Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Immortal

they cremated Him,
His dark glasses,
His yellow shawl,
His golden ring, and His pen.

that lowly thing
the cleansing Flame
the Rituals
the crowds.
separated it from The Holy Ash
and disposed it
with other plastic
on The Beach.

a ragpicker
sold it to The Bhai
who knew a scam
when He saw one.

The Bhai sold it
as The pen.

but The Scam
turned into The Snake
that bit Its Tail
and The Bhai
went to The Beach
set sail on a paper-boat
to a foreign paradise.

the pen was just a pen
but The Stuff it wrote
oh It could Write.

The Ruler heard about it.
"yeh kalam (this pen)!" he growled with displeasure.
a nip-n-tuck artiste gave his blind support.
"pottikkoo ee kalam (break this pot)!"

if this was a fabulous myth
to be heard from era to era
pens would be born
from a pen and so on but
"a pen is a pen is,"
a freud did repress.

what became of a pen
is irrelevant, though
not The Holy Ghost
it released.

how They chased
That Idea
across deserts, badlands, cowdung pits,
palaces, slums,
radio towers, bits, bytes, clouds,
They caught It,
Thrashed It,
Lynched It,
Shaved It,
Stripped It,
Raped It,
in that order.
"Conform or die!"
They orgasmed.

The Immortal died.

not the first not the last.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Spilled Blood

The police arrived around dawn. They looked a tired bunch. In the last 48 hours, they had dealt with: a VVIP’s visit (and related black-flag protests); the death of an interfaith living-together couple (and protests about whether it was suicide or murder, money-or-sex-problems or communal issue); and, an on-going transport strike (and unrelated violence).
The newspaper boy (the nice boy who drops the paper on the doorstep and not the other guy who throws it somewhere from the gate) had “found the door open and there was blood on the floor.”
The boy had reported it to the man next-door (back from a morning walk and stretching outside). The man “rang the bell, entered the house when there was no response. I followed the blood to the kitchen. Oh God! What I saw there!”
He (and the boy) had rushed back to his house, and rushed back with his wife. “She is used to such stuff…the stuff she watches on TV.” The wife had examined the kitchen (she had called the police after that) and her study revealed, “There was a chicken head right opposite the door and the decapitated chicken diametrically opposite. Looked like one of those black magic mantra-shantra scenes. There was human blood too.”
“How did you figure that out?” the young lady-constable asked. She was known to her colleagues as Nurse (she had quit a nursing course midway to join the police force, pleasant and always smiling, more a Florence Nightingale than a rough-neck police figure).
“There was part of a finger next to the chicken head,” the neighbour-lady had responded. “Definitely black magic…”
“Tell me about the couple,” Nurse said.
“They are new-comers, quite friendly and all that but not really our type. I think the man used to be a head-load worker and she used to be a maid. We could hear prayers and such stuff all the time. I think they came into new money through that,” the neighbour said.
The lady seemed to want to say more but not in the presence of the male sub-Inspector. The man nodded at Nurse and moved away.
The lady took Nurse’s hand and led her to the house opposite hers where a middle-aged lady was waiting expectantly. The two ladies, in turns, briefed Nurse.
“It must be that old man on the other side. My maid works there too. She told me that he is really bad. Once she offered to sponge the old man, he had a stroke recently. And dirty man…no wonder he had a stroke. His wife had an argument with the missing woman, you know. About coconut or clothes or keeping bedroom windows open or something…”
“You should check out the young man in the opposite house too. He is always on his computer. What all they do on that these days? My daughter has put a lock on her computer, to prevent her kids and hubby. The woman talks to the men too much, a bit too friendly, if you ask me. The man has had arguments with everyone. They even called the police once, to remove some car parked in front of their gate, as if they just can’t ask politely.”
Meanwhile, the male constable had interviewed the other neighbours.
“I think they are the other type, you know, the lot with multiple ID cards, shady stuff, black money and all that,” one said.
“Oh yes, from where did they get all the money?” another added.
“They look young but they have a grown-up daughter.”
“Even she seems to be into shady stuff. Not at all like the girls here.”
“There was a loud crash last night. That was before the reality show.”
“I heard that, just before I went to sleep. I heard a scream too.”
“Oh, I thought that was from some TV.”
Nurse returned to her team. She muttered to her colleagues, “Those ladies need to be put on the bench and rolled.”
“All of them,” the male-constable seconded her motion.
“Just make sure you tell that to the media,” their boss the sub-Inspector said with a tired wry grin. “When will the forensic team get here?”
“Their vehicle’s tires were ripped by those transport protesters,” the male constable said.
“Great,” the sub-Inspector said. “So, what do we know?”
“There was a crash around 9.”
“A scream around 10...”
“Two possible perverts on this side.”
“Neighbours all around who did not like the newcomers.”
“And such a friendly middle-class neighbourhood it seems.”
One of the neighbours brought cups of tea (black, no milk because of strike) and biscuits for the police team. Sipping the tea and trying hard not to nod off, they watched a couple walk slowly to the house with the blood on the floor.
They too seemed tired and in desperate need of a comfortable bed. They hardly noticed the police outside their house.
They turned out to be the missing couple. The man had tried to cook and ended up with a chopped finger. They had rushed to a government hospital. They had spent the night there.
The sub-inspector thanked everyone for the tea and their time and co-operation. A journalist turned up just as they were leaving. Asked for a comment, the men shrugged. Nurse replied, “Nursing case, slightly mental, palliative care recommended.”

Monday, August 6, 2018

Ajit's Wife

My batch has been married for about 25 years. We have been having regular get-togethers the last few years, thanks to mid-life crisis or worries about mortality. We rarely talk about the good old days when we were still eligible and quite a catch, in love or in the arranged way which is what most of us chose. Ajit’s wife is another topic we avoid. Given the non-stop gossip on our chat-lines, it is surprising there are such lines of control.
Ajit was the last one in our batch to get married. None of us were invited for his wedding and no one has seen his wife till date. From what we know of his very active social life, she is there in every function that does not involve us. It is rather amazing how he has managed to keep those two life-spaces separate in the non-virtual world.
That should not give the impression we meet the other spouses regularly. My best friend Shekhar’s wife hates and avoids us. She thinks we are ‘a bunch of right-wing egomaniacal nincompoops’ which is rather unfair, we are not all three all the time. Gopal’s wife is the group’s favourite and officially called ‘pla-tonic-mate’. My own is rather noncommittal and attends only the get-together before New Year, as if she could think of no excuse in that season of good cheer.
In the good old days that we rarely talk about, Ajit used to be the group’s go-to guy about girls. He knew the girls that: ‘went around a bit too much’; ‘his famous Casanova cousin had bedded’; ‘were just not right in our society’; ‘had something wrong somewhere’; and so on. Most of us actually used him to vet our spouses. We just had to know back then.
It is not that it really mattered. Like every microcosm of society, we fit most statistics on: happiness, depressed, suspicious, well-adjusted, divorced, sexual-preferences, sexual-orientation, pre-marital, extra-marital, children, IVF/C-section/natural, alcoholics, mentally-deranged, etc.
We are not sure what Ajit is trying to hide. Maybe, there is nothing to hide. Maybe, he thinks he/she would not meet our expectations.