Feb 19, 2013

Nine Meals Away

I decided to eat supper at the hotel and leave. The hotel was crowded. All tables were occupied. I could manage to sit alone at a table for two. I was almost done eating when a girl approached the table and asked, ‘Do you mind if I sit here?’ pointing at the chair opposite to me. I realised she was there for the take-away.
‘Sure, it’s all yours.’ I stood up and walked away to wash my hands.           
I returned to check the bill. She looked thoughtfully for a moment and said ‘So, you are not much of a celebrating kind?’
‘What makes you say so?’ I felt a little bit awkward, at my situation. Am I so obvious? I thought.
‘You ordered Roti and Dal Fry, on a New Year Eve!’ she exclaimed. I paid the bill in cash and was waiting for the waiter to bring me the change.
‘Why can’t you assume that I am a guy of simple tastes?’ I shoved the change into my pockets, leaving a ten rupee note.
‘Come on, at least you would have ordered sweets. This place is famous for sweets.’ She sounded intrigued. I was impressed but I have no intention to admit.
‘I don’t like sweets’, I snapped, took my helmet and left. I still remember the look on her face. It is not a shell-shocked expression. She is not surprised either. But her glance was, may be curious? I don’t ask. I don’t say. Staying mysterious is the trick. In fact, she is right, I am not in celebration mood. All days are the same—Eat, Drink and Sleep.
I walked back and said, ‘Enough of this Sherlock-ian rhapsody,’ intending to end the conversation on a lighter note, ‘Happy New Year!!’ I added.
‘Err... Happy New Year!’ she laughed. I managed a wry smile in acknowledgment and left.

I came out of the office building; tired, exhausted and craving for the legal drug caffeine. I turned around to see who that familiar voice was. She was talking on her mobile phone, sounded irritated and worried. I waited five feet away from her, making a conscious attempt to not intrude. She ended the phone call in few seconds. She was surprised to find me there, but she seemed upset after the phone call.
We started walking towards the gate. ‘So, you work in IT?’ I asked. That is the best I could come up with avoiding climate, address and regular pleasantries pitfalls. 
She barely nodded and asked ‘Interview?’ The file in my hand gave me away. I could sense some discomfort in the way things changed. Is that because of the phone call? I don’t ask. Not that I don’t care but let her tell, I thought. I, somehow, felt comfortable enough to invite her for a coffee. She refused the offer smoothly and I moved on to get a cup of coffee.

For a reason, I am disturbed by the Nirbhaya case, 2012 Delhi Rape Incident. I wondered, ‘Where is this mankind leading?’ Why aren’t laws as tough as in Arab countries? Giving Freedom of life—Is it a mistake? I was very much irritated and thought ‘What are the random acts of kindness I ever did in my life? I never even donated blood.’ My thoughts returned to the incident. What is the psychology of the people who, deliberately, did the insane act? I wondered if people really get harassed in their regular lives. Forget rape. I have read incidents where girls are threatened in the name of love. How frequent are these gender crimes? I laughed at the pace my thoughts are rushing to get to the conclusion of human race based on incidents that happened. I was depressed that the girl’s life is lost in all this. I am not talking about life—like everyday routine, her studies or how society would have treated her return. How her identity has been hidden all these days? If harassment is one side of the coin, the way society treats the victims is another. Idiotic society!!! They protest and they ogle. They watch but never save. They stand at the circumference but never walk to the centre of the circle. It’s the girl who is facing the consequences. Generally, after realising the cruelty on the victim, the society should face the consequences. That’s the only way to avoid these incidents from happening again. Where is all this going? Don’t call that incident a rape case. The case is already solved only the justice is delayed. I wish it’s not denied. Society is a fool’s predicament. I would never be a part of it. I swore to myself.

I returned to the bus stop holding a cup of coffee in my hand.
‘So what’s Dr. Watson so worried about?’ she smiled with an enquiring look on her face.
‘So you are Holmes, The consulting detective?’ I grinned.
‘The only one in the world-- I invented the job’, she added laughing.
She impressed me. What a radiant glow on her lovely face! I was mesmerised. Scratch off the word lovely. It sounds flirtatious. She is more synchronous to Nature.
I remembered my first trek. I looked at the steep valley before me. Not a single leaf moved but I felt the shiver. I could hear water flowing invisibly. Green silence—I called it. It’s a forest. Thinking of the randomness of the trees, the leaf arrangement is so chaotic, yet well structured. I enjoyed the evolution of human being in the presence of trees. I felt that bliss in her presence. She is magnificent—sense of humour coupled with beauty.
I joined the laughter. I told her about the incident that is bothering me. Since there is no mystery to solve, we were discussing out views on it. I could not stop blaming humanity for the act, the after-act and the way they left the victims unattended at the deserted scene.
‘Why so much hatred?’ she winced.
‘Come on, there is something called reality check. We live by the world where gender crimes still happen?’ I snorted, crushing the paper cup in my hand.
‘I have bitter experiences too’, she added. She smiled elusively; she said how a guy threatened her to kill and intimidated to die if she does not love back-- how she had to re-locate to her uncle’s place and stay away from her parents for around 18 months. After eighteen months things took a different turn. She told how this fellow stalked her home for three days and how he spread rumours on her, the days when her mom beat her, the days when her eyes were filled with tears.
‘Wait’, I said, ‘All these incidents happened when you were in college?’
‘Yes’, she said, wondering how it really matters.
I was speechless. I have not talked to this girl for more than 18 minutes and behind her smile there is a story-- too horrific experiences at such a tender age. I was playing video games at the age of 20. I used to watch movies with friends and sleep sound for 8 hours a day. On a pathetic weekend, I would attempt to reproduce a mathematical proof, read Ayn Rand and debate on her philosophy with friends, when she is being intimidated with death and crap love.
I was about to add Life is so unfair to you. But my heart mouthed different words. ‘You are a brave girl. I respect you.’ I admired my heart for the thought.
‘Of all the people you ask me ‘Why the hatred?’. I could not control the smile on my face. ‘Did you ever wonder why World War II happened even after World War I?’ I questioned her sincerely.
‘People are idiots!’ she shook her head in disagreement, cheering at my happiness.
How come she has so much hope towards Life? Why am I filled with so much hatred towards the World? Life is a bitch. I thought. We parted for the day. Everybody have their own lives to carry on with.
I am a freelance writer. I was sitting in the Irani cafe at the junction. No matter how much fuss is going on the roads, I was always lucky to get a seat in the corner. I sat there, editing the notes I wrote the previous day. That Indo-American from Harvard University, who tried to get to the hall of fame by others work, prompted me to write the article.
I caught a familiar figure on the other side of the road, trying to figure out if I am who she thinks I am. She waved her hand at me. I took a final drag, threw the cigarette and picked up my papers and waved her back. I gestured her to wait, paid the bill and crossed the road towards her.
‘Heya! What a surprise!’ I was astonished to see her again. She grabbed the papers in my hand and started skimming through the article.
‘Plagiarism in Literature? Huh!’ she smiled at the title of the article.
 If reading William Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway, is the idea; I would go with reading their works and understand them rather than reading your copies of their versions. The struggle in understanding them is definitely worth...... Don’t you , Copycats, dare call it influence or... Q.R. Markham’s... James Bond was pulled off the shelves. Kavya Viswanathan’s How Opal Mehta... Somehow, few lucky artists would go unnoticed after owning the concept... Likewise, JKR got away ripping off... The next time, you decide to rip off some originality, screw...
‘Ah, the cynicism! Why so much contempt towards everyone?’ she frowned. ‘Do you write for a newspaper? What magazine do you get this published at?’ she groaned with a half-smile.
‘I write often. If publishers reject my work, I have a blog to post on—quite a decent following there.’ I said. I live on an alias. Not that I invite trouble by freaking out conspiracies and controversies, I just like the John-Doe-like anonymity. ‘Do you mind another coffee?’ I asked, pointing at the cafe on the other side of the road.
‘Not here. Let’s go to the Cafe Coffee Day at the end of this road. Care for a walk?’ she proposed.
‘Do you mind if I smoke?’ I asked. ‘Yes, It stinks’, she replied with a frown on her face. I am glad to talk to her. No matter how much we conflicted with our opinions, we were pretty much comfortable in blurting out whatever comes to our mind. We discussed art, music, culture and poetry on our way to the coffee shop.
‘I din’t expect you to meet again. What do you do?’ she asked ordering two cups of regular cappuccinos. I am a freelance programmer. I write, I trek and I work for an NGO. I dint tell her any of these.
‘Life is full of coincidences, right? Meeting third time is a strange coincidence. I am pretty much amused too.’ I averted the topic and continued. ‘After yesterday’s incidents, you made me think. No matter how much the world has changed and people turned materialistic. In fact, materialism is an interesting idea. It’s detachment to....’
She interrupted, ‘It’s not how you treat this world right. You have such a crooked view on the world. Why?’ I know that I left her with many open ended questions. I know her life to an extent and she knows my views on many subjects. We never delved into each other’s personal lives. I never questioned what she does for a living, what her name is or where she lives. In fact, I am selfish.
‘With that idiot’s disappearance, is everything fine since then? Why don’t you attend the phone?’ I insisted, mixing sugar with a spoon.
‘For the past few days, I am bothered with prank calls. Each time different numbers and that guy speak with different accents. All calls are abusive and shit talk. I never heard those abuses before.’I could hear faint tremble in her voice. ‘Police complaint?’ I said. How does a girl feel to have her day kicked off in such a poor manner?
She sighed, ‘After the three days stalking incident, I realised the only way to handle him is talk him out of it’, and added, ‘I worked liked his psychologist, reasoned with him the importance of his career, how his parents mattered and how his younger brother needs his support.’
She was more serious than funny when she talked about this. I was amazed at the poise and confidence she posed. Incredibly beautiful! The guy had some sense and she knew it. ‘Miss Holmes, you are awesome. I respect you more.’ I smiled with reverence.
She laughed smoothly, ‘Why don’t you ask me my name? We know each other well enough to invite over for a coffee. By the way, I am Kr..’.
‘Stop it!!’ I interrupted rudely. ‘I always thought that we were past those pleasantries.’ I shook my head. ‘Our first meet was nothing. Second was coincidence. Third is weird. Let’s end this from being weirder.’ My heart was urging to find out her name and keep in touch with her. I shut it out thinking ‘What is Heart? It’s non-existent entity. Listen to your brain.’ My brain knows me the best. My insides hurt. The idea of third meet being the last hurts more. I know Life is journey of meeting strangers, but I never thought I would speak so much with this girl.
Hiding the tremor in my voice, I managed to add, ‘Err.. No, ask me nothing! I don’t believe in any kind of relationships. They never interested me anyway. I can’t manage relationships just for the sake of it.’
‘Miss Holmes, from this close’, I enacted a two finger distance with my thumb and index finger, ‘Every person is filth. Everyone is an opportunist. I don’t mind people being opportunists; I just can’t stand the idea of me feigning a smile and walk towards them’. I symbolised her for hope even if she treated me equivalent to hate. I don’t want names, addresses and details.
‘Why don’t you believe there are people like you out there? Are you an opportunist as well?’ she said calmly as if she read my mind.
‘You are taking it the wrong way. I don’t mean it as a negative quality’,  I continued.
‘God damn cynic!!!’ she screamed and stood up. I could understand her anger.
‘Pay the bill. I would never come here to pay 60 bucks for a coffee. Not here.’ I snorted. She smiled at my quick wit. She sat down which confirmed my thought that our brains are in sync.
‘Miss Holmes, Every man is nine meals away from crime, suicide or death’, I added calmly, ‘Eduardo Saverin, a journalist. He said it in ‘70s. Even 2011 London riots prove it. First-World-Country, like London, could never think its stores would be emptied in three days. Three God damn days! People were fighting on the roads. It was not a natural calamity or aliens, Miss Holmes. Remember the reasons behind those riots. Idiots!’, I controlled my disgust.
‘Let’s be friends. We can stay connected and be friends.’ She said with a grim look. She knows that I would never agree. I looked straight into her eyes and said, ‘Love and friendship are very profound words. They mean nothing to me today. Don’t you think those two words are most exploited and over-abused? So beautiful, an expression, turned into clichés!!’ I cursed.
I idolised her for hope. I just wanted to admire her and depart today in that same manner.
“Why do you inflict pain on yourself? Do you smoke for the same reason? To suffer? What from?” She questioned. I had loads to tell but we never ventured into each other’s zones. I wanted to tell her my past but not a word came out. I stood up extended my hand.
‘World War III is most talked about. But it never happened and it never will’, She took her hand bag, a last look into my eyes and left. I prayed that she should not turn around—she would have found layer of water on my eyes. Everything is blurred out.
She did not look back because her eyes were flooding with tears. We walked away from each other. I liked her for a reason. I am impressed with her act of not advising me to positive thinking, the trash of all time. May be, I think in negative terms. But I am not killing myself. I bleed negativity. It gives me clarity of thoughts. It eases me. No matter how much she hated my opinions, her inductive reasoning impressed me. She laughs hard with deep worries down her throat. That is the reason; I am keen in knowing her than her name. Bear with me, Human mind is funny. With those two letters she gave away, I guessed her name should be Kriti or Kritika. ‘Kriti’ I repeated, contemplating the meaning-- She truly is a marvellous work of art.


rajendraprasad anchala said...

my Guru..
you came up this time with the best of your style of intriguing intricacies and views on society .. i loved the way you carved it out the complexities in human exploitation.. and the best was "Every man is nine meals away from crime, suicide or death"

Shivaramakrishnan Viswanathan said...

I notice that almost all your posts/comments/blogs have a dash of cynicism to them. For a cynic, you do manage to write a whole lot about impressive girls. :)

By the way, I loved reading it! :)

GASP3R said...

Cynicism is one perspective of mine.. I mean, it looks as real and as crappy as positive thinking. Luckily, fiction pushes boundaries to any level one can imagine.. :)

mystique said...

just one word perspective.
unimaginably awesome.

GASP3R said...

thank you Tej ;)
@rajendra: Thank you Guru.. :)

ismav said...

Read something written by you after a long time. I can tell that it was you even if wouldn't know who the writer was !!
Keep Going :)

deepak said...

I always had this idea that... people are always amazed and spell bounded when they see or read something they don't understand..
well, this is me confirming that thought...

Very well written and it took me a lot of time to understand it. At one stage, it felt like Ayn Rand all over again.. :)

Keep up.. U rock as alwayzz...

GASP3R said...

B-But Batman was told 'You always abhor what you don't understand'. :)

Insomniac said...

I'm not so good in judging d style of ur writing...but i must admit...ur simply incredible...u ve got a v cynical and different approach... and d best part i loved was the talk about neg
ativity :D .. luvd it bro !!! :) :)

GASP3R said...

Thank you for your time. The short story is purely fictional. I refuse to take the cynicism attributed to me.
I believe 'Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things'(The Shawshank Redemption) ;)

pMan said...

I liked many elements in the post, like Kavya Viswanathan, Ayn Rand, The shawshank redemption,etc and glad you didn't mention Paulo Coelho!

I was curious to read and it was really interesting towards the end. At some point, something distracted me from getting the hang of it (like the rape incidents and a cynic going too judgmental :))

Post frequently. :)

GASP3R said...

:) thank you for the feedback. I know how much you hate the over-hyped alchemist ;)


sasi said...

Damn I would never read a something so lengthy... unless its a book printed. But writer, you had me going when you started the conversation with the lady. :)

Had me thinking why I even needed a girl to think of when I can be a cynic at the beginning. But the suspense and deep thoughts are very much live as in everyone's mind that were penned down so good... aww maybe I should call it typed down.

Am sitting in a class for which I m paying maybe something like 400$ and all I m doing is read a long story keenly and type a comment too. Damn I m so retarded. Am a job well done to the ever suspicious Harsha! :) >>THUMBS UP<<

GASP3R said...

Thank you, Sasi, for your time.. This world needs pathetics retards like YOU, Bro!!!

pMan said...

You code, you write, you trek, you work for an NGO... but, you didn't tell her any of these. Nice guy, might be a geek!

GASP3R said...

I told you-- That's the advantage of writing fiction. One must be brave to imagine in the first place.. :)

korukonda said...

The best part i liked is mixing up things one moment ur with new gf and then to nirbhaya's incident.. and the critics you made in between...

Simply sayin fantastic work really luvd it...


Lost Wanderer said...

i wish i cud write lyk u. genius.

Buy contact lenses online in india said...

Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.