Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Bakasura Files

     I am Baku, and I am basically a foodie, love all kinds – non veg, man veg, cow veg and some veg.  And I feel hungry all the time. I stay quite far from the hustle and bustle of the village, for two reasons. One I would like to enjoy my meal in peace, without a crowd of giggling children ogling at my food. Then, I also usually ended up eating more than my share in public that the village folks pleaded with me to move out, lest they run out of food for themselves. They said if you stay here, you will continue to eat whatever you lay your eyes upon, whereas if you stay out on your own, they would ensure delivery of the right quantity of food at the right time and the food would never run out. I agreed to move out, because my heart beats my stomach hollow when it comes to being large.
     I was happy in my new surroundings.  I was single, staying alone and getting food delivered at home. What more could a man wish for! The food cart never failed to arrive in time, loaded with goodies. It was ingenious! I could just flip the cart over and devour the goodies. The sight of the flip-cart never failed to elicit a tune from my heart. I used to hum “I was living in the love of the common people and far from the heart of the family man” I loved that line.  It described my situation aptly. Maybe sometime in the future, someone would use it in their song and become famous. The villagers were generous with the quantity and gracious with the variety. They never forgot to top up the goodies with a meal-man who was delectable after his delivery.  Life was actually on a roll.
     It was then that this bloke turned up from nowhere and settled down in my village. An up-start trying to start-up his own food business in the village.  I heard that he was also a foodie with an appetite to match mine, the only difference being, that he was a strict veggie! He had started turning the villagers against me, campaigning against all forms of meat, to further his own vegetarian food business and getting them to ban meat from our plates. He posed a serious threat to me.  They said his name was Bhim – a hugely popular guy with the kids and the grownups alike. I knew he would be a fake. The only Bhim I knew, who was popular, was Chota Bhim who lived in the neighbouring kingdom of Dholakpur, and as far as I knew, he was not a foodie. This guy must be a wannabe, who is using a popular name to be popular.
     It was time to set up a meeting and sort things out with this guy.  It was either him or me. It was Meat Ban versus Freedom of choice to eat anything.  The villagers arranged the meet-up. The next day, he came in with the delivery cart.  I glanced at it. No meat, only veggies. It was deliberate. I refused to touch it. We sat facing each other, waiting for the other to blink. My stomach started growling, putting the rumbling of the dark clouds above, to shame. And then he burped. I suddenly realized he had come prepared. This was going to be a long wait.
     The siege continued. I stared at him hard and long, and as the minutes dragged by, the look turned pleading. His eyes softened and he laid down two conditions – One, that I would accept the Meat Ban in the larger interests of the village people and Two,  that I should leave the village and head for the mountains.  He said there were not enough veggies in the village for two foodies to coexist. If I agreed, he would give access to the cart. It was only a matter of time before I surrendered – a total and abject surrender.  He moved away from the cart and I pounced on it, gobbling up the veggies. They didn’t taste that bad after all without the meat. I smiled in content, and burped in gratitude. I left the village never to return.

     I am now spending the rest of my life in the Himalayas, dieting and living on herbs. I have made my peace. History may judge me differently. After all, history is written by the victors and not the vanquished. The future generations may read an entirely different tale of Bakasura- but who knows, one day someone will have the courage to declassify and release this diary to the public.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Old Man and the Cat

He stared at the clock and its face stared right back at him.  The clock’s hand moved slowly, as if in a trance, playing with the numbers, the rhythmic sound echoing the pounding of his heart. The old man was biting his nails, eating into the tender skin of his fingers, oblivious of the pain, and tasting his own blood, his eyes following the moving hand of the clock. The food on the table had not been touched for the last hour, lying uncovered and unattended, turning cold in protest. A few intrepid flies had made their initial advances, stealing furtive glances at the old man on the chair, as they feasted on the rice. The old man had anxiety written across his forehead in a series of thin lines positioned centrally, right above the bridge of his pointed nose.
The old man shook the cat on his lap gently. There was no movement.  His fingers gently ran over the soft fur and rested on its belly.  He could feel a distant thud, faint and rare, but yet unmistakably signaling the signs of a fading life. He looked at the clock again.  It was supposed to be quick. That was what all the internet searches had indicated for the potion. It had been an hour since he had fed Kitty that deadly morsel of rice soaked in her favourite fish curry. He had not wanted her to suffer.  There would be no one to take care of her once he was gone, and he did not have much time. Kitty was a lazy and proud cat, too lazy to get her own food and too proud to beg. Did she suffer, he wondered, as he patted her. Did she hate him in her last moments?  She surely would have realized what was happening, before she closed her eyes to sleep, one last time. He looked at the clock again. One hour fifteen minutes!
“God, Let her not feel any pain”, the old man prayed silently. He continued to bite his nails, as he stroked the cat with his other hand. Suddenly, he felt Kitty shudder, as she almost slipped from  his lap. He lifted her up gently and held her close to his face, his cheek pressed against her fur, listening to that distant thud that had pounded his heart till then. His cheeks met with defeaning silence. He looked at the clock again. One hour twenty minutes!
Would the effect be same on humans, the old man pondered for a minute.  Or was Kitty special? Had it not yet been her time to go? Did he act in haste? Maybe, she would have been happier without him. Maybe she would have found another soul mate. The old man glanced at the body of fur, coiled in static sleep on the floor. She was gone now. She has already found her peace.  Will I last that long, he thought to himself.  Age had not taken to him kindly, his body deteriorating, weakening and giving up on him, much before he gave up on life. He had led a wanton one and it had come at a price. He had decided not to suffer long. Only one hour twenty minutes!
The old man looked at the plate on the table. The number of flies feasting on the mound of rice had gone up significantly. Will they suffer the same fate as Kitty? He gripped the arms of the rickety old rocking chair tightly, as he pushed himself to an upright position and doddered to the table. Swatting the flies away with a weak wave of his left hand, he picked up the rolled ball of rice held together with ghee and gravy.  He raised the ball, as if in a toast of unison to Kitty, and stuffed it in his mouth. One hour twenty minutes!
The old man picked up the cat, struggled to find his comfortable position in the chair, and placed her on his lap again. He leaned back and rocked himself, finally at peace, and stared at the clock as it continued to stare back at him. One hour eighteen minutes!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Party Time

Krish was down to the last sip in his whisky glass, which according to his own standards were fast and furious ever since he laid his eyes on her.  He was taken in by her simple elegance and radiance and when she had caught him looking at her, guilt overcame him and forced him to focus on his drink more than what was required, resulting in the fast and furious sips at intervals far shorter than what would have been, had he been calmer.  Krish was of a nervous kind, nice but nervous, more so when he had to face a girl, or rather when a girl faced him, or rather either. When faced with the prospect of facing the opposite gender, his brain decides to temporarily and unilaterally stop functioning and his palpitations tends to border on the audible drawing concerned glances from cohabiters of that moment.

Sush saw the tall lanky guy in the dark blue jeans and grey checked shirt checking her out and almost stopped breathing. Unassumingly attractive would be what she would place him as, with his thin rimmed glasses and fritters of hair scattered on his forehead in rebellious disarray.  She quickly looked away, afraid to return the attention, and could not bring herself to look in that direction again. She had agreed to come to Hema’s party, assuming a large crowd, since Hema was the party person and her parties were always well attended with the party tales doing the rounds until the next one came about, which was usually sooner than later. She hoped that then she could easily get lost in the crowd and then slip out early without being noticed. Contrary to her expectations, only a handful of Hema’s friends had turned up, exposing her to everybody’s view on the large terrace of the house.
Krish edged towards the girl, not because he had mustered the courage to speak to her, but because she was standing next to the bar counter, and he was standing with an empty glass.  It had been only ten minutes since the party started and he had downed an entire glass of whiskey while there were some, who were yet to pick up their drink.  He had to quickly get a refill, which could yet pass off as his first drink, and he had to do it quickly before Hema or his friends had an opportunity to make him their after party story till the next one.
Sush caught the movement from the corner of her eye and when she turned her head, he was already quite close to her. It was the same guy who was checking her out earlier.  Panic gripped her heart, loosening her grip on the glass in her hand, as it slipped from her fingers and shattered on the floor next to her feet.  She looked up in horror and found herself staring into the eyes of the guy which mirrored her panic, as she heard another glass shattering near her feet. The guy had dropped his glass too.  There was horror on her face, horror on his face and as they turned around to look at the others, horror on everybody’s face as well.
Krish recovered first, looked at the panic stricken girl in front of him and said “Sorry, I wanted to get a drink, and the sound of the breaking glass unnerved me, and I dropped mine too”.  Sush looked at him and as his fears melted some of hers, replied “No, I am sorry.  I don’t know what came over me, I am really embarrassed, the glass just slipped from my fingers”.   She suddenly smiled, the situation forcing it out of her and then immediately saw his eyes softening and his lips forming a quivering line.  She said extending her hand, “I am Sushma, Hema’s friend from her school days”.  He smiled more firmly as he took her hand gently and said “Hi, I am Krishnakanth, Hema’s colleague at work”
“And I am Hema, the owner of these destroyed properties” announced Hema as she strode upto them and stood with her hands on her hips in mock anger.  “Next time, I will have a bell placed on the counter here, which you could ring, rather than shattering my expensive glassware to announce yourselves”. She then burst into laughter, “I am so glad that you guys met. I organized this party just for you two lovely but lonely souls to meet and that is the reason I invited just a few friends, so that you could not have escaped.  I was planning to formally introduce you both, but you managed it just fine without my help”.
Hema turned to her friends and announced “Now that the ice and a couple of my glasses have been broken, let the party begin”.