Tag Archives: Fiction

Practically A Movie Review – ‘BOSS’ Starring Akshay Kumar

Several months ago, there was joyous dancing in the dark and lit streets of the United States of America. No, it was not because President Obama had just concluded a historic tour of India in which he had actually heard our Prime Minister mumble almost three whole words. (“Honey, that felt awesome but still not as good as when I heard Mr. MacMahon Sing say ‘Hello’,” Obama had confessed to wife Michelle after a particularly steamy roll in the White House bed). The celebrations were not even because the US Navy Seals had finally got Osama bin Laden hiding under Musharraf’s kitchen sink. Nor could the nicely resurgent stock markets explain the unabashed street euphoria. And while you may assume, and quite rightly so, that it was a great time to be born in the USA, what with rock-solid marriages like Sandra Bullock’s, wholesome children like Miley Cyrus, and iconic upright sportspersons like Tiger Woods, the real reason for the incredible mood was something else. The real reason for this all-pervasive mass jubilation was that America was finally about to conquer the last bastion of indomitable excellence – Bollywood. After all, their most iconic star was India-bound to break the biggest and only glass ceiling that really mattered – The First White American Hindi Film Hero.

“I will go to church to break my fast there for 21 consecutive Sundays if this comes true,” Hilary Clinton had declared, clearly siding with the belief that an American Hindi film hero was way more desirous than having a silly old woman as President. This mammoth dream was so imposing that not even Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had dare dream it.

Sure there had been the occasional Tom or two in the past but they had hardly Altered the Hindi film landscape by their presence. There had also been the stray blond desi-foreigner (remember Karan Kapoor?) but they were hardly the real thing either. And the last ‘foreign’ Indian film Shalimar was so bad that even Ram Gopal Verma was not interested in going for a remake of it.

It was 2013 for goodness’ sake! Man had already landed on the moon and Woman at a Dior store in Delhi. These were supposed to be unthinkable fantasies only a few years ago. The time for making history was already upon us.

And so, with the hopes and aspirations of over 300 million Americans (and some 74% of them morbidly obese) resting on his broad shoulders, Bruce Springsteen showed up at the Hindi film location for his first Hindi film audition. The film was going to be based on his life story. It even had his moniker as its title. It was simply called – BOSS. After all, everyone the world over knew him as that.

Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen, singer, song writer, Bollywood actor?

Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen, singer, song writer, Bollywood actor?

Bruce was given the traditional Indian welcome of aarti and tilak and made to sit on a shaadi-wali plastic chair in a corner. His name on the seatback was misspelled in customary Indian fashion – Biru’s Springs Team – phonetics winning over any need to reference documentation for correct spellings. The setting was an actual village. There were cows roaming past. Happy children shat around a nearby drain. Bruce took photos of all this for his photoblog.
Momentarily, an Indian peasant, tall and imposing-looking, came and sat in the empty shaadi-wali plastic chair next to him.

“Who are you?” the gruff villager demanded.

“I am Bruce Springsteen,” Bruce answered extending his hand. “I am a singer, now aiming to be an actor,” he added helpfully, as the villager shook his hand smugly. If there was recognition, the man didn’t show it.

“You are here for the audition, too?” Bruce asked making polite conversation.

“Yes.”

“For which part?”

“Yours,” came the pat answer.

The Boss was baffled. “The man is clearly delusional,” he thought to himself. Just then, the film’s director Anthony D’Souza joined him.

“Sar, any prollem finding locashen, Sar?” Anthony asked in his charming Malayali accent.

“None at all, thanks! But I am a bit surprised. I thought we were going to start the film by showing my early life – my humble beginnings in a small village in Indiana?”

“Very right, Sar, this is small village in India, na?”

“Oh, I think you misunderstood me! I meant…”

Arrey, Sir,” interjected the tall rustic, “if the fillum is shot in abroad, only NRI audience will interast. And NRI audience only wants to see richness – like helicopter, like big foreign palace, like other CEO-type NRI. Like a Yash Chopra fillum. Even humble foreign village they are not interesting,” he continued. “They only want Landan. New Yark. Not village. Only desi audience wanting village.”

“Well, Sar, he tell totally correcta,” Anthony affirmed.

“Yeah, so ok, maybe we can show my earlier humble life for a few minutes and then quickly move to my successful life. We can show me doing huge shows in places like Central Park in New York, or the Wembley stadium in London.”

“Where item song you will show?” the peasant demanded. “In stadium?”

“Item song? What the hell is that?”

The two Indians looked at each other and shook their heads with a mixture of surprise and sadness.

“Sar, Item Song is very important part in film, Sar. Like, if Hindi film is womana, the Item Song is her 2-2 breasta. People are looking there only, Sar. What is womana without breasta, Sar?”

“What the fuck!”

“And where you will fight villain?” the peasant further asked. “You have bad man in your life story?”

“Bad man?”

“Yes, like Police Inspector who killed your Papa or Politician who destroyed your dhanda? Who you will kill in last reel?” persisted the rustic.

Bruce turned at the director looking quite alarmed.

“What the hell is the man saying? Do I have to kill someone in the film?”

“What to do, Sar. Hindi film, Sar. You are only Boss, but audience is King, Sar! They demanding killing.”

“So, basically, you are saying that my life story – called BOSS – must be filmed in an Indian village , must have an Item Song, and must have me killing some kind of a villain in the end of the film?”

“Very right, Sar! Box office superhit, Sar!”

“Oh damn!”

“And Sar, can you drive car?”

“Drive a car? I am American, of course I can drive a car!”

“Means, drive and jump out of exploding car from 150 feets height, Sar?” Anthony explained.

“Errr…!”

The peasant looked at the director almost admonishingly. “But, Director Sir, that is so common now. You need something more dhamaak-e-daar! Like exploding trucks!” Then looking at Bruce, “You know truck driving?”

“What are you people?” The Boss said, his facial expressions teetering the fine line between incredulity and tears.

“It’s ok, Sar, it’s not only exploshuning and song singing. We will be comedy also!”

“Oh thank God!”

“Sar, you can slap peoples?”

“Slap people?!” the respite that Bruce had felt at the thought of doing comedy vanished immediately.

“Yes, Sar, we do comedy when hero slaps peoples. You will slap many, many peoples. Audience is laughing so much that eyes are leaking!”

“Oh dear Lord…”

“But, no fear, slapping is for bad men only,” the farmer tried to assuage The Boss whose face was ashen and eyes moist. “Girl no slapping.”

“Yes, Sar, girla you only eve teasing. But we not even calling eve teasing because firsta few times, girla verrry angry with hero. But latera, girla in hero’s lap. What is your Mrs. name, Saar? We give heroine same name,” Anthony added earnestly.

Bruce was pretty much speechless by this point. He stared at the two men but said nothing.

“Don’t worry about heroine, Sar. We get someone half from your aging! Just 2 songs and finnish. Whole story rotating around you only, Sar!”

That was about all that Bruce Springsteen was prepared to take. He slowly got up from the shaadi-wali plastic chair.

“I think I might have seemed overeager about this project. On second thoughts, I don’t think I am such a great fit for this film.”

“Oh no, Sar! Why saying so, Sar? It’s box office superhit, Sar!” said the distressed director.

“I think it’s the only wise decision. In fact, why don’t you take this villager to play Boss instead? I think he will be a much better fit!” said The Boss looking encouragingly at the peasant sitting next to him.

“Villager, Sar?” said the surprised director. “Oh no, Sar, that’s our 7th biggusst hero of Bollywooda, Sar, after Aamir Khan Sar, Salman Khan Sar, Shah Rukh Khan Sar, Ajay Devgan Sar, Hritik Roshan Sar and Ranbir Kapoor Sar. Meeting Akshay Kumar Sar, Sar!

Akshay Kumar extended his hand to The Boss again. The two had a firm handshake.

“But what will I do now without hero??” cried Anthony. He turned his gaze at Akshay and pleaded, “Will you be my Boss, Sar? I will change the entirea scripta to suit your need, Sar!”

“Fit hai, Boss!” Akshay said smilingly, not even taking a minute to consider the poor man’s request.

“What does that mean – ‘fit hai’?” Bruce asked enquiringly.

“It means 100 crores, Sar! I means audience throw coina at screena , Sar! Children singing film songa, Sar!”

“It means all that?”

“Yes, more or less, Sar!”

 

The Boss left India taking the next earliest flight out. He knew that he had dashed the hopes of millions in his country. He hoped that he had it in him to explain to his simple countryfolk why it wasn’t going to be so easy for an American to win an Oscar for a Bollywood movie anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Indians all over the world wait with bated breath for 7th biggest Bollywood hero Akshay Kumar’s latest 100-crore hit – BOSS! DO NOT MISS IT!

 

Fit Hai, Boss!

Fit Hai, Boss!

 

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN. This post is about my 7th most favourite actor in Bollywood, Akshay Kumar. I have watched his film Joker at least a 100 times in my head. 

 

 

 

The Seventh Wonder Of The World

When I first learned about the Seven Wonders of the World in school, I went, “Hein, Ma’am are you sure?” After all, except for the Pyramids of Giza, none of the items on the hottest-places-to-see-in-the-world itinerary even existed anymore. Clearly, the Travel & Lifestyle folks of yore had been quite sluggish in updating their Best-Of lists. Anyway, I discovered quite recently that a new Top-7 list has been produced, and this one does have places that one can actually go to and click a suitable Facebook profile picture at.

Mayawatiji with halo

Mayawatiji with halo

I was also joyously happy to see my favourite politician Mayawatiji’s property making the cut. No small feat for a person who started her journey to greatness as a humble school teacher. By the way, Happy Teachers Day, Mayawatiji! Except for the Yadavs, everyone loves you!

Which brings me to the property itself. Mahamaya Taj Mahal, or simply Taj Mahal as it is known among the plebs, is a glorious monument built by Shah Jahan centuries ago (use Google if you really want to know exactly when – must I spoon-feed you?) when his beloved wife died bearing him his fourteenth child at the ripe old age of 29. It was a fitting tribute to erect such a huge building in her honour considering it was most likely the man’s perpetual erection that did her in.

Anyway, back to the Taj. I am certain that it wasn’t quite smooth-sailing to construct a building of that complexity. I suspect some of the conversations during its design and construction might have gone like this –

 

A’la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Khurram, or simply Shah Jahan for short : (with thundering anger and blazing eyes) What the hell is wrong with you, you bloody nincompoop? Didn’t I say that I wanted taller minarets? What is wrong with you architects these days? Don’t you ever listen?

Taufeeq Contractor, Chief Architect : (trembling with fear) But, Sir, that was what I was trying to explain to you the other day. Any taller than this and we will not be able to get the blueprints approved by the Housing Board!

Shah Jahan : Who cares what the Housing Board says! I will just stuff their mouths with 1-Rupiya coins! Have those minions even seen what a 1-Rupiya coin looks like in their entire life?

Taufeeq Contractor : (sheepishly) I am sorry, Sir, but…

Shah Jahan : But what?

Taufeeq Contractor : They have declined to accept any bribes in the shape of Paisas or Rupiyas.

Shah Jahan : (spitting angrily) What?

Taufeeq Contractor : They say that they will only accept Dollars.

Shah Jahan : Dollar? What in Allah’s name is that?

Taufeeq Contractor : It’s what our cousins on the other side of the world, the NRIs, are using these days.

Shah Jahan : (ferociously) These blasted Native Red Indians! I hope someone from Europe goes to the New World and fixes those bloody rats once and for all!

Taufeeq Contractor : (almost whispers) : And there is one more thing, Sir.

Shah Jahan : What’s that?

Taufeeq Contractor : They can’t approve 8 minarets. They say that so many minarets are an earthquake hazard.

Shah Jahan : (angrily shakes fist) La haul vila kuvat! I hope they rot in hell!

Taufeeq Contractor : I am negotiating with them for six. Hopefully they will agree, otherwise we may have to settle for four. Or two. But it will cost extra.

Shah Jahan : And to think we already had to grease quite a few palms to get the riverside plot assigned to us.

 

So, as you can see, even in 16-hundred whatever AD, obtaining the right site, and getting a floor plan passed by the Municipal Corporation was like pulling teeth. And this man was the bloody King, for Christ’s sakes! Then, a few days later…

 

Shah Jahan : (annoyed as usual) Just make sure all the paperwork is pakka. I don’t want anyone in the future trying to take over this whole Taj Corridor and passing it off as their property!

Hukum Nawaz, Wazeer-e-Daftar (Chief Secretary) : As you command, Jahan-Panaah.

Shah Jahan : Any news on the Underground Parking?

Hukum Nawaz : Sorry Sir, but that plan has been rejected.

Shah Jahan : (with nostrils starting to flare dangerously) What the hell! Why?

Hukum Nawaz : We are too close to the river. It will cause seepage problems.

Shah Jahan : Damn it! Now where are we going to park all the horse- and bullock-carts? We needed at least two floors of underground parking!

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, we will have to use the area in front.

Shah Jahan : And have those four-legged monsters eat all my imported grass and dunk their heads into my expensive fountains? Use your brains, Hukum Nawaz!

Hukum Nawaz : Sorry Sir!

Shah Jahan : What sorry-shorry! You just have to come up with an alternative plan for the traffic.

Meanwhile, the Emperor has to still manage his personal life, and the fourteen sons his loving departed wife left him with. The most obnoxious one is the eldest.

Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Mohammad Aurangzeb, or simply Aurangzeb : Papa, come play Emperor-Slave with me! I want to pump you with arrows.

Shah Jahan : (irritated) Go away, boy, can’t you see that your father is busy?

Aurangzeb : (angrily) But, Pops, you always keep saying that! Why do you never listen to me? Come! These arrows won’t hurt much. Look, they are Made-in-China.

Shah Jahan : (equally angrily) I said go away. Don’t you make me angry, boy!

Aurangzeb : (even more angrily) You wait till I grow up, Papa. When I am the King, I will lock you up in prison and throw away the key!

Shah Jahan : (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, yeah, we will see about that, you Dumbass!

Shah Jahan yells to the maid who comes scurrying.

Shah Jahan : (authoritatively) Kaneez, take this juvenile delinquent away. And make sure he doesn’t manage to sneak into my chambers again, ok?

The maid bows. Then, Shah Jahan calls her close to him to pass on covert instructions.

Shah Jahan : (whispering) He likes to butcher people. Just provide him a few slaves so he can play with. Who are we to curtail his natural instincts? At some point in the future, people like him will be very famous. There may even be books and plays about serial killers!

 

The boy is taken away screaming and yelling egregious threats at his father. Meanwhile, the Emperor has another visitor who has been stopped at the door.

 

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, it’s Anarkali. She says she must see you. It’s urgent.

The concubine. Alas, there is no hope of getting any serious work done today. The Emperor caves in.

Shah Jahan : (mildly irritated) What is it, Anarkali? Just speak quickly, I don’t have any patience with your slow, husky, whispered tone today.

Anarkali : (in a huff at being scolded in front of everyone) Ok, I will make it quick. You promised me a new Sheesh Mahal where I could do my dance performances, and where the walls and ceilings would mirror a million reflections of my swirling Anarkali suit and dupatta. What the hell happened to that plan?

Shah Jahan : We will get to that by and by.

Anarkali : (still annoyed) Delaying tactics! Why are you focused on that dead woman’s mausoleum when you should be focused on me!

These damned women, the Emperor says to himself.

Anarkali : (starting to cry) Do you really not care that at some point someone will want to make a biopic on my life? What good it will be if there is no item song featuring me in my own grand Sheesh Mahal?

Aaaaaand she begins to cry.

Anarkali : (for extra effect) Have you no heart?

Shah Jahan : (sighing loudly) Ok, ok, my dear, let me see what we can do.

Anarkali : (immediately back in control of her tear ducts) Yes, and you had better do it quickly.

Suddenly his father’s original idea of entombing the whining woman doesn’t seem like that bad an idea to the Emperor.

Anarkali leaves happily. The Chief Secretary and the Emperor are back to discussing the monument.

 

Shah Jahan : Ok, what’s the plan about Labour? Do we have 20,000 labourers ready for the show?

Hukum Nawaz : (excitedly) Yes, Sir, we are working on that. We are getting some from Bihar and Jharkhand. Others are being summoned back from the Middle East.

Shah Jahan : What about their contracts? Remember it is imperative that they don’t stay on in the construction business after building my property. We can’t have them copying our style elsewhere! And we certainly don’t want them building Casinos in the New World that look like our monument!

Hukum Nawaz : Exactly, Sir. That is why we are making them sign a Confidentiality Agreement.

Shah Jahan : Sign?

Hukum Nawaz : Yes, Sir.

Shah Jahan : (blowing his top yet again) Naa muraad! Do you think they can read or write? Sign, he says! You bloody IAS-type idiots! Do you not know anything?

Hukum Nawaz : (extremely mortified) Sorry, Sir! We will come up with an alternate plan.

Shah Jahan : What alternate plan! Can’t you just cut off their arms after the job is done? Isn’t that simple?

Hukum Nawaz : Oh, absolutely, Sir. That can be managed.

Shah Jahan : Ok, good. What about all the raw material? I am warning you again – I want only the best quality marble!

Hukum Nawaz : Yes, Sir. Absolutely, Sir! We are sourcing it from Rajasthan via NOIDA. The only hitch is hauling it all the way to Agra.

Shah Jahan : So what are we going to do about that?

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, can I ask you to fast track an Expressway from there? From NOIDA to Agra? That way, our bullock carts can just zip through at double-digit speeds.

Shah Jahan : So fast! But is it safe? To drive so fast on the Expressway? What is this – some kind of Formula 1?

Hukum Nawaz : Oh, totally safe, Sir. In fact some of our spies in Europe claim that the highways there are so smooth that horses and oxen practically slide on them. And there is no speed limit on those roads either!

Shah Jahan : No way!

Hukum Nawaz : Yes way, Sir.

Shah Jahan : So how can we get this Expressway done quickly?

Hukum Nawaz : We should really go ahead and give the approvals for it. In fact, (coughs) some of the interested builders are willing to (cough), you know, write ‘ghazals’ for Jahanpanaah.

Shah Jahan : I see. How many ‘ghazals’ are they willing to give…errm, write?

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, the going rate is 200 ‘ghazals’. You know, pure gold ‘ghazals’.

Shah Jahan : What shit! Tell them nothing less than 500 ‘ghazals’ will do! 200 ‘ghazals’ my fat ass!

Hukum Nawaz : I shall let them know, Sir.

Shah Jahan : And warn them that if they don’t write me the right number of ‘ghazals’, I will sit on their file forever.

Hukum Nawaz : Absolutely, Sir. Yes, Sir.

 

Well, Taj Mahal supposedly took 20 years to build. It used the best marble from Rajasthan and the best stones from wherever else (just Google it, for Heaven’s sake). Quite a handful of a project for the great Shah Jahan who later died in captivity. (That bloody Aurangzeb locked him up, you see!)

But, in the end, we all got our Taj Mahal, the only Indian thing that features in Hollywood disaster films when they have to show worldwide destruction of the planet.  

Meanwhile, one assumes that the right amount of ‘ghazals’ never passed hands between the builders and the government for centuries. The Yamuna Expressway wasn’t inaugurated until 2012. It cuts down journey time between Delhi to Agra from over 6 hours to under 2, possibly the smoothest road in the country where zipping at 160 kmph is a-ok. But will it ever be featured in any Wonder Of The World list? Unlikely.    

 

 

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN. This post features a person and a monument, both are among the Seven Wonders of the World as far as I am concerned. 

 

Aural Warfare – A Short Story

“Do you have anything to say in your defense before I pass judgment?” thundered the judge at the man standing at the centre of the courtroom. The man nodded, quickly grabbing his opportunity. He then proceeded to clear his throat loudly. His seemingly innocent action, however, immediately made the audience shake in fear. There were hundreds of people in the chock-a-block courtroom and it was quite a sight to see everyone tremble frantically in unison. It was as if they were a part of some North Korean synchronized ritual in a giant stadium.

Thankfully, the judge was at hand to rescue the innocents from portended doom.

“NO!” he said. “Don’t even think about doing what you are thinking of doing! Else, I will personally throw you in the darkest cell in Tihar. And then swallow the key so no one can get to it,” the judge warned quite categorically.

The audience heaved a collective sigh of relief. Again, behaving quite like the North Koreans.

The shoulders of the sullen man in the middle dropped a couple of inches.

“Well?” the judge continued.

“Can I plead that I am a juvenile, at least?” the sad man whimpered leading to loud guffaws all around the courtroom.

“Order, order!” yelled the angry judge, his eyes red like embers. Then, turning his fury at the man in the middle, “No, you may not, fool! After leaving a trail of destruction at the homes of simple, naive folks who welcomed you unwittingly, pillaging even the most innocent of our society, not lending an iota of sympathy to those who begged you for mercy as you ravaged their senses, you now want to get away with just a little rap on your wrist?”

The hapless man sniffled.

“Besides, look at you. You don’t even look like a juvenile!” the judge sniggered in contempt causing an immediate buzz in the audience. People looked around at each other and nodded their heads in agreement. Some even began a smattering of applause but were immediately castigated by the judge.

The judge was right about the man’s looks, of course. His strange hairstyle, the pudgy face with oddly manicured facial hair, the chiseled eyebrows, the slick chest exposed by the top-two missing shirt buttons, hairless like a baby’s bottom, and the greenish-brown colored contact lenses made him look like Zoolander from pre-Photoshop Earth.

“But, My Lord, you are about to punish me for committing crimes against humanity on two accounts. Can I at least be excused on one of them? I think I am a better act…”

“Shut up!” the judge screamed interrupting the delusional man. “Better, my ass! How can you be excused? Can a murderer claim to be excused of chopping the body into little pieces when he has choked his victim to death?”

There were a few shrieks from the audience. Perhaps someone was going through a cathartic reaction.

The wily man wasn’t going to give up so easily. “Maybe not these folks,” he said pointing to the people standing around the courtroom, “but millions around the country think I am God’s Chosen One. They will take to the streets if you take me down, My Lord!”

The audience buzz, clearly in disagreement this time, rose again.

“The only ‘taking to the streets’ will be in jubilant celebrations when we are done with you!” the judge said. Then, turning towards the police officials present in court, he asked, “Is the government machinery ready to handle days and weeks of wild street-partying that is bound to erupt across the country as soon as this court is dismissed?” The Police Commissioner rose from his seat and assented.

“Well then…” the judge continued.

“But, My Lord…” the man whimpered.

“Enough! We have had enough of you! So, here is my verdit. Himesh Reshamiyya, you are hereby convicted of the inhuman butchery of Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni. The seven kindest siblings there ever were, they had served humanity with the best virtues for generations. What possible malice could they have held towards you to deserve the savagery that you inflicted on them? Not only did you slay them in the worst possible manner, you also used them to enter the homes of millions of honest, ordinary Indians, sometimes as a TV Judge, other times as a Film Star, to wreak havoc in their innocent lives as well. No one was left untouched by your barbarity. The history of this country shall forever be stigmatized as Pre-Himesh and Post-Himesh, now that its innocence has been so ruthlessly snatched from it.”

“While I prepare your sentencing, I announce that the movie “Karrrrrzzzzz” is banned from this universe forever. Singing the music of “Aanp kaan Suroorn” and “Dammadamm” is explicitly prohibited and all their CDs will be seized immediately. And any DJ found playing “Hookah Bar” will be sentenced to 1000-hours of continuous Himesh music in a loop so that their ears bleed and they go off of music forever.

The man in the middle broke down into loud nasal wails.

The audience in the courtroom broke into spontaneous applause. Meanwhile, all the assembled TV news reporters burst out the court doors to report the historic verdict live to the billion people sitting in front of their TVs waiting for proof that God existed.

 

All characters except one in this short story are fictional. I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme of the festival is SEVEN.  

 

Order, Order!  (Image stolen from Google, as usual)

Order, Order!
(Image stolen from Google, as usual)

‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ – A Stupid Short Story About Entirely Fictional Characters

Image stolen from Google

Image shamelessly stolen from Google

 

“I told you to stop doing that!” the mother admonished her boy a second time as he continued to blow bubbles in his bowl of cold milk with a straw. Getting him to finish his breakfast without drama was climbing fast in the list of rants she had with her life. Heavens knew she had other, bigger things to worry about.

“But, Mamma, I don’t want to go there,” the son wailed. “No, No, NO!” his voice began to rise with each utterance of resistance.

The mother sighed. It was the same argument over and over again. ‘My beautiful boy, but stubborn like an ass!’ she thought. She had already tried her damndest to make him shift to the other house just a few blocks away but everything had proved futile so far.

“But you won’t be there na, Mamma!” had been his first pushback when she had broached the subject with him several months ago.

“I will keep visiting, my little baby,” she had tried to counter-argue. “Plus, Ramu Kaka will be there. And Bhalloo, your favourite teddy. All your toys! You won’t even miss Mamma after a while!”

“NO!” The intransigent monster had stuck to his toy guns.

Then, a few days later, she had tried to change her tactics. “Ok, so how about I go live with you in your new home for a few days? Will that make you happy?” she had asked.

“Yes! But what will you do after a few days?”

“I will return back here,” she had said quietly. “Mamma can’t stay there forever, my child.”

“NO!”

Failure.

It wasn’t just her efforts that had proved futile. Several other Uncles and Aunties had urged him, too, but none of it had mattered.

Today, she had decided that she needed to get to the root cause of his obstinacy.

“Are you scared to go there?” she had asked him a few minutes ago as they started breakfast.

“No…” The voice sounded timid.

So, he is scared!’ the intuitive mother realized immediately. No wonder he had been resisting so vehemently! No amount of toys, gifts, threats or mollycoddling was going to help if she didn’t address his primal fears. She needed to know what it was. Ghosts? Girls? Old men with scary beards?

“What is the matter, my poor baby?” asked the concerned mother in her best kindly voice. Then, suddenly sensing that the boy probably didn’t want to go to the new house because he was scared of the man who already lived there, she asked, “Has that man said something to you?” Her voice was back to being mildly angry.

“No…” the quivering voice repeated.

“Tell me, boy!” the mother demanded sternly this time.

“No, he hasn’t said anything!” he said, almost in tears.

“No? Then why are you scared of him?”

“Because he doesn’t say anything! He just stares at me quietly. I think he wants to eat me!”

The mother laughed loudly. Her stupid little boy.

“He is not going to eat you! It’s not that he doesn’t talk to you alone. He talks to no one!”

“So, is he dumb?”

“No!” the mother said angrily. “Don’t use foul language against Singh Uncle! And remember, he will leave once you arrive there. So there is nothing to fear anyway!”

The mother was interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind her. It was the maid. She was panting as she walked briskly.

“Madam?” the maid said as she faced the mistress. “Priyanka Baby is on the phone. She says it is urgent.”

Bloody hell,’ shrieked the mother in her mind. ‘What has Robby done now?’ she wondered. As she pushed back her dining chair and rose, she gave a stern look at the boy again.

“Listen here, no more fussing! You are shifting to No. 7 next year. It is DONE. No more arguments!”

The sullen boy’s face fell. The lower lip trembled and the eyes welled up promptly.

“And you had better finish those cornflakes before I come back after dealing with your sister!”

 

 

I hope the reader has realized that this is not a short story, merely pretending to be one! After all, I don’t want the CBI coming to arrest me in the middle of the night and hauling me away to jail in my underwear. With my pretty looks, nasty things could happen to me there!  

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme of this festival is SEVEN, so do pay attention to where that number has been used.

 

 

Anticipation – A Short Story, Re-told

For the Sixth Day of the Write Tribe Festival of Words, I am going to do some cheating. I am going to pass off an older piece as a new one. Read on, and we will discuss it at the end of the story.

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“Fuck man, so what, even I haven’t finished revising the syllabus!” screamed Abhiuday to his friend Parthiv. “Stop complaining. You aren’t the only one, so just chill, yaar!”

The boys were standing outside the Exam Hall on the top floor of their school. All except one of the 12th Finals Prep exams were finished. The one remaining, though, was the mother of them all – Maths. And consequent to the whims of the scheduling masters of the school, right after the Maths test today, the students were to disperse for a couple of days before meeting again one last time at the school premises for the Senior Class Farewell. As was to be expected, this strange calendar mix of stress and joy had led to a quaint mood pervading through the air – it could only be described as taut yet audacious anticipation.

Right now, however, around the boys milled their classmates in various shades of unease, some even bordering on despair.

“You really don’t believe me, do you?” said Parthiv earnestly. “I don’t think I am going to survive this test!”

“It’s not the end of the world, yaar! We still have a month before the Boards! You’ll be fine!” Abhiuday remarked nonchalantly as his eyes remained distracted towards the stairs coming up to their floor.

“No, it won’t help. And how are you so calm, saaley? Have you been studying without me?” questioned Parthiv, suddenly sounding even more tense.

“Are you crazy? Ok, now shut up, here she comes!” said Abhiuday, his voice suddenly falling several decibels. He gave up his slouch, straightened his back and shoulders to appear tall and manly. He also crinkled his forehead just above the nose because he felt it made him look very earnest. His eyes were parked on Ankita, their classmate, who was slowly emerging from the stairs.

Parthiv’s eyes followed his friend’s. He shook his head subconsciously and let out a long breath. His eyes connected with Ankita for a second, who then immediately looked away like all self-aggrandizing girls are prone to do.

Just as she approached them on her way to the Exam Hall door, Abhiuday called out to her.

“Hey, Ankita!”

Ankita turned, feigning that she had only just noticed the boys, again, like all self-aggrandizing girls are prone to do.

“Oh hi, guys! How is it going?” she said, with a smile so bright that it immediately seared Abhiuday’s heart.

“Oh nothing much, just helping Parthiv revise some last minute theorems,” said the boy after unobtrusively gulping some saliva to activate his parched vocal chords. Parthiv looked at his friend and almost rolled his eyes.

“Great!” the girl said. “I am so nervous, I feel I haven’t prepared for the exam at all. I am definitely going to fail!” the girl continued with her pretention.

“Me, too…” Parthiv tried to speak but was cut off by his pal momentarily.

“Oh, I am sure you will do fine!” said Abhiuday. “In fact,” he added, “maybe we should aim to do some practice for the Boards during the holidays. What say?”

“Oh, I don’t know…you know?” said the girl as she coquettishly tucked imaginary strands of hair behind her ears.

“It will be great fun. I mean, we will study hard and help each other out!”

The girl looked unconvinced. Slightly bemused actually.

“Hey, we can even have Parthiv help us revise. He is very good at that. I swear!” he pleaded throwing sideway glances at his buddy.

Parthiv could only stare disbelievingly at his friend’s indulgence.

“Aw, ok. Maybe we can try it out,” she gave in finally.

The excited Abhiuday was thrilled to bits but wouldn’t let the feeling percolate to the exterior. In fact, he felt sanguine enough to take the course of this conversation to a new level of boldness.

“Hey, I was also meaning to ask…,” he started slowly, “would you like to be my date for Friday?”

There. It was out.

The girl stared at him starkly. Then her gaze shifted to Parthiv. Their eyes locked for a few moments before he broke away and turned his back to the couple.

“You know what? Sure, why not?” was all she said as she left the boys and made her way into the Exam Hall.

 

 

“You haven’t prepped with me at all and now I am going to fail,” mumbled Parthiv as they settled behind each other in the Exam Hall. Their common surname ensured that they had always been consecutive all through their school years. “If that happens…”

“There, you have started again,” riled his friend. “Ok, now shut up,” he added as the exam bell clanged loudly.

“And, hey, best of luck, fucker!” he parted as the room went silent.

 

 

Parthiv was silent as the boys left the hall three hours later.

“Phew…I am glad that is out of our system!” exclaimed Abhiuday. He looked at his quiet friend.

“Sorry, yaar, I couldn’t spend more time with you these past few weeks. You see, with my cousins in town, then the wedding…and then I have been so distracted with Ankita, I just couldn’t concentrate!” Abhiuday went on. “But I promise, it will be just you and me till the Boards end. We will study together and we will both do well!” he added usefully.

“Really?” was Parthiv’s retort. “What about that bitch that you invited to you bedroom?”

“Hey, come on, man! What do you have against Ankita, you fucker?”

“Oh nothing, fucker! Just that she is a bitch and you had better keep away from her!”

“Oh and how do you know she is a bitch, you loser?”

“I know. Believe me, I know!” said Parthiv in an anguished tone. “Please man, just stay away from her. You and I – we have to work together for the Boards. Like we always have. We can’t afford not to! She is just going to ruin everything. Everything!”

Abhiuday was taken aback at his friend’s insistence.

“Hey, why are you getting so emotional about a stupid exam, you fucker?”

The boys stared at each other for several minutes. Neither spoke.

“You know what, man, just chill. We will talk about it later, ok?” said Abhiuday finally.

As the boys parted, only one turned to look back.

 

 

Abhiuday entered his house at around 4 pm. He was humming a recent Robin Thicke song as he walked into his room and flung his school bag on the settee. As was normal routine, the first task he did was to walk up to the computer on his study table and hit the ‘Enter’ key on the keyboard. The giant iMac quickly sprung to life. Angry as he was with Parthiv, he still had a huge impulse to IM him about their plans to meet up in the evening.

“Hello, Abhi.”

It was his mother’s voice from the door. The boy swung around, surprised to see his mother home at this early hour. She was usually at the club around this time.

“Mom, you home?” he said as he sensed from her expression that something was amiss. “What’s wrong?” he said wanting to confirm his intuition even as he started to walk towards her.

“Come sit with me,” she said instructing him to join her as she sat on his bed.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” the boy repeated.

“How was the exam?” the mother said, attempting to distract her son.

“It was okay. Exams are over, finally. Who cares about the Pre-Boards anyway? Is that what you are worrying about? I am telling you – the Boards will be fine!”

“I see. Anything else happen in school today?” the mother continued with her subtle investigation even as her voice trembled slightly. The boy didn’t notice.

“I, errm…nothing much. Just made some plans for the Farewell party on Friday” Abhiuday continued, deciding not to divulge any details about Ankita to his mother just yet. Maybe on Friday, he thought.

“And Parthiv?” explored his mother.

“He can be such an asshole, Mom! Kept cribbing about the exam all day. Anyway, I will see him in the evening. We have to plan for Friday – it’s going to be a sick partaay!” exclaimed the excited boy, not immediately noticing the sudden tears welling in his mother’s eyes.

“Oh mere bachchey!” cried the mother as her self-control finally gave way completely. She clasped at her boy’s hands between frantic sobs.

“Mom!” yelled the alarmed boy, not comprehending the situation.

“Parthiv’s mom called fifteen minutes ago,” the mother managed to speak between deep gasps. “He killed himself at home,” said the mother pulling her son’s face to her shoulder.

Held in an incongruous embrace by his mother, Abhiuday stared stolidly past the room at his computer screen. The instant message window was active, flashing, desperately seeking attention. Try as he might, and despite his proximity, Abhiuday couldn’t tell what it said.

 

Later, as Abhiuday retrieved on his computer the last words from the boy who was no more, he read, “VIBGYOR. And you never got it, you fucker. Until next time, Peace!”

 

Anticipation is a short story I wrote earlier this year. It had a morbid ending and some folks who are used to seeing a very different writing style from me didn’t like that. Another thing that bothered folks was its vagueness. The earlier version did not have the last line that this version has – where Abhiuday reads the message from the departed.  Imagine the possibilities without that last sentence! Consequently, the story left more ‘whys’ in its trail than it answered. I know some readers who came up with their own versions of the reason behind Parthiv’s action – all of them were logical. Frankly, that’s what I wanted to achieve at the time, so I was happy that the story led people who read it to mull over it for a bit. 

When I chose to participate in the Write Tribe Festival of Words, its theme being – SEVEN – it made perfect sense to close the story with one of those logical ‘whys’.

I like this story personally, despite its horrid end and all, and I hope you enjoyed reading it, too. Do try to imagine the possibilities of the story without the last sentence, perhaps you will find that as intriguing as I did!

 

 

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I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN.