Friday, September 6, 2013

Madness- Part III

Part I:
Part II:

I've seen all sorts of hopelessness. I've seen the hopelessness in the eyes of a mother in the police station, whose child has been missing for a week. I've seen the hopelessness of a junkie looking for his next fix, unable to get it because he's in jail for stealing a loaf of bread. Of a boxer sent into the ring, with specific instructions, accompanied by a threat to his family whispered into his years, to drop dead in the middle of the fifth round.

But the people in the room C takes me to- they are beyond hopelessness. They look like they've never known hope. They lie on steel beds, occasionally twitching, their eyes open, their ears hearing unheard of sounds. In the dark dinginess of the basement, what emanates from them, as a sort of luminescent bio force, is almost dementorish in nature. I'm afraid to go closer to those vestigial human souls.

C looks at me and says, "Well, there you go. This is Madness. Don't judge me. I'm just the messenger."

I look at her, this creature in a leather jacket, dripping apathy like an ice cream cone in the sun. I pull her close, her alcohol laden breath warm on my face and tell her, "I want the people responsible for this."

She surveys me like a kindergarten teacher would one of her students, her face a mixture of he's-so-adorably innocent-i-want-to-help-him and the-little-pest-is-beginning-to-get-to-me, hisses, "Don't say I didn't warn you", takes my hand and scribbles something on it.

"Now, go", she says, "Go be a hero." There's sadness in her eyes and her smile as she says this.

The night is done by the time I walk out of the bar. In the cold light of the fresh day, a nebulous plan takes form in my head. The address she has scribbled in blue ink on my hand is that of an asylum at the outskirts of the city.

I know the place. It's where I first met A.

Looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club

The other day, when I was umm.. eating a sandwich with a friend of mine, the talk turned, as it is generally wont to these days, when one is twenty seven and facing a quarter life crisis, to finding purpose to and disciplining our lives.

“We should start going to the gym, man”, he said, flexing his not inconsiderable biceps, “We should exercise one body part each day, 3 sets of it, each set more difficult than the last. Push our bodies to the limit, you know. Proper weight training.”

I, in turn, flexed my inconsiderable biceps and said, “No man. I don’t want to look like a potato with muscles. I want a more toned body, like… like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.”

Now, my friend, he’s done his fair bit of gymming. And I mean, actually gone through with it. Me, on the other hand, if there was an award for making plans to go to the gym and not following through with it, I think I’d be a strong contender for one of the top spots. If there was an award for looking in the mirror and trying to convince oneself that one’s A shaped body is, if viewed in the right angle, a V shaped body, I’d again be a favorite.

But, sadly, there are no such awards. And I remain globally (and locally) unknown.

Upon my making the above what I thought was a completely innocuous statement, he looked at me. The disdain with which he did so was so palpable it could have been a third person in the room.

“Boss, you won’t be able to look like a potato with muscles even if you wanted to. Inexperienced retards like you think that if you gym for 3 months, you’ll sprout muscles. You don’t. It takes a long while for your muscles to develop to that level.”

I wouldn’t say that this was the smallest I’d ever felt in life. There was this one other time, when I was about 11, when my class had divided itself into two halves for the purpose of a cricket match and I was the last one left to be picked. Both halves then sympathetically conferred on me the honorable title of ‘common fielder’. But this one, being told that I wouldn’t be able to develop muscles even if I wanted to, came pretty close. 

However, after the initial shock of being put down like that, the thought occurred to me that my friend was possibly right. The shock must have taken a while to wear off, since this thought occurred to me while I was taking a leak during the interval of a movie which I went to watch the next week. Or maybe, I just didn’t have anything else to think of then.

I realized that considerable hard work does go into ending up with even a body that looks like one’s cut open one's skin and put tennis balls in and that, one shouldn't, while lazing around in one's room, indulge in being judgmental of that body. Well, one can question the sense of aesthetics of the body's owner but his dedication, I suppose, is beyond reproach.

I could tell you that my friend’s comment galvanized me into action and that I have been ever since gymming regularly and have developed a body to be proud of. That would be, however, contrary to my policy of writing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Story of my Life

"Freeze!!", I yelled.

And Time, he turned around, looked at me and said, "Dafuq man? Seriously? You don't learn, do you?"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yellow Lights and Disappointing Nights

"Music... music is like sex to the ears. And what these bands today play, that, that's just bad. That's, that's, you know, like, raping the ears."

That she was a self-proclaimed music aficionado was clear. After making this resounding statement, she leaned back, resuming her erstwhile comfortable position with her head against the wall and the rest of her sprawled out as a mass of disorganized limbs. Her words of wisdom did not linger much longer than her sudden change in posture.

He eyed her, the way she played with her hair, the way she self-consciously rearranged her t-shirt so as to hide the nebulous, yet discernible, symptoms of capitalist prosperity around her waist. When she licked her fingers after dipping a carefully selected french fry into the ketchup, she made sure that no ketchup remained, not even in the hard to reach region between the nail and the skin.

He knew that she knew, that she sensed his eyes upon her. Together, their eyes danced the tango of what passed for courtship, has been passing for courtship between humans for generations- they looked, they didn't look, they caught each others' eye, then appeared disinterested as though they were looking at some distant spot, as there always mysteriously is, behind the object of your affections, on such occasions.

The night ended quicker than he would have liked it to. He was hoping to get to know her a little better- she had intrigued him. And that was rare.

While everyone said their good-byes and parted, making their reluctant way back to their Mondays, he made sure that he was positioned adequately close to her. He made his opening gambit.

"Hey, you live near me, don't you? Let's share a cab?", he said, nonchalantly, betraying none of the quickening of the heartbeat he felt.

She looked at him and coolly said, "Sure. Sounds good."

And so it was that he found himself in the back-seat of a black and yellow taxi with her, whizzing past the numerous sodium lamps that showered the city yellow with their glow, with approximately thirty minutes to execute his quickly planned course of action.

After fifteen minutes of awkward conversation, he turned to her and made as if to say something, gulped and turned back.

With five minutes to go, the time had come for drastic action. He composed in his head, the sequence of words that would make him seem desirable, the bullets of literature which would ensure the success of what he had already termed, borrowing from one of his favorite movies, Operation Dinner Out.

His train of thought was derailed by her matter-of-fact voice. "Bhai-saab, ithar side pe rokh do, please.", she said, proceeding to open her purse for her half of the cab-fare. It took him a while to re-assemble, in view of this rude intrusion, a modicum of the contents of what was, two minutes ago, a perfectly smooth thought process.

In a desperate attempt to regain control of the situation, he babbled, "Oh, you're getting out?"

She cocked her head to the side, the expression on her face one of exasperation and disappointment,  "Well, I can't sit here all night, can I?"

And, with that, she made her majestic way out of the cab, leaving him with thoughts of emasculated inaction and, in his left hand, one hundred and twenty rupees for the joy of the cab-ride and his company.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sunday Mornings

White painted walls
Blank thoughts
A cup of coffee
And the promise
Of a day not squandered.
These are the things
Of which
A Sunday morning is born.

Twelve hours later
The orange glow
Of a zero watt bulb
The white light
Of my laptop screen.
Will both light up
This room
Where the corpse of
Yet another Sunday
Will be waiting
To be carried off
And buried
In memory graveyard
By the very matter of fact
Who's always on time.

Scenes from an American night

I'm gettin' real tired of this, you know? You keep sayin' its my fault. Well, all I'm sayin' is it ain't my fault if our window was shattered by a bunch of sober accountants on a weekday. What can I do 'bout that now? They gotta have some law against stuff like that, they gotta. And don't you look at me like that. Eat your dinner and go back into your shell, you hear me? I won't be having any of that insolent mutiny stuff here. Lemme get back to my new york times crossword and my room temperature coffee now.

Well, what're ya lookin at now, ya little runt? You gotta be told special, yeah? Its not like it used to be, is it, with your mom not here for you to whimper behind? You better get used to it, 'cause this is how its gonna be from here to the end of the road. Now, leave me alone, lemme see what the president's sayin' about people driving on the left side of the road. My coffee's cold now, 'cause of you blasted kids. 

Madness: Part-II

Part I:

There's a bar near the bridge. Not the sort of bar you would want to take your girl to. Not the sort of bar you yourself would go into unless there is a gun pressed to your head. Its not so much a bar as a breeding ground for all the creatures of the urban night.

I know for a fact that A used to come here a lot. During my last conversation with him, he'd told me to come here and ask for B, if anything should happen to him. He gave no details, just a name.

Whatever else its not, this is the sort of bar that will give me answers. So, armed with just a name, I make my way there, my feet squelching in the mud that passes for a road, my mind squelching about in the muck of uncertainty.

The lights on the street have long gone off, smothered, possibly, by the hopelessness that has become a part of the place. However, the silence is what makes its presence most felt as I make my way down the street. No hookers line the street, selling their wares. There is no bar brawl that has spilled out onto the road, no deranged, drunk fighters and no crowd to egg them on.

For a street that has become notorious for both of these, this is strange. And not mildly disquieting.

The lights in the bar are dim. I can vaguely make out the waitress sitting behind the counter, reading a magazine. The cover of the magazine shows a green lawn, a white two-storey house and a dog frolicking on the lawn. As I move closer, I realise that she's not reading so much as staring wistfully at the cover.

"You must be C", she said, barely looking up.

"How..?", I let the question hang in the air, where it gives company to the palpable stench of squandered lives.

The man who approaches me is just as A described him. He's tall, somber and moves about like somebody died. Well, A did die, so I guess his mood is not out of place. He, however, sticks out like a sore thumb. My peripheral vision tells me this much.

"How do you know who I am?", he demands, after his initial vapid "How..?"

Now, I'm extensively practiced in the art of giving people what they demand. What they want. All of them are looking for answers. For most of them, the answer lies in temporary exhilaration -injected or snorted or smoked.

I look up from the magazine. I take my time.

"A said you might come.", I say, searching his face for any hint of how far he's willing to go to solve the mystery of his friend's death. Because, God knows, he'll have to go far.

"Yes", he admits, "He called me the night before he.. died. He told me to come look for you, in case anything should happen to him."

"Well, he's dead now. Ain't a thing you can do about it. I suggest you go on home before you end up dead too."

He leans closer to me, his face as dead as a dodo, and whispers, "And I suggest you tell me all you know. I'd rather not come here with a warrant. That might not end well for you."

He takes out his badge and keeps it on the counter.

I can't lay claim to have learnt many things in life. But one thing I have learnt is that it doesn't hurt to have a friend in the force. Especially in my line of work.

So I tell him.

About Madness.

About how its the most potent drug to ever hit the streets.

About how it lets the user experience first hand what mad people experience, a completely different view of the universe- where space is time and time is space, and the past and future are places which one can stumble upon from the present, if one lets go.

And about how the only way to make this wonder drug is by extracting a complex hormone found in abundant quantities only in mad people.

I stop there and let him make the last leap. Given the above facts, I think he's smart enough to figure out why his friend, with a history of mental illness, disappeared.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Get Short

Shortest horror story ever:
"The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.."-Fredric Brown

Shortest sad story ever:
"For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."- Ernest Hemingway

Shortest love story ever:
"After a fun first date, they went to his place. His laptop was still on, as was his last visited website."- Me 

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Holiday full of Inconvenient Truths

Things are changing and there's no going back.

You realise that you are in no man's land; a non-paying guest on the rare occasions you go home, a rent paying tenant the rest of the time. Sure, you have friends. But the crowd, once reassuringly large, is fast thinning, the people choosing paths and companions as easily as they would new clothes.

You'll be here until, one day, you look around and see that you're the only one left. You'll wonder if they've been right all along and in a mad, frantic rush, you'll pack your life and agree to mix its contents, its precious contents, with someone else's, like they've been long telling you to. You'll become what, until a couple of years ago, you thought you'd never become. You'll compromise.

Suddenly, wearing a suit will matter, as will having a platinum credit card and paying your taxes on time. You will smile and nod, because smiling and nodding can take you a long way and make you more money, so that you can pay more bills and have more dinners at fancy restaurants and buy the latest flat screen TV.

Sure, you'll still speak of buying a shack by the beach and spending the rest of your life there, between swaying coconut trees which stretch out onto the clear blue waters, basking in the orange sunset. Or of going off into the hills. Plans and promises will be made that, no matter what, you'll make it happen.

But, as the years pass, you'll speak less and less of it, until finally you'll forget you ever spoke about it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

This is why I shouldn't go to night-clubs

Beneath the vast

Sporadically starry night 
Shapes embrace and cuddle
Doomed solemn promises are made
Smoke curls up
From invisible mouths.
In the dark
Guilty consciences
Pour out of aimless lives
Covered unconvincingly by
A thin smile, closed eyes
And awkward, rhythmic shaking.
Bodies, t
hin and fat
Fashionable, l
Desirable, desirous

Young, not so young anymore
All drip disappointment
Today's despair
Made bland, sauted in 
Bottles of alcohol.
Hidden, tranquilized
Until tomorrow

Comes knocking.
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