Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Monsters and Dragons

The following story has been written for the World Story Telling Day which is on the 20th of March. The International theme for 2014, is Dragon Tales and Monster Stories.

The monster lurked in the shadows waiting for its prey. It had prowled the streets for some time now, hoping to dig into an unsuspecting victim.  The eyes were glazed with the heady concoction of daze and need. The teeth in putrid decay, emanated a stench that drove away the flies that buzzed around, hoping to sit on rot and feast for the day. The hair, matted with grime, fell upon the face in strands like snakes swaying to the motion of music. The thick skin fell in folds, forming cylindrical belts around the grotesque body. The monster waited for the beautiful dragon to walk into its trap.

The dragon walked with a grace that exuded poetry in its motion.  The soft and smooth body in flaming red, carried with it a fragrance of roses, which sent the bees in confused disarray from their charted path in search of flowery nectar. The eyes shone with a brightness that lent the moonlit sky, an extravagant glitter. The golden mane on the head was silken, bouncing in gay abandon at every trot. The multi coloured wings were a picture in seduction, like a printed sequin draped on a beautiful bride.  The toes were painted in various hues and shades, and the dragon sauntered along, creating in its gait, a canvas of a spectacular parade.

The monster did not consider the dragon a match to its raw power.  The dragons had for long, cowered under the brute force of the monsters, and had seemed to lack the will to put up any kind of resistance to the sustained assault on its clan. They had forgotten that once upon a time, they had ruled the world and scripted the tenets of existence, before the monsters with their scheming ways and cunning means had subdued the gentle dragons, reducing them to mere objects of beauty. They now failed to invoke the fire in their belly, and breathe it out, striking terror in those who dared to doubt their strength. They now seemed wary of the prowling monsters and this wariness had emboldened the brutes with a false sense of superiority.

The monster pounced suddenly in front of the dragon, baring its teeth, eyes lustful and the claws extended.  It appeared to the monster that the dragon had painted its wings only to lure it in wanton invitation. The monster grabbed the golden mane of the dragon as it turned its head away in disgust at the nauseating sight of the ugly predator. The painful yelp of the dragon, at the sudden tug, sent a shiver of passionate power in the monster, and reaffirmed its belief in its own invincibility. It wanted to grab the wings and mount the dragon, subdue it, possess and own it against its will.

For a moment, the dragon was stunned at the ferocity and the speed of the attack. But this time, there would be retribution.  The dragon had for long seen the plight of victims of such monstrous attacks and vowed that such brazen attacks would be repulsed with equal force. It twisted itself with a speed that took the monster by surprise, and pushed it down with a strength that was until then reserved, to suffer in silence, the atrocities of the monsters.  The brightly colored toes of the dragon, now dug into the neck of the monster like sharp knives of steel. The monster, unable to move under the choking grip of the dragon, lay immobile looking with terrified eyes at this unexpected sight.

The dragon stood up tall towering over the shocked monster.  The gentle eyes now glowered with a rage, which made them look like hot charcoals from the bottom of the mines. The colourful wings spread out like a shield of armour, ready to come down heavily on the enemy, incapacitating it.  The fire rose from the belly like the molten lava from a long dormant volcano.  The dragon opened its mouth and roared, breathing out the fire in a hot stream, enveloping the monster, as it fell down in a heap, hollering in pain.

The time had come for the monsters to be put in their place. The oppression could not be allowed to continue. This was the right time for the dragons, to turn the tables and reclaim the respect and their rightful place in the order of the world. They had to prove that they were not just brightly painted objects of beauty and desire, but had the ability to transform themselves to the feared fire breathing dragon when the situation demanded.  The fire in the belly had started to burn again, ready to set fire and burn, all those who had oppressed it in the past. The wings had ceased to merely be a vestigial ornament and had started their mighty flutter powering their being to greater heights. The fight back had begun. They had a name for the fight. They called it the power of 49.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Love Letter

     Ram opened the letter and held it tenderly, peering at it, almost willing it to reply. He wanted to write her the perfect love letter - a letter, which will reveal his true feelings of love to her. He didn’t want his letter to get lost in the bin, where he was sure the scores of letters that she received, finally found its solace.  She was the prettiest girl in the college, and he knew that if he had to catch her attention, his letter should be better than the rest of the suitors.  She never looked at the boys anyway, and he was not sure, if she even knew he existed. The silver lining was that she was his classmate, and the odds were much narrow, or so he thought.

     He asked Sita to read the letter aloud once more.  He was grateful to her for helping him write the letter. She was a kind lady, and seemed to understand him perfectly.  He could never remember her name, but she didn’t seem to mind and would remind him gently. She always found the right words when he fumbled with framing his feelings and had an amazing knack of reading his mind.  He told her all about his pretty classmate, describing in fond recollection the picture perfect smile, the million curls on her head bunched together in floral pattern and the oval vermillion over the black bindi on her forehead. He also told her about the time, when he literally froze as she walked past almost grazing him in the corridor, giving him his first sense of an invisible touch, while he breathed in her perfume and took until eternity to breathe it out.  He then told her about his helplessness, his disinterest in the activities of his friends, his sleepless nights, as she hung on to every word with rapt attention. He could see her eyes glaze over as she transposed herself to the world that he had created.
     He was nervous and wanted to know from Sita,  whether she would think he was the common place flirt, if he walked up to her in the canteen and started a conversation.  After all, she had all the boys vying for her attention. Will she slap him when he gave her the letter or tear it up in front of her friends?  What if she already has a handsome boy friend?  Will he not look like a fool to write her a love letter now? She may show it to her boyfriend and both may have a hearty laugh at his misplaced ambition. Her boyfriend may fail to see the funny side and accost him with his bike buddies, when he is walking back alone to his hostel room. He knew he was no match for them.  But Sita calmly assuaged all his fears and assured him, that when she received his letter, she will realize that there was nobody else in this world, who could love her more than him. So he had to find the right words. There will never be a second chance.

     Sita found Leela standing by the door as she walked out. Leela was wiping a tear from her eye. She hugged Sita and asked, ‘Mom, How can you? You are helping Dad write a love letter to another woman.” Don’t you feel angry, hurt, that he is expressing so much love to another woman in your presence, which he had never expressed to you in your fifty years of marriage?”
     Sita led Leela to a chair, and sat down beside her. Her face was devoid of pain or hurt. It was in fact glowing and the eyes sparkled with a long lost dazzle that had finally found its way back to where it belonged.  She smiled at Leela and said “I am the one in love”. 
     Leela looked at her dumbfounded, “But Mom, he is writing that letter to his college sweetheart, not to you. You can’t pretend to be her”.
     Sita smiled. She said, “Leela, you don’t understand, do you? It is true that we spent fifty years together without ever being in love. To your father, it was his responsibilities that ruled his life. He married a woman, whom his parents chose for him. He was a good son, a good husband, and a great father. He never let any of us feel neglected or ever shirked his duties. To him, my every wish was a command that had to be fulfilled. I never could find a fault in his behaviour towards me. But it is true that I also could never feel the love in any of his actions. They were always kind, affectionate, caring and passionate, but I always got the feeling that it was borne out of a sense of duty than anything else. The magic of selfless love which I yearned for then, and experiencing now, was missing.”
     “Mom”, Leela sobbed “Dad is suffering from Alzheimer’s, He does not recognize you. You and I, no longer exist in his world. How can you feel happy and loved when he is not even thinking of you?”
   “It doesn’t matter”, said Sita calmly patting her hand, “Today your father does not recognize responsibilities, or remember relations. Even if I track down and bring that woman here, your father will not recognize her. So the feelings that he is expressing today is just a state of mind, a kind of pure love which is emanating from his self, and I feel myself enveloped in a surreal bliss.  I no longer care who his love was. There is no person here, in this house, in his room, in his mind. It is just a heady lightness of the being, floating in a space, uncluttered by memories, unrestrained by relations and unconcerned about consequences.  When I sit with him and listen to his love, I can feel the fragrance in the air, hear the patter of  rain drops outside the window in this sweltering heat, feel myself swaying to the lilting tune of the invisible flute and the world around, amazingly cease to exist. It is this feeling that I had imagined and associated with love when I was a teenager, but had over time, pawned my imagination to the realities of the world. I am happy that I am able to finally share this feeling of love, with a man before i die. I have lived my life the way this society demanded, fulfilling my duties to one and all, but now, I want to spend the little time that is left,  experiencing this wonderful feeling of Love. I pray to God today, to forgive me, for being thankful to this dreadful ailment that has afflicted your dad. It has freed him from bondage, filled the vacuum of thoughts with feelings of love and made him smile in innocent carelessness.” She added “These are the last vestiges connecting him to the world and it is a miracle that it happens to be the strings woven with love.  When this dreaded disease finally wipes his mind clean, I want Love to be the last word that gets erased.”

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My Best Friend's Wedding

     I was happy for Sam.  He was my best friend after all, in fact, my only friend in this whole world.  He was getting married and seemed all nervous and excited. I looked at him lovingly, as he fumbled with his tie in child like awkwardness. He considered himself the luckiest person alive to have found such a beautiful woman as Riya, to be his bride.  I thought otherwise.  She should consider herself lucky to have found a man with a heart cast in gold.  Well on second thoughts, she should be credited for her intelligence to have identified the goodness in him, when most of her ilk would have chased looks and money, neither of which was generous with Sam.  So when she finally agreed to marry him, he may have been justified to treat her as Gods gift.

     I had known Sam for a year now.  We had met when I was going through a difficult time and was desperately looking for a place to stay. Sam was kind enough to welcome me to his home and never let me feel even for a moment that I was an intrusion to his privacy in his one room apartment, or a burden on his meager resources that he shared with me.  In fact, I was overwhelmed when he invited me to share the only bed in the flat. I would have been more than content and happy to sleep on the floor, but Sam would have nothing of it, and had insisted that I sleep in his bed.

     When Sam first met Riya at his friends' party, I was the first one with whom he shared his feelings for her. He had been smitten at first sight, following her the whole evening with his eyes, without mustering the courage to walk up to her.  He had made eye contact once, which resulted in him spilling his drink on his pants.  That evening I had to sit through his emotional ranting and his fears of how moronic he must have appeared to her.  But the very next day, he came back home and gave me a big hug, which almost choked me.  He had been introduced to Riya by his friend who had invited him for the party. I had a strong feeling that the introduction may have been orchestrated by Riya, who may have noticed him during the party, which was confirmed weeks later, when she dropped in at our place.  Sam introduced me to her and as I shook her hand, I saw in her eyes the same tenderness that was in Sam’s, and immediately knew that Sam’s love will never go unrequited.

     The evenings that followed for a year thereafter, were melodramatic, to say the least.  The fights would bring in a bottle of Old Monk Rum from the corner store, and a day in her arms, would bring back to life the legendary Mohammad Rafi on the Sony CD player late into the night.  I was amused by these swings, but kept him company, sitting next to him as he put his arm around me, lending a patient ear to his litany of woes and woos.  I had to agree to her absolute lack of understanding of his deep feelings, bear witness to his professing undying love over many births, nod in agreement at her grave misunderstanding of his innocent acts, hang my head in shame at his unintentional indiscretions and yet keep a straight face. So when Sam set up out to propose to her, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and was not able to eat a morsel, untill he came back leaping and dancing, announcing her acceptance.

     “Hey Pat, How do I Look?” I was woken up from my reverie by Sam, who I admit was looking absolutely dashing in his new white tuxedo. We were running late and had to reach the auditorium, which was booked for the wedding, before the bride arrived. Riya had wanted a church wedding, but when the priest told Sam that he will not allow me in the church, she didn’t flinch for a second in shifting the venue to the auditorium near her house. When Sam told me this, I was choked with emotion. I saw her enter through the door with her bridesmaids, stunningly beautiful, dazzling in white, her pearly smile at her dashing beau matching her spotless dress.  I stepped back and waited for the ceremonies to begin.

     When finally the priest asked Sam to kiss the bride, I could not stop myself. I bounded up the steps of the stage and jumped in their midst. Sam and Riya, broke away laughing. I wanted to hug them both. My paws left their pug marks on their white dresses, but I was sure they didn’t mind.  I stood on my hind legs and grabbed Sam by his shoulders and gave him a long wet lick on his face. I looked at Riya. She was laughing and blew me a kiss. ‘Woof”,  I returned her flying kiss. I was very happy. I just couldn’t stop wagging my tail.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

My Day of Reckoning!

     He appeared nonchalant. I felt the anger rising from the pit of my stomach, cruising at mach speed through the upper part of  my torso and settling in my eyes leaving them blood red in the wake of the fumes.
He looked harmless and weak though, but the very act of deftly sliding into the wide parking bay outside the Sheraton, while i was pondering the factor of error in my calculations of the visible clearances, seemed to question and even mock my meticulous regimen and penchant for accuracy. The skills i had honed over the years, often driving others crazy while deriving immense satisfaction of self, seemed to be derided by this insouciant old man.  The tortoise pen stand, which cradle my multicolored collections, leave no doubt of the virtues i practice, to anyone who cared or dared to see how i lived. I had heard hippies croon 'Money cant buy me love', but I sure believed respect was always available at a premium.  The green bucks came in fast and furious, when the bulls and bears charged at regular intervals, and this relentless pursuit had paved the way for the jaguar riding smartly on the bonnet of my car today.
     This old man, in a white dhoti and dark glasses, seemed to have a complete lack of trepidation at this visual impact of the beast on the bonnet and the mad as a beast opponent glowering at him, as he approached. I stopped him in his tracks as he sauntered towards the entrance of the hotel.  My lips were trembling with rage and the abuses i hurled at him refused to emerge, being violently pushed back by the rapid ingress of air filling my lungs.  My hands gesticulated, drawing surreal pictogram's in the air, questioning the audacity of the transgression. He looked at me questioningly as my hands flitted between the car and the recently occupied slot.  Understanding seemed to dawn on him as he said "But, I thought that you were waiting by the side, as there was no movement". He smiled as he spoke, confirming my worst fears that he shared the view of my 1000  facebook friends, who never ever "like" a single post of my pet lizards, and thought i was a nerd.  
      I wanted to prove him otherwise.  I had to show him the quintessential act of smartness, the act that separated the nerds from the hunks. I slowly took out the cigarette pack from my pocket, tapped the base against my heaving chest. As one cigarette popped out, I tilted my head back at an obtuse angle,as you would do on New Years Eve, to down your first tequila shot.  Then in a fluid motion, I dunked the whole pack into my mouth and retrieved it, leaving the cigarette firmly lodged in my mouth. The old man watched in amusement, as I took out my match and lit the cigarette, the glowing end matching the hue of my eye at that instant.  He reached out and effortlessly relieved me of the pack and match, as i glared in disbelief.  The next couple of seconds were a magical blur. He threw the pack behind his head, keeping his eyes focused on me, and with a swift motion of his left leg, tossed up his white dhoti and kicked the pack high into the air. With his right hand he threw up the match box leaving a burning matchstick in his hand. I followed his glance, as he looked up and the next thing i see was the lit cigarette firmly ensconced between his lips and the pack and match back in my hands.
     My blood red eyes turned ghostly white.  The heart started pummeling my chest in a desperate bid to escape the being of shame.  Sweat dribbled freely by the ear side and my legs turned to stone as the enlightenment sunk in. I resorted to the only movement that i was capable of at that moment.   I fell flat on my face, prostrate, my arms extended in reverence and submission at the miracle that i had witnessed. The words that had failed me all this while, finally managed to find their way out, as i intoned "Thalaivaaaaaaaaa......."

Statutory Warning: Cigarette Smoking is injurious to Health

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


                The training was hard, the life harder and the mission impossible. He loved a woman and wanted her, and they promised him many like her, waiting for him in paradise.  The AK 47’s and the explosive ammunition, evoked his fire prowess and hardened his resolve.  Mumbai was maximum city, a city of dreams. He would ensure that the city was awake that night, so that he owned all the dreams that belonged there.  He was a broker of death, a trader of dreams.  The city would be painted red, and then he would ride the rainbow of death to paradise.  He was the lone wolf, the tiger prawn among the shrimps, assigned to devour the cadavers the night brought out.  Two of his brothers had already lit the inferno of death on the lifeline of the city.  The others ensconced  in a five star, sent up enough smoke to mask the remaining in the skies.  The circular dome of power which resembled a space ship was his target.  He had to travel in his RDX suit in that space ship to reach his virgins.
                She stood blocking his way in that deserted street, carrying her unsold roses, all white, none of them red. He was the knight in armour and she stood staring at him, clutching the white roses close to her heart.  It was her eyes that took him back to the journey that began in the sleepy valley of deodar trees. The same eyes that were forbidden to look at him, the eyes that had set him out to seek more to redeem one was now piercing his heart.   As his gaze bore down on her, she didn’t quiver, the shivers were his.  Her eyes didn’t flinch but his heart did a somersault.  He felt that Dante could not have expressed it better of a paradise regained. One for all suddenly made more sense than all for one. He laid the guns at her feet and she placed the white roses in his hand. Farewell to arms was in fact a welcome to her arms.
                  As they walked hand in hand, the guns and roses sinking slowly in the waters, smoke clouding the sky and sirens wailing for the dead, he looked back at the edifice that would have been his tomb. It was safe for now. Later when they counted the dead, he would be alive in her arms.  They would never look for the one that got away!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Deadly Mirror

Exercise in Creative Writing : To write a small piece of strikingly similar characteristics in a relationship, where certain characteristics or actions of the partner is a mirror image of the self and strikes a chord in the other persons mind revealing a side that they identify as their own.

He watched her cut the apples.  She seemed to take her time in going through the motions with the serrated edge of the knife.  She appeared to be in a trance staring fixedly at the glint of the knife, barely mumbling a response to his pointed question.  It was as if the shine of the steel in her hand had transformed her to an apparition that caressed his memory creating a familiar outline.  The motions of the blade in her hand had an eerie similarity to a practiced rhythm that was second nature to him.  The slow passage started from the top, curving inwards and emerging out from the bottom effortlessly, dismembering and slicing into parts, what was once a whole.  He could see himself in the same trance, his eyes glazed but sharp and shining, and the grip on the knife strong yet loose, the smile on his face a fixed but lopsided grimace.  It was as if his passion for wielding the knife was mirrored in her motions and he wondered if the apple was just a substitute, and his vision an unintended glimpse of their alter ego.

Monday, 13 May 2013

In Defence of Pappu!

             When you are deciding the future of a billion people in a nation where the mind is full of fear, and you have to choose between pappu and pheku where would you put your money or whatever is left of it? Detractors of pappu have made a big song and dance about the lack of experience saying Pappu cant dance saala, but I would remind them of the wise words of perceptive prognosis from the angry -once young- man who offered you sweets to proclaim Pappu pass ho gaya!
            Pheku can project himself and his apparition in 3D and Imax 3D all day, but pray what will happen if pheku has to solve our boundary disputes or even go and get the marines back from Italy to stand extended trial in our esteemed court. He can’t even discuss the weather in a conference on climate control. He doesn’t have a visa!!! A Master Card may be, but no VISA! Our long forgotten patriot brethren on foreign soil will emerge like a phoenix to deny him that with a flash flood of signatures.  After all, they have been following the entire progress of pheku on twitter and facebook and with their brilliant intellectual capabilities have been able to denounce the few million desi’s who could have been easily misled due to their native ignorance.  And the guardians of our nation’s conscience who religiously take part in our Independence Day parades on Fifth Avenue and watch our nation’s progress on the television will ensure that the ignorant natives are set right.
And do we need such a leader who is domestically sequestered while his entire cabinet is globe trotting? We have long suffered in silence at a silent PM, now do we need to feel sorry for a Home Alone PM?
            But the clincher for Pappu is in our filmy history. When the pheku rattles out facts and figures, thumping his chest and thundering, Mere state main development hain, progress hain, investments hain, Mere paas experience hai, tumhare paas kya hai, all pappu has to say to elicit a collective sigh from the billions and make them bite the ballot is to reply “Mere Paas Maa hain”.