Thursday, November 23, 2006 

Pawn To King 4

It all started with a scrap heap. It used to be in front of the office, on both sides of the path that was the entrance. Repeated attempts at clearing it were to no avail. The more I got the area cleared, the more junk used to get dumped there by assorted passers-by.

Then one day we had an idea. Through a concerted effort, got the area levelled; mud that was being excavated from a nearby area was dumped into the place. A few workers who still retained rudiments of their childhoods, spent in labouring away in orchards, scrounged around and came with saplings. We made a garden.

And you cannot dump garbage in a garden.

It is now around 10-12 months since the garden was planted. The garden is more lush than beautiful, more a labour of love than landscaped. The workers show it off to everybody: remember there used to be a garbage heap here ? I planted that, look ! Their enthusiasm has meant of course, that it is dreadfully haphazard. Except for one pathway of grass that was my own and hence inviolate, there is a riotous profusion of flowers everywhere. One of my favourite areas in the whole place, it is where I used to come to when some imbecile or the other had driven me mad. And when I had to receive calls on my phone, since the building had poor reception.

We’d cleared the area on the other side too, and the requisite paperwork done, had a cemented patch that we used as a parking lot. A rail made of discarded scrap, brightly painted over, made a festive fence for the parking lot on one side and the garden on the other.

Last morning, as I stepped out of the office heading for a meeting, I saw an officious-looking man with a few welders, cutting away at the paring lot fence. With a few crisp words about his ancestry, relations with the female members of his family and such like, I summarily told him to get the hell out. He scuttled off, and I went for the meeting.

When I came back, all hell had broken loose. A Big Name was there at the parking lot, questioning my subordinates as to who the hell was stopping Law And Order from doing its Duty. I went across and shooed away the minions. Instantly I saw there was trouble. Did we cringe ? Did we grovel ?

You bet we did. We ‘umbly submitted and respectfully put for consideration. We gave weaselling grins and spoke in wheedling tones. Big Name, sadly, did not agree. This is a Public Place, he said. And you cannot put a fence in a Public Place. I did enough to make Uriah Heep sound a churlish rebel, but to no avail. The fence went. For a moment, I considered letting it go, then decided that we would revert to type. I told Big Name that yes, I was mistaken. This was a scrap yard, I said. And it was Public Place. Under Big Names. And basically, Big Names dealt with garbage dumps. With them and their misbegotten whelps in charge, no wonder anybody who made a garden, or a parking lot, was making a Big Mistake. Big Name was unfazed. He gave me a considering look, and informed me, with just that tinge of satisfaction, that the garden fence would go next. Public Places, tsk tsk.

We were just mulling it over this morning, regretting the outburst, when a phone came. Another Big Name wanted to speak to us. His deputy was leaving. We had been picked for the job. Could I join yesterday? And yes, welcome and looking forward to meeting you. Bye.

The whole day was spent fending off congratulatory phone calls. As the sun set, I walked down, gesturing to the gent behind, who, as was custom, followed with a cuppa.

I saw the garden, and the fencing, now torn down. Soon this would be a Public Place again. I thought of my new job. Like a dog thrown a bone, I was expected to scarper with joy on the news. And I heard Boss To Be, with an undertone that asked why I was not.

Because we forgot we were a pawn, you see. Pawns are shifted, not asked choices. Pawns should not make gardens. Pawns should be eternally grateful, just dreaming of surviving the next move ahead, serving their Kings till they reach the last square, where, Glory Be, they might become a Piece. A Queen, even. (Because they would be impotent enough by then).


Non illegitimis carborundum, dear heart.

Sunday, November 12, 2006 

Occasionally planned series : Noveau Rasa

1. Maudlin

We have often been accused of being maudlin. And the word accused is precisely what one has always sought to refute, for its derogatory undertones.

The accusatory view: Maudlin is the two bit hoe you take because you cannot afford the emotional upheavals that come with that supposed Empress of emotion, Grief. Maudlin is the calorie-free saccharine substitute for depth of feeling and the mocktail with which you salute the grand gesture.

Not so.

Glorious peaks of emotion are scaled by vivid images on bright screens. They can afford to do so because their life rewinds after 3 hours; plus, it's so much better with background music. Us mortals sit in darkened halls, rapt in attention. Then when the lights come on, all of us get up, the gorment servant to the rickshaw puller, and head home, emotions purged in vicarious satisfaction. Their struggles are not heroic; their hopes and fears do not add up to tragedy; their loves and losses, their grind and the occasional success are all merely commonplace.

Which is why they require songs of lost love, tales of courtesans with hearts of gold, stories of rich girl falling for poor boy, and such like. To clothe themselves in the fantastic, to keep out the insistent drone of reality from overwhelming them.

Maudlin is the arrack made of battery acid and drainwater that the labourer takes to remember that he is alive and forget that he would be better off dead. It is the Mills n Boon that the college girl presses to her chest to ward off the sweaty bastard trying to cop a feel in the bus, the song of love that the maid hums as she removes the debris of last night's dinner from the table and the sequence filmed in Switzerland on chiffon wrapped heroines that the garbage truck man dreams of to keep the stench out of his head.

Maudlin, dear heart, is the armour that is given to stop us from stabbing ourselves dead.


In search

The late afternoon sun came in bits and pieces through the faded blue of the soft drink vinyl hoarding that served as a curtain. Outside, in the din that accompanied the evening throng of people making their way home, a bus honked tiresomely.

He reached down for her nipple, running his tongue over the hard tip of her areola before lifting his head to look at her. He half-raised himself, one hand pawing her breast, the other gripping the edge of the cot for support, thrusting rhythmically. The soft sheen of sweat on her body gave her a golden hue. She saw him looking at her through half closed lids, and moaned. Her false encouragements and the practiced wetness suddenly irritated him. Even as he thrust harder, he felt himself losing interest, and suddenly stood up. Grabbing hold of a fistful of hair, he pulled her to him and pushed himself in her mouth. She half-gasped at the suddenness, and then she had swung her legs off the bed and was making wet noises as he jammed her to his body. As suddenly, he turned her around and she was face down, on the bed again. He began licking her body, starting from the ridge between her shoulder blades, following the curve of the spine till it reached the cleft with its soft roundness at the bottom. He moved up again, easing his body over her, heavy, pressing insistently into her, still licking as he came to the nape of her neck, brushing aside her hair, soft tickles with his tongue. Even as she struggled to mould herself beneath him, he reached down, and spreading those mounds of firm softness apart, drove into her. She cried aloud at the violation, but he had her pinned down, one hand still on the cot for purchase, the other on her shoulders, pressing her down with his full weight, her whimpers muffled through the lumpy cotton mattress he ground her into. She clenched involuntarily as he gave a mighty shove, the roughness chafing him, hurting her, but she couldn’t move. He ground himself into her, welcoming the burning friction as he swivelled his hips in and out of her. He saw her in profile then, the black hair a cascading curtain behind which she cried. And then he saw nothing, the feeling starting as a velvety caress around his balls, tightening, and then progressively becoming aflame. He grunted as the flame moved upward, a hotness that seared through his bruising prick till it was a bloody release. Finally losing control, coming in spurts, half inside her, half spattering her ass that quivered involuntarily, till he ended in a dribble over her back.

He gave a deep sigh, rose and went into the bathroom, washing himself in the washbasin. He came out lighting a cigarette, and looked at her, still face down, still whimpering. He pulled on his trousers, and as he was zipping up, looked at the crumpled notes on the stool next to the bed. Reaching down into his pocket, he pulled out a couple more, and placed them there before walking out of the door.


Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes

“Enduke, pichchi, he is so paapam no ?”

There was a laugh in Gowri’s voice. Lakshmi snorted. “If that much sorry, you go and talk to him”, she said. “I could murder him so easily”.

“But what did he do ? And I’ll have just one more gulab jamun. I tell you, my diet goes to hell each time I come over to your place”. Vijaysri aka Visiri, talking with her mouth full in the precise fashion she so discouraged in her kids.

“See, he asked to come on cam no ? And you have sent him pics before, so what big deal ? He did not ask for something crass, no ? Poor man, edho koncham diet cheyya oddu annadu. And you blocked him out for it.” Gowri, heaping another hot mound of rice.

“ See, I sent him pics before no ? And now I come on cam. 32 pounds, I tell you, that haircut. 32 freaking pounds, maa oorlo saloon itself you can buy with that money. Does he notice ? Does he say, hi, nice haircut ? Or even you look different today ? No, he just goes ummm and hmmm, says brb and disappears. Vedhava what went to do god knows, comes back and then says I don’t look fat. Men, I tell you!”


In Whino Veritas

One cannot hope to join the elite list of bloggers, one notices, till one has written about the dreaded “writer’s block”. (All snide remarks about the remainder qualifications for being an elite blogger may be dispensed with for the nonce, please).

I thought, therefore, that we would write something suitably grave and vague. Indicating how words, wisps of insubstantial clouds languorously drifting away, now seem to be eluding one’s grasp. How language, till yesterday a slave begging for attention, seems to have turned a coquette, dancing away with laughing promises from the arms that reach out to her.

Errr. Anyway.

There was a time when misplaced pretensions to kindheartedness nearly led to an unplanned abbreviation of the allotted span. That thrilling account, complete with spine-chilling details of our intrepid ...anyway. As I was saying, we decided that what was required was a blogworthy incident. And having thus resolved, (mentally adjusting that banner with the strange device, Excelsior! (having also checked that it came with the exclamation mark)) (and having checked that our brackets match) we set out to Carpe inspiration. (Actually, to work, in the hope that there would be more of “important” meetings and less of actual-by-god crisis managing that has plagued us for the last 4-6 weeks).

Oh well. In the lift, one noticed suddenly that the fly was undone. These things happen sometimes. Did we say we were intrepid ? Add to that, suave. A mere shift of the laptop to ensure that this discovery was ours alone. The liftman was picking his teeth with a match displaying the intentness of a Leakey with a skull. Not noticed. The schoolteacher who stays 2 floors above caught our eye. She gave a bright smile. ( The bright smile teachers always give). (Before they ask all those who have not finished homework to stand up on the bench). But not the look of somebody figuring out if you are the kind of perv who flashes at women in lifts. Maybe an Incident would’ve been blogworthy, but nix non nada nothing. Maybe it was for the better.

Had a flat coming back after another exhausting day. Got out of the car, and signaled for a taxidriver from the stand nearby to come and fix the spare. In Shantaram, the hero gets all kinds of heartwarming dialogues about how India is about the heart, don’t you know, from a taxi driver. This guy merely asked for 20 bucks, grimly assented when I bummed a ciggie off him, and completed his work in silence. No dialock, no block. Rather, blog.


Eat, drink, sleep, work. The hundred banalities of a nondescript existence. Where is Life when you want to describe it ?