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Monday, February 29, 2016

The Drinker Girl Who Did Not Drink On The “All Drinkers’ Night”

Virtualia is a peaceful country whose citizens live a quiet life. Like any other peaceful country, Virtualia too has a stable government – for the people by the people. Virtualia is a democracy. The “Rulers Party” rules the state. It has been so, ever since time was born. Once in every five years, its citizens line up at polling stations to cast their votes. Anyone is free to stand in the elections. Members of the “Rulers Party” would inevitably be present at each station. If anyone of the citizens cast their votes for a candidate from outside of the “Rulers Party”, its agents would shoot the voter down then and there. Both with camera as well as gun. They were staunch believers of “justice delayed is justice denied” philosophy. “Rulers Party” ensured that the citizens of Virtualia never faced any shortage. Every single commodity – from essentials such as water, medicines, food to luxuries including smart phones and grooming products and hot beverages were sold through government counters.

***

Rainbow was the only whiskey available in Virtualia. The male population of Virtualia was heavy drinkers, and Rainbow was always in great demand. No woman drank alcohol in Virtualia. Well, no one but Miss Fallacy. Fallacy hated the pungent smell and bitter taste of the whiskey. Yet, she chose to drink it as she felt being the only lady in Virtualia who drinks alcohol would make her stand out in the crowd. Miss Fallacy liked being the stand out. And so she drank Rainbow, along with the men.

***

Stuart Nolastname was a citizen of Virtualia. Mr. Nolastname liked experimenting with food and drinks. He would spend every single day putting together weird ingredients - brewing, baking or boiling them. One fine day, he was busy brewing a new beverage. He had used rotten grapes, sweat of goats, mango peel and spider heads for his new experiment. After letting it ferment for nine hours, he tasted some of it. Voila! It tasted like heaven. Mr. Nolastname was ecstatic about this new recipe. Dancing in joy, he drained the rest of the drink down his throat. That night, a spider appeared in his dream and asked him to make his revelation public.  The very next day, Mr. Nolastname opened a small stall by his courtyard announcing the new beverage, which he named “Jango”. He did not know what that meant. The fame of Jango spread like wildfire. Eager citizens formed huge queues at his courtyard. Unsurprisingly, all of them were male. Well, all but Fallacy.

***
“Rulers Party” was agitated at one of their citizens opening his own stall, defying government orders. They immediately banned Jango, citing that Jango caused liver problems and should not be consumed. That is when the citizens decided to protest against the autocratic measures by the government. They reasoned that liver is something people get by birth, and the government could not object if the people chose to wreck it.

***

The protesters decided to conduct a protest party at the courtyard of Stuart Nolastname. Every citizen of Virtualia who drank was invited, and was offered a pint of Jango to protest against the government. They agreed to hold the “All Drinkers’ Party” in the evening of Saturday. The government caught news of the event, and thought of plans to sabotage this. They decided to send their spies to Mr. Nolastname’s home on Friday night, and poison the barrels of Jango. They summoned the chief chemist, and ordered him to produce an odorless, tasteless and colorless poison.

***

Most of the citizens of Virtualia who drank turned up at the courtyard in the evening of Saturday. As offered, each of them was given a pint of Jango. None of the protesters could notice the presence of the odorless, tasteless and colorless poison in their drinks. Hence they proposed toasts against the government and drank Jango. In a matter of minutes, all of them started feeling uneasy, fell on the ground, and later died. Well, all but Fallacy. Fallacy did not die because she did not drink the poisoned Jango. Miss Fallacy liked Jango. Yet, she chose not to drink as she felt being the only drinker who did not drink on the “All Drinkers’ Party” would make her stand out in the crowd. Miss Fallacy liked being the stand out.

***


Miss Fallacy liked being the stand out. Even today, she stands outside of her house and narrate the tale of the drinker girl who did not drink on the all drinkers’ night to anyone who passes by.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hate is in the air

Fahad, Prasanth, Arya and I were at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi. India was hosting Pakistan in a T20 match. Three of us were in blue, rooting for the home team. Fahad was not. Did I tell you about Fahad? His family is from Karachi, Pakistan. His dad works at the Pak embassy in India. Unsurprisingly, he cheered his home team. He had planned on wearing a Pak jersey, but we had convinced him not to.

Coming back to the match, India was chasing a daunting target of two hundred and nineteen, and it had now boiled down to requiring seventeen runs from the very last over with three wickets in hand. Rohith Sharma was facing Umar Gul. The first two deliveries were converted into whopping sixes. The spectators roared. Five needed off four. Cakewalk. No run was made out of the beautiful yorker that came in next. Five off three. Rohit hooked the next ball effortlessly. The air-borne ball was stopped by Shahid Afridi before it could clear the ropes. Our hero had fallen. Grave silence prevailed. Fahad had a smug smile on his face. The tail enders could manage only two singles from the last two deliveries. Pakistan defeated India by two runs.

We were dejected and agitated. Fahad’s smirk was getting unbearable. ‘Let’s put that smile off his face’, thought me and gave him a tight slap. Following cue, Arya tore the pocket off from his shirt, and Prasanth abused Fahad as well as Pakistan in Tamil. Sadly, neither Fahad nor Arya nor I knew Tamil, so only Prasanth could make out what he said.

I logged in Facebook to divert my mind. Facebook asked me what was on my mind. ‘Win or lose, bleed blue. Unity in diversity. Proud Indian.’ I updated my status. ‘Feeling patriotic’.


***

Prasanth, Arya and I hired an auto-rickshaw that would take us to the Ernakulam Railway Station. The vehicle moved at snail’s pace thanks to the mind-numbing traffic. On top of that, one of those political parties had taken their activists to road and was protesting against Tamil Nadu government’s reluctance in constructing a new dam at Mullaperiyar. The existing dam was unsafe, they said. It could collapse any minute, and mainland Keralam would drown in its waters, they said.
Did I tell you about Prasanth? He is from Villupuram, Tamil Nadu. You might have guessed it when he abused Fahad in Tamil. When it comes to profanities, people instinctively resort to their mother tongues.

‘Your politicians are causing unwarranted panic. Our government had carried out safety checks at the dam. Experts say there is no danger.’ said Prasanth.

‘Don’t try to sell us that bullshit. Your government fears that if a new dam is built, a new contract would have to be drafted and your state may lose hold of the dam.  Already you guys are stealing our water, and now do you want us killed?’

‘Stealing your water – come on! Kerala lives on our vegetables and provisions, and yet you can’t give us water to grow those. Incredible!’

That was the limit. How dare he insult us when he was breathing Kerala air and drinking Kerala water? We asked our driver to halt the already crawling rickshaw and politely asked Prasanth to get off. Arya and I reached the railway station some twenty minutes later.

***

Did I tell you about Arya and me? We had been dating each other for a while now and decided it was time to take things a level forward. Both of us informed our kin of our interest in each other. After some persuasion, my folks agreed to visit Arya’s family for the ‘meet-the-prospective-bride’ ritual. You know, right according to tradition.

After almost four hours of rather tiring journey from our home at Thrissur, we reached Kottayam by noon. Arya’s parents and siblings greeted us warmly. After exchanging pleasantries, they invited us for lunch. My mom began an animated conversation with Arya’s younger brother, Abhinav.

‘I guess he does not talk much, does he? He just smiles no matter what I asked him.’ Said my mother.

‘Please do not get him wrong, ma’am. It is just that he finds your “Thrissur” accent a bit funny.’ Replied my prospective mother-in-law.

‘At least our slang is not as rude as the “Kottayam” version’.

Shots were fired.

I elbowed my mother, requesting her not to pick up a fight. She asked me why I was teaming up with them. As if I had options. I did not have options. How could I elbow Arya’s mom? Wouldn’t that be inappropriate?

Luckily, there was no follow up from either side. We proceeded to lunch. They had prepared the conventional ‘sadya’ with fried fish thrown in as an add-on to the vegetarian meal. My father started on his favorite dish, avial. The grimace on his face was proof for his displeasure.

‘Why do you southerners put garlic in avial? Now it tastes like a non-vegetarian dish.’ Commented my father. By southerners, he meant people from the southern side of the southernmost state of India.

‘What’s wrong with garlic, uncle? Don’t you know garlic is effective against cholesterol?’ To my surprise, it was Arya who had stood up to protect the southerners’ honor.

That was when I decided to join the bandwagon. I did like her, but that did not mean I would sit and watch her opposing my parents. Some more words were exchanged. Not pleasantries this time.
Did I tell you about Arya and me? We are no longer dating each other.

***

So I was browsing through the news feed when Facebook pinged me with memories of what happened on this very day, three years ago. Memories are always nice, right? I wanted to check it out. There was this status that I had apparently made in a state of emotional instability. Pathetic language and miserable content.


’I was such a doofus back then!’ thought I. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Plan

The son went and sat near his father.

“It’s been a while, dad. How are things going?”

“It really has been a while, hasn’t it? I stopped following time since God knows when.”

“That’s quite unbecoming of you, dad. For what I know, you were someone who used to measure time and plan accordingly. Shall I say shrewd?”

“I prefer meticulous. And yes, I used to measure time – every ounce of it. Each of my actions were prudently strategic. I wanted the best for myself and my folks.”

“Are you telling me even I were a result of your deliberate planning? Interesting.”

“You? Of course. Especially you. There was a time when my whole life was centered on you. I have had immense plans for you, even before you were born. Do you think you just happened to be born in the month of May?”

“I am quite familiar with the nine months’ infancy phase, dad. I believe that though I came out only in May, I began to exist sometime in August, perhaps.”

“That’s a way to look at it, right! And do you think August was a random choice?”

“I had never given it a serious thought, dad. Wasn’t it?”

“Do you know when our schools admit new batches?”

“June I guess.”

“June, yeah. And to be admitted, a child has to be exactly five years old on the first of June. I had lost eleven months of my life as I was born in July. I did not want to waste such valuable time in your life, Aahan.”

“Oh my! That was unexpected, dad. I suppose there is some story behind my name as well.”


“I would have named you aaa if I had my way. But your mom opposed, and finally we settled for this. I suppose your name came first in all name lists.”

“Definitely. And it had its perils as well. I was the one who had to complete all my assignments and submit it first.”

“I am sorry I overlooked that, but you were not kept in waiting during interviews and stuff, right? See, there were perks too. That’s not all. Do you remember how we switched your school after the class ten exams despite the enormous fees in the new school?”

“Entrance coaching, I get it. But you-you never lived to see the outcome, dad. The car crash was never part of any plans, right? Had you dozed off during the drive, as the motor insurance guys suggested?”

“I do not remember, son. Anyway, does it matter anymore?”

“You became a car crash. I became a brain tumor. Tell me one thing, dad. Are you sad that your dear boy fell at a rather tender age of twenty-nine, or are you happy that we have bonded once again?”

“Emotions account for only in the world out there, my dear. Here we learn to accept the plan.”