Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Break up Letter

Dear Kelly,
Remember the movie ‘You’ve got mail’. Well as you must have realized by now, our story has been similar. Nowadays the term is online dating. It all started a few years ago when I received your first mail. And then began a lovely journey across the web…

It was a silent night two years ago, when you were suffering from a mental break down from the loss of your dear beloved mother that your good cousin Tara gave you my email address as a therapist who had helped her when she had lost her parents. In her case, I knew her personally but your ego made you want to talk to a person with no face but could be trusted. We started to write to each other.

You might have been a famous actress, the heartthrob of a million young men and the envy of a lot more girls. But you were always lost. Initially, it was your mother and then it was me who took control over your life and heart. Unknown to both of us, a beautiful love story was being scripted.

You were beautiful, smart, intelligent and all that is good in this world. You started ruling my heart and my soul. When I replied to your mails, it was always my heart speaking to you and my soul rejoicing at the thought of it. And pretty soon you realized that we shared similar feelings for each other. Well, long story short, we fell for each other. And god bless Tara who maintained her silence about my identity (though I doubt she spoke about my character in general).

I helped you get over your mother’s death and then once again you attempted the cinema. In your absence from the arena, your cousin Tara, the poor Tara whom your mother had started taking care of when she became an orphan at the age of 15, turned out to be yet another fine actress, fine enough to rival you. Tara was the only point of contact between us other than the www. We lost it but she was kind enough to maintain her vow of silence regarding my identity. We still kept in touch. You became a lovely puppet in my hands and you enjoyed it. Well, that’s what love is all about.

Then the media started announcing your downfall. And to make matters worse, it seemed that Tara was making the most out of your misfortune. Worst of all, she won the Oscar for a role you had refused. You never lost hope. You trusted me and we tried to fight back but in vain.

Now the situation is such that I can take it no longer. A relationship that has given me so much but I don’t see the point in continuing with it. And then there is Tara…

Yes, Tara.

The one, you and your mother deprived of opportunities, to make way for your success. The one who, later, rose to be a name in the world of movies. Once a friend of convenience for you but the worst rival you ever faced.

It is not that I am calling off this beautiful relationship because I am in love with Tara. Well, it would be true that I am in love with Tara if I am in love with myself. And I am in love with myself. I am in love with Tara. Because I am Tara.

You and your dear mother screwed my life by pushing me to roles to support you in movies. Well I could do nothing about it as you had the contacts. And then that woman died and you were out of sorts. I saw the perfect opportunity to get things sorted. You being a diehard romantic, I came up with a plan to make you die in romance.

This relationship gave me a lot. Hell, it gave me an Oscar. It gave me opportunities. It made me live a life I always wanted to. Each day I would get up thinking how to burn you alive. And now you lie there with a wasted life. An actress who has fallen from greatness to a small, lonely corner in the world with no friends and no future.

And I am happy that I have been the architect of your fate. I see no point in continuing to be someone I am not. I do enough of that in the movies. I would like to see your face when you read this final mail. But I am a busy actress and I do not have time for such trivialities.


P.S.: Did your mother not teach you not to speak to strangers?


Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Devil and the Crowd

The crowd punishes the devil. The devil hides in the crowd. The crowd is the devil. Better stay out of it.
Trespassing on rail tracks is an offence. But when your train is about to leave and you are one platform away with no railway officials around, a quick jump down your platform, two long jumps across the tracks and then a climb over the neighboring platform is the shortest path to catch your train. This is exactly what the old man did.
I was going down the stairs of the railway foot over bridge to the platform where my train was waiting. The train was already late by a minute or two and could leave any moment. I was halfway down when it happened.
An old man, who was crossing the railway track, dropped something out his breast pocket as he climbed up to the platform near the foot of the stairs to the over bridge. He was in such a hurry that he did not notice it and ran towards the train that was sounding its horn. From a distance, I could make the green of some Indian currency notes and atleast 3-4 in number.
A fat man, who was at the foot of the stairs at the same time quickened his pace downstairs, reached the spot first before the small, hurrying crowd could even notice, bent and put the bundle in his pocket without any guilt. I stopped involuntarily.
Another witness, a few steps ahead of me, stopped in his tracks to look around and spotted me as the only other person who had an idea of what had taken place in front of us. The others moved ahead oblivious to this event, concerned of their daily worries and deadlines. I guess the fact that I was the only person who had possibly stopped moving and was looking at the scene of crime gave me away. And then, both of us were in the same state of mind - confused by the knowledge that something was wrong and not able to make a decision. Two minds together work better than one. We looked at each other and smiled, telepathically communicating a silence to be maintained on the incident we just witnessed. Matter settled and we started to move ahead along with the crowd.
I had just witnessed how one man’s loss was another’s gain. Literally – by some thousand rupees. The old man, who lost, disappeared in the crowd. The fat man smilingly disappeared in the crowd. The crowd never bothered to notice this small event that did not disturb its balance. As for me and my telepathic friend, we simply went ahead with being a part of the crowd.
I ran and boarded the train which had already started to move. I made my way in through the guards at the door and found myself some space to lean my back against the partition between the seats and the door way. To my surprise, the fat man was right there standing in front of me leaning against the opposite partition.
Pickpocketing is an offence. But that was what supposedly the young fellow standing near the fat man attempted. He was caught red handed by the fat man who had started yelling to attract attention. And then it happened.
The fat man gave one tight slap on the chap’s face. The young fellow tried to escape out his hold. But the fat man held on tightly and gave him another slap. The blood pressure of the nearby crowd was rising exponentially and then it exploded in the form of heavy blows by innumerable limbs on the human body that had fallen and crouched on the floor in an embryonic position. Mob justice was being met out. I stood and watched.
After a minute or two, as the station approached, the fat man pushed back the crowd around the bleeding boy, pulled him up and threw him out of the slowing train into the platform. I watched all this with a kind of mental numbness. I watched the fat man with admiration for his thick skinned, cold blooded attitude. I watched the selfish crowd that ignored or noticed unanimously at will.
The fat man looked at me and smiled. This was the second time a stranger was smiling at me in a span of few minutes. And I smiled back again. But there was no telepathy this time. Guess you all think the same when in a crowd.
The crowd p
unishes the devil. The devil hides in the crowd. The crowd is the devil. Better stay out of it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

At the end

I wake up from the darkness. Something shines brightly into my eyes that I am blinded by it. I feel nauseous. I realize that I am lying on something very hard. I am lying on the ground. I am sweating. I am wholly covered in sweat and something else. Something thick, maybe blood.

My legs hurt and I cannot move them. I breathe hard. I breathe dust in the air. My throat is dry and parched. I need water. I try to get up. I cannot breathe, my body resists with a blinding pain and I feel like throwing up.

It is a bright sunny morning. The summer has made the sky cloudless. Down on earth, people are injured or dying from the blasts and bullets that flew between the two groups of people who barely knew each other, one in the typical green military uniform and the other in a similar but brown one. The barren vast expanse of land had been turned into a battlefield by the two armies by digging bunkers and building hurdles.

I am wearing the green uniform. I want to fall unconscious, I want to sleep. I remember being thrown away by something loud blasting near me. I slowly turn sideways. I use my right arm as a support to lift myself up. My arms touch the ground that was once dry and is now wet with blood. I slowly lift myself up to a sitting position and then look around me.

Not a living soul around me! An eerie pin drop silence around me that rings of death!!

I look towards my camp. There in a distance I can see our national flag standing tall but fallen down in the still air. I look at the other camp and I see their flag in the same position. Someone has to pull both of them down to bring them to a half mast position. Or someone has to replace one with the other to win over the other and end the war.

I look around me. No one but me.

Someone has to replace one with the other to win and end the war.

I have to replace the other one with my colors to win and end the war.

I have to stand up, walk to the other camp and do it. Put an end to the bloodshed. It is not patriotism that drives me. It is what I have been through, what I have witnessed that drives me. Those scenes are not to be replayed.

A surge of energy flows through my body and I start struggling to get up on my feet. My motivation to avoid a certain continuation of a series of killings and destruction helps me get up. I feel strong and a strange kind of happiness. I start to walk. I move ahead by a few steps. The heat is unbearable and I think I am losing blood. I drag myself. The camp is still at a distance and I got to make it there.

I am sweating profusely. I feel dizzy and the world around me is moving in circles. The light in front of me is dimming. And then my legs give away and I fall backwards.

My head has hit something hard. I think I have broken my skull. I feel wetness below my head. As I lay there with my eyes towards the sky, I see vultures flying high.

Strangely, it is not my life that is flashing in front of my eyes. I see those black spots circling the bright blue sky ready for a feast for no man will wander into these lands without his flag flying at the other end. They know that once the feast is over, the prey will itself present them with another one.

As my eyes slowly fall into darkness, I realize how I could have changed history but it seems history itself did not want to be changed. History wants more people to be killed, stories of heroic battles to be a part of it. I am but a small part of the many killed in these battles and many more to come.

At the end, the darkness creeps in and takes over completely. My story ends here to pave way for a new one.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mumbai Meri Jaan - II

Beg to Differ

The Friday before the one to be described, thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I had tried a rickshaw ride from the campus to the Mulund railway station. It had cost me Rs. 96/-. However, I had caught the air of luxury in it compared to the crowded trains and now I was tempted once again to do the same. The fact that I had only a Rs. 100/- note with me did not really matter. So I called up the nearest rickshaw and claimed my destination. The driver agreed. We mutually agreed that I was not to pay any amount greater than Rs. 100/- to him and he promised that it would not be more than Rs. 90/-. Maybe the traffic would be less today, I concluded.

The traffic, however, disappointed me. When I look back at it, the traffic was no different from the previous one I faced - a moderate one, but with enough entertainment. Beggars they were termed. What they provided was entertainment for the unfortunate ones stuck in the long vehicular queues.

The first one that came was a young boy wearing blue shorts and with a bare chest that had the ribs poking out. He walked with a limp and held out his hands with the palm exposed and the fingers folded, the classical beggar’s hold. For two reasons, I preferred not help him. One that helping him would attract more of his kind to extort money from me– something I was really short of. Secondly, that kid was faking the limp and I was sure of it. You could never trust these filthy little creatures of the underworld. He could not fool me and gain my sympathy.

The second one was a lady carrying a baby and holding a small plate. She repeatedly pointed to her mouth and then the baby to indicate that the baby had not had food for a couple of days. A photo of a God with some red powder smeared on it was the only content in the plate apart from some coins of various values. So now this crook was trying to invoke my sympathies by targeting my religious sentiments and the human being inside me. Not to be trusted was the verdict and I simply ignored her.

The first traffic signal had been crossed and now there was yet another one to go. As we came to a halt at the second one, there they came running towards us. A group of children, with some fancy stuff, detached and each of them ran towards a different potential customer. The one that chose me was selling some pencil flashlights.

“Saab, chinese hai. Sirf paanch rupaiye mein milega. Lelo saab. Aise item aapko market mein kahin nahi milega”

Yeah, he was telling the truth. His wares were not items to be found in the markets. Chinese flashlights were not only ‘use and throw’ but were also ‘use once and throw forever’. I asked him to get lost. He ran towards the next rickshaw in the line.

As the group began to recede towards the rear of the queue, the responsibility of keeping the front end engaged was taken up by a bhajan singing, harmonium playing old man who supposed to be blind and was by being guided by a young girl who did the money collection for him. Before he reached me, my driver asked me, “Saab seedha jaana hai ki right jaana hai”

Suddenly, I remembered this signal. After crossing it, within seconds came a turn to the right along the main road. Last time the driver had asked me I told him to take me along the path that was the nearest. But now I could not recollect the way he took me. Was it straight or was it right? I had a feeling that it was the straight path he took me but I was not sure. So I asked my present driver to do the same thing – to take me along the shortest path.

Though I was momentarily distracted by the driver’s question, I turned back my attention to the singing old man. So far he seemed to do earn more money than the others. I attributed his success more to his irritating, crude voice than any sympathy on the side of the giver. What a brilliant fake! For sure he was not blind. And he could never even sing in the bathroom in hundred years. The sound of keyboard when I type on it was more music than what was coming out of that harmonium. I was tempted to test his blindness. I had to think up something clever before he came near.

But then the signal turned green and my rickshaw picked up speed. A nearby taxi, too, started. Maybe the driver of the taxi shared my thoughts as he accelerated straight towards the old man.

The girl jumped out of the way and left the old man in front of the taxi. An able man would have easily moved out of the way as the girl had done. But it seemed that the honking of horns from all around him confused the blind man and he was hit by the taxi. He fell on the road. I could see no injuries on him as I passed him. I asked my driver to stop but he refused stating a possible major traffic block.

I sat back on my seat and my first thought was,’So the man was blind after all’. And then it came to me, ‘The Chinese flashlights would have lasted longer and the boy must have been telling the truth after all’ and ‘The baby must not have any food in the past few days as it’s mother was too poor to feed it after all’ and also ‘The boy must have had a limp after all’…

I felt guilty. Not only had I not helped them but I had accused them of being the filthy creatures of the underworld who entertained us at the traffic signals.

And I missed the turn that my driver took. I was sure that it was not the same route through which I was taken last time. Now was the driver cheating me? Better not jump to conclusions was the lesson I had just learnt.

And all of a sudden the rickshaw came to a halt. The station was there right in front of me. Earlier than expected. I had a look at the meter and it displayed the figure 76.

And then the second realization came to me. It was not this driver who was trying to cheat me, it was my last driver who had cheated me of about Rs. 20/-. I paid the amount and walked towards the station. And on my way, the engineer in me did some maths. Had I paid an amount of Rs. 5/- to the four people I had encountered on my way, I would have lost a total of Rs.20/-, the amount the previous driver made of me. So basically the four of them were the ones who lost it and not me.

I am a Mumbaikar, I don’t care when people get hit, I don’t care when people beg and I don’t care when somebody cheats someone because I always come up with solutions and I am never at fault. Apathy is a religion here.

The funny thing is I still do not know whether to go straight or right.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.