Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Line from Edukators

If you keep working for this asshole, you'll lose faith in everything.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Whose childhood is it anyway?

There is something more special about a wedding when the actors are childhood sweethearts. To me it suggests a serious lack of imagination. But to the papers, it seems to suggest something warm, something fuzzy, beside the crap in the nappies.  Where a boy meets girl, and the boy is not a middle-aged superstar hooked to sex and whiskey, and the pristine innocence we imagine on the big screen, behind all the blings and the blitz, still remains.

So I assume from all the coverage on the coverage of the wedding of boy-toyking of Bhutan. Which leaves me all confused when I read that the king is 31 and the "commoner" (another fairy-tale element overemphasazied by the media) bride 21. It makes me ask -- whose childhood? I would say that anyone below 6 is still an infant and seriously too young to commit to a sweetheart. Anyone above 16 has already been pleasuring him/herself for over a couple of years and been sprouting fur on his/her groins for even longer, and can be said to safely having moved from the  childhood to the teenaged adulthood state.
How can a couple with ten years separating them have a choldhood romance together then?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ride down an office lift

One of the most conscious passages I have written lately. The idea is to effect an escape from the office and the claustrophobic ride in an elevator. One of the challenges I am facing in this story is that the narrator is not the type of person who would voice his thoughts in the English of literature fiction. The narration writes over the character's own words at many places and leaves  a curious conflation of voices, some words belonging to me and some claimed by the character; a very exacting effort. Each adverb and word needs to be balanced, each comma, each semicolon deliberated on for minutes at end. I wonder if this controlled, planned effort takes away from the spontaneity of the writing.
The last rolling paragraph is supposed to stimulate the inescapable denseness inside the lift by its unbreaking relentless progress.


A clutch of people waited at the bank of lifts, more than what he was accustomed to when he left at his usual hour. None whom he thankfully knew particularly well. Of the three lifts, two were on different floors below and coming up, the one in the middle was going from the first basement to the second. No use watching for that. He sidled to the door of the lift on the nearer floor even though it seemed to have been stuck there since he had walked into the lobby. Most of the crowd was herded in front of that door, intent on avoiding others’ attentions beyond a nod or few syllables. The lift started rolling again, drumming ahead its intention with a grinding clatter and then beginning to rise slowly with the low complaining rumble of a pensioner groaning to his feet. The handful split and wagering on the other lift started shuffling towards their lift.  Unconsciously, he squared his shoulders and adjusted the strap of the laptop bag slipping on his shoulder with the other hand. Almost everyone toted laptops like him, slung on a shoulder, but a few carried backpacks. They must be much more comfortable, distributing the weight across the blades instead of printing an aching welt on one. But he was too old now, too far gone up the hierarchy, to be seen walking about with a schoolboy satchel, for that’s what it was, however black and dull and gray. That breathless anticipation as they sat packed, waiting for the hands on the clock to tick in place and release the peal trapped in the bell. The corridors racing past, the reverberation of their buckled hooves, shouts, whoops, gossips, fights – a babel released, everything rolling at once. The day still alive and sunny in its possibilities. Now only the long crawl back home – some of the people here would be on the choked roads for more than an hour – and waiting at the end of it, the joyless fix of television and sleep.
The panel over the door lit with the number of their floor. Everybody was in place now, the other lift now roundly abandoned. The lift clanged in place and in that brief comma before the doors rumbled apart, the tension was stretched like a balloon skin. A long-awaited bus rolling into a bus-stop. Worse. At a bus-stop you didn’t have to worry about keeping up your professional mask. If it came to a crunch, survival upped both civility and dignity.
The doors parted revealing a handful from the nether floors already cunningly stationed inside for the long drop back. They filed in without jostling and largely respecting the order in which they had arrived, but only just. He moved towards the back, anticipating the squeeze to only get tighter with the influx from the other floors. One of the backpackers moved to his front, an exceptionally tall and broad lad, and was now smothering him with his backpack, the embossed logo pressing on his forehead like a branding iron. He shifted his own laptop from the side to the front, poking him on the back of his thighs just enough to make him turn and realise there was someone behind him and that his boundaries didn’t exactly end at the skin on his back. He moved ahead a little, allowing him a snorkel of space. Everyone was in the lift now, packed and ready to be shipped down. He heard the doors shut.

The lift seemed to stop at every floor, moving with a lurch after every pause and pulling its squealing brakes even before it had gained full speed. Every time the doors opened and waited, he imagined a small crowd peeping inside, muttered counsels between themselves, the people packed at the door facing them blankly and awaiting their verdict, a fourth wall briefly disappeared, most of them outside deciding to give it a pass, but a few of the desperate and shameless squeezing inside; he felt the press inside becoming tighter with every stop. Trapped in his wedge of space, there was nothing he could do but absorb the sounds and shaking rumbles. He waited: a hand clenched around the strap of the bag, the other flat against the wall, daunted by its cool steely smoothness, only a callus grazing a scar etched on it. He did not have anxieties of closed spaces but he imagined being trapped like this for minutes, many minutes, because of some failure, and a flutter passed through him like the thought of one’s own death. He trusted himself to stay calm but what about the others? What if someone here got the panic attack in this confined space? Especially this giant who seemed too big for his own and others’ good. From here to the rush-hour.  Over-packed co-existence was the new paradigm.  The price extracted by progress. Claustrophobia was no longer a private phobia but a public menace: privacy no longer a right but a privilege. A raging madness – stampedes, pileups – which had to be confined and contained. The man in the front moved an arm, shaking it as if it had lost circulation. Almost like a spasm. Unconsciously, he turned his head to one side imagining the thick arm landing on his brittle nose in a flailing thwack. Whatever happened between these floors would be inescapable, beyond deliverance. They would be discovered only when the doors opened. A crushed pile tumbling out. The walls were so thick, he doubted if even their screams would be heard. To the people outside, they were something packed, boxed and in delivery. Schrödinger’s many cats. They might all be gassed and dead for all they knew. He wished the frame would not shudder so much between stops. He was beginning to feel a little light-headed and dyspnoeic. He had lost count of the floors they had stopped at but he felt that the crowd was starting to fan out again, people must be getting off. When the doors finally rumbled apart for him, he stepped out with the giddy relief of disembarking from a wearisome ride in an amusement park.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reaction to a rejection

For a man who did not speak much about himself, and had had no real confidant, he was driven by desperation to tell her, then, everything. Everything: the casual cruelties and betrayals, pinpricks, which had nailed him forever to what he had become since, faiths destroyed; memories so primal and gut-wrenchingly felt that he had not even acknowledged them to himself. But, to win her back, he bared himself of a lifetime accumulation of subterfuges, unshed before even in the privacy of his own company. He exposed the very underpinnings of his vulnerabilities, and waited throbbing and naked for her verdict.
A seven-day wait and then a two-sentenced rejection copied and pasted from the last mail. A few hours before the mail, she had blocked him in all the social networking sites and on her phone. It was in the end a cavalier dismissal of his stripped essence: the doorman called in to show him the way out , not granting him even the time of picking the pile of garments lying at his feet. He shivered with the pitiable indignity of a flower plucked of all its petals.
He shrivelled inside himself like a worm curling into a ball at a poke. He swore to never, never ever, tell anyone anything about himself. To never let anyone come close enough.
One day in class, a gang of pranksters from his class had cornered him to sing and he, innocent of their intention, had sang with his heart, only to be mocked by the burst of laughter when he finished. Since that day he had never sung to anyone else, and even to himself, restrained himself to humming when moved by an inspiration or notes of an old- memory wafting from somewhere, and only occasionally betrayed his resolve in snatches when alone and absolutely outside the earshot of anyone else.
To be joy, one has to sing, unfettered and unashamed. To love, one has to bare. But for him, the fear of the sting of rejection again became sharper than the pang for laughter and love.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

उसके हाथ - १

बात उन दिनों की है जब मैं कॉलेज से निकल कर दिल्ली में पहली-मर्तबा नौकरी कर रहा था. नौकरी में उस वक़्त के हिसाब से पैसे ज्यादाही मिलते थे और काम भी बहुत ज्यादा नहीं था. नयी नयी नौकरी थी, हाथ में पहली बार पैसे आ रहे थे. दोस्तों के साथ बहुत ऐय्याशी के साथ उड़ाये पर जल्दी ही उकता भी गया. दोस्तों की बातें फूहड़ और बकवास लगने लगी – हर वकत वोही टर्र- टर्र – लड़कियों के पीछे लार टपकाना और डींगे हांकना. मैं उनसे अलग ही हो गया. नौकरी में भी उत्साह जल्दी ही मर गया या यूँ कहिये की मार दिया गया. समझ नहीं आ रहा था की इतना कम काम करने के लिए मुझे इतने पैसे क्यूँ मिल रहे थे और इतनी देर क्यूँ बैठना पड़ता था. कॉलेज में तो तब भी क्लास्सेस बंक कर सकते थे, यहां तो स्कूल वाला हाल था. उस पर मेरा बॉस भी अव्वल दर्जे का घटिया आदमी था. बहुत कम आता था और उम्र काफी ढल चुकी थी उसकी. इसीके डर से घूमता रहता था की कहीं नौकरी न चली जाये या कोई मजाक न कर रहा हो. अपने काम से ज़्यादा यह फिक्र में रहता था की दूसरे क्या काम कर रहे हैं. दूसरों की परेशानियों और विपदा के किस्सों में उससे बड़ा मज़ा आता था पर ऐसे बनता जैसे सहानभूति कर रहा हो. हाय राम, बेचारा, च-च! मुझे ऐसे आदमियों से सख्त घृणा है जो मुंह पर कुछ और दिल में कुछ और रखते हैं.
कई बार सोचा नौकरी बदल लूं. पर आर्थिक मंदी के दिन आ गए थे – चाहता भी तो कहीं और नौकरी नहीं मिलती, या यूँ कहिये ढूँढने की मेहनत नहीं करना चाहता था. नौकरी मिल भी जाती तो और मेहनत करनी पड़ती जो मेरे उस वकत की मानसिक दशा में कम ही मुमकिन दिखाई देता था. जिस तरह से एक नयी साइकिल को स्थिरावस्था से गति देने से पुरानी साइकिल को कभी कभार पेडल मार कर चलाते रहना आसान होता है, ऊसी तरह नौक्रियों का हाल होता है. पुरानी नौकरी में बस सही टाइम से आओ, दर्जनों बार उठ कर चाय पियो, जो काम आये उसे कर दो. काम भी अक्सर ऐसा होता है की खाना-पूर्ती – चाहे जितना बेमन से किया हो, बस कुछ-कुछ हो जाना चाहिए. अच्छा कर दो तो शायद उल्टा भोगना ही पड़े -- ऊपर बैठने वाले पीठ पर पिशाच की तरह बैठ जायेंगें और अपना सारा काम भी आप ही से करायेगें और सारा श्रेय आपस में ही बाँट लेंगें. काम में अगर बेरुखी और मंदी का आलम रहे तो आप भीड़ से बाहर नहीं दिखोगे, कोई खून चूसने नहीं उतरेगा. कभी कभार टिप्पणियाँ मिल सकती हैं पर उसकी भी उम्मीद कम ही है – ऐसी नौकरियों में काम का स्तर बहुत नीचे होता है. कुछ हैं जो पूरा भार संभालते हैं: कुछ इसलिए के बेचारे मिजाज़ के मारे हैं – आदत है की अपना स्तर न गिरने दें चाहे स्थिति जितनी ही खराब हो – मैं ऐसे लोगों को मूर्ख ही मानता हूँ, और अपने पिताजी की गिनती ऐसे ही मूर्खों की सभा में करता हूँ. और कुछ हैं जो सोचते हैं की, बस, अगर अच्छा काम करेंगें तो तरक्की और जल्द मिलेगी. पर वो भी नासमझ हैं. ऊपर उठने के लिए काम के अलावा, बहुत मस्खे मारने पड़ते हैं. मेरे कुछ संगियों ने यह राह भी अपनाई. मेरे बौस की हर बात में हाँ में हाँ मिलाते, बल्कि उसके उत्सुक कपटी कानों में अफवाह-बाज़ी करते, और उसके मजाकों पर ऐसे ठहाके लगा कर हँसते की वो भी समझ जाता की ज़बरदस्ती हंस रहे हैं. एक जनाब तो दिवाली पर उसके लिए घर से इतने पैकेट मिठाई लाये जैसे अपनी लड़की का रिश्ता करने आये हों. इनमें से ज़्यादातर मेरे कॉलेज के सहपाठी ही थे और इन्ही के साथ मेरा शुरुआत में बाहर उठाना बैठना था. शायद इन्ही वजहों से उनसे मैं दूर होता गया. कॉलेज में जो कुछ-कुछ अपनी खुद की पहचान और दुनिया की ओछी रीतियों से दूर रहना की बातें थी, उन्हें शायद बातें जान कर हॉस्टल के उन बरामादों में ही दफना कर आना चाहिये  था. उन्हें उस तुच्छ इंसान, जो सहयोग से हमारा बौस था, की चापलूसी करते देख कर लगता था जैसे कॉलेज में इंतिहान के बाद चंद नंबर बढ़वाने के लिए वो प्रोफेस्सरों के कमरों के बाहर चक्कर लगाया करते थे. जैसे भूके मरियल कुत्ते रोटियों के टुकड़ों के लिए किसी कूड़ेदान के आस-पास मंडरा रहे हों.
उनके साथ रहते-रहते भी मैं अकेले रहने लगा. पहले तो मैंने उनके साथ बेबाक दारु-नशा किया, थोड़े दिन जुए की भी लत् पाली, पैर मुझे इन सब नशों में कोई दिलचस्पी पैदा हुई. दूसरों को यह सब करता देख कर समझ गया था कि जिससे वो उत्साह समझ रहा हैं, वो असल में हकीकत से भागना है. मुझे अपनी हकीकत से डर नहीं था, मैं उससे समझना चाहता था जिसमें मैं असमर्थ था. मैंने सारे ऐब एक-एक कर के पाले, इस हद्द तक किये कि दोस्त भी डर गए: बड़े-बड़े ब्रांडों के जूते-कपड़े खरीद कर फ़ेंक दिए, जुआ खेला तो ऐसा खेला की सब दांव पर लगा कर हारा, दारु पी तो धुत्त नशे में सड़क पर ही गिर कर सो गया, एक-दो बार फिजूल की मार-पिटाई भी की – और फिर यकायक सब छोड़ दिया. अब मेरे दोस्त जब पार्टी करने बाहर जाते, तो बहाना मार कर घर पर बैठा रहता और कुछ नहीं करता. पहले पढ़ने कि थोड़ी-बहुत आदत थी पर किताब अब उठाई ही नहीं जाती थी. टीवी पर जो शो आते बहुत फूहड़ लगते थे, समाचार में रिपोर्टरों की बेफिजूली की उत्तेजना और चिंता के स्वांग को देख कर उन्हें जल्द-से-जल्द जिस खौफनाक मौतों का वो तमाशा बना रहे थे उससे कहीं बदत्तर मौत कि दुआ देता. घर पर फोन करो तो पिताजी से मेहनत के ऊपर लेक्चर और माँ से दूर के चाचा-ताऊ के किस्से सुनना पड़ता जिनके निजी जीवन से मुझे कोई दिलचस्पी नहीं थी. मुझे उन दिनों बस कुछ कलात्मक फिल्मों देखने का मन होता पर जब वो देखता तो बहुत बेकरारी होती की जाऊं कहीं और कुछ करूं पर जब आजीवन कुछ न किया हो, तो अब करता तो कहाँ से शुरू करता. वोही साइकिल का उदारहण – इस पुरानी खटारा पर निरुत्साहित पेडल मारे जा रहा था, चाहे कितना ही उतर के बदलने का मन न हो.

उसी वकत मैंने एक दो लडकियां पटांईं. की शायद किसी प्रेमिका कि सौबात में ही राहत मिले. बस राह-फिरते जो अच्छी लगती जा कर पूछ लेता. कुछ ने जूती दिखाई, कुछ डर कर भाग गयीं, कुछ शर्माते-शर्माते मान गयीं. उन्हें मैंने कॉफ़ी हाउस में कॉफ़ी पिलाई, लोदी बाग में हाथ पकड़ कर घूमा, घर ला कर चुम्मा-चाटी की. पर क्षण भर के मज़े के अलावा और कुछ न मिला. एक भी लड़की न मिली जिसकी अक्ल एढ़ी में न बैठी हो, जो खुद को दुनिया कि नज़रों में न देखती हो. कहने को कुछ नहीं होता था पर मुंह पर कभी ताला नहीं पड़ता. सोचा सभी लडकियां ऐसी हो होती हैं – जो बाद में ही पता चला कि ऐसा नहीं है. शायद मेरा उस वकत भाग्य ही खराब था.
इसी बीच एक लड़की मेरे गले पड़ गयी. शादी की रट लगा ली. धमकी देने लगी कि मेरे नाशिक-वाले घर पहुँच जायेगी पर मैंने उसे वहाँ का पता पता न लगने दिया. फिर कहने लगी कि उसने अपने घर पर सब बता दिया है और अल्लाहाबाद से उसके पिता रिश्ता पक्का करने कभी भी मेरी चौखट पर आ धम्केंगें. मैं परेशान हो गया और सोचा कि अब तो कोई और मकान ढूँढना ही होगा. अपने फ्लैट के मित्रों से मैं वैसे ही तंग आ गया था और कई बार ठानी थी कि अकेले ही कहीं खिसक लूँ.  पर मैं निहायती आलसी आदमी हूँ. पीठ पर खुजली करने के लिए भी हाथ तभी उठाता हूँ जब बर्दाश्त के बाहर हो जाये. सोचा कि चलो इस बहाने इन दोस्तों – जिनसे न पहले कि यारी, न कोई सहानुभुति रह गयी थी – इनसे निजात मिलेगी.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rote Rote hansnaa

तुम इतना जो रो रहे हो
क्या ख़ुशी है जो छिपा रहे हो?

Hmm. The vice-versa doesn't really work.
But I would love to see a guy serenade the family of a bomb victim with this, softly and melodiously. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Faux pas"?

Mr. Krishna confused the facts of a question posed on the floor, and Rediff headlines it as a faux pas.Did i miss something here or was there some innate social custom here that was trespassed here in a blunder? Or is it just plain bad English from the Rediff team?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mere coincidence

Meet Rohit Shetty, whose  Golmaals, or whatever Muppets-sets portions I have seen of them, should be sued for assassinating a name that stood for many years for comedy. Seen here deeply contemplating where it's his left nut that itches or the right, and if he should ask the left side of the brain to move the right side of his hand to the left -- no, no -- left, right, right -- frown, frown...

Anyway, Rohit, with all the brain bursting out of his forehead, is a man who believes in things. He doesn't profess to understand them but he absolutely does believe in them, whatever they might be. Depending on which direction the wind is blowing. Not the one from Devgun's greasy colon but you know the wind.... don't ask the man whether it be easterly or westerly... or the brain might burst out of that frown.

Like right now, he believes that we should stand by Mumbai cops. Because, he discloses, if we do not stand by it, we might end up standing in front of them and they might not see the evidence. Worse, they might mistake us for evidence and lock us up. Frownfrown intelligence you see.

The fact that his movie glorifying a cop (and in no way riding on the runaway success of Dabang) is releasing later this week is purely coincidental. RS is not a man who would freeride on tragedies like this for cheap publicity. NO sirrrr. Just like stars would never dance in private weddings for bucks. They do? Frownfrown. Well, I won't... I mean I won't dance... I mean freeride in weddings...no have tragic weddings... frownfrown.... That itch again....

Do I ask with the left or the right side of my mouth?

Friday, July 15, 2011

New low for Rediff

This is the leading news story right now: Astrological doomsday predictions on state of affairs.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Why is the clown like a thumbprint?

Content for Theatre Garage Project's website. The idea was to link clowning with thumbprints (theme for website) and the Mad Hatter.

‘Why is the clown like a thumbprint?’


‘Why is the clown like a thumbprint?’, the man with the strange big hat and the tiny red nose asked me again.

‘I don’t know what you mean to say!’

He approached me and bent over, hands on his thighs, the shanks bulging under red trousers several sizes too small for him, two large brown buttons at the top of his fly undone, the cuffs reaching his shins; a big blue patch in the shape of a boot on one knee.

‘Why. Is. The. Clown Like. Ayyy. Thumbprint?’

‘Huh! What silly riddle is that’, I grunted, ‘You might as well ask why the raven is like a desk.’

‘Oh, I know that one.’

‘Huh? Why?’

‘Ummm, I forgot. It had something to do with a raven and a desk tho’.’

‘Great help that is’,

‘Tell me, why is the clown…’

‘Like a thumbprint. I got it. I don’t know and really I don’t care.’ Still lying flat on my back on the grass, I propped myself up a bit on my elbows but my hands felt too heavy to lift and rub the back of my head. I looked around, the sky was clear and blue, not a wisp of a cloud on it, and all around me was a spread of grass as green and flat as a bedspread. I looked above – no sign of the hole I had fallen through.

‘I know!’, the man shouted over my head again. ‘A thumbprint is hard, grows all the time and if you don’t cut its head off…’

‘You mean a thumb nail, you idiot, not a thumbprint! Look, I am very tired. I have just come falling all the way down a rabbit hole. One moment I was standing on my two steady feet planted solidly in my world…’

‘What were you doing?’


‘What were you doing there in your world standing on your steady two feet…?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Uhh– nothing. I was thinking.’

‘Yes, but what were you doing?’

‘I told you! I was thinking.’

‘Yes, yes. And while you were thinking, what were you doing?’

‘I don’t know what the hell you mean! I was thinking! What does one do when one thinks – one thinks.’

‘Yes, but what does one do?’

‘Dammit! One thinks! Thinking is a verb –‘

My words seemed to startle him and he sprung from the bent posture like a pair of springs had recoiled under his knee. His eyes, too large for the head – the head too large for the body – widened with surprise.

‘Thinking is a verb?’

‘Of course, it is.’

‘But a verb describes an action, I remember.’

‘Of course, it does. And thinking is a –‘ the word never came. I remembered suddenly what I had been thinking before I saw the rabbit hole and fell in it. I was thinking of what I would do next. I had stood like that for a long time. A long, long time. Thinking about doing something but never really doing anything.

Was I really doing something, or just thinking all the time?

I squinted at the hatter again. His pupils, large and brown like a pair of walnuts, were spinning fast like a pair of flies caught inside, both in the opposite direction. When they would meet at the centre, a hiccough would rise from him, his large Adam’s apple jump like a mouse over the large red-and-white bow, the top of his hat would lift letting out a huge belch of steam, and a small whistle behind his teeth. I watched him with horror as the pupils spun faster and faster like propellers, the hiccoughs gained speed like a piston moving to full steam, the smoke from the hat gained the size of clouds, and the whistles became the toots of a steamer about to set sail. Just when I thought that the pupils would burst from the eyes and go plonking on the grass like marbles, and the head blow off with the next burst of steam, the man jumped to his feet and waved his arms about, his feet dancing the most ridiculous jig I ever saw. He clapped his hands around something and brought it under my nose, with the look of a dog offering me a bone he’d just dug up.

‘See’, he opened the crack of his hands a little, and I bent and peered in the dark.

‘You saw?! You saw?!’, he clapped his hand back and shouted with beaming glee.

‘Saw what? There was nothing.’

‘Yes. You saw! There was nothing!’


‘What was that nothing? Tell, tell!’

‘Nothing, I told you.’

‘Yes, but you have to find something in that nothing. Look, see again.’ He opened the crack of his hands again. I knew there was nothing there, but something in his conviction made me peer again.

There was the black emptiness again, of course - a dark blank nothing. Irritated, I decided to stop this nonsense and ask him help me to my feet –

And then I saw it. A fly fluttering inside, a red fly with the swollen abdomen of a bumblebee and the stripes of a zebra.

‘Why! It’s a fly!’

He opened his palms now, keeping his wrists together and fluttering them. And I saw the red fly break into a pupa, the pupa become a most wondrous creature, a red pixie in a zebra striped bikini, wings fluttering behind her, shaking her mop of wild curls as if she’d just woken up, and staring at everything around with all the wonder and innocence of a first look at the world –

The wings, the palms snapped back on her, crunching her between themselves and she disappeared in the loud smack. A red juice trickled between them and he opened the palms and plucked something from the middle and popped it in his mouth.

‘You brute!’, I shouted and made to lunge at him. But my hands were still too tired to even twitch from the position I was caught in.

‘Ah’, he burped, ‘See. There was something in that nothing after all. I think I will conjure something salty to go with it afterwards.’

‘You horrid, horrid thing! You ate the pixie!’


‘You ate the pixie, you evil carnivorous beast!’

‘Pixie. I though it tasted more like red berry’, he stared at me with such intense wonder again that suddenly I was not sure what I had seen.

‘Is that it?!’, he screamed and jumped on his feet, ‘Is that why a clown is like a thumbprint? Because – because –’ Just as suddenly his knees buckled and he dropped on the ground, sitting on the grass beside me, his chin thrust at me, cradled on the palm of the elbow propped on the patchwork knee.

‘When you where there in your world, thinking and doing nothing, what did you do?’


‘What did you do?’

‘Nothing, I was just thinking.’

‘But you must have done something. Why are you still not there in your thinking nothing then?’

He was right. ‘I saw’, I shook my head, itching to rub the back of it, ‘A hole. A rabbit hole.’

‘Yes, yes!’, his eyes sparkled like a pair of twinkling bulbs, ‘And what was in that hole?!’


‘Nothing, nothing, nothing!’, he was on the ball of his feet now, knuckles dug into the grass and hopping like a mad toad. ‘And what did you do with that nothing?’

‘I stepped back, what else?’

‘Why! Did! You! Step! Back?’

‘Because – Because I was frightened.’

‘What! Were! You! Frightened! Of?’ he was springing all around me like a spring-heeled jack, so fast that I could only see a blur.

‘I was afraid of that nothing.’

‘But! How! Can! You! Be! Frightened! Of! Nothing?!’

I suddenlyremebered that nothing and the fear. My tongue felt like a dry rag in my mouth and my head felt like there was a giant gong tolling inside. Oh, the world to give the back of my head a rub!

‘Look, can you help me? My hands are too heavy to lift all by my own and I need to rub the back of my head to think clear.’

‘Think, you think too much’, he stopped hopping and was suddenly sitting where he had sat before like he had never left the place. He was sipping from a porcelain white cup now, holding a brown saucer in the other hand. ‘I would have offered you some tea, but we’re out of wine.’ He set the tea on the saucer and fished under his waistcoat, and brought out a large sliver fobwatch which he consulted with a deep pensive frown. ‘Ah! Well, six o’ as usual. I guess we have some time to help you then.’ He set the tea and the saucer aside on the grass, and looked at my hand.

‘Why! You’re wearing a glove!’

I didn’t know what to say. I always wore gloves when I went outside.

He craned his big head over me and stared surprised at my other head, ‘And you’re wearing a glove on the other hand too!’

‘Of course I am’, I snapped at him crossed, ‘Gloves come in pairs!’

‘And they’re not even of different colours,! Tsk, tsk’, he sighed and started peeling off the glove from my hand slowly, holding it by an end gingerly like a soiled bandage. ‘So, tell me, why were you afraid of that nothing?’

‘I was’, I watched the skin of the glove slowly lift from my hand, ‘Afraid that I would fall into it.’

‘And what of it?’

‘Well, if I fell into nothing, where would I end?’

‘Well, I would say that wherever it was, it would be a lot better where you were, standing on your two steady feet – thinking’, he screwed his nose like he had said a dirty word.

‘Look, I was something in my world, okay. I might be doing nothing but I had my own patch of ground to dig my two heels in.’

‘Then why did you jump into that hole?’

‘I didn’t jump, I fell!’

‘Oh sure’, he snorted in disbelief. His fingers were lifting the end of my glove so slowly that it had risen only an inch or so from the skin of my hand.

I made to snap at him, and suddenly it came to me again. That gaping hole, yawning under my feet, my legs shaking with fright, and the fall – or did I really fall?

‘Ta-da!’, he snapped away the glove from a hand with a pull.

‘Ouch that hurt!’, but my hand suddenly felt light as air and I lifted it to my face. ‘Why! I am bleeding!’ Dripping was more like it.

‘Well, congratulations’, he mumbled absent-mindedly, sitting and sipping his tea again.

I peeled the other glove away and another bleeding light hand emerged under it.

‘Did you see something in that hole when you fell?’, I heard the clink of the cup on the saucer. I was sitting on my bums now, staring at my hands, flexing my fingers in front of my face, blobs of blood dropping off them. They were bleeding, but they were alive like they had never been alive before. Or – perhaps – once, a long long time ago.


‘You saw nothing in that nothing again’, his voice sounded tired and disappointed.

‘Well, actually –‘, the throb behind my head became intense again, but this time I had a hand free to rub it, which I did, with my eyes closed, ‘Well, I did see something.’

‘Just one something?’

I remembered cupboards and bookshelves, maps and pictures hung on pegs, and jar labelled “ORANGE MARMALADE.”

‘No – many’, I was furiously rubbing the back of my head now, the throb of the back was like something trapped inside jumping and crashing against the inside of my head.

‘Did you grab at it?’

‘No! – Aah!’


‘Because – because they were going away so fast!’

‘Well what of it?’

‘What if I grabbed them and got swept away with them?’

‘Where did you think they would have gone?’

‘I – aaah! – don’t know!’

‘Exactly’, he sighed.

The throb went as suddenly it had come. I opened my eyes and saw him bent over me again, peering at my thumb and holding his against it.

‘Your thumbprint is not exactly like mine’, he said slowly with wonder, ‘Yours are too squiggly and mine go about in quite a good-looking spiral, I must say.’

‘Of course they’re not. No two thumbprints in the world are the same.’

‘Is that so?’, he lifted his face to mine and I cried in surprise and terror. He seemed to have aged a hundred years since I last saw him. I suddenly saw that he was a lot smaller now too, and seemed to shrink with each passing second.

‘What’s happening to you?!’

He ignored my question and fished out the fobwatch and consulted it again. ‘Six o’’, he sighed, ‘I must be going now.’

‘No! Don’t!’

‘Oh, I must. I know now why the clown is like a thumbprint. I will go and search for some other riddle.’

‘What if I fell again?’

‘Are you sure you fell I nthe first place?’, he was the size of an overgrown toad now.

‘No’, I whispered.

He smiled, ‘You should have played with everything that came along. You never know where all you might have gone.’

‘Yes’, I was weeping now, ‘You sent me those things and I spent all night dodging them. I should have just let those things sweep me away.’

‘Oh I didn’t send anything. I was here all the time having my tea. You sent yourself those things – cough cough cough!’

I wiped my eye and looked at him. He was on his back now, an old dying frog with a white goatee. His eyes were grey and green and very tired, looking at me.

‘Please send me another hole. I won’t dodge the things now.’

He sighed sadly, ‘Oh, you will. Cough, cough! But that’s all right. When the things come out of you from that nothing, you will be afraid again. Because you don’t know what it might be and where it might take you. You’ll start thinking again and do nothing.’

‘Oh, I won’t. I will do something, anything. I promise.’

‘Ah, no one knows whether you will or not. Or if anyone will or not. It doesn’t matter really. What matters is that one tries.’

‘Yes! I will try!’

He smiled, looking very tired and small now, ‘You will?’

‘Well, I’ll try to – try.’

He smiled one last time and disappeared in a puff. All that was left of him now was the top hat. I stood on my feet and bent to pick up the hat. Under it lay the tiny red nose.

I lifted the nose, and the ground fell crashing away all around me, a wave starting from my feet and spreading to the horizon, the green stretches of grass collapsing in thunderous roars, leaving a vast gaping black nothing under me, and just a patch of ground beneath my feet.

My legs shook madly with fear again, and I spread my hands to balance myself in that slim purchase I was left with. Despite myself, I looked below and found an endless chasm of nothing. A howl rose from somewhere: I thought it was the whirlwind sweeping in that black hole beneath. It took me a moment to realise that it was coming from my own inside. I opened my eyes again and again saw nothing – yes, nothing – no, something – something floating – whose shape eluded me.

There was only one way to find out.

I put on the red nose and jumped.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


The restlessness is like a coiled muscle at the back of my knee, screaming and refusing to let me sit. Like a fly trapped in a bottle that knows nothing but the beyond. I can step outside and walk the length of the corridors till my feet hurt and the sweat slosh in my shoes, and still it would not tire. I imagine the evening, alone, marijuana, sunk in the couch with my feet thrown across another, a book sprawled across my lap, my hands spilling limply over the armrests, the lights from the television dancing in my bleary half-closed eyes. Bliss.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

the things people make and do

people become really good once they put a lot of time into something. it's been my long-standing anguish: the wunderkindish skill of being a good beginner in most skills but knowing i won't have the perseverance and wherewithal to reach that transcendence.

Saturday, April 02, 2011


When we were young, we were overwhelmed by the number of people around us, but how few there really were. Spread near us, their confines established, except for the distant visiting relatives and cousins.
The time we spent together, the sheer quantity.

Now that we are old, there are too many people and all the time we have is not really ours. That quantum of time will never return for us. We won't speak of it because that which cannot be regained can only make us sadder, and crack that thickening crust of time that's become our own skin.

We've changed in the time apart. We've become strangers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

If Parveen Babi had played the Black Swan

'The only person standing in your way is you, Nina!'

PB, screaming: 'No! I am telling you! It's Amitabh Bachchan!'

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


there are days when i convince myself that i am doing pretty well as a wannabe writer.
there are days when i read my stuff and think why i even bother.


was looking for a synonym for goosebumps.

And got skin erection.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chess Puzzle for you

White to play and win in five moves

Just idiot

I keep getting forwards to the posts of VigilIdiot. I have never quite figured why it is supposed to be funny. The wit is low and the idea is to bare the entire plot in ugh stick figures. If the inspiration is MAD, it bombs stupendously.This post on Guzaarish , if the first few comments are to be believed, is one of its best. 1757 people have liked it.

I think we, as a nation, still have a long way to go to have good comedy centered on things touching our lives; just like good literature. Till that time, VigilIdiot, Sidin Vadikut and Chetan Bhagat with rule the roost. 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Notes from a blood donation

The nurse files the form in a drawer and rises and ushers me to a room behind the desk, a small vestibular affair, with a narrow desk crowded with ampoules and instruments, and three straight-backed chairs circling it. Another door at the back, frosted glass plate embossed with the wing logo and trimmed with steel. Niranjan hesitates to follow us and balks at the door. The nurse ignores him and pulls a chair near me and, in a smooth flurry, shakes and slips a thermometer shaped like a schoolmaster’s paddle inside my mouth, straps the cuff of a blood pressure instrument tightly to my upper arm, reclaims the thermometer and notes my temperature in a small slip, works the machine, pumping the band around my arm and then releasing the air, notes the reading from the monitor in the same slip, removes and rolls away the cuff and then, taking my hand in hers, cleans the pad of the middle finger with a spirit-soaked cotton ball – all without looking at me once. I examine her face with unconcealed challenge: the oiled wispy curls fallen from the tightly-pulled bun beneath the cap, the dark pitted brow, the fixed eyebrows, the surprisingly long lashes, the thick wings of the nose, the clefts at the corners of the thick lips, the full and healthy juts of her breasts. We sit so close, her face bending into mine, that she must surely sense the trespass of my eyes, but she remains frigidly indifferent, the cold clamp of the palm wrapped around my wrist. The lapel pinned to the sari announces her name –
‘Are you from Bangalore?’
‘The eyes lift for a moment, ‘Kochi.’ They fall and that is it. None of the commingling affinities of the world outside, here, only the unmixing water and oil of the nurse and the subject.
The prick startles me but does not sting. She squeezes a drop from my finger, coaxing it like a much-used tube of toothpaste, onto a slide and slips it inside a small lidded box. She rises without a word or a glance at me, and opens the door at the back and steps aside. I turn to Niranjan who smiles and gives me a thumb up.
 The door opens to a vast white room, a row of donor chairs in blue vinyl running along the wall, each with its own set of stainless steel cabinet and IV stand and as snug as a private bed in an opium den. I take the chair she points to me; my neighbour, the only other donor in the room, looks up and nods; in his early fifties, strapped, the cuffs of his shirt rolled up and one hand spread on a luscious armrest. An orderly in shapeless light-blue pyjamas straps me with the same practised brusqueness as the nurse’s. My nerves tauten under the tourniquet like thin vine spreading on a wall. The dab of the spirit and the poise of the needle, the keen precision of its cold tip the very antithesis of the blue warm gurgling artery it moves to insinuate: it enters anticlimactically with the faintest sting.