Saturday, November 17, 2012

Impulse Of Theft

Do you know, what is common in all districts across 25 states of Republic of India.
What ??
All of them have a Gandhi Maidan of their own.
Really !! Raj was taken by surprise. The father of this nation deserves that much respect, Papa.

Raj had come to witness a cricket match between Supaul, his hometown and Kadampura, an archrival. As Raj prepared to gauge this big playground called Gandhi Maidan, he noticed few gentlemen defecating in the open, that too in full public view. Not too far away, there was a foundation stone, laid for a proposed public toilet. Raj went closer and tried deciphering the date, but he could only read the year. 1980. Holy cow. He was not even born !! As his eyes rolled further, he saw a little pond, whose water was barely visible, after being overtaken by water hyacinths. Inside the pond, a herd of buffalos were having fun. Barely ten feet away, people were using the same water for sanitary purposes. Is this people’s idea of giving respect to father of the nation, Raj kept his thoughts to himself.

Raj had come to witness a cricket match between Supaul, his hometown and Saharsa, an archrival. As usual, it was a hot and sunny afternoon. Raj wondered, why all cricket matches are played under scorching heat. Can’t they be played out in night ?? Just last night, he had heard on radio his favourite cricketer Kapil scoring a thrilling century under the lights. When will my hometown have a day-night encounter ?? Raj asked himself. That will be the day, my dear friend, Pinku replied. That will be the day, when Supaul will host a day-night cricket match. Let’s focus on the match at hand. We have lost the toss and are fielding first.

Pinku, though 5 years elder than Raj, got along very well with him. He was instructed by Raj’s mother to keep a tab on Raj’s mischiefs and used to accompany Raj, wherever he went. Of-late, they had formed a cricket team with Raj at the helm of affairs and Pinku as his sidekick. They used to charge 1 Rs per month to all team members, except Raj, who had volunteered to donate a thick wooden-slab as cricket bat and Pinku, who had creatively designed some cricket equipments, like pads, arm guards using jute-sticks and discarded clothes. They used to play mostly with plastic ball, but occasionally experimented with heavy charcoal balls. Almost everyone had this long-cherished dream of playing with a leather ball also known as DUES BALL or ORIGINAL BALL. Though, they never ventured inside Gandhi Maidan, reserved exclusively for big guys, they used to be restricted to a corner at the periphery of the playground. Unfortunately, this particular stretch of land also used to be a favourite hunting ground for a group of hungry pigs and their arrival used to signal end of the day’s play. Occasionally, one of those big guys Karia used to pay a visit and teach them few basics of game especially fielding. But then fielding was never their idea of fun, it was meant for someone who was not good at batting or bowling. So they hardly listened.

We had our first ball of the match bowled. Oh no, it has been smashed to the boundary. Really. Yes, but no worries, it is going to be caught. Raj pointed his fingers towards the ball, as it was making its way towards the palms of Karia, our star fielder. But then tragedy struck. At the last moment, Karia lost sight of the ball amidst the sunshine and the ball thudded into one of his eyes. He was down on the ground, writhing in pain. All of us rushed towards our star fielder, only to see that he was lying unconscious, bleeding through his eyes and nose. It was a serious accident and organizers decided that the match be called off. As the crowd started dispersing, so did we. Some reserve players took it as an opportunity to practice and started throwing dart-balls around. 

As we were passing by, suddenly we noticed one ball rolling along the ground, as it hit one of us. This was our dream ball, the DUES BALL, the ORIGINAL BALL. As Raj picked it up and stretched his arms diagonally to throw it back, Pinku stopped him and whispered in his ears “We won’t get a better opportunity to own a ORIGINAL BALL”. Raj was confused, on one hand, he had his moral values, his upbringings, which always prevented him from bads and on the other, he had his dream right in front of him, lying almost unclaimed. Raj chose to go with his dreams. But how do we hide it ?? This is so big in size. Raj replied back with a voice barely audible to Pinku. Don’t worry. I will take care of it. Pinku used to wear shorts, which used to have custom-designed deep pockets. He safely pocketed the ball and started walking nonchalantly, as if nothing has happened. Though, his pocket had ballooned outwards, which could potentially make people suspicious, Pinku put one of his hands in other pocket, forming a fist, so as to make both pockets look natural. Before reaching home, they checked it again. As they rolled their fingers around the cherry, they felt proud of their prized catch, almost blinded by the shine of leather ball.

Hey Sumit, see Karia has given us THE DUES BALL, THE ORIGINAL BALL
Really !! Sumit said, almost in disbelief.
Yes. Ask Raj. He was also there
Hey Raj, is Pinku right ?? Did Karia really give us this ball ??
Yes, Sumit. Raj affirmed his response.
I don’t believe you guys. Just, look at this ball. It is shining bright. All the threads along the center are intact. It is a brand new ball. Why would Karia donate us a new ball ?? No matter how generous he may be, if at all, Karia were to give us a ball, he would have given us a used ball. Why on earth, he will donate a new ball. I am sure, this is an act of theft.
No, not at all. Trust us.
I don’t. Don’t fool yourselves, guys. I would never indulge in theft to fulfill my dreams. This is not done, yet. You will surely have to pay for this. May not be today, but in future. Someday, God will take his revenge.

Life moved on. Raj went on to become a high-flying corporate executive, a ridiculously priced management-consultant, doling out invaluable advises to his clients. He headed many companies before becoming a member of board-of-directors at one of the fortune 500 companies, TechnoLabs.

Pinku went on to become a stock trader, plying his trade on Mumbai’s famous Dalal Street. Sumit was happy playing second fiddle to his seniors in a local government office.

Suddenly, their world was shaken by this tsunami called recession. Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, others followed suit, bringing the world economy down on its knees. No one was spared, no one. Traders started shutting shops left right and center. Raj’s clientele suddenly pruned down to single-digit, as corporate houses tightened their budgetary expenditures and consultants were the first one to be axed. Pinku was almost on streets, having suffered massive losses. Amidst all this mayhem, Sumit’s life went on smoothly.

Today is a big day. Raj has been accused of a million dollar inside-trading fraud involving Pinku. As Raj stood in front of a life-size mirror, he started searching for answer as to why he fell prey to lure of wealth. Just why ?? He can’t help but go back to that incident involving Pinku and Sumit. Even though the incident happened nearly 25 years back, Sumit’s voice was as loud and clear as it was back then. You will have to pay for this. You will have to pay for this. Was that an impulse ?? Yes, it was. It was an impulse of theft, an impulse of greed, which took over his conscience and made him call his penniless broker friend Pinku about TechnoLabs’ past quarter’s earnings only to help Pinku make a killing on trading circuits next day.

Let the trial begin, judge strikes the gavel and orders start of proceedings. As Raj prepares to defend himself, he wonders, will he ever be able to forgive himself for that one impulse ?? May be. May be not. The proverbial remorse stays deep into his heart.

PS: This was written as part of a Story Hack organized by Campus Diaries at Bangalore Writers' Club.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Unanswered Myths

Mom, you are so boring. Get a life. Don't sleep with your head facing north. Don't eat facing west. Don't wash your hands in plate after a meal. If you fast on this day, you will go to heaven. If you do this, you will go to hell. You shouldn't travel south on Thursdays. I am sick and tired of it. Who created these mindless rules that we mortals are supposed to follow ?? How does it matter to us ?? A 10-year old kid complained, treating his mother's advice with disdain.
It matters my son, it matters, a concerned mother echoed her sentiments.
How ??
Remember, I told you some time ago. There is a reasoning behind everything.
What reasoning ??
You know, these rules were not created yesterday, they have been in existence since eternity. Before you know the history behind these rules, you would also have to know how we human beings were created. Shall I start ??
Sure, the kid nodded his head in acceptance.
These rules were prevalent among Gods as well. At one point, the almighty wanted to teach offenders a lesson. So he sent the most erring god to rot as human being on earth. Back then, there was no soil, no water, no aid, not trees, not even air.
Then ?? The excitement was slowly building in kid's eyes.
Nothing. The lone God on earth felt insulted at his eviction, but took it into his stride and started creating a parallel universe, a world of his own. He used his super-natural powers for all this. He created trees, so that we could find shelter underneath. He created air, so that we could breathe. He created soil, so that we could cultivate it and grow food for ourselves. He created these rivers and oceans, so that we could get water. He created those birds, so that we could hear them chirp. That's how our surroundings were formed.
How did we came into existence, Mom ??
After the lone god on earth spent nearly a million years and used up most of his powers, the almighty finally decides to forgive him. So he ordered him to come back to heavens. The god on earth refused almighty's request. He didn't want to leave the earth and the world, created by him. Was he homesick ?? Perhaps. This angered the almighty a great deal and he took away all his powers and cursed him to become a mortal and rot on earth forever, all alone. That's how we human beings came into existence, got it ??
Yes, But how one turned into a billion, mom ??
Before the almighty cursed him, he granted him a final wish. You know, what did he ask ??
What ??
He asked for a soul-mate, somebody he can share his feelings with, somebody he can co-exist with. Almighty had no choice, but to grant him his final wish. They made love and ended up being our ancestors.
OK, I got it, how we came into existence. But, you still have not answered my question. Who created these damn rules, who ??
Humans like you and me, who else ??

PS: This was an exercise on creation mythology and I chose to give it a contemporary touch :-)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Like Father Like Son

Is this what your report-card has to say ? An angry John slammed the door behind, as his son Paul lay busy with his video-game. Get me a cup of coffee, honey. Inside the room, Miley was inconsolable, Her face was completely blank, expressionless, as was her body, motionless. I could have never imagined in wildest of my dreams that my son will do acts of this kind.
What has he done ??
You don't know.
No, I don't. How would I know ?? John asked with a bewildered look on his face.
No different. After all, he is your son, is not he ??
What ?? John almost fell off his chair.
Oh My God, does he even know, what he has done.
By now, John's tone was soon becoming that of an anxious father, worried about his children's future.
Don't worry, I will speak to Paul, John said with a concerned voice.
Who are you to give moral lecture to my son ?? Miley's voice suddenly changed to that of a roaring lioness. Remember your late-night meetings and your busy schedule with your associates. But, you are an adult, you can get away with all that, but not Paul. He is only 15, he is still a bloody minor. We are paying for your sins. Go hang your head in shame. John kept starting at the tiles with his head bowed.
There is still hope, we will talk to Paul. We will solve it John, just like those issues. As they opened the door, they found Paul eavesdropping on their conversation. Papa, you are a cheat. Mummy loved you so much and you did this to mamma. Shame on you. "Like Father Like Son", Paul said unabashedly. The chandelier in the room was still emitting pale light.

PS: This was an exercise on dialogue-writing, where A and B had to talk about a taboo thing their relative C has done/gone through and they themselves have had issues of similar kind in the past.