A very short account of the murder of one Susan Meyers

Beth stood in front of her bathroom mirror, her jet black hair undone, eyes red, and naked. She kept splashing water from the open tap on the mirror, which was being fogged up by the steam from the hot shower, to get a clearer view. She twitched her neck slightly to the left. It was a quick, involuntary movement that made her look much like a startled pigeon. Her mouth was slightly open, with the lower jaw hanging slightly to the left, like a jewelry box which wouldn’t shut properly because of loose hinges. “Susan is such a bitch”, she kept murmuring under her breath. “A wise-ass, know-it-all! She can fool everyone with her silly pigtails and pretentious skirts, but she ain’t fooling me”, she kept on saying, her teeth grinding all the while like a scraper at work, until she spat hard on the mirror. Beth had come home late from work, angry and exhausted. She had yet again spent an extra three hours at the office to complete a job that her boss had assigned her. She had dragged herself up the stairs to her dimly lit apartment, and flung herself onto the shabby bed, where she laid for a whole five minutes before pulling herself up to get washed.

Beth was a silent girl with eyes that looked like she was always trying to come out of something, confused and disconcerted. She had no immediate human company other than an old aunt, who lived in the country. The only times she felt human presence in her life were when she would receive a yearly Christmas card from her aunt, or when she was hollered at from some alleyway, while walking around at night. She liked doing that, staring at the lights that came from the shabby buildings and apartments all around her. She had always wondered why the light decided to stay in the crumbling apartments when it had all the world to travel around. Beth had entered her new job around five months back, and had been a quiet presence in the office too. It was almost as if she was a shadow. No one seemed to notice her, even when they were looking her in the eye. The initial sadness on not being recognized, and not having friends, made way to self-loathing. She started finding reasons for the behavior of her colleagues. She told herself that it might be because she was too quiet, or because she was too shabby. She had a minor drinking problem, which was the result of a bad past and a worse present, but she tried her best to keep it hidden from her colleagues. Once the phase of self-loathing passed, she happened to lay her eyes on Susan. To Beth, Susan was everything she was not, and she now had good reason to focus all her hatred and anger on Susan.

Susan was the perfect woman, according to anyone she was ever acquainted with. Her being the employee-of-the-month consecutively for the six months since she joined the Company hadn’t stopped her from being the most liked person among her colleagues. She carried her popularity like a crown, but without the air of a college cheerleader. She was a natural leader who was a part of everything that went on in the office, but without any desire to project herself. Her neatly plated hair with short bangs, the angelic face that was too kind and forgiving, the frock dresses that reached below her knee and the stockings that reached above, and the knitted overalls she frequently wore, gave her the disposition of one of those perfect Catholic wife characters that one would see only in movies. All that was missing was a Bible! Susan’s eyes reached every nook and corner of the office. She always had the perfect reaction for every occasion. She was there, beaming with pride when Edward told her that his daughter had come out top in her class. Her eyes shed a couple of involuntary tears when Sarah told her about the passing of her dog, Sarah herself not doing so. She would laugh out loud in gatherings, and would blush and timidly walk away if someone cracked an indecent joke. Her superiors being delighted with her performance at work was just icing on the already succulent cake of her existence.

But Susan had a minor flaw!, a black dot on an otherwise perfectly white sheet that she tried hard to hide with the only fake smiles and words she had ever smiled or spoken in her rigorously religious life. She despised Beth, although she never fully understood why! She thought that Beth was shabby, which she was. She believed that Beth was an alcoholic, which she was. Very often, she would almost detect the faint smell of stale rum on Beth’s breath, which she immediately repelled with her pocket perfume and a furtive glance at Beth herself. Sometimes, the both of them would be together among a group of lively colleagues and Beth would be trying hard to come up with a funny anecdote or limerick, craving attention, when Susan would cut her off even before she could bring out her first two words. Beth wondered how Susan always knew when she was about to speak; and Susan thought it was a kindness that she showed to her weird colleague, whom she was sure would become the laughing stock of the group if she uttered even a word. Beth was probably the only human being who believed that Susan was evil. Susan towered over her like a giant shadow, scaring and antagonizing her to her core.

It is very difficult to comprehend the amount of hatred that would make someone murder another human being. Hatred, as an emotion, could not summarize what Beth felt towards Susan, when she decided to take her life. The decision in itself, was not an easy one. However, by the time Beth began planning it out, she found out that things were working out by themselves so perfectly that she even began wondering whether Susan herself was working along with Beth’s plan to murder her, especially from the ease with which Beth was able to duplicate a key to Susan’s apartment, leave the office early and hide under Susan’s bed. She felt a curious excitement while waiting for Susan, holding the surgical blade that she had managed to procure from a shady chemist’s shop in the alley. She has ensured that the blade was sharp enough by slicing herself on her left arm, as if she were practicing her act for the day. The careful footsteps that she took walking behind Susan as she undressed herself and headed for the shower, surprised Beth. She was too close to Susan that she was almost walking beside her. Beth remembered with a sly grin on her face that being unnoticeable had finally paid off. While blood sprayed along the red line that the scalpel created on Susan’s neck, Beth remembered thinking that it was not how she had imagined the scene would be. She had pictured a more uniform flow down the neck rather than the random spurts, gushes, sprays and even a slight ‘pop’ when she cut through the windpipe.

‘Susan Bethany Meyers’, the reporting officer’s narrative from the murder report read, ‘was found with a scalpel in her right hand and a deep incision across her neck. Among other bruises is another deep incision on her left arm.’ It went on to read that there were no signs of breaking in at the apartment and no foreign fingerprints other than the victim’s. No one at the office could contemplate why the lovely Susan had killed herself. A few days later, the local police arranged a short session for Susan’s colleagues with her psychiatrist in which the doctor tried explaining the drama that unfolded. Most of them wondered loudly about the kind of trauma that a seemingly sorted out person such as Susan must have gone through, to commit suicide. Yet a few others tried understanding the words of the doctor about the importance of mental health. Very few could wrap their heads around seemingly simple words like ‘dual personality’, that the doctor spoke about in her session. No one had heard of a woman named Beth.


“Hey there!”, read the text.

The chime from the overused phone was loud in the dark room lit only by the light coming from a beer bottle. That’s how she liked it. She had gotten the bottle from one of her friends, not because she did not drink, but because she wanted it to be made of things she never owned. She had filled the bottle with the long LED strip that she had stolen from the church Christmas tree, not because she couldn’t afford one, but because she wanted it to be filled with something that she had taken by force and against permission. She plugged the sapphire bottle full of little bulbs into the socket by the side of her bed, and watched it glow and fade out, repeating itself in a continuous pattern, like someone so high from an intoxicant trying to stay awake against the kick, trying to force their eyes open, only to find it closing ever so slowly, their will against the will of the high. The pattern kept changing, sometimes like a flow, slowly going back and forth, sometimes like a madman, dancing wildly, without any particular rhythm, and sometimes like a cockroach faced with a torchlight, just staying there, not moving, not knowing, not caring. But no matter what it did, it didn’t light up her room. The light kept coming, it kept leaving too, ever present but never enough, lighting up the room in a sudden spirit, only to make way for complete darkness. She stared at it with a curious wonderment as to how something as simple as as a bedlamp could tell her so much about life; that how a trash bottle and a few stolen bulbs told her that no matter how forcefully she tried to keep something that wasn’t hers, it wouldn’t shine a light good enough if it did not belong to her.

She had called one of her best friends as soon as she had thought about it. It was early in the morning and the call was not answered. The familiar dialler tone from a recent movie played twice before she decided to give up. She knew that the thought was silly. She had found herself thinking against it, the familiar voice in her head chastising her for even considering such a thought. But to her fear and surprise, she heard yet another voice, stronger than the familiar one in some strange way, advocating the thought, gently, purposefully, as if it was guiding her towards the direction of the thought, one arm on her arm, the other on her shoulder, like a pedestrian helping a blind person cross the road.

She had texted a few of her colleagues and even an old friend from school while she was at work, later that day. Most didn’t respond and the ones that did promised that they’d get back soon. She knew that ‘soon’ was the worst time to get back to someone, because when it comes to trying to reach a lost cause, nothing is soon enough; and ‘soon’ is the closest loss, the moment before the realisation that you failed, giving you just enough time to realise your loss but not enough to do anything about it.

He had called her that day. It was evening already and she was having her favorite cup of coffee. “Coffee makes everything better”, she thought! And here was, calling her just when she needed him to. “Maybe there’s magic in coffee”, she told him. Though he didn’t understand, she made no effort to explain. He explained his day, told her that he loved her and that he’d call her after dinner that night, before going to bed. She smiled, nodded and hummed at all the right places and returned to her cup of magic once he disconnected the call.

“You need to watch that figure”, her boss who was like an elder sister to her, said, winking. “You drink too much coffee, dear! Could you not at least cut down on the sugar?” She winked in reply saying, ” now, don’t deprive me of the ounce of sweetness in my hefty day, boss-lady!” She had, however, decided to take the night’s coffee black and without sugar by the time she had finished that sentence.

She loved coming home to the precision of her comfort in the evening. She always knew where things were and how to get to them even if she were blindfolded. Unpacking on the desk with one hand, she bit a chunk of the diet rusk from her other hand aggressively. The bag flew to the bed, followed by her top and pants, and finally her own body. She pressed her face against the pillow, which was warm from the afternoon sun. The fan was whirring monotonous circles. Though it was not doing much to give any sort of wind, the sound was relaxing; like the snore of a familiar person. “I wouldn’t even know what to tell them”, she thought with a smile scrolling through her contact list. She opened Facebook and Instagram to check for notifications, scrolled a while further on WhatsApp and finally clicked the lock button and lay on her back, arms, legs and hair spread, with the phone still in her right hand.

She woke up some time around ten in the night and had that coffee, black and without sugar, just like she had planned. She twisted the tomato knife in her hand, looking at it with immense love and gratitude. She pressed it to her wrist and waited for a last minute revelation. The universe stayed silent, shrugging as if there was nothing to reveal. Her eyes welled up while she smiled and nodded her head in acknowledgement.

“Hey there!”, read the text, at around twelve. It was midnight.
“Sorry, was a bit busy today! Boss is dumping everything on me. As if I’m the only one in this office, urggghhh! “
” I’ll catch you soon, bro! You sleep for now. My night had just begun. Lawta things to do before I turn myself in for bed”
” Good night! Laaaw you! “

The light from the beer bottle turned bedlamp kept fading in and out. And if one looked closely enough, one could see a curled up figure on the bed, one of the arms hanging loose by the side of the bed, dripping little bulbs of red onto the floor.

There were five texts, all unanswered.
There were one thousand and sixty eight Facebook friends and a pending friend request.
There were five hundred and thirty nine Instagram followers and five notifications for posts from earlier.
There were texts from at least seven WhatsApp groups, left to read.


The zombie’s heart, dark as his hair,
the zombie’s face, pale as the air,
the zombie’s thoughts, all blood and gore,
and his eyes, all red and sore!

The zombie wakes to the morning’s choir,
his room lit dark, like a movie noir.
The sun has shown it’s far from dawn.
The zombie howls a dire yawn.

He walks away from the light
rubbing his eyes with all his might.
He gives the wall all his weight
as he moves in search of another light.

Why in hell would you need a door?
It could be walls on all four!
walls that held and tightly hid
those dreams of his nipped in the bud.

“Zombie! Zombie”, the love bird chirps,
the tree leaves hiss, and the wind quips.
“Zombie! Zombie!”, honks a car
and a jogger’s stare from afar.

The zombie smiles a crooked smile,
for he has been called names more vile.
The zombie moves in a poof
back to his little room, the grave with a roof!

“The morning is here”, the zombie hissed,
through his gritted teeth, and tightened fist.
“All good and gay!” the zombie said,
his arms aloft on his shaking head.

The zombie’s thoughts, all blood and gore,
the zombie’s eyes, all red and sore.
Those thoughts he bore to his pillow’s core.
Screaming loud, he lets it all pour.

He turns on his bed, his coffin bed,
pulls the blanket back over his head.
As the blanket flies, a dream falls down.
He pulls it back in with a frown.

He looks at it, heaves a sigh,
his breath still stinking of last night’s high.
The dream burns bright from his breath,
in a hopeful strife before its death.

He holds it close, hugs it tight
holding on with all his might.
The dream moves close and holds on tight,
burning on with all its light!

“Zombie! Zombie!”, cries the wall clock’s bell.
“Zombie! Zombie!”, howls that dog from hell.
“Zombie! Zombie!”, burns the sun so hot!
“Zombie! Zombie!” whispers a kettle to a pot.

The zombie grins while he cries,
like a crackling fire in winter’s ice.
He still smiles his crooked smile
for he would be called names still more vile!

The zombie’s heart beats a dying march.
The zombie’s lips, with a downward arch.
The zombie’s thoughts and pains he bore,
in his eyes, still red and sore!

The zombie sleeps in his grave,
his dream still burning on so brave.
Though with creaks and scars and smell of gin,
he still has his crooked grin!


It was for the umpteenth time that he was being woken up by a crushing pain in his stomach; the same irritating pain that felt as if his insides were being churned by someone who disliked him particularly. He knew what was coming now. He would pick himself up, drag his body, half walking, half crawling, across the floor, open the door to the brightly lit toilet, fall on his knees hugging the cold porcelain, and let the pain do the rest.

He had eaten nothing that day. He wondered how much he could keep vomiting. He expected to see the tip of his intestines prodding out of his mouth soon. But before that, the bloodshed had to stop. He was used to it by now. The white porcelain, the yellow tiles and the stainless steel taps had already acquired various tints of red, gushes of which came in well-timed, strong jets .
The same happened this time too. He began shooting rivers of blood out of his mouth –
a pinkish red at first which reminded him of the Sherbet bottles he had seen on the ragged wooden tables of the street vendors, on the evenings, as he returned home from school with his dad. He would plead for a glass, and his father would say no immediately, only to surprise him with a glass hidden behind him;
a crimson hue followed, which brought back another good memory of his life – the little peck she planted on his cheek as he gave her the rose she had asked for, which was strangely the same shade of red;
a scarlet river ensued, which seemed like a cry for help from someone inside him who seemed to wail, “Enough! Enough, no more! You don’t have anymore!”;
and finally, a thick cherry flow, that was almost indistinguishable from black, with which ended the pain.

He let out a deep sigh, got back on his feet with great effort, wiped his mouth, reached for the door and let himself out of the red toilet, into his room.

The room was dimly lit, with a comforting chill.

“Perhaps it is the fan,” he thought, “or perhaps, Christmas is in the air.” He faintly remembered thinking how Christmas seems to be somehow associated with the colour Red, when he was filling red pools a few seconds ago.

“Maybe it is Santa’s coat,” he thought. “Or maybe it is the glass balls hung on Christmas trees.”
“Wait a minute, is it Rudolph’s nose?”, he smiled with great effort.
He brushed these thoughts away as he was tired and needed the sleep of this night badly. “Tomorrow is a big day,” he reminded himself. “You would call mom, first thing in the morning.”
He was giving himself the itinerary. “Then you would apologise for not calling her for so long, and tell her how much you missed her. You should also tell her that Christmas was already in the air.”
“Then you would talk to Dad too! Tell him that you knew every single time that the sherbet glass would be hidden behind his back , and that he looked forward to their little game every day.
“Then you would call her. Make it a point to tell her that you loved her. Even though both of you are sure of it, a little reassurance wouldn’t hurt. She seemed to need it once in a while.”

“Make sure you buy the Christmas star. You should be the first to signal Christmas in your locality. It is your favourite time of the year, after all. Oh, and make sure the star is red!”
He continued making  plans as he dragged himself across the room to his bed. He remembered that he had spread fresh sheets that morning. He stood by the side of his bed, looking strangely at his own body which was lying on the bed, curled into a foetal position.

The confusion made way for sadness, followed by helplessness. There was a tear that almost flowed down his cheeks, as if waiting for his permission. He smiled, and the tear nodded and went it’s way.


Of pigs, cows, and God knows what else!

As I’ve not written anything worthwhile for some time now, I tried provoking myself into writing by thinking of topics of discussions that irritated me in the recent times. And I ended up with a topic that was, is and will continue to create a big fuzz for a considerable time to come. And, in the process of putting this out of my head and onto the keyboard, I will try my best to provoke you too (which I can’t help doing). So, if you are someone who is easily offended, better shove off right now!

(I know this line will surely keep you reading further!)

There was once a farm, a farm so green and fresh that it glittered in the morning sun. In the farm, there lived a variety of animals of all sizes and shapes, ranging from common house lizards to muscular, galloping horses. They lived in total harmony and peace in the farm, which was owned by a man with no religion! Yes! I said it! He had no religion. (Now close those wide-open mouths and swallow that lump in your throat!). The man with no religion was a vegetarian, or as the pretty Hollywood ladies would say, a ‘vegan’! which meant he didn’t care for killing animals, skinning them, peeling meat off their bones, cooking them, and eating almost all of the body parts he could possibly find. He didn’t like any of this, simply because he thought he felt it would hurt if the same things were done to his body; and not because he believed in philosophical or highly morale things like the ‘sanctity of life’ or ‘purity of soul’  or any such stuff. Thus, he and his animals lived peacefully in that little, beautiful farm of his.

One day, a dreaded dirty day, he had some visitors. They were his friends and were three in number. One was a Christian, the second a Muslim and the third a Hindu. (Don’t worry! I’ve used caps for your religion’s name to make you think I respect it). They came uninvited into that little farm of his to surprise him on his birthday, and what a surprise was it indeed! They were meeting after a long time, and wanted to celebrate the occasion along with his birthday, and indeed wanted to prepare a feast in love fr their old friend. They said that they would do all the cooking, and that he could rest since it was his birthday.

On hearing people in the house and knowing that it was their master’s birthday, the animals were so happy that they decided to sing ‘Happy Birthday To You’ in a chorus wishing their master a long life. The did so indeed, and thought that the song was beautiful. But all the humans in the house heard was

a  chorus of ‘brays’, ‘oinks’, ‘cuckkoos’, ‘bays’ and ‘neighs’. They rushed t the farm on hearing the sounds and were so surprised to see so many animals. Nah! not the animals. In fact, what they saw was MEAT! So much meat in such a small area that would last them for a week. They began to drool thinking of the wide variety of things they would eat that weekend. The three men, although they belonged to three different religions, were all the same when they were hungry! (point to be noted).

The Christian was the happiest because he had tasted the meat of almost everything in there, from the common house lizard to the muscular, galloping horse, (and even some things which were not in the farm, like Ostrich, Camel, Iguana, small garden snakes, Spiders, Earthworms, and other animals of assorted sort). He went drooling away into the kitchen to get the knives to start the killing process and savour the pleasure in ripping the meat off the beasts. He came back with the knife and advanced to the pig, licking his lips! He could not see the pig itself, but instead saw a big plate full of bacon, garnished with salad. As he raised the knife, he heard a shout. “No, brother, haram! haram!”. It was the Muslim.

The Christian looked at him in astonishment, and the Hindu was sneering at him! On being enquired of the reason for the shout and throw of random Arab words (see, I used caps for Arab too!), he replied that Pig meat was haram for Muslims, which meant that he was forbidden from eating it. He also laid out a carefully scripted list of reasons explaining why one should not eat pork (which looked suspiciously similar to the posts that you see everyday on Facebook. If his friends hadn’t known him better, they would have believed that he happened to by-heart the entire thing). The others were disheartened on hearing this because they didn’t want to eat something which their friend would not.

However, the Christian took heart again and now moved towards the cow. Now he heard another shout. “No, brother, gomata! gomata!”. It was the Hindu.


The Christian looked at him in astonishment, and the Muslim was sneering at him! On being enquired of the reason for the shout and throw of random Hindi words (see, I used caps for Hindi too!), he replied that Cow was gomata for Hindus, which meant that he was forbidden from eating it. He also laid out a carefully scripted list of reasons explaining why one should not eat beef, especially since the cow was the sole source of income and livelihood, and was treated like a mother in the ancient ages. (Well, the women of the early ages enjoyed so much freedom that they could choose their own husbands! (baap re!), and walk through the streets without being scanned like a xerox paper or judged on the basis of what she wore. Surprisingly, only those qualities of the ancient age as were related to the cow, seemed to appeal to the guy. Maybe a cow is now more important than a woman. Lucky old gals!).

The others were disheartened on hearing this because they didn’t want to eat something which their friend would not.

(I just had to copy paste the above paragraph from the one before that, and make some minor changes. I did this on purpose so that you can see we are not as different as we think we are.)

Third time’s the charm they say! Now, the Christian moved towards the Chicken, half expecting a shout to stop. He didn’t hear any! The Chicken was neither impure nor divine. The Goat was waiting his turn by the Chicken. He too failed to seek enough importance from a religion, and now had to suffer the consequences. The knife rose and fell. But not on the Chicken or the Goat. The owner of the farm, the ‘vegan’ guy (who was keeping quiet so far and now had to say or do something before his heart would burst) had kicked the knife away from the hand of the Christian.


“A Chicken or Goat has as much life in it as does a Pig or a Cow. When you kill a man, it’s murder! If you kill a Dog, it’s cruelty! But you kill a Chicken or a Goat, it is Chicken 65 and Lamb chops respectively! Don’t pretend you are something great by thinking it’s a sin to kill a Cow or a Pig, but it’s pretty OK to kill other animals. There are only two conclusions, either you kill, or you don’t! You call this the sanctity of life? (He was becoming philosophical). Sanctity my ***”, he said and was panting now. Now his friends began bombing him with questions as to why he ate the plants, especially since they provide Oxygen to the atmosphere and all that shit. (Which, again, looked similar to the ridiculous arguments made by non-vegans on Facebook). Now, he calmly replied (while he was trying his best to stop himself from holding them by the head and shaking it till some sense finally came into it) that he doesn’t eat plants. He was not a Cow or a Goat, but a human, who ate the fruits and vegetables, and sometimes leaves of plants, which would all grow back unlike the limbs, hearts and dicks of the animals they ate.

Assured that they were not in danger of depletion of Oxygen due to their vegan friend, they had a lovely meal which was vegan of course, and thus celebrated their long overdue get together.

Of plans, chores, and a broken heart

The arrival of some five or six people was not going to affect him.
“Ah, guests!. They come and go. But I….I remain”, he thought in his almighty tone. He was sure he could, as he had ‘planned’ about five minutes ago, manage the guests and then run back into his room and dive into his books as if nothing happened.

The morning was as beautiful as ever with his dad waking him up with his daily bed-tea and himself sitting idly on the drawing room-chair with one leg over its arm-rest, sipping in the beautiful tea, with eyes wide open, gazing into the eternity beyond the wall, wondering how things would be so perfect. Nobody could sense anything special in the way mornings work; not even his dear dad (who could make the most wonderful of teas) who would now begin his routine chorus telling him to study.

Finally, after five minutes of the chorus every day, he would understand that if he sits there further, things would get ugly. So, he goes to his room, sits on his study chair and opens a book which is ever-present on his table. He had a special notebook to gaze into on every morning whose ownership, content or even the cover page is unknown to him till date. If one were to ask him what that book was, all the acquaintances with it over the years of mornings would only bring into his head a crocodile tattoo stuck in its front page. After all, the front page was all that mattered.

But this particular morning was quite different. He had to do something today. He had his examination the next day and he was as ignorant of the subject as ever. So, he opened his text book instead of his daily buddy. The lines in the text began making sense when he tried reading. “It is just like making new friends”, he thought. “You just have to get to know them and they will remain with you”. But frankly, friends and text books are entirely different issues. Firstly, not making friends will not make you fail in exams, but not reading text books will. Secondly, friends are not boring (enough said). However, he could not run away. He had to face the exams no matter what.

It was then that he remembered that he had guests today. He had to help in the day’s chores. So, he made his first ‘plan’ for the day. He would clean up the house in not more than an hour and then dive back into his text. As the plan was being formulated, he heard his mother’s footsteps in the kitchen. Soon, the smell of chutney would fill the home and the sweet ‘clang’ of steel on stone would herald the birth of a new ’dosa’. “How perfect can a day be?”, he thought, “dad making tea, mom making dosa”…according to him, it was high time his sister too started doing something towards making his day perfect. She could help mom in the holy process of dosa-making, or dad, who would, by now, be watering the plants. It would be a whole lot better if she could do anything……anything at all, except greeting him with a sullen “oh !” in this perfect morning of his. But he “forgives”. After all, he needs her to get things from the top floor or to help him wash the car or in cleaning or n a million other ways. Although his relation with his sister is ‘parasitic’ in many ways, he likes to think of it as a ‘symbiosis’ (mainly because he doesn’t want to feel guilty).

The guests were to come by noon. He had finished his breakfast and was halfway through the cleaning process. Clearly, his so-called ‘plan’ had failed and so he made a new one, one which seemed better. He would begin his studies after the guests left. That would give him the necessary peace of mind.
By noon, he was ready for the guests. Apparently, they too were ready for him. He had to pick them up from different places since none of them knew the way to his house. He wondered how people could get lost in the narrowest of lanes when there was a whole wide world of roads waiting for them to get lost in. He was surprised by the number of different ways his guests would come to his silly house. There was a straight road, however, that no one took. After all, people never like taking straight roads.

After an hour past noon, all the guests were in his home. He was neither tired nor exhausted and helped his mom serve them. In the midst of eating and drinking, people, it seems, have a particular tendency to throw certain ‘casual’ questions which were supposed to ‘break the ice’. This, however, was theory. The practical occurrence follows a particular questionnaire which is strangely similar, irrespective of the nativity, race, clan, gender or even the age of the guest.

Question 1:  Hi son, and you said your name was…???

He wanted to say, “ Oh, I didn’t say what y name was. What’s yours? “. But what he actually said was his real name with a short smile which was supposed to be pleasant.

Question 2: Hmm…which class are you in ???

“Buddy, ‘class’ was a long time ago. Now I’m in college” would not come out of his mouth. Instead, he said, “engineering, uncle/aunt”.

Question 3: Ooh!!! So how’s your studies ???

Now they were not breaking the ice. They were breaking his heart.
“Going good” plus smiley was the answer.

Question 4: What about you little girl ???

Ahhhh!!! Cease-fire. The Americans have now fully exploited Iraq and had gone to the next country for their petroleum.

But his sister was not going to fall. The first and second questions went unnoticed. It was the third question that brought sparks in the eyes of my father. He said, “Oh, she’s fine in class. She does everything on her own, studies well and knows how to look after herself.”

He wanted to say, ”Hey dad, that first part is sufficient answer for the question. They aren’t interviewing her for a job.” But he had to keep ‘mum’ plus the smiley, of course.

Now, it was mom’s turn, “oh she’s a great help for me, whether in kitchen or outside. I always wish my elder one was a girl.”

“Hellooo !!!  an elder girl couldn’t do half as much as he could”, he thought. But he didn’t care to speak anymore. The smiley was long gone already.

Now, it was time for the people to comment. “Yes”, they would say, “boys are usually on the lazy side. It is the girls who will come to be of help in the end.”

His mind was roaring, “Traitor !!!, it was the ‘boy’ who picked up your sorry **** from the lane you got lost in. I should have left you there.” But he had to swallow that thought, of course, plus the smiley.

This way, after heated discussions about various things for which he never cared and talks which he did not pay attention to, the conversations ended. The guests left.

According to his ‘plan’, he had to study now. But his house needed him. “Oh shit! , look at this mess”. Cleaning up is never easy. It took a hard effort to bring his home back to normal, after which he was really exhausted. He decided to take a bath. His shower was his elixir. It usually recharges him fully. But this time, it went a step further. He was sleepy now. Thinking, “maybe I’ll rest for a few minutes”, he fell into his bed.


”Aren’t you having an exam tomorrow? Shouldn’t you be studying?” were the next words he heard. His dad was glaring at him. He looked at the clock. It was half past eight.

“A few minutes??? You idiot…” , he said to himself. Running to the wash, he splashed water on his face , some on his head too and ran back to the study table.
“Anyway, its late. Why don’t you have dinner and then start studying ?”. His mom was pushing steamcake out of the cylinder. This is something he hated about tasty food. All his favourite foods presented themselves during his worst times (a rare coincidence maybe), and so he had to finish it in a hurry.

Now he had not less than three modules to study and a single night ahead of him. He stretched himself and opened his book. Now, the curse of good nourishment is that it is often accompanied by good sleep. Was he going to sleep? The well-spread mattress was beckoning him invitingly. “No”, he thought. The words he had scribbled in his book seemed to make sense now.

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep?”

The crocodile in his book was smiling at him…


later in the night, he thought lying in his bed, “So, I’ll wake up early in the morning and cover as much as I can. Maybe I will get time to read the previous questions too.” That was his last ‘plan’ for the day….

The sound, slippers, and the lost sleep


“Amma illiyaa??”, came a feeble sound from the thin line on her face that could be barely recognised as her mouth. Standing in front of me was a very short figure of a woman, so worn out, carrying a rucksack on her shoulder which was of the same colour as her and equally dirty.


It was a hot Saturday afternoon and I was on my usual schedule of multitasking sleep and TV. We had just finished lunch and mom was in the kitchen putting the curries back in the fridge. My sister was sitting on another chair in the hall following the same schedule as me. Everything outside was visibly burning in the heat of the afternoon sun. It was that time of the day when everything around you is at rest. Somewhere very far, I could hear a crow crowing out loud as if she was relishing her afternoon meal. Through the window, I could see the leaves standing still as if they were asleep. The world around me was all at rest. But who knew that there was this fragile woman walking into this silent moment of my day to make a hole in my heart??? I was drifting away into a nap when I heard footsteps from the gate. It would be wrong if I called the sound ‘footstep’. The sound was that of two little feet being dragged through the dusty ground. I raised my head slightly to see who it was, my body still refusing to give up the coziness it was in. From the corner of my eye, I could see this old silhouette and something in me made me get up. “Oh, it is her”, I said to myself with the frustration of losing my comfortable position.  It was this familiar beggar, an old granny, who used to come to our home atleast once in a month till some time before. Wondering out of the corner of my mind where she was for so long, I reached my hand into the little porcelain bowl in which we keep coins. I took a five rupee coin and went towards her. Seeing the dirty condition she was in, I paid particular interest not to touch her hand while placing the coin there; and like a priest dropping the ‘prasadam’ into ones hand, I dropped the coin into her hand where it fell silently. I almost turned back to fall back back into the nap which was inviting me with immense power when I realised that she was not going. I stood there for a few more seconds wishing with all my mind that she would leave. It was then she asked that question. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Amma illiyaa??” , she asked in a very feeble sound. I almost laughed hearing that and going inside, called out to my mom, “Amma, your friend wants to see you.” My mom came out and was surprised to see the person whom I referred to as her friend. Without any interest, she asked ‘her friend’ what she wanted. The old lady pointed towards her feet and said “amma thanthathilliya? Athu poachu” (didn’t you give me this? Its all gone). I looked at her feet and saw the reminiscence of what once was a pair of slippers. There were two strings of cloth which secured them to her feet. Only the blue band and a small part of the sole remained. Her feet was wounded and had a nasty mark around the ankle. She was possibly a leper. My mom took an old pair of slippers and handed it over to her. From the size of them, I thought she could use them as beds. She slid them slowly into her bag and turned away when my mom asked, “if its not for you, then why take it?” . She turned around again and with that same innocent, cracked voice, said, “kettanaum” (have to tie). “Oh, amma, she has to convert it to her size na?” , I asked. My mom smiled and turned around to go back to her chores. The woman also turned and dragged on. I watched her till she became a small round blur again at a distance. Even as I turned and went back to the sofa, I had lost my sleep. There was no longer any tinge of sleep pulling at me invitingly. I had lost my sleep to a strange feeling of serenity.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ?

EPILOGUE: Even when we live in a totality of luxury, there are still some creations of God, some like this woman I just spoke of, living with the sky as their roof, earth as their floor; and cherishing the little things in which we might find no value or sense. And when sometimes; ‘some strange times’, when I am not lost in the hustle of this busy world, and I am myself, I find myself thinking, “If only life were that simple.”…………

The adventure that never was

“11,June,2012?????” I exclaimed on seeing the date of my last writing here as I opened my gmail blogger page after long.

“So what was I doing all these days?”


“See; that is too long a period to remain inactive.”

But then again; was I being ‘inactive’? The better word would be “engaged”. Here, I should mention without fail that english language has a unique ability to produce words that actually helps you ‘play safe’; as they say. If I were to mention that I was ‘busy’ these days, my dear mom would be asking me “Oh, so what kept you busy? sleeping???”. But since I have used ‘engaged’ instead, I can promptly reply that I have been ‘enagaged’ in sleeping (not that I was actually sleeping all through. Many things happened during this gap.The most important of which was my final year tour. My college friends and me went on a seven day tour ………shhhhhhhhhhhhh….sorry…our dear HOD has told us never to call it a tour but to call it an INDUSTRIAL VISIT (thought the closest reference, if any, of visiting an industry was our visit to HMT; which is of course, no place for an electronics and communication student; on the last day’s later half). So this INDUSTRIAL VISIT, as we are forced to call it, was in fact GREAT, as is always the case when you are on a trip with your college friends. Though we visited a range of places of varying geography, the most memorable of them all was our time in Hyderabad. To be more clear, the so called ‘memorabiLITY’ is the direct result of a daring attempt. Me and five of my friends went for a stroll to EXPLORE THE BEAUTY OF THE CITY’, as we called it. Of the six, the only person who had even a slight knowledge of hindi was the proud me. With that courage, we walked on, found or destination which was the Big Bazar there. We did some minor shopping, had some light refreshments, and started walking back and NOW COMES THE STORY…

After covering the familiar bus stop near the Big Bazar, and the turning into the dark lane which my dear friends had duly noted, we were walking merrily talking things since there was nothing like what we expected to see. All around, there were puddles of water which were the fresh remnants from the evening’s rain. To add to this, the drains were leaking in many places…speaking of which, one thing i noticed was (and for your infomation, I notice many such wonderful things), the dirt and drainage have the same smell everywhere. Be it Kerala, the God’s own country or Hyderabad, the city of pearls; the stink was the same. In fact, I could say that Kerala is cleaner. I even took time….sorry…that was not our topic. The thing is that, in the middle of the walk and talk session, we lost our way. In fact, if one of us, (and I don’t remember which ONE), had not loudly exclaimed and to quote him “aliya, vazhi thettiyoooonnoru samshayam”, we would have walked on to the next STATE. Now was the time to panic of couse, our worry was not that we had lost our way in a totally strange place, but that the buffet in the hotel we stayed was to end in half an hour. Losing way was OK, but losing dinner was unacceptable. ‘BOYS’!!!, right???

After a half an hour of walking around, and asking a large variety of people whether they knew the hotel we stayed in, we saw a police jeep. Now that was a relief. I went on and started in hindi, “uncle, ye hotel Sandarshini kahan he?”…Suddenly I remembered the time when I called a policeman ‘uncle’ right after I was caught for riding triples. The memory made me correct myself, “SIR, ye hotel Sandarshini kahan he?” to which he promptly gave me the reply and VOILA, we had the way. Actually, we were walking around it throughout the time and didn’t know it.

After a few turns and stairs, and a warm bath, we were in our beds, warm and cozy with a memory that would last long.


Even when we reached the hotel, the buffet was not over, which was a greater relief than finding our way back…

Of trains and men

Since yesterday, I have been thinking of a topic to ‘speak of ‘ here. Considering the fact that a lot has been happening lately, and that I am never at a loss of matters to plod on these days,  it is curious that I still haven’t been able to arrive at a topic to write on. Hoping that I will find something on the way, I continue writing. The most prior occurrence of the time is me joining ‘The Institute of Engineers, Trivandrum’ for GATE coaching. As is evident, I have to travel to Trivandrum and back every Saturday and Sunday, something which I thought was going to bore me a lot. But things did not turn out as bad as I expected., in fact, they did not turn out bad at all. The journey, it seems, is an interesting one. Though my dear ‘acha’ had convinced me that there would be no rush at all in the Madras Mail express which I take on the onward journey; or the Intercity or Vanchinad, which I take back; (NB: he is a regular train traveler); I haven’t been able to sit in the train for the four trips so far (not counting the one when I got into the sleeper coach and the TTR told me to get off and change to the general coach at the next station). But standing in the train, be it besides the ever-wet wash-basin or the never-wet toilet, has its own advantages. I get to see a lot of action all around. As the train leaves the station, I see the Kollam station moving away from me. There is something beautiful about this place.Maybe it is the morning sun seeping through the holes in the dusty sheets around, maybe it is the pigeons that take abode in the railings above, maybe it is the ‘chaya-chayeeey’ or ‘uzhunnuvada-pazhamporeeey’ calls echoing out from the pantry-men. By the way, have you noticed this? – since the beginning of time, all pantry-men seem to raise their calls in the same voice-the same flat, rough voice that covers more than two bogeys at a time. It is a thing, I think, only pantry-men can make. Maybe they have a secret training centre where they are trained to call out in this voice or maybe they are all children of a BIG pantry-man who had this voice which his pantry-men-lings inherited. Whatever it be, it has got a ring to it. (I, as a kid, had tried making this sound and had succeeded to some extent. Maybe, I would make a great pantry-man one day. Maybe, I was destined for it. Take THAT B.Tech !!!).

Coming back to our topic, (you see, I have found a topic), one sees many a thing on the way. Little kids waving from the sides of railway tracks, bigger boys howling at people they don’t even know…

Two of the best poems I have read are related to train journeys. One is ‘kothambumanikal’ by the great O.N.V where he describes a girl he saw in a wheat field in Punjab, as his train passed by. He lets his imagination fly, guessing things about her,singing :

“perayiyathoru penkidave ninte nerariyunnu njan padunnu…”
(Oh girl, whose name I know not; I sing, knowing your truth).

Another one is ‘The story of Lost Friends’ by Ruskin Bond. To quote him

“I haven’t seen you again, bright boy at the carriage window,
Waving to me calling,
But I’ve loved you all these years and looked for you everywhere,
In cities and villages, beside the sea,
In the mountain, in crowds at distant places;
Returning always to the forest’s silence,
To watch the windows of some passing train….”

Words are never enough if you think; to describe anything that you love. Then again…Am I in love with train journey ?

“….bright boy at the carriage window………..
……..of some passing train………”

A life sans dreams!

A really cold evening, I am in one of my most favourite moments of life, enjoying rain sippng my hot tea. It feels like there is nothing better to do in life than sitting like this.(call me lazy, but its true). There is that beautiful sound of rain all around me and everything around me is wet, be it the trees that shake their heads as if they were taking a shower,the bird that whizzes past in a hurry chirping out loudly (reminds me of my friend Sharath riding his bike),or the flowers that get drenched having no other option. Part of me wants to go out there with them and get drenched and the other part wants to stay like this, cozy and comfortable. You see, according to me, there is one huge difference between us (I mean, humans) and the rest of them out there. They seem to have no concerns and hence NO WORRIES. They say man is the only rational being…he is the only one who thinks. VOILA, there’s the answer to all our tensions and worries-THOUGHTS. Thoughts are like…like …like…aaah..I don’t know, they just follow one another like an endless train….YES..got it…thoughts are like an endless train. Nevertheless, you are left with an option – whether to think too much on something and worry about it, or, just LET IT BE….YES,I MEAN IT. You don’t always have to be precise, punctual, perfect or any p-word. Just loosen the grip on yourself for once. See how you yourself feel about it. Now, if you have a small twist at the end of your lips, THERE YOU ARE….that’s what we call a SMILE. Now, you know what you were missing-those moments of your life when you should have lived a fuller life and missed it just because of some silly appointment that would account for nothing later in your life. I am reminded of a story written in my school magazine by a friend of mine called Anupama. She wrote of a man in his deathbed who had achieved so much in his life and still thought that he missed something. He finally found out that DREAMS were what he lacked. Her story was titled ‘A Life sans Dreams’. This is true in many of our lives. We learn, get marks, get a job, marry, have kids, grow old and die. Wouldn’t he who made life happen have seen a greater purpose for it than just LIVING it away? I do feel that it is, in most cases, pretty okay to think outside the box, or even NOT THINK AT ALL. Take a few chances, make some mistakes, correct them if you want to or even repeat them if you enjoyed them and see what happens. Trust me, it is good to be free of worries. Then again…OOPS….a big THUD breaks me away from my dear world of dreams-ah! probably a coconut. The rain has almost ceased. Did I sleep? Dear fruit of kalpavriksha, you broke the thoughts of a person whom you didn’t want to mess with. You are so going to be today’s curry…………