Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Neighbour

(Excerpt only)

He had been so, so utterly sad for a month now that he could have very easily been made to fall in love. Only in his early twenties, and by most accounts having an enviably bright future ahead of him, his ennui stemmed from what was, in his assessment, the scantiness of suspense. All of his actions – of the day, of the week, the month and so on were etched set on the back of his skull. Rick Bland, the shrewd meets chancy stock-trader by the day, was a mere bland self-traitor by the night. Every night he wondered why he didn’t know what to do with the inflowing money that the day had left him – really, what wretched misery.

It was a Sunday, the hot summer Sunday the most enchanting, the most poetic constituent of which is beyond a glimmer of a doubt the Air Conditioner, and he had been lying in front of it on a bed reading a book of investment mantras that, as the promise went, had all that he needed to know. One could be excused for thinking he was having a good time. Anyhow. Riffling through its pages in a manner of dissatisfied impatience, he suddenly threw the book he didn’t know where, and screamed violently complaining of he didn’t know what. The pressure-cooker, had, burst.

In a matter of seconds though, he had to calm himself up, our mannered lad, our controlled explosion - as soon as was heard approaching the unmistakably dragging stead of old Karen, his neighbour. Into her last days perhaps and alone, she was excusably attracted as much towards the ugly as towards the cheery. It’s much more likely though that she was in fact so enormously repulsed by her own being, that everything else seemed pleasantly inviting by comparison. The scream, vague and short, had spurred her curiosity like she’d spotted a UFO, clear and huge.

She asked him standing at the door ajar if everything was fine, and if she could help him in any way. He, fit, 22, wondered guiltily and she, frail, 74, looked on patiently. As if his paradigms of well-being had been given a wild jolt by this most polite of questions, he clutched the mattress on which he still lay supine even as he said that he was quite all right and was sorry for having disturbed her; his last words trailing off into an abashed, inaudible mumble. He got up thinking desperately of something to talk about with her, to give her company. This was his only atonement, told his conscience; maybe he knew inwardly what ailed a lonely soul in a lavish flat the most. He knew also, after-all, the genesis of his scream, he thought to himself and pouted at the delayed awareness of it. Jump, stand up. Here we go.

After hustling her to the sofa with an amiable, encouraging, requesting face, he rushed at once to the kitchen to make her some tea. She wouldn’t mind some wine, she said with a giggle even as her only surviving frontal upper-jaw tooth hung trembling in a warning to betray her any second. Rick laughed back; ‘Sure, sure’ he said leaning towards the bar.

They gelled readily, and it hadn’t been long before Rick found himself pouring out to her glass the well-kept secrets of his life – his childhood which was spent in a doleful slum outside Upington, that his parents turned up their toes turn by turn when he was still in his teens, how compulsion brought him to Cape Town, and how serendipity made him, a trader’s servant, a trader. He knew a handful of people here outside of his work: the grocery-guy, the pizza-boy, and, and well, that’s that. Sigh. Old Karen gave him a laser stare at this, ‘And me?’, she asked acting somewhat mischievously to have been hurt. ‘What an endearing embarrassment!’ thought Rick, and hugged her at once in true grandsonly fashion.

Days, now, consisted of caring for and being taken care of. Rick brought something new, something special to eat every evening, even though eight out of ten times she, accustomed for years to just porridge and flakes, would be unable to have it. He didn’t mind it, and she? She just loved seeing him lick up his dishes. On weekends, he would take her on a drive to the countryside, where the two of them would watch birds and canals, and occasionally some wild animals, and more rarely still, some spectacular mansions.

“You have weird tastes, I mean, for a 22 year old, don’t you?” she said one day, taking Rick in by surprise.
“Hey, I thought you liked it!” he replied.
“It’s not about me. I’m asking about you.”
“Ha ! I have no taste, I don’t think so. I just like that you like it. That’s all.”
“H’m. You don’t know many girls, do you?” she dropped it.
“Any.” he muttered trying his best to look the other way.

They spent a lot of time fishing that day, and she amazed herself at his enthusiasm after each catch: he would jump and shout like he’d landed on the Moon. ‘He said he liked all of it just because I liked it, that’s all. Was that what he had said?’ she self-talked servicing her rusty, senile memory, when she heard the loud honking of horns: Rick was already prepared to go back, enjoy his catch, on his plate. The drive back home was, ok, it wasn’t exactly awesome with fishstink and karensnore each trying to upstage the other in trying to be Rick’s major headache. And then, we're home; a sparkling new Mercedes parked clumsily already in this cramped, crumbling garage that only this fishloaded MiniCooper was used to getting into.

Rick looked towards Karen, who was still noisily asleep, and considered the possibility of the Mercedes being a surprise present; not that he was desirous of any; not that he would be averse, either. ‘This wasn’t required, but, umm, it’s, wonderful’. In their interactions it had become clear to him that Karen came from a notably affluent family scattered across the globe due to her sons’ professional pursuits. Her husband, of whom he had faint recollections from his first few days here, was a sprightly old man of much local recognition whose funeral had been attended by his patrons in the trading line too. But how is that even remotely a part of the equation, he wondered as he pulled the key out after stopping the car. ‘Would it be proper, Rick, to accept it; wouldn’t it amount to a fee for companionship?’ he froze with a lurking abashment, his arms poised on the steering wheel, the barely resting legs confused in mid-air about their future course of action, and eyes, as if parasitic, swinging alternately between Karen and the mirror with a squeamish restlessness.

‘Aaaaaannchhhi’! You can always count on an old woman to jerk a lost, statue-ed over-thinker into motion, sometimes even when she’s asleep herself. Out they step in a moment into the settling sunlight of a cool evening, and Karen looks at the Merc with an equal curiosity.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I thought maybe I should write a bit. Just because I hadn't for some time, I have this nudge to write something, anything. In fact, once I really get down to it, I realise that what itches me fundamentally is the urge to type rather than the urge to write as such. I really enjoy it when these wayward fingertips stagger coltishly all over the keyboard even as a neat sheet keeps taking orderly shape on the screen in front - exquisite typesetting, perfect calligraphy - as though in stubborn resentment against the huddle that causes it.

Oh, hell, am blank again. It doesn't happen usually; I start blindly, but then I just keep going on with whatever tumbles forth initially. But I can't think of anything right now that I could comfortably and pleasurably write over here. Let's try. Effortlessness is elusive, for now.

I had a great week. The best of the condemned 2009, I should say. Why condemned though? Can I, who began the first blog-post of a potentially very crucial year with a word as auspicious as 'but' be allowed the right to refer to random things as condemned? Maybe not. It was a rebellious streak, a sort of carefree confidence, a rather perverse sort of it actually. Do you register, by the way, these baleful methods at masochism? I hope and wish you don't.

Alright, I have it figured out. I am into my last week of attending college; maybe I should write about that. I'll try to throw some nostalgia in with phrases like 'With mist before and moisture inside my eyes..' or something like that, and who knows I might just have a few pagefuls worth of verbal drove up here to be published. Wait, I think that sounds just too melodramatic to be real. Cancel. I'll be real. Ok, done, that's what I'll be: real.

We, a bunch of lewd-comment-passing, bombshell-ogling, tongue-rolled-out, jaw-dropped cheapsters, are finally going to be kicked out of the college leaving it to the sophisticated custody of higher intellects. Saving our time from being an utter uselessness, we clinched a bumper deal the other day of having a cosy photo-op with a not-that-stunning-after-all girl who we don't know. Yes, who we don't even know, that's right. Alright, 'who doesn't know us' - for sake of being real, for precision. But dammit, no more being 'that' real.

Yesterday, I attended a class at college. It was after a good six months, and I say that without any hyperbole whatsoever. The teacher wanted us to be a little sentimental about leaving college, and about leaving him. I may manage the former. The teachers at my college, largely, were a tickling needle. Before I landed here I was told that they were all technological authorities, true men of reputation. Four years later I grudgingly accept the latter. They were, indeed, men of reputation. They had a reputation for doing badly everything that was worth doing well. Well, the class was spent grinning sheepishly mostly and roaring raucously sometimes at a dozen PJs that encompassed, by some mysterious force of mother nature, our entire syllabi. The hour ended with the teacher cracking another one-liner that blew our lungs away: 'Don't mind it Gulati jee, it was all in Good humour' he told Nayan Goel, even as Gulati kept looking on in confusion.

I'll continue some other time. It's getting very painfully demanding, this writing bit. I've been very nervous writing anything lately after some of it's been found really fucktarded by some astute, elite prodigies of prose styling. I am trying.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The 100 Truths Tag

Here’s the tag, Princess

1. Last drink: Yes, this one’s the last, I promise.
2. Last phone call : 0 minutes 6 seconds.
3. Last text message: Oomph Friendship Club.
4. Last song you listened to: Maa Muraadein Poori Kar de Halwa Baatungi.
5. Last time you cried: It was the Ice Age then, they say.

Have You Ever...
6. Dated someone twice: Yeah, the judge on my hit-and-run case. A third date beckons in a few days.
7. Been cheated on? Yeah, while I was cheating too, so, as they say, chalta hai.
8. Kissed someone & regretted it? Ram Gopal Varma. Sab ganda hai par dhanda hai ye.
9. Lost someone special? My mind.
10. Been depressed? Yeah, refer to answer 8.
11. Been drunk and threw up? Twice a day.

Four Favourite Colors...

12. Fluoroscent
13. Magenta
14. Sharper Magenta
15. Sharpest Magenta


16. Made new friends: soon after taking birth.
17. Fallen out of love: with a thud.
18. Laughed until you cried: Beyond that. Laughed as I cried.
19. Met someone who changed you: Rakhi Sawant.
20. Found out who your true friends were: Recently.
21. Found out someone was talking about you: Some Jennifer, I hear. Lopez or Aniston, not very sure. Doesn’t matter, too old either way.
Have You...
22. Kissed anyone on your friend's list: Which one ? There are so many of these lists.
23. How many people on your friends list do you know in real life: All, well almost.
24. How many kids do you want to have: 378: my lucky number, I am told.
25. Do you have any pets: I have fish.
26. Do you want to change your name: Not really, I’ll have to get a new set of business cards printed, I just got them made in gold.
27. What did you do for your last birthday: I awaited, wondered, ate, talked, laughed, shrugged, travelled, slept.
28. What time did you wake up today: 7.30 AM
29. What were you doing at midnight last night: Discussing Drunkards and Elections.
30. Name something you CANNOT wait for: There’s no such thing.
31. Last time you saw your father: as I write this.
32. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life: Maybe I’d want to be able to laugh at bad, sad, dead, heard, herd jokes.
33. Most visited web page: Google Reader.

What's Your...

34. Name: S*****t
35. Nicknames: Teenu at home. And both by school and college mates was nicknamed Shahrukh, somehow.
36. Zodiac sign: Pisces. By some other deduction, Aquarius too.
37. Male or female or transgender: Male.
38. Elementary School: St. Mary’s, Ranchi.
39. School: The Air Force School, Delhi.
40. Colleges: Delhi College of Engineering.
41. Hair color: Black. Ok, some specks of grey too.
42. Long or short: Long.
43. Height: 174046030029 nanometers.
44. Do you have a crush on someone? : NDTV-India reporter Deepti Sachdeva.
45. Ever been in love? : Umm, perhaps.
46. Piercings? : Once had an ear pierced; after a day of struggling with it, let it fill.
47. Tattoos? : Naah.
48. Righty or lefty: Righty. Can bat left handed too, better than Curtly Ambrose, that is.

49. First surgery: Stitches next to the eye.
50. First piercing: How redundant a tag is this!
51. First best friend: Bhai.
52. First sport you loved: Flying Discs.
53. First pet: Sandra the lizard.
54. First vacation: Calcutta, I am told. Puri, Orissa : the earliest I remember.
56. First crush: Some girl in class 1. Started early.

Right Now...

57. Eating: Nothing.
58. Drinking: Nothing.
59. I am about to: yawn.
60. Listening to: Songs from Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi.
61. Waiting for: Godot.

Your Future...

62. Want kids? : Yup. Chubby, lazy, round.
63. Want to get married? : Want to. Get. Married.
64. Careers in mind? : Prime-Ministership.

Which is better with the opposite sex...??

65. Lips or eyes: Umm, eyes.
66. Hugs or kisses: Can’t say.
67. Shorter or taller: Shorter.
68. Older or Younger: Indifferent.
69. Romantic or spontaneous: Romantic.
70. Nice stomach or nice arms: If I say nice stomach, would that automatically mean herculean arms ?
71. Sensitive or loud: Sensitive.
72. Hook-up or relationship: Depends. Highly subjective.
73. Trouble maker or hesitant: both sound synonymous to me.

Have you ever...??

73. Kissed a stranger: No.
74. Lost glasses/contacts: Never had them to lose them.
75. Sex on first Date: No.
76. Broken someone's heart: Maybe.
77. Had your own heart broken: to pieces.
78. Been arrested: No.
79. Turned someone down: Never required to.
80. Cried when someone died: Yes.
81. Liked a friend that is a girl? : Naturally.


82. Yourself: Mostly.
83. Miracles: Reluctantly.
84. God: Intermittently.
85. Love at first sight: Coyly.
86. Heaven: Wishfully.
87. Santa Claus: Selfishly.
88. Kiss on the first date? : Depends.
89. Angels: What’s there to believe or not; they’re everywhere.
90. Devils: They’re everywhere, yawn.


91. Is there one person you want to be with right now? : Yes.
92. Had more than one boyfriend/girlfriend at one time? : No.
93. Wanted to kill someone ever? : Yes, cockroaches, mosquitoes. Ok, sometimes ants. Guilt.
94. Among you blog mates, whom would you like to kiss? : Among those whom I’d kiss, I’d like none to blog it.
95. Committed a blunder and regretted later? : Who hasn’t ?
96. Wanted to steal your friend's girlfriend? : Yeah, of the one who stole mine.


97. White: Vests.
98. Black: Shoes.
99. Red: T shirts.
100. Pink: Chaddhi?

Posting this as 100 Truths? : 101, including this one.