr believe this!!”
“No yaar….was just seeing”
“then it’s fine…don’t buy it!....it’s all a religious propaganda!!”

We walk towards the bridge. I turn back keep looking at the stall those guys had put up. That is the same moment the fluted beggar, The feather fan seller and the blue distemper came and stood together. Looking at me. I looked back. In pure astonishment.

The three of them stared at me into my eye. I gulped them down through my eyes.


(Contd.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

2. r

“Let’s go in” I say.

In an hour Sudesh and I were standing outside Mac’s. I had almost ran to Sudesh when I had seen him coming. Overwhelmed by the outrageous happiness of meeting him, I had dodged an Autorickshaw and went over to hug him in the middle of the road. Our high-pitched abuses to each other, had sent a wave of shock through the silent god-fearing people in the premises of the Railway Station.

There was no other peaceful way in which I could meet Sudesh. Over the numerous years of friendship, starting from school, we had developed a bond which went beyond the defining constraints of the word ‘Yaar’. Before I left the weird city, we were a part of each other’s every joy and plight. Circumstances had distanced us, but the chord between us had stretched like a rubber band over the fate marked expanse, recoiling itself and bringing us together as and when times arrived. A stage you attain visibly after a decade of friendship. A stage where you need no assuring factors for the connection that you share. No phone calls, no messages, no any other media of communication, till it becomes extremely necessary. A line of attachment that goes beyond all this to constantly reassure you at the back of your mind that your friend is there for you. A friend whose girlfriend who cannot eye upon.

After a round of public display of our emotional outburst, we moved to the safety of the footpath outside Mac’s. I suggested Sudesh that we go in.

“It’s crap yaar…” Sudesh replied.

“Mac’s?” I asked.

“Yup…It’s an economic drain” He stated.

“How?..” I ask. This time I am bewildered.

“Where does all the profit goes to?” He asks.

“Let’s go somewhere else” I reiterated his line. He had a point.

“Let’s go to the Irani across the railway tracks.” He suggests.

“Yeah…” I agree instantly.

I could always prefer an Irani over Mac’s. The rules were almost the same. Both had self service. You could sit at both the places as long as you could, till you had something before you. An both places provided a good environment for conversations. There were other things that differed too. Primarily the menu. Beginning from Chai to Chicken Biryani, it served everything that you could think of eating at different points of time. And what differed secondarily was the service. There were no over smart employees on the other side of the counter. Their smiles were real. Their affection was real. And their will to serve was the absolutely genuine. They served because it was their passion to serve. Because loved doing it. And they had spent years mastering the art of service. They knew that customer was the not just the king. He was the friend, a brother, a son and means of his daily bread. So they treated the customers like fellow humans. They knew the value that sprinkle of humanity in this large city of business. And that was what preserved them over the time in this Metropolitan. And that was what made them the preferred ones. It always scored a point over the fake plastic trained smiles at Mac’s. Where customers were treated like targets of business. The end points of the purchase process. And the multiplicands of profit.

We are about to cross the road when Sudesh’s phone rings. He pulls it out of his pocket. Looks at the caller’s name. Gets awkward for a second and pushes it back into his pocket. It’s his girlfriend. He loks at me and gives a sly smile.

“I am in the loo” He says.

“And I ain’t there?” I ask.

“No…you are not a problem.” He smiles.

We laugh.

His phone rings again. He doesn’t pull it out this time.

“Attend it fucker” I suggest humbly.

“Why the fuck?...can’t she give me a moment with you?”

“Did you tell her that you’ll be meeting me?”

“Yeah”

“Then maybe she’s guessing that I’d turn you sodomous”

“My arse!!!”

“Yeah!...that’s what she cares for!”

His phone rings the third time now.

“Bloody shit man!...”

“Attend it jackass”

“Later man”

“You!...gonna be screwed!” I said making a gesture with a fist banging sideways in the air.

His phone rings once more.

“Attend it!” I decree.

“Yeah man…one more….and it turns messy”

“Go suck!”

“Yeah sure!”

There is a certain hypnosis about a girlfriend’s call. It mesmerises you and takes you away from the position you are standing in. You cross roads. Surpass traffic. Overcome hurdles. Cross rives. Jump over valleys. Climb up a cliff. Walk overs peaks. Swim through oceans. Transport over continents. And defeat celestial distances when you are talking over mobile phone with your girlfriend.

Sudesh slowly disappeared from my view and he drifted away talking with the new commander of his life. I stood where I was. Crossing the road. I resorted to the railway station shade to await his return from the distancing trance.

A cold wind blows out of nowhere in the scorching heat of the city. It soothes me. I keep looking in its direction. It slowly captivates me. It touches every pore on my body and seeps through it. I feel a coldness spreading across my skin. It burns lightly on my crust. It enters the layers below. It enters my blood. It enters my head. It makes its way to the mind and freezes my thoughts. I go blank. Everything before me fades gently. And I hear those alien voices again.

(Contd.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

2. q

The days when you are at home are peculiar. You take at least ten hours to settle down in the old environment. Like you have a jet lag after you travel by jets. Expressway has an emotional jetlag on me. I had to be back the person I had been. Remoulding myself to the limitations I had broken successfully in the new space. The margins in which I was constricted for years. There was a comfort in this displease. A temporary gratification till it began suffocating me again.
The things which I had painstakingly missed out in my sovereign life were forcefully stuffed back into me. And Mom played a pivotal role in it. Her primary target was my digestive system. She filled it with what it had grown unfamiliar of. Home-made food! That too thrice a day. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. At times also an evening snack. The system had to work over time, churning and burning the newly filled contents. Pushing it forwards through the ups and downs and requesting help from loose fibres in the matter it carries.

Then comes the information processing part of the brain. There is a term I know called flooding. That is exactly what Mom does. She keeps feeding information into me and I keep receiving it and processing it. Who married whom. Who did what. Which aunty met Mom in whose wedding. Which shopkeeper gave Mom a discount on a Refrigerator cover. Which new shop opened in the locality. What new tantrums does the maid throw. When did Dad come home mildly drunk. How someone in the society fought with their neighbours when their cars brushed with each other. How the woman in the next building burnt her chicken. How uncle’s sister-in-law’s mother-in-law’s sister got repayed for the dinner after they found hair in the food at an Udupi restaurant. How my cousin brother’s wife’s sister’s son’s wife’s sister found a teeth fallen on the road which she later realised was her own and how the woman in the third house on the fourth floor on the fifth building around the second corner of the sixth road had choked herself after eating a Gulab Jamun made by herself. Finally there comes a moment when you are not in position to accept any more data. It starts sending out error messages to you. And you tend to loose your concentration. Your eyes shift their focus from her and search for something more intriguing, like a pigeon feather floating in air, to settle on. And that’s when Mom says that living alone has made you loose interest in the family. The moment when your system burns out completely. A Hard Disk crash!

After several such sessions over the three meals I had successfully settled down with Mom’s help. I recollected the homely rituals which I had lost during my stay at the weird city. I slowly seeped into my household. Became a part of the large gear system that the house was. I appended my groves to the new groove structure of the house. The groove structure, which had begun to work without me. Yet, which had a place for me as an imperative attachment.

Out of the essential rituals of returning for me, I performed the fundamental one, as soon as I settled down. Catching up with old friends. Being away from home, living in a new backdrop for days had sidelined these names which were a vital element of my living once. A prediction of this state, even by an expert astrologer, would have been declined by me instantly then. Believing in the fact that I would live without my buddies was impossible. But now I was living this impossibility. I had doubts about my survival when I had set forth on a journey to the weird city. But I shortly learned that life had multiple ways of moving on. To the extent of forgetting your, then called ‘nappy friend’s birthday. That was how life was. Emotions were only possessed by people living it. Otherwise life is as impassive as it can be.

“Sudesh??” I said in the mouthpiece.
“Bol Randi…kaisi hai tu chinaal…aaj bahut din baad yaad aayi…customer khatam ho gaye kya?...” I hear on the earpiece.
“Haan saab…bahut din se aapki awaaj nahi suni thin a isliye phone kiya” I answer.
“Where the fuck are you?”
“In the city”
“When did you come fucker?”
“Around eleven hours ago”
“And you are calling me up now?”
“Yeah…eight hours I slept. An hour I took to settle down and two hours I have been shitting, brushing and bathing…now its your turn…where are you?”
“I am at the Railway station after an hour…usual meeting place…outside Mac’s”
“Okay…I am there!”

We disconnected the call. There is nothing much we need to talk. Because it all would be said when we are sitting or standing face to face with each other.

I felt a spout of energy through me. I found smiles filling me up. I felt a tremor of cheer. I laughed out loudly after I disconnected the call. Wherever you be. In whichever step of growth. Whomsoever be the people around you. Whatever be the fucking case with you.

Meeting an old friend always will always do this to you.

(Contd.)

Request for Forgiveness

A bout of momentary depression kept you guys away from the new chapter. Maafi please!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2. p

I enter my lane. The boys standing near the turn wave to me. I nod in acceptance. I move further. The grocer smiles to me. I smile in return. I reach the gate. The watchman salutes me. I salute back to him. He opens the game with a loud screech. For a motorcycle. Like the elite guards opened the gate for the royal entry.

From the moment I had entered the lane, I had felt like a king returning back from a crusade. If I had a sword, I could’ve waved it at them. I had an empty hand instead.

I parked Piyush’s bike next to ours. Like a triumphant warrior I walked across the parking lot, towards the entrance of my building. I entered the corridor. Then the lift.

I was home. Finally home. The resort. The cove. A place which I would enter to regain myself. The me which I had always been. Till I had left for the weird city.

The lift door opened. I stepped out. I rung the doorbell.

The door opened with an exclamation.

“You?!....how come so suddenly!!!” Mom opened the door.
“I just felt like…” I said.
“Felt like??...you should’ve informed us at least….” She continued.
“Yeah…how come you came back so abruptly….no phone….no message….nothing…just like that” Dad joined in.

“What have you got for me?” sister shouted from the bedroom.
“How did you come?...” Granny shrieked looking at the helmet in my hand. “By a motorcycle??” she grew hysteric. “How could you travel the distance over a motorcycle?....Oh my god!!...this boy is crazy!!”

This revelation from her sent everybody in an excited state. Dad had an objection on me riding so far on a motorbike. Mom couldn’t comprehend how I got a motorbike. Sister was overwhelmed by my feat. Everybody has a reason to overreact over my arrival. There were questions bombarding over me from all directions. And I stood at the centre of them replying to each of them. Like Abhimanyu standing at the centre of the Chakravyuha.

There was a cacophony. There was surprise, anger, resentment and opposition all thrown across in my direction. Voices filled my house.

The cacophony descended into their interpersonal rivalries and it pitches rose to include their yelling upon each other. Finally they dispersed in different directions, mumbling offences and abuses.

I went to the small can stool and sat on it. I untied my shoes. I try calling up Piyush from my mobile. I realise it’s low on balance. I call him up from my residential landline number. I tell him that I reached safely. He congratulates me on it. I assure him his bike is safe. He threatens to kill me if I speak such shit. After a brief conversation, I disconnect the phone.

I undress myself, and wrapping a towel around me, I walk to the bathroom for a shower.

Their voices still ring in my ears. Staying away from the family makes their voices alien to you. I tried to wash my ears to get them cleaned off there. But they stay stuck to the walls of the cavity. Resonating in its emptiness.

I stand below the shower motionless.

The home which I had yearned for endlessly during the times of extreme loneliness, is here.

I welcome myself to the warm place I dreamt of.

I welcome myself back home.

(Contd.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2.o


Wind filled my clothes. Wind coming from my city. It actually wasn’t coming from my city. But it was a pleasant thought. To own those stray winds.

As I approached my Island city, I felt its heat catching on me. In literal sense. The comforting coolness of the hills gave up to the scorching heat of the depleting Ozone and sweat oozed out secretly beneath my clothes. I took a halt and took off my jacket and knotted it around my waist. It was shameful to do this somehow. It reminded me of the advertisement for a Sanitary Napkins where a teenage girl used to testify how her jacket had helped her escape the embarrassment of a stained skirt. I could have avoided if I wanted. But the heat could have boiled me to a softly cooked potato. I lingered for a moment at the halt. As if bidding a farewell to the hills. I knew I had to return to them. Yet this momentary separation was consoling enough. I sat back on the motorcycle and sped towards the boundary of separation of these two zones.

“Piyush….” I had started dubiously, after moving some ten kilometers away from the hill station towards the city. “Arey…I wanted to ask for something” I continued.
“What?”
“I…can I have your bike for two more days?” I asked stumbling on my words. “I feel like going home….please”
“Of course yaar!...its yours…fuck man…don’t beg you bastard!”

I could have expected this reply if I hadn’t seen Rahul following me. Harshad was slowly tutoring me on loosing my belief in people. I had said ‘please’ for safety. But I am sure Piyush had made his decision before that word.

But I am also sure the line “I feel like going home” had a much larger influence on him. His home was miles away from the weird city. Too far to ride back home. Too far to even think of it. There were moments when even he longed to go back home. Slip into his bed. Cover himself in his bedsheet. Under his fan. And wake up to his mother’s call. Shit in the loo he had been familiar with. Have a breakfast cooked by his mother on his fixed seat on the dining table. Or on the ground before the TV. To fight with his siblings. To meet friends he had left behind. To smoke with those who had taught him smoking, sitting below the Banyan tree. To ride his father’s motorbike through the known lane of his town and whistle at the college going girls clad in Salwar Kameez from neck to toe.

The word 'home' in my sentence must’ve rendered his heart. Dampness gathering in his eyes. Memories of left behind times playing on a reel before his eyes.

His approval was just an affirmation. The momentum which had driven me for ten kilometers would have brought me to my city back. If he hadn’t agreed I would’ve rode back to the weird city again. I had to rest in my city’s arms. To evade this bubble of seclusion that surrounded me.
I had thanked Piyush and resumed my journey.

“1000 MTS
Expressway Ends.”

The board said. 1000 MTS more to enter my city. To cross a creek and enter the island. The island of madness. The Island of life. The island of my home. Once my favourite writer had written in his profile ‘The writer lives on a private Island off the western coast of India’. I always took it as a joke, till I realized it meant a private Island. An Island all to oneself. A feeling of ownership of it. The feeling that you and only you were the Lord of all its corners. And nobody dared challenged your supremacy. The city did give that feeling to you. And I realized this more strongly when the weird city tried establishing its sovereignty over me. I retaliated as anyone from my city did. But the constant feeling of being watched and scrutinized mad me feel pressed under its rule. Though not prominently for being an outsider. But at times for being the son of the same lingual soil. The Island city didn’t do that. No matter where you were from, it accepted you and let you grow in it. It moulded you, chiseled you and made you a winner. A winner of its fate and yours along with it. You didn’t just exist there, you owned it. You ruled it and could exploit it whenever and however you wanted. It was your private island.

And so it was mine. I just shared it with three crore more people. And my favourite author of course. Our private Island.

The excitement to reach home had driven me almost two hundred kilometers like a wind. It had taken me away momentarily from the incidences in last days. I was one with the bike. It is amazing to know how a machine and a human blend with each other at such times. Another example could be shooting I think. A man and a gun blending into each other.

I had rode continually through the distance, with only two tiny halts. But I wasn’t exhausted. I was going home.

I cross the toll post. I enter my domain. A half an hour ride more and I would be reclining lazily on the sofa.

As I waited for each signal to turn green, I looked at the houses along the highway. Houses full of light. Houses full of action. Houses full of people. Homes.

I get crave to reach home more at the sight of each of these homes. They remind me of my home. The lights. The people and the action.

I cross the last signal. The traffic is well behaved than what I have been seeing in the weird city during the days I spend there. I neatly steer my vehicle with the lot. I take the turn.
The last turn. The last turn before home…

(Contd.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

2. n

Drivers go crazy when they reach the hill station. They drive haywire when they are on its roads. Especially the highway which passes through its center. They drive as berserk as they can. The speed of the expressway catches up with them and drives them through its roads. Like winds high on horsepower. And when you enter its streets, you have to drive your vehicle finding your way amongst their dynamic existences. Dodging them. Preventing yourself and your motorbike from being tossed over by them. Being thrown off the track and being crushed under a truck’s gigantic tyre. Or being gently diverted towards a milestone and flipped over to bang your head on a rock. You have to exploit every gap and every small lane between these chariots to retire from this pursuit and come to halt at your destination.

We halted before the famous Chikkiwala post a strenuous struggle for safeguarding our souls against furious vehicles. The bastard stood there with a mobile to his ear. Talking to his wife probably. Telling her that he is safe. That he would have his lunch now. And that he was missing her and that he loved her. And telling her that he wished she had been here with here. How the climate was utmost romantic. How one could talk to the clouds. And how he would have loved walking holding her hands along the misty by lanes the hill station.

“Aman!!!!!” Shamita called out loudly over my shoulder, leaving a lull in my ears.
He cut the call hurriedly and turned to Shamita. Tall, hefty, fair, soft hair and a smile which girls particularly like and boys particularly hate. he was all that I wasn't. Shamita ran wards him and hugged him tight. He awkwardly took Shamita in his arms.

Bastard at the same time looked at me and smiled in acquaintance.

“Shamita!...leave him!...he is a bastard” I felt like shouting out loud before the entire crossroad. But I merely smiled back to him.

I didn’t feel like standing for another moment. I felt a gloomy cloud descend upon me seeing Shamita meet him so. I felt the two Medu-Vadas turn up inside me. They assimilated into two huge floats on the acid in my stomach and seemed to choke the opening of the pipe dropping things into it. The choke was ascended up to my throat. It jammed up every blood vessel in me. Pieces of coconut rose to my brain and began pricking it and the spices in the Sambar spread through my blood vessels across all its corners.

I kick-started the motorcycle, turned it around. Shamita turned back from Bastard’s arms. She saw me leaving abruptly. She cried out my name. It reached my ears but not my forcefully contained impulses. She kept calling my name. I left at the speed of madness away from the famous Chikkiwala. Away from the crossroad. Away from this hill station. Away from them.
The sudden loneliness gripped me as nobody sat behind. There was no warm touch of hand on the shoulder. There was no clutching of fingers on my waist at every emergency brake. No voice to ring ceaselessly in my ear. No romantic tales. No stupidity. No excitement. And no craziness. I rode in the sanity of the bike and myself.

I stole a look besides. Parallel to us stretched the Expressway. Looking down upon the irrelevance of the old highway in today’s times. And the old highway ran like an obedient old clerk, accepting its inferior status to the huge expressway.

A cocoon of solitude built up around me. And it was suffocating me. It was covering my nose, holding me back from breathing. Its arm choked my throat. Its shield blurred my vision. I rode fast to get rid of the cocoon. But it ran as fast as me. It chased me at a faster speed than mine. I kept thinking of getting rid of it. But it didn’t let me go.

Finally, I halted near a milestone under a Neem tree. I ungeared myself. Kept the helmet aside. Pulled out the gloves from my hands and stood beside the bike. Then I collapsed into my own palms. My face took a dip in the dry pool of comfort. The touch of my palms on my face helped me gain myself back. Like putting on the mask once again. I stood like that for some time. In the sun. Below a Neem tree, besides a motorcycle.

I didn’t know why I was feeling so heavy within me. What was it? Had I developed feelings for Shamita? Or was it just a momentary longing? Was it because I was so used to her that seeing her go into someone else’s arms so easily was unacceptable for me. Or was it because that Bastard was a bastard and I didn’t approve of her falling for him at all, but could not voice out my displease. Or was it simply because my male ego was hurt on loss of Shamita to him. I knew I had reasons. But I also was knowing that they weren’t curing me at the moment. Neither were they untangling themselves from their jumble.

The blaring of a truck horn, shook me out my reverie. I resumed with my journey. I looked at the expressway again for an instant. And I had a remedial option for my emotional turmoil. It blazed besides me on a huge road with separate lanes for each car, four on each side. There it stood, like a huge flooded river of cement and cars flowing on it.

“Home” was the word that shone before my eyes. It replaced the darkness in my closed eyes. I stopped the motorbike.

I remembered the line which Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba says before he dies. I remember the line I used to cling on to with my mother’s saree. I remember the line I used to say when darkness filled the skies as I played with other kids. The line which I must’ve uttered a billion times out for million reason. The line which was the ultimate emotional reality. More for us who lived alone. Like stringless kites floating towards descent in the lone skies. And I heard my self say it at that moment.

“I wanna go home!!”

I turn my bike and start my journey in the opposite direction. In the direction of my home.

I feel better.

(Contd.)

APOLOGIES!

The writer was travelling over the Expressway for two days. Work, Memories, Friends, Colleagues, Roaring machines, Melancholy, Nostalgia and Longings. A Wierd weekend in the Weird City!

It's a place that would leave you restless too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

2.m

“Do you know that famous chikkiwala?” Shamita asked inquisitively.
“Yeah re” I replied taking a painful bite of my Medu-Vada.
“You are sure na?” one more query.
“Yes ma’m!”
“And you know the Resort near it na?”
“Yes!”
“And you know its main gate na?”
“Yes of course….and if we don’t find it…we will ask someone” I said firmly.
“Ask??...why do we need to ask when you know it??...are you sure you know it??”

“No” I felt like saying aloud enough to shatter the glasses of the place, crack the walls and break the furniture into pieces. But I control myself. I don’t want to make her go berserk in this hyperemotional state. A liitle high pitch and I know she would break into tears. This is one of the time when she is happy, sad, anxious, guilty and excited at the same time. Humans are supposed to behave panicky at such times and then break into a pang of extreme happiness or extreme sadness. I couldn’t handle any of her state in that matter.

I politely said “Yes dear…don’t worry…put some more ice in the juice!”

“Shut up!” she said playfully and dissolved it into laughter. I thank god for it.

“I can’t believe that I am going to meet him again…..when he said that he will coming to the hill station…I went crazy…” She began speaking. I nodded after her each line. To take myself away from her blabber, I look outside the window at the bike stand. The bike is safe. But my ears aren’t. She keeps talking. I keep nodding looking outside the window. I see some shady moments near the bike. I look more intently. I see someone familiar looking at Piyush’s bike’s number. He turns and sees another person on the bike. He too looks at Piyush’s bike. They look at the hotel board and then they look at each other. It’s the moment I recognize them. It’s Rahul and Gaurav. Harshad’s roommates. The one whom I call Aditya Panscholi and the other who is always flabbergasted when I visit their room with beer. I am surprised to see them here at the moment. For a moment I have an instinct to wave out to them. I am about to raise my hand and something stops me. I see them looking at Piyush’s bike particularly out of the entire lot. And they don’t seem to be surprised by it. They look as if they are probing into something. Like cops investigate a murder. Staring at some evidence. Taking close looks at it. Discussing something amongst themselves. Something strikes me hard.

“Behenchoad!” I say to myself in revelation. Bastards are following me! Bloody shit! Damn the arseholes. They are following me.

“Shitholes” I blurt in a hearable tone.
“What happened?” Shamita asks me.
I take a long pause as if to say something and I say “Nothing!”

I look out of the window again. They settle down on their bike near the exit of the restaurant. Below the tree where the exit meets the Highway.

“What are you thinking then?” She asks.
“I am thinking of having one more tea…” I want to spend some more time here. I don’t want to leave as long as they are there. That will give them a clear opportunity to follow me. I stretch out in my seat.

“Are you in a hurry?” I ask Shamita.
“Not as long as I am not late” She says.
“We’ve left early…you won’t be late.” I reply confidently.
“Then have another tea…”

I ask the waiter to get me another tea. My eyes are still on them. They are smoking a cigarette. They stare at the hotel board time and again and discuss something amongst themselves.
My tea arrives. Shamita keeps talking. I keep humming and nodding. She actually doesn’t need me as an audience. She is talking to herself. Telling herself how things are, were and will be. I don’t really care about them. And she doesn’t really care if I am listening or not.

Another tea arrives. I sip it idly. Trying hard to stretch the passage of time. And they don’t seem to budge.

I am done with my tea. Having another one would look stupid. It’s funny that humans even in their moments of distress care about how they present themselves. Or maybe it is an attempt to show that everything is normal.

I think of a way to extend the stay in the place. As I fondle with this thought, the waiter comes with the check. Sometimes people read your mind. And Ticket Checkers and Waiters top the list. They rightly know what you are thinking and they know when to assault. We should consider their consultation while planning our distant strategies. But the problem is that they would have to serve them before. However, that does not take away the honor of sending them as spies into our enemy territories.

I pay the bill. Leaving the place becomes inevitable. I keep thinking of ways to keep us within these walls. I find a strong one.

“Do you need to go to the loo?...go now if you want to…we won’t be stopping anywhere on the road now ” I tell Shamita. There was the idea.

“Yeah re….I will go and come back quickly!” she assures me. I don’t need it.
“Take your time” I say.

She rushes into the loo. I take a position behind the gate to keep an eye on them. They keep sitting there. Shamita doesn’t come back from the loo.

They smoke two cigarettes each. One after another. Then they share a cigarette amongst them. Maybe the last one they had. They finish it. They throw away the box and prepare to leave. They both look at the board of the hotel, say something and nod. Gaurav starts the motorcycle and they leave. I keep looking in their direction to assure that they won’t return. They don’t.
I feel relieved. I have a strong urge to go to the loo. I wait for Shamita to come out. She doesn’t. It becomes difficult for me to control the outburst of my bladders. I drop her a message on her phone and leave for the loo.

As I pee, a thought encircles in my mind. What if Shamita stands there alone and they return with a new pack of cigarettes. What if they see her. I pressurize my entire urinary system to finish the task faster and rush back to the point where we separated. Shamita isn’t there still. I wait for some time. I have a crazy thought of her being abducted by them. I call her up. She doesn’t pick up. Instead her stupid caller tune keeps going on in a loop. I keep trying. She picks up the 287657896th call. And all she says before cutting it again is “Coming baba coming!...one sec!”

And she comes.

I am taken aback. Shamita is different now. Her top and denims have transformed into a yellow Punjabi suit. Her earrings have changed to yellow hanging stones. Yellow bangles congregate in neat lines on the wrist and a yellow ring on her finger. I wonder how her bag didn’t transform into yellow. He walks up to me.

“What’s this?...yellow metamorphosis?” I ask.

“He likes to see me in yellow!”

My face broadens into a smile. I make it appear like an appreciation. I am actually finding it ludicrous. I smile in appreciation of the effort.

“Sorry….I took a bit of time…but you know…I want to surprise him!!!”

Yes! Yellow will surprise him. In fact it will surprise anybody.

And I do forgive you for the time taken. You saved us from spies. But they won’t be able to forgive you. Because they finished an entire box of cigarettes because of you. And they were prone to have nicotine lungs because of you.

We walk back to our bike. I start it. As I turn it towards the road, the board of the hotel catches my eye. I connect with the minds of the spies. The last line was an epitome of doubtraisers.

The board says:


Hotel Rajat Kaksha

Lodging & Boarding

ROOMS AVAILABLE

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2.l

We took a halt at the passably decent hotel on our way to the hill station. The moment Shamita got down from the motorbike, she rushed to the ‘Ladies Toilet’ as they are known popularly on the Indian roads.

I settled down at a place with the view to the road and the ‘two -wheeler’ parking lot. I am very dubious about leaving somebody else’s bike at a parking lot 100 meters away from the place I would be sitting at. There is a constant fear which grows in my mind like a tumor that the bike would be stolen and I would have to pay for it. The fear keeps me uncomfortable and anxious through the time I spend away from the motorcycle. I keep my eyes glued on it. Every human movement near the bike sent my fears rising.

Shamita came and sat before me. As attractive as ever. I regretted not realizing this charm in the years when winning over it was possible. And easier too. It happens a number of time. A simple unattractive girl from your school or college, meets you again in your later life, appearing as attractive as ever. The moment when you instantaneously fall for them, realizing what enormous blunder you had committed as you had neglected them over other fair skinned beauties. You want to go to them and apologise your behaviour. You want to say that you were sorry that you had neglected them in those times. You want to bend down on your knees. You want to lie that you had noticed their beautiful eyes then. You want to bluff that you always like them within the restrictions of your heart but couldn’t express your feelings. You want to tell them that you love them. You want to make them yours in any condition. You want to give your right arm for it. But by then its too late. Too late realize they had wiped you off their memory long ago and begun completely new lives, with new people and new voices around them. They actually defeat you.

She untied her jet black silk and let it loose. I wondered how an hour of bike ride hadn’t soiled the freshness on her face yet. She kept her bag on the table and took out a lip gloss from it and rubbed it on her lips. That was the moment she served me my answer on a platter of convenience. I realized that she had rushed to the loo the moment we entered the restaurant. And she must’ve had had loads of stuff to do, except the purpose for what she rushed there. Maybe, what I considered to be the reason for the rush, would not have been the reason for rush at all. There was so much for a girl to do in the loo. Face wash. Face wipe. Quick cleansing. Kohl, Combing, Sun guard, This guard, That Guard, Fairness cream, anti ageing cream, Orange peel off, mango peel offs, Papaya nourishment, Watermelon hydration and numerous other things which make them appear, as attractive as ever, before they present themselves to the people outside the loo. Right from the stray ant outside the loo, to the manager of the restaurant. Everybody in that space of contact. And yes, the accompanying person too. To keep them wondering.

The waiter comes to our table. I ask her what she would like to have. She says Orange juice. I laugh on her face. I find it ridiculous when people come to such low profile restaurants and ask for juices. The waiter turns to me. I say “One Medu-Vada Sambar and Tea to follow”. Waiter leaves. Shamita sits looking at me annoyed.

“What happened?” I ask her.
“Why did you laugh???”
“Orange juice!” I start laughing again.
“What’s so funny in it?”
“What’s not?...of all the things you only ask for Orange juice!!”
“That’s the only thing I can trust here.”
“Trust??...as in??...sedatives??”
“Nope yaar…hygiene!”
“oops!” I withdraw my argument. I still have a question to ask her “but still…eat something na…aren’t you hungry?”

“The only thing I am hungry of….is meeting him” she says. Films have a deep impact on our society. Someone said, ‘Cinema is the mirror of the society’. I feel he should have quoted it the other way round. ‘Society is the mirror of the cinema.’ Or maybe Cinema is different from Hindi films.

The waiter returns with Medu-Vada Sambar. I take the first bite. My lip hurts. Bad enough for me to stop chewing.

“Bitch!...” I say to myself silently.

Shriya had bit me on the lip while kissing me last nite. I thought it would pass off as an ordinary lesion. But it had begun giving problem since morning. It pained on drinking water. It pained on brushing my teeth. It pained on having tea and it pained on smoking. I wasn’t able to recognize if it was love or retribution.

We sat there lip-locked for quite some time. I wasn’t in state to start the stop watch and stop it when we ended making out. We also had intermediate breaks for the players to relax. These were utilized by her to button up her night shirt unbuttoned by me in the miasma of fervor and pull back her shorts back to her knees. While I used it to wipe out the creases she had put on my T-Shirt. We stopped when she pushed me away on finding my lips loosing their path down her neck, crawling towards her bosom. The move made her realize that it was too late and we had to leave. Or maybe she came back from her trance and realized that those were the wrong lips she was nibbling. We walked back hurriedly to Shamita’s room. Neither of us said a word to each other on our way back. An awkward silence clogged the conversation between us. A silence of unfulfilled desires trapped in the mesh of morality.

On reaching, Shriya ran into the compound without any farewell. I turned back bearing the weight of my guilt. She called out to me, returning to the gate. I went back to her. He stared at me with fiery eyes. I felt strangely uncomfortable standing before her that moment.

“What?” I asked.
“You can’t give me what I want” she said in cold voice. Her words pounded heavily on my chest. I was about to loose my balance and fall off. She turned and disappeared into the darkness inside the gate.

I was walking back to my room, when Shamita called up. I told her that I had arranged for a bike. She shouted in a pitch that tore apart my ear drums on phone.

W decided to leave early in the morning. A journey of love for her. A journey of friendship for me. A two hour bike ride to the hill station from the arse hole of the world.

(Contd.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2. k

“You can’t give me what I want.” Her voice changes as she says this.

That was actually a wrong statement that a girl should speak before me. I can give the girl what she wants. Except things which require monetary transactions of course. In other cases, there is nothing that I can’t provide a girl with. Happiness being the primary element of my provision. Being the second largest demand on a girl’s wish list, it is something difficult to attain through monetary means. That is where I come in. I am a benefactor of this word, which most women yearn for. And I know it is my forte. They can go on a long drive with their respective male preys. But moments of tenderness are something that only my shop sells. And I am sure Shriya has one such demand. All I have to do is to make her voice it out. And that doesn’t seem like a difficult task.

“Tell me…there is nothing that I can’t give” I say it playfully. I do recognize the vulnerability of the situation. But revealing this would be loosing the chance to make her speak.

“No Anay…you can’t!” she looks away gulping down the lump in her throat.

Now I have a fair idea of what she would say. The magic word is hidden behind a closed door.

“Hey…what happened?” I say taking her chin in my hand and turning her face towards me gently. My voice softens involuntarily as I look touch her chin.

She just nods her head.

“Come on…tell me na...” Persuasion is the answer to persistence.
“Nothing re….can we sit somewhere?...some quiet and peaceful place?”

Ahoy there! The act is about to begin.

I take her to the garden near the temple. No garden near any temple is open at this time of the night. But every garden does have some secret routes to enter it. There is a broken fence at the rear of the garden. The legend says there was an accident which had broken it once. It hadn’t been mended since then. Who cares to mend the fence of a municipal garden?

I show her the way in. Even in that moment of distress, she can’t resist smiling.

The entire garden is open for us. The people in this place aren’t as enthusiastic to creep into the garden late at night.

“Where do you want to sit?” Ask an emotioned woman to make a decision. And you get your question rephrased as an indefinite statement.

“Wherever” she says maintaining her moroseness.

“Come here” I take her to the seat in the farthermost corner of the garden.

We sit.

“Now tell me…what happened?” Coming back to the point is extremely important.
“Nothing!”
“Are you sure?” I say a bit strongly.

She bends down hiding her face in her palms and begins sobbing. I gently put my hand around her shoulder bring her closer. She rests her head on my shoulder. I stroke her arm softly.

“I want Dilip Ani…” She says.

I always knew it. I knew that the answer was behind a closed door. I also knew I could give her Dilip. But I usually don’t help women to get a man.

“Calm down Shriya…Dilip belongs to Priyanka.”

She cries further. I stroke her back to comfort her.

From the day the chemistries formed in the classroom, the strongest one was seen forming between Dilip and Shriya. It was almost clear that they were a potential pair. Of course Dilip also had a bond with Priyanka. But it wasn’t as visible as the linking between Dilip and Shriya. But one evening, Priyanka took Dilip to buy curriculum books to the city and that day onwards entire set up changed drastically. Dilip was seen more with Priyanka. Shriya was purely sidelined. And the world wondered what Priyanka did that evening to drastically divert Dilip from Shriya. It always remained a mystery. She proposed him and nailed the relationship. Shriya stood aside watching the celebration.

Being a close friend of Priyanka, this move had shattered Shriya. This had significantly distanced both of them along with distancing Shriya and Dilip from each other.

“Why?” she says crying more. I stroke her more. I feel no obstacles on it. I wild thought runs through my mind.

“Because not everything that we desire…is what we get!” my own line leaves me abruptly restless. I remember all that I had desired of when I was in love. I suddenly connect with her and a lump forms in my throat. Moisture gathers in my eyes. I pull up the mucous rolling down my nose.

She hugs me tight and cries. My arm curls up around her tighter.

“Don’t cry Shriya…that’s way of life…don’t cry for someone who doesn’t shed a tear for you…” I appreciate my own line. Feeding your brain on romantic Hindi films through childhood, helps you cook such lines instantaneously.

She controls her tears. She had found it sensible. Sadness comes with a stark sense of humour. Upholding a sharp urge, I wipe her tears.

The tear strains on my cheeks surprise her. She wipes them for me. She kisses my cheek. Her breath draws a line of desire on my cheek. My hand on her back enrages the wild thoughts in me. I kiss her on her cheek in return. She looks at me bewildered. A mix of emotions gathered in her eyes.

I moved closer to her. She stayed unmoved. The burning desire in me takes me her to her lips. I touch them gently with mine.

(Contd.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2. j

I try calling Shamita. Her number is busy. The epitome of irritation in inter-human relations is this. A busy number. In modern times, whenever you are at the peak of an emotional state, the first thing you do before contemplating over it is call up someone and bombard them with the excess emotions you are unable to hold within yourself. And at such times, the opposite person is always busy. The next situation when the ‘number busy’ message can be a prime irritant is when you need to desperately talk to someone regarding some imperative matter and you find the message arrogantly being spoken into your ears by some dame in a posh accent. Some crotchety souls also face an impulse to enter the phone through the voice hole and smash the messenger’s head with a semiconductor inside the phone.

“The customer you are tring to call is currently busy!”

Busy my arse!

I have a clear idea of the reason behind this. I try Preeti’s number. She doesn’t pick it up. She comes to the terrace instead. She is about to shout when she realizes that it is dark around. She picks up the phone then.

“Shamita??”
“Busy…on phone.” She shows it with a hand gesture. It somehow looks funny to me. A real phone in one hand and a gesture in another. I smile.
“Tell her I have to talk to her…and it’s urgent” I say.

It is the same when Shriya joins her. She waves to me. I wave back. She takes the phone away from Preeti. I wish it was bright. I would have enjoyed catching the look on Preeti’s face. It merely passes off as a frown in the darkness.

Hey…Ani Honey…what’s you doing here so late?”
“I should be asking you this”

Shriya is a localite. Just like Dilip’s girl Priyanka. Born and brought up in this crazy city. As crazy as it. That’s the reason, finding her at Shamita’s room stuns me.

“Night out!” she says giggling.
“Cool…how’s it going?”
“Boring!....Shammy’s stuck on her phone…and rest are planning to sleep!”
“Sad!” I just say that. That is the only adjective I can use for a night out like this.
“What are you doing?” She asks. I feel a mild tickle a few inches below my belt.
“Nothing…just wanted to talk to Shammy about something”
“But she is busy…now?”
“Now I will roam around, comeback and talk to her… and then go back to my room”
“Ohh kay…”
“Wanna join in?” There goes the indecent proposal in disguise of a boredom buster. I know the assent is on its way. It is not because she is bored. It is a feminine ego clash. And there is an analysis to it.

Analysis:
Shamita calls Shriya for a night out. Excited Shriya comes for a night out. They start having fun. They finish the dinner. And Shamita gets a call. Others expect it to end in ten minutes. It longs for an hour and doesn’t seem to end. They know who is on line. They murmur amongst themselves
Level 1: “Can’t she understand it’s our night out?”
Level 2: “Even we have boyfriends…if we want…even we can talk to them…but it’s a time reserved for us…”
Level 3: “Such a bitch…she spoilt the entire night out”
Level 4: “What the fuck does she think of herself?”

They all decide to go to bed bored and pissed off. Including Shriya.

Enter me.

Shriya’s mind: Bitch is still stuck with the boy on phone. I came here for her…and she’s showing off her man to me. Look here Shammy….I too have got a man now….I don’t need to wait for you to cut that call and entertain me.

“Could be” she says. The analysis is right.
“The roaming could be extended to an Ice Cream treat…” I raised my bid. I still had a last hundred in my wallet.
“Strawberry Surprise…” she says
“Chocolate Seduction…” I say.

She disappears from the terrace handing over the phone to Preeti. I request Preeti to tell Shamita that I would be coming back.

Shriya is at the gate in her night suit. A shirt filled with small teddy bear and matching shorts. He ego trip didn’t even allow her to change.

We start walking.

“So…how come a night out today….I mean tonight?”
“Wanted to live like you guys for a night…”
“And..?”
“Didn’t work out!”
“Well…it works out only when people know you are here…”
“As if it was going to be different”
“It could still be different…”
“How?”
“Ice cream…”
“Just that?”
“And a race too…because the shop would be closing by now”
“Now?”
“On your marks…”
“Wait…I’m not even…”
“Get set…”
“Ani…”
“Go…” I start running. She follows up. I run slow for her to catch up. She overtakes me. I run behind her. She runs faster. I get near her. I am about to over take her. We are at the shop. The shopkeeper turns the key and locks the outer safety grill.

“Fuck!” she says panting. She is sweating badly after the arduous run. She needs an ice cream.
I go up to the shopkeeper and request him for ice creams. He agrees without much resistance. The smile effect! Also if you provide a shopkeeper with a business of atleast one hundred and fifty rupees per day, he is bound to do it for you.

Two cones. Chocolate seduction. Dark chocolate with Chocó chips and Chocolate filling. Total chocolate. Total seduction.

I pass on the first cone to her. I open mine.

I am impressed” she says taking a bite.

“Me too…dunno how they make it so great!” Get cocky!
“I was saying that for you stupid…”
“Me too!”
“Shut up!”
Bulls eye!

We walk some steps with our ice creams. I walk by her side.

“That’s it?” She asks.
“What do you want?”

She takes a long pause. And then says….

(Contd.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2.h

One of my biggest handicaps at this place is an unavailability of a vehicle called motorcycle.
It is a two-wheeler with a motor between the wheels, which is run by an engine, which again is between the two wheels. But world would have been a lot better place if it had just been a vehicle. In this place it is a way of being.

People here don’t walk. They merge their feet with the vehicle. They make the wheels out of their legs and they walk, rolling them with horsepower. You need motorcycle to go to work. You need a motorcycle to go to the chowk. You need a motorcycle to go to the grocery shop. You need a motorcycle for your morning walk. You need a motorcycle to buy a pack of biscuits from the shop below your home. You need a motorcycle to eat on you dining table. You need a motorcycle to shit and then you need a motorcycle to wash it off your arse too. The local residents lived on the motorbike. And the migrant male students died on it. They rode their bikes day in and day out. From one end of the city to other. And then rammed it into a milestone, a truck or a tanker. And died on it. Female students managed to stay alive. They were always awed by machos who commanded these roaring machines and fell for them instantly. Or did they fall for the involved convenience regarding traveling, was a matter of reflection. But they merrily took up the role of pillion riders, keeping aside their otherwise feminist ideology and jumped to safety in such situations. They escaped with minor injuries like a fracture or a broken spine, which could be mended later. But they lived to see their flourishing careers and set up families. That was the circle of life. Some sadists amongst the survived women, also named their kids after the dead guys. This choice of name could be called ironic. Passing on the same fate of a dead man in your past life to your own child which is about to begin its life.

Being deficient of a motorbike narrows down the chances of getting a woman in this place. And not having a woman, brings down the chances of being sane in this place. Almost every arse here has a motorcycle seat to rest itself upon. Except some like me, who overcome this deficiency by maintaining strong relationships. Especially with people who have a motorbike but don’t have anybody to ride on the pillion seat.

“Harshad…I wanted your bike for a day.” I lit him a cigarette.
“Don’t ask for permission fucker…It’s yours”
“Thanks..”
“Dam??” He asks taking a puff from the lit cigarette.
“Hill Station”
“Ohh!....weekend??”
“I said a day bro…”
“Yeah…24 hrs…”He smiles naughtily.

That is the problem with the virgins. The thought of someone else getting laid, excites them more than the person getting laid. They will pull your leg. They will encourage you. They will give you concessions. They will exaggerate the situation. They will drive you crazy by showering goodwill. They will also imagine the scenes to themselves and enjoy them. Even jerk over it. They will praise you. They will respect you. They will despise you. They will bloat up the situation and burst it all over you. Even when it’s not the way they imagine it to be. Like now.

“Arey yaar…Shamita’s brother is coming there for a conference…she wants to meet him…have to take her yaar…”
He suddenly looses the mischievous glow on his face.
“Ohh…kay!” He tediously utters the word.
“When is it??” He asks spuriously.
“Day after tomorrow…” I answer.
“Arey I have to go to meet my Mama….when do you want it exactly??”
“No issue boss…will send her by train…will ask her brother to collect her from the station…” I speak before he ends.
“Arey…it’s not like that..”
“Chill dude….no worries!!” I throw a fake smile and punch his belly playfully.

I never guessed. I was not shocked. Not because he did it. Because I couldn’t guess that he could do that. I didn’t prepare myself for this. Complete failure. I had missed this line as I was chalking out the design. An important line. The darkest and the thickest one. Sometimes relations you maintain with people make you forget the obvious. The obvious way they could behave when you touched their delicate impulses. You forget that before they are whoever they are to you, they are individuals. Stand alone human beings with their true disposition. And when you scrape off the layer of your relation off them, you experience the true humans in them. The humans which you had been neglecting when you were busy living these relationships. Love, friendship, family or anything else, these primal instincts form the base for each of them. Just that we are unaware of them And when we come across them in these relationships, they purely shock us. Devastating us, destroying our faith in them. But the truth is, people are just being one their real self at such moments.

“Take it in the evening yaar…I will come back by three…I will bring it to you myself after that…”
“Its okay buddy…relax!!!” I say.

Harshad has a small arse. Or else I would have asked him to thrust his bike up his arse. Bhenchod!

Had Shammy not been a friend of mine in this situation, I would have made her fall in love with me. Got her laid and mailed him the pictures of us kissing each other passionately.
And If I had a chance to marry her, then I would have sent him five invitation cards, one for each family member. And would’ve had tweleve kids, just to call him ‘Mama’. Maternal uncle, their mother’s brother. I would have also asked Shamita to send him a Rakhi every Raksha Bandhan. Two of them to tie on two of his wrists.

But then I realize. Its not his fault. It’s his instinct.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

2.g

I can feel gentle fingers pressing my eyelids. Still I guess it’s Rahul. I expect a knee in my spine. It doesn’t come for a long time.

“Guess” A feminine voice attacks my ears. I wonder for a moment that Rahul is attacking me in a feminine voice. I am almost saying, “No need to change your voice…” when I recognized the voice. Better late than never. I changed my words to “Shamita…stop it!”

“Fuck!...You caught me!”
“I hear that voice everyday Shammy!”
“But you don’t know the fingers!” she says.
“I would’ve!” I said to myself. Then I was entangled in my questions. Didn’t I? Or did I? I did secretly. But not the way the bastard Aman them. Was I secretly despising him? Or was I a feminist?

She sat before me. Late day charm. She picks the sandwich from my plate and takes a bite. I look at her. Such an overt act means the woman is happy.

“What happened?” I say snatching the Sandwich from her hands. Never let a married man’s girlfriend eat your Sandwich.

“Aman had called up….”

Tell me something new. He does that everyday. Thank god I took my sandwich back at the right time.

“What was (Bastard) saying?” The word Bastard was lost in chewing the sandwich. But trust me, It was there. Just that I couldn’t spit it out.

“He has an idea…” Yeah yeah! Now that he is married, he will have all sorts of ideas.
“What??” I am still eager to know.
“He wants meet me!” She says almost screaming out.
Yes. Why not! Are you sure that he just wants to meet?
“That’s nice!” I say in approbation.
“Isn’t it?....He’s coming to the hill station for two days for a conference…that’s when he will meet me.”

We have a Hill station close to this city. It is close to my city too. Of course, when the two cities are close, the hill station has to be close. But the point here is, being equidistant from both the cities, it is a preferred spot of the lovers from the both cities to go jaunting. Well, everything inclusive. We get cheap to exquisite hotels and romance is added free of cost to the climate. More than climate, it’s the sense of lone togetherness that makes it more quixotic.

It’s flocked with couples on weekends. And yes. Sometimes, some companies hold some conferences there too. Giving its employees a chance to meet their extra marital partners.

“That’s great!” I do say that. But I don’t exclaim the way she does. I merely say it for the sake of it. She probably doesn’t realize this.

“Yeah na???...But I have a problem…”
“What?” I was smelling danger here.
“I want somebody to accompany me there…” The danger was here!
“Take your roommates!” I say insipidly. I play a good arsehole at times.
“They are of no use…” Which means they don’t support her in this. That is an incredible quality of Indian women. They despise all those women who disagree with them. In such cases, only the view beholding women possesses sense and nobody else does. “Only you can understand yaar Anay…please don’t disappoint me!”

I remember that the seed was sown by me itself. Now if the sapling needed water, it would look up to me.

“Please” She held my hand. I felt a warm current running through me. I stole a glance at Sneha. She was staring at us furiously. Someone was going to have sandwich filled with mustard sauce. But the ignition couldn’t be ceased.

“Yes” I say caught between a rage, a temptation and an urge.

(Contd.)