Saturday, March 17, 2012

And then it came to pass..

That the doctors above detected an abnormal number of a certain type of cells (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Humanity") in the patient (hereinafter referred to as "Earth") that had come to them complaining of incessant pain and shook their heads in despair and came to the diagnosis that Humanity's number had multiplied to well above the permissible limit and was eating away at the insides of Earth and that the cancer needed to be countered imperatively and berated Earth for leaving it this late and after giving Earth the mandatory I-told-you-so look, got on with the task of administering radiation (only here, and not hereinafter, referred to as "Extremely Lethal Ultraviolet Rays") which killed most of Humanity and that, within a few days (as the people above reckoned days), the Earth was well again.

Explosions in the Sky

He had managed to get the chemicals past the security check. There had been a brief moment when he was sure he had been caught. The policeman had called him back and asked him to open his bag. He had noticed the name-tag, a Mr.Subhash Nair, and had rifled through his bag, held out his deodorant and innocently asked, "Saare, deodorantum mattu chila udaayippu saadhanangalumaa. Baggin cabbage, sorry, cabin baggage aayittu kondu poykotte?" 

[Author's note- Translated, it means, "Sir, it's just a deodorant and some other stuff. May I take it in as bagin cabbage, sorry, cabin baggage?]

The disarming charm worked immaculately- the policeman even flashed him a smile reeking of Malayali camaraderie. His intentional tongue slip on the banana-words of cabin baggage and baggin cabbage had been extremely effective as a distracting tactic- the policeman did not even cast a second glance at the batteries and the conglomeration of wires in his bag. He had wondered, however, at the stroke of luck God had deemed fit to throw his way. What were the chances of running into a Malayali policeman at the Delhi airport? God was on his side. God wanted to see some fire in the sky. 

He had then made his way to the bar, playing the part of a bored youngster at the airport to a tee. Now he was sitting there, his mind sauntering back to the months of intense planning that had gone into the operation. 

[Author's note- While we are on the topic of the intense training undergone by terrorists, let me interject and set some misconceptions right. People tend to think that a lot of physical preparation goes into the act of bombing. You are probably one of those, aren't you? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Well, actually, as the liars among us would know, a lot of things can be. For instance, the line "Nothing could be farther from the truth" is, in fact, in most cases, a fair distance away from the truth. 

A lot of planning does go into an act of terrorism. They plan for all contingencies, I grant you that.  If A, then B. If not A, then C. If A and B, then D. If C, then E. And so on and so forth. Rather like one of those charts given to call centre employees. 

But, seriously, how many push-ups do you think one needs to be able to do to go into a plane and press a button?

And if you're wondering how I know all this, well, duh. I am the voice of logic, after all. I know everything. Yeah, that's right. EVERYTHING. 

Over and out. Roger that. And all that.] 

His instructor at the training camp had drilled into him the importance of handling the chemicals with care. "Treat them like women", he said, while holding the vials of the liquids, one in each hand. His instructor had always been animated when discussing chemicals. He supposed that it was only natural that someone who hadn't experienced a woman's caress, instead preferring to defer it till his visit to paradise, in the belief that, there, he would be smothered between virgins for eternity, would pour his sexual passion into something else. There was something almost carnal in the way his instructor gazed upon those chemicals. "Treat them like women", he repeated, with a manic grin on his face. "Like two lovers in your life. They should never meet each other until and unless you want fireworks." 

He thought about how different he was from his instructor. They were like two parallel tracks that had met at the horizon of common belief in the injustice being meted out by those infidels. He had gone to university, he had had his share of women. He had even fallen in love, once. She had died in the war. Killed, like so many, and characterised, unapologetically, as collateral damage. He had begged and pleaded with her not to go. Yet she had, and then she had gone further, never to return. And now, instead of forgetting her and getting on with life, here he was. In an airport, thinking of her and doing things for her that she would never see or know about. The things women could make you do, he thought, while finishing off his orange juice.  

He looked around at all the people chattering away about their mundane concerns and wondered how many of them had even considered the possibility that they wouldn't be reaching home tonight. He had read somewhere that 60% of the passengers in a flight spent considerable time thinking of the possibility of the plane crashing.What he was reasonably confident of was that none of them would think of the plane being bombed mid-air. The so-called safety measures had done what they were supposed to do- they had made people think they were safe again. Well, today would undo all that. He'd give them a show to talk about and to eventually forget, until, after some time, someone like him turned up and did an encore and burst open, viscerally, their cocoon of safety yet again. 

It was while he was sitting at the bar, nursing his orange juice that he first saw Her. Her alluring walk, the tight clothes, the slightly flirty smile directed at the world at large and, most importantly for him, the eyes, light green and with a knowing look in them- all these meant that even he, normally immune to anything women could throw at him, faltered, even fell, for a second. A year of discipline then kicked in and he picked himself up, dusted temptation off and turned his attention back to the task at hand. 

This was his moment, his moment alone, he told himself. The fleeting weakness forgotten, he went over the steps again. Go into the plane. Wait until the seat-belt sign is off. Get up and take the bag down from the overhead compartment. Take out the deodorant can, and the face-wash. He had already put the required wires and batteries in his pockets. If any co-passenger is ultra-inquisitive, flash him/her an apologetic smile, the kind of smile that would say, "I haven't slept all night, and I need to go meet someone directly at the airport." Make sure the toilet is unoccupied. Head innocuously in. Once the liquids were mixed and the spark for the chemical reaction to initialise provided, there would be approximately fifteen minutes to the explosion- the process was irreversible. In those fifteen minutes, he had to get the message across to the outside world. His people wouldn't be screwed with. If they thought they could commit atrocities on his brethren across the world and get away with it, they had another thing coming. They had a bomb in a plane coming. Straight at them. Into their eyes and hearts and memories and fears.  

Upon entering the plane, he saw, with a sinking yet buoyant, a lead zeppelin feeling, if you will, that his co-passenger was She. She, of the eyes, the smile and the walk. She, of the gently heaving (and, sometimes, not so gently, he was sure) bosom and the swaying hips. And She, ultimately, of all pleasures imaginable and, he hoped, unimaginable. Back when he was a student, he had hoped and prayed fervently (like all men of almost all ages, married or unmarried) that this would happen. 

[Author's note. Again- Having a beautiful girl walk into an elevator you occupy is upstaged only if the elevator breaks down in between. That, in turn, is upstaged only by having a beautiful girl sit next to you in a flight, and that was upstaged only if the flight was an overnight one. Of course, all this is theoretical as chances of any of these happening, as most men will know (and those who don't are hopeless optimists), are negligible. As ALL men know, when it does happen, the ideal thing to do would to pounce at the opportunity and rip it to shreds. By opportunity, of course, I mean, the girl's clothes. However, what usually happens is far less dramatic. You might be familiar with it, since it is the highlight, the everyday story, of your life. It's called Nothing.]

He placed his bag overhead and then eased into his aisle seat and closed his eyes, willing his heart to slow its beating. He had barely succeeded, when he became aware of Her standing. "I'm sorry", She said, Her voice as gentle as he imagined the breeze that caresses the Alps would be, "but I forgot to take my book." He was acutely aware of Her perfectly proportioned behind passing by, gently brushing his legs. 

He forced himself to close his eyes again, as She maneuvered herself back into her seat. The mission could not be compromised, he told himself. The. mission. could. not. be. compromised. 

As soon as the seat-belt sign was off, he rose, took out the items and walked nonchalantly to the toilet. He closed the door and opened up the deodorant bottle. The deodorant can would serve as the main container, into which he would pour the contents of the face-wash bottle, and in which the batteries and the wires would provide the spark to get the reaction going. He was in the process of pouring the second chemical into the container, when he heard the door opening.

Bledy. All those months of planning and he had forgotten to lock the toilet door.

He froze, as he watched the door slowly swing in, followed by a hand with the smoothest, whitest skin he had ever seen. The silkiest hair he had ever witnessed was next in, and then came The Prestige of the magic act that was Her, the prettiest face he had ever laid eyes on.  

"Hi", She said, "Can I join you?"

"Y-yes", he muttered, instantaneously dropping the mask of the terrorist intent on bombing a plane and reverting to what he was, what we all are. Human.  

She entered, and firmly locked the door with a resounding and resolute snap. The things women could make you do, he thought, as he slammed shut the deodorant can with an equally resounding and resolute snap. 

There were some explosions in the sky that night. Yes, indeed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You realise you're growing old when...

You roll down the windows in your car while speeding on the sea-link, only to quickly roll them back up again.Whatever happened to the kid who loved the feel of the wind on his face?
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