Sunday, October 4, 2015

Familiarity Breeds Contempt


How often is it that you wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, look into the mirror and go – “You again”? 

Well…lucky you, but not so lucky me.

I have always been a strong proponent against the adage “familiarity breeds contempt”, always arguing (and even believing) that it actually breeds love…yes, love! I can say it from first-hand experience. At the end of every single day that has passed, I have always loved my wife a little more (kachunnkk!!), and I attribute it to the fact that I have gotten that much more familiar with her on that particular day. This is still the case (kachunnkk! kachunnkk!!!!) and it’s not going to change…ever (kachunnkk! kachunnkk! kachunnkk!!!) ( I love brownies).

However…sadly, off late, I have realized that my concept of “familiarity breeds love” may have certain, whatchamacallit.....limitations.  You see, what familiarity breeds (love or contempt) seems to depend on who or what you are getting familiar with. For example, the more familiar you get with the BBMP, the lesser you love it. Here, familiarity does breed contempt…aye, and a lot more other negative feelings that only the devil can describe. Having accepted this, I stand down from my earlier lofty stance of “Familiarity only breeds love” to “Familiarity breeds love, but it depends”. (You see, I always let objectivity rule over emotion).

So, making this more scientific, I will call these two notions - FBC (familiarity breeds contempt) and FBL (familiarity breeds love) and note that either of the two are possible depending on who or what the object of familiarity is.

By now, you are wondering where all this is leading to…please read the first line again. Yeah, you got that right, I seemed to have gotten too familiar with myself and unfortunately, and astoundingly, it was the FBC that was kicking in and not FBL, which is what it should have been!! As this realization struck home, it obviously did not go down well with me. Given that FBC applied to BBMP as well, comparisons were inevitable and gut wrenching and this cast me, rudderless, into my first existential crisis!!

Luckily for me (and thanks to my scientific temper), objectivity prevailed over emotions and through much self-analysis and introspection, I managed to see through the murk and came up with the following conclusions:


  1. 1. I really did not know myself
  2. 2. If I did not know myself, the question of FBC did not arise!

These conclusions were truly uplifting. BBMP stopped popping to my mind whenever I thought about myself. Life went back to being boring from being harrowing. Everything was normal again. My existential crisis was pretty much resolved.  However… one question remained…
Why did I go “you again?” each morning when I looked into the mirror?

This question haunted me like a spirit that had been spurned in love. I knew, the answer was right there in front of me, every single morning.  But I couldn’t just put a finger on it!

I spent many sleepless nights of analysis from various angles but the answer eluded me. But God has his ingenious ways of catching you unawares.  So one fine morning, I awoke, I looked into the mirror and I knew….I knew why I went “you again?”! The only thing that comes close to this feeling is… well…I am not sure I want to describe it but words such as constipation, bricks, stuck, push, breaching of a dam, mudslide and euphoria do come to mind (for now you can think of it as the sudden clearing of a severe block…in this case, mental).

But, the euphoria was at best, ephemeral because as interesting as the question was, the answer was equally disappointing.  And the answer? Simple – I was getting bored with my own face! To put it in simpler terms – I was experiencing an FBC of my own face. Seeing the same old face in the mirror every morning, morning after morning was taking its toll. I must caution you at this point that this was not such a big problem as you may be imagining. Remember, this was not about hating yourself, it was about hating your face. Think about it. Just because you don’t like your face, does not automatically mean that you don’t like yourself. I hated my face, but, I, definitely, still, loved my self! Period.

The problem was not serious, but it was real and I had to deal with it. I needed to do something – nothing earth shaking or life changing...but something that would make me go “now, who the hell are you?”, whenever I saw myself in the mirror each morning.

The solution was easy – all I had to do was to change the way I looked! Ha-ha!

So the next morning, I woke up, did my usual morning shuffle to the bathroom, switched on the light and looked into the mirror – but this time with a very large smile, and one eyebrow raised. Why? Obviously to change my face!  

Looking into the mirror, I waited, with bated breath, for my thoughts to form. And slow as my thoughts are in the morning or any other time of the day for that matter, I realized that my attempt had…fallen flat on its face. Instead of giving rise to the thought - “now, who the hell are you?”, my precise thoughts were “You again? And stop smiling like a half brained chimp, you nitwit!”.  

But like all true scientists, I was not to be deterred. After all, this was only my first attempt and great scientists are known to fail a thousand times before they succeed. And so, in the mornings that followed, I tried a number of other face change tricks that predominantly involved contorting my face in different and mind bogglingly weird ways, but each time, I ended up recognizing my own face in the mirror! Epic fail.

Now, failure causes pain. To add to this, I also had to put up with various types of insults such as “pea brained moron”, “malformed orangutan”, “dumb pig with a wicked smile” etc. every morning. So you understand what I was going through – my own abilities to find a solution to a simple problem started to come into question. But, like all true scientists, I did not give up.

Taking a step back, this strategy clearly was not working. I had to think of something more fool proof, something that wouldn’t give me away that easily. The idea came to me when I was watching one of those mindless hindi serials on TV where the average IQ for the characters on the show is in the low single digits. But they do have good ideas once in a while – this one was of a 7 year old kid (female) escaping from her pursuer’s by disguising herself as a midget with a beard and a baby voice. Aha - a beard.

I now had a solution that I felt would definitely work!  The following is a fair approximation of what the solution looked like:
  1.  Grow a beard!
  2.  Do not look into the mirror until the beard was properly grown, which would be about a week at the most. (There was no need to look into the mirror if I did not have to shave). Hey, wait a minute, how about combing my hair?
  3.  Okay – I would cut my hair really short so I wouldn’t need to comb it. 
So off I went, got a haircut, short as it could be. I must say my barber got a bit offended when I shouted a vehement “NO!” when he asked the customary “shave sir?”, which cost me a little extra in tips to cheer him up, but what’s a few bucks for a “who the hell are you?” in the morning.

At the end of an excruciating week, where I had to restrain myself from breaking the mirror and gouging out those eyes that would constantly try and steal a glance at the mirror, I finally felt that I had a beard that was long enough to get the job done. The big day was here.  I went to bed early hoping to end the wait early, but ended up lying there wide eyed and nervous thinking about what the outcome would be the next day but eventually fell asleep due to sheer exhaustion.

Finally my eyes opened. It was morning – I could hear the birds chirping. My hand by instinct, went up to my cheeks and chin and felt for the beard. Yes, it was still there. Time to go. I got out of bed, switched on the bathroom light and entered. I looked into the mirror. I waited as my first thoughts formed. What would they be? Would I know it was me? And finally the thoughts took shape, I found myself looking at the face in the mirror and thinking “Who the hell…Hey! Nice! That’s a cool beard!”. This, was not the intended result…..however, it was a lot more than what I was expecting to achieve!!  I had managed to turn my contempt for my own face into love –  my new look was adorable!! 

A week went by, I flaunted and preened and graciously accepted compliments and some strange “who is this Devdas?”  kinda looks with equal poise. And then the following Monday – 8 days after I had tasted success, I woke up in the morning, shuffled to the bathroom, turned on the light and looked into the mirror....

My heart sunk as I helplessly watched myself in the mirror thinking “You again?”…


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Some worms of wisdom


God made them roses,
The devil stuck a thorn under each one of them.

The day is done,
I am back in my nest,
But  I ain't done,
There is no rest.

I want to follow my heart,
But how can I even think about it
when I still have my head?

Life's crossroads
are much like the ones
in Bangalore.
One-way streets,
but you can still go.

Look at the rainbow,
Seven different colors,
yet always together.
Always together,
yet seven different colors.

Where are my wits
when I need them?
They are always late.
Better late than never.

Weekends are worth,
a lot more than gold.
They are there to be enjoyed,
not to be sold.

If you want to take the fast lane,
That's OK......you want to go far.
But be sure you remember...
where the brakes are.

Thoughts are like rabbits.
First there's one, then two,
And before you know it,
Your head's a crazy zoo.

You needn't forgive AND forget,
Because when you forgive,
you forget...

If you want to be different,
stay the same,
The world will change,
and you will be different.

There are sunny days,
And there are rainy ones,
Carry an umbrella, I says
And you are pretty much done.

Shadows are like happiness,
Always close, and in touch.
It is mine, but it's not me
I try to grab it, but it moves away.
Shadows
aren't meant to be chased,
Switch the damn light off,
there is no me, nor my shadow.

It needn't have happened!
yet it happened.
It shouldn't have happened!!
but it happened.
How could it happen!!??
Yes, it still happened....
Your life is your baby,
SHIT HAPPENS!!
Deal with it.

Enthusiasm needs to be
tempered with sensitivity.
For ex.
Never greet a shoe-shine boy with a
"Good morning! Rise and Shine!

Rats don't look behind
when they run... why do you?

You can whine,
you can wish.
Everything's  fine
just go out and fish.

Some lives are like
train tracks
They run together
over long distances,
a lot of shit happens
between them
and they never meet..
And there are some others
that, like the train tracks,
never meet..and,
like the train tracks,
are never meant to.

Emotions are the bags
in which you carry your thoughts.
Good quality bags
can carry more weight.
Avoid disposable plastics,
they litter and are toxic.

Listen to what you hear.
It will help when you
hear what you listened to.

Most problems in life are
like eggs.
They will stink if you keep them
and crack if you drop them.

Treat adversaries like
eggs.
If you can't  beat 'em,
boil 'em.

If you can't crack it,
it's not a problem.
Nor is it an egg.

When you get time,
You actually don't get it,
You just use up more of
what you already have.

One must take inspiration
from the cars in Bangalore.
You may be scratched
and dented on the outside,
But the inside is still
wrapped  in plastic.

Well , there is more in common between your hair and money than you realise. 
For starters, the more you have, the happier you feel. 
The wiser you get, the whiter they get. 
Having some in white is better than having none at all. 
And don't gloat if you have a lot of both in black, 
because a single night is enough 
to make both the black money and the lovely black hair
 ....disappear

You are as old as you think you are.
But if you don't think about it,
You are yet to be born.

If it is dark,
You may be blind.

If you are a sailboat,
You better adjust your sails
whenever the wind changes.
And you better bring them down 
When the storm comes in,
Better yet, get your own engine...




Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Metamorphosis


In the Kingdom of Oth in the far-east, there once ruled the proud yet benevolent King- King Ogzan. The people of the kingdom fondly called him King Oggy. As with all kings whose stories got told, King Oggy too had a daughter called Princess Reeyan and just as all princesses whose stories get told, she too had come of age and was ready for marriage. Princess Reeyan had grown up to be a breathtakingly beautiful young lady and stories of her beauty had quickly travelled far beyond the borders of Oth.

There were many who sought the beautiful Princess Reeyan’s hand in marriage – there were mighty kings and handsome princes, but they all returned disappointed as none could impress the haughty princess. This had left King Oggy very worried as he was getting old and he wanted to leave his kingdom and his daughter Reeyan in safe hands before death found him.

So one day King Oggy called his trusted minister Bukdar and said, “Bukdar, my friend, you need to help me. I am getting old and weak and I still do not have an heir who is worthy enough to marry Reeyan and rule this kingdom.”

On hearing this, Bukdar calmly replied,” Your Highness!  Despair not. If your heir does not come to us, we will go to him! I will forthwith set out in search for the man who will be worthy of marrying Reeyan and also worthy of being the King of Oth.  Worry you not, O’king – we will journey across the seven seas if we have to, but we will not return empty handed”.

Saying thus, Bukdar, along with Princess Reeyan and a few trusted soldiers, set out on their search disguised as a wealthy merchant and his daughter. They visited several kingdoms and met several kings and princes and noble men – but none made the cut. They were too proud and didn’t care for others, or too ill mannered, or too greedy for wealth, or too weak, or given to too much drinking or plain old ugly.

So Bukdar and Reeyan carried on with their search, traveling many a mile into far flung lands in search of the perfect prince!

One stormy night, as they made their way through a dense forest on the way to the kingdom of Zanchuqua, their company was attacked by a large group of dacoits. Bukdar’s men were quickly outnumbered and the dacoits looted everything that they could take and burnt what they could not. The leader of the dacoits was completely taken in by Reeyan’s beauty and he decided to make her his bride. He hefted Reeyan with one hand on to his horse and sped away with the rest of his gang in tow.  Reeyan cried for help but it was of no avail. Bukdar and his men were completely helpless and lay wasted on the forest floor unable to do anything.

Princess Reeyan quickly gave up all hope of being rescued and resigned herself to her fate. The dacoits finally stopped at an opening among the dense trees to rest for the night. They left Reeyan resting against a tree with her hands tied behind her back. They lit a fire and they ate and they drank and they made bawdy jokes. The dacoit leader threw lusty glances at her every now and then with his beady eyes. After some time, he got up and walked slowly up to her with purpose, but he didn’t make it. He fell forward without a sound with a single arrow pierced through his forehead between his eyes.  Others were too drunk to notice what happened or to react even if they noticed. Before Reeyan could make sense of what was happening, the dark bushes behind her parted like the doors to hell and out jumped a large black horse with a man riding it. The man quickly pulled Reeyan up onto the horse and they sped away through the trees into the inky darkness leaving behind the drunk and dazed dacoits.

They rode fast and steady for several hours. Princess Reeyan was too scared to utter a word. Being hefted up roughly on to a horse from the ground two times in a night was something that she was not used to as a princess. Her mind was too pre-occupied trying to decide if this was a savior or yet another villain wanting her for himself. Finally, she felt the horse slowing down and they came to a halt. The man got down and helped her down gently. It was only then that she got a good look at her new captor. He was a tall, young man and when she got a closer look, to her distress, she found herself instantly attracted to his kind but handsome face.   She dismissed this as being some manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome.

He saw her looking at him and smiled at her even as she quickly averted her eyes and said , “ Are you ok?”
“Yes, I am ok”, she whispered. “But who are you?”

“I am Zong, the ex-Prince of Argaman. I was passing through the forest when I happened to hear your cries for help. And the rest is history”, he said with a smile and twinkle in his eye

To cut a rather long story short let me tell you that they found Bukdar and his men walking slowly through the forest, and then Prince Zong and Princess Reeyan fell in love and decided to get married and so  together they all returned to the Kingdom of Oth, Bukdar having fulfilled his promise to King Oggie.

The wedding was a splendid affair. The high priest finally pronounced Zong, the ex-prince of Argaman and Reeyan, the princess of Oth as man and wife and willed them to kiss. The crowd surged forward to get a better look as Zong took Reeyan into his arms. Princess Reeyan closed her eyes and Zong bent down and kissed her on her lips. And then the air was rent with the collective gasp of the thousands that had come to watch them wed – common people, nobles, kings, rich merchants and more and Bukdar swooned,  Princess Reeyan screamed and King Oggie breathed his last. 

There, next to princess Reeyan where prince Zong had earlier stood, squatted on the ground, a rather large ugly looking frog.  The frog croaked twice and hopped away into the bushes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Moon and Earth


Moon in all his fullness and mirth,
looked down upon a rather demure Earth,
And said:
“Yo Brother! Look at you – you are all colored
Blue and green and grey and brown and such.
And look at me – I am White..a beautiful white,
A pearl - a pearl that you can never touch.”

Earth just smiled and he sadly thought:
"He knows he is cursed but he knows not why.
God gave me life…
But he left him high and dry.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shinier than thou


Raj (name changed) is my boss. He looks like this







Daniel (name changed) is Raj’s boss – that means my boss’s boss. He looks like this.


well almost…except for the eyes to some degree and maybe the mouth and the rest of the face…but  I think the head is fine.

You can see from the pictures above that Daniel is slightly bigger than Raj…I think that’s why he is Raj’s boss.  If you are observant, you will notice that there is no picture of me J

It so happened that Daniel, who lives in Israel, was in India to have a series of meetings.

As with all meetings, there is more said than done…but that’s the idea.

If you happen or happened to work for any large but self respecting multinational corporation, you would have noticed how people in such companies have this compulsive need to gather together other people and tell them things.

Moreover, if you did have a chance to think while you were serving such an organization, you would have appreciated the fact that this need (of gathering together people and telling them things) increases as you go higher up the hierarchy…because for some unknown reason – those people high up there - they always have a lot of things to tell. Actually, that could explain the lower oxygen content in the air at higher levels…just too much gas going around.

 And…that also explains why people up there don’t do much.  Some say it is because there just isn’t much to do up there. Well…while that is mostly true, it is compounded by the fact that low oxygen levels can cause disorientation and can slow down one’s mental abilities and make it really difficult to do the easiest of things, such as thinking. So if you wondered why they appear kinda slow on the uptake – this is it.

Now, if you are among those that happen to be at higher levels, then gas dissipation would be your primary and only concern in order to survive. No, not easy…because the only way to dissipate the gas is to gather people around you…and give them the gas. Make no mistake about it - this is a zero sum game. The real killer is that you have got to be careful who you choose to give gas to. The people that you gather have got to be from the lower, gas deficit levels, for, if you chose people from your own level or even higher levels, it would be akin to suicide by gassing. But then everyone knows that people at lower levels can be very difficult to gather around because they are mostly governed by Brownian and Heisenberg’s priniciples.

Anyways, we had these, uh…series of meetings.

The effect of gas is quite interesting. At first it can be invigorating causing one to take in more and more of it. But as one takes in more and more of the gas, the ominous side effects start to show up. These typically start with a general slowing down of thinking processes and numbing of senses followed either by deep but revivable coma or by hallucinations that could sometimes take a dangerous turn causing some people to mutilate themselves. But by and large, these hallucinations are benign and one can snap out of them as soon as the gas levels come down.

Anyways, we had these, uh…series of meetings.

And I found myself gradually slipping into a gas infused semi-conscious state where it was becoming difficult for me to distinguish between reality and imagination.  Let me see if I can recall what was going on in my head.

I can vaguely remember seeing two shining orbs in front of me and a debate of some sort raging in my head. Yeah…it’s a little clearer now…I think the topic of the debate was something to do with one of the orbs being brighter than the other.

Yes, why was one orb brighter than the other?!  And what in the hell were these orbs??

Aaah… now I recollect  - I was in this gas chamber…errr…a meeting room. Raj and Daniel were sitting next to each other on the opposite side of the table under some particularly bright lights…and then there was the sweet smell of gas and then there was this question… the question that wouldn’t go away, that bothered me no end – it clung to my brain in a rather painful manner and wouldn’t let go - like the zipper that’s been pulled up in a hurry.

Why was Daniel’s head shinier than Raj’s head? Why? Why? No, I was not mistaken – I could actually feel my pupil contract each time I looked from Raj to Daniel – there definitely was an extra sheen to his bald pate.  

So what was it? Did one head have more hair than the other?  Nope - I checked this. I took a close look when I went to get a glass of water (and no - I wasn’t thirsty). They were both equally hairless. Was it the shape of the head? No – they were both round – quite round. Confirmed visually by leaning from side to side and watching how the reflection moved from side to side on the bald heads. Not much difference there- no odd bumps – surprisingly smooth – both of them.

The only explanation could be that Daniel used some sort of high-end wax polish.  And Raj? Well I am sure he used our desi amla tel (oil) – nothing spectacular.

But how could one confirm this?

Wax polish has this distinct petroleum smell – if only I could get close enough to smell Daniel’s pate! But how close? Well…I would think my nose would need to be no more than an inch away from his head to know for sure. But an inch is quite close. Daniel may not take too kindly to it…especially if my nose made unintended contact with his bald pate and sullied the shine. Not only that, it also had the potential to shake the rest of the people in the room out of their gas induced stupors and they would make a quick exit. And that would make Daniel and Raj furious! So I quickly abandoned the idea of smelling Daniel’s head. I had to find another way…

As my brain groped in the dark, I spotted a faint ray of hope that seemed to hesitate at the doorway. 
Knowing that this was my only chance, I slowly coaxed the thought in. I am sure you would have noticed how a drop of water that falls on a waxed surface never sticks to it. It just slides down the surface really quick. Well…if only I could get a drop of water on Daniel’s head…

The easiest way to achieve this would be to drop a bit of water on his head as I passed him by and then watch the water slide down his head. For that I would need to walk past him with my glass of water and maybe trip on his laptop’s power cable splashing some of the water on to his head. But there was a hitch to this plan – when the water splashed on his head, he would definitely  feel it.  And that meant he would wipe it clean…the plan wouldn’t work.  The door shut – darkness!

As I sank into despair, I think I had the first real Eureka moment of my life. My god! – did that feel good. All my earlier Eureka moments were to do with this girl called Rekha who I used to know…but this was really good! I had finally hit upon a completely fool proof way of achieving what to my gas-drugged fogged-up mind, seemed to be my only objective in life. It didn’t matter anymore that I couldn’t drop water on his head – Daniel himself would help me do it!! All I needed to do was to first talk to the office boy to get the AC in the room turned off and then order extra spicy pizzas for Daniel’s lunch and then sit back and watch the oh-so-elusive answer to my life’s question, jump straight out of Daniel’s head!

My plan swiftly went into action – the AC went off, the pizza (with the 5 chilly mark) arrived.  The room was starting to get stuffy. I settled back into the chair expectantly...my eyes fixed on Daniel’s bald pate. Ten pregnant minutes went by. Now, what was that – was that something glittering on Daniel’s head? Yes it was! 
My plan was starting to work! It was only a matter of time before the answer would reveal itself. It was time for lunch and Daniel reached out for the Pizza. I could barely contain my excitement as I watched with bated breath. He bit into it, chewed and swallowed, and then another bite… The color on his face started to change – it went from white to pink fairly quick. Open sesame!!! A drop of sweat had formed on the bald head and was making its way down to his brow….however, very slowly…too slowly. I finally had the answer to my question – Daniel did not use wax-polish.

However, my happiness was short-lived because the answer to that question left my life's larger question unanswered -  why did Daniels head shine more than that of Raj’s??

I spent the rest of the meetings deep in thought, analyzing and exploring various conjectures but none provided a satisfactory explanation. And so the answer remains elusive till date – waiting for the right moment to reveal itself. Till then I will go pull my hair off one by one while I continue to search – at least having a bald pate may improve my chances of becoming boss and maybe also hitting upon the answer!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Abyss


Hurtling down, no control
an endless abyss, an unholy hole
its so dark, the stench so great
oozing its endless hate......

I am blinded, I am bare,
I am shrinking in that awful glare
Is it too dark or is it too bright
Too confused, I have no fight..

Where is god, where is he ?
The only one, the Almighty
All that miasma, the putrid haze
How can there be God in this awful place.

Now do I sense a presence here?
Something that seems beyond fear
Oh lord! Now I know, now I see,
All this… all this is in...me??

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dooms Day is coming!!

Almost every species known to us survives and prospers by way of adapting itself to changes in its environment. For example, when there is less grass, the deer adapts by evolving to survive on less or survive on foliage that is more in abundance or it simply decreases its own numbers. This is true for all species, except for one - Man. Man, through the ingenuity of his highly evolved, audaciously oversized brain, will only seek to satisfy his voracious appetite by inventing new technologies to grow more crops and breed more edible animals. Never, never will he adapt himself to eat less or eat something else or to decrease his own outrageously high numbers. This strategy of squeezing the environment to survive, is effective in the short-run, but is doomed for failure in the longer term. Understand that there is only so much paste that you can squeeze out of the last toothpaste tube in the world, no matter what technology you use. The other and a much smarter option is to learn to use less toothpaste or no toothpaste at all by either getting used to painful rotten teeth or by evolving super-teeth that do not need to be brushed or by evolving completely new ways of feeding - such as, first regurgitating on the food to digest it and then sipping it with a straw (yes, just like the humble housefly). This would make having teeth somewhat boring or downright old-fashioned. But as always, the human mind wallows in a cesspool of fixed ideas that’s as comfortable as a hot bath with suds. There is always this overwhelming propensity to argue that the human species has prospered for many millennia now, using this strategy of “kindly squeeze if you need something and if you need more squeeze harder”, and hence, there can’t be anything wrong with this strategy. However, one must remember that humans have been around only for a few thousand years and that a few thousand years is but a microscopic flash in the pan that is the time since life first took root on earth. Almost all of the other species on earth that we co-exist with or have co-existed with, have survived and prospered much longer than the human race has. All was fine until the human species came along, with its much acclaimed “Squeeze until you get” strategy which by any standard is a rather clumsy, ham-handed approach to survival, and has seriously depleted its environment and consequently killed off many of the hitherto successful species. Moreover, it is stupid enough that one day, it will inadvertently add itself to the now very long ‘extinct species’ list. This will be the culmination of the mounting complexity involved in adapting an increasingly recalcitrant environment to the idiosyncrasies of the human species. We, the humans, are doomed to eat our way to extinction. The law of diminishing returns is real, make no mistake about it, it will get us sooner than later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Like a shooting star

Like a shooting star, 
   I catch your eye.
Like a shooting star,

   I pass you by.
Like a shooting star,
   I ride so high.
Like a shooting star,
   I fall to die.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My converted Bike

Saturday, December 5, 2009

An Ode to my Life Support System

It’s too dark…
“Let me put the light on so you can see”
Lost my way…
“I will guide you, there’s no hurry.”

It’s too cold…
“Here, this will keep you warm”
It’s raining…
“Oh! Let me shelter you from the storm”

Feel a little weak…
“No problem! You can lean on me”
And now am feeling lonely…
“Hey - I am here – I will keep you company”

Feeling a little sad…
“Hmm… let me cheer you up!”
Now am feeling old…
“Relax - you are still classy, my butter-cup!”

Ah! I am feeling good
“I am so glad you are”
I love you so, my dear wife,
“Save it, it’s a bloody miracle that we came this far!!”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Healer

“I just don’t believe this!!” exclaimed Mahesh peering through his binoculars as he scanned the mountain side. “What’s the matter?” asked Jeevak as he continued working with the DNA scanner. Running routine checks for hitherto undiscovered species or mutations in plants, insects and small reptiles was part of the SOP on these government sponsored study tours to any of the Noah’s Ark locations.

Noah’s Ark was a WWF program that was established 58 years ago to save the ‘most important’ species of terrestrial life forms from extinction. After years of hard-nosed negotiations, the Noah’s Ark Treaty had been signed by 367 countries to identify 4277 locations that included islands, mountains, river valleys and swathes of plains across the world to be used as reserves to sustain these terrestrial life forms. The program had been more successful than was expected and most of the targeted species had flourished in their protected habitats.

“Look for yourself”, said Mahesh handing Jeevak his binoculars. What Jeevak saw was unprecedented. He had never seen so many chimpanzees foraging together in all the years that he had spent studying them here. This was way bigger than a super-tribe. It seemed that all the tribes in NA622 had merged to form one tribe of monstrous proportions! Going by current understanding of chimp social behaviour, this was something off the charts. Male alpha chimps ruled only for a few years before being challenged and replaced by another who was stronger and had more support within the tribe. To be able to challenge and ‘defeat’ alpha chimps from other tribes and assimilate their tribes into his own would need political capabilities much beyond what chimps normally were known to possess.

Even as Jeevak’s mind was racing in search of an explanation, he noticed a small male that was, surprisingly, being groomed by several other chimps. This had to be the alpha male! Only when he zoomed in for a closer look did he see that around the chimp’s neck was the same Aura Healing Device that he had lost in the same jungle 5 years ago.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Visit

It had been a pleasant surprise this morning to receive Ravi’s call. It was crazy that he had lived in Bangalore for the last 2 years and we hadn’t got in touch. It was a crime to say the very least. The day was Saturday, a holiday, and we decided to right the situation without much ado. We agreed that I should visit him the very same day at his home in Banaswadi for lunch. It did not matter that I had to attend a relative’s wedding that day. Weddings are a dime a dozen in Bangalore. My wife Shalini, the kids and my mother would adequately represent us. With such a large contingent from our home, my absence would definitely go unnoticed at the wedding. At least, this was the logic that I used to convince Shalini to go without me.

Thus, having freed myself from the shackles of social righteousness, I set out early to meet a friend who had been my neighbor for 4 years at the student’s hostel 15 years back when we studied engineering. It is such an irony, that the closer the friend, the longer we are comfortable with not keeping in touch. Maybe it has something to do with the confidence we have in the strength of our friendship, the belief that it will last, no matter what.

The locality where my friend lives was unfamiliar to me. I had never been there despite having lived in Bangalore for almost 30 years. But I did have the directions to his house. I always prided myself on being a good navigator who never asks for directions. But this time, I must admit I got a ‘little’ lost, not because I lacked in any way with respect to my navigation skills, but because of a lack of sense on the part of Bangalore’s municipal authorities in how they allot house numbers and in their reluctance to put up boards with street names. To add to my trouble, my cell phone had gone out of charge and I didn’t have my friend’s phone number written down anywhere. But lady luck smiles sometimes without reason and sometimes does not, even when there is lots of reason to smile, leading me to believe that she is nuts. I stopped at a rather large, nice looking house and enquired a woman standing at the gate if she knew my friend. The woman turned out to be Ravi’s wife and this was his house! Bingo!

I introduced myself and was politely invited to come in instead of standing at the gate. Inside the house, I was welcomed by Ravi’s mother and his daughter who was about 8 years old. I had brought a box of chocolates with me, which I promptly handed over to the little girl, to her great delight. I have always maintained that chocolates are the safest gifts that you could possibly carry when you visit someone’s house. This conviction of mine was proved right yet again!

The house was large and tastefully furnished. I settled down at one end of very comfortable sofa in the open drawing room. Before I could enquire, I was told that Ravi had stepped out and would be back soon. So I waited. I attempted making small talk with Ravi’s wife and mother, who however, were more inclined to ensure that I was comfortable and feeling at home.

Soon I had a variety of delectable snacks placed in front of me. I must say the timing was right. I had had a very light breakfast in anticipation of a big lunch and was starting to feel hungry. I attacked the samosas first. They were delicious and I made it known to my hosts. I made a mental note to pick some up from the same shop on my way back. Next, I attacked the kesari bhath, which of course, was home made and was just like how I liked it - full of pure fragrant ghee and roasted cashew.

I was half-way through my kesari bhath, when I heard the gate open and a man entered the house through the main door which had been left open. He glanced at me once as he walked past the drawing room into, what I understood to be the kitchen since I saw Ravi’s wife and mother-in-law flitting in and out of there all the time. I heard them conversing in hushed tones. There was a brief silence before the man came out and said “Excuse me, whom did you want to meet?”

I was taken a little aback, but replied in an inquiring sort of way, “I wanted to meet Ravi?”

The man’s expression did not change. I remember I almost choked on the kesari bhath and spilt the juice on the carpet when he replied, “I am Ravi. What can I do for you?”


The END

Sunday, August 23, 2009

To my Master, with Love

The Beginning

I entered this world on a cool starry night without much fanfare. Heck, even my dad wasn’t there to receive me. I remember that I couldn’t see much, but it didn’t matter. I was anyway not used to seeing. I didn’t cry either. Why would I? It smelt like heaven out here in this world. I can’t ever forget my first breath. It smelt absolutely delicious! I later came to associate that smell with something called “chicken biryani”. I do clearly remember lying there, fresh from my womb, enjoying the first fragrant breaths of my life. This indeed was a wonderful beginning to my brand new life.

My post-natal bliss was too good to last. I suddenly felt something warm and slimy, being repeatedly thrown over me, knocking me off balance. And before I could gather my wits about me, I had a sponge like thing stuffed into my mouth! I instinctively sucked and to my surprise, felt a warm sweet liquid flowing down my throat. It felt good. The warm liquid in my stomach soon soothed my frayed nerves and I fell into a deep sleep dreaming about what might lay at the other end of that intoxicating aroma that had so titillated me.

For many days to come, my world would continue to be dark and languid, with these mysterious but delicious smells teasing me all day. Unfortunately for me, I had to be content with only this liquid that I called “milk”, which I got by sucking furiously at the sponge every now and then. I learnt to associate this milk dispensing sponge to a word called ‘Mom’.

One fine day, I woke up with light in my eyes! Yes, I could see! As my vision cleared, I perceived this humongous face looking down at me with large, watery, love-filled eyes. It scared the hell out of me! But what happened next would have scared the hell out of the devil himself! The mouth opened and a huge pink thing shot out at great speed. It was aimed straight at my face. I tried to duck, but could not and the next thing I knew – SPLAT!! I was covered with a huge quantity of a warm, slimy, wet thing. This was familiar! And then before I could find my ground, the milk-sponge was in my mouth! Aha – so, this was “Mom” - the milk dispenser!

And then, from somewhere under Mom, there emerged furry little whimpering, cute looking creepy crawlies. Mom said these were my brothers and sisters. My immediate reaction was that of puzzlement. They all looked alike – four legs and one tail, two eyes and two ears, one nose and one mouth. So why was one a brother and the other a sister? That question was moot. What was important was that I actually had a family. We were a dog family. But where was dad? Another moot question. His absence hardly mattered. He would never have been able to dispense milk the way Mom did.

Our home was in a gutter. It was one of those neat little cozy places under the granite slab that serves as a bridge over the storm water drain spanning between a house’s gates to the road. There was no fireplace – but that was not a problem because it never got very cold around here anyway. Mom had fought hard with the hardened ruffians belonging to the real estate mafia on this part of town to secure this patch of prime real estate to raise her family. The tear in her right ear and her pronounced limp along with a number of scars on her leg bore testimony to the battles she had fought before being able to assert her right over this place. For me, there was learning in this - one has to fight to get the best out of life. And one has to be strong. Like Mom.

I think I was the youngest in the family. From what I know, the youngest ones are usually the smallest ones and not the strongest. I was two sizes smaller than my brothers and sisters. Being small, did have its advantages. It taught me how to play all by myself and not get bored – something valuable. I always wanted to play with my brothers and sisters, but I didn’t fit in. Being small also taught me patience. I always had to wait my turn before I part-took in the morsels that Mom brought in or for that matter, to cuddle with Mom. Once in a while, my siblings got a little rough with me. This was usually when I jumped the line. There were times when the wounds from such occasions took a few days to heal. But I feel it only made me stronger. It taught me to bear pain. I also learnt the art of disappearing. It was easy. I just had to run like hell and hide in some nook or cranny where no one could find me! Loneliness, to me, was a way of life, not a problem.

The Quest

It was late one evening, an evening that was moonless. It was dark and overcast. Everyone else had eaten. Sleep had overcome the last remnants of playful energy amongst my siblings. They had now shifted the venue for their games from the real world to the dream world, but I lay unable to sleep, very much in the real world. I was learning, in a rather hard way, that it was difficult to fall asleep when one is hungry - especially if one has not eaten for two days. The feeling of pride that I had for having sacrificed my meals for my dear siblings was not good enough to entice sleep. It was just then that the aroma of freshly cooked chicken biryani once again decided to pay a visit to our house in the gutter and stumbled right into me! It immediately sensed a hungry ‘bakra’ in me and lost no time in starting its slow, seductive dance right under my nose – tempting me, beckoning me! I heard music too. I wonder where that came from!

The aroma picked me up like how the breeze picks up a dry leaf and floated me out of our little home under the granite slab. I found myself in chicken-biryani-aroma-induced trance, drifting up and out of the gutter and floating towards the massive gates of the house outside which our little lair in the gutter lay. The gates and the house that lay behind it, until now, had been a source of great awe to us. Mom had warned us to strictly stay away from going anywhere near it. Every once in a while, huddled in our home in the gutter, we would hear the gate creak open and sounds of wheels and feet pass over the roof of our home. Sometimes we heard voices, but we never dared venture out to investigate them. Mom’s instructions on this were clear as crystal – “Go out and risk being torn to pieces and eaten by the Oogumba that lives on the other side of the mighty gates!”

Now, the very same gates loomed large in front of me. I could hear the low menacing roll of thunder and there were bright flashes of lightening every now and then that lit up the gate in all its scary detail. Gory images of Oogumba taking me apart limb by limb started flashing in front of my eyes. I had this incredible urge to do what I always did in the face of danger - turn around and run like hell. But even through these gory images, the chicken biryani aroma maintained its bewitching hold on my olfactory senses and continued to beckon me with wave after yummy wave of aroma. Soon the gory images faded away and my drift towards the gates resumed – nose first and feet dragging slowly behind.

I soon found myself squeezing through a very narrow gap in the gate – I was amazed – a rat wouldn’t get through that one. But how did I? The matter was too trivial to agonize over – I had better things to do. Once inside, I quickly looked around to make sure Oogumba was not hanging about anywhere. He wasn’t. So I followed the aroma up a short tree-covered path that led to the lit up portico and then to a heavy, imposing door. This I figured was the main entrance into the house. By now, large drops of rain had started falling - splitting into a hundred tiny drops on impact with the ground. I approached the door cautiously with a single minded objective of dashing in, sinking my teeth into the delicious whatever that gave out this heavenly aroma, grabbing what I could of it and running out just as fast as I ran in! I was all set, assuming the classic crouching stance, all muscles tense, head steady, eyes focused, unblinking and ready to spring, when the door swung with a loud creak and slammed shut!! I was left crouching in all my magnificence in front of a closed door in the portico. This definitely would have qualified for the anti-climax-of-the-century award; a nomination would be the minimum! I felt foolish and angry. Angry at the door for slamming shut, angry at me for taking too long to make a dash for it! And there was no sign of the aroma now.

The Storm

By now, the rain had transformed into a torrent, the winds had picked up and it seemed like the trees bowed down to the wind gods with fear. Sheets of water came down as though a celestial dam had been breached, accompanied by ear-shattering thunder and blinding flashes of lightening. Anger now quickly turned to fear. Dogs don’t sweat. Else, I would have been sweating like a pig. Even as I stood there in the portico confused and frightened out of my wits – all lights suddenly went out! It was dark. No, black. Black like pitch! Flashes of lightening gave me glimpses of the eerie night as if to tease me – “now it’s there now it’s gone, now it’s there now it’s gone”!!

I stood there, shaking in my skin, wondering what to do next. Finding my way back home was out of question. It was too dark and too scary. This was exactly the kind of night you would expect Oogumba to be lurking around licking its lips waiting for its next hapless victim to show up. By now, my imagination had gone into overdrive. Every flash of lightening revealed to me a new monster that was watching me from behind the trees. I now understand the plight of dogs that suffer from paranoid delusions – it’s a scary life that they lead. I suddenly noticed that one of the monsters had slowly started making its way up the pathway – towards me! This was no imagination – this was real! Oogumba! With every flash of lightening it drew closer and closer! Every step that it took seemed to have a sense of purpose – I knew just too well what the purpose was! I stood rooted – too scared to move. The monster was now right outside the portico. My heart pounded, straining against my ribs! I crouched down to minimize my size, hoping Oogumba wouldn’t notice me in the dark corner, when suddenly, the lights came on!!

I slowly let out the breath that had threatened to be my last one. This was no Oogumba, this was a human – a mere boy – about 12 years old!! I had seen humans a before when I had once bravely ventured out of our home on to the road. Yet, instinctively, I had always been wary of them – they couldn’t be trusted. After all, they are the ones responsible for global warming and the extinction of scores of species.

The boy quickly stepped into the portico and took off his raincoat. He was about to knock on the door when his eye caught sight of my crouched form in the far corner of the portico. I instinctively froze and held my breath. He turned slowly towards me with a smile on his face. He squatted down on his haunches and a low whistle escaped his lips. I watched with apprehension as he slowly extended his hand as if to touch me. I was in two minds as to what I should do with the extended hand – one mind said “bite it, bite it” and the other mind said “shake it, shake it”! I was confused, so I licked it. It was salty. The boy did not withdraw his hand. Emboldened, I gave it a few more licks – I liked the salty taste! I let him stroke my head gently, it soothed my nerves and I felt good. I realized I could trust this human after all!

Abruptly, the boy stood up, stretched a bit and knocked on the door a couple of times. No answer. He knocked again – this time – he thumped it with his palm instead of using his knuckles. A few moments later, the door was opened by a short thin man with a little patch of hair on his head and some under his nose. He was wearing a dhothi and a towel was draped over his shoulder. The man bowed down with what looked like respect and said something to the boy and beckoned him to come in. The boy, took off his shoes and slowly tip-toed into the house. I tried to follow him in, but the man in the dhothi saw me and came charging at me swinging his towel making a weird noise with his mouth that sounded like ‘shoooo’ ‘shoooo’. I got the cue. I quickly turned and ran out – but not before I got a whiff of that heavenly smell that had drawn me this far. Once outside, I turned around only to see the door slam shut, yet again!

Outside, the light and sound show went on with tons of rain coming down every second. I lay down outside the door in the portico to catch my breath and soon fell into a coma-like, dreamless sleep. My ordeal had taken its toll on me. Hunger, thunder and Oogumba didn’t stand a chance of keeping me awake.

I woke up to the sound of a cuckoo bird calling. Usually, cuckoos have a nice voice and they send me deeper into sleep, but this one for sure, had laryngitis and most likely had hearing problems too. The fact remains that I woke up on that fateful morning to the call of a cuckoo bird. The rain had only just stopped and the morning sun had turned to gold everything that it had touched. I immediately set about finding my way back home. I trotted down the shady pathway, wading through a river of soggy dried leaves and twigs and soon reached the mighty gates through which I had entered. I looked for the tiny gap in the gate and slipped out on to the granite slab outside, which you already know, was the roof of our home, when I noted with horror that the gutter was full of swirling water! Water was flowing through it as if it were a river in deluge, washing away with it sticks, leaves, insects, small animals and everything that happened to be in its path. There was no home. There was just water. Lots of angry water. But where was Mom? Where were my brothers and sisters? I looked all around but there was no sign of them.

I sat there outside the gate for some time – expecting to see Mom trotting up the road. Much time passed. No Mom. I realized I was still hungry. I remembered the boy from last night. I turned around, squeezed through the gap in the gate yet again and ran up the path to the portico. The door was still closed. Maybe the door would open if I whimpered loud enough. I whimpered loudly and to my pleasant surprise, the door actually opened. It reminded me of Alibaba shouting ‘open sesame’ in front of the thieves’ cave.

The same boy from last night stood at the door looking down at me with bleary eyes. In return, I looked up at him with as much expectation in my eyes as I could manage, wagged my bony tail wildly, licked my parched lips and let out another pathetic whimper. I think I got through to him. He called out – something that sounded like “Ramu” and the same man who had shooed me away the night before appeared. He said something to him and Ramu went in and re-appeared with a bowl full of warm milk and a couple of slices of bread and set it down in front of me. I looked up at the boy and then at the bowl of milk and then back at the boy, all the while licking my lips and wagging my tail vigorously. I was thinking – “Give me the sign – will ya?” The boy nodded with a smile and said ‘eat’. That was the only encouragement I needed. I quickly lapped the milk up. Next, I tore the bread apart and devoured it – much like how Oogumba would have done it if it had caught me last night. Once I was done, I looked up again – this time with deep gratitude. The boy was still looking at me - with an amused smile. Someone called from inside. He petted me lightly on my head and disappeared back into the house. As for me, I settled down to a contented nap – my first one in many days. I dreamt of Mom and of playing leapfrog with my brothers and sisters.

Master

Many days slipped by, memories of my family faded as I settled into my new home, which was, of course, the portico of my Master’s house. Yes, “Master” is what I call the boy – for he was the only one in this world who cared for me. It was he who ensured I was fed. He made me feel like a living thing – something that actually felt hungry every now and then. I must have grown big pretty fast, because one day, my Master had to extricate me from the gap in the gate where I got stuck for several terrifying minutes while I was trying to squeeze through. I remember that it felt like I was caught in one of those torture apparatuses that they built during the medieval ages to extract confessions of heresy. After that day, I waited patiently for someone to open the gates instead of trying to squeeze through the gap. To my delight, a few months later, I found that I could actually jump over the gate – the gates were no longer as big and imposing as they had appeared on the night of the storm. I had grown. I was big.

I was also fiercely loyal to my Master. I would describe my feeling towards my Master as being akin to what Osama’s followers would feel for their leader – fanatical. I always accompanied my Master wherever he went. I had appointed myself his personal body guard. When outside, I would run ahead of him and ensure his path was clear. I would chase away dogs or any other furry creatures that happened to be anywhere near us. My Master would frequently take me with him to meet his friends. He seemed quite proud of me and would show off my prowess at catching squirrels. He would shout “hunt! hunt!” as I chased the squirrel down, and pinned it under my paws. I would then pick it up by its neck and shake it until it stopped moving. It made for a tasty morsel.

My Master would leave home in the morning each day with a bag full of books. He went to something called “school”. I looked forward to the daily morning trip to school. I liked how everyone discreetly moved out of our way as we approached the school. It felt like my Master was king and all powerful. I loved the look of pride on my Master’s face when people yielded to us. I would then head back home once my Master entered the school gates. I was not allowed to accompany him in.

I usually took the longer, more interesting route on my way back. This route took me through some of the by-lanes that were the dominion of some other dogs with whom I did not enjoy the best of relations. I got cheap thrills out of walking down these lanes and marking every post that I could. A street battle would almost always erupt and would more often than not end in my favor, with my opponent usually getting badly mangled. On the rare occasion when things didn’t go my way, I would use my superior speed to save my skin. Thanks to all the training I got in my childhood, I didn’t need athletic shoes to outrun my antagonists!

My encounters with these other dogs would often follow this pattern:
I first appear on the scene out of nowhere. I then look around for a suitable pole, one that would typically be any dog’s pride – smooth and tall. I casually walk up to the pole, lift my leg with élan and spray it – as high as I possibly could, without as much as a glance at the dog looking at me with deep consternation from the other end of the street. This one-legged action of mine triggers an immediate but predictable reaction from the dog. The dog breaks into a full blooded charge towards me, coughing every once in a while. I hold my ground (of course, this depended on the size of the dog and the number of dogs). The dog charges as if it wants to run me over, but then screeches to halt a few feet away when it realizes that I am not budging. For some strange reason, the dog pretends to look elsewhere, like I was not important. But then it starts to growl. The tail is up, hackles are raised and it glances nervously at me every once in a while – all dead giveaways to the fact that it is a little worried about the possible outcome of a fight with me! I slowly approach the dog with my own tail cocked up and wagging stiffly – looking intently at the dog. The other dog bares its teeth and lets out some more low menacing growls, but is still looking away. By now the tension has built up to a point where one can actually twang it. I bend close and whisper into the dog’s ear – “Yo! What are you grinning like a half-brained, nit-witted chimpanzee with dental caries, for? Stop showing me your pathetic yellow teeth, unless you are looking for a pair of new dentures!” And all hell breaks loose!

Back home from my morning exploits, I would spend the rest of the day lazing around in my portico and then return to the school in the afternoon, in time to escort my Master home. (Of course, I got fed in the interim. Ramu took care of that). If morning was my adventure time, evening was fun time. After school, instead of heading home, my Master, accompanied by his friends, would go off to their secret haunt. This was a secluded spot in the woods on the nearby hill. This spot was a fairly large clearing with an emerald green pond in the middle, surrounded by rocks and shady trees and was hidden from view by thick lantana bushes that grew all around the spot. My Master and his friends spent endless hours here doing nothing worthwhile. I would spend my time catching squirrels and chasing birds or chasing down and mangling some poor mongrel that happened to venture too close, often to the “hunt! hunt!” calls and mad cheering by my Master and his friends. Some days I would spend time just sprawled under the cool shady trees. We would bide time here until sunset and then head back home before it got too dark.

Dad

Other than Ramu, there was one more person who lived in the house. My Master addressed him as ‘Dad’. Dad was a middle-aged man – tall and well built. He left home early every morning and returned late at night. I would hear his booming voice once in a while shouting something at Ramu. However, I hardly saw or heard Dad speak to my Master. I could, occasionally hear a few words exchanged, but nothing more than that.

Ramu stayed home all day and only went out once in a while to return with bags that seemed to contain vegetables, meat and such. I would know the days I could expect to get my chicken biryani just from the smells coming from the bags that Ramu brought back from his outing!

Dad wanted nothing to do with me. He wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence. He would walk past me without a second look, as if I was a stone lying in the corner in the portico. If I happened to be lying at the door, blocking his path, he would just say – “shoo” with enough disgust in his voice to make me get up and move out of his way. He would then carry on, muttering something under his breath, which I was sure, was not something pleasant. The look on his face suggested that he would have flushed me down a toilet bowl if ever he could accomplish that.

One evening, after Dad was back, I heard him talking to my Master, at first quietly. But soon the polite conversation deteriorated into a shouting match. Then I heard Dad shout “Get out, you bastard! Get the hell out of here before I break your legs!” After a few seconds, the door opened and my Master came out and slammed the door behind him. He sat down in one corner of the portico and sobbed silently. I heard him whisper ‘Mom’ several times. I wondered if he too had a “Mom” once upon a time. And I wondered if a storm had taken her too. Something stirred within me. I walked over to him and tried to make him feel better by giving him the same wet and slimy treatment that my Mom would often give me with her tongue. The result was not what I expected. I ended up getting a hard kick in my ribs! I was surprised! Was it because my breath stank like my Mom’s breath did? Possible. Curse these genes. I wouldn’t blame my Master for what he did. I went back to my corner and soon fell asleep.

The same sequence played out a few more times in the following months. I would routinely receive my Master’s well-aimed football kicks in my ribs or stomach on such occasions, even when I didn’t bother him. I could not understand why my Master hurt me in this way, but I inferred that it had something to do with Dad. I soon started nurturing a hatred for Dad. I had to suffer these kicks and bruises because of him. He hurt my poor Master and he hurt me. I did not like to see my Master crying – it invoked horrible confusing emotions in me – a mix of pity, fear and anger!

The Wedding

One morning, I woke up to a lot of activity in the house. All kinds of people started pouring into the house even before dawn broke. Lots of people - all excited. There were sounds of laughter and merry making. People moved in and out as if in great hurry and looking important. Some people shouted at some other people, who would immediately run and do something. The house was being decorated with lights and flowers and other colorful items. I could smell various aromas drifting out from inside. Of course, my favorite chicken biryani was among them! All this got me excited and I ran around barking at all the inanimate things like the table and chairs that were actually now moving around (Of course I realized that these were being moved by the people – I am not that naïve). Everyone was too busy and too excited to take offence to my barking!

This was all great fun, but my Master was nowhere to be seen. It was not often that my Master would go somewhere without having me around for protection. I decided to go looking for him. I was sure I would find him at his hideout in the hill and I was right. I spotted him sitting on a rock by the green pool. He sat there, sobbing, wiping his tears. I heard him call out to his Mom. I didn’t dare disturb him, lest I got kicked in my ribs. So, instead of approaching him directly, I crept up next to the rock and lay down. Without my knowledge, I fell asleep. When I awoke it was afternoon and my Master still sat there – staring into space. I got up, scratched myself, drank some water from the pond, marked a few of the trees and went back to my position next to the rock.

When I woke up again, this time out of hunger, my Master was still sitting there, still staring blankly into space. The sun was almost down and it was getting dark. This was getting to worry me. I had never seen my master this disturbed. I was evaluating my next action when I heard someone calling my Master’s name. It was Ramu. Soon Ramu’s wiry frame appeared from behind the bushes. My Master turned around, they exchanged a few words and suddenly my Master shouted loudly “That woman is not my Mother and that ugly baby is not my Brother!!”

My immediate instinct told me to jump on Ramu and bite off a mouthful of his scrawny butt for getting my Master excited, but I restrained myself. I had never seen Ramu harming my Master, so he was not a bad man as far as I was concerned. Also, he was the one who fed me twice a day! How could I bite the hand that feeds? Besides, I would have a problem getting a good grip on his butt – whatever little of it he had. No point in investing time and energy when returns were likely to be unacceptably low! So I let him continue talking to Master. After some more talking, my Master got off the rock and both he and Ramu headed back home. I was thankful. It was dinner time and I was famished. I followed them back with my lips smacking. The aromas from that morning still lingered in my memories. Surely a scrumptious feast was awaiting us at home. I had trust in the old adage - No smoke without fire.

Time had made its way well into the evening by the time we reached home. The crowd in the house had dwindled down to a few reluctant ones who, if allowed, would party forever. These were soon chased out with a few polite words and gestures.
My Master went inside and the door was shut. I lay down in my corner in the portico, anxiously waiting for the feast to be served – it never came.

Mother

The next day, I woke up in fright to the sound of loud growls. They were emanating from my stomach. I resorted to my usual whining trick to see if it would get me something to eat. The door opened a crack. I could see a young woman carrying a small boy peeping from behind the half open door. I had never seen this woman before. She looked at me warily, not knowing what to do. I instinctively growled at this stranger. Her face took on an ugly contortion that I was actually quite familiar with. I had seen this same look on people on the road when sometimes I chased them for sport. I felt that familiar sense of superiority that a hunter has over its prey and I gave a quick yap-yap-yap, hoping to consolidate on my advantage.

The woman shut the door in a hurry and I heard her screaming out to Ramu, Dad and my Master in that order. There was commotion – I heard Dad’s booming voice, then my Master’s voice, which was now a bit more like a man’s voice than a boy’s and then the woman’s voice and then again Dad’s voice and then all together. I suddenly heard my Master shout, “Who is this woman to order me around? He is my dog and I decide what happens to him!” This was followed by Dad shouting some expletives and I heard the sounds of running around and things falling and my Master screaming again and again – pleading that he would be good and would listen to them henceforth.

The door finally opened and my Master was pushed out screaming and crying with welts on his arms and legs. At the sight of my Master, I found myself running to him with my tail wagging wildly. I reared up on my hind legs and planted a few licks on his face. I was not thinking. It was all instinct. It was also a bad mistake. I had never faced such a brutal onslaught from my Master before. I felt the kicks slam into my guts, my head, my face - I lost count of how many. I think I saw a hockey stick in his hand. I am still not sure from where it came. The next instant, it felt like there were a hundred thunderbolts going off in my head and then my leg. All I could do was to crouch in the corner and let out loud piercing yelps and beg my Master for mercy. My Master paused to catch his breath and I seized the opportunity with all my limbs. Still yelping, I ran out of the portico to the gate, somehow jumped over it and hid under the granite slab. I lay down in the dust, shaking with pain.

I lay there for a full day smarting from the blows that I had received. By evening, the pain had ebbed a little and I could start thinking clearly again. I thought about what happened to my Master and what happened to me. I concluded that this woman, “Mother”, was evil. She was to blame for my painful state of affairs. It was she that had brought out the worst in my Master.

Ramu

I must have dozed through that night, for when I awoke, it was morning. The vision through my left eye was blurred, I couldn’t see much from it. The other eye was fine. I tried to get up but fell back as pain exploded in my front left leg as I put my weight on it. I managed to crawl out from under the granite stone and hobbled over to the gate which was closed. I pushed with my snout, but it was latched. As I lay down to reduce the throb in my leg, the gate opened. It was Ramu.

Ramu looked at me and for the first time I noticed those kindly eyes. His mouth twitched and his eyes welled up. I wondered what made him, of all people, sad. He went in and returned with a bowl of water and set it down in front of me. As I slowly drank the drink of life, Ramu put down some rice and milk for me to eat. He watched me eat. When I was done, he left closing the gate behind him. I waited there outside the gate for my Master. He did not come. So I crawled back under the granite slab, where it was cool. I lay there all day. In the evening, Ramu was back with food and water. I was sure my Master had asked Ramu to take care of me, despite Dad and Mother.

The Sacrifice

It was still very early in the morning. The sun was yet to rise. I was woken up by the sounds of wheels passing over the granite slab. It was a car. Someone got out of the car, opened the gate and entered. My instinct was to get out and confront, but all I could manage huddled there under the granite slab were two low barks accompanied by shooting pain in my ribs. I next heard the person knock on the house door. The door opened followed by a short conversation between this person and Ramu. The gate opened again and I heard the car door open and then shut. Curiosity got the better of me. I slowly crawled out from under to investigate. I heard more voices. The gate opened and Dad and Mother came out followed by Ramu who was hauling two large bags. Mother was carrying Brother. Ramu loaded the bags into the car. Dad got into the car. Mother stood around for more time – cuddling Brother. Dad said something and mother handed over Brother to Ramu and got into the car. The car started up and drove away. Brother immediately let out high pitched cries while flailing his arms wildly - like a chicken on its way to the slaughter house. It seemed like he was not happy that Mother had left him behind. Ramu, who was carrying Brother, turned around and hurried in making sounds like “shush-shush” and “tch-tch”.

My Master did not go to school that day. I could hear Brother wail all morning and my Master shout a few times. Ramu, again, fed me. I was feeling a lot better but I couldn’t still see much from my left eye and my left front leg was useless. I was already getting used to living life with these handicaps. I lay outside the gate waiting for it to open and for someone to let me in. I missed my corner in the portico.

It was almost evening and Ramu had gone out. I was hungry again. I lay waiting for Ramu to come back when the gates opened. It was my Master. My heart did a flip and I quickly hobbled over to him with my tail wagging. He patted me lightly on my head and let me in through the gates. He turned around and headed back into the house and I eagerly followed him. I heard Brother wailing inside. My Master went inside and fetched Brother. I felt a surge of an unfamiliar emotion well up in me when I saw Brother in my Master’s arms. I did not seem to have any control on this emotion. I felt my hackles raise and I heard my own low growls. My muscles went taught and I bared my teeth in a vicious grimace.

My Master set Brother, who was still wailing, down. He turned to look at me. He had a strange look in his eyes. Then I heard him shout “Hunt! Hunt! Hunt!” again, “Hunt! Hunt! Hunt!” . Instinct ruled over logic in a mind that was already clouded with strange but vicious emotions. I pounced on Brother, just as I had done on those poor little mongrels on the road so many times before. My jaws locked around his neck in a vice-like grip and I shook him like he was a rag doll. I shook him long after he stopped giving out those horrible shrieks that hurt my ears. The hunt was over.

I looked up in time to see My Master come back into the portico with a heavy iron bar. He had a wild look in his eyes and this time it chilled my soul. He raised the bar high and the next instant I felt my head explode as I saw lights as brilliant as a thousand suns. My legs disappeared under me and the ground came up to slap my face. I felt something warm flow down over my eyes. I couldn’t move and I felt no pain. As I lay there, I heard the gate open. I heard Ramu scream. It was then that I heard my Master say to Ramu “The dog killed Brother! I tried saving him, but it was too late!”. Something snapped inside me. My eyes glazed over as I slowly let my last breath out.

The END