Sunday, March 24, 2013

Murky Messages from the Subconscious 

He was my conscience and I could tell him. He would never give me in. I could count on it.

This fact that you have killed someone. It is like a old healed wound that you have to be careful with, lest it opens up again. You never know. Convince yourself that it never happened, but always be on guard for the day it might come out. A constant tug of war between forgetting and remembering.

I was not clean-handed anymore. But curiously, that which bothered me was not the thought of blood. Come to think of it, there was very less blood, it being a somewhat neat work. It was the realization that I had moved past it which disturbed me the most. That I was beyond the reach of guilt.

He asked me with a genuine curiosity and oddly, with even a hint of admiration. “What happened?”… 

The attic was dark and suffocating. Everything was dark around me. The wall was painted dark and the filament of the bulb glowed dully like a dying flame. There was a thicker murky  darkness in corners of the room.

Like being dragged by chains under water, my lungs writhed and struggled for air. The skylight, yelled something inside. I opened it, putting my head out and swigged down the cold air. Hastily.

And I told him.
You are going to believe that this did not happen. You will believe it in all sincerity you can muster. Do you get it? I am not talking about forgetting this. It is about - not believing this. You will “un-believe” it to every single detail. Every little part. Every little twist.

The narrative that unfolded was about how me and Rohit had committed a cold blooded murder in Delhi.

What if the cops connect the dots?
Never. They can never do it.
But what if they did?

Rohit’s father was a lawyer. He would somehow get away. 

Maybe I really am alone in this one.

Anyway, he just drove the car. He never asked anything but he knew what was in the bag. I could see him looking the other way when I dropped it off the bridge.

It was those last few days. The frustrating work was coming to an end. And Rohit came to me to talk about this person who was arranged to help me with the moving.

Payment is fixed.” He said. “Thousand rupees for the whole deal. Not one rupee more.”
But we both knew that it would be difficult to keep it that way. And I had the dirty job of ensuring it being so.

He came for work late as they all often did. A menacing bulk of a man. The work was clumsy. And rough. And imperfect. 

I could feel hate filling inside like a container with some dark liquid dripping into it. Filling it up slowly in regular insentient drips. Drip. Drip. Drip. Every second I watched him.

I knew he would start the desperate bargaining. On and on and on. As always. As they all do. With a superhuman sense of picking up the stench of money. The ravenous eyes, absorbing every detail around that gave out signs of affluence. Reading the contents of your wallet in the mere flashes of its exposure to their devouring eyes. Every piece of currency note inside.

He wanted five hundred more than the amount fixed.

The container inside was overflowing. Hate, as a gushing dark liquid, was spilling out. Seeping into my bones. Clouding my vision. Oozing out of my skin. 

Then as I watched, my hands took out the concealed country revolver tucked into the pants behind and shot him. Thrice. 

The calmness that descended is hard to explain. Serenity at its best.

The corpse was huge. I had to shrink it to manage it without much difficulty. Shrink it to a manageable size.I dragged it to the terrace. To let the Delhi sun spit fire on it for three days. Till it could be sufficiently dried up for one large polythene bag. And it did. The Delhi Sun, hitherto my foe, proved to be an efficient partner.It was more like a wrinkled piece of firewood by the third day. 

It is Firewood”, assured a cold voice within. I started chopping the hands and feet off. 

The polythene bag was heavy. 

Rohit waited down in the car. His demeanor growled impatience. “I don’t have all the time in the world”, it seemed to convey. 

A quick drive with no words exchanged and the polythene bag got removed from the picture. 

            And now you shall remove it even from your memories. 

The air outside the skylight was thick and suffocating now. 

Yet, I was convinced that I would continue to live unperturbed. 


Some complicated interpretation of the dream (more of a nightmare) that a friend did for me came up with a conclusion that it could either be the suppression of some guilt (even a trivial one) coupled with a general hatred for Delhi, or a sense of escape that is behind it. 

It was, however, a disturbingly vivid one. Took me almost an hour to come in terms with the reality after waking up and take in that I am no murderer.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

On the Parking Spot Werewolves

Cheap aviator shades, predictably a ray ban replica from CP and hair dyed orange. Late forties or early fifties, I guessed. The associate was different, looked like a puffed up low budget property dealer, the kind that I was quite familiar with from my hunt for barsatis.

They had come to warn me. The orange dye stopped his blue bajaj Chetek near me and snarled “Tera naukar thoda hoon har din ise yahan se hatane ko, ...! Kal se iska shakal bhi dekh liya na, iy will burrrrst the tyre...” The property dealer stared with a menacing face. Orange dye threw a hostile speculative look tilting his head up and down. A dramatic shift to the first gear and an exaggerated screech of the engine, they were gone.

Watching them fading into the galis, I fantasised of some supernatural powers to deflect the speeding Chetak into a nearby tree and relished the resulting spectacle of orange mixing with crimson.

            I started the bike, pondering deeply over the next place to park it when I return from the office. This was the second time this month. A senile sardar was the first one to evict my two-wheeler. He, however, was courteous. His territory, I was informed, extended upto 6-7meters around his shop. “Aur kahin rakh do beta, yahan nahi”, he had told me in a quivering voice. He smiled and refrained from disclosing the consequence of non-compliance, letting me use my imagination.

            I always had this notion that Bombay was a dangerous city where everyone inevitably has to face a thug sent by the underworld demanding hafta if he wanted to live peacefully. And I now I had the first encounter with the kind that Delhi was blessed with, the parking fiends. I was once told by a friend that they frequently pick up fights, stab and kill each other for parking space. They were normal men with families who turned into werewolves when they spotted an alien vehicle in their territories. 

            I could imagine them tilting their bikes and spraying a bit of gasoline on the lamp posts to mark their territories.

            If I stay in this perdition long enough, maybe one day, I’d be one of them. With my own tiny spot to guard. Some future to look forward to.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Mosquitos, Somnolence and Existentialism

There was this time in my life when I felt like a loser every second of the day. This was in 2012 when I sat at home after quitting my job to apply for masters which was about a year ahead. So, for close to a year I was supposed to sit at home and do nothing. 

And I had this issue with sleep. I would sit late into the night, sometimes working on my applications, sometimes waiting for some kind of inspiration, sometimes watching dreary repetitions of failed Hollywood movies that they kept showing in the TV and sometimes due to the mosquitos. 

I had a terrible aversion to mosquitos. Some people, I have seen, aren’t even aware when they are bit by them, but I, on the other hand, can’t bear even the buzzing sound they make. And there was this time that year when Delhi had a sudden surge in mosquito population. Everything I tried on them proved to be futile. And believe me, I tried everything. Taking cues from internet, using traditional wisdom and what not. The coils, the mats, the liquids, the insect repellent software, ultrasonic sound, smoking the whole house with incense, every single trick in the book. None of them worked. They kept buzzing around me, landing on me, biting, crawling... Summarising, they just made my life a living hell.

The only time they retired was during the day. Once the sun came out, they just settled down on the walls and they maintained a curiously indifferent attitude to my presence. 

I spent most of the nights sitting and waiting for them with a China made mosquito bat, something which resembled a tennis racket containing three wire meshes with one of them having high voltage electric current running through it. It was designed to give an electric shock when you swing it at the flying insects and was quite a rage in India in those days. It gave a loud crackle and a spark when the insect is caught and I guess that gave some kind of sadistic pleasure to the people. 

And sleep I would during the day. It was not a proper sleep. The trouble with sleeping in the day is that the world, which is up and running has different ideas for you. I would receive marketing calls, calls from friends, calls from my previous office, reminders of bill payments, neighbours visiting for borrowing something and all that stuff. 

And on top of all these would be complaints from people. That I did not pick up their calls, did not answer the doorbell, did not do this, was supposed to be there, waited for me for this long and so on… It was as if I was committing some kind to unpardonable sin by sleeping during the daytime.

It was in those times that I started feeling like a loser. I would wake up in the evening and stare down from the balcony at the world that seemed awkwardly busy.

It wasn’t a good idea to remain jobless in a city, especially a metropolitan one. Had I been in my village, it would have been a completely different thing. Maybe no one would notice even if I hibernate like a polar bear for a whole season. I guess nature never bothered if you slept at night or during the day. Back in the age of hunting, I could have been assured of the company of a few nocturnal animals in the night. 

Looking at the desolate roads of Mayur Vihar Mayur in the night bathed in the depressing yellow incandescence of the sodium vapour lamps that struggled to pierce the slowly thickening fog, I realised how forlorn even my unfounded loneliness was.