Thursday, August 5, 2010

Found in translation...

Ek prayatna kela aahe...irritation honaar, nakki...chaan pan vaatnaar, i think...


Tera number de...

Kaise, bai? tera kaise doo...? ek mobile number das number ka hi hota hai na...

Vaajwu ka kaana khaali???...pandu maharaj chawl madhe tujhya aaila aikaaila yenaar....aani Bangalore madhe maajha aaila pan aikaaila yennar...lakshaat aala ka? (trying hard not to laugh)

Ho... (cheeky grin)... lakshaat aala na...


Ghari jaaycha aahe...chiaaaicha...paoos padtoye...bagh na baaher...kasa zaoo.. aani ghari zaoon pan kaay kit kit...cheh...


Hiiiiiigh pitched voice....E gavlya (name’s gavli) ...tu aikoon ghe...zar ... aaz...tujhya baddal ek pan complaint aala ... tar bagh... rozcha zhaala aahe haa prakaran...vaat lavoon thevla aahe shaalecha.. (gavli scampered off... so did the rest of them)...


Sir... aamhi ithe ek mudda gheoon aale aahot...tumchi ninda karna he uddashya ajibaat nahi aahe...lal batti vibhaagaat raahnaare bachchunchi khoob vaait paristhithi aahe..he tumhaala pan maahiti aahe...zar aapan doghe ekatra miloon vichaar nahi karnaar tar kaheech hou shakat nahi...


In Pune - while traveling in an auto

Raj Thackeray mast hai re. Achcha lagta hai mereko.

Auto driver - Raj Thackeray aavadto aani Hindi madhe boltaat...

:p ulp...


There’s something about this language. I absolutely adore it. And you who dared me... need i say more??


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Before the tryst continued

“Honey...did you look at this?”

I smiled. The nature of the inflection in her voice meant that she did not like what she was seeing. Unfortunately she saw me smile and that seemed to irritate her a bit. The frown creased her forehead in an appalling manner and I hastened to apologize. She accepted complacently (she knew I would go to any lengths to make her smile). I have digressed. The reason why she was trying to gain my attention was a piece of news in the Evening Post. It read in a loud, bold typeface: “ANOTHER ONE FOUND. INSIDE THE RAILWAY STATION. FACE MARRED BEYOND RECOGNITION. IS THERE A WEREWOLF IN TOWN?”This time I laughed out loud much to her chagrin. “Really, my heart,” I guffawed, “you do not believe this blabberdash. It is some poor, neglected human being vying for attention from all susceptible folks. And getting it too. In rich measures.” She walked out of the room her head held high, her dark hair flowing like lush waves. She left behind a fragrance of lavender blossoms and anger.

I was to meet a few of my peers in the evening for cigars and maybe a game or two of billiards. As I retouched my attire I thought about what I’d read and about the events that had been ensuing for the past month. Close to five dead bodies had been found in the most frighteningly grotesque conditions in various parts of the town. It was mentioned that the persons who had the misfortune of laying their eyes on the bodies were still recovering from the trauma, so horrible was the sight. I frowned at my reflection. I’d laughed at my wife’s discomfort. And here I was feeling the familiar tingling on the nape of my neck. My mind went back to a night at a mansion. A night when I was confounded beyond all sciences and mathematics. A night when a seed was sown in the fertile soils of my mind. A seed that was slowly shrubbing and twig like thoughts were sprouting. Thoughts that veered towards the out of ordinary. What was the term that they were using these days? Yes. PARANORMAL. When I first heard of it I was astounded at the gross imbecility of men who proclaimed (in the same breath) that they were scientists who were testing the presence of spirits in a haunted house. With instruments and equipments that captured energies and nonsense. But after the tryst with a similar spirit in a mansion, I was a slightly altered human being. Not a believer, mind you. But the doubt that had taken root was slowly embedding and preparing itself to feel at home inside my mind. Therefore with uneasiness I walked outside my home and towards the Club.

It was not yet the chilling biting winter that brings with it a feeling of despondency and despair and also a certain sense of melancholy which sensitive souls attribute to the greyness in the weather. No tonight was not that kind of weather. Contrarily it was nippy and the wind was sharp bringing with it a sense of alertness that was actually heightened because of my earlier preoccupation with ‘that night’ and with the news that so disturbed my lovely wife. So my senses were extraordinarily acute and I swear I could even hear the hatchlings breathing in their nests. Strange though it may sound. In fact I almost did not recognize my friend who fell into step beside me because I was so alive to the sounds of nature. For a second I started and then I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that it was him and not some unknown adversary with ill-intentions. Two more of my friends joined us and the atmosphere lightened a tad bit with all of us talking at the same time and trying to get our ideas through. Thus, laughing and in high spirits we made to enter the Club. I fell behind and just as I was about to step in I saw something flash past me in a blur. I looked to see what it was and I could just discern a pair of legs and a tail. No. Let me be specific. A pair of human legs and a tail. But I was completely sober and also quite alert. Yet I swear I saw this. I shook my head and went inside the Club. Enough, I decided then and there. I was not going to let an irrational thing like this mar my much-awaited evening of fun and cheer.

After a few drinks, a cigar and a game (which I won, of course), we sat down beside the fire and one of us broached upon the gruesome murders that were scaring and scarring the town. I wish he hadn’t. But unfortunately such topics create a very unwanted sensationalism which then gets quite contagious and then people are just not able to stop talking about it and inferring and reinferring and ruminating, quite unnecessarily, if I may add. But then the damage was done.

“So, Doctor, what does your grey matter have to say about this?” My friends called me Doctor because I had the tendency to dissect everything and verbalize my opinions in a particularly diagnostic and clinical manner.

“The foolishness of a neglected human being trying to gain attention and succeeding extremely well. Thanks to all of you who insist on giving him the unwanted attention that he is craving for.” I finished it with an expression that said how exasperated and disgusted I was with the whole bunch of them. Men of Science.

“Oh...what makes you think, he’s a he? He could be a she, you know.” This from the youngest amongst us. And also the one who had taken an extra glass or two, an action which had resulted in quite unfortunate outcomes.

“I feel that there is something strange going on here. The wounds on all the bodies are scratches which are not made by a human being. These have been made by animal paws. And there are people who have sighted a half-man half animal like creature. Something is not quite right over here.” The person who said this was a very senior specialist in botanical testing. He had won several accolades for breakthrough findings in the realm of the plant world. “And...the second body. Which as you all maybe aware was the most mutilated, had also traces of bite marks which, beyond doubt, were the fangs of an animal, since the entire flesh of her thigh was torn apart from the bone.”

I shifted uneasily in my seat. The half-man, half-animal reference was creating the tingling nape feeling all over again. I tried to focus on the rest of the conversation but I couldn’t. That vision flashed again and again till I was convinced that yes, I had seen the creature who was responsible for all the murders. But what about my earlier dismissal of the entire event as something trivial and quite disgusting? And what was I going to tell my wife? I pushed these thoughts aside and strolled into the dining room. I stood gazing out of the large windows that faced the gentle slope of a hill. Just across the hill was a manor that belonged to an old family that had been living there for almost a century now. Four generations of scions had been born, raised there and had taken care of the manor. There were stories about one of the sons who had spent some time in Romania conducting a research in chemistry with another scientist there. This son retuned a year ago but suddenly disappeared. His old parents still lived in the manor and were in a constant state of wait. They still harboured hopes that their son will return some day. The poor souls. It was quite a sensation actually. I had seen the young man too. A dark, brooding looking man with a certain grimness in his demeanour. I never had the opportunity to speak with him about his research. I wondered at that time as to what might have happened to him. I wondered the same wonder at this moment. And as if in reply to my wonder, it flashed past me again.

I almost fainted. But, reader, I am not the weak man that you might think me to be. Even now at times I wonder what prompted me to act the way I did but, yes, I opened the window and jumped out with every intention of following the creature. In full speed I ran and ran. I could see it leaping over bushes (something which I obviously couldn’t do and which reduced my speed greatly). Suddenly it stopped and looked up at the sky. The sky was black. There was no moon that night and no stars even. How come there were no stars? And why was I thinking about stars? I looked at it’s profile. Good heavens, it had strange looking ears, like a dog, maybe. But the profile was that of a man. A familiar man. It was still looking at the sky as though waiting for something. I got the opportunity to reduce the distance between us stealthily so that I could get a better look. What makes me do such things? In all probabilities it might just tear my heart out of my body and leave me bleeding to death. Also i was quite far away from my friend’s cottage. And, reader, kindly add to it the fact that I had foolishly left the premises without telling anyone the nature of my enterprise. So I was literally on my own now. If anything were to happen to me it would be a very very long time before help would arrive.

The creature had not moved. The distance having reduced I could get a better look at its face. Good God, it was the son who had returned from Romania and had mysteriously disappeared. Was this a coincidence? There I was wondering about him and here he was, in front of me, in a frighteningly altered form. As I stood looking at him he turned and his eyes scanned the bushes where I was hidden. “Someone’s there. I can smell you. You’re a man. Come out please.” I almost spat my heart out of my mouth when I heard him. I had no choice. Recollections of the leaping over bushes came to my mind. He would easily overtake me and then...? I stood up and said, “I mean no harm. I know you. You’re a scientist. Just like me. I was wondering if you would like to talk to me. If not then I’ll leave and we can forget that we’d met.” He laughed. I did not like the sound of that laughter. But now it was too far gone to even think of escape attempts, leave alone try them. He sat down on a boulder and gestured that I do the same. I did and looked at him for further instructions.

He was silent for a long time. I noticed his ears and was debating whether or not to comment on them. “You must be knowing that I was in Romania for some time. Ten years in fact. I was called there by a university that wanted to employ me for a certain research that they were about to embark upon. I went there and found myself settling down into a comfortable routine almost immediately. It was strange because I am a most finicky fellow. Nothing would satisfy me. And here I was liking everything at first sight. I do not know what it was about that place. Was it the constant state of winter and snowfall? Was it the blue eyed women with an angular sharpness that was so intriguing? Was it the work which was so exciting? Was it my colleagues who were so fiery and active? Or was it a combination of all this?” He smiled when he said this. “Yes. I think it was a combination of all this. I wouldn’t have been so uncomplaining if it wasn’t. I would go out for walks every night in the woods. There is something about darkness and about nights, the mystery, the sounds, the smells, the unpredictability, the danger. I would savour such moments with the desperation of a man thirsting for water in a desert. Every night was a new night and I would feel like I was walking down the path for the first time. Then one night I was bitten by a wolf. I had accidently taken a wrong turn that led into dense woods. There I had stepped on its tail and it had lashed out at me. I remember that, strangely, I did not feel scared at all. In fact I stood there gazing at the wolf with a wide eyed wonderment while it gnashed and gnarled at me with ferocious eyes. A few seconds later I found myself standing alone there. The wolf had vanished. At that moment the moon chose to peek out from behind a cloud and a loud howl resounded in the woods. It seemed to echo endlessly and I think I might have waited there for a good ten minutes before the noise died down completely.”

What was he saying? Is he a werewolf? But he still had his face. Only the ears were changed. Maybe his metamorphosis would occur on a full moon night. I remember reading with derision about lycans and their lot. But here I was sitting with a potential one. Thankfully full moon was not due for a very long time now. But it still needed to be understood that it will occur some day and so will his metamorphosis. And what about the murders? Did he commit them?I shivered. It was getting colder and colder. But he did not seem to mind the cold. I suddenly realized that my thoughts had run away in a completely different direction because he had started talking again.

“I came back to the quarters and told my friends about what had happened. There was one of us who was quite a strange person. He would keep to himself and not interact unless absolutely necessary. Even his way of greeting another person was just a nod. No eye contact whatsoever. In all probabilities the nod might not even have been directed at you as a form of an acknowledgement. He seemed to be listening very intently to me. One by one everyone left until it was just him and me. I looked up to find that he was gazing at me with a searching look. I stared back and then I raised my eyebrows. He got up and came to me. He peered at my wound (it was on my left forearm) and nodded his head. “You’re lucky,” he said. “For having been bitten by a wolf?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied nonchalantly, “and in the process, having acquired extraordinary powers. Powers that will astound you, confound you. Powers that will make you invincible. Powers that will make you feel like God.” His eyes were shining with a strange light when he said this. I got a little scared. I had never seen him so responsive ever before. And what he said scared me even more. What did he mean by powers? And what use are these powers to me? But I gradually started realizing that I was indeed starting to become a little altered. I was having an extremely heightened sense of smell and hearing. At times I would hear the wolves walking in the woods while I was sitting inside my room. And I would smell Mischa’s orange blossomed hair from a mile away. How I loved this feeling! I returned home from Romania after my work was done. And suddenly one night when the moon shone like a globe of light inside a black sky, I couldn’t sleep. I got out of my bed and walked towards the moon. I climbed this very hill where we are sitting right now and I found myself howling at the moon. A man came from somewhere (I don’t know where) and he hit me with a stick. I lashed out at him and tore him apart. This happened till the moon rose like a beacon and beckoned me to her. Creamy and naked, like a temptress, she would beckon me and I would crave to possess a woman creamier and even barer than her. I found such a woman too, but the woman took one look at me and started as though she was disgusted. This angered me and I tore her apart too.”

He paused and looked at me. I was gaping at him in astonishment. I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t even think, leave alone move. He smiled at my reaction. “You’re the murderer then?” I asked in a strangled whisper. “Yes,” he said, “I killed all of them. The powers that made me feel invincible have also released a demon from inside of me. This demon is a part of me. This demon thirsts for blood and does not rest until he gets it. I realized it long back. Hence I did what I felt was the best thing to do. For me and for the rest of the world too. I have been administering dosages of a drug which I cannot name. This drug has been slowly acting upon all the systems within me. Today I’m here because today is the day I die. I’m glad you’re with me. I was not too keen on dying alone.”

As he said this, he slowly started sinking. I held him and made his head rest on my arm. I looked at his face. At his mouth. I noticed that his canines were unnaturally developed. His eyes too were inhuman. Why? Why does this happen to me? How will I explain this to the world? What will I say to them? I suddenly felt that he was getting heavier and heavier and then I realized that he was no more. At that moment I decided that I will not tell anyone about what had occurred at the hill between him and me. Not even to my wife. I let him down gently and covered his face with his kerchief. As I was returning back to the club i thought about what he had narrated. Did he really turn into a wolf because he was bitten by one? How on earth can one explain the logic behind this? Heightened senses of smell and hearing! Mischa’s orange blossomed hair! Well ... at least there won’t be any more murders. But that does not negate the fact that it was indeed not a human being (not a complete human being, to be more specific) who was responsible for the killings. And it was also not some ‘poor neglected human being who was doing this just to gain attention’... No.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The tryst continues

My younger sister is someone who would talk and talk to such an extent that she would at times leave the listener staring at her in amazement and also wondering as to how on earth could she keep up with so much of chatter. Personally I feel that it is rather irritating. The constant chatter would drone on and on till I would feel like I should probably gag her or stuff my ears with cotton. But then she is so beautiful and charming that it becomes slightly difficult to say anything to her that might hurt her sentiments. So I would suffer her silently. She has three children, two daughters and one son. My nieces and nephew were a curious bunch of children. They would spend entire days spitting at each other or finding out different ways and means of annoying the rest of the family to such an extent that we would be forced to sit around a table and actually conduct a meeting on how to distract them from such destructive activities. But then they grew old and they became tolerable. My nephew especially was growing up to become a very intelligent young man (I always felt that he had taken after me. His father is a rather insipid, insignificant man). He would sit with me and ask me questions regarding various branches of science in a grave manner. I observed that he did not have a logical bent of mind. In fact he chose to defy logic and try to find inferences that would confound logic. I would feel a little angry at times when he did this but I was an encouraging uncle and I did not want him to be bereft of knowledge, hence I would provide him with opportunities to keep questioning.

One day he came to me and asked with a funny look on his face, “Sir, did you know that a boy lives in the tree house?” I looked at him with a frown. “A boy, you said?” He nodded his head. “No. I am not aware of such a thing. When did you see this boy?” He thought for a while. “Last night. At one o’clock.” I looked at my nephew. “And what were you doing staying up so late?” He seemed unaffected by this question defeating its purpose completely. “I was reading the book that you had lent me,” he replied distractedly. I realized that he was a little disturbed. “What is it that bothers you, my boy?” I asked gently. “I don’t know,” he said. Then he looked at me with a sudden desperation and asked in a rush as though he wanted to get the question over with before he lost courage, “Will you please stay up with me tonight, Sir. So we could go and explore this.” I thought for a second and nodded. He seemed very relieved. Before I could say anything he said, “Thank you, Sir. I will then expect you in my room at around twelve o’clock.” And he left. Maybe he did not want to talk to me about it. The reason why I said yes to him was because I was a little miffed that strange boys had encroached into my property. This is not done.

As the clock struck twelve I knocked on his door. He was dressed and ready. His face had an eagerness and also a tinge of anxiety. We went up to his window and looked into the garden. Now, reader, my garden is not all that extraordinary. It is like any other garden with a few flowering shrubs and other trees. On one of these trees is a house that was built on a whim. There was some extra wood left over and we were at a loss as to how we could utilize it. And my wife came up with the suggestion that we could build a tree house. So we did. It looked good but there were times when I felt that it was a little bit of a monstrosity too because the wood had been grotesquely arranged at some points lending it a very strange kind of look. As though the builder had thought something but had decided, after finishing halfway, that he wanted to do something else. Anyway. We stood looking out of the window and in the general direction of the tree house. Nothing stirred. Time seemed to pass even slower than a snail. It is indeed interesting how time seems to slow down immensely when you are waiting for something to happen. Such a frustration too! But there was nothing to be done about it and we had to wait. So we waited. It was also interesting how the two of us who would never tire of talking at length about different subjects, were unnaturally quiet that night. We could feel the tension that was mounting within the other person. Maybe that’s why we refrained from talking.

The clock struck one. It pealed echoingly around the house. As if on cue there was a movement in the tree house. A light was to be seen. Shadowed against it was the profile of a boy. Just like my nephew had mentioned. I was quite surprised to note that the boy was completely at ease inside the house. His posture seemed like he owned the place. And that irritated me mightily. I made as if to move and go down. My nephew’s restraining hand on my elbow stopped me in my track. I looked a question at him. “No,” he said, “we must wait and watch what he does tonight. Tomorrow we’ll go down and meet him. Please, Sir.” I had never seen him in such a state before. It was apparent that a mere trespasser was being a cause of unnecessary concern to my nephew. I was a tad bit disappointed in him. In matters related to courage, he was definitely a coward, like his father. I acquiesced and we stood at the window continuing our vigil. During the hours that followed when darkness was still roaming the countryside with her black veils flowing lushly over the hills and vales and leas, the boy did several things. He read, he ate, he drank and he slept. And so did I. The sudden chirping of a bird at the window woke me up. I found my nephew in the same position in which I had left him. But he seemed slightly out of sorts.

“What happened, my boy?” I asked. He turned towards me as though he had suddenly realized that I had been with him all the time. “That boy spoke to me,” he said. “How did he manage that?” I asked. “And how come I did not hear him?” “He got down the tree house. He walked towards our window. The next instant he was sitting at the sill.” My nephew spoke in a monotone which worried me. “He has been shot. The bullet hole is still visible on his head. He said he only wants this place to spend his nights. During the days he has other places to go.” I was incredulous. What nonsense was my nephew ranting? A boy who has been shot in the head has to be dead and lying in his grave in some graveyard and not spend nights in decent people’s tree houses, harassing them to no extent. I got up and said gravely, “Now look here, my boy. We have to get to the crux of this matter. That boy is obviously some vagabond who had no place to sleep and has found a convenient place in that tree house. We cannot let this continue. Tomorrow night you and I are going to him as soon as he comes and we are setting all this straight. Agreed?” My nephew had been staring at the floor all the while. He then slowly looked up and I almost fell back in shock when I saw a bullet hole in the centre of his forehead with a trickle of blood that had flowed out and had dried before it could fall free on to the earth. Trapped in the creases of the skin. His eyes had turned a strange shade of grey. But that boy had his mother’s blue eyes. What was this? Who was this? This boy in front of me was not my nephew. If it was not him then who was he? Suddenly I saw my nephew shudder and start. He looked at me with frightened eyes. I stared back at him uncertainly. “Sir,” he began tentatively. I held up my hand ordering him to stop talking. His shoulders slumped, he closed his eyes and I saw that he had fallen asleep. In a flash. I lifted him tenderly and took him down to my room. I had decided then and there that that child was going to remain with me the entire time till I had sorted out this matter. The incident at the mansion had never been erased. And what about the wolfman? If such strangeness could happen with me they could happen with anybody else too.

All day I kept a close eye on him. Watching his every move. What he ate, how well he ate, where he went, what he read, how much he slept, what he spoke? Everything I observed. I found that apart from a little puffiness around the eyes (which I shall attribute to lack of sleep) he seemed perfectly normal. It got me wondering. Was the boy acting? Because I had mentioned in the morning that he was not to come with me when I spoke to the trespasser. And he had looked disappointed. I had also enumerated the reason as to why I had felt that it was not a good idea for him to be with me when I was sorting out the matter, viz. his lack of sleep and his health. So was he being all cheerful and active because he wanted to be with me? But then only I knew why I taken this decision. My nephew was one of those human beings who were able to communicate with ghosts. Like me. It took me a mammoth effort to put this thought into words. And I was damned if I would let that particular, nonsensical, useless, ability to enhance and gain strength. No Sir. My nephew had been born to achieve greater feats and conquer the world of science. He was not to be reduced to one of those foolish men who call themselves scientists and explore the paranormal realm. Paranormal, indeed! Oh I could shoot the bunch of them for creating such ridiculous notions and then talking about it too. So that susceptible young men lost their rationality and start believing in something that has no scientific premise in it. This train of thought let out so much fire that I had to drink a glass of water to extinguish it. It also reinforced my decision of not taking him along with me that night.

Night arrived as usual. I glanced at my nephew who was lying on my bed reading an adventure book. He would glance at the clock in between and I also felt his eyes on me several times. I sensed that he wanted to say something and I was deliberately avoiding his look so that he did not get an opportunity to start a conversation. To make matters more difficult for him I took up a ponderous tome and made as if to read. After a few pages I realized that the book would definitely put me to sleep if not anything else. And it would be disastrous if I were to fall asleep. Hence I put the book aside and peeped out into the tree house. Now, reader, my room is much closer to the tree house as compared to the room that we were in last night. In the sense that we would be able to not only get a closer look at the trespasser but also talk to him if need be. I waited for the clock to strike one. It did eventually. It had to. And when I looked at the tree house, there he was. The light came on and the activities of the night began. My nephew moved restlessly. It was as though he had felt the presence of the trespasser. “Sir,” he said in a desperate voice, “you have to let me talk to the boy. We’ll talk in front of you. We have to agree to his wants.” I grimaced and asked, “Why on earth should we agree to that chit of a boy’s wants? I could crush him in the palm of my hand if I chose to.” “No, Sir,” said my nephew, “if we don’t then he will hurt me. He said he will. He said he will make me do things that I don’t want to do. And say things that I don’t want to say. Please, Sir.” By now there were tears in his eyes and my heart went out to him. He was my blood and I had to stick by him. But his words had also dented my oversized ego. How dare the trespasser make us do things that we don’t want to? How dare he threaten to hurt my nephew? I said after a lot of thought, “Ok. You can come.”

We walked towards the tree house and went up the steps. The boy was reading. And, yes reader, he had a bullet hole in the centre of his forehead. He also had strange grey eyes. He looked at me nonchalantly. I could almost have hit him for his audacity. “Hello,” he said cheerfully, as though we were inside his sitting room about to embark on a conversation related to the weather and politics. “So, you want to have a word with me,” he was addressing me all the time (not glancing at my nephew at all), “maybe you want to eject me out of your property. Make sure that I never return.” And he laughed at me. My anger had been simmering and it had now reached boiling point. “Now look here, you,” I thundered, “I have had enough of your nonsense. If you don’t leave this property right now I swear I’ll have you out and none the wiser.” He shook his head at me. “Such anger,” he said cheekily. Then all of a sudden his manner changed. He got up slowly and came towards us and I don’t know why, but he seemed to grow larger and larger in size. No this was not happening. It was just the lights playing tricks on us. He was now close enough till I could touch him if I wanted to. And then something happened which still haunts me. There he stood in front of me and my nephew moved to stand next to him. I stared aghast when I saw the same bullet hole on my nephew’s forehead and the child’s blue eyes had turned grey again. My nephew came up to me and caught my collar in a grip which spoke of a strength that he definitely did not posses. His eyes stared into mine and he said, “I will do very bad things to your family if you don’t let me stay here for some days, Doctor. Very bad things.” All this my nephew spoke, not in his voice, but in the trespasser’s voice. Every muscle in my body became numb. I could not move. Fear had caught hold of my throat and was pressing down slowly making it very difficult for me to breathe. I was powerless. I managed to say in a strangled gasp, “All right. You can stay here for as long as you want. And please don’t do anything to my family. But most importantly, please, please leave my nephew alone. I beg of you.” His mocking laughter cut through me like a knife. How easy it is to forget one’s ego when a loved one’s in danger. My nephew had returned back to himself. But the trespasser continued to laugh at me. “All right,” he said. “I’ll leave your family alone. And your beloved nephew too. And don’t worry, Doctor. I’ll be gone soon. I have better places to live. This hovel is just a whim that I give in to once in a while when I decide that I want to get away from luxury. And now you have to leave. I must get back to my reading. It was nice meeting you. Goodnight.” And in this way, we were dismissed.

Slowly we trudged back inside the cottage. My nephew did not remember anything that had occurred with him. And I had absolutely no intentions of telling him either. So I put an arm around his shoulders and smiled down at him. He smiled back. I did not notice that as soon as I looked away his smile had disappeared. Just like mine did. Together we went inside the bed room and laid ourselves down. Sleep did not come easy. All the while I kept waking up and checking on my nephew. Morning dawned. The day arrived like every other day. We spent cheerful moments with the family. We went out to visit our friends and to enjoy the scenery around the hills. My sister was with us for a month. Every night at one o’clock my nephew and I would see the trespasser go about his actions. Suddenly one night the clock struck three. I woke up. I had heard a sound at the window. My nephew had heard it too because he was up in the bed listening intently (Yes, reader, after that night I had taken the decision that my nephew would be sleeping in my room with me till the rest of his stay there). We looked towards the window and imagine our reaction when we saw the trespasser sitting on the sill with the cheeky smile on his face. He waved at us and gave us a mocking salute. The next instant he was gone. We literally jumped out of the bed and ran towards the window. But he was nowhere to be seen. There were no lights and no movement inside the tree house too. I turned towards my nephew and said, “Listen, child, we are not going to talk about this ever again. Just remove it from your mind as though it was a dream. Do you understand?” He nodded his head and we went back to sleep.

After that night, till date, reader, I have not seen that trespasser ever again. Good riddance! But one day several years later, when my nephew had grown into the fine young man that I always knew he would grow up to be he asked me a question. He asked me as to what happened to him that night. I just smiled.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To be or to un-be

There's something about this feeling called 'feeling'.

Have you ever stopped and given a thought as to what happens inside your body and your mind when a particular stimulus is hurled at you. As a reflex you basically react to it. Physically, mentally any which ally... they're all inter-connected. One leads to the other. A classic example is the kiss. I remember when this man kissed me it completely took over my senses. How strange it is that the entire mind blanks out and focuses only on that particular feeling and connection.

When i see maimed children and old persons tears at my soul. I become numb. It hits the mind first and you are unable to think beyond the sight that you see. it then gets hold of your body and you are rooted. transfixed. Then the feeling of sheer helplessness takes over. You are aware that there are certain things that are beyond your control. This awareness damns you even more. Sometimes, acceptance can be your greatest enemy because it stills your growth.

We meet a person. We realize very soon that this person has everything that we've ever wanted. we're happy. but then doubts assail us. we start suspecting this happiness. we wonder whether we are destined for such happinesses. and then...we go ahead and put an end to it. wow. in the age of stupid, stupids thrive and make others stupid. There's a lot of confusion these days. Men want women who are strong, independent, (some like their women nasty), intelligent...but then... when confronted with such a one..they draw back all scared and frightened. It is quite strange. I mean...whaaa???

I remember having a conversation with this really arrogant and smug Bengali man. He goes..." Im afraid but men are soon going to be redundant." I stared at him. I'd actually tolerated him for 3 days and at the end of it I had decided that I will give him one last chance at redemption. Sigh! I waited for him to continue.. "I look at it this way. Man at 3 levels has been thwarted by women these days. Man as Protector. Man as Predator. Man as Procreator. Women are emerging on top at all three levels. It is shaking the very foundations of our ancient beliefs." I continued staring at him. I was really tired of him. And stretching the conversation would have meant having to listen to him. But a feisty (and super sexy) Bengali woman came to my rescue. She stormed at him.." mean to imply that women HAVE to be suppressed...blah blah.." That was my cue to escape and i gladly took it. The look on his face was worth shooting (with a camera and a gun).... :-))) ... but you know i liked that Procreator, Protector, Predator funda.. hahahaha...its almost like the Holy Trinity...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

And the 17 and 19 year olds...

19 year old (boy) “Bai, darwaja kaayko nai kholela hai?”

I hand over the key to him silently. He is half Nepali. Slit-eyes, creased furthermore owing to sleepiness.

17 year old (girl) “Mujhe de. Chaabi kaunsi hai mujhe pata hai.”

He sliced a sullen glance at her and then at me. He walked away. If looks were knives, we would have been shred into pieces. The sparks were crackling wildly.

For five whole minutes we saw him struggling with the 20 odd keys hanging from the bunch.

19 year old (boy) now irritated “Konsa chaabi hai?”

17 year old (girl) takes the bunch from him silently, selects a key and opens the lock. She turns to me and hands over the key bunch. I open the door and wait for him to enter. 17 year old (girl) is waiting on the other side. We are making an effort to not smile but our eyes say it all.

19 year old (boy) studiously refuses to look at either of us. He keeps his things and walks out. As he passes us his face breaks into a smile but he is trying his best to hide it. He says gruffly “Theek hai, theek hai. Hota hai kabhi kabhi.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Conversations with a 15 year old

It was in Hindi. What follows is verbatim and transliterated.

"So....what do you plan to do after 10th?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know."
"Yes. My mind has become dumb. It is not speaking to me."

"So how are studies going on?"
"Well. Every morning I wake up early. And when I look out of the window I see the first rays of the sun hit that board over there. Nothing moves. Everything is still. Even the leaves. It looks like a painting."
"Why don't you write about this?"
Looks at me with that sidelong glance. And smiles.
"I tried doing that once. Then I felt - whom am I kidding? Am I intellectual enough to write? And then I stopped."

"What happened to you yesterday? You seemed a little off mood."
"Yesterday? Nothing. There are times when I tend to withdraw. When I've had enough. But today in the meeting. I suddenly saw darkness all around me. I did not like it. This blur. This unknown opaqueness. Its not good."

"It is very necessary to be friends with some people and not rub them the wrong way."
I started. I stared. I asked. "What do you mean?"
"There are times when I get beaten up at school for no rhyme or reason. Bullies just pick me and beat me. Suddenly after some days I come to know that A bhaiya and the rest of the gang have bashed those bullies for having beaten me up. This happens because I make sure that I am cool with all the older guys. R bhaiya should be careful. He should not rub these guys the wrong way."

He hangs around. Inconspicuous. You won't even notice him. Even if he passes and re-passes you a hundred times you won't notice him. He has this slouching strut. He wears low-slung jeans and loose t-shirts with sleeves folded. Or shirts with the first three buttons, unbuttoned :). He is very short, very thin, he has dark brown skin, dark and gleaming like freshly polished virgin wood, he has beautiful expressive brown eyes and a smile that can melt a heart of stone. And when you start talking to him you then realize that he is different from the rest. He is deep. He is profound. He is wise beyond his years.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I... In... Ink...

He wore white and black. He has golden hair. His arms and legs are engraved with demonic faces and cryptic shapes. He belongs to the land of orchids and exoticism. He has hazy eyes and a faraway look inside them. He sat at the table and beckoned. A stab of apprehension. I knew he would hurt me. He looked at the various implements (if I may add) that lay around him. And it all began. Three and a half hours. He made my hand rest on his thigh as if to reassure me that the pain he would give me was akin to pleasure. His knee propped mine and he carefully engraved on my skin. Over and over he worked re-layering the contours, defining the shape, shadowing the depths. In between he would pause and survey the art that he was creating. I felt his breath on my skin and I could see the effort. What was the feeling? Did my soul connect with his? Or was it the serene face of Buddha which spurred us into a hazy oblivion where we ceased to be alive to our surroundings? For those three and half hours he and I were two bodyless beings floating in space. Pain receded to a background that seemed so far away. He sat there bent over me at times glancing at me, maybe to check if I was doing all right. And when it was done he sat back. And grinned. “Are you happy? I asked. “Yes, I am very happy,” he said.

It took me time to register the experience. Never before have I felt this way. This oneness with another human being. And despite the pain the beauty that was created had a purity that left me breathless. And I know he was affected by it too. The next day I asked him how on earth did he do it. He shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said.

He is Sia. Artist par excellence. At Al’s Tattoo Studio.