Friday, December 07, 2007


Disclaimer: I don't know why I wrote this. Putting it up as a failed experiment. May perhaps do better with it sometime in the future

“‘Hey, there! Many happy returns of the day!”
“I said many happy returns of the day”
“Wht? Its not my bday today”
“I didn’t say so either!”
“Why is it necessary for it to be someone’s bday to wish her happy returns?”
“lol! This is a cheap way of starting a conv.”
“It is? At least, it has started the conversation. Simple Hi, there pings are rarely replied to these days”
“hehe! Wht to do? I get so many pings the moment I enter any chat room”
“I know. That’s why I try 2 b different!”
“So, what kind of an id is snowwhite_sweet16?”
“Its my chat id.”
“Yes, that much I gathered. That’s not your real name, I suppose”
“hehe, no!”
“What is it then?”
“My bf has asked me to not disclose my name on the internet”
“Ah. Can’t imagine how sharing ur name can do any harm”
“Well. superstud_ritz is not very informative either, Is it?”
“Haha, but I m a superstud!”
“really? hey listen, I gotta go now! Nice talking to u”
“Sure, bbye. Hey, by the way, are u online around this time often?”
“Yes. Mostly”
“Excellent. I am adding u to my friend list then. Will catch up with u soon!”
“K, bye”
“Yeah, bye. Cya later”

“Hi! We meet again!”
“Hey, hi! Whts up with u?”
“I m fine. How abt u ?”
“m really busy 2day. Lots of assignments to do”
“Ah. Wht assignments?”
“College term work. Gotta submit by tomm”
“I see. Where u studying?”
“San Jose univ. Doing my ms”
“hmm. I am in Mumbai. Work in a software firm here”
“Hey listen, I really gotta go. Work 2 do”
“Sure, bye. Cya later”

“Morning! We meet after a while!”
“Gud morning! How’s u?”
“fine. So, done with the assignments?”
“silly things, these assignments. I used to hate them when I was in college”
“u still haven’t told me ur name”
“I haven’t? tell me urs first. U haven’t told urs either”
“Oh! I am Ritesh. Now c’mon, tell me urs”
“Excellent. I had a friend in college by the same name. The name of the girl that is, not the college”
“lol. Common name, it is.”
“Yeah, pretty common. Don’t think u r in any danger of being traced online with a name like that. Must be millions of Poojas around”
“So, watched any movies lately?”
“No yaar, didn’t have time at all”
“Hmm. I managed to watch OSO yesterday. First day first show!”
“you did? How is it? I really want to watch that one!”
“pretty entertaining. If you keep ur brains away for a while”
“I’ll definitely watch it then. I love masala movies. And shahrukh”
“Oh dear! Another female shahrukh fan!”
“Why? Don’t u like him?”“I hate him”“Huh?”
“I think he is gay”
“Shut up!”
“No, seriously! I just can’t stand him”
“Why? What’s wrong with him?”
“I said I think he’s gay. I stick to it…hey listen, b’fast time now. I’ll catch up with u later”

“Hi! Sorry about the sudden exit yesterday.”
“that’s ok”
“I and my roommates have this ritual of having b’fast together on weekends. They were ready to go and screaming at me!”
“Hehe. Do u always get up this early in the morning?”
“Yeah, generally”
“Why? To chat with u of course!”
“Wht do u think?”
“I think its very nice of u”
“Of course it is. I m a nice guy!”
“that u r”
“so, how’s college?”
“we hv a break at the moment”
“Oh gr8! Lots of free time now, I guess”
“Yes, am busy shopping with my friends”
“And ur bf, I suppose”
“Who? Oh! No, I broke up with him a couple of weeks ago”
“Oh…wht happened. If u don’t mind me asking”
“its ok. I don’t know what happened. It’s a long story really”
“hmm. U can share it if u want. I got time :-)”
“I don’t feel like talking abt it yaar. Plz”
“no probs yaar, some other time then”
“u tell me, don’t u hv a gf?”
“no, not at the moment. Haven’t had one for sometime now”
“I m sure u’ll get one really soon”
“lets see. Point is, I m not sure I want a gf for now”
“why not?”“no reason, just don’t feel like being in a relationship. Feeling good alone”
“yeah, I know. I 2 get tht feeling sometimes…but it’ll pass”
“I hope it does!”
“I m sure it’ll”
“amen. So, wht else…wht u upto these days, other than shopping”
“nothing at all…just shopping!”
“oh yes, I forgot. U r a girl!”
“lol! Yes, girls can shop for entire days”
“and not buy anything”
“lol! Yes, that 2!”
“so, what have u been shopping for?”

“Hey, hi! What happened the other day, you just went offline”
“Hey there! Yeah, just got disconnect. Couldn’t connect back”
“Hmm. Anyways, how’s life? Still shopping?”
“hehe, no. College’s reopened”
“That’s bad. Gotta start studying all over again!”
“No, its not that bad actually. Was getting bored. Better to have classes”
“Yaar, tell me one thing. Do u know if .mpeg files can be converted into .mp4. I want to carry some vids on my cellphone”
“wait, I’ll check”
“yup, here goes. Am mailing u the installer. It should work fine”
“thanks a lot”
“my pleasure yaar…anything for a good friend, dear!”
“Oh, btw. I saw OSO the other day!”
“And how did u find it?”
“It was gr8! Am going to watch it again this weekend”
“wonderful, it is a pretty good movie, as I said”
“u say, how’s ur job?”
“its ok. Am trying 2 change jobs. Need to move on.”
“Why? Is this one not gud?”
“No, it’s a gud job. But, u know how it is, can’t be stuck with the same job for 2 long”
“well, I m sure u’ll get another job pretty soon!”
“Oh, I already have a few offers”
“oh, my boss isn’t allowing me 2 leave. Says he needs me. They’re offering me a higher pay”
“oho! U r in demand then!”
“haha, yeah. U know, I hv this team of 3 boys under me. They’ve just joined, I need to teach them how 2 talk and stuff”
“Talk? U were in a software company right?”
“Then, what talk?”
“Oh, I m in the customer care division. Didn’t like it in the coding division”
“Call center, u mean?”
“Not exactly, but something like that”
“Hey listen, I’ll be off now. Feeling really sleepy. Its 2 am here”
“Yeah ok. Gnite”
“how’s life, not been online for some days now?”
“yes, was a li’l busy”
“Hmm, college?”
“college’s good”
“hey tell me if u r busy, we’ll talk later”
“yeah, kind of…”
“ok then, later”

“good evening dear!”
“good morning ritesh! How’s u?”
“I m fine. Hey, sent u a mail the other day. U received it?”
“ur pic? Yes, seen it”
“oh gr8!”
“its nice”
“what? The pic or me?”
“lol! Both”
“where did u take the pic?”
“front of my flat. One of my roommates took it”
“why don’t u send me one of urs 2”
“well…I don’t think I have any good pics”
“that’s ok. U can send whatever u have”
“Ok. I’ll check if I have any and mail it”
“Sure, so then…how’s everything? Found a new bf yet?”
“Naah. Still waiting”
“same here”
“found a decent pic. Am mailing to u”
“gr8. I’ll check it”
“yeah, received it. It’s a nice pic. Who’s that in the pic with u? ur mom?”
“thanks. Yes, its mom, she was visiting me here from india a few months ago”
“and dad?”
“dad died when I was 9”
“oh, I m sorry”
“its ok”
“so, ur mom stays alone in india?”
“yes. She’s not getting a visa permit 2 b here”
“hmm, then u’ll come back after ur ms?”
“I don’t want 2. I want to stay here and get a green card. Then my mom can come here 2”
“hmm, but u know, old people don’t like it in the US so much…they get really bored after some time”
“I know, but its so much better here…I m sure she’ll be able to adjust”
“that it is. I m trying to get a US visa myself. But difficult to get work permits. Student visa is easier. I m thinking of appearing for gre or something”
“yes, try for gre. If u get a good score, u can get a visa pretty easily”
“yeah. Chal yaar, I m off now. Gotta do some shopping”
“Gr8. Buy something for me 2!”
“sure I will. But there’s a small problem”
“I don’t know ur size :-)”
“bbye, cya later”

“Hi there”
“hello! This is the first time u started the chat! I m pleased!”
“is it? I m sorry I didn’t do it sooner”
“thts ok”“so tell me, how’s ur job n all”
“job is good”
“u managed to find another place 2 work?”
“no yaar, my company doesn’t want 2 let me go”
“if u want 2 go, how can they stop u?”
“of course if I resign, then can’t stop me. But they keep telling me not to”
“but if u don’t like the job, why bother?”
“they r promising a better salary”
“I see”
“plus I m appearing for gre next sunday. If I get a good score, I can be in US by November”
“gr8. Good luck with ur gre”
“so, what else”
“not much, oh, I bought myself a webcam yesterday”
“do u have one?”
“yes I do”
“wonderful. How about using it? I’ll test mine 2!”
“I don’t have the software installed for it”
“damn, do it na”
“hehe, u r very persistent! I’ll do it today”
“yeah, then we can use it next time we meet”
“yes, we can”

“hi pooja!”
“hi ritesh!”
“how’s life…hey u got that webcam installed?”
“no yaar…was too busy yesterday”
“ok… u free now?”
“yes, more or less”
“then install it now dear”
“I’ll have to get the software from somebody. Will get it done tomm, 100%”
“how’s ur preparation for gre going on?”

“hey pooja, we meet again!”
“how’s college?”
“college’s good. No classes for the next 2 days!”
“gr8! Any plans”
“not yet. May visit my aunt in San Diego for a day”
“hmm…hey, what’s news of ur webcam?”
“oh yes, I managed to get it installed”
“but there seems to be some problem with it…It shows very dark images”
“maybe some problem with the resolution”
“we tried all that, doesn’t work”
“hmm, that’s ok”
“u really r keen on this webcam thing”
“yes, that is the final aim, isn’t it?”
“nothing, was just joking”
“chal then, take care, I’ll catch u later”

“hey ritesh, online after a long time? Where have u been?”

“hey! Sorry I wasn’t online when u pinged. And now u don’t seem to be online. I m fine…how about u?”

“hi, found u online this time!”
“hi! Received ur offline the other day. Forgot 2 reply :-(”
“no probs dear, its ok”
“so how’s life?”
“life’s ok”
“u had ur gre exams right? How did it go?”
“not very well. There was some problem with the comp I was on…kept getting stuck”
“oh bad luck. Didn’t u ask them to shift u to another comp?”
“I did. But then didn’t allow me to”
“that’s bad”
“It is”
“don’t worry yaar, I m sure u’ll do well next time”

“hello!”“hi, long time no see?”“yeah, was kind of busy with my job”“hmm, so how’s life?”“cool, enjoying myself”“great”

“hi, how’s life in the US?”

“hi, u there?”

“hi! Hey sorry ritesh, couldn’t reply to u the other day…was not on my comp”
“yeah, I figured”
“so, how’s life”“good, how abt u?”
“I m fine 2”

“what’s up ritesh? Not seen u around for a long time now, everything ok?”

“saw ur offline just now. Haven’t been logging on for the last week. Everything’s fine”

“good morning pooja, u there?”

“hey, u there?”

“what’s up?”

“hi there! Many many happy returns of the day!”

Monday, October 29, 2007


I first met Avinash on 28th June 2003, on my first day in the country’s premier B School, where I found myself much to the shock of all those who knew me with any reasonable degree of intimacy. It took us all of two minutes to realize that we couldn’t stand each other.

“Hey, there! What’s up? I am Kunal. You first year too, I presume”
“Hi. Avinash. Yes, first year. Where you from?”
The introductory conversation is broken by the sight of a female, of not inconsiderable physical presence, a few dozen meters from us.
“Ah” Avinash mumbles, which I gather to be an attempt at suggestive non verbal communication (picked up the term later in one of the multitudes of irrelevant hours spent in class).
“Must have a boyfriend of particularly voracious inclinations” I observe and look at him with high hopes of reciprocation of the smirk that has so effortlessly appeared on my countenance.
“Oh, nothing. Pretty face though…”
In the immediately succeeding minutes, Avinash demonstrated, for the first time, his skill at engaging the attention of and subsequently engaging in conversation with the fairer sex.

“Hey! I am Avinash. You? Nice campus, no?”
“Pooja. Yeah, great place. I am going to love it…”
He turns to me.
“Hey, alright Kunal. Will catch ya some other time.”

For the rest of the two years on campus, we had studiously avoided each other.
Not that we had had much in common to encourage contact.
He loved politics. All I cared for was sports. He read the Economic Times and the Business Week. I read Filmfare. He watched CNBC on TV. I watched porn on my laptop. During his spare time, he was often found on companionable walks, on the campus's many picteresque paths, with some female or the other. I masturbated.
Fate did try to play spoilsport once when we were assigned to the same group project. But a series of intelligently and energetically pursued maneuvers had helped keep the direly requisite interaction limited to curt gtalk exchanges.
Unfortunately though, fate wasn’t finished yet. At the end of two years, it placed us in the same office.
We met each other, soon after the news was made known to us, and shook hands.

“Looks like we are gonna see a lot more of each other in the future.” Avinash prophesizes.
“Yeah. Unless one of us loses his eyesight”
“Nothing. See ya in office”
“So long.”

The first week in office had not been so bad. The two of us, along with another dozen new joinees from various institutes in the country, were subjected to one of the worst endurance tests that corporate life can conjure – the induction program. For some strange reason, every employee in the organization above the designation of ‘Sr. Janitor’ addresses the incumbents and advises them on the road ahead. On most occasions, this is the only time the incumbents ever get to see these propagators of wisdom.
For the first couple of days, most of us pretended to listen to them. By the fourth day, most were either reading popcorn fiction or sleeping. By the time it ended, we were all sleeping.

The problem had started on the first day of regular work.
My boss came up to me with a wide smile on his face (in those days, he was still unaware of the extent of my incompetence), shook hands and said
“Hi Kunal, welcome to work!”
“Hi Preet! Yeah, really looking forward to it. In fact looking past it to some booze in the evening!”
The last bit, an effort at breaking the ice. I was always one for friendly, informal workplaces. Preet’s unchanged expression lets me know that the ice just froze thicker.
“Yes, whatever. Listen Kunal, I already got you assigned to a project. You gotta blah blah blah …you will be working with Avinash on this. You guys from the same institute, so I figured you will be more comfortable working together. Do well! We are really banking on you guys on this!”
“Of course”

I was still struggling to come to terms with the far reaching implications of this announcement, when I had found myself standing next to him in the office urinal.

“Hey Avinash! Heard we’ve been assigned to the same project”
“Yeah, I heard that too”
“Well, should be fun!”
“Should be”

The next day, we had occupied ourselves with various forms of inanity for as long as we could. Finally, around four in the afternoon, after I had just returned to my seat from my third trip to the canteen and Avinash had, ostensibly, finished chatting to the last of the non-males in office, and finding no further recourse to defendable forms of wasting time, he had found his way to my cubicle. The mandatory pleasantries exchanged, we set about discussing future courses of action.

“I think Sulekha (the washing powder brand we were supposed to build marketing strategies for) has got the potential to be chartbuster!” he tells me
“With a name like that, it stands of better chance of being thought of as an oral contraceptive pill”
“Kunal, I don’t appreciate humor during work. Especially the despicable form you indulge in.”
This is the first time the hatred has been expressed aloud.
“I wasn’t aware your powers of appreciation are dependent for expression upon the existence of suitable circumstances.”
We get down to discussing details. I find most of his ideas silly and unpractical, excepting one or two which could be worked upon for them to attain some semblance of feasibility. We work upon them.

Preet had loved our plan, the very first time we had discussed it with him. After a couple of slight modifications (which Avinash had handled quite well, I must confess), it had been okayed.
We came out of the cabin, deservedly elated.

“Good job mate!” I slap him on the back
“Yeah, very good indeed! Hey listen Kunal, how about a couple of shots at the bar round the corner after office today? On me.”
“Err. Yes, of course. Will be there!”

That evening, he turns up at the bar with a girl called Neha. It pisses me off no end. But I reign in my urge to comment.
The first couple of shots, we discuss various odds and ends. The girl turns out to be quite decent actually, not as dumb as one generally finds them. But that doesn’t make me feel any better.
A few more shots down, I start talking.
“You know Avinash, this idea of yours was a load of shit. You know it don’t you?”
He looks up from his glass
“It got us through”
“Yeah, it did. But that’s because I made them workable, you know. Otherwise, they were zilch. Absolutely.”
He starts to say something but then stops himself. The silence hangs for a while. Then he starts again.
“I suppose you are right Kunal. Your inputs were crucial. We couldn’t have made it without you”
For the first time in my life, I find myself feeling grateful to the guy for what he’s just said. It makes me feel better. And slightly ashamed.
We talk for a while longer. Neha seems a sport. She even gives me her number and makes me promise I’d call her back.
Of course, I don’t.

The next few weeks had been largely uneventful. I had made some new friends. He had made some of his own. Life had borne an exciting look.
At the time, both of us had probably expected our forced time together to have ended. The plan had been approved and there did not seem any further need for us to work together on it. We had been wrong.
A few weeks later, we had been informed of our joint tour to Karnataka for the first rollout of the strategy we had formulated.
The evening at the bar notwithstanding, we were still happier away from each other than otherwise.

We found ourselves in Bangalore the week after. For one whole week.
For the first part of the week, we followed a simple plan. We worked together the whole day, the excitement and responsibility of our first assignment keeping us united. In the evenings, we parted ways, did whatever each of us wanted to, and returned to our hotel late at night. By that time, the earlier arriver was already asleep.
On the fourth day, he asked me if I’d care to join him for a movie. I hadn’t planned anything specific myself and found myself responding in the affirmative.
I met him, at the pre-decided hour, outside the multiplex. He had a girl with him again.
The movie turned out to be a complete bore, which for some inexplicable reason whetted our appetite, and after it had ended, we proceeded to have a sumptuous dinner at a nearby restaurant. Thankfully, the girl left (a ridiculously talkative creature and a complete piece of ass, one way and the other) early and allowed scope for some much needed silence.
The remainder of the week, we again went back to parting ways. All in all, it went off quite well, including the work.
Our efforts were widely appreciated (a fact that became the cause of some regret to us when we realized it must lead to future projects together).
Over the next year, we worked on another couple of assignments. We went to the bar a few times; on each of those occasions, he had a girl, whom I had not met previously, with him. And we made a bit of a name for ourselves in office.

In time, we had our increments. The good work we’d done was rewarded graciously.

In the evening, Avinash comes up to me again.
“Hey, congrats Kunal! Fatter paycheck now on!”
“Yeah! Its got to keep up with my own self, you know!”
“Oh, nothing. By the way, congratulations to you too!”
“Thanks dude! Tell you what, how about a couple of shots?”
“Excellent, same place at nine then”
“Yup. Hey Avinash, please don’t get one of your females along. You know how I detest them” I say it as lightly as I possibly can, then look at him to gauge how he’d taken it.
He thinks for a second and then replies
“You got it boss! But hey, at least we’ll raise a toast to them, yes?”We share a good laugh.

Its tonight. I am sitting with Avinash at the bar, raising a toast to his girls.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Short Story - Tough luck

All set. The planning, the preparation – all set. Not long to wait now. Half an hour at the outside.

Arijit leafed carefully leafed through a mental checklist; one more time. It was his only chance. He couldn’t afford to blow it.

The two men entered the broker’s cabin together, the beams of their torches shining brightly and blankly on the opposite wall. They looked around once more, satisfying themselves that they were without company, and set to work.

Two of Arijit’s men had, unobtrusively, boarded the 21:40 flight at Mumbai along with Krishnan. Krishnan was unaware of their existence, of course. It would take forty minutes for them to reach Ahmedabad.

A Maruti Alto (ridiculously fancy cars like those shown in the movies are seldom ever actually used by those whose chief sources of income lie beyond taxability), stood waiting outside the Ahmedabad airport, with another Arijit accomplice at the wheel. It was the car Krishnan expected to be waiting for him. That morning, the real driver (a silly character of 40 something – of little consequence to Arijit and lesser consequence to Krishnan) had been coerced to surrender his cell phone and other instruments that aided establishment of personal contact & identity, paid off handsomely and allowed to walk away. Later in the day, he had been unfortunately run over by a speeding truck.

The second automobile, a Scorpio, stood right next to it. It is human instinct to watch out for safe distances; the utterly proximal is the best concealed. The Scorpio was unoccupied. It did, however, contain two perfectly silent specimens of 9MMs.

Two more men waited at the Exit – armed and holding placards with arbitrary names on them.

Arijit, himself, was stationed twelve miles away, on a hastily constructed and rarely used brick road just off a lonely stretch of the highway connecting Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. He had walked some three miles to the spot from where the state transport bus had dropped him off. A car would have been too conspicuous.

It took less than ninety seconds to unlock the password that restricted access to the mainframe. Another thirty to find what they wanted.
‘My God! Thirty billion dollars! He must have swindled half the world’s population to bankruptcy!’
‘Poor fellow, all this effort to get blackmailed out of the money anyway!’
The data took forty five seconds to copy onto the CD.

The plan was simple. The two men on the flight would emerge through the exit right behind Krishnan, thus identifying their target to the two placard wielders and then move off in a different direction to quell any lingering suspicion. Krishnan was not expected to carry any arms on his person (too risky in an airport these days). The placard wielders would wait for Krishnan to locate the Alto and get into it. They would then approach the car from the sides and force their way into it, thus effectively boxing Krishnan inside. The car would then drive away from the airport and to where Arijit waited.
In the meanwhile, the other two (the ones on the flight) would make a detour of the area and lookout for signs of unexpected aid for Krishan. That established, they would follow the Alto in the Scorpio, again, keeping a lookout for unwarranted encounters.

Arijit had long looked forward to this encounter with Krishnan. A few pleasantries – a few more questions – the CD – and then a few shots from the 9MM.

The two carefully cleaned the room of traces that could lead back to them. In twenty minutes, they were ready to go. One of them relocked the door to the cabin. Once done, he turned to the other and exclaimed,
‘We are rich, Krishnan! Filthy rich!’
He never saw the steel rod which thudded into the back of his skull.
‘No, I am.’

Krishnan looked out through the porthole as the aircraft gathered speed on the runway and lifted off into the night sky. The experience had never ceased to exhilarate him.

The stewardess handed him a lozenge which he promptly popped into his mouth. Presently, the seatbelt sign turned off and he got up to, presumably, take a leak. He spotted the two men, trying their best to not throw sidelong glances at him, seated three rows behind and across him. Having spent a couple of minutes inside the loo, he returned to his seat and did not budge for the remainder of the flight time.

Eleven days later, Arijit was sentenced to three years of prison for an attempted robbery at Bullstock brokers. It was said that the watchman had seen him enter the office and brought him down.
At the end of three years, Krishnan was richer by nine billion dollars and counting.

That had been two years ago.

Krishnan had received his first tip-off three days earlier. An anonymous caller, who wished to remain that way, had informed him of the impending danger, promising further details on payment of a certain sum. The payment had been made and further details duly received.
The anonymous caller had been identified without any significant effort. It was found that the man could be put to further use; after much threatening and negotiating, he found himself on the Mumbai – Ahmedabad flight, three rows back and across Krishnan, sitting next to a man who thought him to be an accomplice and whom he would have to kill soon after they’d landed.
Five of Krishnan’s men lay in wait outside the Ahmedabad airport.

Krishnan had debated whether he should carry the CD on him; never yet had he let the thing out of sight. He knew the perils of carrying it on this occasion, but had eventually decided to carry it anyway. He was confident of his arrangements and mistrustful of any form of safekeeping other than his own person.
He checked his watch. Fifteen more minutes to land. He picked up a magazine and proceeded to flip through it. A little over two hundred miles away, Arijit lit his sixth cigarette.
All was set. Tonight, it would end.

By the time the control tower spotted the two bleeps on their radar closing in dangerously on each other, it was already too late. Two flights, one from Mumbai and the other towards it, crashed into each other, 213 kilometers from Ahmedabad and 6000 meters above mean sea level. A scheduling error with disastrous consequences, that was all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Legend

The bell tolled. The Legend stepped into the boxing ring one last time. To a standing ovation.

That this day was to come, sooner rather than later, was something the world had known for a while. It had seen, the once invincible, become progressively human. The victories had become increasingly interspersed with tired defeats. Of late, even the victories, once walks in the park, owed their being to a curious mix of resilience and desperation. Power had had to be replaced by valor; reflexes replaced by resolve.
The world had almost willed this day to come.

The Legend, too, had seen the day coming. He had felt the body groan every time he fought. A little louder, each time. He knew he couldn’t go on much longer. But he couldn’t let go either. Not in some inconsequential little bout with precious few to watch him go. His vanity wouldn’t allow it. His rise had been colossal; he would settle for no less an exit. And so through the pain and the humiliation, he had fought on.

Through the misery, there was one thing that had not been taken away. Yet. The World Heavyweight title. The Legend had earned it seventeen years ago. He had never relinquished it since.

For his final bout, seventeen years were on the line.

When the proposition of the title bout against a promising young boxer had first been presented to him, the Legend had seen his opportunity. He could not expect a grander stage to sign off. He had agreed.

That had been almost a year ago.

News of his impending last performance had grabbed all the attention he had wished it to. Every mass-transmittable form of media had latched onto the event and proceeded to submerge the general populace with any and every bit of information that had ever been made available on the Legend’s life. With all the attention, had come the pressure.

Not that the Legend had not seen pressure before. Over the years, he had learnt to ignore it sufficiently to not weigh him down. But this time, he had felt it creep into his head with a strange paranoiac power.

I must not lose. I cannot lose.

The pressure had gradually turned to fear.

I am going to lose! God, I am going to lose! But I can’t! I can’t!

The fear of failure, of the ultimate humiliation on a stage he had himself chosen so foolishly, had been too much for him to handle.

I cannot win! I must not lose!

He knew the way out. It was the only one his vanity could allow him to take.

The performance enhancement drug had restored the wavering self-belief quite effectively.

The bout was played out to an audience that remained on its feet throughout. The Legend’s name never once stopped reverberating throughout the stadium. It was a loyal world celebrating its super hero’s last act.

The bout lasted nine rounds. The young challenger was emphatically knocked out. The Legend had delivered a near flawless performance.

The teary-eyed audience cheered as the referee raised the Legend’s arm. The young challenger, sufficiently recovered from the beating he had received, came up and shook hands with the Legend. The audience cheered again.

The Legend looked around, lowered his head and raised his arms in acknowledgement.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Hero

The Hero was back.

Earlier, while the Sidekick, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, kept the Villain and his henchmen (with several other pistols of varying shapes and sizes) at bay, the Hero had rescued, valiantly, the Heroine from inside the old, dilapidated fortress (built in the early 1500s), where she had been help captive by the Villain. He had then carried her single-handedly to one of the Villain’s henchmen’s motorbikes and proceeded, in hair-raising style, to drive her unscathed through the haphazard gunfire and off to safety.

He had driven her straight to her apartment (6 miles from the Villain’s den) and commanded her to take care of herself. As he prepared to return, their eyes had met.

Two clear teardrops had formed at the brim of the Heroine’s eyes, threatening to spill over any instant. He had found his own eyes prickling with the pent-up emotions he had kept bottled inside through years of heroism. On an impulse, he had disembarked from the bike and embraced her. Thus, they had remained until an inconsiderate truck driver had honked and bellowed (simultaneously) at them, for the Hero had parked the bike right in the middle of the road.

Joy is never meant for heroes. Duty beckons, sooner or later.

“I must go back for the Sidekick. Goodbye love.” he had said.

And now he was back.

In the meanwhile, the Sidekick, having expended his entire stock of bullets and mortally injuring about half a dozen, had finally been captured and subdued.

Before any of the Villain’s clan could realize what had befallen them, the Hero had already accounted for the three men who stood guarding the trussed up Sidekick. The next two received bullets through the heart before they had had time to reach for their weapons. By the time the rest were sufficiently armed and prepared, the Hero had slipped behind one of the many broken walls that dotted the terrain.

For some time after, everything was a blur. Observers would later report that when the gunfire had eventually halted momentarily and the smoke had thinned, they could see bodies of the henchmen strewn everywhere. The Sidekick had been freed and, along with the Hero, was hiding (this would be confirmed later) behind a stack of cement sacks, ostensibly brought there to renovate the fortress.

“Damn! I don’t have any bullets left!” the Hero whispered, between breaths.

“I have only three”, the Sidekick reported.

“What do we do now? How many of them left, you think?”

“At least a dozen. We’ve got to find a way out!”

“Yes, I am aware of that”

They peered around for a possible escape route. There were none in sight.

“We don’t have much time left. They will realize any moment that we have no ammunition left” This from the Sidekick.

They peered around some more.

Finally, the Hero spoke.

“Can you see that truck over there?”

The Sidekick saw.

“That is almost forty yards away. We’ll never make it” he observed.

“It is our only chance. One of us has to go and drive it here”

They looked at each other. The games had ended. The time for martyrdom had come.

“I will go” the Hero, volunteered.

He put his hand on the Sidekick’s shoulders and tilted his head ever so slightly. It was the best he could manage in the absence of a hat and the consequent impossibility of tipping it.

“It has been an honor.” he said.

He reached for his wallet. In it, was a passport size photograph of the Heroine, clicked three years ago for her passport application. He sighed, kissed the photograph and clasped it to his heart. He heard gunfire.

When he looked up, the Sidekick was already halfway to the truck.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The room is 10X10 feet. The roof, high up above, is inconsequential to the point of being invisible. The distance makes awareness of its existence acutely proximal. But inconsequential, nonetheless.

The room is ill-lit and ventilated by a solitary grilled window close to the roof. Unattainable. It holds within itself, the world without. Sometimes, during the night, from a certain point on the floor and at a certain angle, a few stars are visible. The moon, never.

M is stretched out almost immediately underneath where the window is; the darkest corner of the room. The dark gives him shelter. Shelter from the unknown realm of light, in the comfort of the shadows. He has grown used to it.

He watches the shaft of light from the window, gradually broadening, on its descent to the floor. It never touches him. He is afraid it might, one day.

He sees the million writhing particles of dust and organisms in the shaft’s wake, brutally exposed; his only companions. Proofs of life beyond.

He keeps looking at the shaft for hours; notes it shifting with the ageing of the day. And the year.

When the shaft disappears, M rises to his feet and walks around the room; makes sure the light has not reduced his power over his kingdom. When he is exhausted, he stretches out in the middle of the floor, from where the stars can be seen.

There he stays till the strange foggy halo near the window warns him of the approach of the shaft. Then he seeks out the darkest corner again.

It has been thus, for many years.

But today, he does not move. The shaft reappears, traces its customary and unhurried path on the floor and reaches him. His face illuminates.

A door M has never known the existence of, somewhere in the walls, opens. Four pairs of feet shuffle in and carry him out.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The perfect family

Mr. D, the fifty something patriarch and chief bread earner of the family, was a dark, heavily bearded man of medium build. His life, like numerous others born in the early years of India’s independence, had started off in tough, poverty-ridden circumstances and had remained so for the greater part of his first two decades of existence. He had graduated from a small town university in northern India, a feat not often paralleled in those times, and had moved to western India in quest of greener pastures. He had started work with one of the several thousand private industries that had sprung up in India in the early seventies, a move not too well received by the elderly and self proclaimed wisdom capital of the family who were unflinching proponents of the ‘government job’, and had continued in the same job ever since.
The job had been an immensely rewarding one, Mr. D often asserted; that he had not worked anywhere else and therefore had had scarce opportunity for any concrete comparison did not occur to him in the least. In any event, he had risen through the ranks with dogged persistence, along the way improving his family’s finances sufficiently to allow for all but the most exotic luxuries.
The success had not gone to his head. Having hoisted himself thus far in the socioeconomic ladder and consequently finding himself in a position of security, he had taken it upon himself to aid the less fortunate members of his family. His acts of generosity had seen steady incline in frequency and weight, his magnanimity showered upon those who asked, did not and on occasions did not want it.
The hard battle fought with life and its sundries had strengthened his determination to not let his two sons go through the same again. His sons had been educated in institutions he deemed best, had received the best tuition that was on offer, had enjoyed all the luxuries Mr. D could afford. They had never had to put a moment’s thought to their own destinies; so complete was Mr. D’s dedication to their cause and so unshakable their faith in him. Indeed, any course of action but the one ordained by Mr. D had come to be perceived as unthinkable.

Mrs. D was the quintessential housewife. She loved her husband. She adored her sons. She detested but respected her in laws.
She took on the duties of the household with unmatchable vigor and religiousness. She had never once complained during all the hard times that she and Mr. D had had to face when even the most basic of expenses had to be carefully dispensed with. She had borne those times with dignity and compassion, without which Mr. D’s resolve may yet have been broken – a fact she never omitted to mention to almost everyone she met and talked with for any reasonable length of time.
Her faith in her husband’s ability and wisdom were unbreakable. And to be honest, she hardly had the intellectual capacity to comprehend, let alone challenge, either of them. Mr. D loved her for all he and she were worth.
Her relation with her in-laws was not of the highest order, something she frequently cribbed but, in the true spirit of social propriety, never complained about. She was devoted to God.
She knew she ought to be happy and therefore, she was.

Mr. D’s eldest son (We will call him D Jr. 1, or better still, DJ1) was a fair, lanky and inexplicably arrogant lad of twenty something. The most distinguishable feature on his countenance was his tousled hair, the color of which, he frequently changed to suit his changing attitudes, preferences and girlfriends. He had finished college at twenty-three and had soon been employed in an IT company. Times, though, had changed and sticking to a job for a period greater than a year was considered inappropriate and foolhardy. Likewise, he had jumped jobs till his resume had started to resemble a business directory. All his job switches had of course, met with the prior approval of Mr. D. His tastes and expenses, however, continued to far exceed his income; Mr. D dutifully compensated for the balance.
The family was currently casting around for a suitable lady for DJ1, for the boy had reached the appropriate marriageable age.

The younger son, DJ2 was widely regarded as the lesser of the two, intellectually. He, however, possessed none of his sibling’s superciliousness and was equally widely regarded as the more likeable. His academic career had been bleak; Mr. D had had to intervene frequently with monetary and other required aid to further it. DJ2 had somehow plodded his way to a highly questionable graduation from a highly questionable university. To be fair to him, the boy had never really had a bent for academia; his pleasures were derived from his frequent dabbling in outdoor sports, of which he possessed not inconsiderable talent. But sports was not the career Mr. D had had in mind for his sons and DJ2, for his part, was not even aware that such careers were in existence. His dad always chose what was best for him, he knew.
He worked for a software firm, the name of which was not known to those that frequented the office next door. A friend of Mr. D’s ran the firm and had agreed to hire DJ2. He was doing well in his job; Mr. D’s friend had proclaimed that DJ2 had a bright future in the company.

And then, there were Mr. & Mrs. D Sr. Both had long outlived their useful lifetimes and were confined chiefly to adding indirectly to the nation’s prosperity through their meager consumption of edible resources, which, apparently, had a positive effect on the nation’s GDP.
Their movements, even within the houses, had become increasingly restricted, partly due to their deteriorating physical capabilities and partly due to the obvious but never voiced revulsion of their daughter –in-law and grandchildren that met them.
On festive occasions, every member of the family diligently partook the responsibility of touching their feet in exchange for their blessings, which purportedly continued to grow stronger as the strength of the voices that delivered them grew feebler. But then, the show of respect was never undertaken in the hope of getting something in return; any such notion was outrageously blasphemous.
Theirs, was the perfect family.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The Engineer wiped off another trickle of sweat, as it prepared itself for the final plunge at the end of its precipitous journey from behind the left earlobe and through the grizzled, sun burnt cheek, off the cleft in his double chin. The sun beat down on the earth with a vengeance that belied the paternal fondness that had been incessantly attributed to it, since the beginning of documented time. For the umpteenth time that day, he muttered under his breath in richly decorated dialect, his antagonism for the superordinate who had woken him up from his treasured Sunday afternoon siesta and dragged him onsite to oversee the founding of a particularly critical structure in the highrise.

The structure, which would eventually stand parallel with the ground and support upon itself, an intricately textured pattern of multi colored glass, hung at a grotesque angle from the crane that would, in time, set it dutifully upon its rightful place. The Engineer looked at it, gauged the plentiful hours, as yet unconsumed, before the task would be accomplished with a satisfactory measure of impeccability, and let out an audible sigh. Just at that moment, the workwoman came up to him.

He appraised the dark, frail, unkempt thirty-ish woman with a faint feeling of distaste, as she informed him, in a high pitched, disjointed amalgamation of syllables, about the sickness of her seven-year old and the consequent need for an early return home. The Engineer heard her babble with scarcely veiled cynicism, snorted, and summarily dismissed the plea. The workwoman went back to her work, shrieking at the unjust servitude that plagued her and her kind in general.

Furious, but helpless, she picked up an oversized vessel, filled with broken, useless bricks, hauled it onto her head with both hands and set off towards the dumping ground. Her plea, unlike several other occasions, had been truthful, and the rejection of it was taken as another indication of her forsaken existence on the planet. In short, quick steps, stomping her disgust on the ground with every footfall, she covered the few dozen meters that took her to the heap of rejected objects that lay strewn tragically in a vast expanse of wastage. Once there, she carefully lowered the vessel from her head and dumped the contents onto the ground with all the hatred that was pent up inside her

The bricks crashed onto a bunch of budding Petunias, aberrations in the desolation, crushing the life out of them.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The 27th Corner

I had last posted on 23rd January, 2007.

Since then, all efforts at mustering an ensemble of workable syllables, stringing them together into a coherent whole and thus producing an output of any notable implication have been thwarted by a cruel dearth of mentionable ideas and an abundance of slumber.

For the last few days, it has become increasingly apparent that the quest for the next ‘big’ idea would end just round the 27th corner. Consequently, after much deliberation and self introspection, I have forced myself to spew a form of shit that carries a faint fragrance of ornamental English language. Nevertheless, the true calling of this piece shall not escape detection by the discerning reader.

A good friend of mine (his identity shall remain concealed for reasons of self preservation) has been confronted by similar trials since the beginning of the second term. In an effort to keep the fire burning inside, against his better judgment, he chose to submit to and seek refuge in the dreaded ‘Blogger’s Inanity Syndrome’ – a device frequently employed by a considerable chunk of the Blogger Community. Since then, his inability to construct any useful content, barring those for academic purposes, has been scary.

“Why should I write when I have nothing to say?” I asked myself one fine morning, while I sat bleary eyed in the loo. The stress on my brain, thus shifted momentarily elsewhere, I reflected, as I often do in such circumstances, on the matter awhile.

The answer occurred to me presently.

“Because if that is the case, you’d never write”

Inclined as I was to believe otherwise, I had suspected the existence of this truth for many moons. But the abrupt revelation of it, particularly in the claustrophobic confines of my temporary accommodation, unsettled me somewhat.

But then, ego seldom allows room for self realization. And eager to not become the trigger for change in this element of human psyche, I promptly proceeded to reason myself out of the absurdity of my deeper conscious’ plaintive assertion.

I will continue to write. I will continue to architect soulless and repetitive forms of literature and in the process, proudly display the retarded state of my psychological makeup.

In the hope that some day, somewhere, the 27th corner will be reached.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The In-Humankind

Through the un-paned window of my solitary, sunlight starved room, I looked out unto the sublime purity of a nature yet to be adulterated by the tell-tale symptoms of human intervention.
The warmth of the tired afternoon sun had all but melted away into the twilight. The unabashed green of the unmitigated foliage, rhythmically caressed by a gentle winter breeze, mingled surreptitiously with the fading orange shades of the darkening sky to create a surreal world of aging but radiantly intricate textures. The air reverberated with the cacophonic, melodious tweeter of winged life and the occasional tuneless and strangely melancholy sounds of other earth-bound fauna. Magic.
The sound of sudden flutter of wings and sight of movement, out of harmony of the moment, in the undergrowth close to the walls of my room, drew my attention to a pair of doves, indulged in playful foreplay. They chased each other around, making wild, unbridled noises and making complete fools of themselves. Every now and then, when one caught up with the other, they collided with one another, remained momentarily suspended in air, as if transfixed by the impact, and then submitted themselves to a glorious free-falling series of somersaults, before taking off again moments before they hit the ground – the ultimate manifestation of their supremacy over Gravitation. I smiled at the blissful innocence of it all.
And then, the eagle dived.
In one swift, razor sharp motion, it traced an elegant arc in the air as it descended noiselessly on the yet unsuspecting pair. With the clocklike and ruthless precision bred from untiring practice and knowledge of unquestionable superiority over its prey, it swooped down, picked up one of the doves in its unforgiving beak, and disappeared into the dusk. The other dove, flapped frantically for a split second, screeched in mortal fear and traced wildly haphazard contours in space before regaining its sense of direction and heading straight for home. Never once looking back…

Why then do we blame only the humankind?