Friday, September 23, 2005


It was dusk. And, it was dusty. The dirt of a huge meandering red machine deposited gently onto a small black puddle nearby. As the particles gently kissed the surface, a passing vehicle stirred up the concoction leaving behind a trail of raw energy into the humble pool. It's heart jumped and then gradually settled down, into it's usual routine of being black - and still. After all, it was dusk.

Unlike others in many parts of town, this particular puddle had only one black cousin. A bit larger but somehow more empty. Funny, he thought. What was also, not funny, but definitely remarkable was a car passing along the way into the distant darkness at this odd hour. The tyres caressed it like feeling a soft scar on the skin. It whirred air into it's lungs, making it feel cold, suddenly . But it knew - as it had known the minds of those who rode over it for ages, that something, was not right.

He could remember it distinctly. He was 12 years old. He was with his father on their yearly vacations. It was his yearly moment of childish exaltation. Right from the announcement of the date, to the destination, to all the small details of the preparations excited him to the core. He loved his father for being what he was. A glowing tribute to the 'abstract noun' called fatherhood. He brought him fighter-guns and hot-wheels, he took him out on little father-son adventures or picnics, he taught him to play ball, to catch a frisbee, to swim! He loved their small sojourns out of town , everything they did in the little time they had together. He craved for that time. He devoured that time. He was - his mother.

However this year was going to be different. He sensed it from the moment he knew that they were going to be visiting relatives. Usually they went on a 'real' holiday. He could never forget that mystical cruise last year to Singapore and his first tryst with the mysteries of the green. But relatives! That was different. He, like his father, loved the open, the serene - the uncomplicated. He hated big lipped aunties kissing him on his cheek, or over-smart cousins in their shiny new ghagra-cholis trying to pester him into doing nonsensical things. He hated the plastic smiles and most of all that slight shade in their eyes,the slight emotion-'bechara!'

All that - again. He meekly sat in the car. He wasn't in the mood for talking. He was masquerading as 'the grumpy little kid'. He knew his father didn't like going too. But there were some things that had to be done. Some duties and some relations that had to be kept. It was, after all, his cousin sister's wedding. They reached after the long 8hr drive. He would have loved it, had it not been for the extremely unwanted destination. They reached. Shit! They were all there. All of them. The whole group of over-dressed and over-sized aunties and their pesky little kids. He promptly wriggled himself out of getting wet cheeks by sneaking out into their room and tried as along as possible to go unnoticed - unobtrusively reading a worn copy of his only Dr.Who. The wedding was to be the next day. Come dinner time he was smoked out of his cubby hole and once on the dining table became a central target for all to stare and sometimes question. 'Bechara!' - he had heard them gossip, 'the mother died at childbirth and Manoj? Where does he have time to take care of him. Look how quiet he is! I am telling you Kamal, its not good for kids his age to be so quiet.' and then the tape would wind to the usual story of his dad's remarriage, him not having any siblngs etc. He watched the mouse scurry across their old, grand pastoral mansion floor. He could almost see the glint in it's eyes. Half-smirkingly he too retired to his own private hole.

The wedding went off as most weddings should not, but do. They were to leave the next day. He promised himself a good sleep with that thought for the night. He was however unfortunatly but predictably mistaken. The guest-list was now at it's overflowing best and what better occasion to celebrate a wedding than to have an even extended falsity under the guise of 'Private Reception Party'. He looked at his wiry frame in the mirror as he got ready. He could see his chest-bones staring at themselves. He pulled on his underpants, put on his jeans and managed to extract a decently not-crumpled T-shirt from his valise. Thus armed he entered into the main hall. A gory sight of ruffling red, glistening green greeted him on his entrance. Flaying dupattas, flirting teenagers on the dance-floor and his own cousins enjoying themselves thorougly to the tune of the latest hindi number. He didn't know the song. He didn't know the beat. Here, his life was off-track.

'Ojas, come here' - someone shouted. It was Kavita Aunty. She was looking exceedingly gargantuan in a tight 'number'.'Come beta, dance with Rashmi.' He had no choice. He tried, this was after all the fist time that he was doing something as weird as this. He flayed his arms and tapped his feet. And all the aunties had a good time. 'Look at Manoj's son. Pukka tribal dancer!' Later they would regale themselves by looking at the video tape of the event. 'I never thought anyone could ever dance sooo badly!!' 'Look at my Rashmi, how gifted she is! Look at her expressions, kamal she's got her mother's genes, i'm telling you! ' There it was, another rendez-vous, another label - 'bad dancer'. They came back. 7 summers and 6 monsoons passed.

The freshers party had gone badly. He'd tried to grow a stubble. But it wasn't nearly as stiff as it ought to have been. His hair were their usual unruly selves. And his bony frame was no better than 7 years before. And neither was his dancing. He watched with envy as his friends would move with rhythmic grace at every song. Now he knew the number, he knew the beat, he even knew his partner - he just didn't have the step. He stepped out of the suffocating air of the disco. He hated it enormously when he couldn't summon up the courage. He would recollect Kavita aunty and her massive eyes. He settled on a drive.

He saw a tramp selling those yellow coloured wiping cloth at the signal. He should target the cars which are clean than those which aren't. Those who keep them clean would be the more likely customers. .You aren't convincing people to clean - just selling your product. I would make a good manager he thought. Green light, another moment, another thought. 7 years back. 'Bad dancer' - Why didn't the aunties kiss you now?

He hit a huge empty pothole. He swerved. 'Damn Shit!' a large meandering red machine can really pack a punch.

'Bechara!' - said the black pool. 'Something, was not right.'

~ Abhishek


Abhishek said...

Testing word verification - getting a lot of spam

Anand said...

Nice article.

One too many chronological jerks, I thought !

Harsh said...

Hmm... a wonderful piece!
I think you would give Surendra Mohan Pathak(of Khooni Katil fame-published by Diamond Books,New Delhi) a run for his money, provided you shift to murder mysteries!
Well, just joking, man! It was really wonderful. Start writing short stories, man, or put more on your blog if you have 'em.

Abhishek said...

Anand : dunno whether u mean that in a good or bad. Will re-read it from that perspective.

Harsh : Check out the two other stories on this blog at :

And some poems interspersed.
And unfortunately haven't read the writer you mention. Will try and acquire one 'Khooni katil' soon.