Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
- Jules Renard

09 December, 2009

Beyond Divides

It had been four years since Sumit Sharma had flown off to New Zealand for higher studies in psychology amidst a lot of opposition from his family. Although the force of the apprehensions that Sumit's parents, Naresh and Smita Sharma had, had long since reduced, their shadows had never quite left their lives.

The day when they would finally witness the impact life abroad ('Across the seven seas', as Naresh put it) was only two days away when they got the phone call. Sumit's name was taken so often in conversations that when Smita heard over the hone a voice that said, "Hello, Ma! Sumit here!", she almost certainly thought she was imagining.

"Sumit... is it really you?" she asked in Marwari, her voice half-choked already.
"Yes, Ma! How are you doing?" Sumit responded from thousands of miles away.
"Just waiting for you dear..."
"Ma, Guess what! I passed! With distinction!"
"Congratulations!" The one thing Smita and Naresh had agreed upon was the immense number of opportunities available abroad. Smita could literally visualize the great door opening in front of her eyes.

"I need to tell you one more thing..." Sumit said, his voice abruptly changing tones.
"What, my dear?"
"Er... I have married."

Immediately the world came crashing down on Smita. Although she was much more understanding than Naresh, being a typical Marwari, she shunned even inter-caste marriages with all her fiber. And here, her own son, marrying a total foreigner!

To confirm her worst fears, she asked:
"Is she a foreigner?"
Now, it was the turn of Sumit's voice to break.
"Yes, foreigner. From New Zealand... Here itself."

Later that evening, verbal fireworks exploded in the Sharma household three months prior to Diwali.

"I'd told you... time and again I'd warned you NOT to send the bloody rascal in that White nation..." Naresh's rage-filled voice continued. "Here in India, he wouldn't even glance twice at a single girl... but there... in the Western nation where there is no such thing as 'culture'... he meets a ruddy witch who casts a spell on him and claims him for herself... How COULD he marry such a characterless girl!"

Smita decided against pointing out that Naresh hadn't seen the girl yet, and so, couldn't really call her 'characterless'.

"He's coming day after tomorrow, right?" Naresh fumed.
"Yes —"
Before Smita could even breathe, Naresh had finished his next statement: "Is the girl with him?"
"Er... Yes..."
"Now I'll get to see that darned New Zealander..."

The day finally arrived. Forgetting completely his son's outstanding achievement in his academics, Naresh was only searching for a mass of blond hair, or a body sporting negligible clothes, or any other indicator of what he pictured as his lone son's bride. It was only him and Smita on the airport — their daughter Vrinda had been conveniently cooped up in the house — permission for her 5-day Field Trip duly revoked.

And then, they saw him. Sumit. However, Naresh couldn't pin-point any of the signs he had shortlisted; only a friend of Sumit's he recognized as some Alex from a picture Sumit has sent over the e-mail about a year ago.

Before Sumit could even open his mouth for pleasantries, Naresh demanded:
"You married?"
"Yes," Sumit replied in a small voice.
"Where is the bride?"

Sumit paused.
"Where is the bride?" Naresh repeated, his voice and blood pressure both rising.
"The bride... the bride is none other than Alex here..."
"The bride... is Alex..." Naresh's eyes slowly moved from Sumit to Alex and finally zeroed in on him.
"Alex is... the bride..." he repeated, the wind knocked out of his chest.

"I... I kept this hidden from you all these years, forgive me... but... I'm gay. A homosexual."

A torrent of thoughts followed that pronouncement in Naresh's head:

He remembered overhearing Sumit profusely saying 'No' to somebody over the phone many years ago, and after the call ended, silently crying in a corner...
He remembered himself saying two days ago how Sumit "wouldn't even look at a single girl"...
He thought of himself opposing inter-caste marriages, but seeing his son break barriers of not just caste, religion, region or race, but gender too...

But then his brain had had enough. It protested by deciding to simply stop Naresh's heart from pumping. A heart attack.

It took Naresh two months in hospital to come to terms with his son's truth, but with a lot of help from his psychology expertise, Sumit finally managed to convince Naresh to accept Alex as a 'daughter-in-law'.

Last heard, Vrinda was allowed to go to England to pursue Oceanography; and Sumit and Alex were "living happily ever after".


01 September, 2009

Alice In Dreamland: Part 2 of 3

The second part of the 'Alice In Dreamland' 3-parter. If you missed the first, first read it here.

The revelation shocked Alice. She had just been informed that she was in a dream with a friendly vampire and that she had only five hours to survive (whatever that meant). The explanation was forthcoming.

"This dream of yours is unlike any other — your mind, this time, is totally immersed in it." Aldrin, the old man, started to explain. "As a result, it will have to physically travel from a portal to emerge at the other side — the 'real world'."

"But why five hours?" Alice asked.

"This is because the dreamworld goes through a recycling sequence each time the real you wakes up. Let's say... the entire dreamworld is destroyed... and when you sleep, a new one is recreated. I may or may not exist in the new world. Now comes the important part. Usually, your mind only oversees this process and regulates it. However, this time, your mind is totally inside the dream, and so, it may be recycled itself, along with the rest of the dream world. Resulting... in death."

The idea of death shot fear like physical pain in Alice's young mind. She also seemed to remember a sound, but she wasn't able to place it.

"The portal, Aldrin," the vampire, Batoid, said. "Tell her where it is!"

"Yes, the portal. It's at the other side of the plains here. If you set out immediately, you should be able to reach it comfortably." Aldrin paused. "Just remember one thing. This is not — I repeat — not mine, or Batoid's, or anybody else's dream. This is your own dream. Remember. And take this."

Aldrin handed over a piece of parchment upon which the written numbers were magically changing each second to reflect, presumably, the amount of time remaining for Alice. A great help when your sense of time is dimmed. They then read:

04: 49: 42

"It's the Dynamic Protean Charm." Aldrin winked.
"Thanks, Grandpa!" Alice called out.

As she stood outside the shack along with Batoid, she wondered, 'Why did I call him 'Grandpa'? Is it because he is —'
However, a screech cut through her train of thought. Both Alice and Batoid ran back to the shack as if their lives depended on it.

Aldrin was on the floor, in a pool of blood. Over half of the shack was liberally sprinkled with droplets of blood. Upon closer investigation by Batoid (Alice had nearly fainted all over again seeing the gory scene), the cause of the incident became clear — a glass held by Aldrin that contained a red liquid that wasn't blood.

"Poison... worst of all, it wasn't for him at all. He'd be recycled anyway..."
"Then for whom?" Alice asked. She was terrified, as if she knew the answer already.
"For you. Come, let's be quick."

04: 16: 33

An hour later, Batoid and a stricken Alice were well on their way to the portal.

"Why would anybody want to kill me? Everybody here lives in MY world!" Alice asked indignantly.
"I think that's the very reason... It's YOUR world. It'll be the world of the one who kills you... He'll get to oversee the recycling... it'll make him GOD!" Batoid exclaimed. "Who wouldn't want that?"
"Save me, please..." Alice didn't know Batoid would have to do it almost immediately.

The two heard a galloping sound, and within a moment, the source presented itself — a majestic white unicorn.

Initially, Alice was excited on seeing a unicorn, but it quickly changed to dread when the unicorn's horn glowed white-hot and shot a beam of pure energy towards Alice. Batoid could only watch in despair as the beam shot towards Alice, all ready to consume her within itself. However, the despair soon turned to amazement as Batoid watched, as if in slow-motion, Alice executing a perfect cartwheel to get out of the beam's way — leaving it to flatten a patch of grass a couple of meters wide.

Then Batoid took over. A fierce battle ensued. All Alice could see was a couple of blurs representing the unicorn and Batoid, a lot of fire and some strange darkish matter. This continued for a fair while, after which both battlers took a very short pause, wishing to finish this once and for all.

The Unicorn's horn glowed. Batoid knew what this meant — another one of those beams was forthcoming. He wouldn't have time to get out of the way... But then a blade of grass flew in from nowhere and cut the horn cleanly into two. Batoid turned and saw that Alice was the one who had thrown the blade. Then, he executed his finishing move.

02: 50: 54

"Remember Aldrin? Telling me this is 'my dream'?" Alice asked Batoid. "He meant that I can do pretty much anything I want here... I even distinctly remember not being able to do the cartwheel I did to avoid that nasty beam..." She paused.
"Tell me one thing, though," she said. "A good vampire, an evil unicorn... this is surely not what anybody would expect..."

"Well," Batoid replied, "What, according to you is good, is actually only the way you perceive it. Somebody who you feel is good may not be good at all, while somebody, who, according to you, is evil, may actually be quite good. Give everybody a chance."

Presently, they arrived at a road which they had to cross. All of a sudden, Alice was stricken by a phobia. "I don't want to go there," she sputtered. In spite of many persuasions by Batoid, she flatly refused to even set foot on the road. Eventually, Batoid had to lift her in his arms and cross the road himself.

"It wasn't bad now, was it?" Batoid asked, trying to soothe Alice, who had just burst into tears. "Okay, I have good news for you. See that tunnel over there?" Batoid pointed.
"That is where you'll find the portal. It's called the 'Tunnel of Darkness'."
"Erm... sounds very scary..."
"Well... you'll have to go now, won't you?"

A few minutes later, Alice set foot into the Tunnel of Darkness.

01: 50: 36


25 July, 2009

The Butterfly

Author's Note: This is my entry for the 'Walking In The Rain' contest for Bloggeratti.
Be advised that this post contains content that is suitable for only mature readers. So if you are under 18, or are otherwise immature, or otherwise dislike what is commonly referred to as 'adult content', you aren't advised to proceed any further (on this post anyway).

The cellphone in her hands started vibrating. She was momentarily startled, but then flipped it open and put it to her ear.

“Seven missed calls?!” Akash exclaimed from the other end. “I’m sorry, I was in my lectures — why didn’t you come today? And what’s up, dear? What happened?”
What happened. What a question, Sania thought. And although Akash knew very well most of what had happened, Sania involuntarily dropped into the reservoir of her memories...

It was 14 July, 2009. In all the excitement of her eighteenth birthday, she had unwittingly forgotten her ‘trusty little umbrella’, as she called it, at home. And she had chosen the worst possible day to do so, as the heavens had decided to make up for the late rains that very day.
The lectures were over a couple of hours early — Sania was spared the boring double Physics class as the prof couldn’t make it to college on account of the rains. However, she was extremely apprehensive to step out in the rains minus her umbrella. She felt the rains were a monster, lashing out at everything within sight. The 26 July massacre had only strengthened this opinion of hers. And then, the savior appeared.


The guy’s calm, easygoing demeanor had blown Sania away ever sine she set her eyes on him, back in FYJC. As the days passed, her attraction towards him only continued to intensify, until, one day, she was forced to conclude in her diary: ‘This damn guy has totally taken over my life!

“Hey Sania! Where’s your ‘trusty little umbrella’? Gone off to enjoy the rains?”
Akash had an amazing sense of humor. What Sania really liked about it was that it was tailored for the listener — showing how he singularly cared for each and everyone in his life.

“Well, yeah... it’s breached my trust...”
“Mine hasn’t... may I drop you, mistress?” Akash asked, doing the old-world English movie gesture that usually accompanies such a statement.
Chivalry, that endangered species of behavior... a clear indicator of a sense of individuality — while the world is ditching chivalry, he carves his own niche...

“Um... Sure, why not?” Sania, almost greedily, accepted.
Although they were in the same class since FYJC, it was only in FYBSc that Sania and Akash got on talking terms (adjacent Roll Numbers helped). And, a couple of days ago, Sania had written in her diary: ‘I may be kidding myself, but I think I see a hint of reciprocation...

“Nice weather, don’t you think?” Akash commented. Due to the presence of Akash, even the weather on the planet Venus would qualify as ‘nice’ for Sania. She agreed. Never before had she enjoyed walking in the rain to this extent. She had heard descriptions of the rain as ‘romantic’; she now realized what they meant. The closeness she had so craved was granted to her. If only it changed to intimacy...

She felt something on her left shoulder. It took her a while to realize it was Akash’s hand. She looked up to him, and their eyes spoke a million words. Although around them vehicles were jostling for road space, honking violently, Akash and Sania were unperturbed, lost in their own world, the pitter-patter of the raindrops adding to their mood...
“There’s nobody at my place today...” Akash said. “Will you come over?”

What happened after ‘coming over’ was something that changed Sania forever. In the rare times that Sania thought of the moment when her hymen finally broke apart, she was filled with apprehensions. However, with Akash’s presence, it was all smooth. Although both of them were indulging for the first time, the apprehensions seemed to slither out of the (closed) window. It was, of course, the emotional connect that Sania cherished more than the physical one. All the same, the experience, to her, was like ‘a caterpillar finally shedding her cocoon to come out as a full-grown butterfly...’ And the best birthday gift she ever had.

But the first-timers had made a crucial mistake...

“Hello, you still there?”
Sania’s mind jumped back to the phone call with a jolt. She had to speak a dreadful truth.
“It’s been almost a month... and I — I’ve...”
“Sania,” Akash said, very calmly, “Tell me.”
And then, the words fell out of her mouth. “I’m pregnant.”
The next thing Sania knew was a powerful slap on her face by her father.

—Two Hours Later —

“Doctor, is she okay?” Sania’s mother was asking.
“The patient is out of danger,” the doctor replied, “but I’m sorry, we couldn’t save the child.”


29 June, 2009

Alice In Dreamland: Part 1 of 3

She opened her eyes. Large hazel eyes that appeared perpetually unfocused, as if the girl who used them was in a perpetual dream. She would, in time, realize that it wasn't too far from the truth. Her face was very fair, and from her overall appearance, her age could be placed at about thirteen, although at the moment she looked very much like half of it.

And then, she looked around herself. She was sleeping in a very peaceful green meadow, with grass all around her as far as the eye could see. The sunlight was pleasant — present but not too harsh, and there were a few trees scattered around, as if as an afterthought. The vista was so beautiful that the senses of the girl dimmed just by taking it in, and only after a few minutes — or was it moments? Or even hours? She had lost all sense of time, too, evidently — she tried to remember. Remember what this place was. Blank. Remember what she had been doing just before she fell asleep. Blank again. She finally tried to remember who she was. And horrifyingly, drew upon a blank once again.

Caught in an insane frenzy, she tried to remember anything she could and spent some time — or, probably, a lot of time — in the futile process. But then, she thought, When you don't remember something, let your mind relax and it will come back automatically to you. In accordance, she began relaxing her mind. But before she could even get started properly, her mind jumped. How did she know that quote? And, in fact, how could she even know that it was a quote? And then, the quote repeated itself in her mind, but this time in a woman's voice. Something in that voice gave her a lot of joy, but it lasted for only what seemed like a split-second before it was overpowered by a sense of intense sorrow. Both emotions were largely unaccounted for — the girl hardly even knew at that point that such things existed, or maybe, like everything else, she had forgotten.

Before she could deliberate more on her new findings, she had a glimpse of a black silhouette a bit away from her. How far away she could not exactly tell, the single-dimension green and blue had ruined her sense of perspective. It seemed to be a man with a cloak that billowed about as if caught in a strong wind. However, the girl noted, the wind around herself was just a small breeze. She returned to examining the silhouette that had its back turned towards her. Gingerly, she got up and started walking towards the silhouette. She noticed she was barefoot and that walking on the grass gave her a pleasant, tingly feeling.

She continued walking for a considerable amount of time — she could tell it was considerable; meaning that the person wasn't as close as she thought him to be. Of course, the 'him' bit of it was an assumption, it may not turn out to be a 'him' at all. As she approached, the movements of the cloak became lesser and lesser pronounced. It was as if she was carrying the breeze along with her, dispelling the strong gust to take its place.

Finally, she reached the silhouette, and noticed an unearthly odour coming from its direction. Disregarding it, she made as if to tap him, but before she did it, the 'man' turned around to face her. It seemed like a man, but with major differences. The person was entirely black — it was as if she were looking into a shadow, but the lips were stark red. They opened up — presumably to say something, but before a word could be uttered, the girl screamed. She had seen canine teeth — two pointed canine teeth. What was in front of her wasn't a person at all — it was a vampire!

"Hey, hey, don't, stop... STOP!" It was a perfect human voice coming out of the vampire's mouth, but the ones that starred in Mommy's stories were mostly able to speak humanly anyway. And that thought cut her scream short. I had a Mom, and she used to tell me stories! This triggered remembrance of a vast chunk of information, mostly regarding stories the girl's mom used to tell her. However, she still didn't know who her Mom was... What she did know, was that Vampires Are Evil.
"No, I'm not, Trust Me!"

The girl made as if to run away, but then she turned and spoke, her voice shaking, "How do you know what I was thinking? Vampires can't read minds!"
"I know who you are, too — you're Alice"
The vampire was saying something more, but the girl's — Alice's mind, couldn't grasp the words. The sound of the name had triggered something.

All of a sudden, the green-blue world around her disappeared. She was now sitting in a bus, laughing with a girl sitting next to her. She bid the other girl goodbye and got up, and when the bus came to a stop, she got down, in her school uniform, with a bag on her shoulders. She saw across the road to the other side — and then, nothing.

When that nothing changed back to something, she was, this time, lying on a cot, inside what seemed to be a hut. For one heart-stopping moment, she could not remember anything. Then it all came back to her. The meadow, the recollections, the... 'vision', for want of a better word, everything. But before the frightened child could open her mouth to scream — a pretty natural reaction considering the overload on her senses, she caught a glimpse of a man — this time a real man alright. He was old, and looked just like... Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movies. His presence calmed her down a bit.

"I'm Aldrin," he said. "And you're Alice."
"Yes, I — how do you know? And how did I come here?"

As if in answer to both her questions, the vampire slowly showed himself from behind a wall.

"No child," Aldrin said, "There's no need to be afraid of this creature here. He is the one who saved your life — you can call him 'Batoid'."
"He... saved me?" Alice's features appeared visibly exaggerated in her surprise.
"Yes," Aldrin said, holding up a glass of clear liquid. "This is medicine for your recovery." He paused. Then continued, "I need to tell you something. About where you are. You are in a dream."
"A dream? Is that what you just said?" Curious.
"Yes, but you'll have to get out of it if you intend to survive — you have only five hours."

Meanwhile, somewhere else:

"How is she now?" A deep male voice, concerned, asked.
"No luck, she is still in coma. However, we found something... interesting..."
"Interesting?" The man seemed to marvel at the choice of the word. "Continue, I'm listening."
"The patient's mental activity has intensified in the last ten minutes, all of a sudden. Moreover, she is also showing Rapid Eye Movement — REM. All characteristic of... a dream."

To Be Continued...


05 June, 2009

The Final Attempt

Author's Note: This is my entry for the Bloggeratti contest: 'Summer Heat'. Read it, and if you like it, VOTE!! Click on the title to visit the Bloggeratti Orkut Community.

Daniel got off from his Suzuki S2000 solar-powered 4-seater and stepped on the hot-as-coals Nasik road, upon which excess solar energy was being heaped upon in abundance. He looked at the wristwatch-like gadget on his left wrist and pressed a button — the only thing on the 'watch'. Immediately, a screen projected on thin air in front of him from the ProjectWatch. The date and time was flashed at the top of the screen:

11:35 on 1 Feb, 2050
A lot of other information populated the screen, including weather forecasts, News, and even links to Social Networking websites, but none of them interested Daniel, who switched off the screen.

As he walked to the enormous building in front of him, a disheveled man came out of nowhere and began, "Sir, please, give me something, sir, I don't have anything to eat —" Daniel avoided the beggar who had just spoken in perfect English and continued towards the building. The beggar did not have much time anyway — Skin Cancer, a result of exposure to harmful UV radiation, had probably claimed him already. Daniel was protected by reflective clothing of a revolutionary new material which he could afford.

The increasing literacy of beggars, brought about no doubt by the 2046 Hyper-Inflation crisis, was not the only thing to change in the last few years. The dreaded Global Warming was finally reaching its potential. The temperature was a blistering 43º C — this in early February. Many erstwhile coastal areas had gone underwater in the last 15 - 20 years. In the last few years, technological advances had managed to delay total carnage. But now, only desperate last-gasp measures could save the planet. That was what Daniel was here for — a conference between the four economic powers of the world: USA, UK, Brazil and India, to discuss on 'The Final Attempt', as the media had hyped the measure.

The efficiency of Video Conferencing and Holographic Communication notwithstanding, the representatives of the four nations (2 per nation: one for Science, the other for Politics) had decided by overwhelming mutual consent to physically arrive at Nasik, the venue for the conference. Daniel, the widely acclaimed Global Warming researcher, was the Indian Science representative.

As Daniel entered the room where the conference was to be held, he couldn't help feeling there was a great leveler between him and the beggar he had just brushed off — the Summer Heat. A landmark research in 2038 had established that a large family of previously unresearched gases actually contributed a lot to Global Warming, which was the reason why it had continued to escalate beyond control over 30 years after CFCs were banned globally. As a result, Artificial cooling was now entirely banned. Rich or poor; Inflation-victim or Inflation-immune; everybody felt the heat of the summer which now continued for 12 months a year. There were some who still cooled their homes or refrigerated their food products illegally, but that number had drastically reduced as the world saw Mumbai go underwater in the terrible 2040 tsunami and never come back up.

At 1 PM, the most important meeting in World History began. The Final Attempt was about to be made.

"We all know that Global Warming is an imminent threat; I wouldn't waste your time speaking about it. I'm here to present the solution, and that's what I'll do." Attention was rapt and the listeners seemed to be hanging on each and every word Daniel spoke. "The only way, now, to prevent Global Warming from taking Earth as its victim would be to drastically reduce the temperature. This can be done by releasing particulate matter in the atmosphere which actually reflects the sunrays. However,"— Daniel wiped the sweat off his forehead —"we have only two methods to do so — a Volcanic eruption or a Nuclear explosion."

The clamor was immediate. It was natural; who would accept such calamities, even create them himself! But then, Daniel projected, holographically, a graph showing how the temperature of Japan had fallen quite drastically in the couple of years following the Hiroshima-Nagasaki explosions. "Of course," Daniel added, "We don't need to actually take a single life; we could explode the bomb in one of the many deserted areas in the world and it will have the same desirable effect." He saw the Brazilian scientist wirelessly transferring the graph to his ProjectWatch and was pleased.

"Sahara Desert," the US President quipped. Of course it was deserted; Nobody could withstand temperatures regularly at about 56º C. The plan was thus finalized. The Nuclear device would explode in Chad, the locations given down to their exact co-ordinates (12º 10' N, 18º 35' E) by the US President. And three days later, the final attempt was made.

However, it did not quite come off as expected.

The bomb, that had set out to destroy only within a radius of 100 km, instead flattened everything within a 1,000-mile radius. By the time the reason was known — that the bomb had fallen bang on an undercover Russian Nuclear Research outpost — it was too late. Columbia, Sao Paulo, London and New Delhi were all vaporized by the 5th of February, 2050.

This was the beginning of the end.


18 May, 2009

Enough Is Enough!

Author's Note: The entire write-up below is purely fiction. Readers are requested to keep that in mind while reading.

(This was found besides a dead body of a college student who seemed to have killed himself by slitting his wrist)

To whomsoever it may concern,

I am writing this to proclaim that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I want out of this horrid life of mine, and by the time you read this, I may have succeeded in pulling the plug. In other words, what you are reading now is a suicide note. You may call me a sissy, a coward who could not face his problems in life and preferred to run away, but you will only understand when you realize how life has been treating me until now.

I was born in 1991. Not like it's important, it's the beginning of a huge waste anyway, but I have to start somewhere. I started my Std 1 in 1998, and instantly found that I grasped concepts much easier than my peers could, and also remember them well. In other words, I was a 'scholar'. A few years later, an IQ test would give me an IQ of 142 — meaning 'prodigiously gifted', but that's until later.

In the first three years of primary school, I scored 95 plus % straight, and ended up becoming the teachers' favorite and the students' envy. That very envy was probably the reason why I didn't have many friends back then — In fact, come to think of it, why I didn't have any friend back then.And then, it was the 4th standard examination when it happened. I was caught during the exam — with a book under my desk. When you are caught and punished for something you haven't even done, it feels very, very bad. For all I know, it might have been done by some of my so-called 'classmates' for a good laugh. And boy, did they get it! I didn't get one though, all I got was a big fat zero in the subject, without any real reason.

The incident hit me very hard; I suppose you could call it 'below the belt'. It took me years, many long years, to get over it, and in the process, my academics, the only thing I was ever any good at, suffered. The taunts that suggested I couldn't score as much as I used to just because I didn't get to copy didn't help. However, I was almost over it by the age of about 14 - 15, thanks to some very solid support from Dad. The IQ test I was talking about had also happened by then.

And then, life landed its second blow, hitting where it hurt the most: It singlehandedly took out my entire support system. Dad was returning from his job that day, but was 10 minutes late and missed his usual local. He simply took another one. The day was 11 July, 2006. Only charred pieces of his body were found... (Here, some seemingly random scribbles are seen, which have been struck out.)

Sorry, I'd got a bit emotional... And Mom, well, she, to this day, believes that Dad hasn't yet returned from his Fort office, and will soon come... she's in a Mental Asylum.

Almost a year later, I got my SSC results (AKA 10th Standard) — 61%. Good in the face of what had happened; 'A testimony to your talent', that's what Dad would have said; but that doesn't change the truth, it being that my dream of being a Nuclear Scientist was all but destroyed. Not the first dream of mine to go that route; and certainly not the last.

However, none of these had much of an effect on the hormones of my body. You might be knowing what happens in your typical male body at the age of around 16 - 17 — Total chaos in your body, with only one coherent wish coming out of the mess: I WANT A FEMALE. (The more, the better, in some cases.) And then I noticed her... Naina. A Commerce classmate of mine, her major feature was apparent from her name itself: her striking blue eyes. Between losing both my parents and getting stuck in Commerce trying to tally Balance Sheets (not that I ever managed to do it), I felt Naina was the best thing that had happened to my life. How wrong I was... But by the time I realised that Naina was, in fact, my life's fourth strike against me, it was too late...

They say 'Be careful of what you choose to desire, lest the desire comes true'. I desired Naina to say 'Yes' when I popped the question on the first day of the vacation post 11th (or FYJC), and she did. Of course, in hindsight, I feel it would have been much better if she had said 'No' straight away. We were together for a total of six months, and guess what? She two-timed me all the time... ALL the damn time! She had already been in a 'relationship' even as she said 'Yes' to me. Why do girls do that? Not that I'm terribly interested in knowing... One of the things IQ scores don't reflect is how good or poor the person is at judging other people...

This affected my HSC results as badly as my SSC ones... probably worse. In the end, I had to settle for an admission in this hole-in-the-wall college that would grant an FYBCom admission to a 49% scorer. (Not even the new crappy percentile system helped...)

And there, life played its final hand. I say 'final' because I have no real inclination towards letting it screw around with me even further. The very day I set foot first in the college premises, a group — in fact, a gang — of 6 - 8 seniors put me through intense humiliation. I cannot even get aroung to write what they did, but I can tell you that it was a milder version of the atrocity depicted in The Kite Runner.

I still attempted to contact the authorities, without much hope, and learned two things. One was the shocking truth that the leader of the gang was none other than the principal's son himself. And the other was the supposed reason — or you might say provocation — for the attack: something to do with me being a North Indian.

I won the first battle in life — if fact, against life, of getting a headstart over my competition due to natural ability. But then life struck back with a vengeance, and now the seven-match series stands finished at 1-6. Today, I'll end it on my own terms. Goodbye World!

Yours Unluckily.


03 May, 2009

No Honking Day

"In other reports, today is being observed as 'No Honking Day' in Mumbai. This initiative to reduce the dangerously rising noise levels of the city has been taken up by the students of the reputed Mithibai College. The organizers of the day have left no stones unturned in their efforts to ensure its success, and have enlisted police support too. Which means, anybody caught honking will be fined anywhere between Rs. 50 and 500. This just goes to show how much the youth care for the people around them and for the environ—"

"Utter Bullshit." Mr. Verma switched off the TV and returned to his Toast-Bread breakfast. "Cars have horns for a reason, damn it! How else are we drivers supposed to alert the rowdy motorcyclists or the blind pedestrians that a car is coming and you need to save your arse from its front grill! But you so-called 'environment-conscious' people, you'll never understand..."

"Dad, if you drive well, you should face no need for horns."

"Have you ever, ever seen the Mumbai traffic? Ever negotiated a car around it? No, right? And still you bloody go ahead with your initiative that fines people for using horns!"

"I repeat, if you drive well, you won't need any horns... If." Before her father could open his mouth to retort, she plowed on, "And why is it that you elders don't care two hoots about the environment? It is always we youngsters who are taught of the depleting Ozone layer, the noise threshold of the human ear... Do you even know how much it is?" Without waiting for an answer, she continued, "About 85 decibels. And well, okay, we are taking the major steps. But can't we even expect your support? Just remember one thing: Whatever you people do, you will escape. It will be my generation that will have to suffer the consequences... Is that why you take the environment for granted? Forget it, why am I wasting my breath..." So saying, she — unnecessarily — raised her voice a bit further to say, "Mom, I'm leaving, Goodbye! I may be a bit late today, don't you worry about me." With that, she picked up her bag and stormed out of the house.

Mrs. Verma appeared from within the inner recesses of the house and said, "You know how she is..." But Mr. Verma wasn't listening.

"Hey, dude! Why feeling so low? What's up, man?"

Mr. Verma was in the Axis Bank office where he worked as head cashier. However, that day, he wasn't feeling up to the job of supervising all the note-counting going on aroung him. Two hours into his job for the day, his colleague Rajeev spoke the above words.

"Nothing, Raj..."
"Sunaina again?"
"I used the horn," Verma said, appearing in a daze.
"Yes, it's Sunaina again indeed... Oh come on, we do need horns!"
"You don't understand... If we continue this way, it will be Sunaina's generation that will have to face the consequences..."
"You aren't in your mind today... Let's go to Sashi's after work, okay?"

Later in the day, Mr. Verma sat in his car to drive home after a day that had passed in a daze. His boss had reprimanded him — the third time in a month — for negligence. After that, he and Raj had gone to Sashi's Beer Bar where they — at least Verma himself — had drank very mildly. In spite of that, when he entered his Indica to drive back home, his watch showed 11:45.

He was driving steadily along the deserted highway when he saw a young boy take off across the road to cross it. He seemed to be extremely poor, with a dishevelled appearance, aged about 20 — Mr. Verma remembered with a pang — around the same as Sunaina. Mr. Verma's hand moved reflexively towards the center of the steering wheel, but then, voices began to ring in his head...

We are taking the major steps. But can't we even expect your support?
You will escape. It will be my generation that will have to suffer the consequences...
Why is it that you elders don't care two hoots about the environment?

The dashboard clock on the Indica said 12:10, but Verma had no eyes for it... nor for anything else. His daze ended only when he heard a sickening thump. That thump changed his life.

"Looks like the boy was innocently crossing the road, and the car just came and crashed into him," a Police officer was saying to another. "What did his Breathalyser say?"
"He did have alcohol, but it was slightly below the permissible limit," the second officer replied.
"Oh, I see..."
"What now?"
"You said it was slightly below, right? Okay... Double the figures and slap a drunk driving charge on his face... This might finally mean our long-overdue promotions are on their way!"
"Once that happens, we'll celebrate! Sashi's the place! What say?"