Saturday, January 30, 2010

Half baked chapatti

It was dark and quiet. A lonely street in the nearby vicinity was deserted only to be acquired by the dogs which often barked to amplify the silence of that lonely dark street. Leaves on the trees were still, and the stars hid themselves behind the clouds. People have long back retired in their homes. It was as if all were waiting; waiting for the sun to interfere.

In that lonely, dark street there lay a man with his fist clenched. He was either sleeping or waiting but one was not sure. Perhaps, he had died in that street but, apparently, nobody had noticed. There was hardly any ways that he looked alive.May be, he died sometime in the past.

Unexpectedly, the fingers moved, and slowly the immobile figure that lay crouched, started to take its form just as the little child inside an embryo. He stood up slowly, and the figure that looked frozen embryo a while ago suddenly became a full grown man that skipped the childhood, and the adolescence. As he stood straight a dim light from a far street lamp stuck on his face. Even in the faintest of light, one could read the rotten years of his life just by looking into the lines that were criss-crossing his forehead. He was weak and fragile, and looked handsomely hungry.
He looked around puzzled, slowly opened his fist, and things became obvious. It was still lying there in his fist, his prized-possession—the half baked chapatti.
A beautiful mansion proudly stood in the middle of that street. There lived a small family in it—a mother, a father, and their beautiful young daughter. Besides them there were servants, and cars that lived in servant quarters and garage respectively. Beauty of their mansion brought jealousy while the beauty of their daughter brought Romeos in the town.

“Why big houses have small families living in it”?

This house is big enough for twenty or may be even more, he thought.

“Why rich men have beautiful daughters?he asked to himself.

He did have the answer for this one.Moreover, he did have time to think. Every minute lost in these futile philosophies meant even lesser food for the night. Food in the day, of course, was a luxury.

He hurriedly walked past the house. Suddenly, he stopped. He saw a beautiful girl in blue tank top on the terrace of the mansion. Her beauty complimented the glow of the sun shine.
"She must be the daughter", he contemplated.

Even his wretched state could not persuade him not to follow the path of appreciation—the appreciation of beauty, that is. After all he was young, young enough for the worldly pleasures. So, he jumped the forbidden walls of the mansion. He descended to other side of the wall that lead to the garden area. In this euphoria, he lost all his fears. He quickly ran from the garden area hiding him to the back side of the mansion. And, there it was, the staircase that would lead him to heavens.

He ascended and reached the terrace within seconds. He quickly hid himself behind the trash box that was lying in the corner of the terrace. He sat there holding his breath for a minute. After a while when he could count his breaths, he looked at the girl from the corner of the trash-box. She was there—the girl in a blue tank top. However, he couldn’t see her face because her back faced his side. Her curly red hair was dangling on side of her attractive shoulder.

"Why rich girls have red hair while poor have black? he questioned himself.
But he did not have time for such stupid notions to develop. He was simply proud of his heroic escapade. He wanted to live this moment to its fullest.

Suddenly, the trash-box opened from the top. Someone poured garbage of the house, and then it stopped. He froze in silence and soon he realized his err. All his fears were now back in full swing. As quickly as possible he wanted to get out of it. As soon as the sound of garbage-filling subsided he started to crawl back to his safety. While returning to stairs he saw a stale half baked chapatti that somehow rolled from the trash-box to the floor of the terrace. Hunger overpowered his fear at that moment. He quickly moved forward and grabbed the half baked chapatti. It was now firm in his fist, and so he was walking back to his safety.The girl in the blue tank top saw this from her corner of her eyes. And,when he saw her seeing him, he knew that his next step could be fatal. So, he stopped. Still. Not moving an inch further.

She screamed.
It was easy, an absolute no brainer. After which, everything fell in place, every puzzle solved.

“Time to go”, he thought while his legs wandered aimlessly.

His body was already filled with wounds so he wasn’t feeling hungry. He looked again at the half baked chapatti. Suddenly, a dog came from the streets with its tail wagging and tongue hanging out, and looked at the chapatti, and then to him. The imbecile look of the dog was innocent as it reminded him of himself. At that very moment, dog became a man and the half baked chapatti became the girl in the blue top. Now, it seemed they were two men in love with the same woman. He threw the half baked chapatti at it. Dog picked it, grabbed it in its mouth, and started running. Suddenly it stopped and turned back, dropped the chapatti, and looked into his eyes. Picked the chapatti again, and ran away in the darkness of the street. He knew that the dog had thanked him. He could understand the dog’s language; he could listen to his voice.
"Only a man who is hungry and disgraced understands the language of animals, he thought.

He turned back, limped, and lost in the darkness of the other side of the street.


Madman’s note:

At some level, half baked chapatti is a depiction of failure of human dignity, failure of wandering soul, and above all, failure of human life. This is a story about a journey i.e. life where journey doesn’t end but is lost somewhere in the infinity.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Last Letter- Part 2

Dear S,

Today when I am writing this letter, I am not thinking about you but all the men you have been with, all of them who were behind you and after you, the flowers, the letters, the phone calls exchanged to choke you, to annihilate you. Yes, today I am thinking about all of it. But it is to you, S, that I am writing this letter, my last letter. I know you’re not the same though I admire you tremendously—or even still love you madly. But then love and madness are synonymous. Aren’t they?

Trust to what your heart will tell you,
For from heaven no sign comes.

S, perhaps you were too sensitive, too delicate to handle the insecurities of life and the shock of daily experience. But as you know I have always been a dreamer, a thinker, a typical non-go-getter. In my dreams, I always thought that against all odds a girl comes back to her true love, to the underdog just as you see in the movies. However, the contemporary brand of realism is something where extraordinary or something fantastic never happens. Realism is about reality and reality is about disappointments. Isn’t it? You might find me naive, or better still a loser. Yes, I feel that’s exactly what you think. No wonder, you ejected me from your life like a cartridge. But that’s alright. Even losers need as much of the sunshine as the go-getters do. Even losers know their art well, the art of losing, that is. And losers are as real a human being as any achievers are. I mean, I can’t change my true self just because it gives me disappointments. I wish to tell you what Miller said: “I have no money, no resource, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.” And, that’s my reality.

S, your letter came in like a frozen meat in the chilling winters. It was already quite uncomfortable; the bed became an icebox, and the bathroom a graveyard. And this letter! The only warmth I could avail was the little space around my stove. For ten days, I did not touch my computer, or any book; nor have any idea except for writing to you this letter. And now that I am writing I do not have anything to write to you.

S, I love anything that flows. I love everything that grows. So, let me pray that you grow, and let me pray that you flow, just like a river. Carry on, shine on!

As usual, free smiles and cheers from me...

Faithfully yours,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last Letter

On a lovely morning of the first day of January two letters arrived at his doorstep. Letters at this early hour of the day did surprise him a bit. More so because normally only letters he received were letters of rejections that he got from numerous publication houses.

We regret to inform you that your story has been rejected.

Rejections did not annoy him anymore, it simply bored him now. However, it’s highly unlikely that any editor would read his story and write him back during holiday times. He casually picked those letters along with the newspaper that usually come long before he woke. But little did he know that these letters would redefine his existence completely. For a long while he stared at the two letters. And, for a long time he remained lonely, surrounded by his own thoughts.

Can you wait for me?
No, I can’t, she said.
“Why not?” he asked peevishly.
“Is there a reason why I should wait for you?” she said biting her lips.
Sooner or later I will convince you, he said.
No, you can’t.
Alright then, don’t. Go wherever you want.
Yeah, right.
And off she went. Just like that.

His thoughts deprived him of the reality just as the black cloud deprives the sun shine. And more often than not, his thoughts became his reality which he interpreted in a way he usually perceived things. He hung his head and then raised it again. His hands quivered but it was time to read them because life after reading those letters would be simple, very simple indeed. And it will remain that way forever.
The urgency to open the pink envelope was more even more than the other one that said urgent. And that’s what he did.

Got married last week. Don’t come—never, ever.

The words in front of him were clean and clear but the pictures of his memories got even clearer. It seemed as if he was looking at a rose, and the rosebush tore his hands. This all happened too quickly, and before he could realise his hands were bleeding.

Hah, now that’s a good beginning of a new year, he thought. What’s next?

Take good care of papa because he’s not going to live for long, mama said.
Mama, please don’t pester me with your mindless sorrows. I am busy.
So you won’t?
I didn’t say I won’t. I am busy.
Busy, hah?
I need to explore the world, he said.
Sooner or later you will realise. Go wherever you want.
Yeah, right.
And off he went. Just like that.

The word “urgent” on the letter bore a conspicuous tribulation. Reluctantly he opened it, carefully, not even neglecting the corners which usually get torn in the process. And he read:

Father died yesterday. Don’t come—never, ever.

He stared at those words, picked both the letters, started to tear it up, then changed his mind and put it back on the table, instead. He quickly checked the corners of his eyes to see if there were any tears prickling—there were none.
“Why am I not suffering?” he thought, “Why am I not feeling any pain or agony?”
Things that mattered were no more of any significance to him now. Life becomes simple sans mind, and then even love makes perfect sense, he thought. Perhaps he overestimated the power of logic. And today his senses defied his logical emotions of the hour. Slowly he got up, walked, and sat back in the chair again.

Things happened that were bound to happen. I could have just painted it differently. The colours would have been different. But picture still would have been the same. And that’s that, he said it himself.

Nobody knew what happened. He did not tell anything to anybody. He didn’t ask for help. But he knew. He knew that in this darkest bottomless pit of consciousness there are no thoughts, no anger, no guilt, no repentance, but only nothingness. He did not cry. He just wrote them back. He wrote them his last letter.

Just like that.

All finished?

No, not yet.Next is what he wrote in those letters.

to be continued...