Perfect Strangers [Acc. Disc- Part II]

September 17, 2008

A: You know, if you didnt crib so much, you could actually be tolerable.

S: Yeah, like I give a fuck. God knows I hate the day I found you nearly as much as I hate you.

A: And you love me as much, too. Seriously, M, you have to be consistent about something in your life.

M: Pretty much stuck on you for the last 3 years. I am so tired of this arrangement. Lets figure something out before its too late.

A: Figure what out? We agreed we had an expiry date. Now that its closer, you want  permanence. What for? Like millions of others before, we will get tired of each other in a few years, life would hardly be bearable and you will really hate me as much as you claim you do. Would you want that?

M: But this isnt working. For either of us.

A: What are you suggesting? Should we break up?

M: I didnt say that.

A: You dont say that, you do! Three times already. What do you think it does to me?

M: I apologized within minutes each of those three times.

A: And for no reason too. What are you so scared of?

M:  The future. We have none.

A: We have the present. Why are you so hell bent on destroying that?

M: The present sucks.

A: So do I, when you insist. That should even it out.

M: Heck man, I dont want to be an almost been all my life.

A: So you want me to be the benchmark which tells you you saw something to the end?

M: No. I just want you to be around when I wake up one Sunday Morning in 2015.

A: Romantics are losers. Think. You and I can only stand each other for so long, unless we are making out. We are incompatible in more ways than can be counted on fingers. And of course, you are unstable, physically, emotionally, financially. Why would I want to spend the rest of my life with you? I’ll be honest, you are a perfect boyfriend, M, but you are nowehere close to being even a reasonable husband material.

M: And last night you told me the girl who marries me will always be happy.

A: Yeah, sometimes you are good, in bed and otherwise. What about the days when you are like “Leave me alone, I’ll be back in a few days.”?

M: Thats only happened a couple of times in the 3 years we have been together.

A: They felt like an eternity. You dont know what it feels to be left behind.

M:  Now I do, with you planning to vanish.

A: I just met the guy. It doesnt mean I will marry him.

M: I bet you wont.

A. got married to the same deserving, stable guy she met, who happened to be (potentially) 10 times as rich as The Monkey. The Monkey broke his leg when taking a leap too huge, then he broke his back when he took an even bigger jump, spent 4 months on the bed lying flat with a male nurse feeding him, got into severe depression, got addicted to valium, recovered,  and moved on.

A girl he dumped because he thought she wanted to leave, she cost him 2 years of his life. Thats what he liked to think of it as : All because he dumped her.

He was off valium, he hadnt smoked weed for like ages now, the hard shit never took to him, and his body reacted okay to the pack he smoked each day. He was doing fine.

That was what he told everyone.

The truth was he had confined himself to a lease he bought on this okay apartment. This was his heaven, this was his hell. Every weekend, he tried to get himself away, go down to Bombay, splurge his now-again found steady income, get sloshed out of his skull and forget about the past as much as possible. Every monday, though, his body reminded him of every moment of pain, the tears and the shrill cries in his baby voice, his drug induced speeches about how he could have changed, how he needed another chance, just one more take at life and he would set it right.
And then a red scooty hit him and changed everything.

The Lioness and The Monkey watched Wall E together. Surprisingly, it was still on in Pune. The Monkey had seen it earlier, but this time he was present mentally. He liked the movie.

It was nearly 10 when they walked out of the theater.

“Where to, now, Highness?”

“Looking at you, I get a feeling you need a drink.”

“Sure as fuck I do. Dont you? Its been a hard day’s night, and I have been working like a dog. Bow wow.

Hey how old are you, by the way? I dont want to be caught abetting a teenager to drink and do drugs!”

“I am 26, thanks, and way past the age where I could be influenced by maladjusted individuals. I am quite maladjusted myself.”

“Lets roll, then.”

At 12, they were thrown out of the bar, Pune style, and drunk enough to be declared unfit for societal acceptance.

“You got work tomorrow?”

“I do, but I guess I will take an off . Its not every day I meet a girl like you.”

The truth was she was he hadnt talked to a girl in the real world for the last 5 months.

He didnt know when she bent forward and kissed his cheek. She was quite a bit taller than him, like most girls he had ever been out with.

She didnt know when he pulled her closer and kissed her for a whole minute.

Pune was scandalized beyond redemption. They didnt plan to redeem it of love, anyway.

He drove, his years of experience in inebriated driving coming to the rescue of a sadly uttered question of “Who is gonna drive? I wont leave my scooter here for the night”.

He drove straight to his place. She didnt ask a question.

They took the stairs, waking up the neighbours with their giggles and vacuumed kisses. He finally freed his hands when they reached the fourth floor, reached for the keys, pushed open the door and said “Welcome to the palace, Your Royal Highness”.

He didnt have a place to sit, except for the bean bag and his bed. She took the bean bag.

“Where’s the TV”

“Dunno, Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur, Noida, Gurgaon, I dont know. I never got it here when I moved”

“You actually live without a TV? What about your roomies? They dont miss the TV either?”

“I stay alone”

“Now I get it. You mean little bastard, you brought me to a house with nobody but us at 1 in the night.”

“Close the door as you leave, if you are going”

She stayed.

It was barely 17 hours since they first saw each other.

They had spent less than 6 hours. Just 6 hours, and two perfect strangers in Pune were in a love that would cause a riot in Lucknow and a gun fight in Delhi.


Accidental Discovery – Part I

September 11, 2008

He was almost dozing off trying to finish another page. There was no electricity, as usual, and he read in the dim light of a candle. He had a stock of candles now, along with a stock of maggi, cigarettes, cheap red wine and books, both technical and english fiction.

His hand brushed against the candle flame as he was about to yield himself to sleep, and he was all awake the next second, bruised and in pain. He licked his burn, unable to admire its intensity for the lack of light. “Let there be light” he shouted, his head raised high, as he lit his cigarette lighter, and burst into a deeply sarcastic laughter which only he could understand. He picked up a cigarette, lighted it and switched off his lighter. “So much for God”, he said, and walked to the sliding window that overlooked a wasteland. He slid the right window slightly, heard the rain pouring wildly and took a deep drag.

He knew clearly he was missing something, or someone. He tried not to think about what is it thats slipped his mind even when he knows it has. He didnt like the feeling too much, and took another deep drag, deeply contemplating the need for a diesel generator or an invertor. He couldnt afford it now. He didnt need to afford anything anymore.

He stayed alone at the apartment. The aparment wasnt that bad, it was just the city. Power crises in a semi-industrial town might sound like a joke, but its a reality in these quarters. He finally decided to get rid of the dark, picked up the candle from the floor and lighted it. “Damn”, he said as his back clunked when he bent too fast to pick it up.

He started looking for his cell phone, he needed to see the time. Here, in his sanctum, he had made a world where he didnt need anyone, didnt care for anyone. His cellphone was in the walkman mode, and he didnt make or receive any calls. This was the third day he hadnt spoken to any other human. This was the third day since he had been online. This was the third day since he quit his job. It was 4 am on the 25th of October.

A week back back, he was walking to work as usual. The roads to his office were all dug up, it took him thrice as much as normal days  if he took the other road, so he walked instead.  As he walked, with maiden playing loud in his ears, he failed to notice a red scooty coming straight at him. He was shocked and fell to the floor when she hit him. He raised his head to offer the customary curse, but when he saw the girl who drove the culprit vehicle, all he could say was “Thanks. I am Monkey”.

She was exceptionally shaky, and tried to lift all of the bulk of his 80 kg from the slush, but he refused to budge and kept staring at her longingly. When he finally came back to his senses, he told her she could have killed him. She said , “Yeah, with a scooty running at 10 km an hour”. They both smiled, he asked for a lift. She dropped him near his office, and he somehow had the guts to ask for her name and number. “I’ll need your name and number, miss, in case I broke any bones.” She smiled and told her he could call her a Lioness, if he is a monkey, and her number was 9867******.

The rest of the day was like the rest of the days. In the evening, he went to a doctor, who told him he had not broken any bones, gave him a few injections and charged him a 1000 bucks. He called her and told her he was at the same place.”Come and hit me, I have medical insurance”.

He stood there for half an hour, smoking flavoured cigarettes and drinking diet coke. She didnt hit him, neither did she come. He decided to pay a visit to the nearest liquor store and get some rum. She was way out of his league.

As he was about to turn towards the store, he saw a red scooty bang head on with an icecream man.

“You sure can drive, L. Whoever gave you a driving license hates humanity !”

“Okay, now if you can please cut off the sarcasm and help the poor guy I just banged, I would be really grateful”

“So you banged an icecream wallah? Nice for a desperate hot chic”

“Shut up”

He expected this to be the last conversation with her somehow, his tongue had once again got the better of him.  It was just the beginning, though.

When she said shut up, he failed to notice her smile. Hegot too embarrassed when he said something he felt he shouldnt have. He stood there, like a moron, an icecream man on the floor, and a girl picking up her scooterette.

“Hey!Hello! Are you gonna sleep standing only? Dumbo!C’mon, I’ll give you a lift”

“Do whatever you want to me, just dont ask me to ride with you. I am quite young, and I am a virgin for the last 18 months”

“Cool, you drive. You can drive, right? Anyone can drive better than me….”

“Okay, that sounds like an agreeable idea. Lets go somewhere. Lets get drunk out of our skulls, pick some hot girls and bang their brains out”

“Hellow! I am a girl, and I am not into girls. How about we just go out and watch a movie for now?”

“A movie ? Lemme see my appointment list. Hmm…18th, 6pm-12 pm – Nothing.”

“You keep an appointment list? You must be one busy guy”

“Yeah. All the entries say “Add New Appointemt?” ”

They rode together, without helmets, her faced covered with a stupid bandana Pune girls seem to love. A fine drizzle struck his face, he could see a rainbow towards the horizon. “Look, a rainbow” , she screamed. He felt alive after a very, very long time.


Departure.

July 21, 2008

Its already 8. I will be fined again. Corporate culture, discipline. Shit man, I have already resigned. Cant they all just leave me alone?

10 bucks for another hour’s sleep is not a bad deal at all. But now that I have left the company, eyes will be raised, the HR machinery set into motion. Can I make it by 8:10? I dont really care anyway. My knee is acting up again, I guess today will be a valium day. How long can I survive without  drugs? 10? 15 minutes?

Whats left to be done? My life as I knew it is over. The future is, well, yet to arrive. I feel like shit. Ever since she told me she wasnt blue anymore, I have been drinking continuously. I’d resigned before I interviewed for other companies. It wasnt arrogance. It was a desperate attempt to show her I could give it all up for a few more months with her. All useless now, all a waste. Everything that I have ever done makes no sense. Without her, nothing makes sense.

I have fallen into a loop. My health is deteriorating every hour. I have been on drugs, some prescription, some arranged for, some rolled into a joint, some popped as pills. I have gained 10 kgs in the last 20 days. I can hardly walk 5 steps without running out of breath. This is impossible. I used to be an optimist. I hardly know what I am now.

The coffee sucks. This bai of mine is another incompetent asshole, like me, like everyone else. I never was a perfectionist anyway. It has caffeine, thats all that counts.9 minutes left. I wonder if I should be driving with my bad knee. The MRI isnt good, but nothing’s really damaged. 6 years is a long time. It should have either healed or gone worse, but it stays the same. I can hardly imagine a pain free life. It was so much more bearable when she was around.

The sun seems closer by a few light minutes. I am drenched the moment I walk out of the door. I always sweat too much. The virtues of being fat.

I forgot the car keys again. I never forget to forget, at least. The car doesnt look good with the ugly dent. Could I have swerved? I didnt care. I just watched that bike bang the driver’s side, and I didnt move at all. It didnt do my already bad knee any good, and I was stupid to expect a bike to actually kill me.

The biker intended to slap me, but didnt. No one beats you up when you deserve it.

I dont remember where I kept the keys. I slept in formals again, it should be somewhere near the bed. There they are, right beside the iron. I pick up the keys and turn off the iron. Its probably been switched on since Monday.

Nothing seems right. One more day to the weekend. Its scary as hell. What will I do on the weekend?

The traffic sucks. Delhi and NCR. Fuck it. No way I can reach in 5 minutes.

Why do I bother? There’s nothing I can do about it.

Why do I bother? There was nothing I could have done.

There’s a life to waste. Her departure is probably no more than an excuse to indulge in full time degeneracy. Self destruction, your name is The Monkey. There. Closer.

I open up the dashboard. 3 left. I pop in 2 of them, and I gulp them down without water. A few minutes. Sleep. Slumber. No more pain. Nothing. Nothing at all.

I can hear the honks. There’s a guy knocking at my car’s window. I try and look for the window lever. Then I try and look for the window button. I find it. I apply the minimal amount of pressure. I can hardly move my hands.

The guy unlocks the car and pulls me out. I am quite delighted to see so many people around my car. Its like I am a celebrity.

There’s blood all over me. My car’s stacked against a Tata pickup truck. My windshield is scattered all over the hood of my car and the road.

I am lying down on the road. I think that guy pulled me out. There’s a cop car now. I have all my papers. No one can arrest me. I didnt do anything wrong.

They put me up on a stretcher. I like the sun. I feel so calm. So very calm.

They tell me to keep talking, so I start singing nursery rhymes. Row row row the boat, gently down the stream. Merrily merrily merrily merrily, life’s just a dream. I feel great.

I try to keep my eyes open, but I feel so sleepy. I close my eyes.

There’s a flash of light and I feel closer to her than I ever did before.

And then there’s nothing. Nothing at all.